Jeremy Rankin

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Character Profile

Name: Jeremy Rankin
Date of Birth: Unknown
Service: Aerial Corps
Rank: Captain
Nationality: British
Billets: Loch Laggan covert, captain to Levitas
New South Wales, captain to Caesar


Biography

Jeremy Rankin came from the Rankin family and a long line of Aerial Corps captains. A younger son of the Earl of Kensington, Rankin was a tall, blond man, always impeccably dressed and with a gentleman's manners to those he considered his social peers.

Rankin's mother insisted on keeping him at home longer than usual for young aviator candidates. His grandfather had been the first captain for Celeritas and his uncle had apparently been the second, so it was assumed that he would automatically inherit the post.

However, Celeritas could not tolerate him and left active service for a captainless training position. Celeritas blamed Rankin's upbringing for giving him "strange notions" and thought that "he ought never have been been an aviator, much less a captain", but did not fully state his objections. Rankin was reassigned to courier duty at the age of 12, harnessing a Winchester named Levitas. His treatment of Levitas alternated between abuse and neglect, proving himself no gentleman at heart.

Britain, 1805

Captain Rankin initially befriended William Laurence after Laurence was treated coldly by other aviators. Laurence noticed that Rankin was similarly ostracized, and believed Rankin's noble birth was the cause. However, once Laurence discovered that Rankin's treatment of Levitas was the reason for his unpopularity, he regretted befriending Rankin and distanced himself thereafter.

Rankin did prove himself useful by advising Laurence on where to buy jewellery for Temeraire in Edinburgh. He told Laurence that it is amazing how jewellery restores a dragon's spirits, saying that whenever his beast became sulky, he would bring him a bauble "and he is at once all happiness again; just like a temperamental mistress." Levitas was never seen proudly displaying any precious gifts from his captain, so it is unknown what Rankin may have given him.

After Levitas died at the Dover covert from an injury following a reconnaissance mission, Admiral Lenton chose to send Hollin - on Laurence's recommendation - to harness a Winchester about to hatch rather than to place another dragon in Rankin's hands.

Australia, 1809-1810

Rankin was later sent to New South Wales and was given the command of an egg. He arrived on the HMS Beatrice within a few weeks after Laurence and Temeraire arrived on the Allegiance, and at first refused to speak to Laurence. Jane Roland sent a letter to Laurence on the Beatrice in which she said that Rankin only got the chance at another egg because of his family's political influence, and that she rather hoped he would drown in transit. She suggested giving him the first egg they had out of Arkady's feral band since he had experience with them in the field.

The egg hatched into Caesar, who (like his sire, Arkady) wanted a very rich captain, so Rankin suited him fine. Ironically enough, Rankin's relationship with his new dragon was much healthier, as they were of similar temperaments.

Conversely, Rankin immediately decided that Tharkay was his social inferior and seldom deigned to speak directly to him or even use his name, scornfully referring to him only as a "Chinaman".

Rankin and Caesar accompanied Laurence's and Temeraire's expedition to find a pass from Sydney through the Blue Mountains. When one of the two remaining eggs was stolen, the expedition was prolonged to pursue the thieves in hopes of retrieving the egg before it hatched.

During the pursuit, the third egg hatched. At first, Rankin tried to give priority to Drewmore and Blincoln, who had come with him on the Beatrice. Both men had seniority to Forthing, whom Laurence and Granby had previously agreed was a better candidate, but Granby was not present to enforce the decision and Laurence had no military standing.

The egg hatched out a sickly-looking dragonet who could not fly at birth. None of Rankin's aviators (nor Forthing) wanted to harness it. Rankin wanted to kill it, as was traditionally done for such hatchlings, but Laurence argued against this and asked Temeraire to feed the dragonet. By this point of the conversation, Demane had harnessed the dragonet with his belt and named him Kulingile.

Rankin had no more respect for Demane than for Tharkay, He refused to accept Demane's previous or present status as an officer, scoffing that Laurence's "personal servant" had "made a pet of the creature" and that neither of them had any place in the Aerial Corps.

On their eventual return to Sydney, Rankin wanted to lead Caesar against a perceived rebellion by the New South Wales Corps, even after the altercation ended. Laurence and Temeraire stopped him, incurring his anger.

Laurence expected Rankin to leave with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who had been deposed like his predecessor William Bligh and wanted to take any loyalist officers to India. The new self-proclaimed First Minister of Australia, John Macarthur, persuaded Rankin (via Caesar) to stay as nominal commander of the Sydney covert. However, it was an empty honor in the absence of any other dragons to command, as Temeraire and Kulingile intended to leave Sydney and retire to build a pavilion in the Blue Mountains.

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