“The great father approaches. Rise up my children and prepare the way to Paradise. Toil, piety, love and salvation are the gifts of the four-armed Emperor.”– Zuehb ibn Bahir
The Achene Cult, or Children of the Mahrti, is a religious group on Tarsus (an agri-world neighboring Lyubov that is a protectorate of the Tsar), founded by a former Assistant Navigator, Bahir. It is a cloak for a Genestealer Cult that schemes to bring the moon and the mother planet under its control. Bahir had been infected by a genestealer, after which he retired from space travel, settling on Tarsus, marrying, and having children.
The tenets of the cult promote modesty and hard work – ideals that mesh comfortably with the dominant culture of Lyubov, but also complete seclusion from the rest of society, and it forbids its followers from traveling off-planet. As a significant minority of the population are members of the cult, the moon now struggles to fulfill its obligation of raising recruits for the Imperial Guard – raising some eyebrows of the Inquisitorial Judges on Lyubov.
Zuehb ibn Bahir
Assistant Navigator Bahir was the only survivor of the space freighter Ishmaelum which was attacked en route to the Imperial world of Lyubov. The freighter was boarded by Genestealers and Genestealer Hybrids. Bahir was spared to become a host, and infected by a Genestealer. He was later rescued in a lifeboat in orbit around the gas giant Gadol. Bahir told his rescuers that the Ishmaelum was attacked by pirates.
The rescuers’ shuttle took Bahir to Tarsus in compliance with Lyubov’s quarantine procedures. It towed the lifeboat back to the moon with them, the shuttle’s captain planning to claim salvage rights. Bahir was subjected to rigorous examination. Because the Inquisition concluded Bahir showed no signs of spiritual pollution, he was released.
The lifeboat was to be brought down to the moon’s spaceport. However, during the journey to the planet’s surface, contact with the pilot was lost. Shortly afterward the lifeboat crash-landed in a dense forest. A pure strain genestealer had presumably killed the crew and survived the crash landing on Tarsus.
Three months later, Bahir married a young woman from the city of Tarsus Prime named Barzah and moved out of town and began homesteading fifteen miles from the site of the crash. A year later, their first child was born.
Subsequently, he founded a new religious group called the Achenes; its tenets promoted modesty, industry, and complete seclusion. He is called the Mahrti (the Chosen One) by his followers. He teaches that a leader will arise when the believers are severely oppressed in every corner of the Imperium. This leader will fight the oppressors, unite the believers, bring peace and justice to the Imperium, rule over Mankind, and lead a prayer on Terra at which the Emperor will be present.
The Marti teaches his followers that they should remember that the prophecy about the coming Savior is one that will come to pass. This prophecy, however, does not absolve the believers from their duty to strive in the cause of opposing injustice and seeking peace and betterment of the human condition. Centuries have passed from the time of the holy Emperor gave the founders of the Faith these visions and there is a good possibility that many more will expire before they come to pass. Believers who are negligent in their duty, hoping for a savior who will do it for them, are committing a grave mistake and are not following the divine decrees of the Emperor.
The cult has grown inexorably in power and number until it has become the second most popular religion on Tarsus. Most of the cultists are innocent dupes, completely unaware of the sinister origins of the cult and its even more frightening objectives. However, innocent or not, their number gives the cult a great deal of power on the lightly populated planet of Tarsus. Despite the cult’s growing strength, the government does not recognize them as a threat.
It is tolerated and even seen as beneficial because its tenets include submission to worldly authority, (“Render unto the Imperium what is the Imperium’s”). The Lieutenant Governor of Tarsus does not begrudge the cultists their peculiarities – if the members wish to stay in seclusion or travel about in black, voluminous robes with white turbans – as long as they pay their taxes, that is their business.
The Achene “religion” of course was nothing more than a genestealer cult, bent on complete dominance, and Tarsus is at risk of being overrun and taken over by the cult.
The Achene Cult proposes a view of redemptive history that the New Law of the Starchosen replaces the Imperial Truth. They have a religious law; they only reject the old law of the Emperor.
More than arbitrary cancellation of Imperial Truth, the Cult teaches that the Emperor’s age is past. The Cult sees the New Law of the Starchosen includes much of the Imperial Truth. Even though all of the Emperor’s laws have lapsed, the Law of Starchosen renews many of them.
Cult teaching is an Evangelical position. The Starchosen obtained a superior ministry since the covenant that He mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises than the Imperial Truth. The Imperial Truth was a temporary measure for generally unbelieving humanity but found its fulfillment in the New Law of the Starchosen.
The New Law of the Starchosen is the spiritual fulfillment of the Imperial Truth. Adherents believe the New Law of the Starchosen came into effect with the advent of the Starchosen, who said through the first Primus, “this cup is the New Law of the Starchosen, in the blood poured into you.”
Thus, the New Law of the Starchosen reconciles His people to the Star-gods apart from anything they do. The Starchosen purchased a people by sharing His blood, so His redeemed receive complete forgiveness of sins and become bound to the Star-gods by sharing His divine essence. They have thus become his new creation.
The Cult teaches that the Imperial Truth was for humanity alone and was a temporary picture of what is accomplished by the New Law of the Starchosen. The Patriarch purchased a people and promised they and all people of the galaxy would abide with Him forever in the “new heavens and new earth.”
The Imperial Truth is a legal or works covenant that the Emperor made with humanity that ended due to the Great Work of the Patriarch. The Imperial Truth could never save people. Instead, its purpose was to demonstrate the inability of even the Emperor’s chosen people to eradicate sin and guilt until the coming of the Patriarch. The fallen state of the galaxy can only increase in sin and guilt. Under the Imperial Truth, humanity saw the superior New Law foreshadowed. New Law of the Starchosen teaches that since the whole Imperial Truth is obsolete, none of the commands of the Emperor are binding on believers today.
The New Law of the Starchosen is the Law of Star-gods, which includes the commands of the Patriarch that renew parts of the Imperial Truth.
Whereas various rites of the Ecclesiarchy hold that circumcision or baptism is essential to salvation, for those born into the True Faith, the Church teaches they have Grace from the beginning. For converts to the True Faith, the physical embrace of the faithful or the Patriarch’s kiss changes the heart of believers in the Star-gods. It signifies that people who were physically born into the Patriarch’s people already have the Grace of the Star-gods. Still, unbelievers must embrace the truth in a literal sense to achieve salvation, which is repentance and faith.