About High Flight and Flames:
It was nearing midday when Jan, Toru and Ziana had headed out to the pass to check on the progress of the spark net. The climbers had got higher than anyone had thought they could, and the top of the net was strung at least ten heights up the rocky walls. From the thick cable, twisted copper hung down and was interwoven with more copper, tied securely into a net. The holes had been designed to be a little way apart, using the least copper possible for the greatest coverage.
“What does it do?” Jan asked after Toru had carefully pushed a large wooden handle into a box sited further back along the pass and then walked forward to join them again.
“This,” Ziana said, and threw a chunk of meat that they had brought along to demonstrate. The lump hit the copper at head height; there was a flash of blue and a sizzling noise, and the meat thumped on the ground. Ziana pulled it towards them with a stick, careful not to touch the copper, and handed it to Jan.
He turned it over in his hands. There was a scorch mark along one side, and the meat was almost cooked through. “Will it do this to people?”
“Oh yes,” Toru said grimly. “We’ve set the cables for the spark this side, so they can’t cut them. Even if they get higher than our climbers, they’ve still got to find out how to stop the spark getting through, and I’m going to leave a few men here to stop anyone who does get past the net. They can’t touch the net to break it on that side – we made sure the spark is enough that it will go through most things, including glass. They’d have to have a really thick piece not to get burned, and that will take them time. The pass is blocked as long as that handle’s down.”
Jan looked at the net again. It looked beautiful; the copper was shining in the sunlight, brilliant red against the dark rock of the pass walls. Men would try to get through, and they would burn. He shivered. “It’s a horrible weapon.”
“Yes,” Ziana said. “But it works.”