Set early on in the Tallarn arc within the wider Horus Heresy series, John French’s Tallarn : Siren finds a handful of Imperial citizens holed up in a tiny underground shelter with the last surviving astropath on the planet. As they desperately try to make contact with any other survivors, they attract the attention of both Marshall Lycus of the Imperial Fists and the invading Iron Warriors, one determined to use the astropath to send word of the planet’s fate, the other keen to prevent that happening. The shelter’s occupants await rescue, but fate may have something else in store for them.
Tense and claustrophobic, this is the battle for Tallarn in microcosm, as the scattered and shaken loyalists fight tooth and nail to survive against the frighteningly cold and callous Iron Warriors, and the hell that their planet has become. In keeping with the rest of the Tallarn arc this is pretty bleak stuff, but tempered by the spirit and sacrifice of not just Lycus, but also the remaining human loyalists. That’s what this is about really – sacrifice in the face of desperation – not just this story but the Heresy as a whole. It’s stirring stuff, and another great short story from John French.