Massive Lei Gong rises in the distance, with 6 members of it's extensive family of moons visible, over the Tratung Mountains in this view from the moon Zhun-Ti.
The monks of the Jaffei Order live far above the forest and it's inhabitants, both literally and figuratively. Living an ascetic existence amid the freezing mountaintops, they continue their Order's reason for existence; their attempt to fulfill the Prophecy of Clarke. Found in the holy book "The Sky's Backside" written by the prophet Clarke millennia ago, the Prophecy states that when all 9 billion names of God have been calculated and printed into physical existence, it will reverse Hubble's constant, causing all of spacetime to slow and then stop it's expansion and begin it's contraction into an eventual singularity, essentially triggering the end of this universe and the creation of the next.
The monks have strung together a network of sublight transmitters to contact their brethren on other worlds in order to assemble the holy List in real time. This small, unassuming temple here on on Zhun-Ti is a permutation generator that generates the many possible combinations of letters that make up of the names of God, which are then sent to through the transmitter to a printing station, to be printed out on prayer flags and hung from the Final Stupa. When all 9 billion prayer flags have been hung, the monks will have, in effect, destroyed the universe, all in the names of God.
If anyone has read the short story "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke, found in the compilation "The Other Side of the Sky" (aka "The Sky's Backside" .... translation errors in ancient texts are a pain aren't they
), then you'll probably recognize this. It's sort of a re-imagining of the story with a different setting ... what can I say, it's one of my all time favorites
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