Short Fiction

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Princeps Maigret

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Princeps Maigret

An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Andy Clark
Reading Time: 11 minutes

+++After Action Report+++

+Incident: Loss of Imperator Class Engine – Rubello Arcanum+

+For the attention of: Lord Warmaster Kincaid+

+Ancillary Consideration: Fleet Admiral Lanctanius, Exulted Council of Legio Cattalan+

+Interview Subjects+

[Princeps Majoris Maigret — Princeps: Rubello Arcanum]

[Moderati Pyke — Rubello Arcanum]

[Geode-Alpha-3 — Tech Priest: Rubello Arcanum] 

[Secutarii Axiarch Tan Iapuvon — Right Bastion Command: Rubello Arcanum]

+Thought for the day — Truth is a burden the faithful need not carry.+

+Transcript Begins+

Location: Interrogation Chamber 14B,  Level 32, Subsection 4.

Addendum: Interview subjects have been questioned individually in the presence of Adeptus Ministorum Adept Darlo Rint accompanied by Autoscribe Servo Skull Mu-12. Individual transcripts have been combined at appropriate sections to avoid repetition. Full transcripts of individual interrogations are available upon receipt of Form AM-112/5 in triplicate.

 

Maigret: ‘This is absurd. I am a senior Princeps in the Legio Cattalan. You have no right to hold me like this.’

Interviewer: ‘You are not being held. You are being questioned to determine the course of events that led to the loss of significant materiel vital to the crusade. As to my right to question you, I am here at the express request of Lord Warmaster Kincaid.’

Maigret: ‘The council will hear of this!’

Interviewer: ‘The council are not only aware of this, they have given explicit permission. Now, please sit down Priceps Maigret.’

Maigret: ‘Very well. What do you wish to know?’

Interviewer: ‘In your own words describe the incident.’ 

Maigret: ‘From which point?’

Interviewer: ‘Wherever you wish. If you feel it is pertinent to include any details please do so.’

Maigret: ‘The engagement at Varlios Hive had ended and we had disengaged with orders to return to the landing fields for retrieval.’ 

Interviewer: ‘We?’

Maigret: ‘Yes, we. The engine battlegroup I commanded.’ 

Interviewer: ‘What was the composition of the battlegroup?’

Maigret: ‘Surely you know all this?’

Interviewer: ‘Humour me. All details must be recorded.’ 

Maigret: ‘Very well. The battlegroup consisted of four Warhound class scout titans, two Reaver class main battle line titans, and my own Imperator class engine, Rubello Arcanum. How is my engine?’

Interviewer:  ‘In the process of being recovered. What was the condition of the battlegroup?’

Maigret: ‘We had sustained damage. No engines had been lost but we all bore the scars of conflict. The orks had fielded foul engines of their own. Ramshackle things but surprisingly robust.’

Interviewer: ‘Specifically, what was the condition of Rubello Arcanum?’

Maigret:  ‘We had lost some armour and a number of voids but we held firm. We’ve taken worse.’

Interviewer: ‘Any mechanical issues? Structural?’

Maigret: ‘We felt…stiff. The manifold is more visceral than technical. Pyke or Geode should have the details?’

Interviewer: ‘You refer to Moderati Pyke and Geode-Alpha-3, your tech priest?’

Maigret: ‘Of course. Who else would I be referring to? Can we get on with this?’

Interviewer: ‘What was the condition of Rubello Arcanum?’

Pyke: ‘She’d taken some hits from a big ork walker. I say walker, the damn thing waddled like a porcine. Hit hard though. Voids were shaky and a few of the PDE’s were busted.’

Interviewer: ‘PDE’s?’

Pyke: ‘Yeah. Sorry. Point Defence Emplacements. Heavy bolters and such. Little stuff to keep the ground pounders at bay.’

Interviewer: ‘Any major structural issues?’ 

Pyke: ‘Left leg took a battering. Stepped right into a swarm of the greenies and they shot up the bastion. We gave back good though, eh?’

Interviewer: ‘Were you concerned about the integrity of the engine’s core structure?’

Pyke: ‘Nah. She’s a big girl, she could take it. Geode would know though.’

Interviewer: ‘What was the condition of the engine at the end of the engagement at Varlios Hive?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘At conclusion of tactical engagement Epsilon Nine Two Seven God Engine Rubello Arcanum remained at 82 percent efficiency.’

Interviewer: ‘Is that good?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘It is within acceptable parameters.’

Interviewer: ‘I understand there had been damage. Can you elaborate?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Main battery at 100 percent. Void shield array at 37 percent. Point Defence Emplacements at 62 percent. Right leg bastion at 95 percent. Left leg bastion at 45 percent. Armour at 85 percent. Primary reactor at 98 percent. Structural integrity at 89 percent.’ 

Interviewer: ‘Were there specific areas where structural integrity was weaker?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Negative. Structural damage was present across the entire engine. Significant impacts from medium to large capacity weaponry had resulted in the degradation of multiple panels and joints.’ 

Interviewer: ‘But nothing that caused undue concern?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Negative.’ 

Interviewer: ‘What about the left leg bastion? Was that not an issue?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Negative. Damage was within acceptable parameters for an engagement of this type.’ 

Interviewer: ‘45 percent sounds like a lot of damage. What of the skitarii?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Left leg bastion skitarii cohort lost.’

Interviewer: ‘All of them?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Confirmed. Secutarii Axiarch Tan Iapuvon retained operational command.’

Interviewer: ‘What was the status of the left leg bastion cohort?’

Tan Iapuvon: ‘Skitarii cohort lost to enemy weapons fire.’

Interviewer: ‘All of them?’

Tan Iapuvon: ‘92 percent. The bastion came under concentrated assault. Risk of incursion was estimated at 73 percent. Command to engage and repulse was given.’ 

Interviewer: ‘Given by who?’

Tan Iapuvon: ‘Orders received from Tech Priest Geode-Alpha-3.’

Interviewer: ‘Why did you order the skitarii to attack?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Order to repulse xenos received from Moderati Pyke.’

Pyke: ‘Princeps Maigret told me to.’

Maigret: ‘I wanted the bloody orks off my bloody leg. That ok with you?’

Interviewer: ‘Of course. Command was yours.’

Maigret: ‘Damn right it was.’ 

Interviewer: ‘How would you describe the Princeps Maigret’s command?’

Pyke: ‘How do you mean?’

Interviewer: ‘From your records you have fought alongside the Princeps for a number of years. What is the nature of his command?’

Pyke: ‘Oh I get ya. He’s fiery, that’s what. Been with him since Gracus,  she’s a Reaver you know. He was a hot head then and he’s a hot head now. Gets the job done though, right?’

Interviewer: ‘It is my understanding that the interface between God Engine and Princeps is critical to smooth operation. How would you describe the, ahem, relationship between Princeps Maigret and Rubello Arcanum?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Interrogative, what is the objective of this query?’

Interviewer: ‘I only wish to understand if any internal conflict may have existed in the engine’s command structure. Correct me if I am wrong but the MIU is the primary interface. I felt it pertinent to begin here.’

Geode-Alpha-3: [Binharic emmisions — Assign tech priest to translate and append to report]

Interviewer: ‘In gothic, please.’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘The Princeps has interfaced in a suboptimal configuration.’

Interviewer: ‘Elaborate.’

Geode-Alpha-3: Rubello Arcanum is a manifestation of the Omnisiah’s will. She must be respected.’

Interviewer: ‘And Princeps Maigret did not respect the engine? Would that not have been reported to Legio Command?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Princeps Maigret has been successful in previous engagements. Legio Command felt this success indicated a satisfactory link was established.’

Interviewer: ‘But you did not?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘It is not my prerogative to determine the suitability of the Princeps. I have served Rubello Arcanum through three previous Princeps. I will serve with the next.’ 

Interviewer: ‘Do you believe Princeps Maigret should be relieved of command?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘If that is the will of the Omnissiah I will not oppose it. May the next Princeps show the proper respect.’

Interviewer: ‘Please describe the events that caused you to deviate from your proscribed return trajectory.’

Maigret: ‘Why’d we turn off do you mean? We got a ping.’

Interviewer: ‘A ping?’

Pyke: ‘A sensor return. It was a faint one but matched the greenies signature. Maigret wanted to take a look.’

Interviewer: ‘Was this normal?’

Pyke: ‘For Maigret? Not really but he was smarting from the battle. He never usually gets a scratch you know?’

Interviewer: ‘So you received a ping. What did you do next?’

Maigret: ‘I swung us round to investigate.’

Interviewer: ‘The whole battlegroup?’

Maigret: ‘No, just Rubello. I sent the rest of the engines back.’ 

Interviewer: ‘Why did you dismiss the rest of the group? Would sending a scout titan not have been more appropriate?’

Maigret: ‘What are you implying?’

Interviewer: ‘I am implying nothing. Simply trying to ascertain the sequence of events.’

Maigret: ‘I am Princeps of an Imperator-class god-engine and commander of a battlegroup. I can do as I damn well please.’

Interviewer: ‘Were.’

Maigret: ‘What?’

Interviewer: ‘You were Princeps of an Imperator class titan. Whether you remain so depends on the outcome of these proceedings.’

Maigret: ‘Now listen here…’

[Note: sounds of crashing attributed to the subject’s chair being thrown to the ground.]

Interviewer: ‘Please restrain yourself Princeps Maigret. I am only interested in the truth. Please continue.’

Maigret: ‘Fine. We swung around to take a look. The return was marginal and Rubello was itching for a fight. Who was I to deny her?’

Interviewer: ‘Ostensibly her commander. Carry on.’

Maigret: ‘Shortly after we left the battlegroup the terrain became challenging.’

Interviewer: ‘Challenging how?’ 

Maigret: ‘We entered wetlands. Marshes and small lakes. Not the most stable ground for an engine of Rubello’s size.’

Interviewer: ‘But you continued?’

Maigret: ‘Yes. A bit of mud and water can’t stand in the way of the forces of the Omnissiah. We pressed on but took it slowly.’

Interviewer: ‘What happened next?’

Maigret: ‘We hit a snag.’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘There was a significant influx of fluid in the damaged lower sections.’

Pyke: ‘The bloody leg flooded.’

Interviewer: ‘What happened to the Skitarii in that section?’

Tan Iapuvon: ‘Further losses were sustained from replacement skitarii stationed in the bastion.’

Interviewer: ‘Were these additional losses replaced?’

Tan Iapuvon: ‘Negative.’

Interviewer: ‘Why not?’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Loses were already significant. Combat efficiency was adversely affected.’

Interviewer: ‘So the bastion remained unmanned.’ 

Pyke: ‘Well it was full of water. It didn’t seem like it would be a problem.’

Interviewer: ‘Did you have any further concerns about the bastion?’

Maigret: ‘Not at that time.’

Interviewer: ‘But later?’

Maigret: ‘Perhaps.’

Interviewer: ‘Explain.’

Maigret: ‘About two hours later I got an itch.’

Interviewer: ‘An itch?’

Maigret: ‘Yes. An itch. It started making its way up my left leg.’

Interviewer: ‘What did you attribute that to?’

Maigret: ‘Sensor fouling. The leg bastion was full of muck.’ 

Interviewer: ‘Could it have been something else?’

Maigret: ‘It could’ve been the return of His Holy Primarchs but sensor fouling seemed more likely.’

Interviewer: ‘What did you do about it?’

Maigret: ‘Do? Nothing. It was sensor fouling like I said. About that time we reached the source of the sensor return so I ignored it.’

Interviewer: ‘What was the source of the return?’

Maigret: ‘An ork camp of some type. Looked mostly abandoned but there was something big being put together at the back. What few of the xenos remained ran towards it.’

Interviewer: ‘Something big?’

Pyke: ‘A bloody great walker!’

Interviewer: ‘What action was taken?’

Maigret: ‘I determined to destroy the threat with all alacrity.’

Pyke: ‘We charged the Plasma Annihilator.’

Interviewer: ‘What was the status of your “itch”?’

Maigret: ‘It had gotten worse, in fact my left knee felt like it was on fire.’

Interviewer: ‘And this didn’t give you pause?’

Maigret: ‘One does not pause in the persecution of the enemies of mankind!’

Interviewer: ‘Well, quite. What happened next.’

Maigret: ‘You know damn well what happened next!’

Geode-Alpha-3: ‘Recoil from the weapon penetrated the structure of Rubello Arcanum and caused a catastrophic failure in the anterior and posterior support frame of the left knee joint. The loss of these supports and the significant, but previously unidentified damage to the interior surface resulted in a full shearing and the subsequent collapse of the god engine.’

Interviewer: ‘In plain gothic?’

Pyke: ‘Her knee snapped and we fell over.’

Interviewer: ‘What have you determined to be the root cause of the damage?’

Geode-Alpha-3: Initial root cause analysis indicates that damage sustained from the initial engagement was exacerbated by the unnecessary secondary engagement and led to structural failures. 

Interviewer: Could this have been avoided?

Geode-Alpha-3: We have determined engine loss would have been avoided by correct application of engagement protocols by command personnel.

Interviewer: What do you believe caused the damage?

Maigret: ‘Bloody orks got in didn’t they? Sneaky buggers must’ve climbed in and made a mess.’

Interviewer: ‘Orks are not generally known for their stealth.’

Maigret: ‘Well these ones must’ve been. It’s the only thing that makes sense.’

Interviewer: ‘No evidence of orks, stealthy or otherwise, has been found in the recovered sections of Rubello Arcanum.’

Maigret: ‘I’m telling you it was them. What other explanation could there be?’

 

+Transcript Ends+

 

Lord Kincaid,

Interviews with the key personnel of the Imperator Class Engine Rubello Arcanum indicate an inherent disregard for operational doctrines and an unhealthy command structure. At multiple points during the engagement warning signs were ignored and overridden by Princeps Maigret. It is my opinion that Princeps Maigret has grown complacent in command and his actions have resulted in the loss of significant materiel. A failure of judgement of this magnitude cannot be overstated. 

The tech priests of Legio Cattalan have completed their recovery of Rubello Arcanum and assure me that the great engine can be returned to service, but it may be many years before its machine spirit will trust another Princeps. 

Please find the attached interview transcripts, internal and external sensor logs, and additional items of evidence for your judgement.

Ave Imperator.

Adeptus Ministorum Adept Darlo Rint

 

+++

 

Geode-Alpha-3 climbed carefully up the wide stairs to the arched doorway. The left leg of Rubello Arcanum stood alone in a cavernous hold. A small lake of blessed oil and sludge was being cleared away by an army of servitors as it poured from open hatches and rents in the armour plate. The interior of the bastion was no better than the exterior. Water pooled in craters left by weapons fire and glinted in the light that shone through the myriad holes where shutters had once sat. 

The tech priest made their way gingerly through the chambers, clawed feet gripping the grated steps and mechadendrites reaching across gaps to steady them. The shearing force that had severed the leg had caused havoc with the internal structure and they had to make more than one detour around walkways that had collapsed entirely. 

They passed the open doors to the skitarii chambers, racks now empty of the bodies of the warrior caste that had died without a shot fired. Lost through hubris. They said a small prayer to the omnissiah and moved on. 

At last Geode-Alpha-3 reached the top and stepped out into the open air. The break had been surprisingly clean, the knee joint cut almost level. They reached out an augmetic hand and stroked ceramic fingers across the bright metal of the cut. Such a waste. 

They turned to go, mapping a reverse course through the damage when an object caught their eye. A glint of organic where organic should not be. They reached out with a mechadendrite and pulled it free. A single yellow fang about the size of a human thumb. Geode-Alpha-3 examined it for a moment, scanning and cataloguing its composition. 

Satisfied, they slipped the tooth into a pocket of their robe and began the climb back to the hold.  Rubello Arcanum was hurt but she would walk again. Maybe her next Princeps would treat her better.

About the Author

Andy Clark is an avid reader of all things Warhammer having rediscovered the setting with the Horus Heresy series. He’s recently got back into painting models after a two-decade gap and wonders why he ever stopped. 

Contact