Terrifying scourge of the skyways, the pirate gang called the Blue Wolves leaves towns in smoldering ruins behind them, the poor townsfolk bound for the labor camps of the Great Lakes. Settlements across the continent from Nova Scotia to Baja have been wiped from the map in the wake of the dreaded Fenrir and her escorts.
The Blue Wolves take their name from their mothership, a sky blue dirigible with a wolf’s head in profile across its flanks, the symbol of some now-forgotten brand. The Wolves now call it the Fenrir. Originally built for hauling heavy cargoes, it has been fitted by the pirates with additional engines and heavy guns, and its myriad compartments have become their den. The Blue Wolves also operate three smaller airships, each also named for wolves of Norse mythology: the Garmr, the Sköll, and the Hati. The smaller ships are sometimes out on independent operations, scouting or raiding, but at least one of the three can always be found in Fenrir’s shadow. The Blue Wolves find most of their targets on the ground–independent or unguarded towns and the occasional unlucky airship at anchor–but when they do set their sights on an airborne prize, the flotilla fights as a pack. The smaller, nimbler airships flank and box in their prey, holding it for the clumsier but powerful Fenrir to close in for the kill.
In charge of the Blue Wolves is the mysterious crone called the Wolfmother. Clever, ruthless, and ancient, her old name and history are an enigma, but rumors of her present pride and sanguine savvy spread wide across the wasteland. She leads her beloved pack from her throne in the belly of the Fenrir, where she alone plots every move the Blue Wolves make. A haughty figure, she deigns not to touch the earth or any airframe that the Blue Wolves have not made their own by conquest. Even the Barons of the Great Lakes must board the Fenrir to seek an audience with her.
Below the Wolfmother are her Alphas. Powerful and violent men, they serve as her officers, her enforcers, and her consorts. The Alphas are selected for their strength, and their role is to control the gang, not direct it. The Wolfmother’s first Alpha, the only man she ever called her husband, once made a play to supplant her as top dog in the organization. After executing him publicly and painfully, she had his bones made into decorations and his skull made into a goblet that is never far from her hand. The Alphas may take other lovers, and are expected to show the proper amount of initiative when off the Fenrir, but each of them knows his place: to make real the will of the Wolfmother, and to beat that will into his packmates when necessary. The Alphas each receive a three full shares of the loot when a prize is divided.
Under the Alphas are the regular Blue Wolves, the unranked packmates. There’s overlap between the role of the sexes in the Blue Wolves, but for the most part, the men do the fighting while the women do the fixing and the flying. “Engines are women’s work,” is a phrase oft-heard from Blue Wolves, along with, “Let the men bear their teeth.” Regardless of their role on one of their airships, packmates each receive a full share of the loot.
Under the regular packmates are the unfortunate Omegas, the new crewmen recruited from the streets or pressed up into service out of slavery. The Omegas are given the worst jobs, the worst quarters, and only half a share of the loot. The other packmates heap abuse on Omegas with impunity with beatings and humiliation. This continues until the Omega earns their fellow pirates’ respect, either by proving their worth on the crew in regular duties, or by shifting focus onto newer or meeker Omegas. The sure-fire way to rise above Omega is to prove oneself on a raid. Omegas are given the option of staying out of combat, but an Omega that refuses to fight risks remaining an Omega forever.
The Blue Wolves have small forts all over the continent for stashing supplies. They often unload stolen cargoes and slaves at these bases if their holds have grown full before it is time for them to return to safe harbor in Detroit or Milwaukee. They have no central base of their own, however, except for the Fenrir itself. The outposts are found all over the Blue Wolves’ territory, which means they are scattered from coast to coast, excepting within the borders of strongly-defended territories like Deseret, Mexico, and the AIRCOM-patrolled part of the Pacific Northwest. The Blue Wolves never risk the Fenrir near any of these enemies, all of whom have huge bounties posted against the Blue Wolves and who have on occasion ventured from their borders to hunt them. Though prudence has them keep the Fenrir safe, pride demands that the Blue Wolves not let their prey rest at ease, so the Garmr, Sköll, and Hati are used to make raids into those territories.
When the Blue Wolves attack a town, it is a terrible, apocalyptic sight. Their airships rain down incendiary weapons and burning chemicals on the buildings, driving their prey into the open. Then comes the landing, with hunting parties of Wolves disembarking to crush any remaining resistance and hunt down those that flee. On the ground, the Wolves’ specialty is shotguns loaded with rock salt to painfully incapacitate their targets, with buttstocks and other bludgeons for subduing. Those that put up a fight will taste lead or the Wolves will “bare their teeth” and break out some manner of vicious blade. The slave buyers on the Great Lakes prefer their merchandise un-maimed, but their willingness to injure and kill their prey adds to the Blue Wolves’ terrifying reputation.
Their human cargo secured, along with any valuables not consumed in the fires, the Blue Wolves return to the industrial cities on the Great Lakes, where the ruling Barons are always eager for more workers to send to toil and death in their irradiated factories. The Barons harbor and sanction all manner of slavers and pirates, so long as the brigandage is conducted entirely outside their own territory. The Blue Wolves are the Baron’s single largest source of slaves, and for that, they are accorded a place of honor. The carousing that the Blue Wolves conduct when they set out to spend their plunder is chaotic and destructive, even by post-apocalyptic pirate standards, but the good favor of such reliable suppliers is deemed by the Barons to be worth the cleanup cost.