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Nathaniel Garro

In the Warhammer 40,000 setting, Nathaniel Garro is a Captain of the Death Guard who rebelled from his own legion at the time of the Horus Heresy, remaining loyal to the Emperor. He lead the group that seized the Imperial Cruiser Eisenstein to take word of the Heresy to Terra. Under the direction of Malcador the Sigillite, Garro went on to found the Knights Errant, the precursor to the Grey Knights.

His story is told in great detail in Black Library's Horus Heresy series of novels, in particular starting with the fourth book in the series: The Flight of the Eisenstein. Additional Garro-specific stories (also by James Swallow) are compiled in the 42nd book, Garro: Weapon of Fate, which includes: Oath of Moment, Sword of Truth, Burden of Duty, Ashes of Fealty, Legion of One, Shield of Lies, and Vow of Faith.

But his first appearance in background lore was in 1989's Space Marine, and his first character biography appeared in White Dwarf in 2002.

Space Marine (1st ed, 1989)

Space Marine (1st ed, 1989), p7

"You realise that you are preaching mutiny?" Brother-Captain Tarvitz nodded gravely. "Betray Horus or betray the Emperor. What choice is there?" The Space Marine officers looked at each other in silence for a few seconds. Tarvitz leaned forward across the table, resting on his fists.

"Fact: in the five Chapters under his command, Horus has installed this system of feral-world warrior lodges that he picked up on Davin. The standard Imperial organisations and command structures laid down in the Codex have been completely disregarded.

"Fact: the bulk of the Marines in our five Chapters have repudiated their Marine's oath and sworn loyalty to the feral world deities. Further, they have sworn loyalty to Horus personally. Heresy and blasphemy.

"Fact: the Isstvan campaign has been conducted without even the pretence of orders from Terra. While I do not presume to speak for the Emperor, I cannot believe that the use of a virus bomb on Isstvan III was justifiable. A single Company from a single Chapter dropped on the rebel headquarters would have answered the case.

"I say the Emperor must know what is happening here. Who is with me? Varren? What say the World Eaters?" A red-uniformed officer stood.

"There are fifteen men I can trust. They are yours."

"Garro?" A Captain of the Death Guards looked up.

"A dozen. I wish it were more."

"Ten from the Luna Wolves."

"Twenty from the Thousand Sons."

"Be sure they are all trustworthy. If you have the slightest doubt, do not commit them. Of my own Emperor's Children, there are ten I am sure of, including myself" There was a pause as the paucity of their force sunk in.

"Seventy Marines," said Brother-Captain Varren of the World Eaters, "The sum of our five Chapter numbers - a good omen, perhaps?" A couple of the others smiled, and the tension of the moment was broken. "Seventy Marines," repeated Tarvitz, "Enough for any task, I think. So, to work. Varren, your men will seize control of the frigate Eisenstein in three hours from now. It is on the edge of the fleet, and should be clear for the jump to Warp Space." Varren nodded.

"The Eisenstein has been having manoeuvre-drive trouble," he said, with exaggerated innocence. "She's been falling behind the fleet all day." Tarvitz grinned.

"Good. The rest of us will arrange for our ships to lag behind with her in case of... further trouble with the drives. Three hours from now, we will all assemble full crew for an emergency briefing. Meanwhile, our trusted men take control of the systems on all five ships. Clear all remaining ships from around the Eisenstein and keep her covered until she makes the jump to warp space. Then, cause as much damage as you can to the rest of the fleet. History will vindicate us."

He turned to Varren. "Your World Eaters are our only hope," he said, "Do not fail." Varren's eyes became serious. "We cannot fail," he said, "There is too much at stake. Your deaths will be avenged."

White Dwarf 265 (2002-01)

White Dwarf 265 (Jan 2002), p74 — Captain Garro, Hero of the Death Guard

When Horus's rebellion was finally understood, seventy Space Marines, alone of five Legions, remained steadfast in their loyalty to the Emperor. These men seized the Imperial cruiser Eisenstein and broke the Traitors' blockade of the Isstvan system to carry word of the treachery to Terra. Their warning may have saved the Imperium. Commanding the Death Guard contingent was a great battle-caption, Garro.

There are conflicting testimonies regarding the fate of Captain Garro and his men. There are those who say that in the turmoil accompanying Horus's assault on the Imperial Palace no one knew what to do with the handful of loyal Marines whose entire Legions had turned traitor. The captain, indeed all of the Eisenstein seventy who survived the gauntlet to reach Terra, were placed in custody pending deposition by the Emperor himself, a deposition which, after his fall and enshrinement in the Golden Throne, never came. Garro and the other 'Heroes of the Imperium' never saw the light of day and died prisoners. Others maintain that Garro himself fought in the palace defence, and when he saw what his brother Legionnaires had become, he renounced arms and served devotedly at the Master Apothecariate, where Space Marine Apothecaries receive their training, futilely seeking a cure for the plage which had taken his entire Legion of brothers, until his own death.

More fanciful taletellers link Garro and his band to secret societies moving behind the public face of the Imperium, and claim that Garro and his original Space Marines atill live, an elite force committed to thwarting the aims of Nurgle, Mortarion and the Death Guard, who appear in battle clad in the colors and flying the banners of the pre-Heresy Death Guard, then vanish, like grey ghosts from the warp.

Still others report that Garro was unable to resist the same lure to damnation which claimed his Primarch. In the aftermath of the Heresy, Garro turned to Nurgle and became a champion of the Death Guard. As the Lord of Flies, he still leads Plague fleets from the Eye, clad in black iridescent armor and a power claw like a great skeletal hand, accompanied by the maddening buzz of insectoid wings.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007)

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007), p12-13 — The Horus Heresy

The flame that ignited the fuel of treachery in the Primarchs came from rebellion in the Isstvan system. The Imperial commander there renounced his oaths to the Emperor and declared independence. The Emperor decreed that if the commander of Isstvan went unpunished other worlds might follow suit, and so he ordered Horus to put down the rebellion by whatever means necessary, not knowing of the subtle changes Chaos had wrought in the Warmaster's soul.

Horus chose to end the Isstvan rebellion swiftly and without mercy, and virus bombed Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus consumed everything on the planet in a matter of minutes. Whole continents and cities were charred to ashes as the mass of oxygen released by the instant rotting of all organic material on the planet burned in the atmosphere, covering Isstvan III with a firestorm. Twelve billion souls died with a death scream that momentarily pulsed brighter than the Astronomican. It was a blaze of psychic light signalling to the Chaos Gods that Horus was now theirs.

On the planet's surface had been over one hundred companies of Space Marines drawn from the Emperor's Children, Death Guard and World Eaters Legions, still loyal to the Emperor. Of these, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to warning messages they received from loyal comrades aboard the orbiting fleet of Warmaster Horus.

Whilst Horus resolved what to do with these survivors, Angron, headstrong primarch of the World Eaters, made planetfall at the head of fifty companies of Space Marines. Horus was incensed by this rash move, but Angron had forced his hand and the Warmaster despatched the remaining Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children and Death Guard units. The ground fighting began and signalled the start of the greatest civil war to ever have engulfed the Imperium.

As the traitorous forces of Horus launched their orbital barrage on the loyal Space Marines on Isstvan III Captain Garro of the Death Guard seized the frigate Eisenstein. Garro was a staunch loyalist. A Terran, he had fought countless battles alongside the Emperor during the Great Crusade. The unfolding events at Isstvan III were hard for him to fathom. His instinct had led him to warn the loyal warriors on the planet's surface and with seventy fellow loyalists, he determined to flee the Isstvan system and make for Earth.

Garro's lightly armed cruiser was no match for the powerful batteries of Horus' blockading fleet and took many hits as it sped past their massive gun batteries. The crippled ship limped away from Isstvan III. It was severely damaged, all the Astropaths aboard had perished in the firefight and its lone Navigator was mortally wounded. The ship was incapable of interstellar communication and had little chance of successfully navigating its way across the Immaterium. All Garro could hope for was that the Eisenstein could escape from Isstvan and somehow find a way to get to Earth to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012)

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012), p9-10 — Heresy Unbound

The final catalyst came from a rebellion in the Isstvan system. The Imperial governor upon Isstvan III had renounced his oaths to the Emperor and declared independence. The Emperor decreed that if the commander of Isstvan went unpunished, other worlds might follow. He ordered Horus to put down the rebellion by whatever means necessary, not knowing of the subtle changes Chaos had wrought upon the Warmaster's soul.

Horus chose to end the Isstvan rebellion swiftly and without mercy, employing virus bombs against Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus consumed every living thing upon the planet in a matter of minutes. Whole continents and cities were burnt to ashes as the mass of gasses released by the rotting organic material ignited in the atmosphere, scouring Isstvan III clean in a devastating firestorm. Twelve billion souls died with a death scream that momentarily pulsed brighter than the Astronomican. It was a signal to the Chaos Gods that Horus was now completely theirs.

Over one hundred companies drawn from the Emperor's Children, Death Guard, World Eaters and Sons of Horus Legions had already taken up arms against the rebellion on Isstvan III's surface. Horus had ensured their numbers were almost entirely made up of those Space Marines from each Legion who were still loyal to the Emperor, intending to wipe out those who had proved incorruptible in a single deadly stroke. Of these brave warriors, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to warning messages received from the dwindling ranks of loyal comrades left aboard the orbiting fleet of Warmaster Horus. Angron, headstrong as ever, made planetfall at the head of fifty companies of Traitor Marines, and the gorund war began in earnest, signalling the start of the greatest turmoil to ever have engulfed the Imperium.

As the forces of Horus launched their orbital barrage upon the loyal Space Marines on Isstvan III, Captain Garro, of the Death Guard, seized the frigate Eisenstein from the traitor fleet. His instinct had led him to warn the loyal warriors on the planet's surface of their imminent betrayal, and he determined to flee the Isstvan system. Garro's vessel was no match against the powerful battleships of Horus' blockading fleet; all Garro could hope for was that the Eisenstein could escape from the Isstvan system and somehow find a way to reach Terra to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery - he was unable to prevent the coming atrocities.