“It looks like the primary grav boot’s vibrated itself about .5 microns off-center.” Somei’s voice was muffled by the open banks of technical and magitechnical machinery into which his head and shoulders had vanished. His legs stuck out, occasionally kicking against the deck planking when he needed to push himself a little further into the tangle of wires, cables, cords, and ducts. “That’s got the resonant harmonics of the port compression coil fluctuating back on themselves, creating a trifold feedback loop. The reverberation is probably what’s preventing the Essence magnetizers from catalyzing the navigational arrays.”

Volla Verne crossed her arms over her chest and glared down at the engineer’s legs. “What the hell does that mean?”

Somei pushed himself out from under the console, looking up through round-rimmed spectacles, one of which was smudged with some manner of oily residue. “It means you won’t be getting full functionality out of the ship for a while.” He reached for a rag, wiping futilely at his glasses. “When Icehome’s engineers put this back together, they had to improvise in a lot of places, make shortcuts to route around systems they couldn’t replicate. I can’t blame them. I’ve never seen anything like this. The entire vessel is, almost literally, a miracle. The technomagical calculations are interwoven with the spiritual harmonics at a level-”

Verne cut him off with a brusque gesture. “Can you fix it or not?”

Somei sighed and sat up, resting his elbows on his knees. “Probably. Eventually. Theoretically.” He held up a warning finger. “But it won’t be soon, and it won’t be easy. I can, however, keep the ship running.”

Verne nodded impatiently. “Then do that.”

“I will,” Somei replied, “eagerly. The chance to study something so advanced is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Verne turned to head back to the main deck. Somei drew a breath, and she stopped. “What is it?”

He shook his head, thought better of it. “Nothing.”


When she was gone, he sighed and laid back down, crawling back into the cogitator engine. It really was advanced, centuries ahead of what even the most revolutionary theoretical sorcerer-engineers were able to produce. Silently, as he stripped several Essence-conduits for re-wiring, he lamented the loss of so much from the First Age.

“What are you doing?”

The voice came so suddenly, Somei startled, cracking his forehead against the underside of the plating. His vision swam, and as he pulled himself out from beneath the device, he swore he saw a figure wrought of silver light, covered with the impressions of leaves and branches and lithe, bronzed limbs.

He shook his head, and the concussion-induced hallucination resolved into Neve, standing on the bottom rung of the deck ladder and staring at him intently. He felt a flush rising up his neck.

“Ah… sorry, you startled me.”

“I didn’t mean to. Are you all right?”

Somei lifted a hand to his forehead, felt a tender spot. “I think so.”

“Good.” Neve stepped down from the rung, crouching beside him and looking at the bump on his head with a critical eye. Somei became abruptly aware of how close she was, the warmth from her skin as she lifted a hand to touch his temple. Her eyes focused back on his, like a bird’s.

“What are you doing?”

He blinked several times, before realizing she meant the repairs. “Ah! I’m sorry. I am working on the ship…”

She frowned a little. “Yes, I know that. I meant what are you doing with those wires?”

Somei tilted his head. “Are you familiar with the technology?”

Neve shook her head, her large eyes threatening to draw him in. “But I would like to learn.”

Slowly, he smiled and nodded. “I would love to teach you.”


Exalted: Northern Skies SaffuranSomei