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Visitors, Chapter 1
Pathfinder, volume 3
by Orson Scott Card
From the surface of the planet Garden, it looks like a plateau surrounded by a steep cliff, with a
mountain in the middle. But from space, it is plain that the plateau is a huge crater, and the
mountain is its center point.
Buried deep beneath that central mountain is a starship. It crashed into the planet Garden 11,203
Yet the starship was launched from near-Earth orbit only nineteen years ago. It journeyed seven
years, then made the jump that was meant to create an anomaly in spacetime and appear near
It was as instantaneous to Ram Odin, the pilot of the starship -- the only living person awake on
But compared to the surrounding universe, the ship arrived 11,191 years before it made the jump.
In the process, it divided into nineteen ships, one for each of the onboard computers that
calculated the jump. All those ships contained a duplicate of Ram Odin, along with all the other
humans lying in stasis, waiting to arrive at the world they would colonize.
All nineteen ships were deliberately crashed into the surface of the planet Garden. The
simultaneous impact slowed the rotation of the planet, lengthening the day. Each impact formed
a crater. Protected by anti-inertial and anti-collision fields, all the starships and their colonists
Nineteen colonies were created, each separated from the others by a psychoactive field called
This starship is in the middle of the wallfold called Vadeshfold.
In the conetrol room of the starship, there are either four men, or three, or two, or one, depending
on how you count them.
One of them is the sole surviving Ram Odin. If you say that there is only one man in the control
room, he is that man. He has survived all these centuries by rising out of stasis for only one day
in each fifty years, or sometimes for one week after a hundred years -- whatever is needed in
order to make the decisions that the ship's computers are not competent to make without him.
Another of them looks like an adult man, and speaks like one, but he is really a machine, an
expendable. He is called Vadeshex. All the humans in his colony were wiped out in terrible
warfare more than ten thousand years before. In the years since then, he has devoted himself to
creating a version of a native parasite that might be a suitable symbiotic partner for humans, if
they ever came to Vadeshfold again.
The two other men were born as a single human being named Rigg Sessamekesh, fifteen years
before the present day. Arguably they are not men but boys.
Both of them wear upon their heads, half-covering their faces, the symbiotic facemask created by
Vadeshex. The facemask penetrates their brains and bodies, enhancing their senses, quickening
their movements, strengthening their bodies, so that some might consider them no longer to be
human at all, but rather some strange new hybrid, only half human at best.