You always travel alone for work. You’re used to this so whenever you dine you use your phone to distract yourself. One evening, at the restaurant, someone sits in front of you and begins talking…


“Excuse me?”

Six days Jack had been in Singapore. The humidity gripped his skin in its slickly embrace, rendering showers pointless, shirts stained and any chance of unwinding fruitless. Britain, home, was wet but only ever in great fat droplets. Not the cloying air that suffocated his lungs.

He’d gone out for food tonight. Thai. Or Cantonese. He’d given up deciding. The first place that was open, he’d found a table by the door (for none of these hole in the walls featured anything resembling air conditioning) and picked things by pointing at a list on a laminated menu.

“I saw you in Tokyo. Last month.”

Jack chewed on a wonton, each mastication causing him to frown further and further as he struggled to think where he’d been last month. Sigco? Amacorp. Another data heist against a corporate superpower. Finally he swallowed and looked at his guest.

“Good memory.”

She ordered her own food, chatting and laughing with the smitten young boy taking down notes in what seemed like a mix of Malay and Americanised-English. She waited until the food had arrived (a worryingly brief interval) before continuing. Picking up a small white ball that trailed a thin tendril, she wove her chopsticks around before biting down.

“Do you travel much?” Jack asked.

She was an enigma. Asian, with some European features. Her accent placed her in a dozen different lands. She could be an air hostess or a CEO and he would never be able to guess which.

“I go where I am needed. I suppose you could call it travelling. It is certainly not holidaying.” She proffered another ball and Jack hesitated before taking it between his own chopsticks. “And you?”

“My father was a military man. Stationed in Japan, a liaison with the JSDF. I grew up travelling you could say. Now it’s only for work.”

“Such a shame.” She seemed saddened. “Did you know that ten miles from here lie the ruins of a Shinto shrine, destroyed by the British when they occupied this land.”

“I didn’t.”

“Westerners so often forget the destruction they have left in their wake.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For the destruction or having forgotten?” She enjoyed watching his frustration. “No matter Mr Patterson. There are things far more important than stones left in a jungle.”

He placed his chopsticks across the bowl and straightened his back. The pistol was slick in his grip, but he kept a firm hold on it as he rested it gently against his knee.

“No need for dramatics,” she said.

“It seems you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name, and yet I know nothing about you.”

“You sell yourself short. I’m sure by now you have several theories as to whom I represent.”


“Very good.” She smiled, dabbed at the corners of her mouth with a napkin and carefully folded it into squares. “Of course, the People’s Liberation Army has no knowledge of such a unit nor would they condone the actions of said unit.”

“Naturally. The Chinese Army have said so every time I’ve written a report pointing the finger at them.”

“An easy target.”

“A sloppy foe,” Jack countered.

“Let’s not fight. I come bearing a gift.”

“The kind that overwrites my EFI and sends every tap-tap-tap back to the motherland?”

“Nothing so crass.” She slid a sheaf of paper across the table. It was festooned with Hanzi and stamps, the purpose of which didn’t require a universal translator to understand. Jack refrained from touching it. “Like I said, a present.”

“And if I touch that, I spend the remainder of my life in a Chinese labour camp.”

“The decision is yours,” she said, standing up. She tossed a few notes onto the table. “Take my word Mr Patterson, I am a patriot. I hope you are too.”

“Wait,” Jack said, standing as she opened the door. He holstered his pistol and picked up the folder. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Call me Spyder,” she said.

Prompt originally posted by Mechanicalmind on reddit and received 6 upvotes.

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