- "We meet out destiny whether we try to avoid it or not, and we met ours. We found divine purpose among the Gods and great pleasure in the destruction of our enemies."
- — Astaphore the Blind
The Daemon Claws are a Warband of Chaos Space Marines. They were once the Loyalist Chapter known as the Wrath Hammers - a Codex-compliant Chapter unknown origins and Founding. They were once furious warriors dedicated to the hunting of daemons and destruction of Chaos. It is unknown exactly what happened, but during their last crusade for the Imperium in a sector not far from the Eye of Terror, they were presumed to be destroyed by a the Forces of Chaos while trapped by Warp Storms.
The Chapter was rediscovered approximately a hundred Terran Standard years later in 374.M35 as they emerged from a Warp Rift that formed above an Imperial World in a sector that neighboured the one they disappeared in, though they were not their former selves having fallen into the service of Chaos Undivided.
History of the Wrath Hammers
Nothing was known about the Founding and earliest history of the Wrath Hammers, though their Founding is suspected to be somewhere between the 3rd Founding and as late as a millennium after the 3rd Founding. However, this was of no importance to the Chapter or anyone else since the Chapter's purpose and duties were very well defined and summarised by the following order that headers their mandate: The Wrath Hammers are to seek out and destroy all those Astartes who have turned from the Emperor's Light and embraced the darkness of his enemies.
Given their zeal and purpose, they tended to work with the Inquisition on a regular basis, often employing their Daemon Hunters and their Witch Hunters on occasion in the enactment of their duties.
It was also noted early on that the resistance and strength of their Librarius Brothers was uncommonly strong, making some suspicious of them, especially since they operated frequently in the shadow of the Eye of Terror.
The Crusades of Isolation
During the later years of their service to the Imperium, they often to to crusading father out to the galactic west of the Eye of Terror. During this time, they sought out the help of the Inquisition as well as their fellow Astartes less and less, some believing that there was a less-than-savory motive behind such a choice. Nobody ever found out whether or not such suspicions were true, but later events would only add to the conviction of people's belief in these theories.
This choice often meant that, more often than not, they stood alone against the Ruinous Powers, only every fighting alongside the few human auxiliaries that traveled with them as well as any local populations that had not yet been killed or corrupted. Despite their relative solitude, they had great success against the Forces of Chaos, boasting some possibly infatuated but undeniable victories.
During these crusade, they relied even more heavily on their Librarius, turning to their skills for the extra support their allies would have otherwise provided. They became part of the Vangaurd, often seen forgoing Terminator Armour and other such artifices in order to take Jump Packs in order to aid in the thickest of the fray. This gave the Chapter a fearsome reputation, meaning that they were not only often feared by the relatively few human auxiliaries that fought alongside them, but also drew concerns from other Chapters.
What further added to the combat abilities of the Wrath Hammers' Librarius was their shift in tactics to a specialisation in close-quarters combat. The employment and development of such tactics saw the increased benefits of the powers that the Librarius wielded since the other Astartes were able to capitalise properly and completely on the advantages their psykic Brothers provided.
In the later years of this era in their history, the Wrath Hammers began fighting many Warbands that heavily employed the use of daemons. According to the few now-sealed records that were recovered, the Chapter often actively sought out such Warbands in order to conquer them, apparently believing that it was their duty to seek out and destroy them as they were - to their eyes - some of the most dangerous Warbands in existence. With the Librarius in the Vanguard and a focus on melee combat tactics, seeking out such Warbands was often dangerous and, in the first recorded encounters, was met with great losses. None know what it was, but a solution was evidently found since as their crusades against such Warbands went on, the number of losses the Wrath Hammers sustained per crusade decreased.
With such Chapter cohesion, tactics, and purpose in place, they were able to successfully crusade against against the various Warbands across in relatively isolated regions of space to the galactic west of the Eye of Terror. The longer they crusaded in these sorts of regions, the more they investigated the Warbands that employed the use of daemons and, in the twilight years of their loyalty, began investigating the often small Warp Rifts that were associated with such Warbands.
Notable Conflicts of the Wrath Hammers
March of the Daemon Crusade [ 295.M34 -- 301.M34 ]
The March of the Daemon Crusade was a particularly vicious campaign that saw the death of over three hundred of the Wrath Hammers' Astartes, an unrecorded number of Inquisition casualties, and the deaths of tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of auxiliary troops. The rise of Nexetia, Herald of Insanity and Daemon Princess of Tzeentch became such a severe threat to the Imperium that both the Wrath Hammers and the Inquisition had no choice but to intervene in order to help the evidently failing Imperial defenses.
They crusaded against her forces for several years before finally breaking through to the sub-sector in which the Daemon Princess was believed to be. They were worried that after so long fighting through her forces in order to get to her, she would escape their clutches and prolong the war even further. Several months of fighting ensued across the sub-sector with Imperial Forces stretched relatively thin. They eventually caught up with Nexetia on the far edge of the sub-sector.
When the eventually reached the planet, they found that she was preparing to open a Warp Rift in a relatively desperate attempt fend of the Imperial Forces that had managed to penetrate deep into her territories. In a planetary assault that was equally as desperate, the Wrath Hammers and the Inquisition attempted to not only halt her dangerous efforts but to also banish her to the Warp. The ensuing battles both in the space above the planet and on the planet's surface were extremely costly to the Inquisition, with the Wrath Hammers alone losing more than a hundred and fifty Astartes.
The battle came to a dramatic conclusion when the opening of the Warp Rift was prevented followed by the banishment of Nexetia to the Warp. The Librarius of the Chapter suffered greatly as a result of this because of the combined effects of the Warp energies required in order to attempt to open a Warp Rift as well as the required exertion to banish the powerful Daemon Princess. A few of the Librarius were so adversely affected by these events that they were executed out of the fear that they had been corrupted.
In the aftermath of the victory, all known records of the planet were purged and an Exterminatus was called down on the planet to properly purge the Chaos taint from it. The planet is now a Dead World that was subject to a cordon which lasted for over a millennium before it was deemed unnecessary. Another millennium passed before a number of self-sufficient subterranean mining colonies were established there.
The Last Strike of the Hammers
During their last known activities as a Loyalist Chapter of the Space Marines, the Wrath Hammers had been on a crusade the sector known as < Records Expunged > where their main purpose was to hunt down various elements of an unidentified and forgotten Chaos Warband. It is believed that this particular Chaos Warband they were hunting employed the use of daemons to a massive extent to help mitigate the fact they their ranks of their Astartes were thin.
During this particular campaign, they were trapped within a the sector by furious Warp Storms along with the auxiliary forces that were fighting alongside. The Imperium at large later assumed that all of the auxiliary forces were destroyed and, since the Wrath Hammers were not seen at all for nearly a hundred Terran Standard Years later, the Chapter was also presumed to be destroyed.
During the early part of their entrapment, they fought valiantly in the local regions of space the various fleet elements had been trapped in, believing that the Warp Storms that had trapped them would not likely last as long as they eventually did. With the near-full strength of the Chapter and their fleet to bring to bear across the various isolated regions of space, they had very little trouble holding the now-swelling Forces of the Ruinous Powers at bay for a time. Along with the firepower the ships brought, the fleet also brought a large amount of supplies with the expectation to be on a protracted campaign. This along with the existing supplies and reinforcements of other trapped Imperial Forces allowed them to fight for allowed the trapped ans separated Imperial Forces for months longer than any of the Imperial Forces thought possible.
Then The Emergence happened...
Within the sector, several minor Warp Rifts appeared, spewing all manner of Chaos filth into the isolated sectors. The auxiliary troops died first and in great numbers, often being sacrificed by the Astartes they fought alongisde in order for the sake of retreat or some other perceived tactical benefit. When all of the auxiliary troops had been expunged and the Astartes formed the entirety of the Imperial fighting force, they began falling to enemy guns at an alarmingly high rate.
Given the nature of the Warband they initially went to the sector to fight as well as all the Warp Rifts that had formed, it was not uncommon for the auxiliary soldiers and the Astartes to be possessed by daemons, turning on their former allies and wreaking extreme havoc. Many more auxiliaries and Astartes were captured and taken into realms unknown not to be seen again for some time. Ironically, many members of the Librarius were among some of the last of the Chapter to give into death, possession or Chaotic influence due to their extraordinary strength and zeal. There were, however, many other cases among the ranks of the Librarius succumbed to the powers and entities of the Warp, turning on their brothers with extremely devastating effects.
With the last of the Chapter finally being either killed, possessed, or turned to the service of Chaos, the Wrath Hammers' fall into darkness was complete, the Loyalists dead and the remainder either possessed or firmly in the service of Chaos. Over the next few decades, the remnants of the Chapter existed solely on the system they were trapped in, two of the worlds that existed there being turned into Daemon Worlds by the opening of the Warp Rifts. What they did there could only be speculated upon by the outside universe, but it assumed that by the nature of Daemon Worlds that they spent much if not all of the time fighting.
Rise of the Daemon Claws
Approximately a hundred Terran Standard Years later, a Chaos Warband that closely represented the lost Chapter emerged from a Warp Rift in the sector that neighboured the one they disappeared in. It wasn't until they were met in combat by the forces of the Imperium that the Imperium realised that the Wrath Hammers had fallen to the service of the Chaos Gods. It wasn't until much later in the conflict that they discovered that the Chapter had not only started to serve Chaos Undivided (which was first suspected when the symbol of Chaos Undivided was spotted on their armour and flesh), but also changed their name to the Daemon Claws.
It was also noted that their psykers had been given even more Warp-born powers, their strength and abilities empowered even further by the Gods they serve. It was often noted that along with the symbol of Chaos Undivided, the psykers bore the mark of Tzeentch as well.
During their first encounters with the Daemon Claws, the Forces of the Imperium were overwhelmed, the might of the Traiter Astartes and their fallen Librarius potent enough even without their tainted human auxiliaries. The Daemon Claws were on the war path and they were looking to win...
Before the Heresy
Before their fall from grace, the Gene-Seed of the Chapter was known to be very stable, with the only mutations that were recorded happening on rare case-by-case bases as opposed to a relatively common occurrences as a result of Gene-Seed flaws. Because of the stability of their Gene-Seed, it was suspected that they feel under the very broad umbrella of Ultramarines Gene-Stock, but this was impossible to confirm.
During the later years before their entrapment and subsequent disappearance, the genetic stock of the Wrath Hammers had been selected for use as part of the < Records Expunged > Founding, but as a result of their disappearance and subsequent heresy, it was never used.
Out of the thousands of Astartes that have served the Warband over the millennia since its inception, not all of them have bore the gene-seed of the Chapter they hailed from. Due to the requirement for numbers, the instability of a Chaos-tainted Gene-Seed, and both the assimilation of other Traitors as well as the corruption of Loyalist Astartes, some of the Astartes in the Daemon Claws have Gene-Seed stock that hails from Chapters and Warbands other than the original Wrath Hammers Chapter. These Astartes are known as Half-Breeds to the other 'purer' Astartes in the Warband. They are often thought of as less then the 'purer' and are often discriminated against in some way. This discrimination is facilitated by the fact that the Half-Breeds form a small enough minority within the Warband for the 'purer' Astartes to bully.
Tanaris was a Civilised World to the galactic east of the Eye of Terror that the Wrath Hammers turning into their homeworld. The reasons were never clear as to why this world was chosen, but it quickly became apparent that the recruits the Chapter drew from the planet were more than able in terms of both becoming an Astartes and serving the duties of an Astartes.
After it was discovered that the Wrath Hammers had turned to the service of the Ruinous Powers, an Exterminatus was called down on the planet in the hopes of removing the taint of Chaos from it. There was rumoured to be a plan to then build self-sufficient subterranean mining colonies on what would then be a dead world of a lost Chapter, but the Exterminatus cause geological instability that lead to the disintegration of the planet into an asteroid field.
[Post-Heresy] < Unknown Daemon World >
It is unknown exactly which world that the Daemon Claws now call home, but it is assumed that it can only be a Daemon World deep within the Eye of Terror.
Champions of the Warband
Astaphore the Blind
Astaphore the Blind is a powerful sorcerer of mutated physique who, as his name suggests, is blind. Despite this apparent disability, he almost always uses his Warp-given powers to observe the universe around him. As one of the 'purer' Astartes in the Warband, he was well received as he leader of the Warband, he himself believing that no Half-Breed should ever lead the Daemon Claws.
As of 891.M40, he became the leader of the warband through the use of his powers when he overthrew the previous leader - a Half-Breed - whose identity was never ascertained by the Imperium due to the short amount of time they were in power. Under his leadership, the Daemon Claws still serve Chaos Undivided, but have drifted significantly towards favouring Tzeentch - the patron of all psykers bound in service to the Ruinous Powers.