The Union Jack design on the parachute was a little ostentatious, he had to admit later. It wasn’t entirely his fault: it had been in the locker when he was sorting out his escape route, but there had been plain designs there too.

He looked up at its canopy above him and decided not to worry about the bullet holes. The fabric was holding, nothing was on fire, and there didn’t seem to be anything else being launched after or in pursuit. For now the strident colours fluttered boldly and as thrillingly as they ever had.

Now all he had to do was not steer into the side of the mountain, or get tangled with the cable car, or get shot – that last one was very important. They’d kept drumming that one into him over and over. This could all go very sideways, but his first duty was to not get shot. It was why he’d ended up taking the leap over the cliff in the first place rather than try and barrel through the guard post.

With deft twitches on the guide ropes, the parachute was safely guided around an unexpected rock ridge and a clump of fir trees. His feet nearly brushed the tips of more foliage, so he pulled his legs up a bit and banked away for clearer space.

Somewhere below, he could hear engine motors and excited shouting as more guards joined the chase, tracking him by the flag’s progress. He concentrated on his landing. It wouldn’t do to end all this with a broken limb. If you’re going to do such things, it should be with style, not a whimper.

He landed safely in a closing circle of guards. They ordered him to remove his helmet, and under their watchful eyes and aimed weapons he did so. The intake of breath when they saw his face was gratifying.

“”Who the hell are you?” Their leader shouted.

“I’m the decoy.” He replied. And high in the mountain behind them, something went bang.