Or: Revenge of the Aero-Pyrates
Book One in The Age of Invention
As soon as they stepped off the boat in New York, Irish immigrants Jim Leary and his brother Billy were conscripted into the Union Aero Corps, forced to fight in a civil war they had no interest in. Ten years later, with the war finally over and America divided into two nations, each brother believes the other died in combat. Jim Leary, now calling himself “Captain Gallagher,” has taken to the air over the southwestern American territories in a stolen airship, leading the life of a pirate, raiding trains, stage coaches, and even other airships, the bane of both the Union and the fledgling Confederate States of America.
Fire Aloft is at its core a story about identity.
A consortium of businessmen, tired of losing money and goods to Gallagher and his pirate cohorts, has hired a former Confederate air admiral to hunt them down. Now Gallagher finds himself pursued by an overwhelming force led by the infamous Garrett “Butcher” Prescott, the man he blames for his brother's death, and the beautiful and accomplished Justine Arthurs, an airship pilot, former Pinkerton agent, and Union spy. Gallagher thinks he’s got a plan that will bring down the Valkyrie, Prescott’s massive dreadnaught. What he doesn’t know is that the chief engineer on the Valkyrie is his long-lost brother.
Fire Aloft is at its core a story about identity. Most of the main characters take on new names and new identities at some point along the way. Jimmy Leary becomes the dashing Captain Gallagher, brother Billy becomes Billy Reilly, and Justine Arthurs, the former Pinkerton agent and spy, dons several different identities through the course of the tale – though the most important, for her, may be the guise of Faye Arnold, unemployed nurse. Even Garrett Prescott, though his name never changes, presents a different face from the Butcher of Pine Mountain, the epithet he earned years ago in the War of Southern Independence.
In the end, each of them will be forced to decide who they really are: The image they've created, or something that lies behind that image?