The night was cool as agent Knight slipped into the harbor at Vladivostok. He ducked under the surface and tested his rebreather, then pushed down through the murky ocean, his wrist computer beeping out the location of the submarine. He found it quickly, touching it gently so as not to be heard from the inside, then followed the curve of the black hull down to the underside of the ship.
He inched along and found the emergency access hatch. He spun the screw wheel and pulled violently down on the door to counteract the outside pressure. The door released and water flooded up into the cabin inside as the pressure equalized. He pulled himself up and inside, then pulled the hatch closed again.
"We meet again, Mr. Knight. Hands on your head and turn around."
Knight smiled and slowly raised his hands, placing them on his head.
"Miss Friday Bloodworth, isn't it?"
He turned around slowly. An athletic woman in a black bikini and wet hair held a gun pointed at him. Knight grinned.
"Sorry about the mess," he said, glancing down at the pooled water.
"Which one?" asked Bloodworth with a snarl. "The hotel in Cairo where you killed five of my men--"
"They were trying to kill me first," said Knight.
"--Or the casino in Las Vegas where you killed twelve?"
"I was just trying to enjoy a card game."
"You enjoyed yourself too much."
"Well, would you like to find out just how much I can enjoy myself?"
Bloodworth rolled her eyes then stepped over the hatch and quickly frisked Knight. She found a knife and threw it to the floor.
"Guns don't work very well underwater," said Knight.
"Take off your gear," she said, stepping back. He did.
"Now move. Aft."
Knight turned around and started down the hallway. The submarine was refitted but sleek--the luxurious personal vehicle of a wealthy eccentric, and Knight hoped to meet him promptly.
"In here," said Bloodworth when they reached a portal. Knight pushed down on the lever and opened the door. They stepped through into a large room with a thick white carpet, a round bed, and a massive cherry desk decorated with gold leaf. Behind the desk was the back of a chair that faced a bank of plasma screens that monitored a variety of global news feeds.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I found Mr. Knight prowling around."
The chair slowly revolved around. Seated in it was tall, thin woman who wore nothing but a black silk dressing gown.
"Aaah," she said.
Agent Knight furrowed his brow.
"Who are you?" he asked, confused.
"Me?" she laughed. "You know me as The Spider, Mr. Knight. A slightly unfair moniker, but I don't really mind. Were you expecting someone else?"
"You're The Spider?" he asked, more to himself than to her.
"Yes," she said. "You thought I would be a man, didn't you?" She laughed again. "Well Mr. Knight, this is the twenty-first century. You shouldn't be so surprised."
She nodded to Bloodworth and she shoved Knight in the back and he moved closer to the desk.
"You've come for the codes, haven't you Mr. Knight?"
Knight said nothing, but clenched his jaw tight. The Spider continued.
"You can't have them you know. You shouldn't have stuck your nose in other people's business."
"It's my job," he said.
"So it is." She smiled. "For Her Majesty, am I right?"
Knight again held his silence. The Spider stood up from her chair and sat on the edge of the desk.
"The British government can take a number. There are plenty of governments that are willing to pay me handsomely for the codes, and yet you have the audacity to try to steal them? You know, this doesn't have to be hard."
"An auction..." said Knight.
"That's new information to you?" asked The Spider. "Your reputation has you being more intelligent than you apparently are. I'm disappointed. Tie him up."
Bloodworth retrieved a length of cord from a cabinet then forced Knight into a chair and tied his hands behind the back of it.
"If the British aren't interested in buying the codes, maybe they will be interested in buying you." She returned to watching the news feeds.
"I think you're bluffing," said Knight. "You really don't have anything."
The Spider turned around and smirked at him.
"Really now," she chuckled. "I suppose you want to see them?"
"Yes," said Knight.
The Spider laughed until she started to tear up.
"Oh, Mr. Knight, you are quite amusing."
"Aurum rex," said Knight.
The Spider immediately became serious.
"What do you know about that?" she asked pointedly.
Knight smiled. Bloodworth gave him a perplexed look.
"Now it's for me to say that you're bluffing."
"The codes for my silence on the matter," said Knight.
The Spider looked at Bloodworth, crossed her arms and exhaled abruptly.
"I don't think you're in a position to negotiate--"
"February 12th 1999..." said Knight.
The Spider widened her eyes.
"...The Lincoln Memorial in Washington--"
"Enough!" shouted The Spider.
The Spider gritted her teeth and glared at Knight, then walked over to a wall, pressed a panel and pulled out a hidden shelve with a lockbox.
"What are you doing?" asked Bloodworth. "We can just kill him to keep him silent!"
"No! If he knows, the British government knows. It's not worth it."
"Are you questioning me, Friday?"
Bloodworth looked over at Knight, then back to The Spider.
"No...but I really can't stand him. Can't we kill him anyway?"
The Spider smirked.
"That's not very civil."
"We're international criminals. I don't think there's very high expectations of us."
"Well, maybe I'll let you play with him a bit before we let him go."
The Spider punched in a keycode and the box opened up. She took out a white paper envelope. She brought it over to Knight and stood in front of him. She carefully opened the envelope and took out a slim sheet of steel that was punched through with an arrangement of tiny pinholes. She held it up for him to see.
"I never bluff," said The Spider.
"But I do," said Bloodworth. She squeezed the trigger and shot The Spider in the head. Instantly dead, she fell to the floor in a heap, her face with a shocked expression.
"You're full of surprises," said Knight as he looked at her in astonishment.
Bloodworth bent down and picked up the steel card then put it into a hidden pocket in her bikini bottoms.
"You're tiresome," said Bloodworth.
"Who do you work for?" asked Knight.
"You think I'm just going to tell you?" she said, winking at him.
"It was worth a shot," he said.
"Let's just say we're not enemies," she padded towards the door and leaned her head against it to listen for footsteps. "You should be able to get out of that knot in under a minute."
"Thanks," said Knight. "But I was hoping you could stay." He nodded towards the bed.
Bloodworth rolled her eyes again.
"You're not getting the codes," she said, before slipping out the door with the gun in front of her.
"That's not what I meant," he said to himself when she was gone, then sighed heavily. "Damn."