Fiction, Sci-Fi, WH40K

The Church of the Astral Ascension

It’s been a while since I’ve written any Warhammer 40,000 fiction, but the return of the Genestealer Cults to the setting is far too good an opportunity to allow to pass by.

***

Knock-knock-knock

Kohren looked at the hab-unit door in mild confusion. No-one ever visited the ‘roid miners hab-units this deep in the station interior. They were all tiny, just three small rooms – wash chamber, bed pod and tiny living space – not suitable for hosting guests. The miners didn’t mingle here, that’s what the rec room and social hall were for. Kohren didn’t move. Could it be his shift overseer? Was he late for his rotation? He didn’t think so.

Knock-knock-knock

Kohren glanced over at the bed pod. Tamira rolled over. She’d just started the night-shift rotation and would hate to be woken. Kohren knew it would be bad for his health if he let their unexpected visitor knock for a third time. He jumped up and pressed the door release.

“Good day Kohren,” said a familiar face. The young asteroid miner blinked in surprise.

“Frankin…what brings you here?” replied Kohren. Frankin was a fellow asteroid miners. He used to be on the same rotation as Kohren, but had been transferred out months ago. He hadn’t seen him on Parable Station since, and assumed Frankin had been posted to one of the other mining orbitals. Themis perhaps, or Memento? They’d been suffering an unusually high fatality rate on Memento Station recently…

“I’m here to deliver some good news,” beamed Frankin. This got Kohren interested. Were he and Tamira about to be transferred too? He’d love to get out of the lower decks! Still, Frankin was talking rather loudly and it wasn’t worth waking his new wife yet, not until he knew what the news was. Kohren stepped out into the corridor, allowing the hab-unit door to hiss shut behind him.

“It’s good to see you Frankin,” smiled Kohren, “so what’s this good news, and why are you delivering it? Did you get promoted to overseer?”

“No Kohren,” replied his old associate, “I got promoted to a higher plane of spiritual awareness!”

“I…sorry…what?” stammered Kohren. The corridor joining the hab-units in this area was narrow, and there wasn’t quite enough headroom due to the pipes and conduits snaking their way along the ceiling, partially obscuring the lights. The two men had to stoop ever so slightly, bringing their faces closer together than they might have otherwise been. Kohren was suddenly aware of another light source besides the under-maintained flickering of the lumen-strips; the light of zeal in Frankin’s eyes.

Kohren glanced aside uncomfortably and was instantly aware that they were not alone. All along this curving section of Parable Station’s lower deeps, miners were knocking on doors, rousing confused and unsuspecting inhabitants.

“I’m here to deliver the good news of the Church of the Astral Ascension,” exclaimed Frankin with all the certainty of a true believer, “did you know that the Emperor is about to depart his Golden Throne and ascend to the stars? Did you know that he’ll sweep across the galaxy, gathering the true believers to his bosom? Did you know that he’s coming here?”

“He is?” asked Kohren with an awkward laugh, “Then I guess we’d better tidy up the place a bit, perhaps try and look like we’re meeting quotas?”

Frankin either ignored him or simply didn’t hear him.

“Jarik Ovid is his prophet, he’ll show us all how to ascend to the Emperor’s side,” said Frankin, thrusting a mem-wafer into Kohren’s palm, “all his teachings are on this. It’ll all be clear, you’ll see! And that’s not all; members of the Church – as the chosen people of the Emperor – get all the best shifts! And we’re allowed to move hab-unit to live near other members of the Church. I have a hab-unit on the outer hull now, with views of Grovesnor II.”

“A room with a view? Fancy…” mused Kohren. That did sound appealing. “We’re Orthodox Ecclesiastical though…”

“It’s never too late for redemption,” replied Frankin with a broad smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, “never too late for ascension!”

There was an awkward pause. Kohren looked down at the mem-wafer in his palm. Frankin was clearly waiting for a response.

“Well, thank you, Frankin,” said Kohren slowly, “I’ll certainly give it some thought.”

“Read the data files, watch the vids,” said Frankin eagerly, “come to the next meeting. It’ll all become clear. So clear.”

Kohren was back in his hab-unit now, and the door was sliding shut.

“Thank you, I will certainly think about it,” said Kohren as the closing door bought the conversation to an unavoidable end. He stood for a moment in silence, wondering if Frankin might knock again. Then he caught a muffled knocking from further down the corridor. His old colleague had clearly moved on to the next unit.

Kohren considered the mem-wafter. He wasn’t sure. He’d always been perfectly content with the orthodox religion of the Imperium. Parable Station’s sanctioned Confessor had warned against the Church of the Astral Acension. The old preacher couldn’t outright condemn the Church as technically they were a fellow Imperial cult and had done nothing wrong, but Kohren could tell the man had no love for Jarik Ovid. He’d called his words “dangerously hypnotic”.

Still, an exterior window. And you just knew that a hab-unit on the outer hull came with much more floor space. He and Tamira were thinking of starting a family soon, but neither of them wanted to do that here, in the deeps. Kohren caught a whiff of something in the air that he hadn’t smelled in a long time – hope. He fed the mem-wafer into the wall-mounted cogitator and sat down to read…

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