Book Two

Book Two: CHOOSING SIDES (working title) in the Age of Invention

In an Age of Conflict…

1884 -- Africa is a scene of strife and conflict, with the city of Khartoum under siege, the Zulus at war with neighboring tribes as well as the British, and the Boers and the British in an uneasy peace between wars in the Gauteng in the south. In Europe, the mighty German Empire is growing aggressive, eyeing Britain hungrily across the English Channel. Refugees are streaming out of Africa, many of them traumatized into a nearly catatonic state.

In Britain, Altonbrae Arms and other manufacturers of munitions are competing to be the first to develop heavier-than-air flight, while larger artillery pieces and the new machine gun are making combat on land, sea, and air ever more dangerous. Lady Veronica Altonbrae, whose husband has been crippled by a stroke, is growing more influential in Parliament and rubbing elbows with Queen Victoria herself.

What is really happening at Altonbrae Arms?

In the United States, Will Leary has grown tired of failure and loneliness, and begins to long for a glimpse of his home country. With his brother James, a.k.a Captain Gallagher, who is feeling the pressure that the success of the aerobucks of Bisbee has brought on him in the form of USAC airships and pirate hunters, he crosses the Atlantic aboard Gallagher’s airship the Anna Sable. The two Leary brothers are quickly hired on by Altonbrae Arms, Will as a designer and engineer and Gallagher as a privateer delivering humanitarian aid and payroll to an Altonbrae-sponsored field hospital in the Gauteng.

Catatonic refugees, mindless drug addicts, and Viennese street gangs quickly convince Gallagher that his new post is not exactly what as it was advertised. What is really happening at Altonbrae Arms, and is it something that Gallagher wants to be a part of? And why has Gallagher now become the target of an aerobuck in a more advanced airship?

Suddenly the three privateers were surrounded. Two gang members lay on the ground, one holding his head and the other doubled over from a blow to the gut or the groin. The leader had rejoined his troop and stood before Gallagher with his stick raised. The gang surged forward.

Gallagher swept the Schofield from its holster and fired. The leader spun, clutching at his side. Beside him Clo also let off a shot, and a gang member fell, blood pouring down his leg. Nate fired a shot and someone cried out, but Gallagher could not see who had been hit.


Find out all about addicts, cockney aerobucks, war profiteering, and conspiracies in CHOOSING SIDES (tentative title), the upcoming sequel to FIRE ALOFT, which is currently in the works.