The Age of Invention Cast of Characters
Aeronauts, pirates, admirals, and spies! Fire Aloft features a diverse cast, including dangerous and talented ladies, dashing heroes, bloodthirsty aerial buccaneers, gunslingers, robber barons, and former Confederate slaves. In the Bisbee pirate haven, all are equal, sharing in rewards as well as dangers. The sky's the limit for all comers, so long as they have the smarts and the courage to succeed.
Captain Gallagher -- real name, James Leary -- is one of those cocky, confident sorts who tends to think about the consequences only after acting. A crime committed in Dublin sent him and his brother William fleeing to the United States, where they were quickly conscripted into the U.S. Aero Corps. The two brothers were separated at the Battle of Pine Mountain, where Confederate Air Admiral Garrett Prescott earned his nickname “the Butcher.” After the war James returned to his life of rambling, perpetually living just one step ahead of the law. Eventually he got his hands on an airship of his own and, adopting the name of a famous Irish highwayman from the Old Country, embarked on a life of piracy. A fast-thinking, fast-talking, theatrical character, Gallagher has enough sand to fill a desert and a very quick temper. While there is no official leader of the Bisbee aerobuck society, none of the other pirates are listened to as closely as Captain Gallagher. Being as bold as he is, he has also become the most successful aerobuck in Bisbee. These two distinguishing facts make him a prime target for Thom Maguire and Garrett Prescott.
A former air acrobat, Union spy, and Pinkerton detective, Justine works for shipping baron Thom Maguire as his troubleshooter and general factotum. An accomplished airship pilot and comfortable handling firearms, she’s also a skilled actress, having mastered several accents in her time as a spy behind the Confederate lines. Woe betide the man who underestimates her based on her gender.
The younger brother of James “Captain Gallagher” Leary, William is more level-headed, having worked as a steam engine mechanic’s apprentice on the Irish rail in Dublin until James got them both into trouble. Once in the United States, his experience with steam engines made him a valuable find for a mechanic’s position in the U.S. Aero Corps -- and eventually, under duress, for the Confederate Aerial Navy, as well. After the war, under the assumed name of William Reilly, he tried his hand at farming and at running a hardware store, until an encounter with aerobuck Bartholomäus Scharf brought tragedy into his life. Now William, no less bold in action than his famous older brother, has returned to the USAC and the life of an airship mechanic and engineer.
Retired Admiral of the Confederate Aerial Navy Prescott, an expatriate Scot, was the man who convinced Jefferson Davis and his Secretary of War, James Seddon, to invest in building an aerial navy. His brand new fleet of airships broke the Union blockade of the southern ports, turning the tide of the war. Prescott became famous as “The Butcher of Pine Mountain” after a major victory in which his ships destroyed several Union ships that had already surrendered.
Born a slave on a Georgia plantation, Clovis Washington escaped to the North. When the war broke out, he joined the Union Army and served in the infantry. After the war he went west, where he fell in with Captain Gallagher, and eventually became second in command on Gallagher’s airship the Anna Sable.
Cat Harkness and Big Sadie Eastman
The co-captains of the Zamifore might face opprobrium for their sapphic tendencies in other societies, but among the aerobucks of Bisbee they are well respected both for their success at piracy, and their absolute refusal to take crap from anyone. It doesn’t hurt that Sadie is bigger and stronger than most men, and Cat can be crafty and vicious when provoked. It pays to stay on their good side.
One of the richest men in the west, Maguire made his millions in shipping and steel, and was one of the first to invest in shipping by airship. His ships and trains have been particular targets for raids by Captain Gallagher and the other aerobucks of Bisbee.
John Henry “Doc” Holliday
Gunslinger, hell-raiser, lawman, drinker, and gambler, the character of Doc Holliday is well known and the subject of much controversy. Doc is a man you want on your side in a fight, particularly if that fight includes the use of pistols. Having first met the Leary brothers in Philadelphia shortly after starting dental school, Doc returns to Gallagher’s life after a chance encounter in a saloon in Tombstone, Arizona. A sweet-talking southern gentleman in many regards, Doc is fascinated by airships, and with his quick wits and sharp tongue, not to mention his deadly pistols, becomes a trusty ally to Captain Gallagher.
There’s one in every group: the wild card, the loose cannon. Bart Scharf, a former Pennsylvania Dutchman who found the Amish life too dull (and lacking in chances to kill anyone), is the Bisbee aerobuck community’s loose cannon -- which is saying a lot in a pirate haven. Bart is slovenly, foul-mouthed, and disrespectful. He’s also violent and unpredictable and, with the biggest and most powerful airship in Bisbee, Blackbeard, he’s the deadliest of the aerobucks. While many of the aerobucks have standards about killing the innocent or other members of their enclave, Bart Scharf is a man with fewer scruples.
The writers of Fire Aloft noticed that, for some reason, Adams was a go-to name for both of them early on, and somewhere around halfway through the first draft realized that at least four different characters had been given this appellation. It’s become a bit of a joke between them now, so as you read Fire Aloft and the forthcoming sequel, keep your eyes peeled for anyone named Adams. There’s probably some kind of humor happening.