Iron Corpses (Audio Drama)
Iron Corpses is an audio drama in the Horus Heresy series by David Annandale. It was pre-released together with The Eagle's Talon in January 2015, at the 2015 Horus Heresy Weekender, and republished in print in August 2015. The prose version was re-released as part of "The Horus Heresy Quick Reads Subscription" week on 27 February 2016, which was renamed the "Legions Divided Quick Read Collection." The run time is 40 minutes, and it is performed by Annie Aldington, Sean Barrett, and Saul Reichlin. The story was also included in the anthology Eye of Terra.
The story portrays the actions of Iron Warrior Warsmith Koparnos following the crash of the Eagle's Talon during the Battle of Tallarn, which destroyed those on both sides and dramatically reshaped the conflict on the southern continent. Alone and in the harsh environment of Tallarn, Koparnos has to regain his strength and determine a way to return to the battle at large.
The ravaged world of Tallarn plays host to the greatest armoured conflict in the history of mankind. The bitter and vengeful Iron Warriors led entire divisions of tanks and war machines across the befouled plains, until the macro-transporter Eagle's Talon plunged to the surface and ended a million lives in a heartbeat. Stranded upon some unnamed, toxic battlefield that now resembles nothing more than a graveyard of Titans, Warsmith Koparnos knows that he has precious little time left - will he find salvation amidst the dead god-machines, or quickly succumb to violent madness?
The Eagle's Talon was a macro-transport that was intended to shuttle troops from orbit to the surface of Tallarn's southern continent to aid the Iron Warriors in defeating the Imperial troops. Due to the infiltration of 3 Imperial Fist recon squads, the ship was destroyed, and it crashed upon the surface of the planet. The wreckage killed those fighting on both sides of the battle when ship's destruction caused a blast over 300km, with winds over 100km an hour, and spread nuclear fallout across an already destroyed world.
The blast was massive and destroyed everything, and it prevented an Iron Warriors victory. The 5 days of wind that followed kicked up dust and then the wind died enough to allow the light of day. Warsmith Koparnos was able to survive the event but was the only one in his rhino; the viruses ate at his system and he didn't have much time. He was forced to leave the limited shelter, passing through the troop compartment with the remains of his fellow warriors. He was able to leave via a torn hatch, but the dust limited his visibility. The battlefield was covered in various wrecks, including those of titans. Tanks were scattered in various positions. The radiation levels were high and his armor offered only temporary protection. His body was strained by the various poisons, but he was given more time because they battled each other. He struggled, reflecting on the abuse his legion suffered from the Emperor and that the destruction of both side's forces were proof that the Imperials were weak.
Suffering from fits, Koparnos continued to scan the vox to see if he could find anyone present. He pushed on, willing himself forward to prove his superiority. Eventually, he came upon a warlord titan Ostentio Contritio that stood over 30m to the carapace, and he saw a flicker of power in the helm. He was able to climb up the left leg, the door was open with a tech adept dead, presumably having previous tried to flee one destruction only to be overwhelmed by another. Koparnos was becoming weaker as he managed to gain entrance into the titan, sealing himself within. He then had to purge the titan of poison. Exploring the titan, he found dead servitors before he made his way to the engineering deck filled with dead techpriests. He thought that the blast may have shut down the titan and that the priests were attempting to restart the engine. He turned the circuits and energy began to flow through the titan, activating primary systems but secondary and tertiary systems were experiencing malfunctions.
He took equipment from a techpriest as the reactor fail safes announced they could not engage. He cut the pipe open and released the radiation into the area, stripping his armor and allowing the scalding cloud to cover his body. Through force of will, he was able to suffer through the pain as the radiation burned through the toxins in his system and killing any virus within him. After purging his system, he began to re-armored himself to protect himself against death from the radiation then disabled the system to stop the inflow of radiation. The titan provided him shelter, and Koparnos forced himself to carry onward. However, he soon fell unconscious and awoke later when he heard a female voice asking over the vox for Engineseer Maridias. She asked again, stating that power was now in the system, but her voice was of a dying individual. Koparnos did not answer and instead ran a diagnosis before making his way to the helm. He found the secondary moderatii dead on his way then voxed to the princeps that he was her only hope.
Princeps Benwrath gave her name, then Koparnos asked if the helm's moderatii majoris were still alive. She stated that she could not know and that she was paralyzed. The titan was powered but she could not feel the system, she was isolated. Koparnos offered to restore the systems, but he had to make sure that they would not struggle against him. They discussed further of the process, with Benwrath saying they lacked an amniotic tank and Koparnos comparing his idea to that used by a dreadnought. Koparnos stated that he would begin and that there was no going back once he entered the helm; the radiation would make it impossible. Once entered, he was able to see out across the graveyard of wrecked titans and tanks, but he could see that there were some still alive. The moderatii were still alive, and Koparnos turned from them to Benwrath. Koparnos began to work on the systems and searched for the break in the communication cables. He had Benwrath attempt to communicate to help determine how power traveled through the titan, but this caused the princeps to fall unconscious.
The damaged interface was just below the helm, and Koparnos was able to climb down to the location of the problem and told the titan that he would soon bend it to his will. He cleared the area and found that some connections were torn and others were melded together. He fixed only a limited amount of the ability for the princeps to communicate, and it took a day of work. Koparnos created a system that would preserve the princeps and moderatii but also keep them as his prisoners. He embeded the princeps into the machine and placed even more cables into her head while removing parts of her body. When she awoke, she saw Koparnos for the first time and realized that he was a traitor, and he was glad that she was able to witness his victory. He told her that the Iron Warriors trusted blindly and since learned their lesson, but that the Imperials did not. He was wrathful and lorded it over the princeps, restoring the final link between princeps and titan.
Benwrath became merged with the titan, keeping the titan active but without consciousness. Koparnos did not know how it felt, but he knew that the titan would have overcome her will and conquered her mind along with that of the moderatii. Koparnos had control over the titan by the seventh day following the blast, and he ordered the titan to walk. Soon, he found other titans that were active, and he began to move towards them. He did not have a vox that could communicate with others, but he moved anyway. As he moved, he felt overwhelmed by the futility and eternal nature of the war.