Crack in the Wall
Tischtayan Orthodoxy is a deceptively ancient religion. Though its roots go back to antiquity, the modern religion places great emphasis on scientific education of its adherents.
Practices & beliefs
The practice most commonly-known by outsiders is that of their Call to Heaven, though many mistake it as a “call to prayer” common in many Islamic traditions. At a set time every 24 hours, every Orthodox follower must call out an incantation in ancient Ghalcha. As this incantation is sung at the same time regardless of the follower’s location on Earth, this sometimes causes stress between Tischtayans and their neighbors in the western world, where the Call to Heaven is performed somewhere between 11pm and 4am in local time.
The Call to Heaven is rooted in the fundamental unifying belief of Orthodoxy: from its earliest days, the religion was intensely focused on the heavens and the motions of astrological bodies. Their prophets taught that Earth was a paradise made for them by their god when he imprisoned the Shadaj (modern followers refer to the Shadaj as the Devil, Satan or Shaitan, in keeping with the prevailing tradition) on the moon*. Orthodox mythology spoke of curious and/or blasphemous travelers who tried to reach the moon through a variety of means to test this claim, all of whom were met with the same imprisonment as the Shadaj, for the price God exacted in exchange for his earthly paradise is for humanity to never set foot on another world.
This was an easy enough edict for believers to follow, until the late 20th Century. While belief in Orthodoxy had persisted in a somewhat muted form through four millennia, the space race between the USSR and the United States ignited an urgent return to their beliefs. Tischtayans, with their cultural emphasis on scientific education, were highly-represented in the Soviet space program, and to a lesser extent, the American one (most of whom were Soviet defectors). Clerics bickered on the right way to proceed, but all believers agreed that a manned mission to the moon would be disastrous for humanity as a whole. Rumors persist of Tischtayan scientists and engineers within the USSR committing small-scale sabotage as one of many reasons the Russian program never succeeded.
Once the Apollo program succeeded, members of the Orthodox clergy reconvened to determine what to do next. They believed that the god’s covenant had been broken and that the Shadaj was now free on Earth. Ancient texts and inscriptions revealed nearly-forgotten details of the revelation to the prophets. In one such text, an angel revealed to one of their prophets the exact words that were used to imprison the Shadaj; it was from these words that the Tischtayan Call to Heaven was drawn, and the order went out that all believers would need to sing them out as one voice in order to drive it into hiding for another day. Emigration also became a key focus of the religion, as the clerics believed that creating a band of Tichtayan communities around the world would ensure that the Call was heard wherever the Devil may be hiding.
The first evidence of what is today Tischtayan Orthodoxy show that the religion (or at least key beliefs of it) predates most antique religions of the region. Tischtayan Orthodox clerics were considered community leaders when their lands were absorbed into the Samanid Empire, and the faith survived primarily through adaptation of its beliefs into Zoroastrian, Christian and Islamic practices; the majority of Orthodox believers today are heavily influenced by Islam, though they retain the fundamental traditions as a small sect within the larger faith.
After millennia of existing within larger empires and nations, Tischtaya successfully achieved its independence simultaneously from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan following the series of regional conflicts in Central Asia which began in 2001 and continued through 2023. The Orthodox church was instrumental in negotiating support for this recognition, with early groundwork on the American side being laid by the Grizzly Northern firm which had taken over management of allied military forces in the region toward the end of the conflict.
Independence may have been short-lived, however, as Tischtaya is a primary target of aggression in the current ongoing conflicts that began with the Great Blackout. Airfields and oil pipelines in the region were of high strategic importance to forces directed by Podaga Solutions, another western conflict firm, who led a series of coordinated attacks on the Nerrivik (formerly Grizzly Northern) security forces. Displaced Tischtayans were escorted out of the country by diplomatic corps (under the joint direction of both Nerrivik and Podaga) where they were later resettled in a variety of communities, the largest of which is now known as Promise Sector 23 on the American eastern seaboard. The future of Tischtaya is unclear, and with well-funded western conflict firms fighting on both sides of the invasion, even discerning the day-to-day facts on the ground is difficult at best.
*Curiously, many of their religious beliefs about astrology seemed to be well ahead of their time: Orthodoxy taught that the Earth was round, was neither the center of the universe or even the immediate solar system, and that other planets, other suns and moons, existed very far away.