Skies of Gold: The Ether Chronicles by Archer Zoe

Skies of Gold: The Ether Chronicles by Archer Zoe

Author:Archer, Zoe [Archer, Zoe]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Harpercollins
Published: 2013-08-05T23:00:00+00:00

Fletcher had never known time to move more quickly than it did over the next week. Without discussing it, he and Kali fell into a schedule. The mornings were for gathering supplies to eat—hunting, fishing, collecting edible plants—as well as gathering peat. The afternoons were spent putting the ship back in working order. She was a single-minded whirlwind, whose energy nearly surpassed his own. They cleared out the passageways, putting all the debris he’d never touched into the former gunnery deck, and repaired the floors and bulkheads. She spent days studying the batteries, and the complex system that transformed his aurora vires into energy for the ship, and the ether that resulted from the process. As she did, she worked to get the electricity running on the ship.

“I’d wager lots of sailors want to be Man O’ Wars,” she said, her fingers buried within a web of wires.

Making himself useful, he spliced rope. He wasn’t sure entirely what he’d do with hundreds of feet of rope, but when the complicated work on the ship needed doing, he was as helpful as a bear trying to carry an egg in its paws.

“New recruits are examined through spectral goggles to see their aurora vires rating,” he said. “Barely five percent rate Gimmel or higher. Some are relieved. Others get angry.” He shrugged. “Nothing changes your rating, though. You can train and face as many battles as you want. But the aurora vires is part of us when we’re born—at least, I think so. They taught us the history of Dr. Rossini and her discovery, but I was more interested in whether I’d qualify or not.”

“So you were an Aleph,” she said. The top rating.

“Bet,” he said instead, the second highest rating. It hadn’t disappointed him that he wasn’t the highest. He hadn’t felt the need to be at the top. All he’d needed was to do his duty, and do it well.

Emily hadn’t wanted any of it, whether he was the highest ranking or not. He’d heard that there were some ladies who actually tried to take Man O’ Wars as lovers, and that they preferred Alephs, thinking them the most superior. Not wanting to be anyone’s trophy, he’d avoided those women and their expectations as to what he should be. Including their disappointment that he wasn’t the top grade. Courtesans catering to Man O’ Wars weren’t as particular. But then, they weren’t paid to be selective.

To his surprise, though, Kali only smiled. “I would’ve guessed Bet. Alephs are overbearing brutes, I’m sure. Bullies and chest pounders.”

“Not all of them.” But she didn’t think of him that way.

They hadn’t any tetrol to make the galley function as it had before, but she built a device that allowed peat to fuel the stove as well as the clockwork spit. That night, they dined on roast rabbit and fish, and the following morning, she made them eggs. All her flour and butter had been ruined in the storm, but he’d done without bread and pies before her arrival.


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