Also available in the Eye of Terra anthology, Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Horus Heresy short story Massacre takes a quick look at the cast of the Night Lords trilogy in their pre-40k incarnations. That’s right, it shows Talos, Xarl, Cyrion and even the Exalted as they all were back in the days of the Heresy, pre- and during the Dropsite Massacre. Seen through Apothecary Talos’s eyes it’s a rare chance to see these fan-favourite characters in their prime – cynical, callous warriors given to black humour, snide commentary and an unfair fight.
In other hands this might come across as a shallow attempt to cash in on the success of the Night Lords trilogy, but Dembski-Bowden is too canny for that. Instead he reminds us why the members of First Claw were so much fun to have around in the first place but keeps things short and sweet, teasing us with the familiar but making this as much about the Night Lords in general as it is about First Claw. Isstvan is the perfect setting, and in the chaos of the massacre we see Talos apparently taking his first steps towards how he’ll be in Soul Hunter. Punchy and slyly funny despite all the gore, it’s only short but that’s all it needs to be.