“The Second” was written for a speculative fiction writing workshop and very last-minute in its original form. I did the plotting and world-building on the fly, and basically the original idea was “what if the protagonist were trying to save their friend from a duel?”
Seconds — those appointed to negotiate and if necessary fill in for the principal fighters in duels conducted by pilots of the Polarin Aerial Fleet — were allowed only one kind of interference: to try and talk combatants out of their folly, or to watch as time ran out and they went to their deaths. This was thought to be a way of reducing the number of frivolous challenges. It had had virtually no effect.