This section contains 2,063 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Mr. Matt Cruse
Matt Cruse is the crow's nest watchman on the Aurora, and holds the official title of cabin boy, but has been promised a position as an apprentice sailmaker as soon as one comes available. Matt's home is in Lionsgate City. He has two sisters. Isabel, who was growing up with a definite fondness for musical instruments of all kinds, and Sylvia, who is almost twelve and beginning to think of herself as a young woman. All his life, he'd wanted to fly - towards his father and away from his mother. Allowed only a few possessions, Matt's most prized included the eight books his father had taken with him when he sailed aboard the Aurora.
When he sleeps aboard the Aurora, he often dreams of his father, long dead. He and his father fly the skies together without encumbrances of body, often alongside the Aurora, but not always. In the skies is the only place that Matt feels close to his father, but guilt keeps him from telling his mother any of this. Matt and the Aurora are only two nights out of Sidney, and Mr. Cruse in the crow's nest when he first sights the hot air balloon 'Endurance' running without its running lights. He aids in pulling it and it's unconscious pilot into the Aurora. A year later, Matt meets Kate de Vries, the granddaughter of the balloon pilot who died before the Aurora reached its port. She lures Matt into an adventure of discovery with her grandfather's journal, and retracing his path, they find the strange creatures he describes with such clarity. In a trip that is fraught with danger, and includes pirates, and a crash landing, Matt and Kate become close friends and co-founders of the creature they call 'Cloud Cat'.
Miss Kate de Vries
At approximately fifteen years of age, Kate de Vries has long, mahogany colored hair, and bright eyes that take in her surroundings with interest. She is accompanied by a chaperone - Miss Marjorie Simpkins - who travels with her in the place of her parents. She is well mannered, and obviously well heeled - a fact confirmed by the fact that they are booked into a premier stateroom. Kate is as stubborn as she is strong, and fears little. She is adventurous, curious, and has a scientific mind much like her grandfather, Benjamin Molloy, who died in his hot air balloon after discovering and documenting the first recorded sightings of the creature who would later be dubbed a 'Cloud Cat'.
Kate follows in her grandfather's footsteps, hoping to find the creatures he describes in his journal, and in a wild coincidence happens to book passage on the very airship that tried to rescue her grandfather a year earlier. She meets Matt, and soon discovers that he was not only the one who first spotted her grandfather's balloon, but was also instrumental in rescuing him, although he perished soon after. Molloy mentions the creatures to Matt, but his comments mean nothing until Kate shows him the journal he kept where the creatures are described, and hand drawn over and over. When their airship, the Aurora, crashes after an encounter with pirates, Kate and Matt realize that they are on the very island her grandfather so carefully described. They look for and find an entire skeleton as well as a live example of the creature, and Kate becomes famous when she returns with a complete skeleton. The discovery paves the way for Kate to attend University, and for Matt to attend the Academy while still supporting his mother and sisters.
Appearing similar to large albatross in the distance, the creatures possess a plumage that is a cloud white color enabling them to fly virtually unseen through the skies. They are curious creatures, easily six feet or more in length. Instead of feathers, they have fur and it's forelegs are similar to bat wings in that they turn into wings with a single claw at the leading edge of the wing. Their wing span is estimated at between eight and nine feet across and they have stubby rear legs with curved, sharp claws. The creatures are incredibly agile and the wings appear to be unusually versatile. They seem to be able to float on the air itself, so light that they needed move their wings, and able to sleep in that manner, aloft. They also have large incisors, and intelligent looking eyes that are flecked with green. They give birth while airborne, climbing to dizzying heights and then simply birthing their baby in the air, following it down and monitoring it as it learns to fly while falling.
The skeleton that Matt and Kate find is still clinging to the tree in which it died. It had collapsed on itself, and has a skeletal system similar to that of a bat. The lower bones appear to be wings with long, thin, finger like bones at the end. The creature is large, and its bones are porous to make them light enough to enable flight, with a wing span they estimate to be nine or ten feet in length. The breastbone has a keel of sorts to hold the ribs together and strengthen the wings. It clearly has five separate metacarpals, unlike birds. It has a long tail, and no beak. The Cloud Cat is like a combination of bat, panther and bird of prey.
Captain Walken is the captain of the Aurora. He has the kind of personality that immediately makes you feel as though you can trust him with your life. He has a well trimmed beard and mustache, steady, kind looking eyes and curly gray hair. He is nearing sixty years of age, and though his frame isn't particularly large, he has an imposing presence - one that makes you feel safe when he is around.
Walken hires Matt Cruse to be the cabin boy after Matt's father dies, having fallen from the Aurora to his death. Matt feels more at home on the Aurora than he does anywhere else, and has come to think of the crew as his family. Walken can see the potential in Matt, and intends to promote him as soon as a position comes available.
Walken is the captain of the watch when Mr. Cruse sights the hot air balloon from the crow's nest. He calmly and competently rescues the pilot of the balloon, Benjamin Molloy, and his strength is a calming influence on all who fly under him.
At seventeen or eighteen years of age, Bruce is as handsome as a matinee star. His jacket collar sports junior sailmaker insignias on each corner and stamped right into the fabric is a small steering wheel in gold. His father, Otto Lunardi owns the Aurora and several other airships. As a result, when Bruce fails to adequately establish himself as the heir apparent to his father's fortune, his father consigns him to the Aurora for a two year period. Otto promises Bruce that if after two years he hasn't carved out a niche for himself on the Aurora, he will allow him to pursue any other business opportunity of his choice.
When Bruce comes aboard the Aurora, he discovers how his presence usurped the position that was promised to Matt. Though he apologizes, he is unable to change the circumstances. After the Aurora is attacked by pirates and crash lands, Bruce is assigned to help Matt find Kate who had gone in search of the Cloud Cat they had seen the day before. When they find her, she has already discovered its nest and in an effort to photograph it, Bruce is attacked and bitten. The wound is deep and becomes infected over night, but it doesn't stop Bruce from helping Matt and Kate to regain control of the Aurora after pirates take her over. Bruce is shot and killed when he is caught shutting off the fuel to the engines to stop the pirates from returning to the island for reinforcements.
Miss Marjorie Simpkins
A woman of no more than thirty years of age, she has fierce and striking features. Marjorie is the paid chaperone for Miss Kate de Vries. She is a stoic, inflexible woman who does not trust her charge. Simpkins likes attention, and often feigns headaches to ensure she is pampered and excused from any strenuous activities when she would prefer to be excluded. When Kate repeatedly defies her, going ashore and disappearing into the island woods on more than one occasion, she tries to confine her to their quarters but Kate is not that easily dissuaded. Kate uses her own sleeping draft against her, drugging her unconscious so that she can escape again. Eventually, Simpkins and Kate reach an understanding, and Kate gains a little freedom.
Benjamin Molloy (Balloon Pilot)
Looking to be somewhere in his fifties, he is unconscious in the wicker gondola when they find him. He has a face that under his whiskers appears to be all nose and cheekbones, with lips that have seen too much wind and not enough water. He is a handsome gentleman. Having tried to circumnavigate the globe, Benjamin has pneumonia, and two days prior to being found had a heart seizure as well. Now, seriously dehydrated, it is unlikely he will survive.
A handsome man, Vikram has a high forehead, curly hair and large eyes. He is a handsome man and his likeness has been in newspapers around the world. Wearing dark pants and black riding boots and coat, he looks as though he could have just returned from a ride at some nobleman's estate. He is suave and deliberate, but firm in his requests, assuring the Captain that cooperation would ensure no one come to harm. He has a son named Theodore.
Mr. Pieter Riddihoff
Pieter is a third officer and is Matt's relief shift for the crow's nest. Pieter is still a junior enough officer that he is required to take shifts in the crow's nest.
First officer on the Aurora, Paul is a very good pilot. He has blue eyes and his face is long and pale. His nose is often red and he frequently sounds plugged up when he talks. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that he always looks ready to sigh in annoyance.
Ship's doctor on the Aurora.
Wireless operator on board the Aurora.
Navigator on the Aurora.
Baz is Matt's cabin mate. He is the kind of person who is always in a good mood and has a great sense of humor. Baz is eighteen years of age, and comes from Australia. He has a sweetheart who waits for him in Sydney and during his upcoming month of shore leave, he intends to propose to her. Baz invites Matt to be his best man.
Chef Vlad Herzog
Chef aboard the Aurora, he has been described as volatile in the kitchen. Vlad has a Transylvanian accent and has been working as the Aurora's chef for all of the three years that Matt has been on board.
The young man behind the bar who works the afternoon shift in the lounge.
The rudder-man for the Aurora.
Sir Hugh Snuffler
The person who signed the letter sent to Kate from the Zoological Society regarding the findings of her grandfather.
Navigation officer on the Aurora
Assistant radio man who tries to repair the damage done to the Aurora's communications after they land on the island.
Chief sailmaker on board the Aurora.
One of the eight pirates who board the Aurora, Crumlin is a large brute of a man.
One of the pirates who boards the Aurora with Szpirglas, he has a British accent and appears to fancy himself to be a dandy of sorts. His hair is greased and he carries a carbine although one handed he can barely fit his thick finger into the trigger loop.
Vikram's only child, Theodore is looked after in the village by Delilah. He is an intelligent young boy who's mother died in childbirth, according to Vikram. He is polite and obedient, and will likely be as handsome as his father when he grows up.
This section contains 2,063 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)