Macer Varren was the former Captain of the 12th Company of the traitorous World Eaters Space Marine Legion who remained steadfastly loyal to the Emperor of Mankind when his Legion became corrupted and threw in their lot with the Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy.
He was later recruited after the Istvaan III Atrocity by Nathaniel Garro, a former Death Guard Battle-Captain, to join the Knights-Errant, the elite corps of Space Marines who served as the personal agents of Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra.
Varren would serve with the Knights-Errant for most of the Horus Heresy, and was killed during the Battle of the White Mountain on Terra in the days just before the Siege of Terra began. After being mortally wounded, Varren was possessed by the daemon of Nurgle known as the Lord of Flies.
However, he possessed enough remaining willpower to overcome the daemon and destroy himself before he was forced to kill his comrade Garviel Loken.
Macer Varren served as a Captain of the 12th Company of the feared and deadly XIIth Legion of Space Marines, the World Eaters. Involved in the bloodiest assaults and most vicious battles of the Great Crusade, Varren helped to contribute to the World Eaters' reputation for bloodshed and the propagation of fear on a mass scale.
Varren was a warrior who bore the scars of countless conflicts upon a chiselled, granite-hard face. The stiff lines of Varren's features mirrored those of other Veteran Astartes who had known a lifetime of war. Varren wore a tight cowl of dark hair and usually sported a ragged beard.
Like his fellow World Eaters, Varren possessed a short temper and was always eager to prove himself in battle, though he possessed a strong code of martial honour, which was atypical for too many of the Primarch Angron's warriors by that time. Unlike his traitorous brethren, who spat on their oaths of fealty, Varren remained steadfastly loyal to the Emperor even after the majority of his Legion joined the rebellion of the Warmaster Horus.
The lord of the XIIth Legion sent his personal guard known as the Devourers to kill Varren for his refusal to join the World Eaters in their sedition. Varren barely escaped this assassination attempt with his life. He also managed to do so with the remnants of those still loyal to him from his former company.
Varren accomplished this feat by commandeering a World Eaters frigate, the Daggerline, and fled the Istvaan System before the Istvaan III Atrocity began. He was also joined during his flight by the former Emperor's Children Captain Rakatio and some of his Loyalist Legionaries as well. Varren soon became embittered by the betrayal of his former Battle-Brothers.
Sword of Truth
Leading the flight to Terra, the rag-tag fleet of Loyalists arrived in the Kuiper Belt of small planetoids on the outskirts of the Sol System. This flotilla of hodgepodge vessels was comprised of small merchant vessels led by the Daggerline which bore the heraldry of the traitorous World Eaters Legion. Stopped by Loyalist forces, the flotilla was ordered to stand down pending further investigation.
Aware of the situation, Malcador the Sigillite sent a pair of his Knights-Errant, the former Death Guard Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro and former Ultramarines Sergeant and Librarian Tylos Rubio alongside Khorarinn, a member of the Emperor's elite Legio Custodes, aboard the battleship Nolandia to ascertain the true allegiance of this so-called "Loyalist" flotilla.
En route to their destination, Rubio informed Garro that he had overhead some of their ship's crew talking -- Khorarinn had already prepared tactical plans, and had issued orders that should the flotilla show the first sign of anything amiss, the barely armed fleet was to be utterly destroyed.
Once they arrived, Garro insisted on making Vox contact with the flotilla's de facto commander -- the former World Eaters' Captain Macer Varren. As the two warriors exchanged pleasantries, Khorarinn rudely cut their conversation off and ordered the flotilla not to break formation until he was satisfied that that they were not agents of the Arch-Traitor Horus.
Khorarinn, Garro and Rubio took a shuttle to the Daggerline to meet with Varren in person, and were surprised that besides the presence of Varren's warriors, there were other Legionaries present from various Space Marine Legions, including a small contingent of Emperor's Children led by Captain Rakatio and White Scars led by Captain Hakim.
In the Custodian's personal view, he believed that Varren, Rakatio and even Garro were tainted by their association with the Traitor Legions. He did not feel this way about the White Scars, who despite their highly independent nature, had always been loyal to the throne of Terra.
Though Varren vouched for them all, Khorarinn remained unsatisfied, and vowed to search every inch of the flotilla until he was firmly satisfied that there were no signs of treachery afoot. He ignored Varren's pleas for help for the human refugees present in the flotilla, despite the fact that many were in dire need of both food and medical attention.
Once back aboard the Nolandia, Rubio reported to Garro some disturbing findings. Despite the lack of use of his latent psychic abilities after many years of disuse due to faithfully following the Emperor's dictats in accordance with the Edicts of Nikaea, Rubio informed Garro that he sensed that someone aboard the Daggerline was deceiving them, though he couldn't say with any certainty who it was.
This was troubling news, as Garro knew the situation balanced on a sword's edge, for Khorarrin was more than ready to shoot first and ask questions later. Debating the situation in Garro's quarters, the two Legionaries received an encrypted Vox transmission from Captain Hakim. He warned them that though Varren vouched for Captain Rakatio's loyalty, Hakim had evidence that proved that the Emperor's Children's officer was a member of one of the secret Warrior Lodges that helped subvert the loyality of those Legionaries under the Warmaster Horus' command.
Their conversation was interrupted by a warning klaxon -- one of the unarmed cargo haulers, the Minstral, had broken formation and attempted to flee the area. Failing to respond to vox hails, Khorarrin ordered its destruction as an object lesson to the others. Garro and Rubio were powerless to prevent the ship's destruction, and the Nolandia fired upon it, vapourising the cargo hauler, killing all hands.
Disobeying Khorarrin's orders, Garro and Rubio commandeered a shuttle and returned to the Daggerline. They wished to confer with Varren in private. Rubio stayed behind to guard the shuttle whilst Garro sought out the World Eaters captain. Despite assurances of their absolute loyalty, Garro knew that, like him, they were still looked down upon due to the sins committed by their Primarchs and their former Legions. Trust was now a hard commodity to come by, and Garro knew that because of the actions of Horus and his fellow conspirators, distrust and suspicion would endure forevermore for any associated with them.
Once Garro confronted Varren, he tried to think of a delicate way to broach the subject of Hakim's suspicions about Rakatio, but went ahead and asked Varren pointedly who did he trust with absolute certainty. At that moment, they were coincidentally interrupted by Rakatio himself, after Varren informed Garro that he trusted Rakatio completely.
Before their conversation could proceed any further, they were interrupted by Khorarrin and a squad of armed Imperial naval ratings who teleported aboard the Daggerline. The Custodian produced evidence showing a pict-capture from a flight recorder recovered by a Mechanicum salvage team from the wreckage of the Mistral that displayed a Legionary in the purple livery of the Emperor's Children killing the crew and purposely steering the vessel away from the flotilla.
Rakatio protested that he knew nothing of what had occurred, but the Custodian refused to listen to his protests and had Rakatio and his men placed under arrest. Though the impassioned Emperor's Children Captain was tempted to resist, both Garro and Varren pleaded for him to go peacefully, swearing upon their honour that Rakatio and his men would receive justice.
Reluctantly, Rakatio acquiesced, and he and his warriors surrendered. Captain Hakim and his White Scars, whom Khorarinn has already judged trustworthy, volunteered to escort the Custodian and the prisoners to the ship's brig. In the meantime, Rubio had been psychically probing the interior of the Daggerline, following the psychic spoor he sensed during his first meeting aboard the vessel.
This psychic trail led him to one of the ship's private quarters, where he found a small object which possessed an inherently evil aura around it. This object was a lodge-medallion found within a White Scars officer's personal belongings. He quickly rushed back to Garro and Varren and informed them of what he had found. The medallion belonged to none other than Captain Hakim.
Garro attempted to Vox Khorarinn to warn him, but was already too late -- Hakim and the rest of his treacherous White Scars ambushed the Custodian and the prisoners, cutting them down from behind with Bolter fire before they had a chance to fight back. Rakatio and his men all died during the initial attack, but Khorarinn managed to take a few of the Traitors with him before he too was slain.
Garro, Rubio and Varren were now effectively trapped aboard the Daggerline. Suddenly they heard Hakim broadcast a declaration across the flotilla's Vox-system -- he claimed that the Custodian had been killed by agents of Horus and that the White Scars would not rest until they had purged the Traitors from their midst.
It was at that moment that the three Loyalist Legionaries realised that Hakim had willingly sacrificed one of his own warriors in order to sabotage the Mistral and lay the blame at the feet of the Emperor's Children warriors, and that his Techmarine, Harouk, must have somehow altered the pict-capture in order to further incriminate Rakatio.
With Hakim's proclamation, the human refugees began to panic and attempted to flee. Obeying Khararrin's final orders, the Nolandia began to systematically destroy each fleeing vessel. Garro, Rubio and Varren rushed to the Daggerline's Vox array in order to send a message to the Nolandia, ordering them to stand down, but found its officers had been murdered and the Vox array damaged beyond their ability to repair.
The three Loyalists were soon confronted by a White Scars squad as Captain Hakim taunted them over the ship's intercom, informing Varren that the rest of his World Eaters warriors had already been executed. Though outnumbered, they underestimated the World Eaters Captain's rage, as Varren launched himself into a berserk frenzy.
Shrugging off Bolter wounds, Varren continued his berserk charge into the traitorous White Scars squad and proceeded to tear them apart in a hail of blood with his Power Sword. After the brief battle, Garro urged Varren that they must attempt to flee, but Varren refused, swearing to stalk the decks of the Daggerline until every last one of the Traitors were dead by his hand.
Garro urged survival over any personal desire for vengeance. He told Varren that he must reserve it for when the time was right, and unleash it upon his former Legion and traitorous Primarch. Varren angrily retorted that Hakim had been ahead of them every step of the way and that any means of escape off the ship would most assuredly be guarded. Rubio informed them that there was another way, and he led them deeper into the interior of the ship.
The three Loyalist warriors soon arrived at the scene of the White Scars ambush where they were confronted by both Hakim and the majority of his warriors. Garro rebuked the treacherous acts committed by the White Scars captain, but Hakim informed them that they were in the right -- the Warmaster Horus' victory was inevitable, and that when he finally took the Terran Throne the Legiones Astartes would be elevated and take their place as the rightful masters of the galaxy.
Hakim was forced to concede, however, that his own Primarch Jaghatai Khan and the majority of the White Scars Legion, thus far, remained loyal to the Emperor. But in time, Hakim assured them, they would come to see the error of their ways. Refusing to listen to anymore of Hakim's lies, at Varren's word the three Loyalist Astartes charged the enemy.
Rubio hurled bolts of psychic power at the Traitors while Garro and Varren were confronted by Hakim. He engaged the pair of Loyalists with a pair of Power Swords. During their ferocious engagement, Hakim came to gravely underestimate the World Eater's fury and the Death Guard's skill with a blade. As vicious blows were traded back and forth, Hakim was forced to fall back after losing an eye to Varren's sword and having the blades of both of his weapons snapped by Garro's formidable master-crafted Power Sword Libertas.
Enraged, Hakim ordered his warriors to take aim and finish the Loyalists with their Bolters, but Rubio called his comrades over to him, for he had found their means of escape -- Khorarrin's personal Teleport Homer, which he had pulled from the dead Custodian's belt. As Rubio triggered its activation stud, Hakim screamed for his warriors to open fire, but the three Loyalists disappeared as the White Scars' bolt shells passed through empty air.
Once aboard the Nolandia, the three warriors stormed onto the bridge and ordered the crew to cease firing on the refugee ships. Garro then ordered the crew to re-target all weapons on the Daggerline. In the meantime Rubio was sent to immediately prepare an astropathic message to the Imperial Palace.
Before giving the order to engage, Garro hesitated, and left the choice up to Varren whether or not he wished to see Hakim and his men captured or destroyed. Before he had even finished asking, Varren gave the order to fire, and the Daggerline was utterly destroyed.
Back on Luna, Garro was debriefed by Malcador. The Sigillite commended the Battle-Captain for finding and executing the Traitors. Still disturbed by recent events, Garro informed Malcador of his feelings in regards to the unnecessary, wanton slaughter inflicted upon the human refugees under Khorarinn's orders.
Malcador merely shrugged and informed Garro that although it was regrettable, it was necessary, an inevitable outcome of the rebellion currently being fought. Before he departed Garro's company, the Sigillite informed him that a single ship from the refugee fleet managed to slip past the Nolandia's defences and enter the Sol System, more than likely carrying one or more of Horus' agents directly to Terra.
After Malcador took his leave, Rubio and Varren entered the chamber. Garro immediately noticed that Varren now wore the same plain, slate-grey Power Armour of a Knight-Errant of the Sigillite. Varren expressed his wish to Garro that he become one of Malcador's Knight-Errants. Garro accepted, but gave Varren a caveat, that for the time being their sole role in the current war was that of covert agents working in the shadows on behalf of the Sigillite.
But he promised that one day soon, they would learn the full purpose of their mission, and face the Traitors with the full fury of their wrath. Until that day, they would act as the Sigillite's "knife in the dark," seeking out and destroying the Warmaster Horus' hidden agents within the Imperium.
Mission to Istvaan
When Nathaniel Garro, a former Battle-Captain of the Death Guard Legion fled the slaughter at Istvaan III aboard the frigate Eisenstein, he brought word to the Emperor of the Warmaster's treachery and betrayal. Malcador the Sigillite, the acting Regent of Terra, met with the former Death Guard Astartes and offered him a chance at redemption.
Under the Sigillite's own seal, Garro was tasked with finding 7 other Loyalist Astartes from amongst both the Loyalist and Traitor Legions who were utterly devoted to the Emperor and His Imperium in body and soul. Several of these Space Marines would eventually form the core of what would later evolve into the Grey Knights Chapter of Astartes.
Garro discovered the former World Eater and offered Varren a new role as one of Malcador's operatives, but in truth, the duty sat poorly with him. Quick to anger like all World Eaters, Varren longed to be in the thick of the war, facing his former comrades. He lacked the cool detachment of Garro or the stoicism of his former Ultramarines comrade, Tylos Rubio.
The last of the seven warriors that Garro was ordered to recruit was Garviel Loken, once a captain and member of the Mournival of the Sons of Horus Legion. Though it appeared at first that Loken had perished during the final bombardment by Horus' fleet of Istvaan III, he had somehow managed to survive on its blighted surface in the ruins of Istvaan III's capital, Choral City, for several Terran years after the Traitor Legions had moved on and the larger tragedy of the Horus Heresy had consumed the galaxy.
The world of Istvaan III was now a desolate and barren graveyard planet inhabited only by Plague Zombies raised by the lingering taint of the Plague God Nurgle which had consumed the world after the Life-Eater virus had destroyed all life upon its surface.
Loken had been driven mad by the horrors he had experienced and believed that he had been rejected by Death itself. He experienced a form of amnesia and could no longer recall his own name, taking upon himself the new identity of "Cerberus," and believing himself to be the sole remaining Loyalist and champion of the Emperor in the galaxy until he was confronted by Garro.
After their arrival on Istvaan III by Thunderhawk, Garro, Rubio and Varren encountered a handful of what they believed to be human survivors who spoke of a beast that hunted them. Taking matters into his own hands, Garro went to the lair of the so-called beast of Istvaan III, and on discovery of the long-dead corpse of Tarik Torgaddon, he was attacked by the unkempt, nearly-psychotic "Cerberus."
During his fight with Loken, Varren urged the mad Astartes not to endanger the civilian refugees nearby. Garro wanted to put the insane Astartes out of his misery, but Varren argued that they had already lost too many brothers to Horus' treason.
After a lengthy battle, during which Cerberus escaped, Garro and his companions discovered that the human "survivors" of the virus-bombing of Istvaan III were in fact daemonhosts who had been transformed into undead Plague Zombies of Nurgle when the virus-bombing had weakened the barrier between the Immaterium and Istvaan III, allowing the Plague Lord's influence to reign supreme.
Garro and his Loyalist Astartes managed to defeat the foul creatures with the aid of Cerberus; however, once the undead had been destroyed, Garro and Cerberus had one more one-on-one combat match, as Loken perceived the group of Astartes as Traitors who had come to kill him.
It was during this final fight that Garro managed to reach through the amnesia and fractured awareness of Cerberus to the core of the good man that remained deep within his psyche, reminding him of who he truly was, and that the Emperor still had a use for him in rooting out the corruption that was staining the Imperium.
Aware of his true identity once more and how he had come to be stranded amidst the ruins of the Choral City, Garviel Loken joined Garro and his team. With his assemblage of warriors now complete, Garro and Loken left Istvaan III for Luna to receive their first mission from Malcador the Sigillite. Varren's fate after the Horus Heresy remains unknown in Imperial records.
Battle of the White Mountain
During the final days of the Horus Heresy before the Siege of Terra, Varren, alongside Nathaniel Garro, Garviel Loken, Vardas Ison, and Helig Gallor were among the Knights-Errant assigned to put down outbreaks of Chaos infestation which were occurring all across the Throneworld in preparation for Horus' invasion.
Varren aided Garro and his fellow Knights-Errant in putting down one such daemonic infestation on the Terran techno-nomad settlement known as the Walking City. The mobile industrial city had come under assault by a daemon of Nurgle called the Lord of Flies that Garro had faced once before on Luna soon after the survivors of the Eisenstein had arrived in the Sol System.
Varren was at the side of his brothers as they destroyed the horde of plague flies the daemon chose to manifest as, spreading a Plague Zombie infection across the city through the bite of the daemonic insects.
Varren next accompanied the Knights-Errant to the White Mountain. The White Mountain was a subterranean fortress on Terra where Malcador the Sigillite ordered a group of Sisters of Silence who had been captured and tortured by the forces of Chaos and then recovered by the Loyalists to be held while his researchers sought to determine what had been done to them.
In fact, the altered Sisters were simply part of a plot by the Traitors to assassinate the Sigillite by triggering a subliminal mental command that had been psychically embedded in the mind of Tylos Rubio by the Word Bearers First Chaplain Erebus. Rubio was one of Malcador's Knights-Errant who had fought at the Battle of Calth. The plot was initiated when the White Mountain came under assault by Chaos Cultists and the daemon of Nurgle known as the Lord of Flies.
Varren and the Knights-Errant were deployed onto the slopes of the fortress to deal with the assault, while Rubio's mental conditioning was triggered by the Sisters of Silence kept within the White Mountain's holding cells. Rubio attacked Malcador while the Sigillite was bereft of his psychic powers due to the fortress' anti-psyker technology. The Sigillite held off the attack using his hidden Conversion Field and then psychically stripped the mental conditioning from Rubio's mind.
On the slopes of the White Mountain, Garro and the Knights-Errant managed to defeat the Chaos assault, though Varren was mortally wounded and then possessed by the Lord of Flies, who attacked the World Eater's comrades. But the possessed Astartes froze when he was confronted by Garviel Loken, who tried to remind him of their friendship and of who he was, a man who was never mastered or controlled by anything as foul as a Chaos daemon.
Loken's intervention summoned a spark of Varren's old defiance, and the World Eater found the willpower to force back the daemon's assault and destroy himself using a brace of grenades he ripped from Loken's armour. The daemon's hold on realspace was finally destroyed by the Sigillite himself, who had arrived on the exterior of the mountain and used his restored psychic abilities to burn the daemon and its remaining plague flies to ash.
In the original version of the "Flight of the Eisenstein" story, a character by the name of Varren (no first name) was mentioned in the Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. In this version of events it was Captain Varren who led a delegation of Loyalist World Eater Astartes who seized the frigate Eisenstein and fled Istvaan III to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery.
However, in the actual Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Varren does not appear at all in the story. Instead it depicts Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro and his seventy Loyalist Death Guard Astartes seizing the Eisenstein and fleeing to Terra.
Another version of the story is found in the 1989 board game "Space Marine", a precursor to the later Epic tabletop game system that takes place during the Heresy. It describes the Eisenstein in a story box through the conversations had by Captains Tarvitz, Garro, Varren, and unnamed others. The choice presented in the conversation was to either "betray Horus or betray the Emperor," and it explains that Horus had five "Chapters," incorporated warrior lodges from Davin within them, and that the Chapters' Codex Astartes command structures were disregarded.
Additionally, the "bulk" of the Legionaries under Horus were now loyal to "feral world deities" and to Horus. Istvaan was destroyed without order from Terra, and the virus bombing was not justified.
There is no mention of Loyalists being killed. Captain Varren says that he has 15 men of the World Eaters, Captain Garro says 12, an unnamed voice says 10 from the Luna Wolves, and another unnamed voice says 20 from the Thousand Sons. Tarvitz says that there are 9 Emperor's Children beyond himself. In total, it represented the canonical 70 Astartes.
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 the five warships. Four of the ships would then defend the Eisenstein and clear a path for it to flee. The World Eaters under Varren would then carry the message to the Emperor.
The author James Swallow, who created the character of Macer Varren, has said that artist Neil Roberts' portrait of him displayed above carries a strong resemblance to the actor Gerard Butler's character, the Spartan King Leonidas from the movie 300, which is exactly the look Swallow wanted.
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (Background Book)
- Garro: Legion of One (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- Garro: Sword of Truth (Audio Book) by James Swallow
- Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- An Artist's Impression - Black Library Blog
- The Buried Dagger (Novel) by James Swallow, Chs. 1, 6
- Space Marine (1st Edition) (Board Game), pg. 7