The phrase "First Claw" (or 1st Claw) is itself a simple squad designation used by the Night Lords Chaos Space Marine Legion of unknown derivation; exactly why the word ‘claw’ is used instead of ‘squad’ is unknown, though given the high use of Nostraman terms within the legion and the difficulty in translating that dead language into Low Gothic, it may just be a simple translation result, rather than anything more deliberately metaphorical.
Regardless, this squad designation, while in possible use in all Night Lords units that still operate using Legion organisational schemes, in most recorded instances worth noting refers to one particular First Claw: 1st Claw, 10th Company, once of The Exalted's warband, later of the warband of Talos Valcoran.
First Claw, Tenth Company, Night Lords Legion
The early history of the First Claw of Tenth Company is not clearly known at this point in time, much of their deeds during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy currently unrecorded, although at least a few members were present for some of the former and all of the latter.[2a]
The first known commander of First Claw was Sergeant Vandred Anrathi[2a][2b], who led them at least up until the Siege of the Emperor’s Palace. Also present within the Claw at this time was Apothecary Talos Valcoran, whose life was saved by his Sergeant during the siege.[2c] At some point after the death of the Night Lords' Primarch, Konrad Curze, Vandred Anrathi rose to command all of 10th Company.[1a] This event was likely tied to the interment of Captain Malcharion, the previous Company commander, although the exact order of events is not currently known. Talos, in turn, would become leader of First Claw, although again, the exact circumstances of the Apothecary’s rise to the command position are not clear. What is known is that Talos' Legionary serial number is 1-2-10, or 1st Claw, 2nd Astartes, 10th Company[1b], perhaps indicating that he was simply next in line after Vandred Anrathi in terms of seniority. Certainly he was never directly promoted to a command position, and may simply have become leader by force of personality alone.[1c]
The actions of First Claw during the bulk of the Long War are not known, although it should be noted that warp-time dilation has made the 10,000 years between the Heresy and their actions in 999.M41 pass in little more than three centuries to Talos and First Claw.[5a] 10th Company transformed into the Warband of The Exalted over that time period — "The Exalted" being the title used by the now-daemonically possessed Captain Vandred Anrathi.
First Claw, The Warband of The Exalted
The first fully known deployment of First Claw after the Heresy was a rather desultory visit to a randomly traveling asteroid; drawn there by a prophetic vision, First Claw interrupted the mining operation of a Rogue Trader and captured their Navigator, Eurydice Mervallion, whom Talos would take on as a slave-servant under the appellation 'Octavia'. What made this operation significant to Talos, if not all of First Claw, was that the asteroid was in fact a fragment of Nostramo, the long-destroyed homeworld of the Night Lords Legion.[1e]
Shortly after this, the Exalted’s warband joined a great mustering of the Chaos Legions under the banner of the Warmaster Abaddon himself, in the Crythe system. There, First Claw was immediately deployed into battle in a boarding action which resulted in the destruction of the Imperial Avenger Grand Cruiser Sword of the God-Emperor.[1f]
As The Exalted’s warband formed up with the other forces under the command of the Warmaster, they received a request for Talos, the prophet of the 10th, to attend upon Abaddon the Despoiler personally. First Claw journeyed to the meeting, although only Talos was allowed into the Despoiler's presence. The others were then hastily forced to return to the Covenant of Blood aboard a Black Legion vessel, their own vessel – the Thunderhawk, Blackened — being impounded. Separated from his support, Talos was offered a place in the Black Legion by Abaddon, who wished to acquire Talos’ services in order to exploit his precognitive ability. When he refused, Abaddon took more direct action, incapacitating Talos and subjecting him to a forced Chaos Ritual carried out by the turncoat Ruven, once a member of First Claw himself and now a sorcerously empowered member of the Black Legion. The ritual was designed to either open Talos up to the true glory of Chaos or corrupt and brainwash him into Abaddon’s servitude, depending upon one’s point of view. This ritual failed, Talos resisting the temptations of the Ruinous Powers. Disgusted, Abaddon departed, leaving Talos to his fate. In the meantime, Blackened had been attacked by Ruven’s human pawns. It’s crew, First Claw’s mortal servants Septimus and Octavia, had suffered as a result. Septimus was gravely injured, while the female Octavia was kidnapped by the damned madmen. Upon his recovery from the ritual, Talos stemmed Septimus’ wounds, before hunting down and murdering all of Octavia’s kidnappers, reacquiring his servant in the process.[1g]
Despite this unpleasantness, Talos and First Claw continued to deploy according to the military strategy of their commander, under the banner of the Warmaster. After a series of grueling ground-assaults upon the Industrial World of Crythe itself, First Claw found itself with two new recruits, as 7th Claw of the warband was effectively destroyed in the fighting. Bonds forged in the fires of combat — specifically, bringing down the Warhound Scout Titan Hunter in the Grey with a coordinated strike — united First Claw with Seventh's survivors, Adhemar and Mercutian. First Claw also succeeded in capturing the Princeps of the Titan, keeping him alive as a valuable prize.[1h]
Talos then decided to attempt to awaken the warband's Dreadnought, Malcharion himself. At the fatal wounding of 10th Company's Captain, Malcharion had been interred within a Dreadnought, but had refused to activate. Convinced The Exalted was no longer a fit commander, Talos settled on the bold action of awakening Malcharion. Enlisting the help of Legion tech-adept Deltrian to carry out the lengthy process, First Claw locked itself inside the reawakening chamber, guarding against the attempt to prevent it they knew would come. This attempt was made by Vraal of the Atrementar, the most disposable of The Exalted's Terminator bodyguards. Vraal proved superior to Mercutian, Xarl and Cyrion of First Claw in combat, wounding the latter, and was only prevented from killing all of them by the activation of Malcharion, who slew the crazed Terminator himself.[1i]
Whilst acceding to the need to fulfill their deal with Abaddon, Malcharion over-ruled the Exalted's direct command over the remnants of 10th Company, leading them into combat on Crythe personally. First Claw took part in these actions in the vanguard, tasked with hunting down and executing specific members of the Adeptus Mechanicus defenders. However, shortly before launching to join the final battle, Talos' precognitive powers informed him that an Imperial relief force led by the Blood Angels Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes was scant hours away from translating in-system and wreaking tremendous damage upon the Warmaster's forces. Malcharion immediately ordered his Night Lords to retreat. The Imperial reinforcements attacked immediately upon arrival, and there was a short period of time where First Claw were effectively all the resistance available to meet the Blood Angels boarders. First Claw held off these invaders until their own reinforcements could arrive straight from battle on the planet's surface, including Malcharion himself. The Dreadnought entered into combat with a Blood Angels Dreadnought known as Raguel: a Blood Angel champion struck low by Malcharion when both existed outside their Dreadnought life-support systems. The battered First Claw emerged victorious from the vicious boarding action, although Malcharion was knocked — apparently permanently — off-line and Adhemar killed.[1j]
At some point afterwards, First Claw were instrumental in discovering the location of a Callidus Temple upon the world of Uriah III, reputed to contain the original pict-log of the assassination of their Primarch by the Imperial Assassin M'Shen. Spreading this news throughout the Legion, a great mustering of Night Lords took place upon the world, which found itself invaded. First Claw took to the fore in this action, but it was the Exalted and the Atramentar who discovered the pict-log. Unfortunately for the Night Lords, it proved to be only a copy, meaning that their search for the original would have to continue. However, the captured recording was itself copied by all the Night Lords commanders present and disseminated throughout the Legion so that the children of Curze could see their father once more.
In the wake of these actions, the Exalted's warband found itself critically low on supplies. First Claw were part of a force deployed to raid a stronghold world of the Marines Errant, where they were able to torture the location of that Chapter's primary supply post from a captured Marine. They then executed the capture of this stronghold — a deep-space refinery and warehousing station called Ganges — by using their human servant, Septimus, as an infiltrator and ghosting the Covenant of Blood up to boarding range of the station under a sensor-jamming field. In the aftermath of this raid, First Claw gained another servant when Septimus selected the captured worker Maruc to be his aide. This action was partly necessitated by the arms and armour of First Claw being severely damaged in an internecine fight with 3rd Claw of the warband, who attacked First Claw in a vengeance-strike brought about by Uzas of the First slaying one of their own whilst in a Khornate trance. First Claw were victorious in this combat, with 3rd Claw slain to a Marine.[2d]
Shortly afterwards, the Exalted decided to dock at Hell's Iris in order to fully repair and refit the Covenant. First Claw were deployed as the warband's ambassadors upon reaching Hell's Iris, and taken to meet the lord of the station, Huron Blackheart. During this affair, they were reunited with two once-colleagues, Variel the Flayer, an Apothecary of the Red Corsairs who had allied with them in the past, and none other than the turncoat Sorcerer Ruven, who had been abandoned by Abaddon after Crythe and ended up as a prisoner of Huron's. Huron agreed to refit and repair the Covenant of Blood in return for a labour-debt; the Night Lords of the Exalted would accompany him on a military campaign as his vanguard. The Exalted agreed to this price, but principally for motives entirely separate for earning the repair of the Covenant. For amongst the Red Corsair fleet was a vessel the Night Lords recognised; the Echo of Damnation, sister-ship to their own, somehow now a prize vessel of the renegade 'weakbloods'. The Exalted and all his warband resolved to take it back.[2e]
Following along with Huron's plan, the Exalted's warband deployed onto the world of Vilamus in stealth, invading the fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant located there. First Claw led the way in this insertion, slaying serfs and causing havoc inside the complex, drawing attention away from the void shield generators, which other elements of the warband proceeded to sabotage. With these down, Huron and the Red Corsairs were able to teleport inside the fortress-monastery. First Claw fought alongside Huron for a time, before simply and quietly abandoning the battle, as did all of the Exalted's forces already committed. In a previously planned step, an earlier-freed Ruven assumed navigation duties aboard the Covenant of Blood, while Octavia joined a handpicked boarding team led by First Claw. They arrived on a ship already partially secured due to the actions of the Red Corsair Apothecary, Variel, who had decided to take up an invitation to join First Claw. Using his position of seniority in the Red Corsairs, he had been able to usurp the command echelon of the Echo of Damnation and purge most of its Astartes contingent out of a decompressing shuttlebay. First Claw then executed the Echo's Navigator, replacing her with Octavia, effectively stealing the ship. Communing with Ruven aboard the Covenant, both ships warp-jumped away from Vilamus at the same time.[2f]
Unfortunately, they did not materialise at the same set of pre-arranged realspace co-ordinates. This allowed the pursuing Red Corsairs forces time to catch up with the Covenant of Blood and engage her in void-war. By the time the Echo of Damnation was able to arrive and offer assistance, the Covenant was grievously damaged. The possibility of impending death having weakened the daemonic possession suffered by the being known as the Exalted, Captain Vandred Anrathi was able to bring himself to the fore for first time of any significant length in years, ordering the abandoning of his ship and all personnel and material to transport themselves to the Echo of Damnation. Keeping a skeleton crew aboard, Vandred used the Covenant of Blood to hold off the Red Corsair fleet, allowing the Echo of Damnation and all aboard her to escape under the command of Talos of First Claw.[2g]
First Claw, the Warband of Talos
The first action of the Claw afterwards was the elimination of the traitorous Ruven, who had survived the destruction of the Covenant of Blood. Talos’ given reason for killing Ruven was that the sorcerer had previously slain his servant Secundus, and this destruction of Legion property could not stand. In a similar fashion, Uzas of First Claw was chastised for the deaths he had caused amongst the warband’s slaves when in a berserker state, sentenced under Legion law to offer his life up in recompense whenever Talos demanded it.[2h]
Some five months (relative) later, First Claw deployed themselves aboard a Space Hulk in order to loot a lost Adeptus Mechanicus Titan support vessel known to be part of it. This mission was carried out successfully, despite the presence of both Genestealers and Imperial Space Marines of the Salamanders Chapter onboard the Hulk. While the Warband in general took casualties, only Variel of First Claw was wounded. In the aftermath of the operation, the Covenant of Blood set course to pursue the Salamanders vessel, while First Claw found themselves with six sets of salvaged Terminator suits.
Talos' increasingly vivid visions would lead his new warband to Tsagualsa, the world where their Primarch had perished millennia before at the hands of M'Shen. Terrorizing the Imperial settlers that had since taken residence on the world, Talos and his warband battled against Imperial retribution which came in the form of the Genesis Chapter. In the ensuing battle, Xarl lost his life and an enraged Talos chased down the loyalist Space Marines Strike Cruiser to exact vengeance.[5b] However First Claws troubles on Tsagualsa had only begun, as they soon came under attack from Ulthwé Eldar, whose Farseers has predicted that Talos would pose a great threat to the Eldar race one day and were determined to end him before the prophecy could be fulfilled. Talos, First Claws, and its allies made their final stand on Tsagualsa, and nearly the entire warband was destroyed in a vicious fight against the Eldar warhost, which was led by the Phoenix Lord Jain Zar. Talos succeeded in defeating Jain Zar at the cost of his own life, but nearly every member of First Claws and its allies were dead. Of its original Battle-Brothers, only Variel and Malcharion remained.[5c]
Known Members of First Claw
- Anrathi, Vandred
- Talos Valcoran
- Zell, Sar
Known Servants of First Claw
First Claw maintain the Legion practice of employing dedicated serfs — although the current individuals are perhaps more accurately described as slaves. In direct service to Talos rather than the Claw as a whole, these serfs are referred to by High Gothic nomenclature rather than their given names.
- Primus — died in battle aboard the Covenant of Blood.[1k]
- Secundus — slain by Ruven.[2i]
- Tertius — suffered warp corruption and executed by Talos as a result.[1k]
- Quintus — killed by the Exalted.[1k]
Nothing is currently known of the individuals who would have laboured under the names of Four or Six at present other than they existed and have since died.
- 1: Soul Hunter (Novel)
- 1a: [Needs Citation], pg. 353
- 1b: Chapter XIV
- 1c: [Needs Citation], pgs. 141–142
- 1d: [Needs Citation], pg. 238
- 1e: Chapter I
- 1f: Chapter IV-V
- 1g: [Needs Citation], pgs. 157–221
- 1h: [Needs Citation], pgs. 243–262, 276–279
- 1i: [Needs Citation], pgs. 283–306
- 1j: [Needs Citation], pgs. 321–409
- 1k: Prologue
- 2: Blood Reaver (Novel)
- 2a: [Needs Citation], pgs. 213–226
- 2b: [Needs Citation], pg. 95
- 2c: [Needs Citation], pg. 215
- 2d: [Needs Citation], pgs. 23–38, 45–69, 92–94
- 2e: [Needs Citation], pgs. 78–81, 178–194, 232–234
- 2f: [Needs Citation], pgs. 279–355
- 2g: [Needs Citation], pgs. 369–390
- 2h: [Needs Citation], pgs. 391–398
- 2i: [Needs Citation], pg. 298
- 3: Throne of Lies (Audio Drama)
- 4: The Core (Short Story)
- 5: Void Stalker (Novel)