Phalanx is the massive starship that serves as the mobile fortress-monastery of the Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter and was constructed many millennia ago by unknown hands during the Dark Age of Technology long before the Age of the Imperium. Phalanx itself is gigantic, the largest starship known to have been constructed by human hands, and something of its magnitude has not been seen since the Dark Age of Technology. The size of a small moon or large asteroid, its foredeck can dock a dozen Imperial Navy Cruisers around its circumference. The vessel is essentially a hive city in space, with its great spires reaching towards the stars, giving it the appearance of a giant mace-head. In many ways, Phalanx is the only vessel ever built by Mankind that comes close in size and complexity to that of the Eldar's Craftworlds. Phalanx is so large that it reflects light like the stars themselves, and it served as a symbolic representation of the Emperor Himself during the time of the Great Crusade. The vast starship is completely mobile and capable of travel through the Warp and often follows the Imperial Fists Chapter as it moves throughout the galaxy.
Phalanx is essentially a mobile, pre-Imperial battle station that serves as both the Imperial Fists' Chapter homeworld and their foremost warship. In form and scale, it is nearer a planetoid than a conventional vessel; it is a mighty cathedral of war that dwarfs the largest Battle Barge, and wields the firepower of a formidable ﬂeet.
The secrets of Phalanx’s construction are long-forgotten, though it is known that the Primarch Rogal Dorn brought it into the Emperor's service at the time of their first meeting, and it has performed proudly ever since. In the days of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, its shadow fell across hundreds of worlds, the fury of the Imperial Fists following close behind. Since that time, it has circled the Sol System, its orbit synchronous with that of sacred Terra, an ever-vigilant golden sentinel to safeguard the cradle of Mankind as the days grow darker.
Yet the passing millennia have not been kind to Phalanx, and constant vigilance and warfare have taken their inevitable toll. Despite the efforts of the Imperial Fists Techmarines, more of the mighty vessel's systems fail each standard year, and the skill required to repair them has long passed out of living memory. Once, Phalanx bestrode the stars as a colossus of war, but now its zenith has passed. It has departed the Sol System only rarely in recent times, its venerable engines coaxed to life in service of great vengeance or dire need. Though Phalanx is a wan shadow of its former glory, the starship's might still outshines any other vessel known to Mankind, and its name strikes terror into the hearts of the Imperium's foes. Venerable Phalanx has many more battles yet to fight and many more blows to strike in the name of Rogal Dorn.
Officially, the homeworld of the Imperial Fists is always listed as Terra, but in reality, the Phalanx serves as the Imperial Fists' true base of operations. Originally, the Phalanx was discovered adrift in space by the Imperial Fists' Primarch Rogal Dorn. The massive vessel was given as a gift to the Emperor of Mankind when Dorn was discovered near the Ice Hives of Inwit by his gene-father during the outset of the Great Crusade. The Emperor duly welcomed Dorn then returned the massive spacecraft to the Primarch after he was appointed as the commander of the VII Legion. Phalanx is gargantuan, the largest starship known to have been constructed by human hands, and something of its magnitude has not been seen since the Dark Age of Technology. The size of a small moon or large asteroid, its foredeck can dock a dozen Imperial Navy Cruisers around its circumference. Its like had never been built before, and would never be built again. The secrets of its construction dated from before the foundation of the Imperium of Man, its immense golden form crafted by engineers dead long before the Emperor first united Terra.
The hull of the starship was many kilometres long, triangular in cross-section with its upper surface bristling with weapons and sensorium domes. Two wings swept back from the hull, trailing directional vanes like long gilded feathers. Every surface was clad in solid armour plating and every angle was covered by more torpedo tubes and Lance batteries than any Imperial Battleship could muster. Countless smaller spacecraft, repair craft and unmanned scouts orbited like supplicants jostling for attention, and the wake of the titanic engines seemed to churn the void itself with the force of their plasma fire.
The fist symbol emblazoned on the prow was taller than the length of most Imperial spacecraft, proudly claiming that the starship belonged to the Imperial Fists Chapter, one of the most storied Space Marine Chapters in the history of the Imperium. The pale light of stars and the lesser glow of boiling nebulae played across thousands of battle-honours and campaign markings all over the beak-like prow. The ship had acted as the Imperial Fists' mobile fortress-monastery since the Horus Heresy, and its eagle-shaped shadow had fallen across a hundred worlds that had later shuddered under the weight of a massed Imperial Fists assault. Officially, the homeworld of the Imperial Fists is always listed as Terra, but in reality, the Phalanx serves as the Imperial Fists' true base of operations.
Ancient records suggest that, during the era of the Great Crusade, the Emperor travelled often aboard the immense, Warp-capable battle station. Even then it was the flagship of the Imperial Fists, and remains their primary base of operations to this day. During the Horus Heresy that remarkable craft is believed to have hung above Terra, forming part of the world's defences. If this is so, then somehow it survived that cataclysmic conflict, and has endured the long millennia since.
The Phalanx was often despatched on recruiting missions throughout the galaxy to find prospective Neophytes to train as potential Space Marines. Had the Imperial Fists possessed a homeworld, like some Chapters, they could have culled the likely youth from among the population, a simple matter of expediency. But the Imperial Fists had no home except their fortress-monastery and the ships of their Chapter fleet. The Chapter followed the wishes of Primarch Rogal Dorn, who had famously said that he desired, "recruits, not vassals," and who had wanted nothing of the responsibilities that came with having a homeworld to maintain. Instead, the Imperial Fists recruited from any number of inhabited planetary systems, visiting them in turn every few generations.
Bigger than any ship in the Imperial Navy, the Phalanx was a mobile battle station the size of a city that dwarfed any Space Marine Chapter's mightiest Battle Barge. It might have been the most powerful engine of destruction in the Imperium. It was a symbol of Mankind's very right to live amongst the stars. Its most potent weapon was the sheer awe that the golden eagle inspired when it appeared in the night sky over a rebellious world.
In many ways, Phalanx is the only vessel ever built by Mankind that comes close in size and complexity to that of the Eldar's Craftworlds. Phalanx is so large that it reflects light like the stars themselves, and it served as a symbolic representation of the Emperor Himself during the time of the Great Crusade. The vast starship is completely mobile and capable of travel through the Warp and often follows the Imperial Fists Chapter as it moves throughout the galaxy.
The 13th Black Crusade
Phalanx was almost destroyed during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41 at the fall of Cadia when it unexpectedly came to the aid of the defenders of that Fortress World, first by a daemonic infestation that overran its decks during Warp transit, and then by the prodigious firepower of the armada of Traitor Legion warships gathered in the Cadia System. The battle station persevered through all of these hazards, however, successfully bearing many faithful Imperial warriors back to the Sol System and resuming its time-honoured position in orbit above the Throneworld.
Since then, repairs have been under way to restore Phalanx to its full functionality, and to purify those zones of the voidcraft deemed tainted by the touch of Chaos. Amidst the endless bustle, the toing and froing of gene-bulked work gangs, and the interminable rites of the Adeptus Ministorum, the Adeptus Custodes have had little difficulty seeding agents onto the craft.
Hidden in plain sight, these intruders keep careful watch over what they view as a dangerously potent Adeptus Astartes war engine, and stand ready to take whatever action they must. To the Custodians, even the most loyal Space Marine Chapters will always be potential Traitors. It is their duty never to forgive, nor forget, what trust in the Primarchs led to during the Heresy. Thus, were Phalanx ever to direct its guns towards the Imperial Palace, the Custodians would enact veiled protocols that would see it scuttled before it could fire a shot.
Onboard the Phalanx, and in the Strike Cruisers and larger starships of the Imperial Fist Chapter fleet, can be found the Arena Restricta, sacred halls hung with ancient and storied blades, temples dedicated to the worship of the sword. And upon that hallowed ground, Battle-Brothers draw their blades against one another, their feet secured in blocks of gleaming steel, while their brethren sit in solemn witness from above. The Imperial Fists Astartes duel to settle a dispute, or to prove the strength of one proposition against its counter, or merely to test the mettle of one Battle-Brother against another. And though the wounds inflicted in the honour duel are seldom fatal, it is rare to find an Imperial Fist of long years who does not bear somewhere on him the badges of honour won in the Arena Restricta.
Living aboard the mobile fortress-monastery, it was easy to forget that the Phalanx was the size of a small moon. Even given the majestic dimensions of the chapels and cathedrals, the Assimularum and Scriptoriums, it was too easy when living onboard to forget the sheer immenseness of the fortress-monastery. When one stepped into the Departure Bay, though, one was immediately reminded not only that they were in a space-borne vessel, but that the Phalanx was immense on a scale that was difficult for a rational mind to comprehend. On the other side of the bay, so far away that the sight of it hazed with the distance, were the bay doors which opened out onto the cold vacuum of the void, before which were arranged hundreds of Thunderhawk gunships, Imperial shuttles and other such craft in their hundreds. Overhead, hanging from the rafters that were barely visible from the deck, hung decommissioned aircraft and space-faring vessels of the Chapter, preserved and displayed in honour of past victories, and of those who had fought and died onboard them.
It was said that the departure hall was so large that it had developed its own microclimate, separate from the artificial environment which prevailed throughout the rest of the fortress-monastery, and that there were strains of avian life-forms, roosting up in the rafters and onboard those ancient and honoured craft hanging from them, that had evolved into entirely novel forms and physiologies over the millennia, unseen by human eyes. On a somewhat more human scale, though still towering over the Battle-Brothers who walked beneath, were arranged on the walls battle trophies from past victories, and enormous murals depicting famous battles from the annals of the Imperial Fists. There were ancient weapons and early marks of Power Armour that dated back even as far as the Great Crusade, preserved eternally and displayed there reverentially after age finally robbed them of their use, each one of them carrying a provenance as long and celebrated as that of the Chapter itself.
Fluttering slightly in the pressure differential between the Departure Bay and the hatches which led to the corridors, there hung immense banners, each of them easily as wide as four Adeptus Astartes in full Power Armour standing abreast, and more than twice as tall. There was one for each of the Battle Companies of the Imperial Fists, each bearing the heraldry and litany of the company in question. Surmounting them all was an even larger Chapter banner, golden yellow and trimmed in jet-black and blood-red, on which was inscribed "VII" – remembering the Chapter’s origins as the Emperor’s VII Legion during the Great Crusade -- and the word "Roma" -- referring to the Imperial Fists’ earliest battle honour, which now existed only on a Ceramite icon which itself was considered too precious and valuable even to put on display in the Inner Reclusium of the Phalanx -- and finally, the icon of the black fist grasping a red thunderbolt, beneath which was scrolled the legend "Sons of Dorn".
There were several Chapter banners, but only one of them was put on display at any given time, rotated out at regular intervals in recognition of important actions and significant victories. It was perhaps a testament to the long lifespan of the Chapter itself that in a certain time period when a Battle-Brother had lived on-board the Phalanx and the Chapter banner had not yet been changed out, it suggested that all of the great victories the Chapter had won in the time since had not risen yet to the level of a "significant victory".
Throughout the Phalanx there were also multiple tribute galleries which displayed art, standards and captured arms evoking the long, glorious history of the Imperial Fists.
This area of the mighty star fortress was the heart of Phalanx. It spanned the barracks deck and was a kilometre and a half wide. The Forge of Ages was anchored on one end, beyond which lay a tangle of engineering areas and power and coolant conduits. The other flank of this large area terminated in the Rynn's World Memorial, an amphitheatre of granite inscribed with the names of the Crimson Fists lost in the infamous near-destruction of their fortress-monastery by the Orks during their assault upon that homeworld of the Imperial Fists' Successor Chapter. A large, carved stone tableau contained carved battle scenes from the Rynn World's campaign.
The Observatory was one of the Phalanx’s many follies, a viewing dome built as a throne room for past Chapter Masters, where the transparent dome afforded a dramatic enough view of space to intimidate the Chapter’s guests who came there to petition the lords of the Imperial Fists. The former Chapter Master, Vladimir Pugh, had little need for such shows of intimidation and kept the Observatory closed for years.
The Phalanx also possessed a large Librarium which contained accumulated knowledge dating back to the bygone era of the Great Crusade. These vast repositories of knowledge were maintained by the ship's archivists, a curious breed even by the standards of the voidborn. Most had been born on the ship -- the few who had not had been purchased in childhood as Chapter Serfs to serve as apprentices to the aged Chapter functionaries. An archivist’s purpose was to maintain the enormous parchment rolls on which the deeds and histories of the Imperial Fists were recorded. Those massive rolls, three times the height of a man and twice as broad, hung on their rollers from the walls of the cylindrical archive shaft, giving it the appearance of the inside of an insect hive bulging with pale cells.
An archivist therefore lived to record the deeds of those greater than him. An archivist was not really a person at all, but a human-shaped shadow tolerated to exist only as far as his duties required. They did not have names, but were referred to by function. They were essentially interchangeable. These strange, dusty, dried-out people had eyes preserved by goggles and their fingers were nothing more than thin bony spindles. They schooled their apprentices in the art of abandoning one’s own personality. Several archivists would write on the fresh surfaces of recently installed parchment rolls, their nimble fingers noting down the transmissions in delicate longhand. Others would be illuminating the borders and capital letters.
The Phalanx is said to possess some of the finest medicae facilities in the Imperium within its onboard Apothecarion and the sickbays used by the ship's personnel.
The Phalanx had been designed -- whenever it had been designed, before the Age of the Imperium -- to survive. Any hostiles who boarded the immense ship might find themselves trapped in the tight, winding corridors of the engineering and maintenance areas just beneath the hull's skin, separated from the vast ship’s more vulnerable areas by hundreds of automated bulkhead doors and whole sections of outer deck that could be vented into hard vacuum with the press of a control stud.
A little known area of the Phalanx lay deep within the bowels of the mighty star fortress. Known as the Panpsychicon, this was an unsuccessful experiment that had laid dormant for two standard centuries. The circular expanse of the Panpsychicon was bounded by smooth walls inlaid with mosaics. The names of a hundred great battles from Imperial Fists history were depicted there in patterns of brightly coloured stone shards, surrounded by complex heraldries that spiralled into an unbroken pattern. Even the name Terra was picked out among the heraldry, commemorating the part the Imperial Fists had played in the battle for the Emperor's Imperial Palace ten thousand standard years before at the Battle of Terra.
In the centre of the Panpsychicon was a device of steel and crystal that reached the ceiling, something like a set of interlocking spider’s webs in which were suspended cut slabs and chunks of crystal like giant gemstones. A rainbow of colours reflected from every surface, creating a maddening nest of shapes and light that refused attempts to view it as a normal object in three dimensions.
There were manacles set into the floor, one of dozens set in concentric circles around the central device. Some enemies of the Imperium resisted traditional interrogation techniques, particularly psykers amongst them. The Panpsychicon was built to rid them of their mental barriers. It was a machine built to grind down men's souls. Only the Inquisition made use of such devices, but with varying degrees of success. Never before had one been built on such a scale. The Panpsychicon was a relic of the past, one rarely spoken of by the Imperial Fists themselves.
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 28
- Index Astartes II, "Emperor's Fist – The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter," pg. 12
- Space Marine (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Sons of Dorn (Novel) by Chris Roberson, pp. 5, 70, 82-83
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Phalanx (Novel) by Ben Counter, pp. 1-4, 70, 77-78, 121, 206, 236-237, 253-254, 277-279
- The Dark King - The Lightning Tower (Audio Book) by Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill
- The Gathering Storm - Part I - Fall of Cadia (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 54