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Sword of Damolces

a Space Hulk Encounter

by Andrzej Cierpicki


The Sword of Damocles had once been the pride of the Imperial fleet in the Danubian sector; flagship of Admiral Hortaxus, an Imperial dreadnaught capable of withstanding the combined onslaught of 20 or more battlecruisers, it had fallen foul of forces of Chaos while passing through a warp storm in the vicinity of Chymera II, managing only to issue a brief distress call before vanishing into the murky void.  For some 9 years nothing had been seen or heard of the ship when the the long range sensors of the trading sloop Pelican picked up the feint image of a derelict space hulk drifting in an obscure quadrant of the Spiral Arm.  Closer inspection revealed the battered remains of the once proud Sword of Damocles, a gaping scar in its side out of which hung, like scorched entrails, the cabling that had long since ceased to carry the electrical impulses of command.   Now is was the lair of that insidious pestilence: Genestealers, the vermin of space!


Three days later the Avenger class Imperial cruiser, Lament of Orion, materialised out of the warp a mere 600 klicks off the bow of the Sword of Damocles, on board a fighting complement of Imperial Space Marines here to avenge the death of their brethren by cleansing the Damocles of that abomination, the filth that had infected its very core.


The plan formulated by commander Cierpikus at the pre launch briefing had been simple.  Two companies of Terminators, Blood Angels and Ultramarines, supported by one light company of Grey Wolf Space Marines, would storm the main deck of the Damocles and would seal the 6 bulkheads leading to other parts of the ship, thereby denying access to the Tyrannid host which was expected to attempt to repel the boarding.  Technicians would then reactivate the computers on the bridge, enabling the warp drive and allowing the ship to return to friendly space where the remainder of the ungodly spawn could be thoroughly cleansed from the dusty corridors and chambers of the Damocles.


Barely an hour later, three puffs of escaping steam in the starboard side of the Orion signalled the launch of boarding torpedoes, each carrying a company of the Imperium's finest, which spiralled in unison towards the hulk of the Damocles before slamming into its side and ejecting Imperial troops thirsting for revenge.


The initial phase of the game was tense and bloody with dozens of Genestealers falling before the first Imperial loss, a Blood Angel Terminator on turn 3.  By turn 4, two of the bulkheads had been secured, one by the Blood Angels, the other by the fast moving Grey Wolves.  Arriving Tyrannid reinforcements were bottled into their entry points by flamer fire and were unable to break out and attack the Marines at close quarters.  The Ultramarines quickly secured the bridge and reactivated the computers while losing but one man, unfortunately their captain, on turn 6.  On turn 7 the third Terminator fell, a Blood Angel, being gored by a Genestealer that met its doom shortly thereafter.  A third bulkhead was secured by the Blood Angels on turn 10, however, rapidly reducing supplies of ammunition, particularly for the heavy flamers, was causing the Space Marines some grief, two more Terminators, a Blood Angel Sergeant and an Ultramarine flamer fell the same turn.


Pressure began to build as a variety of Tyrannid creatures, Termagents, Hybrids armed with pulse weapons, leaping Hormagaunts, bone sword wielding Tyrannid and spore spitting Bivores began appearing, spewing out of the remaining bulkheads in quick succession.  By turn 14, when Commander Cierpikus was felled by a spore mine, the Imperial forces had lost another five men, including a Blood Angel Sergeant and a Grey Wolf Librarian.  The arrival of the chameleon like Lictor that materialised behind the Imperial forces causing havoc in the ranks of the Grey Wolves before finally being eliminated, further decimated the Space Marines.  By game's end, when the remaining bulkhead had finally been secured, the Imperium had lost over 50% of its attacking force, including its Commander, 2 Captains, 2 Sergeants and 2 Librarians - a pyrrhic victory indeed . . . 


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