Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

My father always told me that there was a thin line between bravery and stupidity. Just like genius and insanity, it frequently comes down to time, place, outcome and who’s doing the judging.

Right now, I don’t need to check with any judges. This is stupid and insane. I am hanging, angled head down, from a kilometre length line woven from graphene, carbon nanotubes and synthetic spider silk. I’m naked under the sightbender bodysuit and the anchor points at my waist, knees and shoulders have been carefully needle-pointed through the suit and superglued to my skin, which has Kevlar weave bandages reinforcing those bits. Did I mention the stealth gel between skin and suit? I don’t sweat or anything right now and will die in about forty minutes if I’m not hosed down.

All the high-end sneakery is to place me above the target without being detected by some very thorough and murderous security. This piece of lunacy was suggested by yours truly in a moment of drunken insight a week ago. Well, what I actually said was: “We need a flying chimp with a spear to pop that dome.”

All I have to do now is use the carbon fibre composite bow to shoot the molecular-point diamond-tipped arrow through the forty metre diameter dome a hundred and twenty metres below gently swaying me.

The Thodmuk come from a deep subterranean culture and are methane breathers. After their initial assault, they adapted the Purbright mine complex as it has the right composition and depth to contain a pressurised methane atmosphere. This one arrow could change the course of history.

Ignoring the pains and the view, I nock and draw smoothly to my cheek in one movement as my father taught me. Relax, sway, aim, breathe in, breathe out, sway, breathe in, breathe half out, hold, sway, release –


I wake up a month later after they transfer me from the immersive healing vat to the silken hammock. All I remember is being a comet, hurtling through the sky, leaving a trail of incandescent me.

They tell me that’s not delirium. When I shot the dome, it ruptured savagely, and ripped some power conduits. Sparks and high pressure combustible gas resulted in a plume of fire jetting a kilometre into the sky.

I was a hundred and twenty metres up, remember? The plume blew me away. To the limits of my line, anyway. Which snapped. Fortunately I was glued to it, so the western winch anchor defined the radius of my arc, which terminated in a lake just under half a kilometre away. The hard water effect should have killed me, except I was completely relaxed: unconscious from the seventy percent burns inflicted by the flammable stealth gel under my only slightly flame retardant suit. I’m going to be in agony for weeks, but if the line had held I’d be a crispy speck dangling over the smoking crater where the Thodmuk used to live.

I’m going to be decorated for bravery when I have skin all over. The bloke who came up with the plan is being hailed as a genius.

Like I said. Results and judging. Because my opinion of him and the Thodmuk opinion of me are a lot less complimentary.


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