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Death Guard Pre-Heresy Livery

The Death Guard Legion's Pre-Heresy iconography.

The Eisenstein was an Imperial frigate that served under the authority of the Death Guard Legion of Space Marines during the end of the Great Crusade and the start of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium.

It was the Eisenstein that first brought the terrible news of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal of the Emperor of Mankind and the Imperium of Man to the Imperial authorities on Terra in 005.M31.

Before their purge in the first battle of the Horus Heresy, there were still many Space Marines in the Traitor Legions who were loyal to the Emperor, rather than to the Warmaster Horus or their individual primarchs. Among them were a small cadre of 70 Death Guard Astartes who were led by Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard's 7th Great Company.

These warriors, remembered as "The Seventy," escaped during the Battle of Istvaan III in a small Imperial frigate that was part of the Death Guard's expeditionary fleet, the Eisenstein. Their goal was to warn the Emperor of the tragedy that had befallen the Imperium with Horus' betrayal and the start of the great civil war. The vessel did not survive the harrowing journey, but its crew completed their mission.



The Eisenstein was an entirely unremarkable vessel of the Armada Imperialis seconded to the service of the fleet of the Death Guard Legion, an older pattern of Imperial warship in the frigate tonnage grade, just over two kilometres in length from bow to stern. It bore some resemblance to the newer Sword-class Frigate, but only inasmuch as most Imperial voidships shared a similar design philosophy.

Almost every line vessel in service to the Emperor was constructed of congruent elements: the dagger-like prow, the massive block of sub-light plasma and Warp-Drive, and forged between them amidships crenellations and complex sheaves of steel. The Eisenstein's actual class is unknown; at the start of the 31st Millennium the vessel had been assigned to perform picket duties for the Death Guard fleet.

The Eisenstein's shipmaster explained that the vessel's name meant "iron-stone" in an ancient language of Old Earth and that it had actually been named after two famous men of the Age of Terra. One had been similar in profession to a Remembrancer, and the other had been a scientist.


Garro-Hero of Istvaan

Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard's 7th Great Company

Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard Legion's 7th Great Company greatly distinguished himself when fighting alongside a detachment of the Sisters of Silence in the closing days of the Great Crusade against the xenos known as the Jorgall; their leader, the Sisters of Silence Oblivion Knight Amendera Kendel, promised to present Garro's name to the Regent of Terra, Malcador the Sigillite, in recognition of his dutiful service to the Emperor.

Similarly, she spoke well of him to the Death Guard's Primarch Mortarion, who rewarded his battle-captain by selecting him for the tradition of sharing his cup aboard the Death Guard flagship Endurance. Mortarion also chose this moment to subtly sound Garro out about where he and the Astartes of the 7th Great Company might stand if the primarch chose to join the Warmaster Horus' rebellion against the Emperor.

Upon learning that Garro was unwilling to join the warrior lodge within the Death Guard, Mortarion decided to take Garro to the meeting with Horus at the initiation of the Isstvan Campaign as his equerry, in an attempt to ensure Garro's loyalty to what the soon-to-be-Traitor Legions were about to do in that benighted star system.

The 7th Great Company were part of the Astartes task force assigned to secure Isstvan Extremis, the outermost world of the Isstvan System, ahead of the planned massacre of the Loyalist Astartes of the Traitor Legions during the Battle of Istvaan III. During this early battle, Garro was badly wounded by the enemy leader who was a Slaaneshi mutant and he lost most of his right leg, necessitating an augmetic replacement once he was back aboard the Death Guard fleet.

Flight of the Eisenstein[]

Eisenstein Gas Attack

Ignatius Grulgor's traitorous subordinates suffer a grisly fate after being accidentally exposed to the Life-Eater Virus.

The time required for Garro to get used to the cybernetic replacement for his leg meant that he could not be declared fit for combat duty on Isstvan III, where he would surely have been among the Loyalist Astartes caught in Horus' treacherous virus-bombings.

So he was instead posted along with his Command Squad and 70 Astartes of his great company to the Death Guard frigate Eisenstein alongside Captain Ignatius Grulgor of the Death Guard's 2nd Great Company. Gulgor was a member of the Death Guard warrior lodge and of the circle of Death Guard officers eager and willing to follow Mortarion into rebellion alongside Horus against the Emperor.

It came to pass that Garro was in command of the Eisenstein when Captain Saul Tarvitz of the Emperor's Children Legion made his attempt to reach the surface of Istvaan III and warn the Loyalist Astartes there of Horus' impending betrayal. Garro made the crucial decision to allow his honour-brother to reach the surface of Isstvan III and also learned of Horus and his own Primarch Mortarion's plan to rebel against the Emperor, which horrified Garro beyond words.

Once Garro had learned of the betrayal, Captain Grulgor and his small detachment of Traitor Marines attempted to kill the battle-captain and his detachment of Astartes from the 7th Great Company aboard the vessel. Grulgor and his fellow Traitors failed, largely due to the heroic sacrifice of Garro's Legion serf and equerry, Kaleb Arin.

Arin, Grulgor and his fellow Traitors were killed by a gruesome infection by the Life-Eater virus that escaped from a damaged Virus Bomb that had been secretly loaded aboard the Eisenstein so that the frigate could join the bombardment of Isstvan III on the orders of Mortarion once Garro and his fellow Loyalists were dead.

Not long after, the Eisenstein took aboard other victims of the betrayal who had fled the Warmaster Horus' own flagship, the Gloriana-class Battleship Vengeful Spirit, including Captain Iacton Qruze of the Sons of Horus' 3rd Company and the Remembrancer-turned-saint Euphrati Keeler, whose conversations with Garro in the times after the betrayal strengthened his belief in devotion to the Emperor and ignited the flame of his growing faith in the Emperor's divinity.

Determined to flee the Isstvan System for Terra so as to warn the Emperor of Horus' terrible betrayal, the Eisenstein was badly damaged by the massive Death Guard Battleship Terminus Est that was under the command of the Death Guard's First Captain Calas Typhon and barely made the jump into the Warp.

Adrift in the Warp[]

Once in the Warp, the damaged Eisenstein attracted the attentions of the Chaos God Nurgle, the Plague Lord, who had already claimed the Death Guard Legion as his future mortal champions and had no desire to see Horus' rebellion against the Emperor suffer a setback. Because the Eisenstein's Gellar Field generator had been weakened by the damage the starship had sustained during its flight from the Isstvan System, the Dark God was able to snake his malign influence into the vessel from the Warp.

Nurgle's insidious power resurrected Grulgor, his dead Astartes and the ship's crew who had sided with him, creating the first Plague Marines. The ensuing battle between the infected Warp creatures and the Loyalist Death Guard aboard the ship resulted in the death of the vessel's only Navigator, Severnaya.

Grulgor, using a Plague Knife, managed to infect a member of Garro's command squad, the Space Marine Solun Decius, with the terrible Daemonic disease known as Nurgle's Rot, and almost triumphed over Garro. However, Garro ordered the Eisenstein to make an emergency transition out of the Warp. Without access to the infernal power of Nurgle sustaining them within the Immaterium, Grulgor and his corrupted brethren were slain once more, their souls sucked back into the Warp, though Grulgor would later be resurrected by the Plague God as a Daemon Prince of Nurgle.


Stranded hundreds of light years from any stretch of inhabited space, Garro ordered the Eisenstein's shipmaster to overload the frigate's Warp-Drive and then jettison it out into space. Garro hoped that the detonation of the Warp-Drive would produce such a powerful signature in the Immaterium that any passing Imperial starships might be willing to stop and investigate. The plan would also guarantee that if no rescuers appeared, the Eisenstein would never reach another destination and its crew and passengers would die in the black desert of interstellar space.

However, the ensuing explosion of the Warp-Drive echoed across the Warp and acted as a beacon for the Primarch Rogal Dorn and the fleet of his Imperial Fists Legion, who had been becalmed by Warp storms unleashed by the gathering power of the Dark Gods as the Horus Heresy began on their way back to Terra on the order of the Emperor. Dorn rescued Garro and his warriors, then scuttled the severely crippled Eisentein.

Dorn proceeded to take the Eisenstein's survivors to Luna aboard the great mobile fortress-monastery Phalanx. While initially reluctant to the point of outraged violence to believe Garro about his brother Horus and the other primarchs' betrayal of the Emperor, once faced with overwhelming evidence from multiple sources, including the testimony of Iacton Qruze, a high-ranking member of Horus' own Sons of Horus Legion, he eventually relented and the Navigators of Dorn's massive fortress ship made their way to the Sol System where Dorn would inform his father the Emperor of this dreadful news.

After arriving in the Sol System, Captain Garro, his fellow seventy Loyalist Death Guard Astartes, Euphrati Keeler, and Iacton Qruze were all placed in the Somnus Citadel, a fortress on Luna that belonged to the Sisters of Silence while the Emperor determined whether they were truthful or were further pawns of the Chaos Gods. Even upon reaching Luna, and with the news of the betrayal delivered, Garro's trials were still not over, as one of his Astartes, Solun Decius, had become infected with Nurgle's Rot on board the Eisenstein.

Wracked by constant pain, Solun finally gave in to the temptations of Nurgle to ease his suffering and allowed his corrupted body to be possessed and mutated by a Nurglish Daemon known as the Lord of the Flies. His body was twisted by the possessing entity into a hideous Daemonic form. In this state Solun killed the two Astartes who had been conducting the death vigil over his prone form.

The Lord of Flies went on a killing rampage throughout the citadel. Garro was forced to battle Decius throughout the Sister of Silence's citadel and out onto the barren, airless surface of Luna itself. He eventually bested the Daemon who had once been his trusted comrade and banished the hideous entity back to the Warp.

Afterwards, Garro, Qruze and the Sister of Silence Amendera Kendel were approached by Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, and told that the Emperor needed them to form a new Imperial organisation, beyond the boundaries of the existing Imperial bureaucracy, which would utilise "men and women of inquisitive nature, hunters who might seek the witch, the traitor, the mutant, the xenos."

Under the Sigillite's own seal, Garro was tasked with finding 7 other Astartes from among both the Loyalist and Traitor Legions who were utterly devoted to the Emperor and His Imperium in body and soul. These Space Marines would become the Knights-Errant, several of whom would later become the Grey Knights Chapter of Astartes, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus. The Inquisition had been born in the fires of betrayal and heroism.

Era Indomitus[]

In the centuries since the end of the Horus Heresy, the Eisenstein has garnered a mysterious reputation and its current status -- whether it was truly destroyed or not by the Imperial Fists' fleet -- remains unclear.

Sometime after the formation of the Great Rift in the Era Indomitus, many across Imperial space saw the vessel reappearing on multiple occasions. When the ghost vessel appears for the seventh such time, it is said that Mortarion himself will appear and wreak destruction.

Command Crew[]

The command crew of the Eisenstein at the time of its flight to Terra included the following individuals:

  • Baryk Carya (Shipmaster) - Much of Carya's body had been replaced with augmetics from a Plasma Gun malfunction, though he was a highly-experienced shipmaster of the Armada Imperialis who had worked for many standard years to become an officer on a warship in the service of the Legiones Astartes. As the commanding officer of the Eisenstein Carya was swept up in the early stages of the Horus Heresy when his ship was the only Loyalist spacecraft to escape the Battle of Isstvan III. When the Loyalist Death Guard Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro took command of Carya's vessel and attempted to escape to warn Terra, Carya was shocked by Horus' actions and the Astartes' betrayal but determined to carry out his duty to the Emperor. Carya proved a calm and invaluable asset to Garro and The Seventy during the Eisenstein's harrowing journey through the Warp, maintaining his crew's discipline as the ship was assaulted by Warp Daemons. Carya survived the trip to the Somnus Citadel and it was suggested by the Astartes of the Imperial Fists Legion that Carya might be used to train their own Legion fleet's warship crews in the future.
  • Racel Vought (Executive Officer) - Racel Vought was a high-ranking officer of the Armada Imperialis at the start of the Horus Heresy. She was the executive officer of the Eisenstein and second-in-command to Shipmaster Baryk Carya. Vought remained loyal to the Emperor during the Battle of Isstvan III and helped bring the vessel back to Terra through all of its trials and tribulations to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery under Nathaniel Garro's leadership.
  • Tirin Maas (Vox Officer) - Tirin Maas was an officer of the Armada Imperialis and the Vox Officer of the Eisenstein at the time of the Battle of Isstvan III. Maas had served for many standard years performing routine and unexciting duties before finally earning a position aboard a warship assigned to a Legiones Astartes expeditionary fleet. Maas, who was very loyal to the Warmaster he served, greatly distrusted the motives of Nathaniel Garro and his Loyalist Death Guard when they attempted to use the Eisenstein to flee to Terra and warn of Horus' treachery at Isstvan III. Maas secretly sent a vox message to the Death Guard's First Captain Calas Typhon warning of Garro's intentions and pledged to remain loyal to Horus. When Garro discovered this betrayal, he snapped Maas' neck.
  • Severnaya (Navigator) - Servernaya was the Navigator of the Eisenstein who suffered a mortal wound during the battle between the Loyalist crew of the ship and the resurrected Plague Marines of Ignatius Grulgor.


Canon Conflict[]

The Eisenstein was originally created for the 1988 1st Edition Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness sourcebook and served to introduce the storyline of the Horus Heresy. The one-paragraph mention describes how "loyal Adeptus Astartes officers and troops" took over a frigate named Eisenstein after they discovered Horus' Chaos taint when Isstvan III came under bombardment by bioweapons. The ship was reported to have fled to warn others of Horus' betrayal as he moved on to Isstvan V.

The 1989 specialty game Space Marine, precursor to the Epic game system, takes place during the Horus Heresy, and describes the Eisenstein in a n offset box through an in-universe fictional conversation between Captains Saul Tarvitz, Nathaniel Garro, Macer Varren, and several other unnamed Space Marines. Their topic was to either "betray Horus or betray the Emperor," and they explain that Horus had five "Chapters", which had incorporated warrior lodges from Davin within them, and the Codex command structures were disregarded. Additionally, the "bulk" of the Legionaries under Horus were now loyal to "feral world deities" and to Horus. Istvaan III (an alternate spelling common in earlier editions) was destroyed without order from Terra, and the virus-bombing was not justified.

There is no mention of any Loyalists being killed. Captain Varren says that he has 15 warriors of the World Eaters at his command, Captain Garro says 12, an unnamed character says 10 from the Luna Wolves, and another unnamed character says 20 from the Thousand Sons. Tarvitz says that there are 9 Emperor's Children beyond himself. In total, this represented 70 Space Marines. They agree that Varren will take the frigate Eisenstein because it is able to Warp jump, and Tarvitz mentions that it was falling behind because of mechanical problems. The others would slow their own ships and then take control of them. Four of these vessels would then defend the Eisenstein and clear a path for it to flee into the Warp. The World Eaters under Varren would then take the message of Horus' betrayal to the Emperor.

With the release of the novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, this original story has been changed so that all the Space Marines aboard the Eisenstein are Death Guard except for Iacton Qruze; Macer Varren does not appear, while Saul Tarvitz escapes to Isstvan III's surface to warn the Loyalists of the coming bombardment rather than escaping aboard the Eisenstein.

In the audio book Garro: Sword of Truth, Loyalist elements of the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters (including Macer Varren) flee the Isstvan System at the same time as the Eisenstein, and reach Terra shortly after Garro returns from his first mission as a Knight-Errant to Calth.


  • The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, Ch. 7
  • Codex Heretic Astartes - Death Guard (8th Edition), pg. 22
  • Realm of Chaos - Slaves to Darkness, pg. 240
  • Space Marine (Board Game) 1989 Edition Rulebook, pg. 7
  • Garro: Sword of Truth (Audio Book) by James Swallow
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