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The Visitor recently asked a question of the community that resulted in her revealing far more about herself than getting any straight answers. Such is her purpose that she does not particularly mind such things. However, a reference to what the actual character said in the original canon might be useful for those attempting to follow the thread of her argument. Since, within her canon The Visitor has only one major scene, one which can be interpreted as a rant on all the topics discussed in her post, one might as well place it here.

They stepped through into a garden beneath a sky of shifting color, as though they looked upward through an opal sea. The land was cupped; the horizon hung above them. Exotic trees surrounded them, strange flowers and stretches of green led their eyes to a vision of upturned oceans and far mountains that bowed toward them. Behind them was the door they had come though, an upright plane of darkness, and upon a pedestal before them sat a being, multi-armed, multi-winged, shape-shifting, light-reflecting, dark as space is dark, glistening with galaxies.

"You were in the maze at Caigo Faience," Disme murmured.

A moment's silence, then the distant reply.

"I have been near each of you to give you birthing gifts. To Disme I gave a garden; to Arnole, old manuscripts; to Camwar, a craftsman's skill; to Jens Ladislave, medical books; to Michael, the grace and joy of horses. And to Abobaleee and Abadibdio, years of learning to be small without letting it matter, to be large without letting it show."

Nell heaved an aching sigh. "You called me, and I'm here. These are the ones we believe are my children."

The voice came nearer. "I sought you out as suitable for my purpose, Nell Latimer, an ironic choice, knowing who your husband was, but a pleasant break from the usual melodrama of mid-level planets. These are your children, even those older than you are now, and there are still others whom you have not met."

Disme started to cry, "Why Michael..." but instead bit her cheek to keep from whining at the unfairness of learning to care for someone she was not allowed to love! She breathed deeply and demanded, "Who are you? Why are you here?"

The voice said quietly, "Nell knows. She smelled the prayer as I did, the lush purple waves of it, inviting me..."

"But that was because of the Happening!" cried Nell.

"I was on my way long before that, Nell Latimer. Humans are unique in holding their gods so cheap they peck at them like pigeons, constantly intruding upon them with prayer! Prayer from all sides of every conflict, prayer before each contest, during every issue. Private prayer, public prayer, shepherded prayer baa-ed from congregations, sports prayer before games, prayer parroted and prayer spontaneous, endless instructions to god, endless...plockutta."
" 'Intercede for me and solve my problems; give me; grant us; hear the words I'm saying; suspend the laws of nature in this instance; cure her; save him; don't let them; listen to me; do this!' " The Visitor sighed. "Beneath it, one hears devils' laughter."

Nell looked up, saying sharply, "Devils?"

The voice was slightly louder, slightly warmer, as though it had come from a distance and was now beside them. "Each race creates its own devils. You had so many that they specialized. Devils of racial hatred, devils of greed and violence. Devils who killed their own people in orgies of blood. Devils who bombed clinics, devils who bombed school buses, devils who bombed other devils. I got to know every one of them by name. As soon as I arrived, I sent my monsters out to kill them all. They had tarnished my reputation, and though I have lavished much care on mankind, vengeance is mine."

The being shifted, only slightly, as though to take a more comfortable position as the doctor asked, "What are you?"

"This place is a godland, you may call me a god. Small g, for I am not proud. We are a race evolving in this Creation to serve the Maker of it. We act as temporary deities during the childhood of individual peoples and planets. I was the midwife who brought forth this world, who stirred the primordial ooze, and noted the life that crawled up from the sea. Our race is not unlike yours, but I am very old, and you are still very young.
"We come and go. I came to teach your people language. I raised up oracles, whispered to soothsayers, wove bright visions for sorcerers, and spoke marvels to your alchemists. I came again to raise up prophets in the Real One's name: Bruno, Galileo, Newton, Fermi..."

The doctor interrupted, "The Real One? Who?"

"The Being whom I worship. The Ultimate who stands apart from time. The Diety some men think they are addressing when they pray with words. The Real One doesn't even perceive words. If IT did, imagine what IT would have to listen to! The Real One sees only the patter of what is, where it begins and where it comes to rest. The only prayer IT perceives is action."

"I don't understand that," said Nell, stubbornly.

"An example from you old world, Nell. A child being shot and everyone weeping. What does the Real One see? IT sees the maker and making of a device that kills, the device itself, the selling of the device that kills, the buy of the device that kills, the placement of it near the child, the occurrence, the death. Only actions enter the pattern the Real One sees. What is. What was done. IT perceives neither intentions nor remorse."

Nell said angrily, "What do you mean, what is?"

The small god seemed to shift impatiently on its pedestal, "What is, is! Reality. Nature. The laws of a Universe that contains all things. Expansion and contraction, matter and anti-matter, light and dark, joy and sorrow, ecstasy and horror, supernovas and black holes, euphoria and pain, governing and politics, life and death. All the goads and all the stumbling blocks that force intelligence to grow by conquering."

"Conquering what?" asked Arnole, his hand on Nell's arm.

"Anything. Stink, or disease, or hatred. Pain, bugs, or brambles. The shortness of life or the frailty of age."

"Why not just leave those things out?" Disme protested.

"It's been tried. If you give a being only feelgood-you-life, nothing happens. Dinosaurs lived here for hundreds of millions of years in feelgood-joy-life, and at the end of it they had conquered nothing. Sixty-five million years ago, I judged they'd had long enough, so I brought an asteroid to start things over, just as I have done this time."

A long silence. Then Arnole said, "You did that?"

"It's part of what we're for. That asteroid yielded several intelligent races. Three of them, including yours, are still living here. Now if any one of the three gets to the point of honoring the Real One, I can pack up my gear and go home."

"But we got to that point," cried Nell. "Many of us worshiped...truth! And still you came!"

The voice was remote once more. "There weren't that many of you, Nell. Even when you went to the moon, you didn't go in search of truth. Oh, you said it was to learn about the universe, but you really went because you were playing a dominance game with another country. Once the other side no longer played the game, you only pretended to go on while actually you started the long slide back into magic and miracles."

Nell said angrily, "Miracles are religion!"

"It doesn't matter what name you call it, " said the small god. "Magic or micacle, sorcery or religion, it's all the same."

"We didn't slide into magic, " Nell argued. "I mean, yes, some did, my own husband did, but the rest of us..."

"Aside from earning their livings, what did your people do, mostly? Games. Sports. Casinos. Loud machines that went fast. Shopping. Lawsuits blaming others for whatever went wrong. What did they believe in? Conspiracy theories. Racial superiority. Heroes with superpowers. Faith healers. God-loves-you religions. State-supported lotteries. All that enormous energy expended to conquer nothing at all, stadia full of people watching no conquering going on. For every scientist or person in government who really tried to conquer, there were a thousand people buying lottery tickets, drinking beer, watching football, and growing old."

Nell objected, "We would have outgrown that..."

The voice grew more conversational. "I think not. Once a race has technology, life is so much easier that conquering loses its urgency. I blame myself for leaving when I did. I could have delayed the acquisition of technology until you had killed your devils. Technology concurrent with devil worship never works out well."

"Devil worship?" said Arnole, in a skeptical manner.

"Intelligent races always worship something. It's a kind of yearning that intellect has, to see and worship the eventual goal. It may not always go after the truth, but it always wants a story. People start out with magic, and turn that into religion, and then, if they don't go on to worship the Real One, they settle for a temporary godlet like me, or for any one of a thousand convenient devils. You can tell whic by the actions. Those who worship the Real One are problem-solvers. They experiment and pay attention to the result in order to see what's good, what's bad. They work to give every person and creature the good stuff, variety, food, space, cleanliness; and they do it because sane, healthy creatures exposed to complex environments conquer better! They work to eliminate the bad stuff like pollution, extinctions, overpopulation, weapons, because sick starving creatures in impoverished and threatened environments don't conquer at all. Did your race do that? It did not, so you weren't worshiping the Real One, and you certainly weren't worshiping me because I hadn't returned yet.
"Your leaders worshiped the greed devil when they sold their votes and influence to spread bad stuff; they worshiped the power devil when they valued votes over the health of the planet; they made a pretense of mercy and justice by advocating human rights while they sucked up to dominance devils whose law was torture and whose rule was the enslavement of women."

They felt the being's sorrow, as it said:

"There was no cure for it. You were too many, too set in your ways, was time to start over. Which is what I've been doing this millennium. There is no more oil for dominance devils to use as a weapon. I've put it out of reach. I've reduced the human occupied land area by two thirds, cutting your space but giving more room to the other intelligent races. One aquatic, one arboreal, as it happens. Almost all humans live on this one continent, now, and they are still in the magic-cum-religion stage that requires a certain level of godhood. Bastion worships the Rebel Angels. Chasm worships itself, so far as I can make out. New Chicago and New Kansas have dictators who are becoming icons. Each of the Sierra Isles has its own tutelary deity, as does Everday. One of your first tasks will be to schedule godhood contests between me and the local deity in each place."

"That's absurd," said Arnole.

"Not at all. There's a human tradition of god competitions. Moses's god against Pharaoh's gods, for example. I included descriptions of god competitions in several holy books from two to six millennia ago. At any rate, I will win, and I will become deity of all the humans, temporarily one hopes.
"Before we get to that, however, there's a devil on his way here who wants all of us dead, particularly me. Gohdan Gone, who was once called Baal, was driven out of the middle east millennia ago. Part of him went to Central America, where the Aztecs called him Huizilopochtli, and part went to the Iroquois in North America, to be fattened in both places by torture and cannibalism, until they were conquered by other men with subtler devils. Gone is still and unsubtle pain drinker, but he's had a long time to ramify, and you'll need to get rid of him quickly, before he changes into something worse..."

"We don't know how to do that!" cried Disme.
"That's why we're bringing him here," the small god said patiently. "So you can learn how. His arrival here is not an accident, it was planned to give you the practice!
Once he's dead, you'll need to clean out Bastion. You'll need Tamlar and Hussara to help you do that. Possibly Volian and Wogalkish as well. Be sure you get down to the bottom of the caverns where the devil had its roots. When Basion is clean, I'd recommend that you settle there. It's centrally located, it will hold a good number of our recruits, and since all of you but Tamlar are basically human, you'll need a humanish place to live and study and enjoy your lives."

"Not much of that left to enjoy," said Arnole, wearily.

The small god laughed. "You all have a very long lifetime left, if you don't get killed. Even those of you who are eightyish have at least that long to live again. My contract with you is a fair one. I give you a very long life and good assistants. You give me your best effort to start this world over. If I don't succeed this time, my superiors will replace me, and I don't want to fail."

"As everybody's god, what will you do?" the doctor demanded.

"You mean immediately?" asked the small god. "I will raise up prophets to make conflicting pronouncements that will inevitably be garbled in transcription, resulting in mutually exclusive definitions of orthodoxy from which the open-minded will flee in dismay. As they flee, I expect you to identify them and move them to bastion."

"Recruits?" asked the doctor, raising his eyebrows.

"Exactly. Also, I will be capricious. I'll reward and punish arbitrarily. I'll peek through bedroom windows and admonish what I see there, sometimes one thing, sometimes the opposite. I will have purposes men know nothing of, and when men begin to catch on to them, I will change them. This will convince some of your people that I am unreliable."

"We bring those people to Bastion also?" Michael grinned.

"Precisely. Occasionally, I will do a conspicuous miracle to save one dying child while a thousand children stave elsewhere. This will convince sensible people I am perverse, and they will curse my name. Be sure to recruit those who do, they'll be invaluable. Only by repudiating both devils and small gods will they ever know the Real One."

"I will be a sham, but not a snob. I will let every man, woman, or child, no matter how greedy or wicked, claim to have a personal relationship with me. In other words, I will be as arbitrary, inconsistent, ignorant, pushy, and common as humans are, and what more have they ever wanted in a god?"

"The truth!" cried the doctor and Arnole, simultaneously.

All of them smiled, unable to stop smiling as they felt the being before them laughing. "Oh, tush, they never wanted anything of the kind. Creation has the truth written all over it - the age of the universe, the history of the world - but nine-tenths of mankind either don't know it or think it's a sham, because it isn't what their book or their prophet says, and it isn't cozy or manipulable enough."

"My people wanted truth," said Nell, stiffly. "My friends."

"They were a minority. Not many years before the Happening, one of your country's largest religious bodies officially declared that their book was holier than their God, thus simultaneously and corporately breaking several commandments of their own religion, particularly the first one. Of course they liked the book better! It was full of magic and contradictions that they could quote to reinforce their bigoted and hateful opinions, as I well know, for I chose many parts of it from among the scrolls and epistles that were lying around in caves here and there. They're correct that a god picked out the material; they just have the wrong god doing it.
"The sooner we can separate salvageable skeptics from self-righteous absolutists, the sooner we can move along. Game shows where people betray one another to one group, brain busting challenges to the other. You'll fight the devils and I'll provide distractions, and within a few generations we'll have them all sorted out."

"And we're to be killers?" asked Arnole, sadly.

The voice became gentle. "Only of ignorance, Bertral. You will divide the sheep from the goats and you will encourage the one and shepherd the other. You always had a leaning that way. Each of you will find the fight that suits yourself and your being. You will triumph, suffer, weep, rejoice, possibly die...If you die, another will rise up in your name, if you don't die you'll live an extremely long life. You are my angels, for whom an almost heaven waits in Udarsland, with Skulda and Caigo Faience. Your work will be long, however, long and hard before you may rest in it."

The being turned on her plinth and stretched many wings, the face appearing darkly, as though veils, each of them seeing a different image. Multiple arms beckoned and a man came toward them out of the gardens, a simple, brownish man dressed in a simple, brownish robe. He wore a leather apron, carried a drawknife and bowsaw and bore a great axe on his back.

"This is your son and brother, Camwar," she said. "Camwar has spent some years preparing for you. Also awaiting you is Tamlar, the only one of you without human parents, a being of another star, sister of those beings who are guiding each of you. I asked for their help, for this is my last chance with Earth."

The space began to move around them as the being on her plinth receded. The splintered world hurtled toward them as though they were in a kaleidoscope, images whirling to join, spinning outward to disintegrate, vortices of jagged light, horizons of endless time, pinwheels of splendor that rushed at them and receded through which they heard the small god cry "You will not see me soon again. It is not fitting that gods, however small, consort casually with their servants. I leave you as Guardians for all that live on this world."

When the dazzlement stopped, they were standing outside the gates of the great maze, their wagon and horses beside them.
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The Visitor

January 2011

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