Following my recent renewal of interest in "Crimson Skies" thanks to the "Zeppelins and Bombers" supplement, I dug out my early notes on the pirate squadron I was working on (working name "The Grim Reavers") I would welcome any feedback and suggestions!
(P.S. The bit about the rivalry between Grimm and Malloy came from a conversation with a good friend of mine about my pirates who said, "You should call them the Reapers!" And then I said, "There's already a group called the Reapers." And she said, "But yours could be the GRIM Reapers!" And it just got more confusing from there.)
THE GRIM REAVERS
The Grim Reavers were founded in 1935 when Davis Grimm, a former ISA engineer and test pilot, deserted his post at Messerschmitt/General Motors Aircraft. A vocal anti-Fascist and supporter of Republican Spain, Grimm was a skilled aircraft flyer and designer but repeatedly ran into trouble with his superiors regarding his attitude. GM performance reports claimed he expressed paranoid hostility toward visiting German representatives from Messerschmitt and falsely accused them of stealing his ideas; Grimm counter-claimed in turn that the German visitors had a sinister hidden agenda in the ISA and that he had been the target of suspicious equipment failures and near-misses in live-fire training exercises against the “friendly” German flight instructors appearing in steadily greater numbers as “advisers” with ISA militia squadrons.
Bitter and seeking to hurt General Motors in the most sensitive spots possible — their pocketbooks and public image — Grimm stole a protoype GM-1 Tempest and fled the Industrial States of America, delivering the advanced fighter into the hands of an eager buyer — the sinister Blackflag Corporation. Grimm offered the fighter in exchange for funds and equipment to outfit his own pirate squadron. To sweeten the deal, Grimm offered his knowledge of classified GM aeronautical advances to help Blackflag develop its next series of aircraft. Blackflag readily agreed, and the result was the Grim Reavers.
Paid handsomely with a squadron of four Blackflag aircraft, including a pair of Firestorms, “Black Davy” Grimm and his flyers have repeatedly struck at ISA military and commercial aerodromes, stripping them of resources that he willingly shares with Blackflag in exchange for continued support for his pirate band. Grimm takes ironic delight in stealing the resources of the government that he feels betrayed him. Operating off their refitted zeppelin, the Fandango
, and flying sturdy pirate craft such as the Firestorm, Nightingale and Devastator, the Reavers specialize in raiding airfields and aircraft manufacturers, though they're not adverse to robbing the occasional passenger zeppelin carrying wealthy passengers through Chicago or Cleveland. While the Reavers have also tangled with squadrons from Hollywood and with rival pirate and smuggler bands over the disputed territories and Colorado, their main targets are always the ISA and General Motors, whom they take every opportunity to rob and publicly embarrass through mocking radio broadcasts and other messages left after robberies. Grimm has been careful to cultivate good relations with the ISA's enemies to aid in his vendetta. While they do not possess a formal letter of Marque from the People's Collective (Privateering is counter to the Collective's socialist philosophies) Grimm's pro-Republican sympathies in the Spanish Civil War and attacks on the ISA have won him supporters in the People's Collective, and the Grim Reavers frequently share the spoils of their ISA raids with needy farmers on the border in exchange for food, shelter and concealed hideouts for their planes. As a result, Grimm and his rascals have developed a growing popularity as a “Robin Hood”-style bandit and minor celebrity within the Collective--who turn a blind eye and publicly deny any support for his depredations.
While ruthless in shooting down Luftwaffe opponents, the Grim Reavers have a strict code against civilian casualties, and are noted for their tradition of the “Ferryman’s Fee” in air duels — they will never harm an opponent who willingly lands and surrenders his aircraft to them. Of course, likely as not, said aircraft is most likely to end up in parts to feed the rapacious assembly lines of the Blackflag Corporation.
The Industrial States of America have put a $10,000 bounty on the head of "Black Davy" Grimm, dead or alive. If there is one pirate band that is relentless in its efforts to claim said bounty, it would be Edwin “Mallet” Malloy’s Reapers. As a former factory owner driven out of the People’s Collective, Malloy takes personal affront from Grimm’s attacks on the ISA and the boost to People’s Collective morale resulting from the exploits of the Grim Reavers. Grimm, conversely, complains about Malloy constantly in mocking radio broadcasts — Grimm says he wanted to name his own pirates “The Grim Reapers
” and blames Malloy for taking the name first, whereas Malloy is infuriated that some people seem to mistake his squadron with Grimm's pro-Collective rogues. The two pirate bands often clash in battle, but often become so confused as to who’s who that little damage is actually done.