Phantine is an unique Industrial World within the Sabbat Worlds whose population almost entirely resides in its upper atmosphere. Phantine offers immense mineral riches to the Imperium of Man, the exploitation of which increasingly destroyed Phantine's ecosystem until even the lowest reaches of its atmosphere, the troposphere, became unbreathable.
To survive, human civilisation on Phantine had to be moved above the skyline of the hive cities, into the world's stratosphere. Having fallen before the press of the Blood Pact, Phantine was one of many former Imperial planets liberated by the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Since its liberation, Phantine has been continuously providing reinforcements for the Crusade.
Compared to many of the worlds of the Segmentum Solar that have been colonised since the earliest days of Mankind, Phantine is a fairly young world. The first Imperial colonists to settle on Phantine were famously led by Saint Phidolas, some time after the great Saint Sabbat had liberated the worlds that now form the Sabbat Worlds Sector of the Segmentum Pacificus. But Phantine's humble origins were soon forgotten with the discovery of its tremendously rich deposits of Promethium, which led to the quick industrialisation of the world. Phantine's industries soon specialised in producing petrochemicals, exporting their products to many worlds. It was not long before the first hive cities began to rise from the ground, their spires reaching ever higher into the darkening sky. Yet Phantine's wealth would also cause unforeseen troubles. After fifteen standard centuries of continuous and ruthless exploitation, Phantine's refineries and other industries had rendered the world's troposphere uninhabitable. A five-thousand-metre-thick blanket of aerial pollution and noxious gases covered Phantine's entire surface, a dangerous and toxic sea of clouds named "the Scald." To survive, Phantine's population had to resettle above the cloudline, seeking refuge on the highest mountain chains or the spire tips of the greatest hive cities. There, the Phantines erected new cities, little islands in a sea of toxic fog. This development led to profound changes in Phantine society, which through necessity came to rely almost entirely on aviation for trade and transportation. Formerly dedicated to the production of petrochemicals, Phantine's manufacturers now turned to energy production, erecting great steam mills and central power plants that formed the beating hearts of the new airborne cities.
By necessity, to protect them from their corrosive atmosphere, Phantine's cities are sealed off from their environment, thus warranting cycles of artificial rain within their confines. Many larger cities like Cirenholm, Hessenville and Ouranberg also feature great panels of armoured glass. Due to the lack of landmass, Phantine has to import most of its food and materials from the wider Imperium. These are usually conveyed from city to city in great gas-filled aerostats, many-kilometres-long flying behemoths that observers compare to the ancient zeppelins of Old Earth. Many of these aerostats have also been converted for military use and act as flying airbases for Phantine's Planetary Defence Force.
While difficult to assail due to their planet's topography, Phantine's cities are by no means fortresses designed to withstand sustained assault. Typically, Phantine cities consist of several interlinked hab-domes where the population lives and a central steam-based power plant for energy production. Landing fields, secondary steam centrals, waste incinerators or refineries are often located on the cities' exteriors, connected to the main hab-domes by great conduits or causeways that are located above the cloudline. The hab-domes themselves also feature great terraces used by the inhabitants to move from place to place within the city. The domes are studded with anti-air defence guns as well as gangways in order to inspect the dome's physical integrity after one of the many acid rain storms that periodically assault all the settlements of Phantine from the tumultuous depths of the Scald. The strange mixture of airborne chemicals frequently causes electromagnetic storms in the depths of the Scald, whose layers are also prone to spontaneous combustion. Such an event lends the Scald an eerie and strange glow that has often been interpreted as a bad omen by the people of Phantine. The upper layer of the Scald frequently erupts into violent storms that can wash away the more precarious cities and force the aerostats to take unexpected detours from their standard routes.
The Phantine Liberation
In the seventh century of the 41st Millennium, the Imperium of Mankind launched the Sabbat Worlds Crusade to take back several important star systems that had previously fallen to Chaos in that sector. After the Warmaster Macaroth's successful gambit in the Cabal System, Phantine became the target of the notorious Blood Pact, a highly disciplined Khorne-worshipping warband that successfully gained a foothold on Phantine by conquering several of its cities, including Cirenholm and great Ouranberg. Hessenville resisted long enough for large-scale Imperial reinforcements to turn the tide, as with the cutoff of its supply lines, the Crusade desperately needed Phantine's hydrocarbon reserves and energy production capabilities. This victorious counterattack, known as "The Phantine Liberation," was the sole major conflict to have troubled this world.
The Phantine Planetary Defence Force had proved insufficient to hold back the battle-hardened troops of the Blood Pact, led by one of Urlock Gaur's most trusted lieutenants: a Chaos Space Marine named Sagittar Slaith. Slaith himself was present on Phantine and had established his headquarters in the city of Ouranberg when the Imperium finally counterattacked. This was only possible because the Phantine had succeeded in maintaining control over most of their flotilla of aerostats, thus maintaining the advantage of mobility over the Forces of Chaos. Yet despite the phenomenal range of the aerostats, Ouranberg remained out of reach of the Imperial forces. Warmaster Macaroth had despatched one of his most trusted commanders, Lord General Barthol Van Voytz, to Phantine to take command of the liberation effort. Assisted by Admiral Ornoff, the head of the Phantine PDF, Van Voytz carefully planned his first move in the reconquest of Phantine. Unable to strike directly at Slaith, Van Voytz chose to assail the city of Cirenholm instead, as its capture would serve as a necessary stepping stone on the way to Ouranberg.
In the great holds of the aerostats Nimbus and Boreas, three regiments of the Imperial Guard would take the fight to the enemy at Cirenholm. The city's Blood Pact garrison was still several thousand strong, but Imperial intelligence had discovered that none of Gaur's dreaded xenos mercenaries, the Loxatl, were present at Cirenholm, thus making it a "softer" target. Supported by the wings of the Phantine PDF, the 7th Urdesh Storm Troopers and the Tanith First and Only, the Guardsmen would land at Cirenholm, supported by a modest regiment of Phantine Skyborne -- merely 600 troops. However, the preparations for the assault on Cirenholm were slowed by several incidents. Most notoriously, the Departmento Munitorum failed to provide the Tanith First and Only with adequate ammunition, meaning most of its troopers could only carry three power cells into combat. Furthermore, despite the loss of an entire Wing of Marauder bombers of the Phantine Air Force, Admiral Ornoff, Lord General Van Voytz and their respective staffs failed to anticipate that the enemy deployed his interceptors at the precise moment of the Imperial attack. If it had not been for the brave actions of the Phantine Commander Bree Jagdea, the landing operations at Cirenholm would have turned into a massacre. Despite being shot down herself, Jagdea's fighter wing protected the vulnerable transports from enemy flyers.
Cirenholm fell after a mere seven solar hours of brutal fighting. The 7th Urdesh Storm Troopers suffered heavy casualties, including the loss of its commanding officer, Colonel Zythe, when the Blood Pact trapped the Imperial forces against a wall of energy-shields and the exterior perimeter. Fortunately for the Imperials, a small detachment of the Tanith First and Only successfully circumvented enemy lines and captured Cirenholm's main power plant intact, shutting down the enemy shields. As was later discovered, several cells of Blood Pact resistance fighters and supporters continued to operate after the city's first liberation on 214.771.M41.
Pleased with the actions of the Tanith First and Only, General Van Voytz and the regiment's commander, Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, devised a highly unorthodox plan to eliminate the enemy general, Sagittar Slaith, before the Imperium's main attack on Ouranberg. Dubbed "Operation Larisel," this covert action called for a joint force of Tanith and Phantine Guardsmen to infiltrate Ouranberg and slay the enemy commander. To that effect, four independent five-man teams were formed, each composed of one Phantine Drop Trooper, one Tanith Sniper, one team-leader, one infiltration specialist and one average trooper. Many of the Tanith's best troopers were selected to be part of this operation, such as Master Sniper Hllaine Larkin, Chief Scout Oan Mkoll and Brin Milo.
Despite initial losses, Operation Larisel proved a huge success, eliminating Slaith as the Imperial invasion swept over Ouranberg and finally liberated Phantine from the dark hold of the Blood Pact.
Phantine society widely conforms to the Imperial culture of other Civilised Worlds that share the same levels of population and technology. In stark contrast to the society on most Hive Worlds, there is no lower caste or under-hive scum, as every member of society is deemed valuable to the continued survival of the world's domed cities.
Phantine is not ruled by a single Imperial Governor as is customary, but by an assembly of elected officials who comprise the world's Senate. Its officeholders go by the title of senator and invariably live a life of luxury in large estates on the upper levels of the hab-domes, their great palaces or villas surrounded by well-tended gardens and orchards. These estates often mark the sole traces of greenery in a Phantine city. Other influential personalities, such as high-ranking officers of the Planetary Defence Forces and members of the Imperial clergy, share the same level of accommodation and together form Phantine's ruling elite. Just below this group are the high-ranking Adepts of other Imperial Adepta such as the Adeptus Administratum and the Adeptus Arbites. The Adeptus Mechanicus maintains a discreet presence on Phantine, the few Tech-priests required to maintain Phantine's power plants and refineries almost never leaving the compounds they have been assigned to. Crime, often uncontrollable on more populous Imperial worlds, is notoriously low on Phantine. The layout of its cities and the lack of land-based access routes considerably facilitate the Adeptus Arbites' task of maintaining order, so that Phantine has not had to rely on an auxiliary corps of Enforcers.
Amongst the common people, pilots are held in the highest regard, be they "simple" soldiers of the Planetary Defence Forces or a member of the highly respected Phantine Air Corps. Second in regard are the PDF's airborne soldiers who serve aboard the great military aerostats that act as mobile bases. Finally, the steam-mill and power plant workers on which the great cities rely are held as an elite group because without their labour the domed cities would cease to exist. A Phantine citizen's social rank can be determined from the location of his home, as the most humble are forced to live on the exterior rim of the habdomes. Several great Phantine cities such as Ouranberg have several smaller habdomes exclusively dedicated to residences for the steam mill and power plant workers, while to prevent accidents, the city refineries and other chemical plants are often located on separate platforms located outside the protected habdomes.
Fauna and Flora
According to initial reports, Phantine was once a verdant world, harbouring hundreds of thousands of different species, but the toxic vapours of the Scald have either killed or profoundly affected Phantine's biodiversity. The worst affected was Phantine's flora, which proved unable to evolve quickly enough to escape the suffocating and toxic vapours of pollution. Nowadays, the only traces of vegetation on Phantine can be found within the hermetically sealed cities, and more specifically the upper class levels of the primary habitation domes where Phantine's elite lives. On those levels, the wealthiest men and women had preserved some parts of their world's native trees amongst well-kept gardens which were sometimes decorated by artificial lakes.
However, outside of the hab-domes, Phantine's wildlife has been profoundly affected by the world's industrial poisoning. At ground-level, nothing survived and only airborne specimens were able to follow Phantine's population into safety. Over the following standard millennia, a rudimentary ecosystem established itself around the great Phantine dome cities.
At the lowest level of this ecosystem are located the Thermovores, small, sluglike creatures that colonised the outer walls of Phantine's dome cities, especially around the impressive vents of the thermal power plants. Thermovores feed on the vapour given off by the thermal plants and the small metallic particles dissolved by the world's continuous acidic rainstorms. Thermovores secrete a thick, acid-resistant slime that protects them from the more dangerous features of Phantine's climate.
Several smaller predators roam the cities' exteriors, all of which are winged and feed on each other or the humble Thermovores. But the mightiest beast of Phantine's skies lives within the toxic miasma of the Scald: the sky-shark. This almost legendary beast is universally recognised as the alpha-predator on Phantine, but very little information is available on it. Its exact wingspan and shape are unknown and the Phantine avoid it at all cost.
Given its low population level, Phantine's tithes for the Imperium focus more on fuel and power-cells than on bodies for the Astra Militarum. However, it still provides the Imperium of Man with fighting men and women, be they as drop-troopers in one of the regiments of the Phantine Skyborne, or as pilots in the Phantine Air Corps.
The Phantine Air Corps is a highly unusual formation within the Imperial Guard, as it violates the ancient decree that separated the Imperial Army into the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Navy. By the tenets of this edict, the Guard is not allowed to operate and maintain its own aircraft. Yet, the Phantine Air Corps does so because, as the proverb says, there is only sky on Phantine. When operating in a warzone, the Phantine Air Corps deploys its fighter and bomber-wings at the request of the overall military command and acts under supervision of the Imperial Navy, even if technically the Imperial Navy has no authority over the unit. As much of the Air Corps' organisation, such as the independence and formation of its wings is based on that of the Imperial Navy, both institutions work well together and cases of disagreement are few and mostly resolved through informal diplomacy.
Be they pilot or drop-trooper, all Phantine soldiers are ex-Planetary Defence Force personnel. This means that the average Phantine recruit will have amassed a considerable amount of experience, first as part of his initial training, and later during his service in the Planetary Defence Forces. Pilots of the Phantine Air Corps in particular can boast a higher number of flight hours than their Imperial Navy counterparts, although given the pressing demands of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, the great naval flight school at Hessenville now runs accelerated training-programs that tend to even the odds between Phantine's pilots and those of the navy.
- Double Eagle (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The Guns of Tanith (Novel) by Dan Abnett