|Broken Aquila / First Claw / Warband of the Exalted|
|Battle Cry||"We have come for you!"|
|Warband Leader||The Exalted, Talos Valcoran, Decimus|
|Base of Operations||Mobile|
|Strength||~10 squads at peak
Extinct at lowest
3 surviving marines of the original warband, potentially command of many more
|Specialty||Small scale operations, piracy|
The Warband of the Broken Aquila (formerly the Warband of the Exalted and Night Lords 10th Company before that) is a warband of Chaos Space Marines of the Night Lords Legion, if we still had to point that out. They're the guys you see in Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Night Lords trilogy.
It was thought of internally as still being the 10th Company of the Night Lords, but was publicly known as the Warband of the Exalted. During this period it was headed by the Captain Vandred, better known as the Exalted, which was actually the name of the daemonic entity that possessed Vandred. Its name was changed informally to the Warband of the Broken Aquila when Talos took over; this was changed because his breastplate has an Aquila that was ritually broken with a hammer to signify that they piss on their old ties to the Imperium. It was originally inspired when Talos took a bolt shell to the chest on Istvaan and his friend Cyrion said it looked good, so he decided to keep the look.
The warband is a relative newcomer to the 41st Millennium, being displaced in the warp from some point after the flight from Tsagualsa to a couple of centuries before the events of the books. (ADB admited that the timings he described in the first and second books didn't quite make sense and added an errata to the third book.) As a result, the Warband is licing 200 years subjective time from the heresy, and thus more closely resembles a Heresy-era company than a 40k-era Chaos Warband.
This warband has always been small, having a hundred marines at it's peak, similar in strength to a codex compliant chapter. However, due to attrition, next to no recruitment, and occasional desertion, this warband has been dwindling in numbers ever since it returned to take an active role in realspace. By the end of the third book, only three marines and a handful of human servants has survived. At best, the warband was decimated and the scattered survivors left to rebuild; at worst, the warband has unofficially disbanded and the survivors banded together with their surviving assets to form a new warband.
Effectively "First Squad", this formation is the core of the narration of the novels. While Talos is unquestionably the protagonist, his attitude and the strained teamwork of his squad drive most of the story.
- Talos: The leader of First Claw and former apothecary. His main shtick is that he has part of the Night Haunter's precognition, which is occasionally useful, but is also breaking his body down. He is oddly principled for a traitor marine and spends a lot of his time looking for some purpose other than just terror-murdering. He also makes a point of looking after his serfs well, provided they do what he tells them. A notable part of his character is that he isn't the most powerful or even the best fighter; instead he's the best at keeping a cohesive squad together and focused, which considering how dysfunctional the Night Lords are is saying something. He's also notable for being the one who hunted down and killed Curze's assassin, although she got away with the relics first. Dies alongside most of the squad while taking down Jain Zar herself, although given that she's a Phoenix Lord
she'll be back at some point in the futureshe came back for Psychic Awakening. It's never made clear exactly how his prophetic powers work - he's not otherwise described as a psyker or as psychically sensitive in any other meaningful way, and he differentiates his abilities from the farseeing of warp sorcerers as being "pure". Then again, Curze's abilities were described as psychic in the Heresy novels, and Talos's abilities are inferred to be a genetic inheritance. Possibly due to this, or because he was the only Night Lord who loved his father enough to avenge him rather than salivating over his legacy, Talos was one of the very few Night Lords that Curze genuinely liked (or at least didn't actively despise). His last battle came about when he was hunted by the forces of Ulthwe, lead by Jain Zarr. Injured and crippled, he let Jain Zarr get in what would have been the deathblow, had Talos not committed suicide by grenade cluster. Despite this, Jain Zarr's current body survived long enough for Malcharion to curb stomp her to death, then complain about having to finish everything for Talos.
- Xarl: The beatstick of First Claw. Talos's childhood friend (less so now) and regarded as the best fighter in the company. He's used as a threat by Talos to make anyone trying to edge for command by murdering their superiors. Xarl was a foil to Talos, being a cynic and cutting quite close to a grounded, if otherwise typical Night Lord, as opposed to Talos's romanticized ideas about his father and Legion. Apart from being an abrasive snarker, and chronic complainer, there isn't a lot else to say about him. Dies after headbutting a loyalist marine champion to death through his HELMET - Xarl wasn't wearing one. Badass to the end.
- Cyrion: The snarky, witty one. The closest thing to a friend Talos has and would appear to the be most normal of the claw. He has a Slaaneshi "gift" that lets him sense the fear of everyone around him. This would normally be considered an absolute chaos-godsend for a Night Lord, but has the rather drastic drawback of not being able to turn it off, tormenting him with others' woes and terrors. Unknown to just about everyone, he actually loves it, and it's also horribly addictive, forcing him to go on secret serial-killing sprees of the ships crew. Luckily for Cyrion, he has an eminently suitable patsy in Uzas. Uzas fights him and nearly kills him at the end of the road, but was saved by Talos. Cyrion soon dies of his injuries, but has the decency to be apologetic to Uzas in the end.
- Uzas: The one no one likes but keeps around because he's useful. The most obviously corrupted member of the squad, openly worshiping Khorne and going into berserk furies. Unfortunately for Uzas, either Khorne's attention was too much for his psyche or Uzas's opportunistic worship displeased Khorne. Either way, he's been reduced from a reasonably smart soldier, to a mad, stupid, screaming, blood-frenzied berzerker, with vanishingly few moments of lucidity giving hints that his old self survives somewhere inside. Whilst he usually targets crew serfs during his berserk moments, he has on at least one occasion attacked and killed a fellow Night Lord. Even Xarl has problems keeping him at bay during his rages. He's put on execution notice by Talos for his various transgressions, though the sad part is that it's not entirely his fault--he doesn't remember anything he does when he loses control and Cyrion keeps getting him to take the fall for his own murder sprees. During the fight with Jain Zarr, he takes a chakram to the face which knocks some sense into him, enough for him to put some pieces together. He's more than a bit tetchy with Cyrion when he finds out the truth. Towards the end, he starts taking skulls in Talos' name and First Claw instead of for Khorne, signifying that his renewed faith in Talos has finally outweighed his compulsive worship of Khorne, and he's almost back to the Night Lord ideal of a secular Chaos Space Marine. Right when he's about to kill Cyrion for letting him take the blame for Cyrion's own killings, and Talos stabs him in the back, thinking Uzas went berserk again. He dies gurgling on his own blood, but internally joyfully thanking Talos for putting him out of his misery.
- Mercutian: The closest thing to a normal member of the squad, being First Claw's heavy weapons guy. Not originally a member of 1st Claw (Talos' squad) but he and his old sergeant Adhemar were the survivors of Seventh Claw, and both were adopted during the events of the first book. Unlike the others, who were typical gangsters on Nostramo, Mercutian was the son of a wealthy aristocratic gangster, making him the best educated and most sophisticated of First Claw. Naturally, the makes him more than a little antagonistic with Xarl, who embraces that he was an urchin and street ganger in his youth and the most upfront about how they're all just upjumped criminals. In spite of their differences, they're both two of the more downbeat members of the squad, with Mercution sometimes complaining about how much things suck. Is a believer in the in-universe fan theory that Sevetar is still alive in the present, which given he was unaccounted for by the end of the Heresy, might have some credence, though many Night Lords including Talos simply dismiss the idea. He dies trying to buy time for the rest of First Claw as they run from Jain Zarr, managing to injure her leg and actually buying time rather than being a posthuman speed bump.
- Adhemar: An old Night Lord who was sergeant of Seventh Claw. He and Mercution were adopted into First Claw after a Warhound murderized the remains of their squad. Talos offers to give him leadership of First Claw, but he declines, later revealing that he believes in Talos's ability at maintaining squad cohesion is simply better than his own. He plays the role of the old soldier who is also a mentor to his men, being a senior badass who isn't afraid to cry manly tears at having to pull out his old squads' progenoids, and being a figure of respect who convinces Talos that he doesn't actually suck at his job during a moment of doubt. Like other old mentor archetypes, he also dies during a convenient point in the plot, taking a meltagun shot to the meant for Mercution and Uzas. This was also during the same campaign in which he and Mercution were inducted into First Claw, making him the shortest-serving member of the team.
- Variel: A Red Corsair who joins the Night Lords because they're more his style (and the Red Corsairs are pricks). Former Apothecary Secundus, neat-freak, and medic/torturer extraordinaire. Nicknamed "the Flayer" because he likes skinning peoples' faces and wearing them on his armor. Comes across as borderline autistic since he hates being touched, is incapable of picking up on relevant social cues, and is stoic to the point of hilarity. Despite thier mutual respect, he and Talos have a bond of loyalty based on principle rather than friendship. He is the only member of the squad to survive the events of the books. After Talos dies, Variel takes his well-matured geneseed and uses it to create Decimus, Talos's heir apparent.
- There's a popular fan theory that Variel pursued Octavia and Septimus through the stars to induct their child into the Legion, based on a line that Variel stated that he fully intended to confiscate Octavia's son when it was born to put him through recruitment. Considering the only time Talos actually defied Variel's wishes was when he fought like hell to keep Septimus, Octavia, and their unborn child away from Variel and put them into the relative safety of Imperial hands, and also that Primus through Nonus were all unrelated slaves, this seems unlikely, but technically possible. Also, the effort of finding and capturing Septimus and Octavia after they were extracted from Tsagualsa, as opposed to the effort it would take to simply seek out and take a new slave fit for Legion recruitment makes this unlikely.
Other Members of the Warband
- Vandred/The Exalted: Two characters for the price of one! Captain Vandred/The Exalted was the leader of the before Talos took over. Captain Vandred was known to have a gift for void warfare and actually cared about the people under his command, including the human crew of his vessel. He possibly fell into worship of Tzeentch, considering he is possessed and overpowered by a sociopathic Tzeentchian daemon, who keeps Vandred's soul bottled down for his expertise. Under the daemon's control, he mutated, growing knives for fingers and becoming incapable of smiling, but does it a lot anyways, resulting in bleeding whenever it feels the slightest bit anticipatory or triumphant. When the Exalted has access to Vandred's memories, it utilizes his expertise in void combat, but starts panicking when it can't do this. It has a love/hate relationship with Talos, seeing him as a threat to its authority but acknowledging his influence and precognitive gifts. Vandred's soul plays a very long game of patience with it, saving enough willpower over the centuries to take control back at the right moment, save the rest of the warband, and then dying, relinquishing control back to the demon so it would physically die while in his body.
- Lucoryphus: The leader of the Bleeding Eyes raptor cult. A former ganger, now turned pack animal. His eyes were first described as being marked with silvery "tears", but later stated that he does in fact have silvery "tears" which leak from his helmet. Also an all round creepy bastard. He joined the tenth company when the Exalted promised to extract a fellow Night Lord's raptors and promising to drop them off later at a rendezvous point (with no actual intentions of going to that rendezvous, of course). Is sufficiently mutated that he finds walking on all fours easier. Is also decaying alive under his armor, and eats people to keep it under control. Has no sense of personal space and gives off the impression of being ready to betray his commander at a moment's notice. He doesn't, however - in fact, he remains absolutely loyal to every one of his commanders. He's not a great leader himself as he gets most of his cult killed by taking on a group of Salamander terminators and in the cramped confines of a space hulk, and later Eldar Swooping Hawks, seeing his raptor diminished from twenty, to ten, to five, to just himself. He makes up for it by being the hardest member of the Bleeding Eyes, who's only criteria for leadership is being the biggest badass. He also has lightning claws for feet and realizes that an overcharged melta gun is a very effective tool for dungeon bypassing. Has a minor claim to fame for being the first traitor marine to land on the walls of the Imperial Palace during the Seige of Terra. The other Night Lords don't believe him. Also survives the events of the books.
- Vorasha: Lucoryphas's wingman (geddit?!). The only other member of the Bleeding Eyes to get named. He seems relatively normal compared to Lucoryphas, especially since he seems more restrained, but since he has to defer to the guy with Leroy Jenkins tendencies, he's second in squad command. He gets killed by an Eldar Swooping Hawk.
- Ruven: The one EVERYONE doesn't like, not just the Night Lords. Former librarian, sorcerer, betrayer extraordinaire, and all-round prick. Ditches the Night Lords to join the Black Legion but is quickly ditched by them when his plans don't work. Joins the Red Corsairs but fucks up again, and is chained up in a room with no food or water and really powerful spotlights shining in his eyes, which is a very effective method of torturing a Night Lord. Is allowed to rejoin the warband for probably the most elaborately stupid heist to steal a strike cruiser back (by attacking a loyalist fortress monastery as a distraction). Is so unpopular that two baseline humans, a navigator, and a blind mutant with a sawn-off basically tell him to fuck off when he tells them he needs armor maintenance. Stupidly decides that betraying the only people who took him back in was a good idea, but Talos was sensible enough to cut him in half before he could even try. Continues to haunt Talos after his death, at least in visions, if his ghost wasn't actually communicating with Talos.
- Malcharion: 'The War Sage.' Former Captain of the 10th company before he was interred in a Dreadnought and wrote their big book of war. Due to the difficulty of reactivating him, he was left in the care of Deltrian, 10th Company's resident tech priest, who mostly just let him sleep. Despite having survived, he was resentful at having been brought back in a dreadnought, thinking it was a cold and stifling existence. He was reawakened on Talos' orders when a leadership dispute threatened what little cohesion the Warband of the Exalted had. His first action was to turn an assault terminator who had been sent to stop his awakening into Swiss cheese with his autocannon. Can be described as Talos' cool grandpa. Was "killed" again taking down the Blood Angel's equivalent of Bjorn the Fell-Handed... for the second time, the two of them having first dueled as regular Astartes during the Siege of Terra. Unknown to the rest of the crew, his casket was saved and he was reactivated for the events of Void Stalker. Takes down a large number of Ulthwe Eldar in the crypts of Tsagualsa. After this, he planned to disappear into the catacombs and fall asleep for the last time. He survived Warband's last battle, killing Jain Zarr after Talos committed suicide via grenade cluster. It's unknown if his sarcophagus was recovered afterwards, but given how smart he was, his plans to deactivate for the last time was probably a success.
- Septimus/Coreth: A human serf of Talos, the 7th if the name wasn't a giveaway. A former Imperial shuttle pilot, he became Talos' artificer after being captured on a raid, which makes him rather invaluable to the crew in general. Loyal to 10th company rather than Chaos or traitor forces in general. Also survives the events of the series, with a slim vestige of a happy ending (WHAT?! IN MY 40k!).
- Octavia/Eurydice Mervallion: Talos' 8th serf and a Navigator. Quite young and unmutated for a member of the Nobilite (explained by her family being a weak one genetically and not very powerful on Earth). Got snatched from a 4th-rate rogue trader and suddenly became the Navigator of an Astartes warship. Reality ensues when her inexperience and lack of power make this a very difficult job to perform. Gets knocked up by Septimus, earning the latter a pretty big beating from Talos when he hears her fetus' heartbeat. Has an odd relationship with Talos, hating his guts for enslaving her and betraying the Imperium but kind of resigned to it. Also escapes the end of the books with a potentially happy ending.
- Maruc/Nonus: Talos's 9th serf, taken on a raid on a munitions station. Technically adept but really really horrified by all the things he sees during his short time with the Night Lords. Is killed protecting Octavia by a deamonically possessed Red Corsair, although he got a few shots off first.
- Deltrian: The Tech-Priest assigned to 10th Company and the Warband(s). Looks like a taller, thinner version of a terminator in a robe (the metal skeleton, not the armor), partly as a move to inspire the same kind of fear his masters have. Creates a stealth device by broadcasting the tortured screams of a Warhound princeps and converting it into a jamming signal. The other Night Lords were impressed by this practical application of their usual MO. Also survives the events of the books.
- Decimus: He is the guy that appears in the epilogue of Void Stalker, and being mentored by Variel and Lucoryphus. Implied to be the son of Septimus and Octavia, which might explain his name (or as a refernce to the 10th Company he owes much of his image to). When the Night Lord warbands ask him who he is and why he is standing in Talos's place; he says: "My name is Decimus. I am the prophet of VIIIth Legion." Pure badassery. His geneseed originally belonged to Talos, and he wears different parts of First Claw's armour. Unlike Talos, his prophetic powers don't seem to be breaking his body down and he's able to use them without going into fits and fugues. He also seems to have the ability, akin to parts of Curze's precognitive abilities, to look at someone and know how and when they'll die. If he is Octavia’s child then his Navigator lineage would make this reasonable.