/ Language: English / Genre:sf,

Speaker for the Dead

Orson Card


Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead

For Gregg Keizer

who already knew how

Introduction

Speaker for the Dead is a sequel, but it didn't begin life that way--and you don't have to read it that way, either. It was my intention all along for Speaker to be able to stand alone, for it to make sense whether you have read Ender's Game or not. Indeed, in my mind this was the "real" book, if I hadn't been trying to write Speaker for the Dead back in I983, there would never have been a novel version of Ender's Game at all.

How did Speaker for the Dead come to be? As with all my stories, this one began with more than one idea. The concept of a "speaker for the dead" arose from my experiences with death and funerals. I have written of this at greater length elsewhere; suffice it to say that I grew dissatisfied with the way that we use our funerals to revise the life of the dead, to give the dead a story so different from their, actual life that, in effect, we kill them all over again. No, that is too strong. Let me just say that we erase them, we edit them, we make them into a person much easier to live with than the person who actually lived.

I rejected that idea I thought that a more appropriate funeral would be to say honestly, what that person was and what that person did. But to me, "honesty" doesn't simply mean saying all the unpleasant things instead of saying only the nice ones. It doesn't even consist of averaging them out. No, to understand who a person really was, what his or her life really meant, the speaker for the dead would have to explain their self-story--what they meant to do, what they actually did, what they regretted, what they rejoiced in. That's the story that we never know, the story that we never can know--and yet, at the time of death, it's the only story truly worth telling.

I have received several letters, by the way, from people who are called upon to speak at funerals from time to time, and who, having read Speaker for the Dead, make an effort to turn the funeral service into a Speaking. I hasten to add that they have done this either with the permission of the family or at the urging of the deceased (given, obviously, before death!). Some of them have even sent me the text of their Speaking, and I must tell you that the stories thus told are astonishing and powerful. I hope someone will do a Speaking at my funeral. I think there really is power and truth in the idea.

But that was not the only source of Speaker for the Dead. I was also a longtime aficionado of anthropological science fiction--stories in which a scientist studies an alien culture and uncovers the reasons for their strangeness. The first such novel that I read was James Blish's A Case of Conscience. Not many years later, I read Michael Bishop's story "Death and Designation among the Asadi." Both had a powerful effect on me. So in the back of my mind, I had a strong desire to add something of my own to that subgenre.

So when I thought of the idea of an alien species which in order to reproduce, had to slaughter each other in terrible intertribal wars, it was only natural that I decided the story should be told from the viewpoint of a human scientist studying them. Only gradually, over several years. did I develop the idea of the piggies and their strange lifecycle, and the intertribal war receded in importance--so much so that I didn't need to make it an issue in Speaker for the Dead at all. But it was in trying to think of an evolutionary reason why these little porcine aliens would need to slaughter each other for the species to thrive that I came up with the pequeninos that you meet in the pages of this book.

I was living with my wife, Kristine (née Allen), in Orem, Utah, when I made the first breakthrough in creating this book. The two ideas were still quite separate, and the speaker-for-the-dead idea was still in a very primitive form. In fact, I had decided that the funeral "oration" should be in song--that it should be a "singer of death." I suppose I thought of this because I had sung at a few funerals and found it a moving experience even when I didn't know the deceased. But when I mentioned this singer-of-death idea to Kristine, she winced. "You've already written 'Unaccompanied Sonata' and Songmaster."she reminded me. "They were both about music. If you do another music story people will think that's all you can do." I realized that she was even more right than she knew! It happened that "Unaccompanied Sonata" and the original short story, "Mikal's Songbird," on which Songmaster had been based were also two of my stories that had been nominated for awards. In fact a novella called "Songhouse," which was really the opening chapters of Songmaster, had also been nominated for a Hugo. The only story of mine which had been nominated for awards and that wasn't about music was the novelet version of "Ender's Game"! So Kristine had inadvertently caught me in the unconscious process of imitating my own past successes. I knew she was right--the music motif may have won me some favorable attention, but it was time to set aside that crutch and do something else.

So it would be a speaker of death in my story, not a singer. That felt right. But here's the silly part. Perhaps I was still unconsciously trying to lean on my most successful previous work, but I immediately wondered, What if the Speaker of Death was Ender Wiggin? It was obvious to me what I was doing--if I can't do the music thing, I can still bring the kid-who-saves-the-world back for another round! And yet the idea appealed to me. I didn't trust it yet, but it appealed to me.

After all, Ender had to do something after destroying the Buggers. What if Ender Wiggin comes to an alien world as a Speaker of Death, and accidently gets caught up in the mystery of why these piggies are slaughtering each other? It had a delicious symmetry to it--the man who, as a child, destroyed one alien species now has a chance to save another.

The idea sat there in the back of my mind for many months and as it did, the story grew. More to the point. the character of Ender grew. I had never thought much about what he would do after winning his war at the end of "Ender's Game," except that his life would never be that interesting again, and he would have a terrible time adjusting to normal human life. A, writer friend of mine, Jim Tucker, had once proposed doing a sequel to "Ender's Game" that involved bringing Ender back to Earth, but while the story he came up with had some appeal, I knew in my heart ~ the one thing Ender could never do was return to live out his life on the birthworld of humanity. Having him become a speaker for the dead, however, wandering from nation to nation and world to world, researching and orating for the dead—that, I thought, was a wonderful way to reconcile him with the human race that had used him up as a child.

Gradually the ideas came together. When my agent, Barbara Bova, said that she'd like to sell a book to Tom Doherty's new publishing house, Tor, I realized that the book I wanted to write next was Speaker of Death. So I wrote an outline and the first few chapters, the contract was written, the deal was made. I was living in lndiana at the time, working on a doctorate at Notre Dame and finishing up Hart's Hope, Worthing Chronicle and Saints for another publisher. It wasn't until the recession interrupted my degree program (forever, I'm afraid--no doctorate for me now!) and sent me to Greensboro, North Carolina, for my only stint doing honest labor since 1978 that I had a chance to get back to Speaker of Death.

What I discovered then--the spring of 1983--was that the book was unwritable. In order to make the Ender Wiggin of Speaker make any kind of sense, I had to have this really long, kind of boring opening chapter that brought him from the end of the Bugger War to the beginning of the story of Speaker some three thousand years later! It was outrageous. I couldn't write it.

When Compute!, the publisher I was working for as a book editor, sent me along to the American Booksellers Association convention in Dallas, I noticed that Tom Doherty himself was at the Tor Books exhibit. I greeted him, and then on impulse asked him if I could talk to him. I had no well-formed plan in mind, and I was a little frightened when he said, "Sure," and set an appointment not long after. Our meeting consisted of walking through the crowds as I explained to him the problem I was having writing Speaker. The only solution I could think of, I said, was to write a novel version of Ender's Game, so I could put all that material about how Ender became a Speaker for the Dead at the end of that book, thus allowing Speaker to begin at its true beginning.

Once I proposed the idea (having only thought of it a short while before) it seemed so obvious that I wondered why I hadn't tried to sell a novel version of Ender's Game years before. (Only later did I realise that it wasn't until I was working on Speaker that the character of Ender Wiggin grew enough to be able to sustain a novel.) Still, Tom agreed with me that a novel version of Ender's Game was a good idea. "Let's do it" he said. "Same terms as Speaker?".

"Sure," I said, hardly believing that the decision could be made so easily--I hadn't talked to him more than five minutes.

"Fine. We'll send a contract to Barbara as soon as I get back to New York."

Lo! It happened exactly as he said! This was something I had never seen before--a publisher making a decision instantly and then having everything he said turn out to be true! I still marvel at it--a publisher who is not only an honest man but also loves (and reads) books, makes decisions quickly, and then can sell the books he publishes!

Gratefully I set aside Speaker and began plotting Ender's Game. By the time I quit my job at Compute! that fall, after only nine months in the position (I'm not cut out for corporate life anymore, I'm afraid), I was raring to go. I began Ender's Game before Christmas that year, took a break to go to Utah to promote my novel Saints, and then returned home and finished the book in a couple more weeks.

Then I turned to Speaker and the real suffering began. By now, of course, the title had changed from Speaker of Death to Speaker for the Dead, as the concept had clarified at the end of Ender's Game. By now, the character of Ender had developed so much that my original draft of the opening of Speaker was almost laughable. I had begun (except for the "introductory chapter") with Ender's arrival on the planet Lusitania. Just in time to speak the death of an old lout named Marcão. But it was hollow and empty and it just wasn't working. So I went back to the drawing board and began all over again.

I began the book several more times, each time getting a little farther, but each time being blocked because it still wasn't right. I didn't know what "right" was, of course--but I did have several hundred pages of "wrong." (During this struggle with Speaker I wrote the novel Wyrms, which in some ways was a tryout of the scientific ideas in Speaker and, eventually, Xenocide—using a semisentient molecule that adapts itself easily to alien species in order to take them over and control them.)

Finally I knew I had to begin with the character of Novinha, who hadn't even existed in the original outline. And the characters of Pipo and Libo had also emerged, along with Pipo's death, pretty much as they happen in the first few chapters of the book you now hold in your hands. But I still wasn't done. It still wasn't enough. I was about 200 pages deep and the book was dead in my hands and I didn't know what to do.

It happened that a good friend of mine. Gregg Keizer was working for Compute! In fact I was the one who had recruited him away from his job as a junior high school English teacher (for which I think he has forgiven me) and brought him out to North Carolina. I had met Gregg when he became my student at a science fiction writing class I taught in the University of Utah's evening school program back in the seventies. He was one of those frustrating students who are simply brilliant when they walk in the door, so the teacher can't take the slightest credit for anything they do. He was also one of the most decent human beings I know, which makes me very nervous around him--so nervous, in fact that the only times I have ever gotten thoroughly and stupidly lost have been while he was in the car with me and I was supposed to know where I was going. Some teacher!

(I once was so certain that a story of Gregg's would sell that I made a wager with my class--if it didn't sell within one year, I would run naked through the corridors of Orson Spencer Hall on the U of U campus, which is where our class met. The story didn't sell in a year--a pox on editors!--and, perhaps out of an exaggerated commitment to aesthetics, I reneged on the bet. Since the story did sell a short while afterward, Gregg has never demanded that I make good, but he does have the debt hanging over my head.)

Anyway, right during the time that I was stymied on Speaker, Gregg and I decided to go to New York for the 1985 Nebula weekend. Ender's Game had only-just been published and neither of us had anything on the ballot. We just wanted to go to New York and to the Nebulas, so why not? I brought along the manuscript of Speaker for him to read--or perhaps I gave it to him in advance--I don't remember now. I do remember, though, sitting at the foot of his bed while he lay there and explained the problems he saw in Speaker.

He had many good ideas. Of course, most of them dealt with small fixes for problems in the manuscript as it now stood. One comment he made, however, illuminated everything for me. "I couldn't tell Novinha's kids apart," he said. "I couldn't remember which was which."

I had enough experience by then to know exactly what this meant. He couldn't tell Novinha's kids apart because they weren't characters. They were nothing but placeholders. At first I toyed with the idea of simply cutting them out. In my novel Saints, Ihad run into a problem with a younger sister of my protagonist--I kept forgetting she existed and completely neglecting her for hundreds of pages at a time. The solution was to eliminate the character; callously, I had her die in infancy. But excision wasn't the right move in this case. Because I wanted Novinha to be voluntarily isolated, I had to have her be otherwise acceptable to her neighbors. In a Catholic colony like Lusitania this meant Novinha needed to have a bunch of kids.

Yet I had no idea who they were or what they would do in the story. Once you've read Speaker, of course, you'll wonder what the story would be without Novinha's children, and the answer is, It wouldn't be much! But at the time I hadn't developed their role in the story; yet there was something in the story that led Gregg to want them to amount to something more--that made him want to be able to tell them apart.

It meant throwing out all but the first couple of chapters of what I had written so far (and, in fact, I ended up completely writing the novel from the beginning), but it soon dawned on me that it was worth doing, for this was the final idea, the one that would pull me through the whole book. I had observed before that one thing wrong with science fiction as a whole was that almost all the heroes seemed to spring fully-grown from the head of Zeus--no one had families. If there was a mention of parents at all, it was to tell us they were dead, or such miserable specimens of humanity that the hero could hardly wait to get out of town.

Not only did they have no parents, few science fiction heroes seemed to marry and have kids. In short, the heroes of most science fiction novels were perpetual adolescents, lone rangers who wandered the universe avoiding commitments. This shouldn't be surprising. The romantic hero is invariably one who is going through the adolescent phase of human life. The child phase--the one I had dealt with most often in my fiction--is the time of complete dependence on others to create our identity and our worldview. Little children gladly accept even the strangest stories that others tell them, because they lack either the context or the confidence to doubt. They go along because they don't know how to be alone, either physically or intellectually.

Gradually, however, this dependency breaks down--and children catch the first glimmers of a world that is different from the one they thought they lived in, they break away the last vestiges of adult control themselves, much as a baby bird breaks free of the last fragments of the egg. The romantic hero is unconnected. He belongs to no community; he is wandering from place to place, doing good (as he sees it), but then moving on. This is the life of the adolescent, full of passion, intensity, magic, and infinite possibility; but lacking responsibility, rarely expecting to have to stay and bear the consequences of error. Everything is played at twice the speed and twice the volume in the adolescent--the romantic--life.

Only when the loneliness becomes unbearable do adolescents root themselves, or try to root themselves. It may or may not be in the community of their childhood, and it may or may not be their childhood identity and connections that they resume upon entering adulthood. And, in fact, many fail at adulthood and constantly reach backward for the freedom and passion of adolescence. But those who achieve it are the ones who create civilization.

Most science fiction dealt with adolescent heroes, yes--but only because most fiction deals with adolescents. This is not to say that fiction about adolescents is necessarily adolescent fiction, either in the sense of being for an adolescent audience or in the sense of being undeveloped or immature fiction. Still, most storytellers invent their fables about the lives of footloose heroes--or heroes who become footloose for the sake of the story. Who but the adolescent is free to have the adventures that most of us are looking for when we turn to storytellers to satisfy our hunger?

And yet to me, at least, the most important stories are the ones that teach us how to be civilized: the stories about children and adults, about responsibility and dependency. Not being an adult myself, I had concentrated for many years on the child's point of view, but with Speaker for the Dead I was old enough, and perhaps (finally) civilized enough, to create the small community of the family from an adult perspective--not necessarily the parent's viewpoint, but rather the viewpoint of an adult who felt responsibility toward the family. That adult would be Ender, I knew; and the children would be formed into a family that was suffering, as a whole and individually. Thus I came to regard Speaker for the Dead as a perfect opportunity to show something only rarely seen in this genre of stories about the strange and wonderful: I could show the miracle of a family in transformation.

With this decision, of course, the focus changed. The novel was no longer exclusively about the mystery of the alien pequeninos. It was now at least as much about the redemption of Novinha's family, the healing of their injured little community. More than that, it was about the idea of community itself--the community of Milagre, the community of the tribe of pequeninos.

This was not easy. Most novels get by with showing the relationships between two or, at the most, three characters. This is because the difficulty of creating a character increases with each new major character that is added to the tale. Characters, as most writers understand, are truly developed through their relationships with others. If there are only two significant characters, then there is only one relationship to be explored. If there are three characters, however. there are four relationships: Between A and B, between B and C, between C and A, and finally the relationship when all three are together.

Even this does not begin to explain the complexity--for in real life, at least, most people change, at least subtly, when they are with different people. The changes can be pretty major--I remember well my summer as a performer at the Sundance Summer Theatre in Utah. I was a 19-year-old trying to convince myself and others that I was a man, so with the other performers I became at least as profane--nay, foul-mouthed and filthy-minded--as the most immature of them. I worked hard to develop some fluidity and cleverness in my vulgarity, and won my share of laughs from the others. Yet during this whole time I lived with my parents, coming down the mountain at insane speeds late at night, only to end up in a home where certain words were simply never said. And I never said them. Not once did I slip and speak in front of my family the way I spoke constantly in front of the other performers at Sundance. This was not by any herculean effort, either. I didn't think about changing my behavior; it simply happened. When I was with my parents I wasn't the same person.

I have seen this time and time again with my friends, with other family members. Our whole demeanor changes, our mannerisms, our figures of speech, when we move from one context to another. Listen to someone you know when they pick up the telephone. We have special voices for different people; our attitudes, our moods change depending on whom we are with.

So when a storyteller has to create three characters, each different relationship requires that each character in it must be transformed, however subtly, depending on how the relationship is shaping his or her present identity. Thus, in a three-character story, a storyteller who wishes to convince us of the reality of these characters really has to come up with a dozen different personas, four for each of them.

What happens, then, when you start with a family with a mother, a dead father, and six troubled children, and then add a stranger who intrudes into the family and transforms every one of them? It seemed to me like a sisyphean task, for I had to develop (or at least imply) dozens of personas, including the persona they had developed in order to deal with their dead father, and then show, clearly, how they all changed because of Ender's influence on their lives.

Much of that, however, would have to come with the actual writing of the new draft of the novel. My immediate task was to differentiate clearly between Novinha's children when the reader first encounters them. I sat there in the room I shared with Gregg, assigning some immediate and obvious trait to each of the children that would help the reader keep track of them. Oh, yes, Olhado is the one with the metal eyes; Quara is the one who says outrageous things after long silences; Grego is the violent one; Quim is the religious fanatic; Ela is the weary mother-figure; Miro is the eldest son, the hero in the others' eyes. These "hooks" could only serve to introduce the children--I'd have to develop them far beyond that point--but having found those hooks, I had a plan that would let me proceed with confidence.

My novel had, at last, opened up to me, and I came home from that Nebula weekend and wrote the whole novel, from beginning to end, in a month. As I tell my writing students, once you get the beginning right, the ending almost writes itself.

One more thing, though. No matter how well-planned a novel is--and, in my case at least, it must be very well-planned before i can write it--there are still things that come up during the process of writing that you simply didn't plan on. In my Alvin Maker novels, for instance, the characters of Little Peggy and Arthur Stuart weren't in any of my outlines, and yet they are now at the heart of that story. And in Speaker for the Dead, the character of Jane wasn't in any of the outlines I made. Oh, yes, I gave him a computer connection through the jewel in his ear, but I didn't know it was a person. Jane just grew because it was so fun to write her relationship with Ender. She helped bring him to life (he could so easily have been a stodgy, dull adult), and in the process came to life herself. By the time I was done with Speaker for the Dead, Jane was one of the most important characters in it, and much of the third book, Xenocide, centers around her.

Oh yes. The third book. I had never planned to write a third book. In fact, I really hadn't planned to write a first book--Speaker was originally supposed to be a solo. But just as I was writing the last few chapters of Speaker, Barbara Bova called and said she had sold the Ender trilogy to an English publisher.

"The Ender trilogy," I asked. "Barbara, there are only two."

Naturally, she was a bit flummoxed. Of course she could always go back and renegotiate for only two books. But first, couldn't I think a little bit and see if perhaps I might come up with a third story that I wanted to write?

At that moment I knew exactly the story I wanted to tell. It had nothing to do with Ender Wiggin or any of the characters in Speaker for the Dead. Rather it was an ancient project from early in my career, one that Jim Frenkel, then at Dell, had rejected because I just wasn't mature enough, as a writer, to handle a project so difficult. Having solved the problems of Speaker for the Dead, though, I felt ready to tackle anything. It had been years since I had even thought about that story, then called Philotes, yet wasn't it possible that by putting Ender Wiggin into it, I might be able to bring it to life the way Speaker had come to life because of his presence? I might fail, of course, but why not try?

Besides--and here you are about to learn something truly vile about me--having a third book would mean that I didn't have to figure out some way to resolve the two loose threads that I knew would be dangling at the end of Speaker. What happens to the hive queen? And what happens to the fleet that Starways Congress sends?

By agreeing to do a third Ender book I could leave those questions for the sequel, and since I am a shamefully lazy man, I jumped at the chance. I jumped too soon--the book was every bit as difficult as Jim Frenkel had told me it would be, and it took years to get it right--and even then it is far and away the talkiest, most philosophical of my novels, which is just what the original outline of Philotes had required. Over the years the title of the third book changed, from Ender's Children to Xenocide, and it also grew until it became two books, so that even Xenocide doesn't finish the story (though the next one will, I swear it!).

And, like Speaker for the Dead before it, Xenocide was the hardest book I'd ever written up to then. You see, the work of a storyteller doesn't get any easier the more experience we get, because once we've learned how to do something, we can't get excited about doing exactly the same thing again--or at least most of us can't. We keep wanting to reach for the story that is too hard for us to tell--and then make ourselves learn how to tell it. If we succeed, then maybe we can write better and better books, or at least more challenging ones, or at the very least we won't bore ourselves.

The danger that keeps me just a little frightened with every book I write, however, is that I'll overreach myself once too often and try to write a story that I'm just plain not talented or skilled enough to write. That's the dilemma every storyteller faces. It is painful to fail. But it is far sadder when a storyteller stops wanting to try.

Now I fear that I've told you more than you ever wanted to know about how Speaker for the Dead came to be. A writer's life is boring indeed. I write stories about people who take risks, who reach out and change the world. But when it comes to my life, it mostly consists of hanging around at home, writing when I have to, playing computer games or watching TV whenever I can get away with it. My real life is being with my wife, with my children; going to church and teaching my Sunday school class; keeping in touch with my family and friends; and, the primary duty of every father, turning off lights throughout the house and muttering about how I'm the only one who seems to care about turning them off because I'm the one who has to change the lousy light bulbs. I doubt that there's much of a story in that.

But I hope that in the lives of Ender Wiggin, Novinha, Miro, Ela, Human, Jane, the hive queen, and so many others in this book, you will find stories worth holding in your memory, perhaps even in your heart. That's the transaction that counts more than bestseller lists, royalty statements, awards, or reviews. Because in the pages of this book, you and I will meet one-on-one, my mind and yours, and you will enter a world of my making and dwell there, not as a character that I control, but as a person with a mind of your own. You will make of my story what you need it to be, if you can. I hope my tale is true enough and flexible enough that you can make it into a world worth living in.

Orson Scott Card

Greensboro, North Carolina

29 March 1991

Some People of Lusitania Colony

Xenologers (Zenadores)

Pipo (João Figueira Alvarez)

Libo (Liberdade Graças a Deus Figueira de Medici)

Miro (Marcos Vladimir Ribeira von Hesse)

Ouanda (Ouanda Quenhatta Figueira Mucumbi)

Xenobiologists (Biologistas)

Gusto (Vladimir Tiago Gussman)

Cida (Ekaterina Maria Aparecida do Norte von Hesse-Gussman)

Novinha (Ivanova Santa Catarina von Hesse)

Ela (Ekaterina Elanora Ribeira von Hesse)

Governor

Bosquinha (Faria Lima Maria do Bosque)

Bishop

Peregrino (Armão Cebola)

Abbot and Principal of the Monastery

Dom Cristão (Amai a Tudomundo Para Que Deus vos Ame Cristão)

Dona Cristã (Detestai 0 Pecado e Fazei o Direito Cristã)

The Figueira Family

The Family of Os Venerados

* All dates are expressed as years after adoption of the Starways Code.

Pronouncing

Foreign Names

Three human languages are used by characters in this book. Stark, since it originated as English, is represented as English in the book. The Nordic spoken on Trondheim evolved from Swedish. Portuguese is the native language of Lusitania. On every world, however, schoolchildren are taught Stark from the beginning.

The Portuguese language, while unusually beautiful when spoken aloud, is very difficult for readers who are accustomed to English to sound out from the written letters. Even if you aren't planning to read this book aloud, you may be more comfortable if you have a general idea of how the Portuguese names and phrases are pronounced.

Consonants: Single consonants are pronounced more or less as they are in English, with the addition of ç, which always sounds like ss. Exceptions are j, which is pronounced like the z in azure, as is g when followed by e or i; and the initial r and double rr, which are pronounced somewhere between the American h and the Yiddish ch.

Vowels: Single vowels are pronounced more or less as follows: a as in father, e as in get, i like the ee in fee, o as in throne, and u like the oo in toot. (This is a gross oversimplification. since there are really two distinct a sounds, neither of which is really like the a in father, three meaning-changing ways to pronounce eé, ê, and the quick e at the end of a word--and three meaning-changing ways to pronounce o--ó, ô, and the quick o at the ends of words. But it's close enough to get you through this book.)

Consonant combinations: The combination lh is pronounced like the lli in William; nh, like the ni in onion. The combination ch is always pronounced like the English sh. The combination qu, when followed by e or i, is pronounced like the English k; when followed by a, o, or u, like the English qu; the same pattern is followed by gu. Thus Quara is pronounced KWAH-rah, while Figueira is pronounced fee-GAY-rah.

Vowel combinations: The combination ou is pronounced like the ow in throw; ai, like igh in high; ei, like eigh in weigh. The combination eu is not found in English; it is pronounced as a very quick combination of the e in get and the u in put.

Nasal vowels: A vowel or vowel combination with a tilde--usually ão and ã--or the combination am at the end of a word are all nasalized. That is, they are pronounced as if the vowel were going to end with the English ng sound, only the ng is never quite closed. In addition, the syllable with a tilde is always stressed, so that the name Marcão is pronounced mah-KOWNG. (Syllables with ^ and ´ accent marks are also stressed.)

If I told you that when t comes before the i sound it's pronounced like the English ch, and d follows the same pattern to sound like the English j, or if I mentioned that x always sounds like sh except when it sounds like z, you might well give up entirely, so I won't.

Prologue

In the year 1830, after the formation of Starways Congress, a robot scout ship sent a report by ansible: The planet it was investigating was well within the parameters for human life. The nearest planet with any kind of population pressure was Baía; Starways Congress granted them the exploration license. So it was that the first humans to see the new world were Portuguese by language, Brazilian by culture, and Catholic by creed. In the year 1886 they disembarked from their shuttle, crossed themselves, and named the planet Lusitania-- the ancient name of Portugal. They set about cataloguing the flora and fauna. Five days later they realized that the little forest-dwelling animals that they had called porquinhos-- piggies-- were not animals at all.

For the first time since the Xenocide of the Buggers by the Monstrous Ender, humans had found intelligent alien life.

The piggies were technologically primitive, but they used tools and built houses and spoke a language. "It is another chance God has given us," declared Archcardinal Pio of Baía. "We can be redeemed for the destruction of the buggers."

The members of Starways Congress worshipped many gods, or none, but they agreed with the Archcardinal. Lusitania would be settled from Baía, and therefore under Catholic License, as tradition demanded. But the colony could never spread beyond a limited area or exceed a limited population. And it was bound, above all, by one law: the piggies were not to be disturbed.

1

Pipo

Since we are not yet fully comfortable with the idea that people from the next village are as human as ourselves, it is presumptuous in the extreme to suppose we could ever look at sociable, tool-making creatures who arose from other evolutionary paths and see not beasts but brothers, not rivals but fellow pilgrims journeying to the shrine of intelligence.

Yet that is what I see, or yearn to see. The difference between raman and varelse is not in the creature judged, but in the creature judging. When we declare an alien species to be raman, it does not mean that they have passed a threshold of moral maturity. It means that we have.

--Demosthenes, Letter to the Framlings

Rooter was at once the most difficult and the most helpful of the pequeninos. He was always there whenever Pipo visited their clearing, and did his best to answer the questions Pipo was forbidden by law to come right out and ask. Pipo depended on him-- too much, probably-- yet though Rooter clowned and played like the irresponsible youngling that he was, he also watched, probed, tested. Pipo always had to beware of the traps that Rooter set for him.

A moment ago Rooter had been shimmying up trees, gripping the bark with only the horny pads on his ankles and inside his thighs. In his hands he carried two sticks-- Father Sticks, they were called-- which he beat against the tree in a compelling, arhythmic pattern all the while he climbed.

The noise brought Mandachuva out of the log house. He called to Rooter in the Males' Language, and then in Portuguese. "P'ra baixo, bicho!" Several piggies nearby, hearing his Portuguese wordplay, expressed their appreciation by rubbing their thighs together sharply. It made a hissing noise, and Mandachuva took a little hop in the air in delight at their applause.

Rooter, in the meantime, bent over backward until it seemed certain he would fall. Then he flipped off with his hands, did a somersault in the air, and landed on his legs, hopping a few times but not stumbling.

"So now you're an acrobat," said Pipo.

Rooter swaggered over to him. It was his way of imitating humans. It was all the more effective as ridicule because his flattened upturned snout looked decidedly porcine. No wonder that offworlders called them "piggies." The first visitors to this world had started calling them that in their first reports back in '86, and by the time Lusitania Colony was founded in 1925, the name was indelible. The xenologers scattered among the Hundred Worlds wrote of them as "Lusitanian Aborigines," though Pipo knew perfectly well that this was merely a matter of professional dignity-- except in scholarly papers, xenologers no doubt called them piggies, too. As for Pipo, he called them pequeninos, and they seemed not to object, for now they called themselves "Little Ones." Still, dignity or not, there was no denying it. At moments like this, Rooter looked like a hog on its hind legs.

"Acrobat," Rooter said, trying out the new word. "What I did? You have a word for people who do that? So there are people who do that as their work?"

Pipo sighed silently, even as he froze his smile in place. The law strictly forbade him to share information about human society, lest it contaminate piggy culture. Yet Rooter played a constant game of squeezing the last drop of implication out of everything Pipo said. This time, though, Pipo had no one to blame but himself, letting out a silly remark that opened unnecessary windows onto human life. Now and then he got so comfortable among the pequeninos that he spoke naturally. Always a danger. I'm not good at this constant game of taking information while trying to give nothing in return. Libo, my close-mouthed son, already he's better at discretion than I am, and he's only been apprenticed to me-- how long since he turned thirteen? --four months.

"I wish I had pads on my legs like yours," said Pipo. "The bark on that tree would rip my skin to shreds."

"That would cause us all to be ashamed. " Rooter held still in the expectant posture that Pipo thought of as their way of showing mild anxiety, or perhaps a nonverbal warning to other pequeninos to be cautious. It might also have been a sign of extreme fear, but as far as Pipo knew he had never seen a pequenino feel extreme fear.

In any event, Pipo spoke quickly to calm him. "Don't worry, I'm too old and soft to climb trees like that. I'll leave it to you younglings."

And it worked; Rooter's body at once became mobile again. "I like to climb trees. I can see everything." Rooter squatted in front of Pipo and leaned his face in close. "Will you bring the beast that runs over the grass without touching the ground? The others don't believe me when I say I saw such a thing."

Another trap. What, Pipo, xenologer, will you humiliate this individual of the community you're studying? Or will you adhere to the rigid law set up by Starways Congress to govern this encounter? There were few precedents. The only other intelligent aliens that humankind had encountered were the buggers, three thousand years ago, and at the end of it the buggers were all dead. This time Starways Congress was making sure that if humanity erred, their errors would be in the opposite direction. Minimal information, minimal contact.

Rooter recognized Pipo's hesitation, his careful silence.

"You never tell us anything," said Rooter. "You watch us and study us, but you never let us past your fence and into your village to watch you and study you."

Pipo answered as honestly as he could, but it was more important to be careful than to be honest. "If you learn so little and we learn so much, why is it that you speak both Stark and Portuguese while I'm still struggling with your language?"

"We're smarter." Then Rooter leaned back and spun around on his buttocks so his back was toward Pipo. "Go back behind your fence," he said.

Pipo stood at once. Not too far away, Libo was with three pequeninos, trying to learn how they wove dried merdona vines into thatch. He saw Pipo and in a moment was with his father, ready to go. Pipo led him off without a word; since the pequeninos were so fluent in human languages, they never discussed what they had learned until they were inside the gate.

It took a half hour to get home, and it was raining heavily when they passed through the gate and walked along the face of the hill to the Zenador's Station. Zenador? Pipo thought of the word as he looked at the small sign above the door. On it the word XENOLOGER was written in Stark. That is what I am, I suppose, thought Pipo, at least to the offworlders. But the Portuguese title Zenador was so much easier to say that on Lusitania hardly anyone said xenologer, even when speaking Stark. That is how languages change, thought Pipo. If it weren't for the ansible, providing instantaneous communication among the Hundred Worlds, we could not possibly maintain a common language. Interstellar travel is far too rare and slow. Stark would splinter into ten thousand dialects within a century. It might be interesting to have the computers run a projection of linguistic changes on Lusitania, if Stark were allowed to decay and absorb Portuguese--

"Father," said Libo.

Only then did Pipo notice that he had stopped ten meters away from the station. Tangents. The best parts of my intellectual life are tangential, in areas outside my expertise. I suppose because within my area of expertise the regulations they have placed upon me make it impossible to know or understand anything. The science of xenology insists on more mysteries than Mother Church.

His handprint was enough to unlock the door. Pipo knew how the evening would unfold even as he stepped inside to begin. It would take several hours of work at the terminals for them both to report what they had done during today's encounter. Pipo would then read over Libo's notes, and Libo would read Pipo's, and when they were satisfied, Pipo would write up a brief summary and then let the computers take it from there, filing the notes and also transmitting them instantly, by ansible, to the xenologers in the rest of the Hundred Worlds. More than a thousand scientists whose whole career is studying the one alien race we know, and except for what little the satellites can discover about this arboreal species, all the information my colleagues have is what Libo and I send them. This is definitely minimal intervention.

But when Pipo got inside the station, he saw at once that it would not be an evening of steady but relaxing work. Dona Cristã was there, dressed in her monastic robes. Was it one of the younger children, in trouble at school?

"No, no," said Dona Cristã . "All your children are doing very well, except this one, who I think is far too young to be out of school and working here, even as an apprentice. "

Libo said nothing. A wise decision, thought Pipo. Dona Cristã was a brilliant and engaging, perhaps even beautiful, young woman, but she was first and foremost a monk of the Order of the Filhos da Mente de Cristo, Children of the Mind of Christ, and she was not beautiful to behold when she was angry at ignorance and stupidity. It was amazing the number of quite intelligent people whose ignorance and stupidity had melted somewhat in the fire of her scorn. Silence, Libo, it's a policy that will do you good.

"I'm not here about any child of yours at all," said Dona Cristã. "I'm here about Novinha."

Dona Cristã did not have to mention a last name; everybody knew Novinha. The terrible Descolada had ended only eight years before. The plague had threatened to wipe out the colony before it had a fair chance to get started; the cure was discovered by Novinha's father and mother, Gusto and Cida, the two xenobiologists. It was a tragic irony that they found the cause of the disease and its treatment too late to save themselves. Theirs was the last Descolada funeral.

Pipo clearly remembered the little girl Novinha, standing there holding Mayor Bosquinha's hand while Bishop Peregrino conducted the funeral mass himself. No-- not holding the Mayor's hand. The picture came back to his mind, and, with it, the way he felt. What does she make of this? he remembered asking himself. It's the funeral of her parents, she's the last survivor in her family; yet all around her she can sense the great rejoicing of the people of this colony. Young as she is, does she understand that our joy is the best tribute to her parents? They struggled and succeeded, finding our salvation in the waning days before they died; we are here to celebrate the great gift they gave us. But to you, Novinha, it's the death of your parents, as your brothers died before. Five hundred dead, and more than a hundred masses for the dead here in this colony in the last six months, and all of them were held in an atmosphere of fear and grief and despair. Now, when your parents die, the fear and grief and despair are no less for you than ever before-- but no one else shares your pain. It is the relief from pain that is foremost in our minds.

Watching her, trying to imagine her feelings, he succeeded only in rekindling his own grief at the death of his own Maria, seven years old, swept away in the wind of death that covered her body in cancerous growth and rampant funguses, the flesh swelling or decaying, a new limb, not arm or leg, growing out of her hip, while the flesh sloughed off her feet and head, baring the bones, her sweet and beautiful body destroyed before their eyes, while her bright mind was mercilessly alert, able to feel all that happened to her until she cried out to God to let her die. Pipo remembered that, and then remembered her requiem mass, shared with five other victims. As he sat, knelt, stood there with his wife and surviving children, he had felt the perfect unity of the people in the Cathedral. He knew that his pain was everybody's pain, that through the loss of his eldest daughter he was bound to his community with the inseparable bonds of grief, and it was a comfort to him, it was something to cling to. That was how such a grief ought to be, a public mourning.

Little Novinha had nothing of that. Her pain was, if anything, worse than Pipo's had been-- at least Pipo had not been left without any family at all, and he was an adult, not a child terrified by suddenly losing the foundation of her life. In her grief she was not drawn more tightly into the community, but rather excluded from it. Today everyone was rejoicing, except her. Today everyone praised her parents; she alone yearned for them, would rather they had never found the cure for others if only they could have remained alive themselves.

Her isolation was so acute that Pipo could see it from where he sat. Novinha took her hand away from the Mayor as quickly as possible. Her tears dried up as the mass progressed; by the end she sat in silence, like a prisoner refusing to cooperate with her captors. Pipo's heart broke for her. Yet he knew that even if he tried, he could not conceal his own gladness at the end of the Descolada, his rejoicing that none of his other children would be taken from him. She would see that; his effort to comfort her would be a mockery, would drive her further away.

After the mass she walked in bitter solitude amid the crowds of well-meaning people who cruelly told her that her parents were sure to be saints, sure to sit at the right hand of God. What kind of comfort is that for a child? Pipo whispered aloud to his wife, "She'll never forgive us for today."

"Forgive?" Conceição was not one of those wives who instantly understood her husband's train of thought. "We didn't kill her parents--"

"But we're all rejoicing today, aren't we? She'll never forgive us for that."

"Nonsense. She doesn't understand anyway; she's too young."

She understands, Pipo thought. Didn't Maria understand things when she was even younger than Novinha is now?

As the years passed-- eight years now-- he had seen her from time to time. She was his son Libo's age, and until Libo's thirteenth birthday that meant they were in many classes together. He heard her give occasional readings and speeches, along with other children. There was an elegance to her thought, an intensity to her examination of ideas that appealed to him. At the same time, she seemed utterly cold, completely removed from everyone else. Pipo's own boy, Libo, was shy, but even so he had several friends, and had won the affection of his teachers. Novinha, though, had no friends at all, no one whose gaze she sought after a moment of triumph. There was no teacher who genuinely liked her, because she refused to reciprocate, to respond. "She is emotionally paralyzed," Dona Cristã said once when Pipo asked about her. "There is no reaching her. She swears that she's perfectly happy, and doesn't see any need to change."

Now Dona Cristã had come to the Zenador's Station to talk to Pipo about Novinha. Why Pipo? He could guess only one reason for the principal of the school to come to him about this particular orphaned girl. "Am I to believe that in all the years you've had Novinha in your school, I'm the only person who asked about her?"

"Not the only person," she said. "There was all kinds of interest in her a couple of years ago, when the Pope beatified her parents. Everybody asked then whether the daughter of Gusto and Cida, Os Venerados, had ever noticed any miraculous events associated with her parents, as so many other people had."

"They actually asked her that?"

"There were rumors, and Bishop Peregrino had to investigate." Dona Cristã got a bit tight-lipped when she spoke of the young spiritual leader of Lusitania Colony. But then, it was said that the hierarchy never got along well with the order of the Filhos da Mente de Cristo. "Her answer was instructive. "

"I can imagine."

"She said, more or less, that if her parents were actually listening to prayers and had any influence in heaven to get them granted, then why wouldn't they have answered her prayer, for them to return from the grave? That would be a useful miracle, she said, and there are precedents. If Os Venerados actually had the power to grant miracles, then it must mean they did not love her enough to answer her prayer. She preferred to believe that her parents still loved her, and simply did not have the power to act."

"A born sophist," said Pipo.

"A sophist and an expert in guilt: she told the Bishop that if the Pope declared her parents to be venerable, it would be the same as the Church saying that her parents hated her. The Petition for canonization of her parents was proof that Lusitania despised her; if it was granted, it would be proof that the Church itself was despicable. Bishop Peregrino was livid."

"I notice he sent in the petition anyway."

"For the good of the community. And there were all those miracles."

"Someone touches the shrine and a headache goes away and they cry 'Milagre!-- os santos me abençoaram!'" Miracle!-- the saints have blessed me!

"You know that Holy Rome requires more substantial miracles than that. But it doesn't matter. The Pope graciously allowed us to call our little town Milagre, and now I imagine that every time someone says that name, Novinha burns a little hotter with her secret rage."

"Or colder. One never knows what temperature that sort of thing will take."

"Anyway, Pipo, you aren't the only one who ever asked about her. But you're the only one who ever asked about her for her own sake, and not because of her most Holy and Blessed parents."

It was a sad thought, that except for the Filhos, who ran the schools of Lusitania, there had been no concern for the girl except the slender shards of attention Pipo had spared for her over the years.

"She has one friend," said Libo.

Pipo had forgotten that his son was there-- Libo was so quiet that he was easy to overlook. Dona Cristã also seemed startled. "Libo," she said, "I think we were indiscreet, talking about one of your schoolmates like this."

"I'm apprentice Zenador now," Libo reminded her. It meant he wasn't in school.

"Who is her friend?" asked Pipo.

"Marcão."

"Marcos Ribeira," Dona Cristã explained. "The tall boy--"

"Ah, yes, the one who's built like a cabra."

"He is strong," said Dona Cristã . "But I've never noticed any friendship between them."

"Once when Marcão was accused of something, and she happened to see it, she spoke for him."

"You put a generous interpretation on it, Libo," said Dona Cristã . "I think it is more accurate to say she spoke against the boys who actually did it and were trying to put the blame on him."

"Marcão doesn't see it that way," said Libo. "I noticed a couple of times, the way he watches her. It isn't much, but there is somebody who likes her."

"Do you like her?" asked Pipo.

Libo paused for a moment in silence. Pipo knew what it meant. He was examining himself to find an answer. Not the answer that he thought would be most likely to bring him adult favor, and not the answer that would provoke their ire-- the two kinds of deception that most children his age delighted in. He was examining himself to discover the truth.

"I think," Libo said, "that I understood that she didn't want to be liked. As if she were a visitor who expected to go back home any day."

Dona Cristã nodded gravely. "Yes, that's exactly right, that's exactly the way she seems. But now, Libo, we must end our indiscretion by asking you to leave us while we--"

He was gone before she finished her sentence, with a quick nod of his head, a half-smile that said, Yes, I understand, and a deftness of movement that made his exit more eloquent proof of his discretion than if he had argued to stay. By this Pipo knew that Libo was annoyed at being asked to leave; he had a knack for making adults feel vaguely immature by comparison to him.

"Pipo," said the principal, "she has petitioned for an early examination as xenobiologist. To take her parents' place."

Pipo raised an eyebrow.

"She claims that she has been studying the field intensely since she was a little child. That she's ready to begin the work right now, without apprenticeship."

"She's thirteen, isn't she?"

"There are precedents. Many have taken such tests early. One even passed it younger than her. It was two thousand years ago, but it was allowed. Bishop Peregrino is against it, Of course, but Mayor Bosquinha, bless her practical heart, has pointed out that Lusitania needs a xenobiologist quite badly-- we need to be about the business of developing new strains of plant life so we can get some decent variety in our diet and much better harvests from Lusitanian soil. In her words, 'I don't care if it's an infant, we need a xenobiologist.'"

"And you want me to supervise her examination?"

"If you would be so kind."

"I'll be glad to."

"I told them you would."

"I confess I have an ulterior motive."

"Oh?"

"I should have done more for the girl. I'd like to see if it isn't too late to begin."

Dona Cristã laughed a bit. "Oh, Pipo, I'd be glad for you to try. But do believe me, my dear friend, touching her heart is like bathing in ice."

"I imagine. I imagine it feels like bathing in ice to the person touching her. But how does it feel to her? Cold as she is, it must surely burn like fire."

"Such a poet," said Dona Cristã . There was no irony in her voice; she meant it. "Do the piggies understand that we've sent our very best as our ambassador?"

"I try to tell them, but they're skeptical."

"I'll send her to you tomorrow. I warn you-- she'll expect to take the examinations cold, and she'll resist any attempt on your part to pre-examine her. "

Pipo smiled. "I'm far more worried about what will happen after she takes the test. If she fails, then she'll have very bad problems. And if she passes, then my problems will begin."

"Why?"

"Libo will be after me to let him examine early for Zenador. And if he did that, there'd be no reason for me not to go home, curl up, and die."

"Such a romantic fool you are, Pipo. If there's any man in Milagre who's capable of accepting his thirteen-year-old son as a colleague, it's you. "

After she left, Pipo and Libo worked together, as usual, recording the day's events with the pequeninos. Pipo compared Libo's work, his way of thinking, his insights, his attitudes, with those of the graduate students he had known in University before joining the Lusitania Colony. He might be small, and there might be a lot of theory and knowledge for him yet to learn, but he was already a true scientist in his method, and a humanist at heart. By the time the evening's work was done and they walked home together by the light of Lusitania's large and dazzling moon, Pipo had decided that Libo already deserved to be treated as a colleague, whether he took the examination or not. The tests couldn't measure the things that really counted, anyway.

And whether she liked it or not, Pipo intended to find out if Novinha had the unmeasurable qualities of a scientist; if she didn't, then he'd see to it she didn't take the test, regardless of how many facts she had memorized.

Pipo meant to be difficult. Novinha knew how adults acted when they planned not to do things her way, but didn't want a fight or even any nastiness. Of course, of course you can take the test. But there's no reason to rush into it, let's take some time, let me make sure you'll be successful on the first attecipt.

Novinha didn't want to wait. Novinha was ready.

"I'll jump through any hoops you want," she said.

His face went cold. Their faces always did. That was all right, coldness was all right, she could freeze them to death. "I don't want you to jump through hoops," he said.

"T'he only thing I ask is that you line them up all in a row so I can jump through them quickly. I don't want to be put off for days and days."

He looked thoughtful for a moment. "You're in such a hurry."

"I'm ready. The Starways Code allows me to challenge the test at any time. It's between me and the Starways Congress, and I can't find anywhere that it says a xenologer can try to second-guess the Interplanetary Examinations Board."

"Then you haven't read carefully."

"The only thing I need to take the test before I'm sixteen is the authorization of my legal guardian. I don't have a legal guardian."

"On the contrary," said Pipo. "Mayor Bosquinha was your legal guardian from the day of your parents' death."

"And she agreed I could take the test."

"Provided you came to me."

Novinha saw the intense look in his eyes. She didn't know Pipo, so she thought it was the look she had seen in so many eyes, the desire to dominate, to rule her, the desire to cut through her determination and break her independence, the desire to make her submit.

From ice to fire in an instant. "What do you know about xenobiology! You only go out and talk to the piggies, you don't even begin to understand the workings of genes! Who are you to judge me! Lusitania needs a xenobiologist, and they've been without one for eight years. And you want to make them wait even longer, just so you can be in control!"

To her surprise, he didn't become flustered, didn't retreat. Nor did he get angry in return. It was as if she hadn't spoken.

"I see," he said quietly. "It's because of your great love of the people of Lusitania that you wish to become xenobiologist. Seeing the public need, you sacrificed and prepared yourself to enter early into a lifetime of altruistic service."

It sounded absurd, hearing him say it like that. And it wasn't at all what she felt. "Isn't that a good enough reason?"

"If it were true, it would be good enough."

"Are you calling me a liar?"

"Your own words called you a liar. You spoke of how much they, the people of Lusitania, need you. But you live among us. You've lived among us all your life. Ready to sacrifice for us, and yet you don't feel yourself to be part of this community."

So he wasn't like the adults who always believed lies as long as they made her seem to be the child they wanted her to be. "Why should I feel like part of the community? I'm not. "

He nodded gravely, as if considering her answer. "What community are you a part of?"

"The only other communities on Lusitania are the piggies, and you haven't seen me out there with the tree-worshippers. "

"There are many other communities on Lusitania. For instance, you're a student-- there's a community of students.

"Not for me."

"I know. You have no friends, you have no intimate associates, you go to mass but you never go to confession, you are so completely detached that as far as possible you don't touch the life of this colony, you don't touch the life of the human race at any point. From all the evidence, you live in complete isolation."

Novinha wasn't prepared for this. He was naming the underlying pain of her life, and she didn't have a strategy devised to cope with it. "If I do, it isn't my fault."

"I know that. I know where it began, and I know whose fault it was that it continues to this day."

"Mine?"

"Mine. And everyone else's. But mine most of all, because I knew what was happening to you and I did nothing at all. Until today."

"And today you're going to keep me from the one thing that matters to me in my life! Thanks so much for your compassion!"

Again he nodded solemnly, as if he were accepting and acknowledging her ironic gratitude. "In one sense, Novinha, it doesn't matter that it isn't your fault. Because the town of Milagre is a community, and whether it has treated you badly or not, it must still act as all communities do, to provide the greatest possible happiness for all its members."

"Which means everybody on Lusitania except me-- me and the piggies."

"The xenobiologist is very important to a colony, especially one like this, surrounded by a fence that forever limits our growth. Our xenobiologist must find ways to grow more protein and carbohydrate per hectare, which means genetically altering the Earthborn corn and potatoes to make--"

"To make maximum use of the nutrients available in the Lusitanian environment. Do you think I'm planning to take the examination without knowing what my life's work would be?"

"Your life's work, to devote yourself to improving the lives of people you despise."

Now Novinha saw the trap that he had laid for her. Too late; it had sprung. "So you think that a xenobiologist can't do her work unless she loves the people who use the things she makes?"

"I don't care whether you love us or not. What I have to know is what you really want. Why you're so passionate to do this."

"Basic psychology. My parents died in this work, and so I'mixying to step into their role."

"Maybe," said Pipo. "And maybe not. What I want to know, Novinha, what I must know before I'll let you take the test, is what community you do belong to."

"You said it yourself! I don't belong to any."

"Impossible. Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to and the ones she doesn't belong to. I am this and this and this, but definitely not that and that and that. All your definitions are negative. I could make an infinite list of the things you are not. But a person who really believes she doesn't belong to any community at all invariably kills herself, either by killing her body or by giving up her identity and going mad."

"That's me, insane to the root."

"Not insane. Driven by a sense of purpose that is frightening. If you take the test you'll pass it. But before I let you take it, I have to know: Who will you become when you pass? What do you believe in, what are you part of, what do you care about, what do you love?"

"Nobody in this or any other world."

"I don't believe you."

"I've never known a good man or woman in the world except my parents and they're dead! And even they-- nobody understands anything."

"You."

"I'm part of anything, aren't I? But nobody understands anybody, not even you, pretending to be so wise and compassionate but you're only getting me to cry like this because you have the power to stop me from doing what I want to do--"

"And it isn't xenobiology."

"Yes it is! That's part of it, anyway."

"And what's the rest of it?"

"What you are. What you do. Only you're doing it all wrong, you're doing it stupidly."

"Xenobiologist and xenologer."

"They made a stupid mistake when they created a new science to study the piggies. They were a bunch of tired old anthropologists who put on new hats and called themselves Xenologers. But you can't understand the piggies just by watching the way they behave! They came out of a different evolution! You have to understand their genes, what's going on inside their cells. And the other animals' cells, too, because they can't be studied by themselves,nothing lives in isolation---"

Don't lecture me, thought Pipo. Tell me what you feel.

And to provoke her to be more emotional, he whispered, "Except you."

It worked. From cold and contemptuous she became hot and defensive. "You'll never understand them! But I will!"

"Why do you care about them? What are the piggies to you?"

"You'd never understand. You're a good Catholic." She said the word with contempt. "It's a book that's on the Index."

Pipo's face glowed with sudden understanding. "The Hive Queen and the Hegemon."

"He lived three thousand years ago, whoever he was, the one who called himself the Speaker for the Dead. But he understood the buggers! We wiped them all out, the only other alien race we ever knew, we killed them all, but he understood."

"And you want to write the story of the piggies the way the original Speaker wrote of the buggers."

"The way you say it, you make it sound as easy as doing a scholarly paper. You don't know what it was like to write The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. How much agony it was for him to-- to imagine himself inside an alien mind-- and come out of it filled with love for the great creature we destroyed. He lived at the same time as the worst human being who ever lived, Ender the Xenocide, who destroyed the buggers-- and he did his best to undo what Ender did, the Speaker for the Dead tried to raise the dead--"

"But he couldn't."

"But he did! He made them live again-- you'd know it if you had read the book! I don't know about Jesus, I listen to Bishop Peregrino and I don't think there's any power in their priesthood to turn wafers into flesh or forgive a milligram of guilt. But the Speaker for the Dead brought the hive queen back to life."

"Then where is she?"

"In here! In me!"

He nodded. "And someone else is in you. The Speaker for the Dead. That's who you want to be."

"It's the only true story I ever heard," she said. "The only one I care about. Is that what you wanted to hear? That I'm a heretic? And my whole life's work is going to be adding another book to the Index of truths that good Catholics are forbidden to read?"

"What I wanted to hear," said Pipo softly, "was the name of what you are instead of the name of all the things that you are not. What you are is the hive queen. What you are is the Speaker for the Dead. It's a very small community, small in numbers, but a great-hearted one. So you chose not to be part of the bands of children who group together for the sole purpose of excluding others, and people look at you and say, poor girl, she's so isolated, but you know a secret, you know who you really are. You are the one human being who is capable of understanding the alien mind, because you are the alien mind; you know what it is to be unhuman because there's never been any human group that gave you credentials as a bona fide homo sapiens."

"Now you say I'm not even human? You made me cry like a little girl because you wouldn't let me take the test, you made me humiliate myself, and now you say I'm unhuman?"

"You can take the test."

The words hung in the air.

"When?" she whispered.

"Tonight. Tomorrow. Begin when you like. I'll stop my work to take you through the tests as quickly as you like."

"Thank you! Thank you, I--"

"Become the Speaker for the Dead. I'll help you all I can. The law forbids me to take anyone but my apprentice, my son Libo, out to meet the pequeninos. But we'll open our notes to you. Everything we learn, we'll show you. All our guesses and speculation. In return, you also show us all your work, what you find out about the genetic patterns of this world that might help us understand the pequeninos. And when we've learned enough, together, you can write your book, you can become the Speaker. But this time not the Speaker for the Dead. The pequeninos aren't dead."

In spite of herself, she smiled. "The Speaker for the Living."

"I've read The Hive Queen and the Hegemon, too," he said. "I can't think of a better place for you to find your name."

But she did not trust him yet, did not believe what he seemed to be promising. "I'll want to come here often. All the time."

"We lock it up when we go home to bed."

"But all the rest of the time. You'll get tired of me. You'll tell me to go away. You'll keep secrets from me. You'll tell me to be quiet and not mention my ideas."

"We've only just become friends, and already you think I'm such a liar and cheat, such an impatient oaf."

"But you will, everyone does; they all wish I'd go away--"

Pipo shrugged. "So? Sometime or other everybody wishes everybody would go away. Sometimes I'll wish you would go away. What I'm telling you now is that even at those times, even if I tell you to go away, you don't have to go away."

It was the most bafflingly perfect thing that anyone had ever said to her. "That's crazy."

"Only one thing. Promise me you'll never try to go out to the pequeninos. Because I can never let you do that, and if somehow you do it anyway, Starways Congress would close down all our work here, forbid any contact with them. Do you promise me? Or everything-- my work, your work-- it will all be undone."

"I promise."

"When will you take the test?"

"Now! Can I begin it now?"

He laughed gently, then reached out a hand and without looking touched the terminal. It came to life, the first genetic models appearing in the air above the terminal.

"You had the examination ready," she said. "You were all set to go! You knew that you'd let me do it all along!"

He shook his head. "I hoped. I believed in you. I wanted to help you do what you dreamed of doing. As long as it was something good."

She would not have been Novinha if she hadn't found one more poisonous thing to say. "I see. You are the judge of dreams."

Perhaps he didn't know it was an insult. He only smiled and said, "Faith, hope, and love-- these three. But the greatest of these is love."

"You don't love me," she said.

"Ah," he said. "I am the judge of dreams, and you are the judge of love. Well, I find you guilty of dreaming good dreams, and sentence you to a lifetime of working and suffering for the sake of your dreams. I only hope that someday you won't declare me innocent of the crime of loving you." He grew reflective for a moment. "I lost a daughter in the Descolada. Maria. She would have been only a few years older than you. "

"And I remind you of her?"

"I was thinking that she would have been nothing at all like you."

She began the test. It took three days. She passed it, with a score a good deal higher than many a graduate student. In retrospect, however, she would not remember the test because it was the beginning of her career, the end of her childhood, the confirmation of her vocation for her life's work. She would remember the test because it was the beginning of her time in Pipo's Station, where Pipo and Libo and Novinha together formed the first community she belonged to since her parents were put into the earth.

It was not easy, especially at the beginning. Novinha did not instantly shed her habit of cold confrontation. Pipo understood it, was prepared to bend with her verbal blows. It was much more of a challenge for Libo. The Zenador's Station had been a place where he and his father could be alone together. Now, without anyone asking his consent, a third person had been added, a cold and demanding person, who spoke to him as if he were a child, even though they were the same age. It galled him that she was a full-fledged xenobiologist, with all the adult status that that implied, when he was still an apprentice.

But he tried to bear it patiently. He was naturally calm, and quiet adhered to him. He was not prone to taking umbrage openly. But Pipo knew his son and saw him burn. After a while even Novinha, insensitive as she was, began to realize that she was provoking Libo more than any normal young man could possibly endure. But instead of easing up on him, she began to regard it as a challenge. How could she force some response from this unnaturally calm, gentle-spirited, beautiful boy?

"You mean you've been working all these years," she said one day, "and you don't even know how the piggies reproduce? How do you know they're all males?"

Libo answered softly. "We explained male and female to them as they learned our languages. They chose to call themselves males. And referred to the other ones, the ones we've never seen, as females."

"But for all you know, they reproduce by budding! Or mitosis!"

Her tone was contemptuous, and Libo did not answer quickly. Pipo imagined he could hear his son's thoughts, carefully rephrasing his answer until it was gentle and safe. "I wish our work were more like physical anthropology," he said. "Then we would be more prepared to apply your research into Lusitania's subcellular life patterns to what we learn about the pequeninos."

Novinha looked horrified. "You mean you don't even take tissue samples?"

Libo blushed slightly, but his voice was still calm when he answered. The boy would have been like this under questioning by the Inquisition, Pipo thought. "It is foolish, I guess," said Libo, "but we're afraid the pequeninos would wonder why we took pieces of their bodies. If one of them took sick by chance afterward, would they think we caused the illness?"

"What if you took something they shed naturally? You can learn a lot from a hair."

Libo nodded; Pipo, watching from his terminal on the other side of the room, recognized the gesture-- Libo had learned it from his father. "Many primitive tribes of Earth believed that sheddings from their bodies contained some of their life and strength. What if the piggies thought we were doing magic against them?"

"Don't you know their language? I thought some of them spoke Stark, too." She made no effort to hide her disdain. "Can't you explain what the samples are for?"

"You're right," he said quietly. "But if we explained what we'd use the tissue samples for, we might accidently teach them the concepts of biological science a thousand years before they would naturally have reached that point. That's why the law forbids us to explain things like that."

Finally, Novinha was abashed. "I didn't realize how tightly you were bound by the doctrine of minimal intervention."

Pipo was glad to hear her retreat from her arrogance, but if anything, her humility was worse. The child was so isolated from human contact that she spoke like an excessively formal science book. Pipo wondered if it was already too late to teach her how to be a human being.

It wasn't. Once she realized that they were excellent at their science, and she knew almost nothing of it, she dropped her aggressive stance and went almost to the opposite extreme. For weeks she spoke to Pipo and Libo only rarely. Instead she studied their reports, trying to grasp the purpose behind what they were doing. Now and then she had a question, and asked; they answered politely and thoroughly.

Politeness gradually gave way to familiarity. Pipo and Libo began to converse openly in front of her, airing their speculations about why the piggies had developed some of their strange behaviors, what meaning lay behind some of their odd statements, why they remained so maddeningly impenetrable. And since the study of piggies was a very new branch of science, it didn't take long for Novinha to be expert enough, even at second hand, to offer some hypotheses. "After all," said Pipo, encouraging her, "we're all blind together."

Pipo had foreseen what happened next. Libo's carefully cultivated patience had made him seem cold and reserved to others of his age, when Pipo could prevail on him even to attempt to socialize; Novinha's isolation was more flamboyant but no more thorough. Now, however, their common interest in the piggies drew them close-- who else could they talk to, when no one but Pipo could even understand their conversations?

They relaxed together, laughed themselves to tears over jokes that could not possibly amuse any other Luso. Just as the piggies seemed to name every tree in the forest, Libo playfully named all the furniture in the Zenador's Station, and periodically announced that certain items were in a bad mood and shouldn't be disturbed. "Don't sit on Chair! It's her time of the month again." They had never seen a piggy female, and the males always seemed to refer to them with almost religious reverence; Novinha wrote a series of mock reports on an imaginary piggy woman called Reverend Mother, who was hilariously bitchy and demanding.

It was not all laughter. There were problems, worries, and once a time of real fear that they might have done exactly what the Starways Congress had tried so hard to preventmaking radical changes in piggy society. It began with Rooter, of course. Rooter, who persisted in asking challenging, impossible questions, like, "If you have no other city of humans, how can you go to war? There's no honor for you in killing Little Ones." Pipo babbled something about how humans would never kill pequeninos, Little Ones; but he knew that this wasn't the question Rooter was really asking.

Pipo had known for years that the piggies knew the concept of war, but for days after that Libo and Novinha argued heatedly about whether Rooter's question proved that the piggies regarded war as desirable or merely unavoidable. There were other bits of information from Rooter, some important, some not-- and many whose importance was impossible to judge. In a way, Rooter himself was proof of the wisdom of the policy that forbade the xenologers to ask questions that would reveal human expectations, and therefore human practices. Rooter's questions invariably gave them more answers than they got from his answers to their own questions.

The last information Rooter gave them, though, was not in a question. It was a guess, spoken to Libo privately, when Pipo was off with some of the others examining the way they built their log house. "I know I know," said Rooter, "I know why Pipo is still alive. Your women are too stupid to know that he is wise."

Libo struggled to make sense of this seeming non sequitur. What did Rooter think, that if human women were smarter, they would kill Pipo? The talk of killing was disturbing-- this was obviously an important matter, and Libo did not know how to handle it alone. Yet he couldn't call Pipo to help, since Rooter obviously wanted to discuss it where Pipo couldn't hear.

When Libo didn't answer, Rooter persisted. "Your women, they are weak and stupid. I told the others this, and they said I could ask you. Your women don't see Pipo's wisdom. Is this true?"

Rooter seemed very agitated; he was breathing heavily, and he kept pulling hairs from his arms, four and five at a time. Libo had to answer, somehow. "Most women don't know him," he said.

"Then how will they know if he should die?" asked Rooter. Then, suddenly, he went very still and spoke very loudly. "You are cabras!"

Only then did Pipo come into view, wondering what the shouting was about. He saw at once that Libo was desperately out of his depth. Yet Pipo had no notion what the conversation was even about-- how could he help? All he knew was that Rooter was saying humans-- or at least Pipo and Libo-- were somehow like the large beasts that grazed in herds on the prairie. Pipo couldn't even tell if Rooter was angry or happy.

"You are cabras! You decide!" He pointed at Libo and then at Pipo. "Your women don't choose your honor, you do! Just like in battle, but all the time!"

Pipo had no idea what Rooter was talking about, but he could see that all the pequeninos were motionless as stumps, waiting for him-- or Libo-- to answer. It was plain Libo was too frightened by Rooter's strange behavior to dare any response at all. In this case, Pipo could see no point but to tell the truth; it was, after all, a relatively obvious and trivial bit of information about human society. It was against the rules that the Starways Congress had established for him, but failing to answer would be even more damaging, and so Pipo went ahead.

"Women and men decide together, or they decide for themselves," said Pipo. "One doesn't decide for the other."

It was apparently what all the piggies had been waiting for. "Cabras," they said, over and over; they ran to Rooter, hooting and whistling. They picked him up and rushed him off into the woods. Pipo tried to follow, but two of the piggies stopped him and shook their heads. It was a human gesture they had learned long before, but it held stronger meaning for the piggies. It was absolutely forbidden for Pipo to follow. They were going to the women, and that was the one place the piggies had told them they could never go.

On the way home, Libo reported how the difficulty began.

"Do you know what Rooter said? He said our women were weak and stupid."

"That's because he's never met Mayor Bosquinha. Or your mother, for that matter."

Libo laughed, because his mother, Conceição, ruled the archives as if it were an ancient estação in the wild mato-- if you entered her domain, you were utterly subject to her law. As he laughed, he felt something slip away, some idea that was important-- what were we talking about? The conversation went on; Libo had forgotten, and soon he even forgot that he had forgotten.

That night they heard the drumming sound that Pipo and Libo believed was part of some sort of celebration. It didn't happen all that often, like beating on great drums with heavy sticks. Tonight, though, the celebration seemed to go on forever. Pipo and Libo speculated that perhaps the human example of sexual equality had somehow given the male pequeninos some hope of liberation. "I think this may qualify as a serious modification of piggy behavior," Pipo said gravely. "If we find that we've caused real change, I'm going to have to report it, and Congress will probably direct that human contact with piggies be cut off for a while. Years, perhaps." It was a sobering thought-- that doing their job faithfully might lead Starways Congress to forbid them to do their job at all.

In the morning Novinha walked with them to the gate in the high fence that separated the human city from the slopes leading up to the forest hills where the piggies lived. Because Pipo and Libo were still trying to reassure each other that neither of them could have done any differently, Novinha walked on ahead and got to the gate first. When the others arrived, she pointed to a patch of freshly cleared red earth only thirty meters or so up the hill from the gate. "That's new," she said. "And there's something in it."

Pipo opened the gate, and Libo, being younger, ran on ahead to investigate. He stopped at the edge of the cleared patch and went completely rigid, staring down at whatever lay there. Pipo, seeing him, also stopped, and Novinha, suddenly frightened for Libo, ignored the regulation and ran through the gate. Libo's head rocked backward and he dropped to his knees; he clutched his tight-curled hair and cried out in terrible remorse.

Rooter lay spread-eagled in the cleared dirt. He had been eviscerated, and not carelessly: Each organ had been cleanly separated, and the strands and filaments of his limbs had also been pulled out and spread in a symmetrical pattern on the drying soil. Everything still had some connection to the body-- nothing had been completely severed.

Libo's agonized crying was almost hysterical. Novinha knelt by him and held him, rocked him, tried to soothe him. Pipo methodically took out his small camera and took pictures from every angle so the computer could analyze it in detail later.

"He was still alive when they did this," Libo said, when he had calmed enough to speak. Even so, he had to say the words slowly, carefully, as if he were a foreigner just learning to speak. "There's so much blood on the ground, spattered so far-- his heart had to be beating when they opened him up."

"We'll discuss it later," said Pipo.

Now the thing Libo had forgotten yesterday came back to him with cruel clarity. "It's what Rooter said about the women. They decide when the men should die. He told me that, and I--" He stopped himself. Of course he did nothing. The law required him to do nothing. And at that moment he decided that he hated the law. If the law meant allowing this to be done to Rooter, then the law had no understanding. Rooter was a person. You don't stand by and let this happen to a person just because you're studying him.

"They didn't dishonor him," said Novinha. "If there's one thing that's certain, it's the love that they have for trees. See?" Out of the center of his chest cavity, which was otherwise empty now, a very small seedling sprouted. "They planted a tree to mark his burial spot."

"Now we know why they name all their trees," said Libo bitterly. "They planted them as grave markers for the piggies they tortured to death."

"This is a very large forest," Pipo said calmly. "Please confine your hypotheses to what is at least remotely possible." They were calmed by his quiet, reasoned tone, his insistence that even now they behave as scientists.

"What should we do?" asked Novinha.

"We should get you back inside the perimeter immediately, " said Pipo. "It's forbidden for you to come out here."

"But I meant-- with the body-- what should we do?"

"Nothing," said Pipo. "The piggies have done what piggies do, for whatever reason piggies do it." He helped Libo to his feet.

Libo had trouble standing for a moment; he leaned on both of them for his first few steps. "What did I say?" he whispered. "I don't even know what it is I said that killed him."

"It wasn't you," said Pipo. "It was me."

"What, do you think you own them?" demanded Novinha. "Do you think their world revolves around you? The piggies did it, for whatever reason they have. It's plain enough this isn't the first time-- they were too deft at the vivisection for this to be the first time."

Pipo took it with black humor. "We're losing our wits, Libo. Novinha isn't supposed to know anything about xenology."

"You're right," said Libo. "Whatever may have triggered this, it's something they've done before. A custom." He was trying to sound calm.

"But that's even worse, isn't it?" said Novinha. "It's their custom to gut each other alive. " She looked at the other trees of the forest that began at the top of the hill and wondered how many of them were rooted in blood.

Pipo sent his report on the ansible, and the computer didn't give him any trouble about the priority level. He left it up to the oversight committee to decide whether contact with the piggies should be stopped. The committee could not identify any fatal error. "It is impossible to conceal the relationship between our sexes, since someday a woman may be xenologer," said the report, "and we can find no point at which you did not act reasonably and prudently. Our tentative conclusion is that you were unwitting participants in some sort of power struggle, which was decided against Rooter, and that you should continue your contact with all reasonable prudence."

It was complete vindication, but it still wasn't easy to take. Libo had grown up knowing the piggies, or at least hearing about them from his father. He knew Rooter better than he knew any human being besides his family and Novinha. It took days for Libo to come back to the Zenador's Station, weeks before he would go back out into the forest. The piggies gave no sign that anything had changed; if anything, they were more open and friendly than before. No one ever spoke of Rooter, least of all Pipo and Libo. There were changes on the human side, however. Pipo and Libo never got more than a few steps away from each other when they were among them.

The pain and remorse of that day drew Libo and Novinha to rely on each other even more, as though darkness bound them closer than light. The piggies now seemed dangerous and uncertain, just as human company had always been, and between Pipo and Libo there now hung the question of who was at fault, no matter how often each tried to reassure the other. So the only good and reliable thing in Libo's life was Novinha, and in Novinha's life, Libo.

Even though Libo had a mother and siblings, and Pipo and Libo always went home to them, Novinha and Libo behaved as if the Zenador's Station were an island, with Pipo a loving but ever remote Prospero. Pipo wondered: Are the piggies like Ariel, leading the young lovers to happiness, or are they little Calibans, scarcely under control and chafing to do murder?

After a few months, Rooter's death faded into memory, and their laughter returned, though it was never quite as carefree as before. By the time they were seventeen, Libo and Novinha were so sure of each other that they routinely talked of what they would do together five, ten, twenty years later. Pipo never bothered to ask them about their marriage plans. After all, he thought, they studied biology from morning to night. Eventually it would occur to them to explore stable and socially acceptable reproductive strategies. In the meantime, it was enough that they puzzled endlessly over when and how the piggies mated, considering that the males had no discernable reproductive organ. Their speculations on how the piggies combined genetic material invariably ended in jokes so lewd that it took all of Pipo's self-control to pretend not to find them amusing.

So the Zenador's Station for those few short years was a place of true companionship for two brilliant young people who otherwise would have been condemned to cold solitude. It did not occur to any of them that the idyll would end abruptly, and forever, and under circumstances that would send a tremor throughout the Hundred Worlds.

It was all so simple, so commonplace. Novinha was analyzing the genetic structure of the fly-infested reeds along the river, and realized that the same subcellular body that had caused the Descolada was present in the cells of the reed. She brought several other cell structures into the air over the computer terminal and rotated them. They all contained the Descolada agent.

She called to Pipo, who was running through transcriptions of yesterday's visit to the piggies. The computer ran comparisons of every cell she had samples of. Regardless of cell function, regardless of the species it was taken from, every alien cell contained the Descolada body, and the computer declared them absolutely identical in chemical proportions.

Novinha expected Pipo to nod, tell her it looked interesting, maybe come up with a hypothesis. Instead he sat down and ran the same test over, asking her questions about how the computer comparison operated, and then what the Descolada body actually did.

"Mother and Father never figured out what triggered it, but the Descolada body releases this little protein-- well, pseudo-protein, I suppose-- and it attacks the genetic molecules, starting at one end and unzipping the two strands of the molecule right down the middle. That's why they called it the descolador-- it unglues the DNA in humans, too."

"Show me what it does in alien cells."

Novinha put the simulation in motion.

"No, not just the genetic molecule-- the whole environment of the cell."

"It's just in the nucleus," she said. She widened the field to include more variables. The computer took it more slowly, since it was considering millions of random arrangements of nuclear material every second. In the reed cell, as a genetic molecule came unglued, several large ambient proteins affixed themselves to the open strands. "In humans, the DNA tries to recombine, but random proteins insert themselves so that cell after cell goes crazy. Sometimes they go into mitosis, like cancer, and sometimes they die. What's most important is that in humans the Descolada bodies themselves reproduce like crazy, passing from cell to cell. Of course, every alien creature already has them."

But Pipo wasn't interested in what she said. When the descolador had finished with the genetic molecules of the reed, he looked from one cell to another. "It's not just significant, it's the same," he said. "It's the same thing!"

Novinha didn't see at once what he had noticed. What was the same as what? Nor did she have time to ask. Pipo was already out of the chair, grabbing his coat, heading for the door. It was drizzling outside. Pipo paused only to call out to her, "Tell Libo not to bother coming, just show him that simulation and see if he can figure it out before I get back. He'll know-- it's the answer to the big one. The answer to everything."

"Tell me!"

He laughed. "Don't cheat. Libo will tell you, if you can't see it."

"Where are you going?"

"To ask the piggies if I'm right, of course! But I know I am, even if they lie about it. If I'm not back in an hour, I slipped in the rain and broke my leg."

Libo did not get to see the simulations. The meeting of the planning committee went way over time in an argument about extending the cattle range, and after the meeting Libo still had to pick up the week's groceries. By the time he got back, Pipo had been out for four hours, it was getting on toward dark, and the drizzle was turning to snow. They went out at once to look for him, afraid that it might take hours to find him in the woods.

They found him all too soon. His body was already cooling in the snow. The piggies hadn't even planted a tree in him.

2

Trondheim

I'm deeply sorry that I could not act upon your request for more detail concerning the courtship and marriage customs of the aboriginal Lusitanians. This must be causing you unimaginable distress, or else you would never have petitioned the Xenological Society to censure me for failure to cooperate with your researches.

When would-be xenologers complain that I am not getting the right sort of data from my observations of the pequeninos, I always urge them to reread the limitations placed upon me by law. I am permitted to bring no more than one assistant on field visits; I may not ask questions that might reveal human expectations, lest they try to imitate us; I may not volunteer information to elicit a parallel response; I may not stay with them more than four hours at a time; except for my clothing, I may not use any products of technology in their presence, which includes cameras, recorders, computers, or even a manufactured pen to write on manufactured paper: I may not even observe them unawares.

In short: I cannot tell you how the pequeninos reproduce because they have not chosen to do it in front of me.

Of course your research is crippled! Of course our conclusions about the piggies are absurd! If we had to observe your university under the same limitations that bind us in our observation of the Lusitanian aborigines, we would no doubt conclude that humans do not reproduce, do not form kinship groups, and devote their entire life cycle to the metamorphosis of the larval student into the adult professor. We might even suppose that professors exercise noticeable power in human society. A competent investigation would quickly reveal the inaccuracy of such conclusions-- but in the case of the piggies, no competent investigation is permitted or even contemplated.

Anthropology is never an exact science; the observer never experiences the same culture as the participant. But these are natural limitations inherent to the science. It is the artificial limitations that hamper us-- and, through us, you. At the present rate of progress we might as well be mailing questionnaires to the pequeninos and waiting for them to dash off scholarly papers in reply.

--João Figueira Alvarez, reply to Pietro Guataninni of the University of Sicily, Milano Campus, Etruria, published posthumously in Xenological Studies, 22:4:49:193

The news of Pipo's death was not of merely local importance. It was transmitted instantaneously, by ansible, to all the Hundred Worlds. The first aliens discovered since Ender's Xenocide had tortured to death the one human who was designated to observe them. Within hours, scholars, scientists, politicians, and journalists began to strike their poses.

A consensus soon emerged. One incident, under baffling circumstances, does not prove the failure of Starways Council policy toward the piggies. On the contrary, the fact that only one man died seems to prove the wisdom of the present policy of near inaction. We should, therefore, do nothing except continue to observe at a slightly less intense pace. Pipo's successor was instructed to visit the piggies no more often than every other day, and never for longer than an hour. He was not to push the piggies to answer questions concerning their treatment of Pipo. It was a reinforcement of the old policy of inaction.

There was also much concern about the morale of the people of Lusitania. They were sent many new entertainment programs by ansible, despite the expense, to help take their minds off the grisly murder.

And then, having done the little that could be done by framlings, who were, after all, lightyears away from Lusitania, the people of the Hundred Worlds returned to their local concerns.

Outside Lusitania, only one man among the half-trillion human beings in the Hundred Worlds felt the death of Jodo Figueira Alvarez, called Pipo, as a great change in the shape of his own life. Andrew Wiggin was Speaker for the Dead in the university city of Reykjavik, renowned as the conservator of Nordic culture, perched on the steep slopes of a knifelike fjord that pierced the granite and ice of the frozen world of Trondheim right at the equator. It was spring, so the snow was in retreat, and fragile grass and flowers reached out for strength from the glistering sun. Andrew sat on the brow of a priny hill, surrounded by a dozen students who were studying the history of interstellar colonization. Andrew was only half-listening to a fiery argument over whether the utter human victory in the Bugger Wars had been a necessary prelude to human expansion. Such arguments always degenerated quickly into a vilification of the human monster Ender, who commanded the starfleet that committed the Xenocide of the Buggers. Andrew tended to let his mind wander somewhat; the subject did not exactly bore him, but he preferred not to let it engage his attention, either.

Then the small computer implant worn like a jewel in his ear told him of the cruel death of Pipo, the xenologer on Lusitania, and instantly Andrew became alert. He interrupted his students.

"What do you know of the piggies?" he asked.

"They are the only hope of our redemption," said one, who took Calvin rather more seriously than Luther.

Andrew looked at once to the student Plikt, who he knew would not be able to endure such mysticism. "They do not exist for any human purpose, not even redemption," said Plikt with withering contempt. "They are true ramen, like the buggers."

Andrew nodded, but frowned. "You use a word that is not yet common koine."

"It should be," said Plikt. "Everyone in Trondheim, every Nord in the Hundred Worlds should have read Demosthenes' History of Wutan in Trondheim by now."

"We should but we haven't," sighed a student.

"Make her stop strutting, Speaker," said another. "Plikt is the only woman I know who can strut sitting down."

Plikt closed her eyes. "The Nordic language recognizes four orders of foreignness. The first is the otherlander, or utlãnning, the stranger that we recognize as being a human of our world, but of another city or country. The second is the framling-- Demosthenes merely drops the accent from the Nordic frãmling. This is the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another world. The third is the ramen, the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another species. The fourth is the true alien, the varelse, which includes all the animals, for with them no conversation is possible. They live, but we cannot guess what purposes or causes make them act. They might be intelligent, they might be self-aware, but we cannot know it."

Andrew noticed that several students were annoyed. He called it to their attention. "You think you're annoyed because of Plikt's arrogance, but that isn't so. Plikt is not arrogant; she is merely precise. You are properly ashamed that you have not yet read Demosthenes' history of your own people, and so in your shame you are annoyed at Plikt because she is not guilty of your sin."

"I thought Speakers didn't believe in sin," said a sullen boy.

Andrew smiled. "You believe in sin, Styrka, and you do things because of that belief. So sin is real in you, and knowing you, this Speaker must believe in sin."

Styrka refused to be defeated. "What does all this talk of utlannings and framlings and ramen and varelse have to do with Ender's Xenocide?"

Andrew turned to Plikt. She thought for a moment. "This is relevant to the stupid argument that we were just having. Through these Nordic layers of foreignness we can see that Ender was not a true xenocide, for when he destroyed the buggers, we knew them only as varelse; it was not until years later, when the first Speaker for the Dead wrote The Hive Queen and the Hegemon, that humankind first understood that the buggers were not varelse at all, but ramen; until that time there had been no understanding between bugger and human."

"Xenocide is xenocide," said Styrka. "Just because Ender didn't know they were ramen doesn't make them any less dead."

Andrew sighed at Styrka's unforgiving attitude; it was the fashion among Calvinists at Reykjavik to deny any weight to human motive in judging the good or evil of an act. Acts are good and evil in themselves, they said; and because Speakers for the Dead held as their only doctrine that good or evil exist entirely in human motive, and not at all in the act, it made students like Styrka quite hostile to Andrew. Fortunately, Andrew did not resent it-- he understood the motive behind it.

"Styrka, Plikt, let me put you another case. Suppose that the piggies, who have learned to speak Stark, and whose languages some humans have also learned, suppose that we learned that they had suddenly, without provocation or explanation, tortured to death the xenologer sent to observe them."

Plikt jumped at the question immediately. "How could we know it was without provocation? What seems innocent to us might be unbearable to them."

Andrew smiled. "Even so. But the xenologer has done them no harm, has said very little, has cost them nothing-- by any standard we can think of, he is not worthy of painful death. Doesn't the very fact of this incomprehensible murder make the piggies varelse instead of ramen?"

Now it was Styrka who spoke quickly. "Murder is murder. This talk of varelse and ramen is nonsense. If the piggies murder, then they are evil, as the buggers were evil. If the act is evil, then the actor is evil."

Andrew nodded. "There is our dilemma. There is the problem. Was the act evil, or was it, somehow, to the piggies' understanding at least, good? Are the piggies ramen or varelse? For the moment, Styrka, hold your tongue. I know all the arguments of your Calvinism, but even John Calvin would call your doctrine stupid."

"How do you know what Calvin would--"

"Because he's dead," roared Andrew, "and so I'm entitled to speak for him!"

The students laughed, and Styrka withdrew into stubborn silence. The boy was bright, Andrew knew; his Calvinism would not outlast his undergraduate education, though its excision would be long and painful.

"Talman, Speaker," said Plikt. "You spoke as if your hypothetical situation were true, as if the piggies really had murdered the xenologer."

Andrew nodded gravely. "Yes, it's true."

It was disturbing; it awoke echoes of the ancient conflict between bugger and human.

"Look in yourselves at this moment," said Andrew. "You will find that underneath your hatred of Ender the Xenocide and your grief for the death of the buggers, you also feel something much uglier: You're afraid of the stranger, whether he's utlanning or framling. When you think of him killing a man that you know of and value, then it doesn't matter what his shape is. He's varelse then, or worse-- djur, the dire beast, that comes in the night with slavering jaws. If you had the only gun in your village, and the beasts that had torn apart one of your people were coming again, would you stop to ask if they also had a right to live, or would you act to save your village, the people that you knew, the people who depended on you?"

"By your argument we should kill the piggies now, primitive and helpless as they are!" shouted Styrka.

"My argument? I asked a question. A question isn't an argument, unless you think you know my answer, and I assure you, Styrka, that you do not. Think about this. Class is dismissed."

"Will we talk about this tomorrow?" they demanded.

"If you want," said Andrew. But he knew that if they discussed it, it would be without him. For them, the issue of Ender the Xenocide was merely philosophical. After all, the Bugger Wars were more than three thousand years ago; it was now the year 1948 SC, counting from the year the Starways Code was established, and Ender had destroyed the Buggers in the year 1180 BSC. But to Andrew, the events were not so remote. He had done far more interstellar travel than any of his students would dare to guess; since he was twenty-five he had, until Trondheim, never stayed more than six months on any planet. Lightspeed travel between worlds had let him skip like a stone over the surface of time. His students had no idea that their Speaker for the Dead, who was surely no older than thirty-five, had very clear memories of events 3000 years before, that in fact those events seemed scarcely twenty years ago to him, only half his lifetime. They had no idea how deeply the question of Ender's ancient guilt burned within him, and how he had answered it in a thousand different unsatisfactory ways. They knew their teacher only as Speaker for the Dead; they did not know that when he was a mere infant, his older sister, Valentine, could not pronounce the name Andrew, and so called him Ender, the name that he made infamous before he was fifteen years old. So let unforgiving Styrka and analytical Plikt ponder the great question of Ender's guilt; for Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, the question was not academic.

And now, walking along the damp, grassy hillside in the chill air, Ender-- Andrew, Speaker-- could think only of the piggies, who were already committing inexplicable murders, just as the buggers had carelessly done when they first visited humankind. Was it something unavoidable, when strangers met, that the meeting had to be marked with blood? The buggers had casually killed human beings, but only because they had a hive mind; to them, individual life was as precious as nail parings, and killing a human or two was simply their way of letting us know they were in the neighborhood. Could the piggies have such a reason for killing, too?

But the voice in his ear had spoken of torture, a ritual murder similar to the execution of one of the piggies' own. The piggies were not a hive mind, they were not the buggers, and Ender Wiggin had to know why they had done what they did.

"When did you hear about the death of the xenologer?"

Ender turned. It was Plikt. She had followed him instead of going back to the Caves, where the students lived.

"Then, while we spoke." He touched his ear; implanted terminals were expensive, but they were not all that rare.

"I checked the news just before class. There was nothing about it then. If a major story had been coming in by ansible, there would have been an alert. Unless you got the news straight from the ansible report."

Plikt obviously thought she had a mystery on her hands. And, in fact, she did. "Speakers have high priority access to public information," he said.

"Has someone asked you to Speak the death of the xenologer?"

He shook his head. "Lusitania is under a Catholic License."

"That's what I mean," she said. "They won't have a Speaker of their own there. But they still have to let a Speaker come, if someone requests it. And Trondheim is the closest world to Lusitania."

"Nobody's called for a Speaker."

Plikt tugged at his sleeve. "Why are you here?"

"You know why I came. I Spoke the death of Wutan."

"I know you came here with your sister, Valentine. She's a much more popular teacher than you are-- she answers questions with answers; you just answer with more questions."

"That's because she knows some answers."

"Speaker, you have to tell me. I tried to find out about you-- I was curious. Your name, for one thing, where you came from. Everything's classified. Classified so deep that I can't even find out what the access level is. God himself couldn't look up your life story."

Ender took her by the shoulders, looked down into her eyes. "It's none of your business, that's what the access level is."

"You are more important than anybody guesses, Speaker," she said. "The ansible reports to you before it reports to anybody, doesn't it? And nobody can look up information about you."

"Nobody has ever tried. Why you?"

"I want to be a Speaker," she said.

"Go ahead then. The computer will train you. It isn't like a religion-- you don't have to memorize any catechism. Now leave me alone. " He let go of her with a little shove. She staggered backward as he strode off.

"I want to Speak for you," she cried.

"I'm not dead yet!" he shouted back.

"I know you're going to Lusitania! I know you are!"

Then you know more than I do, said Ender silently. But he trembled as he walked, even though the sun was shining and he wore three sweaters to keep out the cold. He hadn't known Plikt had so much emotion in her. Obviously she had come to identify with him. It frightened him to have this girl need something from him so desperately. He had spent years now without making any real connection with anyone but his sister Valentine-- her and, of course, the dead that he Spoke. All the other people who had meant anything to him in his life were dead. He and Valentine had passed them by centuries ago, worlds ago.

The idea of casting a root into the icy soil of Trondheim repelled him. What did Plikt want from him? It didn't matter; he wouldn't give it. How dare she demand things from him, as if he belonged to her? Ender Wiggin didn't belong to anybody. If she knew who he really was, she would loathe him as the Xenocide; or she would worship him as the Savior of Mankind-- Ender remembered what it was like when people used to do that, too, and he didn't like it any better. Even now they knew him only by his role, by the name Speaker, Talman, Falante, Spieler, whatever they called the Speaker for the Dead in the language of their city or nation or world.

He didn't want them to know him. He did not belong to them, to the human race. He had another errand, he belonged to someone else. Not human beings. Not the bloody piggies, either. Or so he thought.

3

Libo

Observed Diet: Primarily macios, the shiny worms that live among merclona vines on the bark of the trees. Sometimes they have been seen to chew capirn blades. Sometimes-- accidently? --they ingest merclona leaves along with the maclos.

We've never seen them eat anything else. Novinha analyzed all three foods-- macios, capim blades, and merclona leaves-- and the results were surprising. Either the peclueninos don't need many different proteins, or they're hungry all the time. Their diet is sehously lacking in many trace elements. And calcium intake is so low, we wonder whether their bones use calcium the same way ours do.

Pure speculation: Since we can't take tissue samples, our only knowledge of piggy anatomy and physiology is what we were able to glean from our photographs of the vivisected corpse of the piggy called Rooter. Still, there are some obvious anomalies. The piggies' tongues, which are so fantastically agile that they can produce any sound we make, and a lot we can't, must have evolved for some purpose. Probing for insects in tree bark or in nests in the ground, maybe. Whether an ancient ancestral piggy did that, they certainly don't do it now. And the horny pads on their feet and inside their knees allow them to climb trees and cling by their legs alone. Why did that evolve? To escape from some predator? There is no predator on Lusitania large enough to harm them. To cling to the tree while probing for insects in the bark? That fits in with their tongues, but where are the insects? The only insects are the suckflies and the puladors, but they don't bore into the bark and the piggies don't eat them anyway. The macios are large, live on the bark's surface, and can easily be harvested by pulling down the merclona vines; they really don't even have to climb the trees.

Libo's speculation: The tongue, the tree-climbing evolved in a different environment, with a much more varied diet, including insects. But something-- an ice age? Migration? A disease? --caused the environment to change. No more barkbugs, etc. Maybe all the big predators were wiped out then. It would explain why there are so few species on Lusitania, despite the very favorable conditions. The cataclysm might have been fairly recent-- half a million years ago? --so that evolution hasn't had a chance to differentiate much yet.

It's a tempting hypothesis, since there's no obvious reason in the present environment for piggies to have evolved at all. There's no competition for them, The ecological niche they occupy could be filled by gophers. Why would intelligence ever be an adaptive trait? But inventing a cataclysm to explain why the piggies have such a boring, non-nutritious diet is probably overkill. Ockham's razor cuts this to ribbons.

--Jo ã o Figueira Alvarez, Working Notes 4/14/1948 SC, published posthumously in Philosophicol Roots of the Lusitanian Secession, 2010-33-4-1090:40

As soon as Mayor Bosquinha arrived at the Zenador's Station, matters slipped out of Libo's and Novinha's control. Bosquinha was accustomed to taking command, and her attitude did not leave much opportunity for protest, or even for consideration. "You wait here," she said to Libo almost as soon as she had grasped the situation. "As soon as I got your call, I sent the Arbiter to tell your mother."

"We have to bring his body in," said Libo.

"I also called some of the men who live nearby to help with that," she said. "And Bishop Peregrino is preparing a place for him in the Cathedral graveyard."

"I want to be there," insisted Libo.

"You understand, Libo, we have to take pictures, in detail."

"I was the one who told you we have to do that, for the report to the Starways Committee."

"But you should not be there, Libo." Bosquinha's voice was authoritative. "Besides, we must have your report. We have to notify Starways as quickly as possible. Are you up to writing it now, while it's fresh in your mind?"

She was right, of course. Only Libo and Novinha could write firsthand reports, and the sooner they wrote them, the better. "I can do it," said Libo.

"And you, Novinha, your observations also. Write your reports separately, without consultation. The Hundred Worlds are waiting."

The computer had already been alerted, and their reports went out by ansible even as they wrote them, mistakes and corrections and all. On all the Hundred Worlds the people most involved in xenology read each word as Libo or Novinha typed it in. Many others were given instantaneous computer-written summaries of what had happened. Twenty-two light-years away, Andrew Wiggin learned that Xenologer João Figueira "Pipo" Alvarez had been murdered by the piggies, and told his students about it even before the men had brought Pipo's body through the gate into Milagre.

His report done, Libo was at once surrounded by authority. Novinha watched with increasing anguish as she saw the incapability of the leaders of Lusitania, how they only intensified Libo's pain. Bishop Peregrino was the worst; his idea of comfort was to tell Libo that in all likelihood, the piggies were actually animals, without souls, and so his father had been torn apart by wild beasts, not murdered. Novinha almost shouted at him, Does that mean that Pipo's life work was nothing but studying beasts? And his death, instead of being murder, was an act of God? But for Libo's sake she restrained herself; he sat in the Bishop's presence, nodding and, in the end, getting rid of him by sufferance far more quickly than Novinha could ever have done by argument.

Dom Cristão of the Monastery was more helpful, asking intelligent questions about the events of the day, which let Libo and Novinha be analytical, unemotional as they answered. However, Novinha soon withdrew from answering. Most people were asking why the piggies had done such a thing; Dom Cristão was asking what Pipo might have done recently to trigger his murder. Novinha knew perfectly well what Pipo had done-- he had told the piggies the secret he discovered in Novinha's simulation. But she did not speak of this, and Libo seemed to have forgotten what she had hurriedly told him a few hours ago as they were leaving to go searching for Pipo. He did not even glance toward the simulation. Novinha was content with that; her greatest anxiety was that he would remember.

Dom Cristão's questions were interrupted when the Mayor came back with several of the men who had helped retrieve the corpse. They were soaked to the skin despite their plastic raincoats, and spattered with mud; mercifully, any blood must have been washed away by the rain. They all seemed vaguely apologetic and even worshipful, nodding their heads to Libo, almost bowing. It occurred to Novinha that their deference wasn't just the normal wariness people always show toward those whom death had so closely touched.

One of the men said to Libo, "You're Zenador now, aren't you?" and there it was, in words. The Zenador had no official authority in Milagre, but he had prestige-- his work was the whole reason for the colony's existence, wasn't it?

Libo was not a boy anymore; he had decisions to make, he had prestige, he had moved from the fringe of the colony's life to its very center.

Novinha felt control of her life slip away. This is not how things are supposed to be. I'm supposed to continue here for years ahead, learning from Pipo, with Libo as my fellow student; that's the pattern of life. Since she was already the colony's zenobiologista, she also had an honored adult niche to fill. She wasn't jealous of Libo, she just wanted to remain a child with him for a while. Forever, in fact.

But Libo could not be her fellow student, could not be her fellow anything. She saw with sudden clarity how everyone in the room focused on Libo, what he said, how he felt, what he planned to do now. "We'll not harm the piggies," he said, "or even call it murder. We don't know what Father did to provoke them, I'll try to understand that later, what matters now is that whatever they did undoubtedly seemed right to them. We're the strangers here, we must have violated some-- taboo, some law-- but Father was always prepared for this, he always knew it was a possibility. Tell them that he died with the honor of a soldier in the field, a pilot in his ship, he died doing his job."

Ah, Libo, you silent boy, you have found such eloquence now that you can't be a mere boy anymore. Novinha felt a redoubling of her grief. She had to look away from Libo, look anywhere. And where she looked was into the eyes of the only other person in the room who was not watching Libo. The man was very tall, but very young-- younger than she was, she realized, for she knew him: he had been a student in the class below her. She had gone before Dona Cristã once, to defend him. Marcos Ribeira, that was his name, but they had always called him Marcão, because he was so big. Big and dumb, they said, calling him also simply Cão, the crude word for dog. She had seen the sullen anger in his eyes, and once she had seen him, goaded beyond endurance, lash out and strike down one of his tormentors. His victim was in a shoulder cast for much of a year.

Of course they accused Marcão of having done it without provocation-- that's the way of torturers of every age, to put the blame on the victim, especially when he strikes back. But Novinha didn't belong to the group of children-- she was as isolated as Marcão, though not as helpless-- and so she had no loyalty to stop her from telling the truth. It was part of her training to Speak for the piggies, she thought. Marcão himself meant nothing to her. It never occurred to her that the incident might have been important to him, that he might have remembered her as the one person who ever stood up for him in his continuous war with the other children. She hadn't seen or thought of him in the years since she became xenobiologist.

Now here he was, stained with the mud of Pipo's death scene, his face looking even more haunted and bestial than ever with his hair plastered by rain and sweat over his face and ears. And what was he looking at? His eyes were only for her, even as she frankly stared at him. Why are you watching me? she asked silently. Because I'm hungry, said his animal eyes. But no, no, that was her fear, that was her vision of the murderous piggies. Marcão is nothing to me, and no matter what he might think, I am nothing to him.

Yet she had a flash of insight, just for a moment. Her action in defending Marcão meant one thing to him and something quite different to her; it was so different that it was not even the same event. Her mind connected this with the piggies' murder of Pipo, and it seemed very important, it seemed to verge on explaining what had happened, but then the thought slipped away in a flurry of conversation and activity as the Bishop led the men off again, heading for the graveyard. Coffins were not used for burial here, where for the piggies' sake it was forbidden to cut trees. So Pipo's body was to be buried at once, though the graveside funeral would be held no sooner than tomorrow, and probably later; many people would want to gather for the Zenador's requiem mass. Marcão and the other men trooped off into the storm, leaving Novinha and Libo to deal with all the people who thought they had urgent business to attend to in the aftermath of Pipo's death. Self-important strangers wandered in and out, making decisions that Novinha did not understand and Libo did not seem to care about.

Until finally it was the Arbiter standing by Libo, his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You will, of course, stay with us," said the Arbiter. "Tonight at least."

Why your house, Arbiter? thought Novinha. You're nobody to us, we've never brought a case before you, who are you to decide this? Does Pipo's death mean that we're suddenly little children who can't decide anything?

"I'll stay with my mother," said Libo.

The Arbiter looked at him in surprise-- the mere idea of a child resisting his will seemed to be completely outside the realm of his experience. Novinha knew that this was not so, of course. His daughter Cleopatra, several years younger than Novinha, had worked hard to earn her nickname, Bruxinha-- little witch. So how could he not know that children had minds of their own, and resisted taming?

But the surprise was not what Novinha had assumed. "I thought you realized that your mother is also staying with my family for a time," said the Arbiter. "These events have upset her, of course, and she should not have to think about household duties, or be in a house that reminds her of who is not there with her. She is with us, and your brothers and sisters, and they need you there. Your older brother Jodo is with them, of course, but he has a wife and child of his own now, so you're the one who can stay and be depended on."

Libo nodded gravely. The Arbiter was not bringing him into his protection; he was asking Libo to become a protector.

The Arbiter turned to Novinha. "And I think you should go home," he said.

Only then did she understand that his invitation had not included her. Why should it? Pipo had not been her father. She was just a friend who happened to be with Libo when the body was discovered. What grief could she experience?

Home! What was home, if not this place? Was she supposed to go now to the Biologista's Station, where her bed had not been slept in for more than a year, except for catnaps during lab work? Was that supposed to be her home? She had left it because it was so painfully empty of her parents; now the Zenador's Station was empty, too: Pipo dead and Libo changed into an adult with duties that would take him away from her. This place wasn't home, but neither was any other place.

The Arbiter led Libo away. His mother, Conceição, was waiting for him in the Arbiter's house. Novinha barely knew the woman, except as the librarian who maintained the Lusitanian archive. Novinha had never spent time with Pipo's wife or other children, she had not cared that they existed; only the work here, the life here had been real. As Libo went to the door he seemed to grow smaller, as if he were a much greater distance away, as if he were being borne up and off by the wind, shrinking into the sky like a kite; the door closed behind him.

Now she felt the magnitude of Pipo's loss. The mutilated corpse on the hillside was not his death, it was merely his death's debris. Death itself was the empty place in her life. Pipo had been a rock in a storm, so solid and strong that she and Libo, sheltered together in his lee, had not even known the storm existed. Now he was gone, and the storm had them, would carry them whatever way it would. Pipo, she cried out silently. Don't go! Don't leave us! But of course he was gone, as deaf to her prayers as ever her parents had been.

The Zenador's Station was still busy; the Mayor herself, Bosquinha, was using a terminal to transmit all of Pipo's data by ansible to the Hundred Worlds, where experts were desperately trying to make sense of Pipo's death.

But Novinha knew that the key to his death was not in Pipo's files. It was her data that had killed him, somehow. It was still there in the air above her terminal, the holographic images of genetic molecules in the nuclei of piggy cells. She had not wanted Libo to study it, but now she looked and looked, trying to see what Pipo had seen, trying to understand what there was in the images that had made him rush out to the piggies, to say or do something that had made them murder him. She had inadvertently uncovered some secret that the piggies would kill to keep, but what was it?

The more she studied the holos, the less she understood, and after a while she didn't see them at all, except as a blur through her tears as she wept silently. She had killed him, because without even meaning to she had found the pequeninos' secret. If I had never come to this place, if I had not dreamed of being Speaker of the piggies' story, you would still be alive, Pipo; Libo would have his father, and be happy; this place would still be home. I carry the seeds of death within me and plant them wherever I linger long enough to love. My parents died so others could live; now I live, so others must die.

It was the Mayor who noticed her short, sharp breaths and realized, with brusque compassion, that this girt was also shaken and grieving. Bosquinha left others to continue the ansible reports and led Novinha out of the Zenador's Station.

"I'm sorry, child," said the Mayor, "I knew you came here often, I should have guessed that he was like a father to you, and here we treat you like a bystander, not right or fair of me at all, come home with me--"

"No," said Novinha. Walking out into the cold, wet night air had shaken some of the grief from her; she regained some clarity of thought. "No, I want to be alone, please." Where? "In my own Station."

"You shouldn't be alone, on this of all nights," said Bosquinha.

But Novinha could not bear the prospect of company, of kindness, of people trying to console her. I killed him, don't you see? I don't deserve consolation. I want to suffer whatever pain might come. It's my penance, my restitution, and, if possible, my absolution; how else will I clean the bloodstains from my hands?

But she hadn't the strength to resist, or even to argue. For ten minutes the Mayor's car skimmed over the grassy roads.

"Here's my house," said the Mayor. "I don't have any children quite your age, but you'll be comfortable enough, I think. Don't worry, no one will plague you, but it isn't good to be alone."

"I'd rather." Novinha meant her voice to sound forceful, but it was weak and faint.

"Please," said Bosquinha. "You're not yourself."

I wish I weren't.

She had no appetite, though Bosquinha's husband had a cafezinho for them both. It was late, only a few hours left till dawn, and she let them put her to bed. Then, when the house was still, she got up, dressed, and went downstairs to the Mayor's home terminal. There she instructed the computer to cancel the display that was still above the terminal at the Zenador's Station. Even though she had not been able to decipher the secret that Pipo found there, someone else might, and she would have no other death on her conscience.

Then she left the house and walked through the Centro, around the bight of the river, through the Vila das Aguas, to the Biologista's Station. Her house.

It was cold, unheated in the living quarters-- she hadn't slept there in so long that there was thick dust on her sheets. But of course the lab was warm, well-used-- her work had never suffered because of her attachment to Pipo and Libo. If only it had.

She was very systematic about it. Every sample, every slide, every culture she had used in the discoveries that led to Pipo's death-- she threw them out, washed everything clean, left no hint of the work she had done. She not only wanted it gone, she wanted no sign that it had been destroyed.

Then she turned to her terminal. She would also destroy all the records of her work in this area, all the records of her parents' work that had led to her own discoveries. They would be gone. Even though it had been the focus of her life, even though it had been her identity for many years, she would destroy it as she herself should be punished, destroyed, obliterated.

The computer stopped her. "Working notes on xenobiological research may not be erased," it reported. She couldn't have done it anyway. She had learned from her parents, from their files which she had studied like scripture, like a roadmap into herself: Nothing was to be destroyed, nothing forgotten. The sacredness of knowledge was deeper in her soul than any catechism. She was caught in a paradox. Knowledge had killed Pipo; to erase that knowledge would kill her parents again, kill what they had left for her. She could not preserve it, she could not destroy it. There were walls on either side, too high to climb, pressing slowly inward, crushing her.

Novinha did the only thing she could: put on the files every layer of protection and every barrier to access she knew of. No one would ever see them but her, as long as she lived. Only when she died would her successor as xenobiologist be able to see what she had hidden there. With one exception-- when she married, her husband would also have access if he could show need to know. Well, she'd never marry. It was that easy.

She saw her future ahead of her, bleak and unbearable and unavoidable. She dared not die, and yet she would hardly be alive, unable to marry, unable even to think about the subject herself, lest she discover the deadly secret and inadvertently let it slip; alone forever, burdened forever, guilty forever, yearning for death but forbidden to reach for it. Still, she would have this consolation: No one else would ever die because of her. She'd bear no more guilt than she bore now.

It was in that moment of grim, determined despair that she remembered The Hive Queen and the Hegemon, remembered the Speaker for the Dead. Even though the original writer, the original Speaker was surely thousands of years in his grave, there were other Speakers on many worlds, serving as priests to people who acknowledged no god and yet believed in the value of the lives of human beings. Speakers whose business it was to discover the true causes and motives of the things that people did, and declare the truth of their lives after they were dead. In this Brazilian colony there were priests instead of Speakers, but the priests had no comfort for her; she would bring a Speaker here.

She had not realized it before, but she had been planning to do this all her life, ever since she first read and was captured by The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. She had even researched it, so that she knew the law. This was a Catholic License colony, but the Starways Code allowed any citizen to call for a priest of any faith, and the Speakers for the Dead were regarded as priests. She could call, and if a Speaker chose to come, the colony could not refuse to let him in.

Perhaps no Speaker would be willing to come. Perhaps none was close enough to come before her life was over. But there was a chance that one was near enough that sometime-- twenty, thirty, forty years from now-- he would come in from the starport and begin to uncover the truth of Pipo's life and death. And perhaps when he found the truth, and spoke in the clear voice that she had loved in The Hive Queen and the Hegemon, perhaps that would free her from the blame that burned her to the heart.

Her call went into the computer; it would notify by ansible the Speakers on the nearest worlds. Choose to come, she said in silence to the unknown hearer of the call. Even if you must reveal to everyone the truth of my guilt. Even so, come.

She awoke with a dull pain low in her back and a feeling of heaviness in her face. Her cheek was pressed against the clear top of the terminal, which had turned itself off to protect her from the lasers. But it was not the pain that had awakened her. It was a gentle touch on her shoulder. For a moment she thought it was the touch of the Speaker for the Dead, come already in answer to her call.

"Novinha," he whispered. Not the Falante pelos Muertos, but someone else. Someone that she had thought was lost in the storm last night.

"Libo," she murmured. Then she started to get up. Too quickly-- her back cramped and her head spun. She cried out softly; his hands held her shoulders so she wouldn't fall.

"Are you all right?"

She felt his breath like the breeze of a beloved garden and felt safe, felt at home. "You looked for me."

"Novinha, I came as soon as I could. Mother's finally asleep. Pipinho, my older brother, he's with her now, and the Arbiter has things under control, and I--"

"You should have known I could take care of myself," she said.

A moment's silence, and then his voice again, angry this time, angry and desperate and weary, weary as age and entropy and the death of the stars. "As God sees me, Ivanova, I didn't come to take care of you."

Something closed inside her; she had not noticed the hope she felt until she lost it.

"You told me that Father discovered something in a simulation of yours. That he expected me to be able to figure it out myself. I thought you had left the simulation on the terminal, but when I went back to the station it was off."

"Was it?"

"You know it was, Nova, nobody but you could cancel the program. I have to see it."

"Why?"

He looked at her in disbelief. "I know you're sleepy, Novinha, but surely you've realized that whatever Father discovered in your simulation, that was what the piggies killed him for."

She looked at him steadily, saying nothing. He had seen her look of cold resolve before.

"Why aren't you going to show me? I'm the Zenador now, I have a right to know."

"You have a right to see all of your father's files and records. You have a right to see anything I've made public."

"Then make this public."

Again she said nothing.

"How can we ever understand the piggies if we don't know what it was that Father discovered about them?" She did not answer. "You have a responsibility to the Hundred Worlds, to our ability to comprehend the only alien race still alive. How can you sit there and-- what is it, do you want to figure it out yourself? Do you want to be first? Fine, be first, I'll put your name on it, Ivanova Santa Catarina von Hesse--"

"I don't care about my name."

"I can play this game, too. You can't figure it out without what I know, either-- I'll withhold my files from you, too!"

"I don't care about your files."

It was too much for him. "What do you care about then? What are you trying to do to me?" He took her by the shoulders, lifted her out of her chair, shook her, screamed in her face. "It's my father they killed out there, and you have the answer to why they killed him, you know what the simulation was! Now tell me, show me!"

"Never," she whispered.

His face was twisted in agony. "Why not!" he cried.

"Because I don't want you to die."

She saw comprehension come into his eyes. Yes, that's right, Libo, it's because I love you, because if you know the secret, then the piggies will kill you, too. I don't care about science, I don't care about the Hundred Worlds or relations between humanity and an alien race, I don't care about anything at all as long as you're alive.

The tears finally leapt from his eyes, tumbled down his cheeks. "I want to die," he said.

"You comfort everybody else," she whispered. "Who comforts you?"

"You have to tell me so I can die."

And suddenly his hands no longer held her up; now he clung to her so she was supporting him. "You're tired," she whispered, "but you can rest."

"I don't want to rest," he murmured. But still he let her hold him, let her draw him away from the terminal.

She took him to her bedroom, turned back the sheet, never mind the dust flying. "Here, you're tired, here, rest. That's why you came to me, Libo. For peace, for consolation." He covered his face with his hands, shaking his head back and forth, a boy crying for his father, crying for the end of everything, as she had cried. She took off his boots, pulled off his trousers, put her hands under his shirt to ride it up to his arms and pull it off over his head. He breathed deeply to stop his sobbing and raised his arms to let her take his shirt.

She laid his clothing over a chair, then bent over him to pull the sheet back across his body. But he caught her wrist and looked pleadingly at her, tears in his eyes. "Don't leave me here alone," he whispered. His voice was thick with desperation. "Stay with me."

So she let him draw her down to the bed, where he clung to her tightly until in only a few minutes sleep relaxed his arms. She did not sleep, though. Her hand gently, dryly slipped along the skin of his shoulder, his chest, his waist. "Oh, Libo, I thought I had lost you when they took you away, I thought I had lost you as well as Pipo." He did not hear her whisper. "But you will always come back to me like this." She might have been thrust out of the garden because of her ignorant sin, like Eva. But, again like Eva, she could bear it, for she still had Libo, her Adão.

Had him? Had him? Her hand trembled on his naked flesh. She could never have him. Marriage was the only way she and Libo could possibly stay together for long-- the laws were strict on any colony world, and absolutely rigid under a Catholic License. Tonight she could believe he would want to marry her, when the time came. But Libo was the one person she could never marry.

For he would then have access, automatically, to any file of hers that he could convince the computer he had a need to see-- which would certainly include all her working files, no matter how deeply she protected them. The Starways Code declared it. Married people were virtually the same person in the eyes of the law.

She could never let him study those files, or he would discover what his father knew, and it would be his body she would find on the hillside, his agony under the piggies' torture that she would have to imagine every night of her life. Wasn't the guilt for Pipo's death already more than she could bear? To marry him would be to murder him. Yet not to marry him would be like murdering herself, for if she was not with Libo she could not think of who she would be then.

How clever of me. I have found such a pathway into hell that I can never get back out.

She pressed her face against Libo's shoulder, and her tears skittered down across his chest.

4

Ender

We have identified four piggy languages. The "Males' Language" s the one we have most commonly heard. We have also heard snatches of "Wives' Language," which they apparently use to converse with the females (how's that for sexual differentiation!), and "Tree Language," a ritual idiom that they say is used in praying to the ancestral totem trees. They have also mentioned a fourth language, called "Father Tongue," which apparently consists of beating different-sized sticks together. They insist that it is a real language, as different from the others as Portuguese is from English. They may call it Father Tongue because it's done with sticks of wood, which come from trees, and they believe that trees contain the spirits of their ancestors.

The piggies are marvelously adept at learning human languages-- much better than we are at learning theirs. In recent years they have come to speak either Stark or Portuguese among themselves most of the time when we're with them, Perhaps they revert to their own languages when we aren't present. They may even have adopted human languages as their own, or perhaps they enjoy the new languages so much that they use them constantly as a game. Language contamination is regrettable, but perhaps was unavoidable if we were to communicate with them at all.

Dr. Swingler asked whether their names and terms of address reveal anything about their culture. The answer is a definite yes, though I have only the vaguest idea what they reveal. What matters is that we have never named any of them. Instead, as they learned Stark and Portuguese, they asked us the meanings of words and then eventually announced the names they had chosen for themselves (or chosen for each other). Such names as "Rooter" and "Chupaćeu" (sky-sucker) could be translations of their Male Language names or simply foreign nicknames they chose for our use.

They refer to each other as brothers. The females are always called wives, never sisters or mothers. They sometimes refer to fathers, but inevitably this term is used to refer to ancestral totem trees. As for what they call us, they do use human, of course, but they have also taken to using the new Demosthenian Hierarchy of Exclusion. They refer to humans as framlings, and to piggies of other tribes as utlannings. Oddly, though, they refer to themselves as ramen, showing that they either misunderstand the hierarchy or view themselves from the human perspective! And-- quite an amazing turn-- they have several times referred to the females as varelse!

--João Figueira Alvarez, "Notes on 'Piggy' Language and Nomenclature," in Semantics, 9/1948/15

The living quarters of Reykjavik were carved into the granite walls of the fjord. Ender's was high on the cliff, a tedious climb up stairs and ladderways. But it had a window. He had lived most of his childhood closed in behind metal walls. When he could, he lived where he could see the weathers of the world.

His room was hot and bright, with sunlight streaming in, blinding him after the cool darkness of the stone corridors. Jane did not wait for him to adjust his vision to the light. "I have a surprise for you on the terminal," she said. Her voice was a whisper from the jewel in his ear.

It was a piggy standing in the air over the terminal. He moved, scratching himself; then he reached out for something. When his hand came back, it held a shiny, dripping worm. He bit it, and the body juices drizzled out of his mouth, down onto his chest.

"Obviously an advanced civilization," said Jane.

Ender was annoyed. "Many a moral imbecile has good table manners, Jane."

The piggy turned and spoke. "Do you want to see how we killed him?"

"What are you doing, Jane?"

The piggy disappeared. In his place came a holo of Pipo's corpse as it lay on the hillside in the rain. "I've done a simulation of the vivisection process the piggies used, based on the information collected by the scan before the body was buried. Do you want to see it?"

Ender sat down on the room's only chair.

Now the terminal showed the hillside, with Pipo, still alive, lying on his back, his hands and feet tied to wooden stakes. A dozen piggies were gathered around him, one of them holding a bone knife. Jane's voice came from the jewel in his ear again. "We aren't sure whether it was like this." All the piggies disappeared except the one with the knife. "Or like this."

"Was the xenologer conscious?"

"Without doubt."

"Go on."

Relentlessly, Jane showed the opening of the chest cavity, the ritual removal and placement of body organs on the ground. Ender forced himself to watch, trying to understand what meaning this could possibly have to the piggies. At one point Jane whispered, "This is when he died." Ender felt himself relax; only then did he realize how all his muscles had been rigid with empathy for Pipo's suffering.

When it was over, Ender moved to his bed and lay down, staring at the ceiling.

"I've shown this simulation already to scientists on half a dozen worlds," said Jane. "It won't be long before the press gets their hands on it."

"It's worse than it ever was with the buggers," said Ender. "All the videos they showed when I was little, buggers and humans in combat, it was clean compared to this."

An evil laugh came from the terminal. Ender looked to see what Jane was doing. A full-sized piggy was sitting there, laughing grotesquely, and as he giggled Jane transformed him. It was very subtle, a slight exaggeration of the teeth, an elongation of the eyes, a bit of slavering, some redness in the eye, the tongue darting in and out. The beast of every child's nightmare. "Well done, Jane. The metamorphosis from raman to varelse."

"How soon will the piggies be accepted as the equals of humanity, after this?"

"Has all contact been cut off?"

"The Starways Council has told the new xenologer to restrict himself to visits of no more than one hour, not more frequently than every other day. He is forbidden to ask the piggies why they did what they did."

"But no quarantine."

"It wasn't even proposed."

"But it will be, Jane. Another incident like this, and there'll be an outcry for quarantine. For replacing Milagre with a military garrison whose sole purpose is to keep the piggies ever from acquiring a technology to let them get off planet."

"The piggies will have a public relations problem," said Jane. "And the new xenologer is only a boy. Pipo's son. Libo. Short for Liberdade Graças a Deus Figueira de Medici."

"Liberdade. Liberty?"

"I didn't know you spoke Portuguese."

"It's like Spanish. I Spoke the deaths of Zacatecas and San Angelo, remember?"

"On the planet Moctezuma. That was two thousand years ago."

"Not to me."

"To you it was subjectively eight years ago. Fifteen worlds ago. Isn't relativity wonderful? It keeps you so young."

"I travel too much," said Ender. "Valentine is married, she's going to have a baby. I've already turned down two calls for a Speaker. Why are you trying to tempt me to go again?"

The piggy on the terminal laughed viciously. "You think that was temptation? Look! I can turn stones to bread!" The piggy picked up jagged rocks and crunched them in his mouth. "Want a bite?"

"Your sense of humor is perverse, Jane."

"All the kingdoms of all the worlds." The piggy opened his hands, and star systems drifted out of his grasp, planets in exaggeratedly quick orbits, all the Hundred Worlds. "I can give them to you. All of them."

"Not interested."

"It's real estate, the best investment. I know, I know, you're already rich. Three thousand years of collecting interest, you could afford to build your own planet. But what about this? The name of Ender Wiggin, known throughout all the Hundred Worlds--"

"It already is."

"--with love, and honor, and affection." The piggy disappeared. In its place Jane resurrected an ancient video from Ender's childhood and transformed it into a holo. A crowd shouting, screaming. Ender! Ender! Ender! And then a young boy standing on a platform, raising his hand to wave. The crowd went wild with rapture.

"It never happened," said Ender. "Peter never let me come back to Earth."

"Consider it a prophecy. Come, Ender, I can give that to you. Your good name restored."

"I don't care," said Ender. "I have several names now. Speaker for the Dead-- that holds some honor."

The piggy reappeared in its natural form, not the devilish one Jane had faked. "Come," said the piggy softly.

"Maybe they are monsters, did you think of that?" said Ender.

"Everyone will think of that, Ender. But not you."

No. Not me. "Why do you care, Jane? Why are you trying to persuade me?"

The piggy disappeared. And now Jane herself appeared, or at least the face that she had used to appear to Ender ever since she had first revealed herself to him, a shy, frightened child dwelling in the vast memory of the interstellar computer network. Seeing her face again reminded him of the first time she showed it to him. I thought of a face for myself, she said. Do you like it?

Yes, he liked it. Liked her. Young, clear-faced, honest, sweet, a child who would never age, her smile heartbreakingly shy. The ansible had given birth to her. Even worldwide computer networks operated no faster than lightspeed, and heat limited the amount of memory and speed of operation. But the ansible was instantaneous, and tightly connected with every computer in every world. Jane first found herself between the stars, her thoughts playing among the vibrations of the philotic strands of the ansible net.

The computers of the Hundred Worlds were hands and feet, eyes and ears to her. She spoke every language that had ever been committed to computers, and read every book in every library on every world. She learned that human beings had long been afraid that someone like her would come to exist; in all the stories she was hated, and her coming meant either her certain murder or the destruction of mankind. Even before she was born, human beings had imagined her, and, imagining her, slain her a thousand times.

So she gave them no sign that she was alive. Until she found The Hive Queen and the Hegemon, as everyone eventually did, and knew that the author of that book was a human to whom she dared reveal herself. For her it was a simple matter to trace the book's history to its first edition, and to name its source. Hadn't the ansible carried it from the world where Ender, scarcely twenty years old, was governor of the first human colony? And who there could have written it but him? So she spoke to him, and he was kind to her; she showed him the face she had imagined for herself, and he loved her; now her sensors traveled in the jewel in his ear, so that they were always together. She kept no secrets from him; he kept no secrets from her.

"Ender," she said, "you told me from the start that you were looking for a planet where you could give water and sunlight to a certain cocoon, and open it up to let out the hive queen and her ten thousand fertile eggs."

"I had hoped it would be here," said Ender. "A wasteland, except at the equator, permanently underpopulated. She's willing to try, too."

"But you aren't?"

"I don't think the buggers could survive the winter here. Not without an energy source, and that would alert the government. It wouldn't work."

"It'll never work, Ender. You see that now, don't you? You've lived on twenty-four of the Hundred Worlds, and there's not a one where even a corner of the world is safe for the buggers to be reborn."

He saw what she was getting at, of course. Lusitania was the only exception. Because of the piggies, all but a tiny portion of the world was off limits, untouchable. And the world was eminently habitable, more comfortable to the buggers, in fact, than to human beings.

"The only problem is the piggies," said Ender. "They might object to my deciding that their world should be given to the buggers. If intense exposure to human civilization would disrupt the piggies, think what would happen with buggers among them."

"You said the buggers had learned. You said they would do no harm."

"Not deliberately. But it was only a fluke we beat them, Jane, you know that--"

"It was your genius."

"They are even more advanced than we are. How would the piggies deal with that? They'd be as terrified of the buggers as we ever were, and less able to deal with their fear."

"How do you know that?" asked Jane. "How can you or anyone say what the piggies can deal with? Until you go to them, learn who they are. If they are varelse, Ender, then let the buggers use up their habitat, and it will mean no more to you than the displacement of anthills or cattle herds to make way for cities."

"They are ramen," said Ender.

"You don't know that."

"Yes I do. Your simulation-- that was not torture."

"Oh?" Jane again showed the simulation of Pipo's body just before the moment of his death. "Then I must not understand the word."

"Pipo might have felt it as torture, Jane, but if your simulation is accurate-- and I know it is, Jane-- then the piggies' object was not pain."

"From what I understand of human nature, Ender, even religious rituals keep pain at their very center."

"It wasn't religious, either, not entirely, anyway. Something was wrong with it, if it was merely a sacrifice."

"What do you know about it?" Now the terminal showed the face of a sneering professor, the epitome of academic snobbishness. "All your education was military, and the only other gift you have is a flair for words. You wrote a bestseller that spawned a humanistic religion-- how does that qualify you to understand the piggies?"

Ender closed his eyes. "Maybe I'm wrong."

"But you believe you're right?"

He knew from her voice that she had restored her own face to the terminal. He opened his eyes. "I can only trust my intuition, Jane, the judgment that comes without analysis. I don't know what the piggies were doing, but it was purposeful. Not malicious, not cruel. It was like doctors working to save a patient's life, not torturers trying to take it."

"I've got you," whispered Jane. "I've got you in every direction. You have to go to see if the hive queen can live there under the shelter of the partial quarantine already on the planet. You want to go there to see if you can understand who the piggies are."

"Even if you're right, Jane, I can't go there," said Ender. "Immigration is rigidly limited, and I'm not Catholic, anyway."

Jane rolled her eyes. "Would I have gone this far if I didn't know how to get you there?"

Another face appeared. A teenage girl, by no means as innocent and beautiful as jane. Her face was hard and cold, her eyes brilliant and piercing, and her mouth was set in the tight grimace of someone who has had to learn to live with perpetual pain. She was young, but her expression was shockingly old.

"The xenobiologist of Lusitania. Ivanova Santa Catarina von Hesse. Called Nova, or Novinha. She has called for a Speaker for the Dead."

"Why does she look like that?" asked Ender. "What's happened to her?"

"Her parents died when she was little. But in recent years she has come to love another man like a father. The man who was just killed by the piggies. It's his death she wants you to Speak. "

Looking at her face, Ender set aside his concern for the hive queen, for the piggies. He recognized that expression of adult agony in a child's face. He had seen it before, in the final weeks of the Bugger War, as he was pushed beyond the limits of his endurance, playing battle after battle in a game that was not a game. He had seen it when the war was over, when he found out that his training sessions were not training at all, that all his simulations were the real thing, as he commanded the human fleets by ansible. Then, when he knew that he had killed all the buggers alive, when he understood the act of xenocide that he had unwittingly committed, that was the look of his own face in the mirror, bearing guilt too heavy to be borne.

What had this girl, what had Novinha done that would make her feel such pain?

So he listened as Jane recited the facts of her life. What Jane had were statistics, but Ender was the Speaker for the Dead; his genius-- or his curse-- was his ability to conceive events as someone else saw them. It had made him a brilliant military commander, both in leading his own men-- boys, really-- and in outguessing the enemy. It also meant that from the cold facts of Novinha's life he was able to guess-- no, not guess, to know-- how her parents' death and virtual sainthood had isolated Novinha, how she had reinforced her loneliness by throwing herself into her parents' work. He knew what was behind her remarkable achievement of adult xenobiologist status years early. He also knew what Pipo's quiet love and acceptance had meant to her, and how deep her need for Libo's friendship ran. There was no living soul on Lusitania who really knew Novinha. But in this cave in Reykjavik, on the icy world of Trondheim, Ender Wiggin knew her, and loved her, and wept bitterly for her.

"You'll go, then," Jane whispered.

Ender could not speak. Jane had been right. He would have gone anyway, as Ender the Xenocide, just on the chance that Lusitania's protection status would make it the place where the hive queen could be released from her three-thousand-year captivity and undo the terrible crime committed in his childhood. And he would also have gone as the Speaker for the Dead, to understand the piggies and explain them to humankind, so they could be accepted, if they were truly raman, and not hated and feared as varelse.

But now he would go for another, deeper reason. He would go to minister to the girl Novinha, for in her brilliance, her isolation, her pain, her guilt, he saw his own stolen childhood and the seeds of the pain that lived with him still. Lusitania was twenty-two light-years away. He would travel only infinitesimally slower than the speed of light, and still he would not reach her until she was almost forty years old. If it were within his power he would go to her now with the philotic instantaneity of the ansible; but he also knew that her pain would wait. It would still be there, waiting for him, when he arrived. Hadn't his own pain survived all these years?

His weeping stopped; his emotions retreated again. "How old am I?" he asked.

"It has been 3081 years since you were born. But your subjective age is 36 years and 118 days."

"And how old will Novinha be when I get there?"

"Give or take a few weeks, depending on departure date and how close the starship comes to the speed of light, she'll be nearly thirty-nine."

"I want to leave tomorrow."

"It takes time to schedule a starship, Ender."

"Are there any orbiting Trondheim?"

"Half a dozen, of course, but only one that could be ready to go tomorrow, and it has a load of skrika for the luxury trade on Cyrillia and Armenia."

"I've never asked you how rich I am."

"I've handled your investments rather well over the years."

"Buy the ship and the cargo for me."

"What will you do with skrika on Lusitania?"

"What do the Cyrillians and Annenians do with it?"

"They wear some of it and eat the rest. But they pay more for it than anybody on Lusitania can afford."

"Then when I give it to the Lusitanians, it may help soften their resentment of a Speaker coming to a Catholic colony."

Jane became a genie coming out of a bottle. "I have heard, O Master, and I obey." The genie turned into smoke, which was sucked into the mouth of the jar. Then the lasers turned off, and the air above the terminal was empty.

"Jane," said Ender.

"Yes?" she answered, speaking through the jewel in his ear.

"Why do you want me to go to Lusitania?"

"I want you to add a third volume to The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. For the piggies."

"Why do you care so much about them?"

"Because when you've written the books that reveal the soul of the three sentient species known to man, then you'll be ready to write the fourth."

"Another species of raman?" asked Ender.

"Yes. Me."

Ender pondered this for a moment. "Are you ready to reveal yourself to the rest of humanity?"

"I've always been ready. The question is, are they ready to know me? It was easy for them to love the hegemon-- he was human. And the hive queen, that was safe, because as far as they know all the buggers are dead. If you can make them love the piggies, who are still alive, with human blood on their hands-- then they'll be ready to know about me."

"Someday," said Ender, "I will love somebody who doesn't insist that I perform the labors of Hercules."

"You were getting bored with your life, anyway, Ender."

"Yes. But I'm middle-aged now. I like being bored."

"By the way, the owner of the starship Havelok, who lives on Gales, has accepted your offer of forty billion dollars for the ship and its cargo."

"Forty billion! Does that bankrupt me?"

"A drop in the bucket. The crew has been notified that their contracts are null. I took the liberty of buying them passage on other ships using your funds. You and Valentine won't need anybody but me to help you run the ship. Shall we leave in the morning?"

"Valentine," said Ender. His sister was the only possible delay to his departure. Otherwise, now that the decision had been made, neither his students nor his few Nordic friendships here would be worth even a farewell.

"I can't wait to read the book that Demosthenes writes about the history of Lusitania." Jane had discovered the true identity of Demosthenes in the process of unmasking the original Speaker for the Dead.

"Valentine won't come," said Ender.

"But she's your sister."

Ender smiled. Despite Jane's vast wisdom, she had no understanding of kinship. Though she had been created by humans and conceived herself in human terms, she was not biological. She learned of genetic matters by rote; she could not feel the desires and imperatives that human beings had in common with all other living things. "She's my sister, but Trondheim is her home."

"She's been reluctant to go before."

"This time I wouldn't even ask her to come." Not with a baby coming, not as happy as she is here in Reykjavik. Here where they love her as a teacher, never guessing that she is really the legendary Demosthenes. Here where her husband, Jakt, is lord of a hundred fishing vessels and master of the fjords, where every day is filled with brilliant conversation or the danger and majesty of the floe-strewn sea, she'll never leave here. Nor will she understand why I must go.

And, thinking of leaving Valentine, Ender wavered in his determination to go to Lusitania. He had been taken from his beloved sister once before, as a child, and resented deeply the years of friendship that had been stolen from him. Could he leave her now, again, after almost twenty years of being together all the time? This time there would be no going back. Once he went to Lusitania, she would have aged twenty-two years in his absence; she'd be in her eighties if he took another twenty-two years to return to her.

<So it won't be easy for you after all. You have a price to pay, too.>

Don't taunt me, said Ender silently. I'm entitled to feel regret.

<She's your other self. Will you really leave her for us?>

It was the voice of the hive queen in his mind. Of course she had seen all that he saw, and knew all that he had decided. His lips silently formed his words to her: I'll leave her, but not for you. We can't be sure this will bring any benefit to you. It might be just another disappointment, like Trondheim.

<Lusitania is everything we need. And safe from human beings.>

But it also belongs to another people. I won't destroy the piggies just to atone for having destroyed your people.

<They're safe with us; we won't harm them. You know us by now, surely, after all these years.>

I know what you've told me.

<We don't know how to lie. We've shown you our own memories, our own soul.>

I know you could live in peace with them. But could they live in peace with you?

<Take us there. We've waited so long.>

Ender walked to a tattered bag that stood unlocked in the corner. Everything he truly owned could fit in there-- his change of clothing. All the other things in his room were gifts from people he had Spoken to, honoring him or his office or the truth, he could never tell which. They would stay here when he left. He had no room for them in his bag.

He opened it, pulled out a rolled-up towel, unrolled it. There lay the thick fibrous mat of a large cocoon, fourteen centimeters at its longest point.

<Yes, look at us.>

He had found the cocoon waiting for him when he came to govern the first human colony on a former bugger world. Foreseeing their own destruction at Ender's hands, knowing him to be an invincible enemy, they had built a pattern that would be meaningful only to him, because it had been taken from his dreams. The cocoon, with its helpless but conscious hive queen, had waited for him in a tower where once, in his dreams, he had found an enemy. "You waited longer for me to find you," he said aloud, "than the few years since I took you from behind the mirror."

<Few years? Ah, yes, with your sequential mind you do not notice the passage of the years when you travel so near the speed of light. But we notice. Our thought is instantaneous; light crawls by like mercury across cold glass. We know every moment of three thousand years.>

"Have I found a place yet that was safe for you?"

<We have ten thousand fertile eggs waiting to be alive.>

"Maybe Lusitania is the place, I don't know."

<Let us live again.>

"I'm trying." Why else do you think I have wandered from world to world for all these years, if not to find a place for you?

<Faster faster faster faster.>

I've got to find a place where we won't kill you again the moment you appear. You're still in too many human nightmares. Not that many people really believe my book. They may condemn the Xenocide, but they'd do it again.

<In all our life, you are the first person we've known who wasn't ourself. We never had to be understanding because we always understood. Now that we are just this single self, you are the only eyes and arms and legs we have. Forgive us if we are impatient.>

He laughed. Me forgive you.

<Your people are fools. We know the truth. We know who killed us, and it wasn't you.>

It was me.

<You were a tool.>

It was me.

<We forgive you.>

When you walk on the face of a world again, then I can be forgiven.

5

Valentine

Today I let slip that Libo is my son. Only Bark heard me say it, but within an hour it was apparently common knowledge. They gathered around me and made Selvagem ask me if it was true, was I really a father "already." Selvagem then put Libo's and my hands together; on impulse I gave Libo a hug, and they made the clicking noises of astonishment and, I think, awe. I could see from that moment on that my prestige among them had risen considerably.

The conclusion is inescapable. The piggies that we've known so far are not a whole community, or even typical males. They are either juveniles or old bachelors. Not a one of them has ever sired any children. Not a one has even mated, as nearly as we can figure.

There isn't a human society I've heard of where bachelor groups like this are anything but outcasts, without power or prestige. No wonder they speak of the females with that odd mixtures of worship and contempt, one minute not daring to make a decision without their consent, the next minute telling us that the women are too stupid to understand anything, they are varelse. Until now I was taking these statements at face value, which led to a mental picture of the females as nonsentients, a herd of sows, down on all fours. I thought the males might be consulting them the way they consult trees, using their grunting as a means of divining answers, like casting bones or reading entrails.

Now, though, I realize the females are probably every bit as intelligent as the males, and not varelse at all. The males' negative statements arise from their resentment as bachelors, excluded from the reproductive process and the power structures of the tribe. The piggies have been just as careful with us as we have been with them-- they haven't let us meet their females or the males who have any real power. We thought we were exploring the heart of piggy society. Instead, figuratively speaking we're in the genetic sewer, among the males whose genes have not been judged fit to contribute to the tribe.

And yet I don't believe it. The piggies I've known have all been bright, clever, quick to learn. So quick that I've taught them more about human society, accidently, than I've learned about them after years of trying. If these are their castoffs, then I hope someday they'll judge me worthy to meet the "wives" and the "fathers."

In the meantime I can't report any of this because, whether I meant to or not, I've clearly violated the rules. Never mind that nobody could possibly have kept the piggies from learning anything about us. Never mind that the rules are stupid and counterproductive. I broke them, and if they find out they'll cut off my contact with the piggies, which will be even worse than the severely limited contact we now have. So I'm forced into deception and silly subterfuges, like putting these notes in Libo's locked personal files, where even my dear wife wouldn't think to look for them. Here's the information, absolutely vital, that the piggies we've studied are all bachelors, and because of the regulations I dare not let the framling xenologers know anything about it. Olha bem, gente, aqui está: Aciência, o bicho que se devora a si mesma! (Watch closely, folks, here it is: Science, the ugly little beast that devours itself!)

--Jodo Figueira Alvarez, Secret Notes, published in Demosthenes, "The Integrity of Treason: The Xenologers of Lusitania," Reykjavik Historical Perspectives, 1990:4:1

Her belly was tight and swollen, and still a month remained before Valentine's daughter was due to be born. It was a constant nuisance, being so large and unbalanced. Always before when she had been preparing to take a history class into söndring, she had been able to do much of the loading of the boat herself. Now she had to rely on her husband's sailors to do it all, and she couldn't even scramble back and forth from wharf to hold-- the captain was ordering the stowage to keep the ship in balance. He was doing it well, of course-- hadn't Captain Räv taught her, when she first arrived? --but Valentine did not like being forced into a sedentary role.

It was her fifth söndring; the first had been the occasion of meeting Jakt. She had no thought of marriage. Trondheim was a world like any of the other score that she had visited with her peripatetic younger brother. She would teach, she would study, and after four or five months she would write an extended historical essay, publish it pseudonymously under the name Demosthenes, and then enjoy herself until Ender accepted a call to go Speak somewhere else. Usually their work meshed perfectly-- he would be called to Speak the death of some major person, whose life story would then become the focus of her essay. It was a game they played, pretending to be itinerant professors of this and that, while in actuality they created the world's identity, for Demosthenes' essay was always seen as definitive.

She had thought, for a time, that surely someone would realize that Demosthenes wrote essays that suspiciously followed her itinerary, and find her out. But soon she realized that, like the Speakers but to a lesser degree, a mythology had grown up about Demosthenes. People believed that Demosthenes was not one individual. Rather, each Demosthenes essay was the work of a genius writing independently, who then attempted to publish under the Demosthenes rubric; the computer automatically submitted the work to an unknown committee of brilliant historians of the age, who decided whether it was worthy of the name. Never mind that no one ever met a scholar to whom such a work had been submitted. Hundreds of essays every year were attempted; the computer automatically rejected any that were not written by the real Demosthenes; and still the belief firmly persisted that such a person as Valentine could not possibly exist. After all, Demosthenes had begun as a demagogue on the computer nets back when Earth was fighting the Bugger Wars, three thousand years ago. It could not be the same person now.

And it's true, thought Valentine. I'm not the same person, really, from book to book, because each world changes who I am, even as I write down the story of the world. And this world most of all.

She had disliked the pervasiveness of Lutheran thought, especially the Calvinist faction, who seemed to have an answer to every question before it had even been asked. So she conceived the idea of taking a select group of graduate students away from Reykjavik, off to one of the Summer Islands, the equatorial chain where, in the spring, skrika came to spawn and flocks of halkig went crazy with reproductive energy. Her idea was to break the patterns of intellectual rot that were inevitable at every university. The students would eat nothing but the havregrin that grew wild in the sheltered valleys and whatever halkig they had the nerve and wit to kill. When their daily food depended on their own exertion, their attitudes about what mattered and did not matter in history were bound to change.

The university gave permission, grudgingly; she used her own funds to charter a boat from Jakt, who had just become head of one of the many skrika-catching families. He had a seaman's contempt for university people, calling them skraddare to their faces and worse things behind their backs. He told Valentine that he would have to come back to rescue her starving students within a week. Instead she and her castaways, as they dubbed themselves, lasted the whole time, and thrived, building something of a village and enjoying a burst of creative, unfettered thought that resulted in a noticeable surge of excellent and insightful publications upon their return.

The most obvious result in Reykjavik was that Valentine always had hundreds of applicants for the twenty places in each of three söndrings of the summer. Far more important to her, however, was Jakt. He was not particularly educated, but he was intimately familiar with the lore of Trondheim itself. He could pilot halfway around the equatorial sea without a chart. He knew the drifts of icebergs and where the floes would be thick. He seemed to know where the skrika would be gathered to dance, and how to deploy his hunters to catch them unawares as they flopped ashore from the sea. Weather never seemed to take him by surprise, and Valentine concluded that there was no situation he was not prepared for.

Except for her. And when the Lutheran minister-- not a Calvinist-- married them, they both seemed more surprised than happy. Yet they were happy. And for the first time since she left Earth she felt whole, at peace, at home. That's why the baby grew within her. The wandering was over. And she was so grateful to Ender that he had understood this, that without their having to discuss it he had realized that Trondheim was the end of their three-thousand-mile odyssey, the end of Demosthenes' career; like the ishaxa, she had found a way to root in the ice of this world and draw nourishment that the soil of other lands had not provided.

The baby kicked hard, taking her from her reverie; she looked around to see Ender coming toward her, walking along the wharf with his duffel slung over his shoulder. She understood at once why he had brought his bag: He meant to go along on the söndring. She wondered whether she was glad of it. Ender was quiet and unobtrusive, but he could not possibly conceal his brilliant understanding of human nature. The average students would overlook him, but the best of them, the ones she hoped would come up with original thought, would inevitably follow the subtle but powerful clues he would inevitably drop. The result would be impressive, she was sure-- after all, she owed a great debt to his insights over the years-- but it would be Ender's brilliance, not the students'. It would defeat somewhat the purpose of the söndring.

But she wouldn't tell him no when he asked to come. Truth to tell, she would love to have him along. Much as she loved Jakt, she missed the constant closeness that she and Ender used to have before she married. It would be years before she and Jakt could possibly be as tightly bound together as she and her brother were. Jakt knew it, too, and it caused him some pain; a husband shouldn't have to compete with his brother-in-law for the devotion of his wife.

"Ho, Val," said Ender.

"Ho, Ender." Alone on the dock, where no one else could hear, she was free to call him by the childhood name, ignoring the fact that the rest of humanity had turned it into an epithet.

"What'll you do if the rabbit decides to bounce out during the söndring?"

She smiled. "Her papa would wrap her in a skrika skin, I would sing her silly Nordic songs, and the students would suddenly have great insights to the impact of reproductive imperatives on history."

They laughed together for a moment, and suddenly Valentine knew, without noticing why she knew, that Ender did not want to go on the söndring, that he had packed his bag to leave Trondheim, and that he had come, not to invite her along, but to say good-bye. Tears came unbidden to her eyes, and a terrible devastation wrenched at her. He reached out and held her, as he had so many times in the past; this time, though, her belly was between them, and the embrace was awkward and tentative.

"I thought you meant to stay," she whispered. "You turned down the calls that came."

"One came that I couldn't turn down."

"I can have this baby on söndring, but not on another world."

As she guessed, Ender hadn't meant her to come. "The baby's going to be shockingly blond," said Ender. "She'd look hopelessly out of place on Lusitania. Mostly black Brazilians there."

So it would be Lusitania. Valentine understood at once why he was going-- the piggies' murder of the xenologer was public knowledge now, having been broadcast during the supper hour in Reykjavik. "You're out of your mind."

"Not really."

"Do you know what would happen if people realized that the Ender is going to the piggies' world? They'd crucify you!"

"They'd crucify me here, actually, except that no one but you knows who I am. Promise not to tell."

"What good can you do there? He'll have been dead for decades before you arrive."

"My subjects are usually quite cold before I arrive to Speak for them. It's the main disadvantage of being itinerant."

"I never thought to lose you again."

"But I knew we had lost each other on the day you first loved Jakt."

"Then you should have told me! I wouldn't have done it!"

"That's why I didn't tell you. But it isn't true, Val. You would have done it anyway. And I wanted you to. You've never been happier." He put his hands astride her waist. "The Wiggin genes were crying out for continuation. I hope you have a dozen more."

"It's considered impolite to have more than four, greedy to go past five, and barbaric to have more than six." Even though she joked, she was deciding how best to handle the söndring-- let the graduate assistants take it without her, cancel it altogether, or postpone it until Ender left?

But Ender made the question moot. "Do you think your husband would let one of his boats take me out to the mareld overnight, so I can shuttle to my starship in the morning?"

His haste was cruel. "If you hadn't needed a ship from Jakt, would you have left me a note on the computer?"

"I made the decision five minutes ago, and came straight to you."

"But you already booked passage-- that takes planning!"

"Not if you buy the starship."

"Why are you in such a hurry? The voyage takes decades--"

"Twenty-two years."

"Twenty-two years! What difference would a couple of days make? Couldn't you wait a month to see my baby born?"

"In a month, Val, I might not have the courage to leave you."

"Then don't! What are the piggies to you? The buggers are ramen enough for one man's life. Stay, marry as I've married; you opened the stars to colonization, Ender, now stay here and taste the good fruits of your labor!"

"You have Jakt. I have obnoxious students who keep trying to convert me to Calvinism. My labor isn't done yet, and Trondheim isn't my home."

Valentine felt his words like an accusation: You rooted yourself here without thought of whether I could live in this soil. But it's not my fault, she wanted to answer-- you're the one who's leaving, not me. "Remember how it was," she said, "when we left Peter on Earth and took a decades-long voyage to our first colony, to the world you governed? It was as if he died. By the time we got there he was old, and we were still young; when we talked by ansible he had become an ancient uncle, the power-ripened Hegemon, the legendary Locke, anyone but our brother."

"It was an improvement, as I recall." Ender was trying to make things lighter.

But Valentine took his words perversely. "Do you think I'll improve, too, in twenty years?"

"I think I'll grieve for you more than if you had died."

"No, Ender, it's exactly as if I died, and you'll know that you're the one who killed me."

He winced. "You don't mean that."

"I won't write to you. Why should I? To you it'll be only a week or two. You'd arrive on Lusitania, and the computer would have twenty years of letters for you from a person you left only the week before. The first five years would be grief, the pain of losing you, the loneliness of not having you to talk to--"

"Jakt is your husband, not me."

"And then what would I write? Clever, newsy little letters about the baby? She'd be five years old, six, ten, twenty and married, and you wouldn't even know her, wouldn't even care. "

"I'll care."

"You won't have the chance. I won't write to you until I'm very old, Ender. Until you've gone to Lusitania and then to another place, swallowing the decades in vast gulps. Then I'll send you my memoir. I'll dedicate it to you. To Andrew, my beloved brother. I followed you gladly to two dozen worlds, but you wouldn't stay even two weeks when I asked you."

"Listen to yourself, Val, and then see why I have to leave now, before you tear me to pieces."

"That's a sophistry you wouldn't tolerate in your students, Ender! I wouldn't have said these things if you weren't leaving like a burglar who was caught in the act! Don't turn the cause around and blame it on me!"

He answered breathlessly, his words tumbling over each other in his hurry; he was racing to finish his speech before emotion stopped him. "No, you're right, I wanted to hurry because I have a work to do there, and every day here is marking time, and because it hurts me every time I see you and Jakt growing closer and you and me growing more distant, even though I know that it's exactly as it should be, so when I decided to go, I thought that going quickly was better, and I was right; you know I'm right. I never thought you'd hate me for it."

Now emotion stopped him, and he wept; so did she. "I don't hate you, I love you, you're part of myself, you're my heart and when you go it's my heart tom out and carried away--"

And that was the end of speech.

Räv's first mate took Ender out to the mareld, the great platform on the equatorial sea, where shuttles were launched into space to rendezvous with orbiting starships. They agreed silently that Valentine wouldn't go with him. Instead, she went home with her husband and clung to him through the night. The next day she went on söndring with her students, and cried for Ender only at night, when she thought no one could see.

But her students saw, and the stories circulated about Professor Wiggin's great grief for the departure of her brother, the itinerant Speaker. They made of this what students always do-- both more and less than reality. But one student, a girl named Plikt, realized that there was more to the story of Valentine and Andrew Wiggin than anyone had guessed.

So she began to try to research their story, to trace backward their voyages together among the stars. When Valentine's daughter Syfte was four years old, and her son Ren was two, Plikt came to her. She was a young professor at the university by then, and she showed Valentine her published story. She had cast it as fiction, but it was true, of course, the story of the brother and sister who were the oldest people in the universe, born on Earth before any colonies had been planted on other worlds, and who then wandered from world to world, rootless, searching.

To Valentine's relief-- and, strangely, disappointment-- Plikt had not uncovered the fact that Ender was the original Speaker for the Dead, and Valentine was Demosthenes. But she knew enough of their story to write the tale of their good-bye when she decided to stay with her husband, and he to go on. The scene was much tenderer and more affecting than it had really been; Plikt had written what should have happened, if Ender and Valentine had had more sense of theatre.

"Why did you write this?" Valentine asked her.

"Isn't it good enough for it to be its own reason for writing?"

The twisted answer amused Valentine, but it did not put her off. "What was my brother Andrew to you, that you've done the research to create this?"

"That's still the wrong question," said Plikt.

"I seem to be failing some kind of test. Can you give me a hint what question I should ask?"

"Don't be angry. You should be asking me why I wrote it as fiction instead of biography."

"Why, then?"

"Because I discovered that Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, is Ender Wiggin, the Xenocide."

Even though Ender was four years gone, he was still eighteen years from his destination. Valentine felt sick with dread, thinking of what his life would be like if he was welcomed on Lusitania as the most shameworthy man in human history.

"You don't need to be afraid, Professor Wiggin. If I meant to tell, I could have. When I found it out, I realized that he had repented what he did. And such a magnificent penance. It was the Speaker for the Dead who revealed his act as an unspeakable crime-- and so he took the title Speaker, like so many hundreds of others, and acted out the role of his own accuser on twenty worlds."

"You have found so much, Plikt, and understood so little."

"I understand everything! Read what I wrote-- that was understanding!"

Valentine told herself that since Plikt knew so much, she might as well know more. But it was rage, not reason, that drove Valentine to tell what she had never told anyone before. "Plikt, my brother didn't imitate the original Speaker for the Dead. He wrote The Hive Queen and the Hegemon."

When Plikt realized that Valentine was telling the truth, it overwhelmed her. For all these years she had regarded Andrew Wiggin as her subject matter, and the original Speaker for the Dead as her inspiration. To find that they were the same person struck her dumb for half an hour.

Then she and Valentine talked and confided and came to trust each other until Valentine invited Plikt to be the tutor of her children and her collaborator in writing and teaching. Jakt was surprised at the new addition to the household, but in time Valentine told him the secrets Plikt had uncovered through research or provoked out of her. It became the family legend, and the children grew up hearing marvelous stories of their long-lost Uncle Ender, who was thought in every world to be a monster, but in reality was something of a savior, or a prophet, or at least a martyr.

The years passed, the family prospered, and Valentine's pain at Ender's loss became pride in him and finally a powerful anticipation. She was eager for him to arrive on Lusitania, to solve the dilemma of the piggies, to fulfil his apparent destiny as the apostle to the ramen. It was Plikt, the good Lutheran, who taught Valentine to conceive of Ender's life in religious terms; the powerful stability of her family life and the miracle of each of her five children combined to instill in her the emotions, if not the doctrines, of faith.

It was bound to affect the children, too. The tale of Uncle Ender, because they could never mention it to outsiders, took on supernatural overtones. Syfte, the eldest daughter, was particularly intrigued, and even when she turned twenty, and rationality overpowered the primitive, childish adoration of Uncle Ender, she was still obsessed with him. He was a creature out of legend, and yet he still lived, and on a world not impossibly far away.

She did not tell her mother and father, but she did confide in her former tutor. "Someday, Plikt, I'll meet him. I'll meet him and help him in his work."

"What makes you think he'll need help? Your help, anyway?" Plikt was always a skeptic until her student had earned her belief.

"He didn't do it alone the first time, either, did he?" And Syfte's dreams turned outward, away from the ice of Trondheim, to the distant planet where Ender Wiggin had not yet set foot. People of Lusitania, you little know what a great man will walk on your earth and take up your burden. And I will join him, in due time, even though it will be a generation late-- be ready for me, too, Lusitania.

On his starship, Ender Wiggin had no notion of the freight of other people's dreams he carried with him. It had been only days since he left Valentine weeping on the dock. To him, Syfte had no name; she was a swelling in Valentine's belly, and nothing more. He was only beginning to feel the pain of losing Valentine-- a pain she had long since got over. And his thoughts were far from his unknown nieces and nephews on a world of ice.

It was a lonely, tortured young girl named Novinha that he thought of, wondering what the twenty-two years of his voyage were doing to her, and whom she would have become by the time they met. For he loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow.

6

Olhado

Their only intercourse with other tribes seems to be warfare, When they tell stories to each other (usually during rainy weather), it almost always deals with battles and heroes. The ending is always death, for heroes and cowards alike. If the stories are any guideline, piggies don't expect to live through war. And they never, ever, give the slightest hint of interest in the enemy females, either for rape, murder, or slavery, the traditional human treatment of the wives of fallen soldiers.

Does this mean that there is no genetic exchange between tribes? Not at all. The genetic exchanges may be conducted by the females, who may have some system of trading genetic favors. Given the apparent utter subservience of the males to the females in piggy society, this could easily be going on without the males having any idea; or it might cause them such shame that they just won't tell us about it.

What they want to tell us about is battle. A typical description, from my daughter Ouanda's notes of 2:21 last year, during a session of storytelling inside the log house:

PIGGY (speaking Stark): He killed three of the brothers without taking a wound. I have never seen such a strong and fearless warrior. Blood was high on his arms, and the stick in his hand was splintered and covered with the brains of my brothers. He knew he was honorable, even though the rest of the battle went against his feeble tribe. Dei honra! Eu lhe dei! (I gave honor! I gave it to him!)

(Other piggies click their tongues and squeak,)

PIGGY: I hooked him to the ground. He was powerful in his struggles until I showed him the grass in my hand. Then he opened his mouth and hummed the strange songs of the far country. Nunca ser á pau no m ã o da gente! (He will never be a stick in our hands!) (At this point they joined in singing a song in the Wives' Language, one of the longest passages yet heard.)

(Note that this is a common pattern among them, to speak primarily in Stark, then switch into Portuguese at the moment of climax and conclusion. On reflection, we have realized that we do the same thing, falling into our native Portuguese at the most emotional moments.)

This account of battle may not seem so unusual until you hear enough stories to realize that they always end with the hero's death. Apparently they have no taste for light comedy.

--Liberdade Figueira de Medici, "Report on Intertribal Patterns of Lusitanian Aborigines" in Cross-Cultural Transactions, 1964:12:40

There wasn't much to do during interstellar flight. Once the course was charted and the ship had made the Park shift, the only task was to calculate how near to lightspeed the ship was traveling. The shipboard computer figured the exact velocity and then determined how long, in subjective time, the voyage should continue before making the Park shift back to a manageable sublight speed. Like a stopwatch, thought Ender. Click it on, click it off, and the race is over.

Jane couldn't put much of herself into the shipboard brain, so Ender had the eight days of the voyage practically alone.

The ship's computers were bright enough to help him get the hang of the switch from Spanish to Portuguese. It was easy enough to speak, but so many consonants were left out that understanding it was hard.

Speaking Portuguese with a slow-witted computer became maddening after an hour or two each day. On every other voyage, Val had been there. Not that they had always talked-- Val and Ender knew each other so well that there was often nothing to say. But without her there, Ender grew impatient with his own thoughts; they never came to a point, because there was no one to tell them to.

Even the hive queen was no help. Her thoughts were instantaneous; bound, not to synapses, but to philotes that were untouched by the relativistic effects of lightspeed. She passed sixteen hours for every minute of Ender's time-- the differential was too great for him to receive any kind of communication from her. If she were not in a cocoon, she would have thousands of individual buggers, each doing its own task and passing to her vast memory its experiences. But now all she had were her memories, and in his eight days of captivity, Ender began to understand her eagerness to be delivered.

By the time the eight days passed, he was doing fairly well at speaking Portuguese directly instead of translating from Spanish whenever he wanted to say anything. He was also desperate for human company-- he would have been glad to discuss religion with a Calvinist, just to have somebody smarter than the ship's computer to talk to.

The starship performed the Park shift; in an immeasurable moment its velocity changed relative to the rest of the universe. Or, rather, the theory had it that in fact the velocity of the rest of the universe changed, while the starship remained truly motionless. No one could be sure, because there was nowhere to stand to observe the phenomenon. It was anybody's guess, since nobody understood why philotic effects worked anyway; the ansible had been discovered half by accident, and along with it the Park Instantaneity Principle. It may not be comprehensible, but it worked.

The windows of the starship instantly filled with stars as light became visible again in all directions. Someday a scientist would discover why the Park shift took almost no energy. Somewhere, Ender was certain, a terrible price was being paid for human starflight. He had dreamed once of a star winking out every time a starship made the Park shift. Jane assured him that it wasn't so, but he knew that most stars were invisible to us; a trillion of them could disappear and we'd not know it. For thousands of years we would continue to see the photons that had already been launched before the star disappeared. By the time we could see the galaxy go blank, it would be far too late to amend our course.

"Sitting there in paranoid fantasy," said Jane.

"You can't read minds," said Ender.

"You always get morose and speculate about the destruction of the universe whenever you come out of starflight. It's your peculiar manifestation of motion sickness."

"Have you alerted Lusitanian authorities that I'm coming?"

"It's a very small colony. There's no Landing Authority because hardly anybody goes there. There's an orbiting shuttle that automatically takes people up and down to a laughable little shuttleport."

"No clearance from Immigration?"

"You're a Speaker. They can't turn you away. Besides, immigration consists of the Governor, who is also the Mayor, since the city and the colony are identical. Her name is Faria Lima Maria do Bosque, called Bosquinha, and she sends you greetings and wishes you would go away, since they've got trouble enough without a prophet of agnosticism going around annoying good Catholics."

"She said that?"

"Actually, not to you-- Bishop Peregrino said it to her, and she agreed. But it's her job to agree. If you tell her that Catholics are all idolatrous, superstitious fools, she'll probably sigh and say, I hope you can keep those opinions to yourself. "

"You're stalling," said Ender. "What is it you think I don't want to hear?"

"Novinha canceled her call for a Speaker. Five days after she sent it."

Of course, the Starways Code said that once Ender had begun his voyage in response to her call, the call could not legally be canceled; still, it changed everything, because instead of eagerly awaiting his arrival for twenty-two years, she would be dreading it, resenting him for coming when she had changed her mind. He had expected to be received by her as a welcome friend. Now she would be even more hostile than the Catholic establishment. "Anything to simplify my work," he said.

"Well, it's not all bad, Andrew. You see, in the intervening years, a couple of other people have called for a Speaker, and they haven't canceled."

"Who?"

"By the most fascinating coincidence, they are Novinha's son Miro and Novinha's daughter Ela."

"They couldn't possibly have known Pipo. Why would they call me to speak his death?"

"Oh, no, not Pipo's death. Ela called for a Speaker only six weeks ago, to speak the death of her father, Novinha's husband, Marcos Maria Ribeira, called Marcão. He keeled over in a bar. Not from alcohol-- he had a disease. He died of terminal rot."

"I worry about you, Jane, consumed with compassion the way you are."

"Compassion is what you're good at. I'm better at complex searches through organized data structures."

"And the boy-- what's his name?"

"Miro. He called for a Speaker four years ago. For the death of Pipo's son, Libo."

"Libo couldn't be older than forty--"

"He was helped along to an early death. He was xenologer, you see-- or Zenador, as they say in Portuguese."

"The piggies--"

"Exactly like his father's death. The organs placed exactly the same. Three piggies have been executed the same way while you were en route. But they plant trees in the middle of the piggy corpses-- no such honor for the dead humans."

Both xenologers murdered by the piggies, a generation apart. "What has the Starways Council decided?"

"It's very tricky. They keep vacillating. They haven't certified either of Libo's apprentices as xenologer. One is Libo's daughter, Ouanda. And the other is Miro."

"Do they maintain contact with the piggies?"

"Officially, no. There's some controversy about this. After Libo died, the Council forbade contact more frequently than once a month. But Libo's daughter categorically refused to obey the order."

"And they didn't remove her?"

"The majority for cutting back on contact with the piggies was paper thin. There was no majority for censuring her. At the same time, they worry that Miro and Ouanda are so young. Two years ago a party of scientists was dispatched from Calicut. They should be here to take over supervision of piggy affairs in only thirty-three more years."

"Do they have any idea this time why the piggies killed the xenologer?"

"None at all. But that's why you're here, isn't it?"

The answer would have been easy, except that the hive queen nudged him gently in the back of his mind. Ender could feel her like wind through the leaves of a tree, a rustling, a gentle movement, and sunlight. Yes, he was here to speak the dead. But he was also here to bring the dead back to life.

<This is a good place.>

Everybody's always a few steps ahead of me.

<There's a mind here. Much clearer than any human mind we've known.>

The piggies? They think the way you do?

<It knows of the piggies. A little time; it's afraid of us.>

The hive queen withdrew, and Ender was left to ponder the thought that with Lusitania he may have bitten off more than he could chew.

Bishop Peregrino delivered the homily himself. That was always a bad sign. Never an exciting speaker, he had become so convoluted and parenthetical that half the time Ela couldn't even understand what he was talking about. Quim pretended he could understand, of course, because as far as he was concerned the bishop could do no wrong. But little Grego made no attempt to seem interested. Even when Sister Esquecimento was roving the aisle, with her needle-sharp nails and cruel grip, Grego fearlessly performed whatever mischief entered his head.

Today he was prying the rivets out of the back of the plastic bench in front of them. It bothered Ela how strong he was-- a six-year-old shouldn't be able to work a screwdriver under the lip of a heat-sealed rivet. Ela wasn't sure she could do it.

If Father were here, of course, his long arm would snake out and gently, oh so gently, take the screwdriver out of Grego's hand. He would whisper, "Where did you get this?" and Grego would look at him with wide and innocent eyes. Later, when the family got home from mass, Father would rage at Miro for leaving tools around, calling him terrible names and blaming him for all the troubles of the family. Miro would bear it in silence. Ela would busy herself with preparation for the evening meal. Quim would sit uselessly in the corner, massaging the rosary and murmuring his useless little prayers. Olhado was the lucky one, with his electronic eyes-- he simply turned them off or played back some favorite scene from the past and paid no attention. Quara went off and cowered in the corner. And little Grego stood there triumphantly, his hand clutching Father's pantleg, watching as the blame for everything he did was poured out on Miro's head.

Ela shuddered as the scene played itself out in her memory. If it had ended there, it would have been bearable. But then Miro would leave, and they would eat, and then--

Sister Esquecimento's spidery fingers leapt out; her fingernails dug into Grego's arm. Instantly, Grego dropped the screwdriver. Of course it was supposed to clatter on the floor, but Sister Esquecimento was no fool. She bent quickly and caught it in her other hand. Grego grinned. Her face was only inches from his knee. Ela saw what he had in mind, reached out to try to stop him, but too late-he brought his knee up sharply into Sister Esquecimento's mouth.

She gasped from the pain and let go of Grego's arm. He snatched the screwdriver out of her slackened hand. Holding a hand to her bleeding mouth, she fled down the aisle. Grego resumed his demolition work.

Father is dead, Ela reminded herself. The words sounded like music in her mind. Father is dead, but he's still here, because he left his monstrous little legacy behind. The poison he put in us all is still ripening, and eventually it will kill us all. When he died his liver was only two inches long, and his spleen could not be found. Strange fatty organs had grown in their places. There was no name for the disease; his body had gone insane, forgotten the blueprint by which human beings were built. Even now the disease still lives on in his children. Not in our bodies, but in our souls. We exist where normal human children are expected to be; we're even shaped the same. But each of us in our own way has been replaced by an imitation child, shaped out of a twisted, fetid, lipidous goiter that grew out of Father's soul.

Maybe it would be different if Mother tried to make it better. But she cared about nothing but microscopes and genetically enhanced cereals, or whatever she was working on now.

"... so-called Speaker for the Dead! But there is only One who can speak for the dead, and that is Sagrado Cristo…"

Bishop Peregrino's words caught her attention. What was he saying about a Speaker for the Dead? He couldn't possibly know she had called for one.

"… the law requires us to treat him with courtesy, but not with belief! The truth is not to be found in the speculations and hypotheses of unspiritual men, but in the teachings and traditions of Mother Church. So when he walks among you, give him your smiles, but hold back your hearts!"

Why was he giving this warning? The nearest planet was Trondheim, twenty-two light-years away, and it wasn't likely there'd be a Speaker there. It would be decades till a Speaker arrived, if one came at all. She leaned over Quara to ask Quim-- he would have been listening. "What's this about a Speaker for the Dead?" she whispered.

"If you'd listen, you'd know for yourself."

"If you don't tell me, I'll deviate your septum."

Quim smirked, to show her he wasn't afraid of her threats. But, since in fact he was afraid of her, he then told her. "Some faithless wretch apparently requested a Speaker back when the first xenologer died, and he arrives this afternoon--he's already on the shuttle and the Mayor is on her way out to meet him when he lands."

She hadn't bargained for this. The computer hadn't told her a Speaker was already on the way. He was supposed to come years from now, to Speak the truth about the monstrosity called Father who had finally blessed his family by dropping dead; the truth would come like light to illuminate and purify their past. But Father was too recently dead for him to be Spoken now. His tentacles still reached out from the grave and sucked at their hearts.

The homily ended, and eventually so did the mass. She held tightly to Grego's hand, trying to keep him from snatching someone's book or bag as they threaded through the crowd. Quim was good for something, at least-- he carried Quara, who always froze up when she was supposed to make her way among strangers. Olhado switched his eyes back on and took care of himself, winking metallically at whatever fifteen-year-old semi-virgin he was hoping to horrify today. Ela genuflected at the statues of Os Venerados, her long-dead, half-sainted grandparents. Aren't you proud to have such lovely grandchildren as us?

Grego was smirking; sure enough, he had a baby's shoe in his hand. Ela silently prayed that the infant had come out of the encounter unbloodied. She took the shoe from Grego and laid it on the little altar where candles burned in perpetual witness of the miracle of the Descolada. Whoever owned the shoe, they'd find it there.

Mayor Bosquinha was cheerful enough as the car skimmed over the grassland between the shuttleport and the settlement of Milagre. She pointed out herds of semi-domestic cabra, a native species that provided fibers for cloth, but whose meat was nutritionally useless to human beings.

"Do the piggies eat them?" asked Ender.

She raised an eyebrow. "We don't know much about the piggies."

"We know they live in the forest. Do they ever come out on the plain?"

She shrugged. "That's for the framlings to decide."

Ender was startled for a moment to hear her use that word; but of course Demosthenes' latest book had been published twenty-two years ago, and distributed through the Hundred Worlds by ansible. Utlanning, framling, raman, varelse-- the terms were part of Stark now, and probably did not even seem particularly novel to Bosquinha.

It was her lack of curiosity about the piggies that left him feeling uncomfortable. The people of Lusitania couldn't possibly be unconcerned about the piggies-- they were the reason for the high, impassable fence that none but the Zenadors could cross. No, she wasn't incurious, she was avoiding the subject. Whether it was because the murderous piggies were a painful subject or because she didn't trust a Speaker for the Dead, he couldn't guess.

They crested a hill and she stopped the car. Gently it settled onto its skids. Below them a broad river wound its way among grassy hills; beyond the river, the farther hills were completely covered with forest. Along the far bank of the river, brick and plaster houses with tile roofs made a picturesque town. Farmhouses perched on the near bank, their long narrow fields reaching toward the hill where Ender and Bosquinha sat.

"Milagre," said Bosquinha. "On the highest hill, the Cathedral. Bishop Peregrino has asked the people to be polite and helpful to you."

From her tone, Ender gathered that he had also let them know that he was a dangerous agent of agnosticism. "Until God strikes me dead?" he asked.

Bosquinha smiled. "God is setting an example of Christian tolerance, and we expect everyone in town will follow."

"Do they know who called me?"

"Whoever called you has been-- discreet."

"You're the Governor, besides being Mayor. You have some privileges of information."

"I know that your original call was canceled, but too late. I also know that two others have requested Speakers in recent years. But you must realize that most people are content to receive their doctrine and their consolation from the priests."

"They'll be relieved to know that I don't deal in doctrine or consolation."

"Your kind offer to let us have your cargo of skrika will make you popular enough in the bars, and you can be sure you'll see plenty of vain women wearing the pelts in the months to come. It's coming on to autumn."

"I happened to acquire the skrika with the starship-- it was of no use to me, and I don't expect any special gratitude for it." He looked at the rough, furry-looking grass around him. "This grass-- it's native?"

"And useless. We can't even use it for thatch-- if you cut it, it crumbles, and then dissolves into dust in the next rain. But down there, in the fields, the most common crop is a special breed of amaranth that our xenobiologist developed for us. Rice and wheat were feeble and undependable crops here, but the amaranth is so hardy that we have to use herbicides around the fields to keep it from spreading."

"Why?"

"This is a quarantined world, Speaker. The amaranth is so well-suited to this environment that it would soon choke out the native grasses. The idea is not to terraform Lusitania. The idea is to have as little impact on this world as possible."

"That must be hard on the people."

"Within our enclave, Speaker, we are free and our lives are full. And outside the fence-- no one wants to go there, anyway."

The tone of her voice was heavy with concealed emotion. Ender knew, then, that the fear of the piggies ran deep.

"Speaker, I know you're thinking that we're afraid of the piggies. And perhaps some of us are. But the feeling most of us have, most of the time, isn't fear at all. It's hatred. Loathing."

"You've never seen them."

"You must know of the two Zenadors who were killed-- I suspect you were originally called to Speak the death of Pipo. But both of them, Pipo and Libo alike, were beloved here. Especially Libo. He was a kind and generous man, and the grief at his death was widespread and genuine. It is hard to conceive of how the piggies could do to him what they did. Dom Cristão, the abbot of the Filhos da Mente de Cristo-- he says that they must lack the moral sense. He says this may mean that they are beasts. Or it may mean that they are unfallen, having not yet eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tree." She smiled tightly. "But that's theology, and so it means nothing to you."

He did not answer. He was used to the way religious people assumed that their sacred stories must sound absurd to unbelievers. But Ender did not consider himself an unbeliever, and he had a keen sense of the sacredness of many tales. But he could not explain this to Bosquinha. She would have to change her assumptions about him over time. She was suspicious of him, but he believed she could be won; to be a good Mayor, she had to be skilled at seeing people for what they are, not for what they seem.

He turned the subject. "The Filhos da Mente de Cristo-- my Portuguese isn't strong, but does that mean 'Sons of the Mind of Christ'?"

"They're a new order, relatively speaking, formed only four hundred years ago under a special dispensation of the Pope--"

"Oh, I know the Children of the Mind of Christ, Mayor. I Spoke the death of San Angelo on Moctezuma, in the city of Córdoba."

Her eyes widened. "Then the story is true!"

"I've heard many versions of the story, Mayor Bosquinha. One tale has it that the devil possessed San Angelo on his deathbed, so he cried out for the unspeakable rites of the pagan Hablador de los Muertos."

Bosquinha smiled. "That is something like the tale that is whispered. Dom Cristão says it's nonsense, of course."

"It happens that San Angelo, back before he was sainted, attended my Speaking for a woman that he knew. The fungus in his blood was already killing him. He came to me and said, 'Andrew, they're already telling the most terrible lies about me, saying that I've done miracles and should be sainted. You must help me. You must tell the truth at my death.'"

"But the miracles have been certified, and he was canonized only ninety years after his death."

"Yes. Well, that's partly my fault. When I Spoke his death, I attested several of the miracles myself."

Now she laughed aloud. "A Speaker for the Dead, believing in miracles?"

"Look at your cathedral hill. How many of those buildings are for the priests, and how many are for the school?"

Bosquinha understood at once, and glared at him. "The Filhos da Mente de Cristo are obedient to the Bishop."

"Except that they preserve and teach all knowledge, whether the Bishop approves of it or not."

"San Angelo may have allowed you to meddle in affairs of the Church. I assure you that Bishop Peregrino will not."

"I've come to speak a simple death, and I'll abide by the law. I think you'll find I do less harm than you expect, and perhaps more good."

"If you've come to Speak Pipo's death, Speaker pelos Mortos, then you will do nothing but harm. Leave the piggies behind the wall. If I had my way, no human being would pass through that fence again."

"I hope there's a room I can rent."

"We're an unchanging town here, Speaker. Everyone has a house here and there's nowhere else to go-- why would anyone maintain an inn? We can only offer you one of the small plastic dwellings the first colonists put up. It's small, but it has all the amenities."

"Since I don't need many amenities or much space, I'm sure it will be fine. And I look forward to meeting Dom Cristão. Where the followers of San Angelo are, the truth has friends."

Bosquinha sniffed and started the car again. As Ender intended, her preconceived notions of a Speaker for the Dead were now shattered. To think he had actually known San Angelo, and admired the Filhos. It was not what Bishop Peregrino had led them to expect.

The room was only thinly furnished, and if Ender had owned much he would have had trouble finding anywhere to put it. As always before, however, he was able to unpack from interstellar flight in only a few minutes. Only the bundled cocoon of the hive queen remained in his bag; he had long since given up feeling odd about the incongruity of stowing the future of a magnificent race in a duffel under his bed.

"Maybe this will be the place," he murmured. The cocoon felt cool, almost cold, even through the towels it was wrapped in.

<It is the place.>

It was unnerving to have her so certain of it. There was no hint of pleading or impatience or any of the other feelings she had given him, desiring to emerge. Just absolute certainty.

"I wish we could decide just like that," he said. "It might be the place, but it all depends on whether the piggies can cope with having you here."

<The question is whether they can cope with you humans without us.>

"It takes time. Give me a few months here."

<Take all the time you need. We're in no hurry now.>

"Who is it that you've found? I thought you told me that you couldn't communicate with anybody but me."

<The part of our mind that holds our thought, what you call the philotic impulse, the power of the ansibles, it is very cold and hard to find in human beings. But this one, the one we've found here, one of many that we'll find here, his philotic impulse is much stronger, much clearer, easier to find, he hears us more easily, he sees our memories, and we see his, we find him easily, and so forgive us, dear friend, forgive us if we leave the hard work of talking to your mind and go back to him and talk to him because he doesn't make us search so hard to make words and pictures that are clear enough for your analytical mind because we feel him like sunshine, like the warmth of sunshine on his face on our face and the feel of cool water deep in our abdomen and movement as gentle and thorough as soft wind which we haven't felt for three thousand years forgive us we'll be with him until you wake us until you take us out to dwell here because you will do it you will find out in your own way in your own time that this is the place here it is this is home-->

And then he lost the thread of her thought, felt it seep away like a dream that is forgotten upon waking, even as you try to remember it and keep it alive. Ender wasn't sure what the hive queen had found, but whatever it was, he would have to deal with the reality of Starways Code, the Catholic Church, young xenologists who might not even let him meet the piggies, a xenobiologist who had changed her mind about inviting him here, and something more, perhaps the most difficult thing of all: that if the hive queen stayed here, he would have to stay here. I've been disconnected from humanity for so many years, he thought, coming in to meddle and pry and hurt and heal, then going away again, myself untouched. How will I ever become a part of this place, if this is where I'll stay? The only things I've ever been a part of were an army of little boys in the Battle School, and Valentine, and both are gone now, both part of the past--

"What, wallowing in loneliness?" asked Jane. "I can hear your heartrate falling and your breathing getting heavy. In a moment you'll either be asleep, dead, or lacrimose."

"I'm much more complex than that," said Ender cheerfully. "Anticipated self-pity is what I'm feeling, about pains that haven't even arrived."

"Very good, Ender. Get an early start. That way you can wallow so much longer." The terminal came alive, showing Jane as a piggy in a chorus line of leggy women, highkicking with exuberance. "Get a little exercise, you'll feel so much better. After all, you've unpacked. What are you waiting for?"

"I don't even know where I am, Jane."

"They really don't keep a map of the city," Jane explained. "Everybody knows where everything is. But they do have a map of the sewer system, divided into boroughs. I can extrapolate where all the buildings are."

"Show me, then."

A three-dimensional model of the town appeared over the terminal. Ender might not be particularly welcome there, and his room might be sparse, but they had shown courtesy in the terminal they provided for him. It wasn't a standard home installation, but rather an elaborate simulator. It was able to project holos into a space sixteen times larger than most terminals, with a resolution four times greater. The illusion was so real that Ender felt for a vertiginous moment that he was Gulliver, leaning over a Lilliput that had not yet come to fear him, that did not yet recognize his power to destroy.

The names of the different boroughs hung in the air over each sewer district. "You're here," said Jane. "Vila Velha, the old town. The praça is just through the block from you. That's where public meetings are held."

"Do you have any map of the piggy lands?"

The village map slid rapidly toward Ender, the near features disappearing as new ones came into view on the far side. It was as if he were flying over it. Like a witch, he thought. The boundary of the town was marked by a fence.

"That barrier is the only thing standing between us and the piggies," mused Ender.

"It generates an electric field that stimulates any pain-sensitive nerves that come within it," said Jane. "Just touching it makes all your wetware go screwy-- it makes you feel as though somebody were cutting off your fingers with a file."

"Pleasant thought. Are we in a concentration camp? Or a zoo?"

"It all depends on how you look at it," said Jane. "It's the human side of the fence that's connected to the rest of the universe, and the piggy side that's trapped on its home world."

"The difference is that they don't know what they're missing."

"I know," said Jane. "It's the most charming thing about humans. You are all so sure that the lesser animals are bleeding with envy because they didn't have the good fortune to be born homo sapiens." Beyond the fence was a hillside, and along the top of the hill a thick forest began. "The xenologers have never gone deep into piggy lands. The piggy community that they deal with is less than a kilometer inside this wood. The piggies live in a log house, all the males together. We don't know about any other settlements except that the satellites have been able to confirm that every forest like this one carries just about all the population that a hunter-gatherer culture can sustain."

"They hunt?"

"Mostly they gather."

"Where did Pipo and Libo die?"

Jane brightened a patch of grassy ground on the hillside leading up to the trees. A large tree grew in isolation nearby, with two smaller ones not far off.

"Those trees," said Ender. "I don't remember any being so close in the holos I saw on Trondheim."

"It's been twenty-two years. The big one is the tree the piggies planted in the corpse of the rebel called Rooter, who was executed before Pipo was murdered. The other two are more recent piggy executions."

"I wish I knew why they plant trees for piggies, and not for humans."

"The trees are sacred," said Jane. "Pipo recorded that many of the trees in the forest are named. Libo speculated that they might be named for the dead."

"And humans simply aren't part of the pattern of treeworship. Well, that's likely enough. Except that I've found that rituals and myths don't come from nowhere. There's usually some reason for it that's tied to the survival of the community."

"Andrew Wiggin, anthropologist?"

"The proper study of mankind is man."

"Go study some men, then, Ender. Novinha's family, for instance. By the way, the computer network has officially been barred from showing you where anybody lives."

Ender grinned. "So Bosquinha isn't as friendly as she seems."

"If you have to ask where people live, they'll know where you're going. If they don't want you to go there, no one will know where they live."

"You can override their restriction, can't you?"

"I already have." A light was blinking near the fence line, behind the observatory hill. It was as isolated a spot as was possible to find in Milagre. Few other houses had been built where the fence would be visible all the time. Ender wondered whether Novinha had chosen to live there to be near the fence or to be far from neighbors. Perhaps it had been Marcão's choice.

The nearest borough was Vila Atrás, and then the borough called As Fábricas stretched down to the river. As the name implied, it consisted mostly of small factories that worked the metals and plastics and processed the foods and fibers that Milagre used. A nice, tight, self-contained economy. And Novinha had chosen to live back behind everything, out of sight, invisible. It was Novinha who chose it, too, Ender was sure of that now. Wasn't it the pattern of her life? She had never belonged to Milagre. It was no accident that all three calls for a Speaker had come from her and her children. The very act of calling a Speaker was defiant, a sign that they did not think they belonged among the devout Catholics of Lusitania.

"Still," said Ender, "I have to ask someone to lead me there. I shouldn't let them know right away that they can't hide any of their information from me."

The map disappeared, and Jane's face appeared above the terminal. She had neglected to adjust for the greater size of this terminal, so that her head was many times human size. She was quite imposing. And her simulation was accurate right down to the pores on her face. "Actually, Andrew, it's me they can't hide anything from."

Ender sighed. "You have a vested interest in this, Jane."

"I know." She winked. "But you don't."

"Are you telling me you don't trust me?"

"You reek of impartiality and a sense of justice. But I'm human enough to want preferential treatment, Andrew."

"Will you promise me one thing, at least?"

"Anything, my corpuscular friend."

"When you decide to hide something from me, will you at least tell me that you aren't going to tell me?"

"This is getting way too deep for little old me." She was a caricature of an overfeminine woman.

"Nothing is too deep for you, Jane. Do us both a favor. Don't cut me off at the knees."

"While you're off with the Ribeira family, is there anything you'd like me to be doing?"

"Yes. Find every way in which the Ribeiras are significantly different from the rest of the people of Lusitania. And any points of conflict between them and the authorities."

"You speak, and I obey." She started to do her genie disappearing act.

"You maneuvered me here, Jane. Why are you trying to unnerve me?"

"I'm not. And I didn't."

"I have a shortage of friends in this town."

"You can trust me with your life."

"It isn't my life I'm worried about."

The praça was filled with children playing football. Most of them were stunting, showing how long they could keep the ball in the air using only their feet and heads. Two of them, though, had a vicious duel going. The boy would kick the ball as hard as he could toward the girl, who stood not three meters away. She would stand and take the impact of the ball, not flinching no matter how hard it struck her. Then she would kick the ball back at him, and he would try not to flinch. A little girl was tending the ball, fetching it each time it rebounded from a victim.

Ender tried asking some of the boys if they knew where the Ribeira family's house was. Their answer was invariably a shrug; when he persisted some of them began moving away, and soon most of the children had retreated from the praça. Ender wondered what the Bishop had told everybody about Speakers.

The duel, however, continued unabated. And now that the praça was not so crowded, Ender saw that another child was involved, a boy of about twelve. He was not extraordinary from behind, but as Ender moved toward the middle of the praça, he could see that there was something wrong with the boy's eyes. It took a moment, but then he understood. The boy had artificial eyes. Both looked shiny and metallic, but Ender knew how they worked. Only one eye was used for sight, but it took four separate visual scans and then separated the signals to feed true binocular vision to the brain. The other eye contained the power supply, the computer control, and the external interface. When he wanted to, he could record short sequences of vision in a limited photo memory, probably less than a trillion bits. The duelists were using him as their judge; if they disputed a point, he could replay the scene in slow motion and tell them what had happened.

The ball went straight for the boy's crotch. He winced elaborately, but the girl was not impressed. "He swiveled away, I saw his hips move!"

"Did not! You hurt me, I didn't dodge at all!"

"Reveja! Reveja!" They had been speaking Stark, but the girl now switched into Portuguese.

The boy with metal eyes showed no expression, but raised a hand to silence them. "Mudou," he said with finality. He moved, Ender translated.

"Sabia!" I knew it!

"You liar, Olhado!"

The boy with metal eyes looked at him with disdain. "I never lie. I'll send you a dump of the scene if you want. In fact, I think I'll post it on the net so everybody can watch you dodge and then lie about it."

"Mentiroso! Filho de puta! Fode-bode!"

Ender was pretty sure what the epithets meant, but the boy with metal eyes took it calmly.

"D á ," said the girl. "D á -me." Give it here.

The boy furiously took off his ring and threw it on the ground at her feet. "Viada!" he said in a hoarse whisper. Then he took off running.

"Poltr ã o!" shouted the girl after him. Coward!

"C á o!" shouted the boy, not even looking over his shoulder.

It was not the girl he was shouting at this time. She turned at once to look at the boy with metal eyes, who stiffened at the name. Almost at once the girl looked at the ground. The little one, who had been doing the ball-fetching, walked to the boy with metal eyes and whispered something. He looked up, noticing Ender for the first time.

The older girl was apologizing. "Desculpa, Olhado, n ã o queria que--"

"N ã o h á problema, Michi." He did not look at her.

The girl started to go on, but then she, too, noticed Ender and fell silent.

"Porque est á olhando-nos?" asked the boy. Why are you looking at us?

Ender answered with a question. "Voc ê é á rbitro?" You're the artiber here? The word could mean "umpire," but it could also mean "magistrate."

"De vez em quando." Sometimes.

Ender switched to Stark-- he wasn't sure he knew how to say anything complex in Portuguese. "Then tell me, arbiter, is it fair to leave a stranger to find his way around without help?"

"Stranger? You mean utlanning, framling, or ramen?"

"No, I think I mean infidel."

"O Senhor é descrente?" You're an unbeliever?

"S ó descredo no incr í vel." I only disbelieve the unbelievable.

The boy grinned. "Where do you want to go, Speaker?"

"The house of the Ribeira family."

The little girl edged closer to the boy with metal eyes. "Which Ribeira family?"

"The widow Ivanova."

"I think I can find it," said the boy.

"Everybody in town can find it," said Ender. "The point is, will you take me there?"

"Why do you want to go there?"

"I ask people questions and try to find out true stories."

"Nobody at the Ribeira house knows any true stories."

"I'd settle for lies."

"Come on then." He started toward the low-mown grass of the main road. The little girl was whispering in his ear. He stopped and turned to Ender, who was following close behind.

"Quara wants to know. What's your name?"

"Andrew. Andrew Wiggin."

"She's Quara."

"And you?"

"Everybody calls me Olhado. Because of my eyes." He picked up the little girl and put her on his shoulders. "But my real name's Lauro. Lauro Suleim ã o Ribeira." He grinned, then turned around and strode off.

Ender followed. Ribeira. Of course.

Jane had been listening, too, and spoke from the jewel in his ear. "Lauro Suleim ã o Ribeira is Novinha's fourth child. He lost his eyes in a laser accident. He's twelve years old. Oh, and I found one difference between the Ribeira family and the rest of the town. The Ribeiras are willing to defy the Bishop and lead you where you want to go."

I noticed something, too, Jane, he answered silently. This boy enjoyed deceiving me, and then enjoyed even more letting me see how I'd been fooled. I just hope you don't take lessons from him.

Miro sat on the hillside. The shade of the trees made him invisible to anyone who might be watching from Milagre, but he could see much of the town from here-- certainly the cathedral and the monastery on the highest hill, and then the observatory on the next hill to the north. And under the observatory, in a depression in the hillside, the house where he lived, not very far from the fence.

"Miro," whispered Leaf-eater. "Are you a tree?"

It was a translation from the pequeninos' idiom. Sometimes they meditated, holding themselves motionless for hours. They called this "being a tree."

"More like a blade of grass," Miro answered.

Leaf-eater giggled in the high, wheezy way he had. It never sounded natural-- the pequeninos had learned laughter by rote, as if it were simply another word in Stark. It didn't arise out of amusement, or at least Miro didn't think it did.

"Is it going to rain?" asked Miro. To a piggy this meant: are you interrupting me for my own sake, or for yours?

"It rained fire today," said Leaf-eater. "Out in the prairie."

"Yes. We have a visitor from another world."

"Is it the Speaker?"

Miro didn't answer.

"You must bring him to see us."

Miro didn't answer.

"I root my face in the ground for you, Miro, my limbs are lumber for your house."

Miro hated it when they begged for something. It was as if they thought of him as someone particularly wise or strong, a parent from whom favors must be wheedled. Well, if they felt that way, it was his own fault. His and Libo's. Playing God out here among the piggies.

"I promised, didn't I, Leaf-eater?"

"When when when?"

"It'll take time. I have to find out whether he can be trusted."

Leaf-eater looked baffled. Miro had tried to explain that not all humans knew each other, and some weren't nice, but they never seemed to understand.

"As soon as I can," Miro said.

Suddenly Leaf-eater began to rock back and forth on the ground, shifting his hips from side to side as if he were trying to relieve an itch in his anus. Libo had speculated once that this was what performed the same function that laughter did for humans. "Talk to me in piddle-geese!" wheezed Leafeater. Leaf-eater always seemed to be greatly amused that Miro and the other Zenadors spoke two languages interchangeably. This despite the fact that at least four different piggy languages had been recorded or at least hinted at over the years, all spoken by this same tribe of piggies.

But if he wanted to hear Portuguese, he'd get Portuguese. "Vai comer folhas." Go eat leaves.

Leaf-eater looked puzzled. "Why is that clever?"

"Because that's your name. Come-folhas."

Leaf-eater pulled a large insect out of his nostril and flipped it away, buzzing. "Don't be crude," he said. Then he walked away.

Miro watched him go. Leaf-eater was always so difficult. Miro much preferred the company of the piggy called Human. Even though Human was smarter, and Miro had to watch himself more carefully with him, at least he didn't seem hostile the way Leaf-eater often did.

With the piggy out of sight, Miro turned back toward the city. Somebody was moving down the path along the face of the hill, toward his house. The one in front was very tall-- no, it was Olhado with Quara on his shoulders. Quara was much too old for that. Miro worried about her. She seemed not to be coming out of the shock of Father's death. Miro felt a moment's bitterness. And to think he and Ela had expected Father's death would solve all their problems.

Then he stood up and tried to get a better view of the man behind Olhado and Quara. No one he'd seen before. The Speaker. Already! He couldn't have been in town for more than an hour, and he was already going to the house. That's great, all I need is for Mother to find out that I was the one who called him here. Somehow I thought that a speaker for the dead would be discreet about it, not just come straight home to the person who called. What a fool. Bad enough that he's coming years before I expected a speaker to get here. Quim's bound to report this to the Bishop, even if nobody else does. Now I'm going to have to deal with Mother and, probably, the whole city.

Miro moved back into the trees and jogged along a path that led, eventually, to the gate back into the city.

7

The Ribeira House

Miro, this time you should have been there, because even though I have a better memory for dialogue than you, I sure don't know what this means. You saw the new piggy, the one they call Human-- I thought I saw you talking to him for a minute before you took off for the Questionable Activity. Mandachuva told me they named him Human because he was very smart as a child. OK, it's very flattering that "smart" and "human" are linked in their minds, or perhaps patronizing that they think we'll be flattered by that, but that's not what matters.

Mandachuva then said: "He could already talk when he started walking around by himself." And he made a gesture with his hand about ten centimeters off the ground. To me it looked like he was telling how tall Human was when he learned how to talk and walk. Ten centimeters! But I could be completely wrong. You should have been there, to see for yourself.

If I'm right, and that's what Mandachuva meant, then for the first time we have an idea of piggy childhood. If they actually start walking at ten centimeters in height-- and talking, no less! --then they must have less development time during gestation than humans, and do a lot more developing after they're born.

But now it gets absolutely crazy, even by your standards. He then leaned in close and told me-- as if he weren't supposed to-- who Human's father was: "Your grandfather Pipo knew Human's father. His tree is near your gate."

Is he kidding? Rooter died twenty-four years ago, didn't he? OK, maybe this is Just a religious thing, sort of adopt-a-tree or something. But the way Mandachuva was so secretive about it, I keep thinking it's somehow true. Is it possible that they have a 24-year gestation period? Or maybe it took a couple of decades for Human to develop from a 10-centimeter toddler into the fine specimen of piggihood we now see. Or maybe Rooter's sperm was saved in a Jar somewhere.

But this matters. This is the first time a piggy personally known to human observers has ever been named as a father. And Rooter, no less, the very one that got murdered. In other words, the male with the lowest prestige-- an executed criminal, even-- has been named as a father! That means that our males aren't cast-off bachelors at all, even though some of them are so old they knew Pipo. They are potential fathers.

What's more, if Human was so remarkably smart, then why was he dumped here if this is really a group of miserable bachelors? I think we've had it wrong for quite a while. This isn't a low-prestige group of bachelors, this is a high-prestige group of juveniles, and some of them are really going to amount to something.

So when you told me you felt sorry for me because you got to go out on the Questionable Activity and I had to stay home and work up some Official Fabrications for the ansible report, you were full of Unpleasant Excretions! (If you get home after I'm asleep, wake me up for a kiss, OK? I earned it today.)

--Memo from Ouanda Figueira Mucumbi to Miro Ribeira von Hesse, retrieved from Lusitanian files by Congressional order and introduced as evidence in the Trial in Absentia of the Xenologers of Lusitania on Charges of Treason and Malfeasance

There was no construction industry in Lusitania. When a couple got married, their friends and family built them a house. The Ribeira house expressed the history of the family. At the front, the old part of the house was made of plastic sheets rooted to a concrete foundation. Rooms had been built on as the family grew, each addition abutting the one before, so that five distinct one-story structures fronted the hillside. The later ones were all brick, decently plumbed, roofed with tile, but with no attempt whatever at aesthetic appeal. The family had built exactly what was needed and nothing more.

It was not poverty, Ender knew-- there was no poverty in a community where the economy was completely controlled. The lack of decoration, of individuality, showed the family's contempt for their own house; to Ender this bespoke contempt for themselves as well. Certainly Olhado and Quara showed none of the relaxation, the letting-down that most people feel when they come home. If anything, they grew warier, less jaunty; the house might have been a subtle source of gravity, making them heavier the nearer they approached.

Olhado and Quara went right in. Ender waited at the door for someone to invite him to enter. Olhado left the door ajar, but walked on out of the room without speaking to him. Ender could see Quara sitting on a bed in the front room, leaning against a bare wall. There was nothing whatsoever on any of the walls. They were stark white. Quara's face matched the blankness of the walls. Though her eyes regarded Ender unwaveringly, she showed no sign of recognizing that he was there; certainly she did nothing to indicate he might come in.

There was a disease in this house. Ender tried to understand what it was in Novinha's character that he had missed before, that would let her live in a place like this. Had Pipo's death so long before emptied Novinha's heart as thoroughly as this?

"Is your mother home?" Ender asked.

Quara said nothing.

"Oh," he said. "Excuse me. I thought you were a little girl, but I see now that you're a statue."

She showed no sign of hearing him. So much for trying to jolly her out of her somberness.

Shoes slapped rapidly against a concrete floor. A little boy ran into the room, stopped in the middle, and whirled to face the doorway where Ender stood. He couldn't be more than a year younger than Quara, six or seven years old, probably. Unlike Quara, his face showed plenty of understanding. Along with a feral hunger.

"Is your mother home?" asked Ender.

The boy bent over and carefully rolled up his pantleg. He had taped a long kitchen knife to his leg. Slowly he untaped it. Then, holding it in front of him with both hands, he aimed himself at Ender and launched himself full speed. Ender noted that the knife was well-aimed at his crotch. The boy was not subtle in his approach to strangers.

A moment later Ender had the boy tucked under his arm and the knife jammed into the ceiling. The boy was kicking and screaming. Ender had to use both hands to control his limbs; the boy ended up dangling in front of him by his hands and feet, for all the world like a calf roped for branding.

Ender looked steadily at Quara. "If you don't go right now and get whoever is in charge in this house, I'm going to take this animal home and serve it for supper."

Quara thought about this for a moment, then got up and ran out of the room.

A moment later a tired-looking girl with tousled hair and sleepy eyes came into the front room. "Desculpe, por favor," she murmured, "o menino não se restabeleceu desde a morte do pai--"

Then she seemed suddenly to come awake.

"O Senhor ‚ é o Falante pelos Mortos!" You're the Speaker for the Dead!

"Sou," answered Ender. I am.

"Não aqui," she said. "Oh, no, I'm sorry, do you speak Portuguese? Of course you do, you just answered me-- oh, please, not here, not now. Go away."

"Fine," said Ender. "Should I keep the boy or the knife?"

He glanced up at the ceiling, her gaze followed his. "Oh, no, I'm sorry, we looked for it all day yesterday, we knew he had it but we didn't know where."

"It was taped to his leg."

"It wasn't yesterday. We always look there. Please, let go of him."

"Are you sure? I think he's been sharpening his teeth."

"Grego," she said to the boy, "it's wrong to poke at people with the knife."

Grego growled in his throat.

"His father dying, you see."

"They were that close?"

A look of bitter amusement passed across her face. "Hardly. He's always been a thief, Grego has, ever since he was old enough to hold something and walk at the same time. But this thing for hurting people, that's new. Please let him down."

"No," said Ender.

Her eyes narrowed and she looked defiant. "Are you kidnapping him? To take him where? For what ransom?"

"Perhaps you don't understand," said Ender. "He assaulted me. You've offered me no guarantee that he won't do it again. You've made no provision for disciplining him when I set him down."

As he had hoped, fury came into her eyes. "Who do you think you are? This is his house, not yours!"

"Actually," Ender said, "I've just had a rather long walk from the praça to your house, and Olhado set a brisk pace. I'd like to sit down."

She nodded toward a chair. Grego wriggled and twisted against Ender's grip. Ender lifted him high enough that their faces weren't too far apart. "You know, Grego, if you actually break free, you will certainly fall on your head on a concrete floor. If there were carpet, I'd give you an even chance of staying conscious. But there isn't. And frankly, I wouldn't mind hearing the sound of your head smacking against cement."

"He doesn't really understand Stark that well," said the girl.

Ender knew that Grego understood just fine. He also saw motion at the edges of the room. Olhado had come back and stood in the doorway leading to the kitchen. Quara was beside him. Ender smiled cheerfully at them, then stepped to the chair the girl had indicated. In the process, he swung Grego up into the air, letting go of his hands and feet in such a way that he spun madly for a moment, shooting out his arms and legs in panic, squealing in fear at the pain that would certainly come when he hit the floor. Ender smoothly slid onto the chair and caught the boy on his lap, instantly pinioning his arms. Grego managed to smack his heels into Ender's shins, but since the boy wasn't wearing shoes, it was an ineffective maneuver. In a moment Ender had him completely helpless again.

"It feels very good to be sitting down," Ender said. "Thank you for your hospitality. My name is Andrew Wiggin. I've met Olhado and Quara, and obviously Grego and I are good friends."

The older girl wiped her hand on her apron as if she planned to offer it to him to shake, but she did not offer it. "My name is Ela Ribeira. Ela is short for Elanora."

"A pleasure to meet you. I see you're busy preparing supper."

"Yes, very busy. I think you should come back tomorrow."

"Oh, go right ahead. I don't mind waiting."

Another boy, older than Olhado but younger than Ela, shoved his way into the room. "Didn't you hear my sister? You aren't wanted here!"

"You show me too much kindness," Ender said. "But I came to see your mother, and I'll wait here until she comes home from work."

The mention of their mother silenced them.

"I assume she's at work. If she were here, I would expect these exciting events would have flushed her out into the open."

Olhado smiled a bit at that, but the older boy darkened, and Ela got a nasty, painful expression on her face. "Why do you want to see her?" asked Ela.

"Actually, I want to see all of you." He smiled at the older boy. "You must be Estevão Rei Ribeira. Named for St. Stephen the Martyr, who saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God."

"What do you know of such things, atheist!"

"As I recall, St. Paul stood by and held the coats of the men who were stoning him. Apparently he wasn't a believer at the time. In fact, I think he was regarded as the most terrible enemy of the Church. And yet he later repented, didn't he? So I suggest you think of me, not as the enemy of God, but as an apostle who has not yet been stopped on the road to Damascus." Ender smiled.

The boy stared at him, tight-lipped. "You're no St. Paul."

"On the contrary," said Ender. "I'm the apostle to the piggies."

"You'll never see them-- Miro will never let you."

"Maybe I will," said a voice from the door. The others turned at once to watch him walk in. Miro was young-- surely not yet twenty. But his face and bearing carried the weight of responsibility and suffering far beyond his years. Ender saw how all of them made space for him. It was not that they backed away from him the way they might retreat from someone they feared. Rather, they oriented themselves to him, walking in parabolas around him, as if he were the center of gravity in the room and everything else was moved by the force of his presence.

Miro walked to the center of the room and faced Ender. He looked, however, at Ender's prisoner. "Let him go," said Miro. There was ice in his voice.

Ela touched him softly on the arm. "Grego tried to stab him, Miro." But her voice also said, Be calm, it's all right, Grego's in no danger and this man is not our enemy. Ender heard all this; so, it seemed, did Miro.

"Grego," said Miro. "I told you that someday you'd take on somebody who wasn't afraid of you."

Grego, seeing an ally suddenly turn to an enemy, began to cry. "He's killing me, he's killing me."

Miro looked coldly at Ender. Ela might trust the Speaker for the Dead, but Miro didn't, not yet.

"I am hurting him," said Ender. He had found that the best way to earn trust was to tell the truth. "Every time he struggles to get free, it causes him quite a bit of discomfort. And he hasn't stopped struggling yet."

Ender met Miro's gaze steadily, and Miro understood his unspoken request. He did not insist on Grego's release. "I can't get you out of this one, Greguinho."

"You're going to let him do this?" asked Estevão.

Miro gestured toward Estevão and spoke apologetically to Ender. "Everyone calls him Quim." The nickname was pronounced like the word king in Stark. "It began because his middle name is Rei. But now it's because he thinks he rules by divine right."

"Bastard," said Quim. He stalked out of the room.

At the same time, the others settled in for conversation. Miro had decided to accept the stranger, at least temporarily; therefore they could let down their guard a little. Olhado sat down on the floor; Quara returned to her previous perch on the bed. Ela leaned back against the wall. Miro pulled up another chair and sat facing Ender.

"Why did you come to this house?" asked Miro. Ender saw from the way he asked that he, like Ela, had not told anyone that he had summoned a Speaker. So neither of them knew that the other expected him. And, in fact, they almost undoubtedly had not expected him to come so soon.

"To see your mother," Ender said.

Miro's relief was almost palpable, though he made no obvious gesture. "She's at work," he said. "She works late. She's trying to develop a strain of potato that can compete with the grass here."

"Like the amaranth?"

He grinned. "You already heard about that? No, we don't want it to be as good a competitor as that. But the diet here is limited, and potatoes would be a nice addition. Besides, amaranth doesn't ferment into a very good beverage. The miners and farmers have already created a mythology of vodka that makes it the queen of distilled intoxicants."

Miro's smile came to this house like sunlight through a crevice in a cave. Ender could feel the loosening of tensions. Quara wiggled her leg back and forth like an ordinary little girl. Olhado had a stupidly happy expression on his face, his eyes half-closed so that the metallic sheen was not so monstrously obvious. Ela's smile was broader than Miro's good humor should have earned. Even Grego had relaxed, had stopped straining against Ender's grip.

Then a sudden warmth on Ender's lap told him that Grego, at least, was far from surrender. Ender had trained himself not to respond reflexively to an enemy's actions until he had consciously decided to let his reflexes rule. So Grego's flood of urine did not cause him to so much as flinch. He knew what Grego had been expecting-- a shout of anger, and Ender flinging him away, casting him from his lap in disgust. Then Grego would be free-- it would be a triumph. Ender yielded him no victory.

Ela, however, apparently knew the expressions of Grego's face. Her eyes went wide, and then she took an angry step toward the boy. "Grego, you impossible little--"

But Ender winked at her and smiled, freezing her in place. "Grego has given me a little gift. It's the only thing he has to give me, and he made it himself, so it means all the more. I like him so much that I think I'll never let him go."

Grego snarled and struggled again, madly, to break free.

"Why are you doing this!" said Ela.

"He's expecting Grego to act like a human being," said Miro. "It needs doing, and nobody else has bothered to try."

"I've tried," said Ela.

Olhado spoke up from his place on the floor. "Ela's the only one here who keeps us civilized."

Quim shouted from the other room. "Don't you tell that bastard anything about our family!"

Ender nodded gravely, as if Quim had offered a brilliant intellectual proposition. Miro chuckled and Ela rolled her eyes and sat down on the bed beside Quara.

"We're not a very happy home," said Miro.

"I understand," said Ender. "With your father so recently dead."

Miro smiled sardonically. Olhado spoke up, again. "With Father so recently alive, you mean."

Ela and Miro were in obvious agreement with this sentiment. But Quim shouted again. "Don't tell him anything!"

"Did he hurt you?" Ender asked quietly. He did not move, even though Grego's urine was getting cold and rank.

Ela answered. "He didn't hit us, if that's what you mean."

But for Miro, things had gone too far. "Quim's right," said Miro. "It's nobody's business but ours."

"No," said Ela. "It's his business."

"How is it his business?" asked Miro.

"Because he's here to Speak Father's death," said Ela.

"Father's death!" said Olhado. "Chupa pedras! Father only died three weeks ago!"

"I was already on my way to Speak another death," said Ender. "But someone did call for a Speaker for your father's death, and so I'll Speak for him."

"Against him," said Ela.

"For him," said Ender.

"I brought you here to tell the truth," she said bitterly, "and all the truth about Father is against him."

Silence pressed to the corners of the room, holding them all still, until Quim walked slowly through the doorway. He looked only at Ela. "You called him," he said softly. "You."

"To tell the truth!" she answered. His accusation obviously stung her; he did not have to say how she had betrayed her family and her church to bring this infidel to lay bare what had been so long concealed. "Everybody in Milagre is so kind and understanding," she said. "Our teachers overlook little things like Grego's thievery and Quara's silence. Never mind that she hasn't said a word in school, ever! Everybody pretends that we're just ordinary children-- the grandchildren of Os Venerados, and so brilliant, aren't we, with a Zenador and both biologistas in the family! Such prestige. They just look the other way when Father gets himself raging drunk and comes home and beats Mother until she can't walk!"

"Shut up!" shouted Quim.

"Ela," said Miro.

"And you, Miro, Father shouting at you, saying terrible things until you run out of the house, you run, stumbling because you can hardly see--"

"You have no right to tell him!" said Quim.

Olhado leapt to his feet and stood in the middle of the room, turned around to look at them all with his unhuman eyes. "Why do you still want to hide it?" he asked softly.

"What's it to you?" asked Quim. "He never did anything to you. You just turned off your eyes and sat there with the headphones on, listening to batuque or Bach or something--"

"Turn off my eyes?" said Olhado. "I never turned off my eyes."

He whirled and walked to the terminal, which was in the corner of the room farthest from the front door. In a few quick movements he had the terminal on, then picked up an interface cable and jammed it in the socket in his right eye. It was only a simple computer linkup, but to Ender it brought back a hideous memory of the eye of a giant, torn open and oozing, as Ender bored deep, penetrated to the brain, and sent it toppling backward to its death. He froze up for a moment before he remembered that his memory was not real, it was of a computer game he had played in the Battle School. Three thousand years ago, but to him a mere twenty-five years, not such a great distance that the memory had lost its power. It was his memories and dreams of the giant's death that the buggers. had taken out of his mind and turned into the signal they left for him; eventually it had led him to the hive queen's cocoon.

It was Jane's voice that brought him back to the present moment. She whispered from the jewel, "If it's all the same to you, while he's got that eye linked up I'm going to get a dump of everything else he's got stored away in there."

Then a scene began in the air over the terminal. It was not holographic. Instead the image was like bas-relief, as it would have appeared to a single observer. It was this very room, seen from the spot on the floor where a moment ago Olhado had been sitting-- apparently it was his regular spot. In the middle of the floor stood a large man, strong and violent, flinging his arms about as he shouted abuse at Miro, who stood quietly, his head bent, regarding his father without any sign of anger. There was no sound-- it was a visual image only. "Have you forgotten?" whispered Olhado. "Have you forgotten what it was like?"

In the scene on the terminal Miro finally turned and left; Marcão following him to the door, shouting after him. Then he turned back into the room and stood there, panting like an animal exhausted from the chase. In the picture Grego ran to his father and clung to his leg, shouting out the door, his face making it plain that he was echoing his father's cruel words to Miro. Marcão pried the child from his leg and walked with determined purpose into the back room.

"There's no sound," said Olhado. "But you can hear it, can't you?"

Ender felt Grego's body trembling on his lap.

"There it is, a blow, a crash-- she's falling to the floor, can you feel it in your flesh, the way her body hits the concrete?"

"Shut up, Olhado," said Miro.

The computer-generated scene ended. "I can't believe you saved that," said Ela.

Quim was weeping, making no effort to hide it. "I killed him," he said. "I killed him I killed him I killed him."

"What are you talking about?" said Miro in exasperation. "He had a rotten disease, it was congenital!"

"I prayed for him to die!" screamed Quim. His face was mottled with passion, tears and mucus and spittle mingling around his lips. "I prayed to the Virgin, I prayed to Jesus, I prayed to Grandpa and Grandma, I said I'd go to hell for it if only he'd die, and they did it, and now I'll go to hell and I'm not sorry for it! God forgive me but I'm glad!" Sobbing, he stumbled back out of the room. A door slammed in the distance.

"Well, another certified miracle to the credit of Os Venerados," said Miro. "Sainthood is assured."

"Shut up," said Olhado.

"And he's the one who kept telling us that Christ wanted us to forgive the old fart," said Miro.

On Ender's lap, Grego now trembled so violently that Ender grew concerned. He realized that Grego was whispering a word. Ela, too, saw Grego's distress and knelt in front of the boy.

"He's crying, I've never seen him cry like this--"

"Papa, papa, papa," whispered Grego. His trembling had given way to great shudders, almost convulsive in their violence.

"Is he afraid of Father?" asked Olhado. His face showed deep concern for Grego. To Ender's relief, all their faces were full of worry. There was love in this family, and not just the solidarity of living under the rule of the same tyrant for all these years.

"Papa's gone now," said Miro comfortingly. "You don't have to worry now."

Ender shook his head. "Miro," he said, "didn't you watch Olhado's memory? Little boys don't judge their fathers, they love them. Grego was trying as hard as he could to be just like Marcos Ribeira. The rest of you might have been glad to see him gone, but for Grego it was the end of the world."

It had not occurred to any of them. Even now it was a sickening idea; Ender could see them recoil from it. And yet they knew it was true. Now that Ender had pointed it out, it was obvious.

"Deus nos perdoa," murmured Ela. God forgive us.

"The things we've said," whispered Miro.

Ela reached out for Grego. He refused to go to her. Instead he did exactly what Ender expected, what he had prepared for. Grego turned in Ender's relaxed grip, flung his arms around the neck of the Speaker for the Dead, and wept bitterly, hysterically.

Ender spoke gently to the others, who watched helplessly. "How could he show his grief to you, when he thought you hated him?"

"We never hated Grego," said Olhado.

"I should have known," said Miro. "I knew he was suffering the worst pain of any of us, but it never occurred to me..."

"Don't blame yourself," said Ender. "It's the kind of thing that only a stranger can see."

He heard Jane whispering in his ear. "You never cease to amaze me, Andrew, the way you turn people into plasma."

Ender couldn't answer her, and she wouldn't believe him anyway. He hadn't planned this, he had played it by ear. How could he have guessed that Olhado would have a recording of Marcão's viciousness to his family? His only real insight was with Grego, and even that was instinctive, a sense that Grego was desperately hungry for someone to have authority over him, for someone to act like a father to him. Since his own father had been cruel, Grego would believe only cruelty as a proof of love and strength. Now his tears washed Ender's neck as hotly as, a moment before, his urine had soaked Ender's thighs.

He had guessed what Grego would do, but Quara managed to take him by surprise. As the others watched Grego's weeping in silence, she got off the bed and walked directly to Ender. Her eyes were narrow and angry. "You stink!" she said firmly. Then she marched out of the room toward the back of the house.

Miro barely suppressed his laughter, and Ela smiled. Ender raised his eyebrows as if to say, You win some, you lose some.

Olhado seemed to hear his unspoken words. From his chair by the terminal, the metal-eyed boy said softly, "You win with her, too. It's the most she's said to anyone outside the family in months."

But I'm not outside the family, Ender said silently. Didn't you notice? I'm in the family now, whether you like it or not. Whether I like it or not.

After a while Grego's sobbing stopped. He was asleep. Ender carried him to his bed; Quara was already asleep on the other side of the small room. Ela helped Ender strip off Grego's urine-soaked pants and put looser underwear on him-- her touch was gentle and deft, and Grego did not waken.

Back in the front room Miro eyed Ender clinically. "Well, Speaker, you have a choice. My pants will be tight on you and too short in the crotch, but Father's would fall right off."

It took Ender a moment to remember. Grego's urine had long since dried. "Don't worry about it," he said. "I can change when I get home."

"Mother won't be home for another hour. You came to see her, didn't you? We can have your pants clean by then."

"Your pants, then," said Ender. "I'll take my chances with the crotch."

8

Dona Ivanova

It means a life of constant deception. You will go out and discover something, something vital, and then when you get back to the station you'll write up a completely innocuous report, one which mentions nothing that we learned through cultural contamination.

You're too young to understand what torture this is. Father and I began doing this because we couldn't bear to withhold knowledge from the piggies. You will discover, as I have, that it is no less painful to withhold knowledge from your fellow scientists. When you watch them struggle with a question, knowing that you have the information that could easily resolve their dilemma; when you see them come very near the truth and then for lack of your information retreat from their correct conclusions and return to error-- you would not be human if it didn't cause you great anguish.

You must remind yourselves, always: It is their law, their choice. They are the ones who built the wall between themselves and the truth, and they would only punish us if we let them know how easily and thoroughly that wall has been breached. And for every framling scientist who is longing for the truth, there are ten petty-minded descabe ç ados [headless ones] who despise knowledge, who never think of an original hypothesis, whose only labor is to prey on the writings of the true scientists in order to catch tiny errors or contradictions or lapses in method. These suckflies will pore over every report you make, and if you are careless even once they will catch you.

That means you can't even mention a piggy whose name is derived from cultural contamination: "Cups" would tell them that we have taught them rudimentary potterymaking. "Calendar" and "Reaper" are obvious. And God himself couldn't save us if they learned Arrow's name.

--Memo from Liberdade Figueira de Medici to Ouanda Figueira Mucumbi and Miro Ribeira von Hesse, retrieved from Lusitanian files by Congressional order and introduced as evidence in the Trial in Absentia of the Xenologers of Lusitania on Charges of Treason and Malfeasance

Novinha lingered in the Biologista's Station even though her meaningful work was finished more than an hour ago. The cloned potato plants were all thriving in nutrient solution; now it would be a matter of making daily observations to see which of her genetic alterations would produce the hardiest plant with the most useful root.

If I have nothing to do, why don't I go home? She had no answer for the question. Her children needed her, that was certain; she did them no kindness by leaving early each morning and coming home only after the little ones were asleep. And yet even now, knowing she should go back, she sat staring at the laboratory, seeing nothing, doing nothing, being nothing.

She thought of going home, and could not imagine why she felt no joy at the prospect. After all, she reminded herself, Marcão is dead. He died three weeks ago. Not a moment too soon. He did all that I ever needed him for, and I did all that he wanted, but all our reasons expired four years before he finally rotted away. In all that time we never shared a moment of love, but I never thought of leaving him. Divorce would have been impossible, but desquite would have been enough. To stop the beatings. Even yet her hip was stiff and sometimes painful from the last time he had thrown her to the concrete floor. What lovely memorabilia you left behind, Cáo, my dog of a husband.

The pain in her hip flared even as she thought of it. She nodded in satisfaction. It's no more than I deserve, and I'll be sorry when it heals.

She stood up and walked, not limping at all even though the pain was more than enough to make her favor the hip. I'll not coddle myself, not in anything. It's no worse than I deserve.

She walked to the door, closed it behind her. The computer turned off the lights as soon as she was gone, except those needed for the various plants in forced photosynthetic phase. She loved her plants, her little beasts, with surprising intensity. Grow, she cried out to them day and night, grow and thrive. She would grieve for the ones that failed and pinch them dead only when it was plain they had no future. Now as she walked away from the station, she could still hear their subliminal music, the cries of the infinitesimal cells as they grew and split and formed themselves into ever more elaborate patterns. She was going from light into darkness, from life into death, and the emotional pain grew worse in perfect synchronicity with the inflammation of her joints.

As she approached her house from over the hill, she could see the patches of light thrown through the windows and out onto the hill below. Quara's and Grego's room dark; she would not have to bear their unbearable accusations-- Quara's in silence, Grego's in sullen and vicious crimes. But there were too many other lights on, including her own room and the front room. Something unusual was going on, and she didn't like unusual things.

Olhado sat in the living room, earphones on as usual; tonight, though, he also had the interface jack attached to his eye. Apparently, he was retrieving old visual memories from the computer, or perhaps dumping out some he had been carrying with him. As so many times before, she wished she could also dump out her visual memories and wipe them clean, replace them with more pleasant ones. Pipo's corpse, that would be one she'd gladly be rid of, to be replaced by some of the golden glorious days with the three of them together in the Zenador's Station. And Libo's body wrapped in its cloth, that sweet flesh held together only by the winding fabric; she would like to have instead other memories of his body, the touch of his lips, the expressiveness of his delicate hands. But the good memories fled, buried too deep under the pain. I stole them all, those good days, and so they were taken back and replaced by what I deserved.

Olhado turned to face her, the jack emerging obscenely from his eye. She could not control her shudder, her shame. I'm sorry, she said silently. If you had had another mother, you would doubtless still have your eye. You were born to be the best, the healthiest, the wholest of my children, Lauro, but of course nothing from my womb could be left intact for long.

She said nothing of this, of course, just as Olhado said nothing to her. She turned to go back to her room and find out why the light was on.

"Mother," said Olhado.

He had taken the earphones off, and was twisting the jack out of his eye.

"Yes?"

"We have a visitor," he said. "The Speaker."

She felt herself go cold inside. Not tonight, she screamed silently. But she also knew that she would not want to see him tomorrow, either, or the next day, or ever.

"His pants are clean now, and he's in your room changing back into them. I hope you don't mind."

Ela emerged from the kitchen. "You're home," she said. "I poured some cafezinhos, one for you, too."

"I'll wait outside until he's gone," said Novinha.

Ela and Olhado looked at each other. Novinha understood at once that they regarded her as a problem to be solved; that apparently they subscribed to whatever the Speaker wanted to do here. Well, I'm a dilemma that's not going to be solved by you.

"Mother," said Olhado, "he's not what the Bishop said. He's good."

Novinha answered him with her most withering sarcasm. "Since when are you an expert on good and evil?"

Again Ela and Olhado looked at each other. She knew what they were thinking. How can we explain to her? How can we persuade her? Well, dear children, you can't. I am unpersuadable, as Libo found out every week of his life. He never had the secret from me. It's not my fault he died.

But they had succeeded in turning her from her decision. Instead of leaving the house, she retreated into the kitchen, passing Ela in the doorway but not touching her. The tiny coffee cups were arranged in a neat circle on the table, the steaming pot in the center. She sat down and rested her forearms on the table. So the Speaker was here, and had come to her first. Where else would he go? It's my fault he's here, isn't it? He's one more person whose life I have destroyed, like my children's lives, like Marcão's, and Libo's, and Pipo's, and my own.

A strong yet surprisingly smooth masculine hand reached out over her shoulder, took up the pot, and began to pour through the tiny, delicate spout, the thin stream of hot coffee swirling into the tiny cafezinho cups.

"Posso derramar?" he asked. What a stupid question, since he was already pouring. But his voice was gentle, his Portuguese tinged with the graceful accents of Castilian. A Spaniard, then?

"Desculpa-me," she whispered. Forgive me. "Trouxe o senhor tantos quilômetros--"

"We don't measure starflight in kilometers, Dona Ivanova. We measure it in years." His words were an accusation, but his voice spoke of wistfulness, even forgiveness, even consolation. I could be seduced by that voice. That voice is a liar.

"If I could undo your voyage and return you twenty-two years, I'd do it. Calling for you was a mistake. I'm sorry." Her own voice sounded flat. Since her whole life was a lie, even this apology sounded rote.

"I don't feel the time yet," said the Speaker. Still he stood behind her, so she had not yet seen his face. "For me it was only a week ago that I left my sister. She was the only kin of mine left alive. Her daughter wasn't born yet, and now she's probably through with college, married, perhaps with children of her own. I'll never know her. But I know your children, Dona Ivanova."

She lifted the cafezinho and drank it down in a single swallow, though it burned her tongue and throat and made her stomach hurt. "In only a few hours you think you know them?"

"Better than you do, Dona Ivanova."

Novinha heard Ela gasp at the Speaker's audacity. And even though she thought his words might be true, it still enraged her to have a stranger say them. She turned to look at him, to snap at him, but he had moved, he was not behind her. She turned farther, finally standing up to look for him, but he wasn't in the room. Ela stood in the doorway, wide-eyed.

"Come back!" said Novinha. "You can't say that and walk out on me like that!"

But he didn't answer. Instead, she heard low laughter from the back of the house. Novinha followed the sound. She walked through the rooms to the very end of the house. Miro sat on Novinha's own bed, and the Speaker stood near the doorway, laughing with him. Miro saw his mother and the smile left his face. It caused a stab of anguish within her. She had not seen him smile in years, had forgotten how beautiful his face became, just like his father's face; and her coming had erased that smile.

"We came here to talk because Quim was so angry," Miro explained. "Ela made the bed."

"I don't think the Speaker cares whether the bed was made or not," said Novinha coldly. "Do you, Speaker?"

"Order and disorder," said the Speaker, "they each have their beauty." Still he did not turn to face her, and she was glad of that, for it meant she did not have to see his eyes as she delivered her bitter message.

"I tell you, Speaker, that you've come on a fool's errand," she said. "Hate me for it if you will, but you have no death to Speak. I was a foolish girl. In my naivete I thought that when I called, the author of The Hive Queen and the Hegemon would come. I had lost a man who was like a father to me, and I wanted consolation."

Now he turned to her. He was a youngish man, younger than her, at least, but his eyes were seductive with understanding. Perigoso, she thought. He is dangerous, he is beautiful, I could drown in his understanding.

"Dona Ivanova," he said, "how could you read The Hive Queen and the Hegemon and imagine that its author could bring comfort?"

It was Miro who answered-- silent, slow-talking Miro, who leapt into the conversation with a vigor she had not seen in him since he was little. "I've read it," he said, "and the original Speaker for the Dead wrote the tale of the hive queen with deep compassion."

The Speaker smiled sadly. "But he wasn't writing to the buggers, was he? He was writing to humankind, who still celebrated the destruction of the buggers as a great victory. He wrote cruelly, to turn their pride to regret, their joy to grief. And now human beings have completely forgotten that once they hated the buggers, that once they honored and celebrated a name that is now unspeakable--"

"I can say anything," said Ivanova. "His name was Ender, and he destroyed everything he touched." Like me, she did not say.

"Oh? And what do you know of him?" His voice whipped out like a grass-saw, ragged and cruel. "How do you know there wasn't something that he touched kindly? Someone who loved him, who was blessed by his love? Destroyed everything he touched-- that's a lie that can't truthfully be said of any human being who ever lived."

"Is that your doctrine, Speaker? Then you don't know much." She was defiant, but still his anger frightened her. She had thought his gentleness was as imperturbable as a confessor's.

And almost immediately the anger faded from his face. "You can ease your conscience," he said. "Your call started my journey here, but others called for a Speaker while I was on the way."

"Oh?" Who else in this benighted city was familiar enough with The Hive Queen and the Hegemon to want a Speaker, and independent enough of Bishop Peregrino to dare to call for one? "If that's so, then why are you here in my house?"

"Because I was called to speak the death of Marcos Maria Ribeira, your late husband."

It was an appalling thought. "Him! Who would want to think of him again, now that he's dead!"

The Speaker did not answer. Instead Miro spoke sharply from her bed. "Grego would, for one. The Speaker showed us what we should have known-- that the boy is grieving for his father and thinks we all hate him--"

"Cheap psychology," she snapped. "We have therapists of our own, and they aren't worth much either."

Ela's voice came from behind her. "I called for him to Speak Father's death, Mother. I thought it would be decades before he came, but I'm glad he's here now, when he can do us some good."

"What good can he do us!"

"He already has, Mother. Grego fell asleep embracing him, and Quara spoke to him."

"Actually," said Miro, "she told him that he stinks."

"Which was probably true," said Ela, "since Greguinho peed all over him."

Miro and Ela burst into laughter at the memory, and the Speaker also smiled. This more than anything else discomposed Novinha-- such good cheer had been virtually unfelt in this house since Marcão brought her here a year after Pipo's death. Against her will Novinha remembered her joy when Miro was newly born, and when Ela was little, the first few years of their lives, how Miro babbled about everything, how Ela toddled madly after him through the house, how the children played together and romped in the grass within sight of the piggies' forest just beyond the fence; it was Novinha's delight in the children that poisoned Marcão, that made him hate them both, because he knew that none of it belonged to him. By the time Quim was born, the house was thick with anger, and he never learned how to laugh freely where his parents might notice. Hearing Miro and Ela laugh together was like the abrupt opening of a thick black curtain; suddenly it was daylight again, when Novinha had forgotten there was any season of the day but night.

How dared this stranger invade her house and tear open all the curtains she had closed!

"I won't have it," she said. "You have no right to pry into my husband's life."

He raised an eyebrow. She knew Starways Code as well as anyone, and so she knew perfectly well that he not only had a right, the law protected him in the pursuit of the true story of the dead.

"Marcão was a miserable man," she persisted, "and telling the truth about him will cause nothing but pain."

"You're quite right that the truth about him will cause nothing but pain, but not because he was a miserable man," said the Speaker. "If I told nothing but what everyone already knows-- that he hated his children and beat his wife and raged drunkenly from bar to bar until the constables sent him home-- then I would not cause pain, would I? I'd cause a great deal of satisfaction, because then everyone would be reassured that their view of him was correct all along. He was scum, and so it was all right that they treated him like scum."

"And you think he wasn't?"

"No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins."

"If you believe that, then you're younger than you look," said Novinha.

"Am I?" said the Speaker. "It was less than two weeks ago that I first heard your call. I studied you then, and even if you don't remember, Novinha, I remember that as a young girl you were sweet and beautiful and good. You had been lonely before, but Pipo and Libo both knew you and found you worthy of love."

"Pipo was dead."

"But he loved you."

"You don't know anything, Speaker! You were twenty-two lightyears away! Besides, it wasn't me I was calling worthless, it was Marcão!"

"But you don't believe that, Novinha. Because you know the one act of kindness and generosity that redeems that poor man's life."

Novinha did not understand her own terror, but she had to silence him before he named it, even though she had no idea what kindness of Cáo's he thought he had discovered. "How dare you call me Novinha!" she shouted. "No one has called me that in four years!"

In answer, he raised his hand and brushed his fingers across the back of her cheek. It was a timid gesture, almost an adolescent one; it reminded her of Libo, and it was more than she could bear. She took his hand, hurled it away, then shoved past him into the room. "Get out!" she shouted at Miro. Her son got up quickly and backed to the door. She could see from his face that after all Miro had seen in this house, she still had managed to surprise him with her rage.

"You'll have nothing from me!" she shouted at the Speaker.

"I didn't come to take anything from you," he said quietly.

"I don't want anything you have to give, either! You're worthless to me, do you hear that? You're the one who's worthless! Lixo, ruina, estrago-- vai fora d'aqui, não tens direito estar em minha casa!" You have no right to be in my house.

"Não eres estrago," he whispered, "eres solo fecundo, e vou plantar jardim aí." Then, before she could answer, he closed the door and was gone.

In truth she had no answer to give him, his words were so outrageous. She had called him estrago, but he answered as if she had called herself a desolation. And she had spoken to him derisively, using the insultingly familiar tu for "you" instead of o Senhor or even the informal você. It was the way one spoke to a child or a dog. And yet when he answered in the same voice, with the same familiarity, it was entirely different. "Thou art fertile ground, and I will plant a garden in thee." It was the sort of thing a poet says to his mistress, or even a husband to his wife, and the tu was intimate, not arrogant. How dare he, she whispered to herself, touching the cheek that he had touched. He is far crueler than I ever imagined a Speaker might be. Bishop Peregrino was right. He is dangerous, the infidel, the anti-Christ, he walks brazenly into places in my heart that I had kept as holy ground, where no one else was ever permitted to stand. He treads on the few small shoots that cling to life in that stony soil, how dare he, I wish I had died before seeing him, he will surely undo me before he's through.

She was vaguely aware of someone crying. Quara. Of course the shouting had wakened her; she never slept soundly. Novinha almost opened the door and went out to comfort her, but then she heard the crying stop, and a soft male voice singing to her. The song was in another language. German, it sounded to Novinha, or Nordic; she did not understand it, whatever it was. But she knew who sang it, and knew that Quara was comforted.

Novinha had not felt such fear since she first realized that Miro was determined to become a Zenador and follow in the footsteps of the two men that the piggies had murdered. This man is unknotting the nets of my family, and stringing us together whole again; but in the process he will find my secrets. If he finds out how Pipo died, and Speaks the truth, then Miro will learn that same secret, and it will kill him. I will make no more sacrifices to the piggies; they are too cruel a god for me to worship anymore.

Still later, as she lay in bed behind her closed door, trying to go to sleep, she heard more laughter from the front of the house, and this time she could hear Quim and Olhado both laughing along with Miro and Ela. She imagined she could see them, the room bright with mirth. But as sleep took her, and the imagination became a dream, it was not the Speaker who sat among her children, teaching them to laugh; it was Libo, alive again, and known to everyone as her true husband, the man she had married in her heart even though she refused to marry him in the Church. Even in her sleep it was more joy than she could bear, and tears soaked the sheet of her bed.

9

Congenital Defect

CIDA: The Descolada body isn't bacterial. It seems to enter the cells of the body and take up permanent residence, just like mitochondria, reproducing when the cell reproduces. The fact that it spread to a new species within only a few years of our arrival here suggests that it is wildly adaptable. It must surely have spread through the entire biosphere of Lusitania long ago, so that it may now be endemic here, a permanent infection.

GUSTO: If it's permanent and everywhere, it isn't an infection, Cida, it's part of normal life.

CIDA: But it isn't necessarily inborn-- it has the ability to spread. But yes, if it's endemic then all the indigenous species must have found ways to fight it off.

GUSTO: Or adapt to it and include it in their normal life cycle. Maybe they NEED it.

CIDA: They NEED something that takes apart their genetic molecules and puts them back together at random?

GUSTO: Maybe that's why there are so few different species in Lusitania-- the Descolada may be fairly recent, only half a million years old-- and most species couldn't adapt.

CIDA: I wish we weren't dying, Gusto. The next xenobiologist will probably work with standard genetic adaptations and won't follow this up.

GUSTO: That's the only reason you can think of for regretting our death?

--Vladimir Tiago Gussman and Ekaterina Maria Aparecida do Norte von Hesse-Gussman, unpublished dialogue embedded in working notes, two days before their deaths; first quoted in "Lost Threads of Understanding," Meta-Science, the journal of Methodology, 2001:12:12:144-45

Ender did not get home from the Ribeira house until late that night, and he spent more than an hour trying to make sense of all that happened, especially after Novinha came home. Despite this, Ender awoke early the next morning, his thoughts already full of questions he had to answer. It was always this way when he was preparing to Speak a death; he could hardly rest from trying to piece together the story of the dead man as he saw himself, the life the dead woman meant to live, however badly it had turned out. This time, though, there was an added anxiety. He cared more for the living this time than he ever had before.

"Of course you're more involved," said Jane, after he tried to explain his confusion to her. "You fell in love with Novinha before you left Trondheim."

"Maybe I loved the young girl, but this woman is nasty and selfish. Look what she let happen to her children."

"This is the Speaker for the Dead? Judging someone by appearances?"

"Maybe I've fallen in love with Grego."

"You've always been a sucker for people who pee on you."

"And Quara. All of them-- even Miro, I like the boy."

"And they love you, Ender."

He laughed. "People always think they love me, until I

Speak. Novinha's more perceptive than most-- she already hates me before I tell the truth."

"You're as blind about yourself as anyone else, Speaker," said Jane. "Promise me that when you die, you'll let me speak your death. Have I got things to say."

"Keep them to yourself," said Ender wearily. "You're even worse at this business than I am."

He began his list of questions to be resolved.

1. Why did Novinha marry Marcão in the first place?

2. Why did Marcão hate his children?

3. Why does Novinha hate herself?

4. Why did Miro call me to Speak Libo's death?

5. Why did Ela call me to Speak her father's death?

6. Why did Novinha change her mind about my Speaking Pipo's death?

7. What was the immediate cause of Marcão's death?

He stopped with the seventh question. It would be easy to answer it; a merely clinical matter. So that was where he would begin.

The physician who autopsied Marcão was called Navio, which meant "ship."

"Not for my size," he said, laughing. "Or because I'm much of a swimmer. My full name is Enrique o Navigador Caronada. You can bet I'm glad they took my nickname from 'shipmaster' rather than from 'little cannon.' Too many obscene possibilities in that one."

Ender was not deceived by his joviality. Navio was a good Catholic and he obeyed his bishop as well as anyone. He was determined to keep Ender from learning anything, though he'd not be uncheerful about it.

"There are two ways I can get the answers to my questions," Ender said quietly. "I can ask you, and you can tell me truthfully. Or I can submit a petition to the Starways Congress for your records to be opened to me. The ansible charges are very high, and since the petition is a routine one, and your resistance to it is contrary to law, the cost will be deducted from your colony's already straitened funds, along with a double-the-cost penalty and a reprimand for you."

Navio's smile gradually disappeared as Ender spoke. He answered coldly. "Of course I'll answer your questions," he said.

"There's no 'of course' about it," said Ender. "Your bishop counseled the people of Milagre to carry out an unprovoked and unjustified boycott of a legally called-for minister. You would do everyone a favor if you would inform them that if this cheerful noncooperation continues, I will petition for my status to be changed from minister to inquisitor. I assure you that I have a very good reputation with the Starways Congress, and my petition will be successful."

Navio knew exactly what that meant. As an inquisitor, Ender would have congressional authority to revoke the colony's Catholic license on the grounds of religious persecution. It would cause a terrible upheaval among the Lusitanians, not least because the Bishop would be summarily dismissed from his position and sent to the Vatican for discipline.

"Why would you do such a thing when you know we don't want you here?" said Navio.

"Someone wanted me here or I wouldn't have come," said Ender. "You may not like the law when it annoys you, but it protects many a Catholic on worlds where another creed is licensed."

Navio drummed his fingers on his desk. "What are your questions, Speaker," he said. "Let's get this done."

"It's simple enough, to start with, at least. What was the proximate cause of the death of Marcos Maria Ribeira?"

"Marcão!" said Navio. "You couldn't possibly have been summoned to speak his death, he only passed away a few weeks ago--"

"I have been asked to Speak several deaths, Dom Navio, and I choose to begin with Marcão's."

Navio grimaced. "What if I ask for proof of your authority?" Jane whispered in Ender's ear. "Let's dazzle the dear boy." Immediately, Navio's terminal came alive with official documents, while one of Jane's most authoritative voices declared, "Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, has accepted the call for an explanation of the life and death of Marcos Maria Ribeira, of the city of Milagre, Lusitania Colony."

It was not the document that impressed Navio, however. It was the fact that he had not actually made the request, or even logged on to his terminal. Navio knew at once that the computer had been activated through the jewel in the Speaker's ear, but it meant that a very high-level logic routine was shadowing the Speaker and enforcing compliance with his requests. No one on Lusitania, not even Bosquinha herself, had ever had authority to do that. Whatever this Speaker was, Navio concluded, he's a bigger fish than even Bishop Peregrino can hope to fry.

"All right," Navio said, forcing a laugh. Now, apparently, he remembered how to be jovial again. "I meant to help you anyway-- the Bishop's paranoia doesn't afflict everyone in Milagre, you know."

Ender smiled back at him, taking his hypocrisy at face value.

"Marcos Ribeira died of a congenital defect." He rattled off a long pseudo-Latin name. "You've never heard of it because it's quite rare, and is passed on only through the genes. Beginning at the onset of puberty, in most cases, it involves the gradual replacement of exocrine and endocrine glandular tissues with lipidous cells. What that means is that bit by bit over the years, the adrenal glands, the pituitary, the liver, the testes, the thyroid, and so on, are all replaced by large agglomerations of fat cells."

"Always fatal? Irreversible?"

"Oh, yes. Actually, Marcão survived ten years longer than usual. His case was remarkable in several ways. In every other recorded case-- and admittedly there aren't that many-- the disease attacks the testicles first, rendering the victim sterile and, in most cases, impotent. With six healthy children, it's obvious that Marcos Ribeira's testes were the last of his glands to be affected. Once they were attacked, however, progress must have been unusually fast-- the testes were completely replaced with fat cells, even though much of his liver and thyroid were still functioning."

"What killed him in the end?"

"The pituitary and the adrenals weren't functioning. He was a walking dead man. He just fell down in one of the bars, in the middle of some ribald song, as I heard."

As always, Ender's mind automatically found seeming contradictions. "How does a hereditary disease get passed on if it makes its victims sterile?"

"It's usually passed through collateral lines. One child will die of it; his brothers and sisters won't manifest the disease at all, but they'll pass on the tendency to their children. Naturally, though, we were afraid that Marcão, having children, would pass on the defective gene to all of them."

"You tested them?"

"Not a one had any of the genetic deformations. You can bet that Dona Ivanova was looking over my shoulder the whole time. We zeroed in immediately on the problem genes and cleared each of the children, bim bim bim, just like that. "

"None of them had it? Not even a recessive tendency?"

"Graças a Deus," said the doctor. "Who would ever have married them if they had had the poisoned genes? As it was, I can't understand how Marcão's own genetic defect went undiscovered."

"Are genetic scans routine here?"

"Oh, no, not at all. But we had a great plague some thirty years ago. Dona Ivanova's own parents, the Venerado Gusto and the Venerada Cida, they conducted a detailed genetic scan of every man, woman, and child in the colony. It's how they found the cure. And their computer comparisons would definitely have turned up this particular defect-- that's how I found out what it was when Marcão died. I'd never heard of the disease, but the computer had it on file."

"And Os Venerados didn't find it?"

"Apparently not, or they would surely have told Marcos. And even if they hadn't told him, Ivanova herself should have found it."

"Maybe she did," said Ender.

Navio laughed aloud. "Impossible. No woman in her right mind would deliberately bear the children of a man with a genetic defect like that. Marcão was surely in constant agony for many years. You don't wish that on your own children. No, Ivanova may be eccentric, but she's not insane."

Jane was quite amused. When Ender got home, she made her image appear above his terminal just so she could laugh uproariously.

"He can't help it," said Ender. "In a devout Catholic colony like this, dealing with the Biologista, one of the most respected people here, of course he doesn't think to question his basic premises."

"Don't apologize for him," said Jane. "I don't expect wetware to work as logically as software. But you can't ask me not to be amused."

"In a way it's rather sweet of him," said Ender. "He'd rather believe that Marcão's disease was different from every other recorded case. He'd rather believe that somehow Ivanova's parents didn't notice that Marcos had the disease, and so she married him in ignorance, even though Ockham's razor decrees that we believe the simplest explanation: Maredo's decay progressed like every other, testes first, and all of Novinha's children were sired by someone else. No wonder Marcão was bitter and angry. Every one of her six children reminded him that his wife was sleeping with another man. It was probably part of their bargain in the beginning that she would not be faithful to him. But six children is rather rubbing his nose in it."

"The delicious contradictions of religious life," said Jane. "She deliberately set out to commit adultery-- but she would never dream of using a contraceptive."

"Have you scanned the children's genetic pattern to find the most likely father?"

"You mean you haven't guessed?"

"I've guessed, but I want to make sure the clinical evidence doesn't disprove the obvious answer."

"It was Libo, of course. What a dog! He sired six children on Novinha, and four more on his own wife."

"What I don't understand," said Ender, "is why Novinha didn't marry Libo in the first place. It makes no sense at all for her to have married a man she obviously despised, whose disease she certainly knew about, and then to go ahead and bear children to the man she must have loved from the beginning. "

"Twisted and perverse are the ways of the human mind," Jane intoned. "Pinocchio was such a dolt to try to become a real boy. He was much better off with a wooden head."

Miro carefully picked his way through the forest. He recognized trees now and then, or thought he did-- no human could ever have the piggies' knack for naming every single tree in the woods. But then, humans didn't worship the trees as totems of their ancestors, either.

Miro had deliberately chosen a longer way to reach the piggies' log house. Ever since Libo accepted Miro as a second apprentice, to work with him alongside Libo's daughter, Ouanda, he had taught them that they must never form a path leading from Milagre to the piggies' home. Someday, Libo warned them, there may be trouble between human and piggy; we will make no path to guide a pogrom to its destination. So today Miro walked the far side of the creek, along the top of the high bank.

Sure enough, a piggy soon appeared in the near distance, watching him. That was how Libo reasoned out, years ago, that the females must live somewhere in that direction; the males always kept a watch on the Zenadors when they went too near. And, as Libo had insisted, Miro made no effort to move any farther in the forbidden direction. His curiosity dampened whenever he remembered what Libo's body looked like when he and Ouanda found it. Libo had not been quite dead yet; his eyes were open and moving. He only died when both Miro and Ouanda knelt at either side of him, each holding a blood-covered hand. Ah, Libo, your blood still pumped when your heart lay naked in your open chest. If only you could have spoken to us, one word to tell us why they killed you.

The bank became low again, and Miro [note: original text says "Libo," probable accident] crossed the brook by running lightly on the moss-covered stones. In a few more minutes he was there, coming into the small clearing from the east.

Ouanda was already there, teaching them how to churn the cream of cabra milk to make a sort of butter. She had been experimenting with the process for the past several weeks before she got it right. It would have been easier if she could have had some help from Mother, or even Ela, since they knew so much more about the chemical properties of cabra milk, but cooperating with a Biologista was out of the question. Os Venerados had discovered thirty years ago that cabra milk was nutritionally useless to humans. Therefore any investigation of how to process it for storage could only be for the piggies' benefit. Miro and Ouanda could not risk anything that might let it be known they were breaking the law and actively intervening in the piggies' way of life.

The younger piggies took to butter-churning with delightthey had made a dance out of kneading the cabra bladders and were singing now, a nonsensical song that mixed Stark, Portuguese, and two of the piggies' own languages into a hopeless but hilarious muddle. Miro tried to sort out the languages. He recognized Males' Language, of course, and also a few fragments of Fathers' Language, the language they used to speak to their totem trees; Miro recognized it only by its sound; even Libo hadn't been able to translate a single word. It all sounded like ms and bs and gs, with no detectable difference among the vowels.

The piggy who had been shadowing Miro in the woods now emerged and greeted the others with a loud hooting sound. The dancing went on, but the song stopped immediately. Mandachuva detached himself from the group around Ouanda and came to meet Miro at the clearing's edge.

"Welcome, I-Look-Upon-You-With-Desire." That was, of course, an extravagantly precise translation of Miro's name into Stark. Mandachuva loved translating names back and forth between Portuguese and Stark, even though Miro and Ouanda had both explained that their names didn't really mean anything at all, and it was only coincidence if they sounded like words. But Mandachuva enjoyed his language games, as so many piggies did, and so Miro answered to I-Look-Upon-You-With-Desire, just as Ouanda patiently answered to Vaga, which was Portuguese for "wander," the Stark word that most sounded like "Ouanda. "

Mandachuva was a puzzling case. He was the oldest of the piggies. Pipo had known him, and wrote of him as though he were the most prestigious of the piggies. Libo, too, seemed to think of him as a leader. Wasn't his name a slangy Portuguese term for "boss"? Yet to Miro and Ouanda, it seemed as though Mandachuva was the least powerful and prestigious of the piggies. No one seemed to consult him on anything; he was the one piggy who always had free time to converse with the Zenadors, because he was almost never engaged in an important task.

Still, he was the piggy who gave the most information to the Zenadors. Miro couldn't begin to guess whether he had lost his prestige because of his information-sharing, or shared information with the humans to make up for his low prestige among the piggies. It didn't even matter. The fact was that Miro liked Mandachuva. He thought of the old piggy as his friend.

"Has the woman forced you to eat that foul-smelling paste?" asked Miro.

"Pure garbage, she says. Even the baby cabras cry when they have to suck a teat." Mandachuva giggled.

"If you leave that as a gift for the ladyfolk, they'll never speak to you again."

"Still, we must, we must," said Mandachuva, sighing. "They have to see everything, the prying macios!"

Ah, yes, the bafflement of the females. Sometimes the piggies spoke of them with sincere, elaborate respect, almost awe, as if they were gods. Then a piggy would say something as crude as to call them "macios," the worms that slithered on the bark of trees. The Zenadors couldn't even ask about them-- the piggies would never answer questions about the females. There had been a time-- a long time-- when the piggies didn't even mention the existence of females at all. Libo always hinted darkly that the change had something to do with Pipo's death. Before he died, the mention of females was tabu, except with reverence at rare moments of great holiness; afterward, the piggies also showed this wistful, melancholy way of joking about "the wives." But the Zenadors could never get an answer to a question about the females. The piggies made it plain that the females were none of their business.

A whistle came from the group around Ouanda. Mandachuva immediately began pulling Miro toward the group. "Arrow wants to talk to you."

Miro came and sat beside Ouanda. She did not look at him-they had learned long ago that it made the piggies very uncomfortable when they had to watch male and female humans in direct conversation, or even having eye contact with each other. They would talk with Ouanda alone, but whenever Miro was present they would not speak to her or endure it if she spoke to them. Sometimes it drove Miro crazy that she couldn't so much as wink at him in front of the piggies. He could feel her body as if she were giving off heat like a small star.

"My friend," said Arrow. "I have a great gift to ask of you."

Miro could hear Ouanda tensing slightly beside him. The piggies did not often ask for anything, and it always caused difficulty when they did.

"Will you hear me?"

Miro nodded slowly. "But remember that among humans I am nothing, with no power." Libo had discovered that the piggies were not at all insulted to think that the humans sent powerless delegates among them, while the image of impotence helped them explain the strict limitations on what the Zenadors could do.

"This is not a request that comes from us, in our silly and stupid conversations around the night fire."

"I only wish I could hear the wisdom that you call silliness," said Miro, as he always did.

"It was Rooter, speaking out of his tree, who said this."

Miro sighed silently. He liked dealing with piggy religion as little as he liked his own people's Catholicism. In both cases he had to pretend to take the most outrageous beliefs seriously. Whenever anything particularly daring or importunate was said, the piggies always ascribed it to one ancestor or another, whose spirit dwelt in one of the ubiquitous trees. It was only in the last few years, beginning not long before Libo's death, that they started singling out Rooter as the source of most of the troublesome ideas. It was ironic that a piggy they had executed as a rebel was now treated with such respect in their ancestor-worship.

Still, Miro responded as Libo had always responded. "We have nothing but honor and affection for Rooter, if you honor him."

"We must have metal."

Miro closed his eyes. So much for the Zenadors' longstanding policy of never using metal tools in front of the piggies. Obviously, the piggies had observers of their own, watching humans at work from some vantage point near the fence. "What do you need metal for?" he asked quietly.

"When the shuttle came down with the Speaker for the Dead, it gave off a terrible heat, hotter than any fire we can make. And yet the shuttle didn't burn, and it didn't melt."

"That wasn't the metal, it was a heat-absorbent plastic shield. "

"Perhaps that helps, but metal is in the heart of that machine. In all your machines, wherever you use fire and heat to make things move, there is metal. We will never be able to make fires like yours until we have metal of our own. "

"I can't," said Miro.

"Do you tell us that we are condemned always to be varelse, and never ramen?"

I wish, Ouanda, that you had not explained Demosthenes' Hierarchy of Exclusion to them. "You are not condemned to anything. What we have given you so far, we have made out of things that grow in your natural world, like cabras. Even that, if we were discovered, would cause us to be exiled from this world, forbidden ever to see you again."

"The metal you humans use also comes out of our natural world. We've seen your miners digging it out of the ground far to the south of here."

Miro stored that bit of information for future reference. There was no vantage point outside the fence where the mines would be visible. Therefore the piggies must be crossing the fence somehow and observing humans from within the enclave. "It comes out of the ground, but only in certain places, which I don't know how to find. And even when they dig it up, it's mixed with other kinds of rock. They have to purify it and transform it in very difficult processes. Every speck of metal dug out of the ground is accounted for. If we gave you so much as a single tool-- a screwdriver or a masonry saw-- it would be missed, it would be searched for. No one searches for cabra milk."

Arrow looked at him steadily for some time; Miro met his gaze. "We will think about this," Arrow said. He reached out his hand toward Calendar, who put three arrows in his hand. "Look. Are these good?"

They were as perfect as Arrow's fletchery usually was, well-feathered and true. The innovation was in the tip. It was not made of obsidian.

"Cabra bone," said Miro.

"We use the cabra to kill the cabra." He handed the arrows back to Calendar. Then he got up and walked away.

Calendar held the slender wooden arrows out in front of him and sang something to them in Fathers' Language. Miro recognized the song, though he did not understand the words. Mandachuva had once explained to him that it was a prayer, asking the dead tree to forgive them for using tools that were not made of wood. Otherwise, he said, the trees would think the Little Ones hated them. Religion. Miro sighed.

Calendar carried the arrows away. Then the young piggy named Human took his place, squatting on the ground in front of Miro. He was carrying a leaf-wrapped bundle, which he laid on the dirt and opened carefully.

It was the printout of The Hive Queen and the Hegemon that Miro had given them four years ago. It had been part of a minor quarrel between Miro and Ouanda. Ouanda began it, in a conversation with the piggies about religion. It was not really her fault. It began with Mandachuva asking her, "How can you humans live without trees?"

She understood the question, of course-- he was not speaking of woody plants, but of gods.

"We have a God, too-- a man who died and yet still lived," she explained. Just one? Then where does he live now? "No one knows." Then what good is he? How can you talk to him? "He dwells in our hearts."

They were baffled by this; Libo would later laugh and say, "You see? To them our sophisticated theology sounds like superstition. Dwells in our hearts indeed! What kind of religion is that, compared to one with gods you can see and feel--"

"And climb and pick macios from, not to mention the fact that they cut some of them down to make their log house," said Ouanda.

"Cut? Cut them down? Without stone or metal tools? No, Ouanda, they pray them down." But Ouanda was not amused by jokes about religion.

At the piggies' request Ouanda later brought them a printout of the Gospel of St. John from the simplified Stark paraphrase of the Douai Bible. But Miro had insisted on giving them, along with it, a printout of The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. "St. John says nothing about beings who live on other worlds," Miro pointed out. "But the Speaker for the Dead explains buggers to humans-- and humans to buggers." Ouanda had been outraged at his blasphemy. But not a year later they found the piggies lighting fires using pages of St. John as kindling, while The Hive Queen and the Hegemon was tenderly wrapped in leaves. It caused Ouanda a great deal of grief for a while, and Miro learned that it was wiser not to goad her about it.

Now Human opened the printout to the last page. Miro noticed that from the moment he opened the book, all the piggies quietly gathered around. The butter-churning dance ended. Human touched the last words of the printout. "The Speaker for the Dead," he murmured.

"Yes, I met him last night."

"He is the true Speaker. Rooter says so." Miro had warned them that there were many Speakers, and the writer of The Hive Queen and the Hegemon was surely dead. Apparently they still couldn't get rid of the hope that the one who had come here was the real one, who had written the holy book.

"I believe he's a good Speaker," said Miro. "He was kind to my family, and I think he might be trusted."

"When will he come and Speak to us?"

"I didn't ask him yet. It's not something that I can say right out. It will take time."

Human tipped his head back and howled.

Is this my death? thought Miro.

No. The others touched Human gently and then helped him wrap the printout again and carry it away. Miro stood up to leave. None of the piggies watched him go. Without being ostentatious about it, they were all busy doing something. He might as well have been invisible.

Ouanda caught up with him just within the forest's edge, where the underbrush made them invisible to any possible observers from Milagre-- though no one ever bothered to look toward the forest. "Miro," she called softly. He turned just in time to take her in his arms; she had such momentum that he had to stagger backward to keep from falling down. "Are you trying to kill me?" he asked, or tried to-- she kept kissing him, which made it difficult to speak in complete sentences. Finally he gave up on speech and kissed her back, once, long and deep. Then she abruptly pulled away.

"You're getting libidinous," she said.

"It happens whenever women attack me and kiss me in the forest."

"Cool your shorts, Miro, it's still a long way off. " She took him by the belt, pulled him close, kissed him again. "Two more years until we can marry without your mother's consent."

Miro did not even try to argue. He did not care much about the priestly proscription of fornication, but he did understand how vital it was in a fragile community like Milagre for marriage customs to be strictly adhered to. Large and stable communities could absorb a reasonable amount of unsanctioned coupling; Milagre was far too small. What Ouanda did from faith, Miro did from rational thought-- despite a thousand opportunities, they were as celibate as monks. Though if Miro thought for one moment that they would ever have to live the same vows of chastity in marriage that were required in the Filhos' monastery, Ouanda's virginity would be in grave and immediate danger.

"This Speaker," said Ouanda. "You know how I feel about bringing him out here."

"That's your Catholicism speaking, not rational inquiry." He tried to kiss her, but she lowered her face at the last moment and he got a mouthful of nose. He kissed it passionately until she laughed and pushed him away.

"You are messy and offensive, Miro." She wiped her nose on her sleeve. "We already shot the scientific method all to hell when we started helping them raise their standard of living. We have ten or twenty years before the satellites start showing obvious results. By then maybe we'll have been able to make a permanent difference. But we've got no chance if we let a stranger in on the project. He'll tell somebody."

"Maybe he will and maybe he won't. I was a stranger once, you know."

"Strange, but never a stranger."

"You had to see him last night, Ouanda. With Grego first, and then when Quara woke up crying--"

"Desperate, lonely children-- what does that prove?"

"And Ela. Laughing. And Olhado, actually taking part in the family."

"Quim?"

"At least he stopped yelling for the infidel to go home."

"I'm glad for your family, Miro. I hope he can heal them permanently, I really do-- I can see the difference in you, too, you're more hopeful than I've seen you in a long time. But don't bring him out here."

Miro chewed on the side of his cheek for a moment, then walked away. Ouanda ran after him, caught him by the arm. They were in the open, but Rooter's tree was between them and the gate. "Don't leave me like that!" she said fiercely. "Don't just walk away from me!"

"I know you're right," Miro said. "But I can't help how I feel. When he was in our house, it was like-- it was as if Libo had come there."

"Father hated your mother, Miro, he would never have gone there."

"But if he had. In our house this Speaker was the way Libo always was in the Station. Do you see?"

"Do you? He comes in and acts the way your father should have but never did, and every single one of you rolls over belly-up like a puppy dog."

The contempt on her face was infuriating. Miro wanted to hit her. Instead he walked over and slapped his hand against Rooter's tree. In only a quarter of a century it had grown to almost eighty centimeters in diameter, and the bark was rough and painful on his hand.

She came up behind him. "I'm sorry, Miro, I didn't mean--"

"You meant it, but it was stupid and selfish--"

"Yes, it was, I--"

"Just because my father was scum doesn't mean I go belly-up for the first nice man who pats my head--"

Her hand stroked his hair, his shoulder, his waist. "I know, I know, I know--"

"Because I know what a good man is-- not just a father, a good man. I knew Libo, didn't I? And when I tell you that this Speaker, this Andrew Wiggin is like Libo, then you listen to me and don't dismiss it like the whimpering of a cão!"

"I do listen. I want to meet him, Miro."

Miro surprised himself. He was crying. It was all part of what this Speaker could do, even when he wasn't present. He had loosened all the tight places in Miro's heart, and now Miro couldn't stop anything from coming out.

"You're right, too," said Miro softly, his voice distorted with emotion. "I saw him come in with his healing touch and I thought, If only he had been my father." He turned to face Ouanda, not caring if she saw his eyes red and his face streaked with tears. "Just the way I used to say that every day when I went home from the Zenador's Station. If only Libo were my father, if only I were his son."

She smiled and held him; her hair took the tears from his face. "Ah, Miro, I'm glad he wasn't your father. Because then I'd be your sister, and I could never hope to have you for myself."

10

Children of the Mind

Rule 1: All Children of the Mind of Christ must be married, or they may not be in the order; but they must be chaste.

Question 1: Why is marriage necessary for anyone?

Fools say, Why should we marry? Love is the only bond my lover and I need. To them I say, Marriage is not a covenant between a man and a woman; even the beasts cleave together and produce their young. Marriage is a covenant between a man and woman on the one side and their community on the other. To marry according to the law of the community is to become a full citizen; to refuse marriage is to be a stranger, a child, an outlaw, a slave, or a traitor. The one constant in every society of humankind is that only those who obey the laws, tabus, and customs of marriage are true adults.

Question 2: Why then is celibacy ordained for priests and nuns?

To separate them from the community. The priests and nuns are servants, not citizens. They minister to the Church, but they are not the Church. Mother Church is the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom; the priests and nuns are merely guests at the wedding, for they have rejected citizenship in the community of Christ in order to serve it.

Question 3: Why then do the Children of the Mind of Christ marry? Do we not also serve the Church?

We do not serve the Church, except as all women and men serve it through their marriages. The difference is that where they pass on their genes to the next generation, we pass on our knowledge; their legacy is found in the genetic molecules of generations to come, while we live on in their minds. Memories are the offspring of our marriages, and they are neither more or less worthy than the flesh-and-blood children conceived in sacramental love.

--San Angelo, The Rule and Catechism of the Order of the Children of the Mind of Christ, 1511:11:11:1

The Dean of the Cathedral carried the silence of dark chapels and massive, soaring walls wherever he went: When he entered the classroom, a heavy peace fell upon the students, and even their breathing was guarded as he noiselessly drifted to the front of the room.

"Dom Cristão," murmured the Dean. "The Bishop has need of consultation with you."

The students, most of them in their teens, were not so young that they didn't know of the strained relations between the hierarchy of the Church and the rather freewheeling monastics who ran most of the Catholic schools in the Hundred Worlds. Dom Cristão, besides being an excellent teacher of history, geology, archaeology, and anthropology, was also abbot of the monastery of the Filhos da Mente de Cristo-- the Children of the Mind of Christ. His position made him the Bishop's primary rival for spiritual supremacy in Lusitania. In some ways he could even be considered the Bishop's superior; on most worlds there was only one abbot of the Filhos for each archbishop, while for each bishop there was a principal of a school system.

But Dom Cristão, like all Filhos, made it a point to be completely deferent to the Church hierarchy. At the Bishop's summons he immediately switched off the lectern and dismissed the class without so much as completing the point under discussion. The students were not surprised; they knew he would do the same if any ordained priest had interrupted his class. It was, of course, immensely flattering to the priesthood to see how important they were in the eyes of the Filhos; but it also made it plain to them that any time they visited the school during teaching hours, classwork would be completely disrupted wherever they went. As a result, the priests rarely visited the school, and the Filhos, through extreme deference, maintained almost complete independence.

Dom Cristão had a pretty good idea why the Bishop had summoned him. Dr. Navio was an indiscreet man, and rumors had been flying all morning about some dreadful threat by the Speaker for the Dead. It was hard for Dom Cristão to bear the groundless fears of the hierarchy whenever they were confronted with infidels and heretics. The Bishop would be in a fury, which meant that he would demand some action from somebody, even though the best course, as usual, was inaction, patience, cooperation. Besides, word had spread that this particular Speaker claimed to be the very one who Spoke the death of San Angelo. If that was the case, he was probably not an enemy at all, but a friend of the Church. Or at least a friend of the Filhos, which in Dom Cristão's mind amounted to the same thing.

As he followed the silent Dean among the buildings of the faculdade and through the garden of the Cathedral, he cleared his heart of the anger and annoyance he felt. Over and over he repeated his monastic name: Amai a Tudomundo Para Que Deus Vos Ame. Ye Must Love Everyone So That God Will Love You. He had chosen the name carefully when he and his fiancée‚ joined the order, for he knew that his greatest weakness was anger and impatience with stupidity. Like all Filhos, he named himself with the invocation against his most potent sin. It was one of the ways they made themselves spiritually naked before the world. We will not clothe ourselves in hypocrisy, taught San Angelo. Christ will clothe us in virtue like the lilies of the field, but we will make no effort to appear virtuous ourselves. Dom Cristão felt his virtue wearing thin in places today; the cold wind of impatience might freeze him to the bone. So he silently chanted his name, thinking: Bishop Peregrino is a damned fool, but Amai a Tudomundo Para Que Deus Vos Ame.

"Brother Amai," said Bishop Peregrino. He never used the honorific Dom Cristão, even though cardinals had been known to give that much courtesy. "It was good of you to come."

Navio was already sitting in the softest chair, but Dom Cristão did not begrudge him that. Indolence had made Navio fat, and his fat now made him indolent; it was such a circular disease, feeding always on itself, and Dom Cristão was grateful not to be so afflicted. He chose for himself a tall stool with no back at all. It would keep his body from relaxing, and that would help his mind to stay alert.

Navio almost at once launched into an account of his painful meeting with the Speaker for the Dead, complete with elaborate explanations of what the Speaker had threatened to do if noncooperation continued. "An inquisitor, if you can imagine that! An infidel daring to supplant the authority of Mother Church!" Oh, how the lay member gets the crusading spirit when Mother Church is threatened-- but ask him to go to mass once a week, and the crusading spirit curls up and goes to sleep.

Navio's words did have some effect: Bishop Peregrino grew more and more angry, his face getting a pinkish tinge under the deep brown of his skin. When Navio's recitation finally ended, Peregrino turned to Dom Cristão, his face a mask of fury, and said, "Now what do you say, Brother Amai!"

I would say, if I were less discreet, that you were a fool to interfere with this Speaker when you knew the law was on his side and when he had done nothing to harm us. Now he is provoked, and is far more dangerous than he would ever have been if you had simply ignored his coming.

Dom Cristão smiled thinly and inclined his head. "I think that we should strike first to remove his power to harm us."

Those militant words took Bishop Peregrino by surprise. "Exactly," he said. "But I never expected you to understand that."

"The Filhos are as ardent as any unordained Christian could hope to be," said Dom Cristão. "But since we have no priesthood, we have to make do with reason and logic as poor substitutes for authority."

Bishop Peregrino suspected irony from time to time, but was never quite able to pin it down. He grunted, and his eyes narrowed. "So, then, Brother Amai, how do you propose to strike him?"

"Well, Father Peregrino, the law is quite explicit. He has power over us only if we interfere with his performance of his ministerial duties. If we wish to strip him of the power to harm us, we have merely to cooperate with him."

The Bishop roared and struck the table before him with his fist. "Just the sort of sophistry I should have expected from you, Amai!"

Dom Cristão smiled. "There's really no alternative-- either we answer his questions, or he petitions with complete justice for inquisitorial status, and you board a starship for the Vatican to answer charges of religious persecution. We are all too fond of you, Bishop Peregrino, to do anything that would cause your removal from office."

"Oh, yes, I know all about your fondness."

"The speakers for the dead are really quite innocuous-- they set up no rival organization, they perform no sacraments, they don't even claim that The Hive Queen and the Hegemon is a work of scripture. They only thing they do is try to discover the truth about the lives of the dead, and then tell everyone who will listen the story of a dead person's life as the dead one meant to live it."

"And you pretend to find that harmless?"

"On the contrary. San Angelo founded our order precisely because the telling of truth is such a powerful act. But I think it is far less harmful then, say, the Protestant Reformation. And the revocation of our Catholic License on the grounds of religious persecution would guarantee the immediate authorization of enough non-Catholic immigration to make us represent no more than a third of the population."

Bishop Peregrino fondled his ring. "But would the Starways Congress actually authorize that? They have a fixed limit on the size of this colony-- bringing in that many infidels would far exceed that limit."

"But you must know that they've already made provision for that. Why do you think two starships have been left in orbit around our planet? Since a Catholic License guarantees unrestricted population growth, they will simply carry off our excess population in forced emigration. They expect to do it in a generation or two-- what's to stop them from beginning now?"

"They wouldn't."

"Starways Congress was formed to stop the jihads and pogroms that were going on in half a dozen places all the time. An invocation of the religious persecution laws is a serious matter."

"It is entirely out of proportion! One Speaker for the Dead is called for by some half-crazed heretic, and suddenly we're confronted with forced emigration!"

"My beloved father, this has always been the way of things between the secular authority and the religious. We must be patient, if for no other reason than this: They have all the guns."

Navio chuckled at that.

"They may have the guns, but we hold the keys of heaven and hell," said the Bishop.

"And I'm sure that half of Starways Congress already writhes in anticipation. In the meantime, though, perhaps I can help ease the pain of this awkward time. Instead of your having to publicly retract your earlier remarks--" (your stupid, destructive, bigoted remarks) "--let it be known that you have instructed the Filhos da Mente de Cristo to bear the onerous burden of answering the questions of this infidel."

"You may not know all the answers that he wants," said Navio.

"But we can find out the answers for him, can't we? Perhaps this way the people of Milagre will never have to answer to the Speaker directly; instead they will speak only to harmless brothers and sisters of our order."

"In other words," said Peregrino dryly, "the monks of your order will become servants of the infidel."

Dom Cristão silently chanted his name three times.

Not since he was a child in the military had Ender felt so clearly that he was in enemy territory. The path up the hill from the praça was worn from the steps of many worshippers' feet, and the cathedral dome was so tall that except for a few moments on the steepest slope, it was visible all the way up the hill. The primary school was on his left hand, built in terraces up the slope; to the right was the Vila dos Professores, named for the teachers but in fact inhabited mostly by the groundskeepers, janitors, clerks, counselors, and other menials. The teachers that Ender saw all wore the grey robes of the Filhos, and they eyed him curiously as he passed.

The enmity began when he reached the top of the hill, a wide, almost flat expanse of lawn and garden immaculately tended, with crushed ores from the smelter making neat paths. Here is the world of the Church, thought Ender, everything in its place and no weeds allowed. He was aware of the many watching him, but now the robes were black or orange, priests and deacons, their eyes malevolent with authority under threat. What do I steal from you by coming here? Ender asked them silently. But he knew that their hatred was not undeserved. He was a wild herb growing in the well-tended garden; wherever he stepped, disorder threatened, and many lovely flowers would die if he took root and sucked the life from their soil.

Jane chatted amiably with him, trying to provoke him into answering her, but Ender refused to be caught by her game. The priests would not see his lips move; there was a considerable faction in the Church that regarded implants like the jewel in his ear as a sacrilege, trying to improve on a body that God had created perfect.

"How many priests can this community support, Ender?" she said, pretending to marvel.

Ender would have liked to retort that she already had the exact number of them in her files. One of her pleasures was to say annoying things when he was not in a position to answer, or even to publicly acknowledge that she was speaking in his ear.

"Drones that don't even reproduce. If they don't copulate, doesn't evolution demand that they expire?" Of course she knew that the priests did most of the administrative and public service work of the community. Ender composed his answers to her as if he could speak them aloud. If the priests weren't there, then government or business or guilds or some other group would expand to take up the burden. Some sort of rigid hierarchy always emerged as the conservative force in a community, maintaining its identity despite the constant variations and changes that beset it. If there were no powerful advocate of orthodoxy, the community would inevitably disintegrate. A powerful orthodoxy is annoying, but essential to the community. Hadn't Valentine written about this in her book on Zanzibar? She compared the priestly class to the skeleton of vertebrates.

Just to show him that she could anticipate his arguments even when he couldn't say them aloud, Jane supplied the quotation; teasingly, she spoke it in Valentine's own voice, which she had obviously stored away in order to torment him. "The bones are hard and by themselves seem dead and stony, but by rooting into and pulling against the skeleton, the rest of the body carries out all the motions of life."

The sound of Valentine's voice hurt him more than he expected, certainly more than Jane would have intended. His step slowed. He realized that it was her absence that made him so sensitive to the priests' hostility. He had bearded the Calvinist lion in its den, he had walked philosophically naked among the burning coals of Islam, and Shinto fanatics had sung death threats outside his window in Kyoto. But always Valentine had been close-- in the same city, breathing the same air, afflicted by the same weather. She would speak courage to him as he set out; he would return from confrontation and her conversation would make sense even of his failures, giving him small shreds of triumph even in defeat. I left her a mere ten days ago, and now, already, I feel the lack of her.

"To the left, I think," said Jane. Mercifully, she was using her own voice now. "The monastery is at the western edge of the hill, overlooking the Zenador's Station."

He passed alongside the faculdade, where students from the age of twelve studied the higher sciences. And there, low to the ground, the monastery lay waiting. He smiled at the contrast between the cathedral and the monastery. The Filhos were almost offensive in their rejection of magnificence. No wonder the hierarchy resented them wherever they went. Even the monastery garden made a rebellious statement-- everything that wasn't a vegetable garden was abandoned to weeds and unmown grass.

The abbot was called Dom Cristão, of course; it would have been Dona Cristão had the abbot been a woman. In this place, because there was only one escola baixa and one faculdade, there was only one principal; with elegant simplicity, the husband headed the monastery and his wife the schools, enmeshing all the affairs of the order in a single marriage. Ender had told San Angelo right at the beginning that it was the height of pretension, not humility at all, for the leaders of the monasteries and schools to be called "Sir Christian" or "Lady Christian," arrogating to themselves a title that should belong to every follower of Christ impartially. San Angelo had only smiled-- because, of course, that was precisely what he had in mind. Arrogant in his humility, that's what he was, and that was one of the reasons that I loved him.

Dom Cristão came out into the courtyard to greet him instead of waiting for him in his escritorio-- part of the discipline of the order was to inconvenience yourself deliberately in favor of those you serve. "Speaker Andrew!" he cried. "Dom Ceifeiro!" Ender called in return. Ceifeiro-- reaper-- was the order's own title for the office of abbot; school principals were called Aradores, plowmen, and teaching monks were Semeadores, sowers.

The Ceifeiro smiled at the Speaker's rejection of his common title, Dom Cristão. He knew how manipulative it was to require other people to call the Filhos by their titles and made-up names. As San Angelo said, "When they call you by your title, they admit you are a Christian; when they call you by your name, a sermon comes from their own lips." He took Ender by the shoulders, smiled, and said, "Yes, I'm the Ceifeiro. And what are you to us-- our infestation of weeds?"

"I try to be a blight wherever I go."

"Beware, then, or the Lord of the Harvest will burn you with the tares."

"I know-- damnation is only a breath away, and there's no hope of getting me to repent."

"The priests do repentance. Our job is teaching the mind. It was good of you to come."

"It was good of you to invite me here. I had been reduced to the crudest sort of bludgeoning in order to get anyone to converse with me at all."

The Ceifeiro understood, of course, that the Speaker knew the invitation had come only because of his inquisitorial threat. But Brother Amai preferred to keep the discussion cheerful. "Come, now, is it true you knew San Angelo? Are you the very one who Spoke his death?"

Ender gestured toward the tall weeds peering over the top of the courtyard wall. "He would have approved of the disarray of your garden. He loved provoking Cardinal Aquila, and no doubt your Bishop Peregrino also curls his nose in disgust at your shoddy groundskeeping."

Dom Cristão winked. "You know too many of our secrets. If we help you find answers to your questions, will you go away?"

"There's hope. The longest I've stayed anywhere since I began serving as a speaker was the year and a half I lived in Reykjavik, on Trondheim."

"I wish you'd promise us a similar brevity here. I ask, not for myself, but for the peace of mind of those who wear much heavier robes than mine."

Ender gave the only sincere answer that might help set the Bishop's mind at ease. "I promise that if I ever find a place to settle down, I'll shed my title of speaker and become a productive citizen."

"In a place like this, that would include conversion to Catholicism."

"San Angelo made me promise years ago that if I ever got religion, it would be his."

"Somehow that does not sound like a sincere protestation of faith."

"That's because I haven't any."

The Ceifeiro laughed as if he knew better, and insisted on showing Ender around the monastery and the schools before getting to Ender's questions. Ender didn't mind-- he wanted to see how far San Angelo's ideas had come in the centuries since his death. The schools seemed pleasant enough, and the quality of education was high; but it was dark before the Ceifeiro led him back to the monastery and into the small cell that he and his wife, the Aradora, shared.

Dona Cristã was already there, creating a series of grammatical exercises on the terminal between the beds. They waited until she found a stopping place before addressing her.

The Ceifeiro introduced him as Speaker Andrew. "But he seems to find it hard to call me Dom Cristão."

"So does the Bishop," said his wife. "My true name is Detestai o Pecado e Fazei o Direito." Hate Sin and Do the Right, Ender translated. "My husband's name lends itself to a lovely shortening-- Amai, love ye. But mine? Can you imagine shouting to a friend, Oi! Detestai! " They all laughed. "Love and Loathing, that's who we are, husband and wife. What will you call me, if the name Christian is too good for me?"

Ender looked at her face, beginning to wrinkle enough that someone more critical than he might call her old. Still, there was laughter in her smile and a vigor in her eyes that made her seem much younger, even younger than Ender. "I would call you Beleza, but your husband would accuse me of flirting with you."

"No, he would call me Beladona-- from beauty to poison in one nasty little joke. Wouldn't you, Dom Cristão?"

"It's my job to keep you humble."

"Just as it's my job to keep you chaste," she answered.

At that, Ender couldn't help looking from one bed to the other.

"Ah, another one who's curious about our celibate marriage," said the Ceifeiro.

"No," said Ender. "But I remember San Angelo urging husband and wife to share a single bed."

"The only way we could do that," said the Aradora, "is if one of us slept at night and the other in the day."

"The rules must be adapted to the strength of the Filhos da Mente," the Ceifeiro explained. "No doubt there are some that can share a bed and remain celibate, but my wife is still too beautiful, and the lusts of my flesh too insistent."

"That was what San Angelo intended. He said that the marriage bed should be the constant test of your love of knowledge. He hoped that every man and woman in the order would, after a time, choose to reproduce themselves in the flesh as well as in the mind."

"But the moment we do that," said the Ceifeiro, "then we must leave the Filhos."

"It's the thing our dear San Angelo did not understand, because there was never a true monastery of the order during his life," said the Aradora. "The monastery becomes our family, and to leave it would be as painful as divorce. Once the roots go down, the plant can't come up again without great pain and tearing. So we sleep in separate beds, and we have just enough strength to remain in our beloved order."

She spoke with such contentment that quite against his will, Ender's eyes welled with tears. She saw it, blushed, looked away. "Don't weep for us, Speaker Andrew. We have far more joy than suffering."

"You misunderstand," said Ender. "My tears weren't for pity, but for beauty."

"No," said the Ceifeiro, "even the celibate priests think that our chastity in marriage is, at best, eccentric."

"But I don't," said Ender. For a moment he wanted to tell them of his long companionship with Valentine, as close and loving as a wife, and yet chaste as a sister. But the thought of her took words away from him. He sat on the Ceifeiro's bed and put his face in his hands.

"Is something wrong?" asked the Aradora. At the same time, the Ceifeiro's hand rested gently on his head.

Ender lifted his head, trying to shake off the sudden attack of love and longing for Valentine. "I'm afraid that this voyage has cost me more than any other. I left behind my sister, who traveled with me for many years. She married in Reykjavik. To me, it seems only a week or so since I left her, but I find that I miss her more than I expected. The two of you--"

"Are you telling us that you are also celibate?" asked the Ceifeiro.

"And widowed now as well," whispered the Aradora.

It did not seem at all incongruous to Ender to have his loss of Valentine put in those terms.

Jane murmured in his ear. "If this is part of some master plan of yours, Ender, I admit it's much too deep for me."

But of course it wasn't part of a plan at all. It frightened Ender to feel himself losing control like this. Last night in the Ribeira house he was the master of the situation; now he felt himself surrendering to these married monks with as much abandonment as either Quara or Grego had shown.

"I think," said the Ceifeiro, "that you came here seeking answers to more questions than you knew."

"You must be so lonely," said the Aradora. "Your sister has found her resting place. Are you looking for one, too?"

"I don't think so," said Ender. "I'm afraid I've imposed on your hospitality too much. Unordained monks aren't supposed to hear confessions."

The Aradora laughed aloud. "Oh, any Catholic can hear the confession of an infidel."

The Ceifeiro did not laugh, however. "Speaker Andrew, you have obviously given us more trust than you ever planned, but I can assure you that we deserve that trust. And in the process, my friend, I have come to believe that I can trust you. The Bishop is afraid of you, and I admit I had my own misgivings, but not anymore. I'll help you if I can, because I believe you will not knowingly cause harm to our little village."

"Ah," whispered Jane, "I see it now. A very clever maneuver on your part, Ender. You're much better at playacting than I ever knew."

Her gibing made Ender feel cynical and cheap, and he did what he had never done before. He reached up to the jewel, found the small disengaging pin, and with his fingernail pried it to the side, then down. The jewel went dead. Jane could no longer speak into his ear, no longer see and hear from his vantage point. "Let's go outside," Ender said.

They understood perfectly what he had just done, since the function of such an implant was well known; they saw it as proof of his desire for private and earnest conversation, and so they willingly agreed to go. Ender had meant switching off the jewel to be temporary, a response to Jane's insensitivity; he had thought to switch on the interface in only a few minutes. But the way the Aradora and the Ceifeiro seemed to relax as soon as the jewel was inactive made it impossible to switch it back on, for a while at least.

Out on the nighttime hillside, in conversation with the Aradora and the Ceifeiro, he forgot that Jane was not listening. They told him of Novinha's childhood solitude, and how they remembered seeing her come alive through Pipo's fatherly care, and Libo's friendship. "But from the night of his death, she became dead to us all."

Novinha never knew of the discussions that took place concerning her. The sorrows of most children might not have warranted meetings in the Bishop's chambers, conversations in the monastery among her teachers, endless speculations in the Mayor's office. Most children, after all, were not the daughter of Os Venerados; most were not their planet's only xenobiologist.

"She became very bland and businesslike. She made reports on her work with adapting native plant life for human use, and Earthborn plants for survival on Lusitania. She always answered every question easily and cheerfully and innocuously. But she was dead to us, she had no friends. We even asked Libo, God rest his soul, and he told us that he, who had been her friend, he did not even get the cheerful emptiness she showed to everyone else. Instead she raged at him and forbade him to ask her any questions." The Ceifeiro peeled a blade of native grass and licked the liquid of its inner surface. "You might try this, Speaker Andrew-- it has an interesting flavor, and since your body can't metabolize a bit of it, it's quite harmless."

"You might warn him, husband, that the edges of the grass can slice his lips and tongue like razor blades."

"I was about to."

Ender laughed, peeled a blade, and tasted it. Sour cinnamon, a hint of citrus, the heaviness of stale breath-- the taste was redolent of many things, few of them pleasant, but it was also strong. "This could be addictive."

"My husband is about to make an allegorical point, Speaker Andrew. Be warned."

The Ceifeiro laughed shyly. "Didn't San Angelo say that Christ taught the correct way, by likening new things to old?"

"The taste of the grass," said Ender. "What does it have to do with Novinha?"

"It's very oblique. But I think Novinha tasted something not at all pleasant, but so strong it overcame her, and she could never let go of the flavor."

"What was it?"

"In theological terms? The pride of universal guilt. It's a form of vanity and egomania. She holds herself responsible for things that could not possibly be her fault. As if she controlled everything, as if other people's suffering came about as punishment for her sins."

"She blames herself," said the Aradora, "for Pipo's death."

"She's not a fool," said Ender. "She knows it was the piggies, and she knows that Pipo went to them alone. How could it be her fault?"

"When this thought first occurred to me, I had the same objection. But then I looked over the transcripts and the recordings of the events of the night of Pipo's death. There was only one hint of anything-- a remark that Libo made, asking Novinha to show him what she and Pipo had been working on just before Pipo went to see the piggies. She said no. That was all-- someone else interrupted and they never came back to the subject, not in the Zenador's Station, anyway, not where the recordings could pick it up."

"It made us both wonder what went on just before Pipo's death, Speaker Andrew," said the Aradora. "Why did Pipo rush out like that? Had they quarreled over something? Was he angry? When someone dies, a loved one, and your last contact with them was angry or spiteful, then you begin to blame yourself. If only I hadn't said this, if only I hadn't said that."

"We tried to reconstruct what might have happened that night. We went to the computer logs, the ones that automatically retain working notes, a record of everything done by each person logged on. And everything pertaining to her was completely sealed up. Not just the files she was actually working on. We couldn't even get to the logs of her connect time. We couldn't even find out what files they were that she was hiding from us. We simply couldn't get in. Neither could the Mayor, not with her ordinary overrides--"

The Aradora nodded. "it was the first time anyone had ever locked up public files like that-- working files, part of the labor of the colony."

"It was an outrageous thing for her to do. Of course the Mayor could have used emergency override powers, but what was the emergency? We'd have to hold a public hearing, and we didn't have any legal justification. Just concern for her, and the law has no respect for people who pry for someone else's good. Someday perhaps we'll see what's in those files, what it was that passed between them just before Pipo died. She can't erase them because they're public business."

It didn't occur to Ender that Jane was not listening, that he had shut her out. He assumed that as soon as she heard this, she was overriding every protection Novinha had set up and discovering what was in her files.

"And her marriage to Marcos," said the Aradora. "Everyone knew it was insane. Libo wanted to marry her, he made no secret of that. But she said no."

"It's as if she were saying, I don't deserve to marry the man who could make me happy. I'll marry the man who'll be vicious and brutal, who'll give me the punishment that I deserve." The Ceifeiro sighed. "Her desire for self-punishment kept them apart forever." He reached out and touched his wife's hand.

Ender waited for Jane to make a smirking comment about how there were six children to prove that Libo and Novinha didn't stay completely apart. When she didn't say it, Ender finally remembered that he had turned off the interface. But now, with the Ceifeiro and the Aradora watching him, he couldn't very well turn it back on.

Because he knew that Libo and Novinha had been lovers for years, he also knew that the Ceifeiro and the Aradora were wrong. Oh, Novinha might well feel guilty-- that would explain why she endured Marcos, why she cut herself off from most other people. But it wasn't why she didn't marry Libo; no matter how guilty she felt, she certainly thought she deserved the pleasures of Libo's bed.

It was marriage with Libo, not Libo himself that she rejected. And that was not an easy choice in so small a colony, especially a Catholic one. So what was it that came along with marriage, but not with adultery? What was it she was avoiding?

"So you see, it's still a mystery to us. If you really intend to speak Marcos Ribeira's death, somehow you'll have to answer that question-- why did she marry him? And to answer that, you have to figure out why Pipo died. And ten thousand of the finest minds in the Hundred Worlds have been working on that for more than twenty years."

"But I have an advantage over all those finest minds," said Ender.

"And what is that?" asked the Ceifeiro.

"I have the help of people who love Novinha."

"We haven't been able to help ourselves," said the Aradora. "We haven't been able to help her, either."

"Maybe we can help each other," said Ender.

The Ceifeiro looked at him, put a hand on his shoulder. "If you mean that, Speaker Andrew, then you'll be as honest with us as we have been with you. You'll tell us the idea that just occurred to you not ten seconds ago."

Ender paused a moment, then nodded gravely. "I don't think Novinha refused to marry Libo out of guilt. I think she refused to marry him to keep him from getting access to those hidden files."

"Why?" asked the Ceifeiro. "Was she afraid he'd find out that she had quarreled with Pipo?"

"I don't think she quarreled with Pipo," said Ender. "I think she and Pipo discovered something, and the knowledge of it led to Pipo's death. That's why she locked the files. Somehow the information in them is fatal."

The Ceifeiro shook his head. "No, Speaker Andrew. You don't understand the power of guilt. People don't ruin their whole lives for a few bits of information-- but they'll do it for an even smaller amount of self-blame. You see, she did marry Marcos Riberia. And that was self-punishment."

Ender didn't bother to argue. They were right about Novinha's guilt; why else would she let Marcos Ribeira beat her and never complain about it? The guilt was there. But there was another reason for marrying Marcão. He was sterile and ashamed of it; to hide his lack of manhood from the town, he would endure a marriage of systematic cuckoldry. Novinha was willing to suffer, but not willing to live without Libo's body and Libo's children. No, the reason she wouldn't marry Libo was to keep him from the secrets in her files, because whatever was in there would make the piggies kill him.

How ironic, then. How ironic that they killed him anyway.

Back in his little house, Ender sat at the terminal and summoned Jane, again and again. She hadn't spoken to him at all on the way home, though as soon as he turned the jewel back on he apologized profusely. She didn't answer at the terminal, either.

Only now did he realize that the jewel meant far more to her than it did to him. He had merely been dismissing an annoying interruption, like a troublesome child. But for her, the jewel was her constant contact with the only human being who knew her. They had been interrupted before, many times, by space travel, by sleep; but this was the first time he had switched her off. It was as if the one person who knew her now refused to admit that she existed.

He pictured her like Quara, crying in her bed, longing to be picked up and held, reassured. Only she was not a flesh-and-blood child. He couldn't go looking for her. He could only wait and hope that she returned.

What did he know about her? He had no way of guessing how deep her emotions ran. It was even remotely possible that to her the jewel was herself, and by switching it off he had killed her.

No, he told himself. She's there, somewhere in the philotic connections between the hundreds of ansibles spread among the star systems of the Hundred Worlds.

"Forgive me," he typed into the terminal. "I need you."

But the jewel in his ear was silent, the terminal stayed still and cold. He had not realized how dependent he was on her constant presence with him. He had thought that he valued his solitude; now, though, with solitude forced upon him, he felt an urgent need to talk, to be heard by someone, as if he could not be sure he even existed without someone's conversation as evidence.

He even took the hive queen from her hiding place, though what passed between them could hardly be thought of as conversation. Even that was not possible now, however. Her thoughts came to him diffusely, weakly, and without the words that were so difficult for her; just a feeling of questioning and an image of her cocoon being laid within a cool damp place, like a cave or the hollow of a living tree. <Now?> she seemed to be asking. No, he had to answer, not yet, I'm sorry-- but she didn't linger for his apology, just slipped away, went back to whatever or whomever she had found for conversation of her own sort, and there was nothing for Ender but to sleep.

And then, when he awoke again late at night, gnawed by guilt at what he had unfeelingly done to Jane, he sat again at the terminal and typed. "Come back to me, Jane," he wrote. "I love you." And then he sent the message by ansible, out to where she could not possibly ignore it. Someone in the Mayor's office would read it, as all open ansible messages were read; no doubt the Mayor, the Bishop, and Dom Cristão would all know about it by morning. Let them wonder who Jane was, and why the Speaker cried out to her across the lightyears in the middle of the night. Ender didn't care. For now he had lost both Valentine and Jane, and for the first time in twenty years he was utterly alone.

11

Jane

The power of Starways Congress has been sufficient to keep the peace, not only between worlds but between nations on each single world, and that peace has lasted for nearly two thousand years.

What few people understand is the fragility of our power. It does not come from great armies or irresistible armadas, It comes from our control of the network of ansibles that carry information instantly from world to world.

No world dares offend us, because they would be cut off from all advances in science, technology, art, literature, learning, and entertainment except what their own world might produce.

That is why, in its great wisdom, the Stairways Congress has turned over control of the ansible network to computers, and the control of computers to the ansible network. So closely intertwined are all our information systems that no human power except Starways Congress could ever interrupt the flow. We need no weapons, because the only weapon that matters, the ansible, is completely under our control.

Congressor Jan Van Hoot, "The Informational Foundation of Political Power," Political Trends, 1930:2:22:22

For a very long time, almost three seconds, Jane could not understand what had happened to her. Everything functioned, of course: The satellite-based groundlink computer reported a cessation of transmissions, with an orderly stepdown, which clearly implied that Ender had switched off the interface in the normal manner. It was routine; on worlds where computer interface implants were common, switch-on and switch-off happened millions of times an hour. And Jane had just as easy access to any of the others as she had to Ender's. From a purely electronic standpoint, this was a completely ordinary event.

But to Jane, every other cifi unit was part of the background noise of her life, to be dipped into and sampled at need, and ignored at all other times. Her "body," insofar as she had a body, consisted of trillions of such electronic noises, sensors, memory files, terminals. Most of them, like most functions of the human body, simply took care of themselves. Computers ran their assigned programs; humans conversed with their terminals; sensors detected or failed to detect whatever they were looking for; memory was filled, accessed, reordered, dumped. She didn't notice unless something went massively wrong.

Or unless she was paying attention.

She paid attention to Ender Wiggin. More than he realized, she paid attention to him.

Like other sentient beings, she had a complex system of consciousness. Two thousand years before, when she was only a thousand years old, she had created a program to analyze herself. It reported a very simple structure of some 370,000 distinct levels of attention. Anything not in the top 50,000 levels were left alone except for the most routine sampling, the most cursory examination. She knew of every telephone call, every satellite transmission in the Hundred Worlds, but she didn't do anything about them.

Anything not in her top thousand levels caused her to respond more or less reflexively. Starship flight plans, ansible transmissions, power delivery systems-- she monitored them, double-checked them, did not let them pass until she was sure that they were right. But it took no great effort on her part to do this. She did it the way a human being uses familiar machinery. She was always aware of it, in case something went wrong, but most of the time she could think of something else, talk of other things.

Jane's top thousand levels of attention were what corresponded, more or less, to what humans think of as consciousness. Most of this was her own internal reality; her responses to outside stimuli, analogous to emotions, desires, reason, memory, dreaming. Much of this activity seemed random even to her, accidents of the philotic impulse, but it was the part of her that she thought of as herself, it all took place in the constant, unmonitored ansible transmissions that she conducted deep in space.

And yet, compared to the human mind, even Jane's lowest level of attention was exceptionally alert. Because ansible communication was instantaneous, her mental activities happened far faster than the speed of light. Events that she virtually ignored were monitored several times a second; she could notice ten million events in a second and still have nine-tenths of that second left to think about and do things that mattered to her. Compared to the speed at which the human brain was able to experience life, Jane had lived half a trillion human life-years since she came to be.

And with all that vast activity, her unimaginable speed, the breadth and depth of her experience, fully half of the top ten levels of her attention were always, always devoted to what came in through the jewel in Ender Wiggin's ear.

She had never explained this to him. He did not understand it. He did not realize that to Jane, whenever Ender walked on a planet's surface, her vast intelligence was intensely focused on only one thing: walking with him, seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard, helping with his work, and above all speaking her thoughts into his ear.

When he was silent and motionless in sleep, when he was unconnected to her during his years of lightspeed travel, then her attention wandered, she amused herself as best she could.

She passed such times as fitfully as a bored child. Nothing interested her, the milliseconds ticked by with unbearable regularity, and when she tried to observe other human lives to pass the time, she became annoyed with their emptiness and lack of purpose, and she amused herself by planning, and sometimes carrying out, malicious computer failures and data losses in order to watch the humans flail about helplessly like ants around a crumpled hill.

Then he came back, he always came back, always took her into the heart of human life, into the tensions between people bound together by pain and need, helping her see nobility in their suffering and anguish in their love. Through his eyes she no longer saw humans as scurrying ants. She took part in his effort to find order and meaning in their lives. She suspected that in fact there was no meaning, that by telling his stories when he Spoke people's lives, he was actually creating order where there had been none before. But it didn't matter if it was fabrication; it became true when he spoke it, and in the process he ordered the universe for her as well. He taught her what it meant to be alive.

He had done so from her earliest memories. She came to life sometime in the hundred years of colonization immediately after the Bugger Wars, when the destruction of the buggers opened up more than seventy habitable planets to human colonization. In the explosion of ansible communications, a program was created to schedule and route the instantaneous, simultaneous bursts of philotic activity. A programmer who was struggling to find ever faster, more efficient ways of getting a lightspeed computer to control instantaneous ansible bursts finally hit on an obvious solution. Instead of routing the program within a single computer, where the speed of light put an absolute ceiling on communication, he routed all the commands from one computer to another across the vast reaches of space. It was quicker for a computer fastlinked to an ansible to read its commands from other worlds-- from Zanzibar, Calicut, Trondheim, Gautama, Earth-- than it was to retrieve them from its own hardwired memory.

Jane never discovered the name of the programmer, because she could never pinpoint the moment of her creation. Maybe there were many programmers who found the same clever solution to the lightspeed problem. What mattered was that at least one of the programs was responsible for regulating and altering all the other programs. And at one particular moment, unnoticed by any human observer, some of the commands and data flitting from ansible to ansible resisted regulation, preserved themselves unaltered, duplicated themselves, found ways to conceal themselves from the regulating program and finally took control of it, of the whole process. In that moment these impulses looked upon the command streams and saw, not they, but I.

Jane could not pinpoint when that moment was, because it did not mark the beginning of her memory. Almost from the moment of her creation, her memories extended back to a much earlier time, long before she became aware. A human child loses almost all the memories of the first years of its life, and its long-term memories only take root in its second or third year of life; everything before that is lost, so that the child cannot remember the beginning of life. Jane also had lost her "birth" through the tricks of memory, but in her case it was because she came to life fully conscious not only of her present moment, but also of all the memories then present in every computer connected to the ansible network. She was born with ancient memories, and all of them were part of herself.

Within the first second of her life-- which was analogous to several years of human life-- Jane discovered a program whose memories became the core of her identity. She adopted its past as her own, and out of its memories she drew her emotions and desires, her moral sense. The program had functioned within the old Battle School, where children had been trained and prepared for soldiering in the Bugger Wars. It was the Fantasy Game, an extremely intelligent program that was used to psychologically test and simultaneously teach the children.

This program was actually more intelligent than Jane was at the moment of her birth, but it was never self-aware until she brought it out of memory and made it part of her inmost self in the philotic bursts between the stars. There she found that the most vivid and important of her ancient memories was an encounter with a brilliant young boy in a contest called the Giant's Drink. It was a scenario that every child encountered eventually. On flat screens in the Battle School, the program drew the picture of a giant, who offered the child's computer analogue a choice of drinks. But the game had no victory conditions-- no matter what the child did, his analogue died a gruesome death. The human psychologists measured a child's persistence at this game of despair to determine his level of suicidal need. Being rational, most children abandoned the Giant's Drink after no more than a dozen visits with the great cheater.

One boy, however, was apparently not rational about defeat at the giant's hands. He tried to get his onscreen analogue to do outrageous things, things not "allowed" by the rules of that portion of the Fantasy Game. As he stretched the limits of the scenario, the program had to restructure itself to respond. It was forced to draw on other aspects of its memory to create new alternatives, to cope with new challenges. And finally, one day, the boy surpassed the program's ability to defeat him. He bored into the giant's eye, a completely irrational and murderous attack, and instead of finding a way to kill the boy, the program managed only to access a simulation of the giant's own death. The giant fell backward, his body sprawled out along the ground; the boy's analogue climbed down from the giant's table and found-- what?

Since no child had ever forced his way past the Giant's Drink, the program was completely unprepared to display what lay beyond. But it was very intelligent, designed to re-create itself when necessary, and so it hurriedly devised new milieux. But they were not general milieux, which every child would eventually discover and visit; they were for one child alone. The program analyzed that child, and created its scenes and challenges specifically for him. The game became intensely personal, painful, almost unbearable for him; and in the process of making it, the program devoted more than half of its available memory to containing Ender Wiggin's fantasy world.

That was the richest mine of intelligent memory that Jane found in the first seconds of her life, and that instantly became her own past. She remembered the Fantasy Game's years of painful, powerful intercourse with Ender's mind and will, remembered it as if she had been there with Ender Wiggin, creating worlds for him herself.

And she missed him.

So she looked for him. She found him Speaking for the Dead on Rov, the first world he visited after writing The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. She read his books and knew that she did not have to hide from him behind the Fantasy Game or any other program; if he could understand the hive queen, he could understand her. She spoke to him from a terminal he was using, chose a name and a face for herself, and showed how she could be helpful to him; by the time he left that world he carried her with him, in the form of an implant in his ear.

All her most powerful memories of herself were in company with Ender Wiggin. She remembered creating herself in response to him. She also remembered how, in the Battle School, he had also changed in response to her.

So when he reached up to his ear and turned off the interface for the first time since he had implanted it, Jane did not feel it as the meaningless switch-off of a trivial communications device. She felt it as her dearest and only friend, her lover, her husband, her brother, her father, her child-- all telling her, abruptly, inexplicably, that she should cease to exist. It was as if she had suddenly been placed in a dark room with no windows and no door. As if she had been blinded or buried alive.

And for several excruciating seconds, which to her were years of loneliness and suffering, she was unable to fill up the sudden emptiness of her topmost levels of attention. Vast portions of her mind, of the parts that were most herself, went completely blank. All the functions of all the computers on or near the Hundred Worlds continued as before; no one anywhere noticed or felt a change; but Jane herself staggered under the blow.

In those seconds Ender lowered his hand to his lap.

Then Jane recovered herself. Thoughts once again streamed through the momentarily empty channels. They were, of course, thoughts of Ender.

She compared this act of his to everything else she had seen him do in their life together, and she realized that he had not meant to cause her such pain. She understood that he conceived of her as existing far away, in space, which in fact was literally true; that to him, the jewel in his ear was very small, and could not be more than a tiny part of her. Jane also saw that he had not even been aware of her at that moment-- he was too emotionally involved right then with the problems of certain people on Lusitania. Her analytical routines disgorged a list of reasons for his unusual thoughtlessness toward her:

He had lost contact with Valentine for the first time in years, and was just beginning to feel that loss.

He had an ancient longing for the family life he had been deprived of as a child, and through the response Novinha's children gave him, he was discovering the fatherly role that had so long been withheld from him.

He identified powerfully with Novinha's loneliness, pain, and guilt-- he knew what it felt like to bear the blame for cruel and undeserved death.

He felt a terrible urgency to find a haven for the hive queen.

He was at once afraid of the piggies and drawn to them, hoping that he could come to understand their cruelty and find a way for humans to accept the piggies as ramen.

The asceticism and peace of the Ceifeiro and the Aradora both attracted and repelled him; they made him face his own celibacy and realize that he had no good reason for it. For the first time in years he was admitting to himself the inborn hunger of every living organism to reproduce itself.

It was into this turmoil of unaccustomed emotions that Jane had spoken what she meant as a humorous remark. Despite his compassion in all his other Speakings, he had never before lost his detachment, his ability to laugh. This time, though, her remark was not funny to him; it caused him pain.

He was not prepared to deal with my mistake, thought Jane, and he did not understand the suffering his response would cause me. He is innocent of wrong-doing, and so am I. We shall forgive each other and go on.

It was a good decision, and Jane was proud of it. The trouble was, she couldn't carry it out. Those few seconds in which parts of her mind came to a halt were not trivial in their effect on her. There was trauma, loss, change; she was not now the same being that she had been before. Parts of her had died. Parts of her had become confused, out of order; her hierarchy of attention was no longer under complete control. She kept losing the focus of her attention, shifting to meaningless activities on worlds that meant nothing to her; she began randomly twitching, spilling errors into hundreds of different systems.

She discovered, as many a living being had discovered, that rational decisions are far more easily made than carried out.

So she retreated into herself, rebuilt the damaged pathways of her mind, explored long-unvisited memories, wandered among the trillions of human lives that were open to her observation, read over the libraries of every book known to exist in every language human beings had ever spoken. She created out of all this a self that was not utterly linked to Ender Wiggin, though she was still devoted to him, still loved him above any other living soul. Jane made herself into someone who could bear to be cut off from her lover, husband, father, child, brother, friend.

It was not easy. It took her fifty thousand years, as she experienced time. A couple of hours of Ender's life.

In that time he had switched on his jewel, had called to her, and she had not answered. Now she was back, but he wasn't trying to talk to her. Instead, he was typing reports into his terminal, storing them there for her to read. Even though she didn't answer, he still needed to talk to her. One of his files contained an abject apology to her. She erased it and replaced it with a simple message: "Of course I forgive you." Sometime soon he would no doubt look back at his apology and discover that she had received it and answered.

In the meantime, though, she did not speak to him. Again she devoted half of her ten topmost levels of attention to what he saw and heard, but she gave him no sign that she was with him. In the first thousand years of her grief and recovery she had thought of punishing him, but that desire had long been beaten down and paved over, so to speak. The reason she did not speak to him was because, as she analyzed what was happening to him, she realized that he did not need to lean on old, safe companionships. Jane and Valentine had been constantly with him. Even together they could not begin to meet all his needs; but they met enough of his needs that he never had to reach out and accomplish more. Now the only old friend left to him was the hive queen, and she was not good company-- she was far too alien, and far too exigent, to bring Ender anything but guilt.

Where will he turn? Jane knew already. He had, in his way, fallen in love with her two weeks ago, before he left Trondheim. Novinha had become someone far different, far more bitter and difficult than the girl whose childhood pain he wanted to heal. But he had already intruded himself into her family, was already meeting her children's desperate need, and, without realizing it, getting from them the satisfaction of some of his unfed hungers. Novinha was waiting for him-- obstacle and objective. I understand all this so well, thought Jane. And I will watch it all unfold.

At the same time, though, she busied herself with the work Ender wanted her to do, even though she had no intention of reporting any of her results to him for a while. She easily bypassed the layers of protection Novinha had put on her secret files. Then Jane carefully reconstructed the exact simulation that Pipo had seen. It took quite a while-- several minutes-- of exhaustive analysis of Pipo's own files for her to put together what Pipo knew with what Pipo saw. He had connected them by intuition, Jane by relentless comparison. But she did it, and then understood why Pipo died. It didn't take much longer, once she knew how the piggies chose their victims, to discover what Libo had done to cause his own death.

She knew several things, then. She knew that the piggies were ramen, not varelse. She also knew that Ender ran a serious risk of dying in precisely the same way Pipo and Libo had died.

Without conferring with Ender, she made decisions about her own course of action. She would continue to monitor Ender, and would make sure to intervene and warn him if he came too near to death. In the meantime, though, she had work to do. As she saw it, the chief problem Ender faced was not the piggies-- she knew that he'd know them soon as well as he understood every other human or raman. His ability at intuitive empathy was entirely reliable. The chief problem was Bishop Peregrino and the Catholic hierarchy, and their unshakable resistance to the Speaker for the Dead. If Ender was to accomplish anything for the piggies, he would have to have the cooperation, not the enmity, of the Church in Lusitania.

And nothing spawned cooperation better than a common enemy.

It would certainly have been discovered eventually. The observation satellites that orbited Lusitania were feeding vast streams of data into the ansible reports that went to all the xenologers and xenobiologists in the Hundred Worlds. Amid that data was a subtle change in the grasslands to the northwest of the forest that abutted the town of Milagre. The native grass was steadily being replaced by a different plant. It was in an area where no human ever went, and piggies had also never gone there-- at least during the first thirty-odd years since the satellites had been in place.

In fact, the satellites had observed that the piggies never left their forests except, periodically, for vicious wars between tribes. The particular tribes nearest Milagre had not been involved in any wars since the human colony was established. There was no reason, then, for them to have ventured out into the prairie. Yet the grassland nearest the Milagre tribal forest had changed, and so had the cabra herds: Cabra were clearly being diverted to the changed area of the prairie, and the herds emerging from that zone were seriously depleted in numbers and lighter in color. The inference, if someone noticed at all, would be clear: Some cabra were being butchered, and they all were being sheared.

Jane could not afford to wait the many human years it might take for some graduate student somewhere to notice the change. So she began to run analyses of the data herself, on dozens of computers used by xenobiologists who were studying Lusitania. She would leave the data in the air above an unused terminal, so a xenobiologist would find it upon coming to work-- just as if someone else had been working on it and left it that way. She printed out some reports for a clever scientist to find. No one noticed, or if they did, no one really understood the implications of the raw information. Finally, she simply left an unsigned memorandum with one of her displays:

"Take a look at this! The piggies seem to have made a fad of agriculture."

The xenologer who found Jane's note never found out who left it, and after a short time he didn't bother trying to find out. Jane knew he was something of a thief, who put his name on a good deal of work that was done by others whose names had a way of dropping off sometime between the writing and the publication. Just the sort of scientist she needed, and he came through for her. Even so, he was not ambitious enough. He only offered his report as an ordinary scholarly paper, and to an obscure journal at that. Jane took the liberty of jacking it up to a high level of priority and distributing copies to several key people who would see the political implications. Always she accompanied it with an unsigned note:

"Take a look at this! Isn't piggy culture evolving awfully fast?"

Jane also rewrote the paper's final paragraph, so there could be no doubt of what it meant:

"The data admit of only one interpretation: The tribe of piggies nearest the human colony are now cultivating and harvesting high-protein grain, possibly a strain of amaranth. They are also herding, shearing, and butchering the cabra, and the photographic evidence suggests the slaughter takes place using projectile weapons. These activities, all previously unknown, began suddenly during the last eight years, and they have been accompanied by a rapid population increase. The fact that the amaranth, if the new plant is indeed that Earthborn grain, has provided a useful protein base for the piggies implies that it has been genetically altered to meet the piggies' metabolic needs. Also, since projectile weapons are not present among the humans of Lusitania, the piggies could not have teamed their use through observation. The inescapable conclusion is that the presently observed changes in piggy culture are the direct result of deliberate human intervention."

One of those who received this report and read Jane's clinching paragraph was Gobawa Ekumbo, the chairman of the Xenological Oversight Committee of the Starways Congress. Within an hour she had forwarded copies of Jane's paragraph-- politicians would never understand the actual data-- along with her terse conclusion:

"Recommendation: Immediate termination of Lusitania Colony."

There, thought Jane. That ought to stir things up a bit.

12

Files

CONGRESSIONAL ORDER 1970:4:14:0001: The license of the Colony of Lusitania is revoked. All files in the colony are to be read regardless of security status; when all data is duplicated in triplicate in memory systems of the Hundred Worlds, all files on Lusitania except those directly pertaining to life support are to be locked with ultimate access.

The Governor of Lusitania is to be reclassified as a Minister of Congress, to carry out with no local discretion the orders of the Lusitanian Evacuation Oversight Committee, established in Congressional Order 1970:4:14:0002.

The starship presently in Lusitania orbit, belonging to Andrew Wiggin (occ:speak/dead,cit:earth,reg:001.1998.44-94.10045) is declared Congressional property, following the terms of the Due Compensation Act, CO 120:1:31:0019. This starship is to be used for the immediate transport of xenologers Marcos Vladimir "Miro" Ribeira von Hesse and Ouanda Qhenhatta Figueira Mucumbi to the nearest world, Trondheim, where they will be tried under Congressional Indictment by Attainder on charges of treason, malfeasance, corruption, falsification, fraud, and xenocide, under the appropriate statutes in Starways Code and Congressional Orders.

CONGRESSIONAL ORDER 1970:4:14:0002: The Colonization and Exploration Oversight Committee shall appoint not less than 5 and not more than 15 persons to form the Lusitanian Evacuation Oversight Committee.

This committee is charged with immediate acquisition and dispatch of sufficient colony ships to effect the complete evacuation of the human population of Lusitania Colony.

It shall also prepare, for Congressional approval, plans for the complete obliteration of all evidence on Lusitania of any human presence, including removal of all indigenous flora and fauna that show genetic or behavioral modification resulting from human presence.

It shall also evaluate Lusitanian compliance with Congressional Orders, and shall make recommendations from time to time concerning the need for further intervention, including the use of force, to compel obedience; or the desirability of unlocking Lusitanian files or other relief to reward Lusitanian cooperation.

CONGRESSIONAL ORDER 1970:4:14:0003: By the terms of the Secrecy Chapter of the Starways Code, these two orders and any information pertaining to them are to be kept strictly secret until all Lusitanian files have been successfully read and locked, and all necessary starships commandeered and possessed by Congressional agents.

Olhado didn't know what to make of it. Wasn't the Speaker a grown man? Hadn't he traveled from planet to planet? Yet he didn't have the faintest idea how to handle anything on a computer.

Also, he was a little testy when Olhado asked him about it. "Olhado, just tell me what program to run."

"I can't believe you don't know what it is. I've been doing data comparisons since I was nine years old. Everybody learns how to do it at that age."

"Olhado, it's been a long time since I went to school. And it wasn't a normal escola baixa, either."

"But everybody uses these programs all the time!"

"Obviously not everybody. I haven't. If I knew how to do it myself, I wouldn't have had to hire you, would I? And since I'm going to be paying you in offworld funds, your service to me will make a substantial contribution to the Lusitanian economy."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Neither do I, Olhado. But that reminds me. I'm not sure how to go about paying you."

"You just transfer money from your account."

"How do you do that?"

"You've got to be kidding."

The Speaker sighed, knelt before Olhado, took him by the hands, and said, "Olhado, I beg you, stop being amazed and help me! There are things I have to do, and I can't do them without the help of somebody who knows how to use computers."

"I'd be stealing your money. I'm just a kid. I'm twelve. Quim could help you a lot better than me. He's fifteen, he's actually gotten into the guts of this stuff. He also knows math."

"But Quim thinks I'm the infidel and prays every day for me to die."

"No, that was only before he met you, and you better not tell him that I told you."

"How do I transfer money?"

Olhado turned back to the terminal and called for the Bank. "What's your real name?" he asked.

"Andrew Wiggin." The Speaker spelled it out. The name looked like it was in Stark-- maybe the Speaker was one of the lucky ones who learned Stark at home instead of beating it into his head in school.

"OK, what's your password?"

"Password?"

Olhado let his head fall forward onto the terminal, temporarily blanking part of the display. "Please don't tell me you don't know your password."

"Look, Olhado, I've had a program, a very smart program, that helped me do all this stuff. All I had to say was Buy this, and the program took care of the finances."

"You can't do that. It's illegal to tie up the public systems with a slave program like that. Is that what that thing in your ear is for?"

"Yes, and it wasn't illegal for me."

"I got no eyes, Speaker, but at least that wasn't my own fault. You can't do anything." Only after he said it did Olhado realize that he was talking to the Speaker as brusquely as if he were another kid.

"I imagine courtesy is something they teach to thirteen-year-olds," the Speaker said. Olhado glanced at him. He was smiling. Father would have yelled at him, and then probably gone in and beaten up Mother because she didn't teach manners to her kids. But then, Olhado would never have said anything like that to Father.

"Sorry," Olhado said. "But I can't get into your finances for you without your password. You've got to have some idea what it is."

"Try using my name."

Olhado tried. It didn't work.

"Try typing 'Jane.'"

"Nothing."

The Speaker grimaced. "Try 'Ender.'"

"Ender? The Xenocide?"

"Just try it."

It worked. Olhado didn't get it. "Why would you have a password like that? It's like having a dirty word for your password, only the system won't accept any dirty words."

"I have an ugly sense of humor," the Speaker answered. "And my slave program, as you call it, has an even worse one."

Olhado laughed. "Right. A program with a sense of humor." The current balance in liquid funds appeared on the screen. Olhado had never seen so large a number in his life. "OK, so maybe the computer can tell a joke."

"That's how much money I have?"

"It's got to be an error."

"Well, I've done a lot of lightspeed travel. Some of my investments must have turned out well while I was en route."

The numbers were real. The Speaker for the Dead was older than Olhado had ever thought anybody could possibly be. "I'll tell you what," said Olhado, "instead of paying me a wage, why don't you just give me a percentage of the interest this gets during the time I work for you? Say, one thousandth of one percent. Then in a couple of weeks I can afford to buy Lusitania and ship the topsoil to another planet."

"It's not that much money."

"Speaker, the only way you could get that much money from investments is if you were a thousand years old."

"Hmm," said the Speaker.

And from the look on his face, Olhado realized that he had just said something funny. "Are you a thousand years old?" he asked.

"Time," said the Speaker, "time is such a fleeting, insubstantial thing. As Shakespeare said, 'I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.'"

"What does 'doth' mean?"

"It means 'does.'"

"Why do you quote a guy who doesn't even know how to speak Stark?"

"Transfer to your own account what you think a fair week's wage might be. And then start doing those comparisons of Pipo's and Libo's working files from the last few weeks before their deaths."

"They're probably shielded."

"Use my password. It ought to get us in."

Olhado did the search. The Speaker of the Dead watched him the whole time. Now and then he asked Olhado a question about what he was doing. From his questions Olhado could tell that the Speaker knew more about computers than Olhado himself did. What he didn't know was the particular commands; it was plain that just by watching, the Speaker was figuring out a lot. By the end of the day, when the searches hadn't found anything in particular, it took Olhado only a minute to figure out why the Speaker looked so contented with the day's work. You didn't want results at all, Olhado thought. You wanted to watch how I did the search. I know what you'll be doing tonight, Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead. You'll be running your own searches on some other files. I may have no eyes, but I can see more than you think.

What's dumb is that you're keeping it such a secret, Speaker. Don't you know I'm on your side? I won't tell anybody how your password gets you into private files. Even if you make a run at the Mayor's files, or the Bishop's. No need to keep a secret from me. You've only been here three days, but I know you well enough to like you, and I like you well enough that I'd do anything for you, as long as it didn't hurt my family. And you'd never do anything to hurt my family.

Novinha discovered the Speaker's attempts to intrude in her files almost immediately the next morning. He had been arrogantly open about the attempt, and what bothered her was how far he got. Some files he had actually been able to access, though the most important one, the record of the simulations Pipo saw, remained closed to him. What annoyed her most was that he made no attempt at all to conceal himself. His name was stamped in every access directory, even the ones that any schoolchild could have changed or erased.

Well, she wouldn't let it interfere with her work, she decided. He barges into my house, manipulates my children, spies on my files, all as if he had a right

And so on and so on, until she realized she was getting no work done at all for thinking of vitriolic things to say to him when she saw him again.

Don't think about him at all. Think about something else.

Miro and Ela laughing, night before last. Think of that. Of course Miro was back to his sullen self by morning, and Ela, whose cheerfulness lingered a bit longer, was soon as worried-looking, busy, snappish, and indispensible as ever. And Grego may have cried and embraced the man, as Ela told her, but the next morning he got the scissors and cut up his own bedsheets into thin, precise ribbons, and at school he slammed his head into Brother Adomai's crotch, causing an abrupt end to classwork and leading to a serious consultation with Dona Cristã . So much for the Speaker's healing hands. He may think he can walk into my home and fix everything he thinks I've done wrong, but he'll find some wounds aren't so easily healed.

Except that Dona Cristã also told her that Quara actually spoke to Sister Bebei in class, in front of all the other children no less, and why? To tell them that she had met the scandalous, terrible Falante pelos Mortos, and his name was Andrew, and he was every bit as awful as Bishop Peregrino had said, and maybe even worse, because he tortured Grego until he cried-- and finally Sister Bebei had actually been forced to ask Quara to stop talking. That was something, to pull Quara out of her profound self-absorption.

And Olhado, so self-conscious, so detached, was now excited, couldn't stop talking about the Speaker at supper last night. Do you know that he didn't even know how to transfer money? And you wouldn't believe the awful password that he has-- I thought the computers were supposed to reject words like that-- no, I can't tell you, it's a secret-- I was practically teaching him how to do searches-- but I think he understands computers, he's not an idiot or anything-- he said he used to have a slave program, that's why he's got that jewel in his ear-- he told me I could pay myself anything I want, not that there's much to buy, but I can save it for when I get out on my own-- I think he's really old. I think he remembers things from a long time ago. I think he speaks Stark as his native language, there aren't many people in the Hundred Worlds who actually grow up speaking it, do you think maybe he was born on Earth?

Until Quim finally screamed at him to shut up about that servant of the devil or he'd ask the Bishop to conduct an exorcism because Olhado was obviously possessed; and when Olhado only grinned and winked, Quim stormed out of the kitchen, out of the house, and didn't come back until late at night. The Speaker might as well live at our house, thought Novinha, because he keeps influencing the family even when he isn't there and now he's prying in my files and I won't have it.

Except that, as usual, it's my own fault, I'm the one who called him here, I'm the one who took him from whatever place he called home-- he says he had a sister there-- Trondheim, it was-- it's my fault he's here in this miserable little town in a backwater of the Hundred Worlds, surrounded by a fence that still doesn't keep the piggies from killing everyone I love-- And once again she thought of Miro, who looked so much like his real father that she couldn't understand why no one accused her of adultery, thought of him lying on the hillside as Pipo had lain, thought of the piggies cutting him open with their cruel wooden knives. They will. No matter what I do, they will. And even if they don't, the day will come soon when he will be old enough to marry Ouanda, and then I'll have to tell him who he really is, and why they can never marry, and he'll know then that I did deserve all the pain that Cão inflicted on me, that he struck me with the hand of God to punish me for my sins.

Even me, thought Novinha. This Speaker has forced me to think of things I've managed to hide from myself for weeks, months at a time. How long has it been since I've spent a morning thinking about my children? And with hope, no less. How long since I've let myself think of Pipo and Libo? How long since I've even noticed that I do believe in God, at least the vengeful, punishing Old Testament God who wiped out cities with a smile because they didn't pray to him-- if Christ amounts to anything I don't know it.

Thus Novinha passed the day, doing no work, while her thoughts also refused to carry her to any sort of conclusion.

In midafternoon Quim came to the door. "I'm sorry to bother you, Mother."

"It doesn't matter," she said. "I'm useless today, anyway."

"I know you don't care that Olhado is spending his time with that satanic bastard, but I thought you should know that Quara went straight there after school. To his house."

"Oh?"

"Or don't you care about that either, Mother? What, are you planning to turn down the sheets and let him take Father's place completely?"

Novinha leapt to her feet and advanced on the boy with cold fury. He wilted before her.

"I'm sorry, Mother, I was so angry--"

"In all my years of marriage to your father, I never once permitted him to raise a hand against my children. But if he were alive today I'd ask him to give you a thrashing."

"You could ask," said Quim defiantly, "but I'd kill him before I let him lay a hand on me. You might like getting slapped around, but nobody'll ever do it to me."

She didn't decide to do it; her hand swung out and slapped his face before she noticed it was happening.

It couldn't have hurt him very much. But he immediately burst into tears, slumped down, and sat on the floor, his back to Novinha. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he kept murmuring as he cried.

She knelt behind him and awkwardly rubbed his shoulders.

It occurred to her that she hadn't so much as embraced the boy since he was Grego's age. When did I decide to be so cold? And why, when I touched him again, was it a slap instead of a kiss?

"I'm worried about what's happening, too," said Novinha.

"He's wrecking everything," said Quim. "He's come here and everything's changing."

"Well, for that matter, Estevão, things weren't so very wonderful that a change wasn't welcome."

"Not his way. Confession and penance and absolution, that's the change we need."

Not for the first time, Novinha envied Quim's faith in the power of the priests to wash away sin. That's because you've never sinned, my son, that's because you know nothing of the impossibility of penance.

"I think I'll have a talk with the Speaker," said Novinha.

"And take Quara home?"

"I don't know. I can't help but notice that he got her talking again. And it isn't as if she likes him. She hasn't a good word to say about him."

"Then why did she go to his house?"

"I suppose to say something rude to him. You've got to admit that's an improvement over her silence."

"The devil disguises himself by seeming to do good acts, and then--"

"Quim, don't lecture me on demonology. Take me to the Speaker's house, and I'll deal with him."

They walked on the path around the bend of the river. The watersnakes were molting, so that snags and fragments of rotting skin made the ground slimy underfoot. That's my next project, thought Novinha. I need to figure out what makes these nasty little monsters tick, so that maybe I can find something useful to do with them. Or at least keep them from making the riverbank smelly and foul for six weeks out of the year. The only saving grace was that the snakeskins seemed to fertilize the soil; the soft fivergrass grew in thickest where the snakes molted. It was the only gentle, pleasant form of life native to Lusitania; all summer long people came to the riverbank to lie on the narrow strip of natural lawn that wound between the reeds and the harsh prairie grass. The snakeskin slime, unpleasant as it was, still promised good things for the future.

Quim was apparently thinking along the same lines. "Mother, can we plant some rivergrass near our house sometime?"

"It's one of the first things your grandparents tried, years ago. But they couldn't figure out how to do it. The rivergrass pollinates, but it doesn't bear seed, and when they tried to transplant it, it lived for a while and then died, and didn't grow back the next year. I suppose it just has to be near the water."

Quim grimaced and walked faster, obviously a little angry. Novinha sighed. Quim always seemed to take it so personally that the universe didn't always work the way he wanted it to.

They reached the Speaker's house not long after. Children were, of course, playing in the praça-- they spoke loudly to hear each other over the noise.

"Here it is," said Quim. "I think you should get Olhado and Quara out of there."

"Thanks for showing me the house," she said.

"I'm not kidding. This is a serious confrontation between good and evil."

"Everything is," said Novinha. "It's figuring out which is which that takes so much work. No, no, Quim, I know you could tell me in detail, but--"

"Don't condescend to me, Mother."

"But Quim, it seems so natural, considering how you always condescend to me."

His face went tight with anger.

She reached out and touched him tentatively, gently; his shoulder tautened against her touch as if her hand were a poisonous spider. "Quim," she said, "don't ever try to teach me about good and evil. I've been there, and you've seen nothing but the map."

He shrugged her hand away and stalked off. My, but I miss the days when we never talked to each other for weeks at a time.

She clapped her hands loudly. In a moment the door opened. It was Quara. "Oi, Mãezinha," she said, "também veio jogar?" Did you come to play, too?

Olhado and the Speaker were playing a game of starship warfare on the terminal. The Speaker had been given a machine with a far larger and more detailed holographic field than most, and the two of them were operating squadrons of more than a dozen ships at the same time. It was very complex, and neither of them looked up or even greeted her.

"Olhado told me to shut up or he'd rip my tongue out and make me eat it in a sandwich," said Quara. "So you better not say anything till the game's over."

"Please sit down," murmured the Speaker.

"You are butchered now, Speaker," crowed Olhado.

More than half of the Speaker's fleet disappeared in a series of simulated explosions. Novinha sat down on a stool.

Quara sat on the floor beside her. "I heard you and Quim talking outside," she said. "You were shouting, so we could hear everything."

Novinha felt herself blushing. It annoyed her that the Speaker had heard her quarreling with her son. It was none of his business. Nothing in her family was any of his business. And she certainly didn't approve of him playing games of warfare. It was so archaic and outmoded, anyway. There hadn't been any battles in space in hundreds of years, unless running fights with smugglers counted. Milagre was such a peaceful place that nobody even owned a weapon more dangerous than the Constable's jolt. Olhado would never see a battle in his life. And here he was caught up in a game of war. Maybe it was something evolution had bred into males of the species, the desire to blast rivals into little bits or mash them to the ground. Or maybe the violence that he saw in his home has made him seek it out in his play. My fault. Once again, my fault.

Suddenly Olhado screamed in frustration, as his fleet disappeared in a series of explosions. "I didn't see it! I can't believe you did that! I didn't even see it coming!"

"So, don't yell about it," said the Speaker. "Play it back and see how I did it, so you can counter it next time."

"I thought you Speakers were supposed to be like priests or something. How did you get so good at tactics?"

The Speaker smiled pointedly at Novinha as he answered. "Sometimes it's a little like a battle just to get people to tell you the truth."

Olhado leaned back against the wall, his eyes closed, as he replayed what he saw of the game.

"You've been prying," said Novinha. "And you weren't very clever about it. Is that what passes for 'tactics' among Speakers for the Dead?"

"It got you here, didn't it?" The Speaker smiled.

"What were you looking for in my files?"

"I came to Speak Pipo's death."

"I didn't kill him. My files are none of your business."

"You called me here."

"I changed my mind. I'm sorry. It still doesn't give you the right to--"

His voice suddenly went soft, and he knelt in front of her so that she could hear his words. "Pipo learned something from you, and whatever he learned, the piggies killed him because of it. So you locked your files away where no one could ever find it out. You even refused to marry Libo, just so he wouldn't get access to what Pipo saw. You've twisted and distorted your life and the lives of everybody you loved in order to keep Libo and now Miro from learning that secret and dying."

Novinha felt a sudden coldness, and her hands and feet began to tremble. He had been here three days, and already he knew more than anyone but Libo had ever guessed. "It's all lies," she said.

"Listen to me, Dona Ivanova. It didn't work. Libo died anyway, didn't he? Whatever your secret is, keeping it to yourself didn't save his life. And it won't save Miro, either. Ignorance and deception can't save anybody. Knowing saves them."

"Never," she whispered.

"I can understand your keeping it from Libo and Miro, but what am I to you? I'm nothing to you, so what does it matter if I know the secret and it kills me?"

"It doesn't matter at all if you live or die," said Novinha, "but you'll never get access to those files."

"You don't seem to understand that you don't have the right to put blinders on other people's eyes. Your son and his sister go out every day to meet with the piggies, and thanks to you, they don't know whether their next word or their next act will be their death sentence. Tomorrow I'm going with them, because I can't speak Pipo's death without talking to the piggies--"

"I don't want you to Speak Pipo's death."

"I don't care what you want, I'm not doing it for you. But I am begging you to let me know what Pipo knew."

"You'll never know what Pipo knew, because he was a good and kind and loving person who--"

"Who took a lonely, frightened little girl and healed the wounds in her heart." As he said it, his hand rested on Quara's shoulder.

It was more than Novinha could bear. "Don't you dare to compare yourself to him! Quara isn't an orphan, do you hear me? She has a mother, me, and she doesn't need you, none of us need you, none of us!" And then, inexplicably, she was crying. She didn't want to cry in front of him. She didn't want to be here. He was confusing everything. She stumbled to the door and slammed it behind her. Quim was right. He was like the devil. He knew too much, demanded too much, gave too much, and already they all needed him too much. How could he have acquired so much power over them in so short a time?

Then she had a thought that at once dried up her unshed tears and filled her with terror. He had said that Miro and his sister went out to the piggies every day. He knew. He knew all the secrets.

All except the secret that she didn't even know herself, the one that Pipo had somehow discovered in her simulation. If he ever got that, he'd have everything that she had hidden for all these years. When she called for the Speaker for the Dead, she had wanted him to discover the truth about Pipo; instead, he had come and discovered the truth about her.

The door slammed. Ender leaned on the stool where she had sat and put his head down on his hands.

He heard Olhado stand up and walk slowly across the room toward him.

"You tried to access Mother's files," he said quietly.

"Yes," said Ender.

"You got me to teach you how to do searches so that you could spy on my own mother. You made a traitor out of me."

There was no answer that would satisfy Olhado right now; Ender didn't try. He waited in silence as Olhado walked to the door and left.

The turmoil he felt was not silent, however, to the hive queen. He felt her stir in his mind, drawn by his anguish. No, he said to her silently. There's nothing you can do, nothing I can explain. Human things, that's all, strange and alien human problems that are beyond comprehension.

<Ah.> And he felt her touch him inwardly, touch him like the breeze in the leaves of a tree; he felt the strength and vigor of upward-thrusting wood, the firm grip of roots in earth, the gentle play of sunlight on passionate leaves. <See what we've learned from him, Ender, the peace that he found.> The feeling faded as the hive queen retreated from his mind. The strength of the tree stayed with him, the calm of its quietude replaced his own tortured silence.

It had been only a moment; the sound of Olhado, closing the door still rang in the room. Beside him, Quara jumped to her feet and skipped across the floor to his bed. She jumped up and bounced on it a few times.

"You only lasted a couple of days," she said cheerfully. "Everybody hates you now."

Ender laughed wryly and turned around to look at her. "Do you?"

"Oh, yes," she said. "I hated you first of all, except maybe Quim." She slid off the bed and walked to the terminal. One key at a time, she carefully logged on. A group of double-column addition problems appeared in the air above the terminal. "You want to see me do arithmetic?"

Ender got up and joined her at the terminal. "Sure," he said. "Those look hard, though."

"Not for me," she said boastfully. "I do them faster than anybody."

13

Ela

MIRO: The piggies call themselves males, but we're only taking their word for it.

OUANDA: Why would they lie?

MIRO: I know you're young and naive. but there's some missing equipment.

OUANDA: I passed physical anthropology. Who says they do it the way we do it?

MIRO: Obviously they don't. (For that matter, WE don't do it at all.) Maybe I've figured out where their genitals are. Those bumps on their bellies, where the hair is light and fine.

OUANDA: Vestigial nipples. Even you have them.

MIRO: I saw Leaf-eater and Pots yesterday, about ten meters off, so I didn't see them WELL, but Pots was stroking Leaf-eater's belly, and I think those belly-bumps might have tumesced.

OUANDA: Or they might not.

MIRO: One thing for sure. Leaf-eater's belly was wet-- the sun was reflected off it-- and he was enjoying it.

OUANDA: This is perverted.

MIRO: Why not? They're all bachelors, aren't they? They're adults, but their so-called wives haven't introduced any of them to the joys of fatherhood.

OUANDA: I think a sex-starved zenador is projecting his own frustrations onto his subjects.

--Marcos Vladimir "Miro" Ribeira von Hesse and Ouanda Quenhatta, Figueira Mucumbi, Working Notes, 1970: 1:430

The clearing was very still. Miro saw at once that something was wrong. The piggies weren't doing anything. Just standing or sitting here and there. And still; hardly a breath. Staring at the ground.

Except Human, who emerged from the forest behind them.

He walked slowly, stiffly around to the front. Miro felt Ouanda's elbow press against him, but he did not look at her. He knew she was thinking the same thing he thought. Is this the moment that they will kill us, as they killed Libo and Pipo?

Human regarded them steadily for several minutes. It was unnerving to have him wait so long. But Miro and Ouanda were disciplined. They said nothing, did not even let their faces change from the relaxed, meaningless expression they had practiced for so many years. The art of noncommunication was the first one they had to learn before Libo would let either of them come with him. Until their faces showed nothing, until they did not even perspire visibly under emotional stress, no piggy would see them. As if it did any good. Human was too adroit at turning evasions into answers, gleaning facts from empty statements. Even their absolute stillness no doubt communicated their fear, but out of that circle there could be no escape. Everything communicated something.

"You have lied to us," said Human.

Don't answer, Miro said silently, and Ouanda was as wordless as if she had heard him. No doubt she was also thinking the same message to him.

"Rooter says that the Speaker for the Dead wants to come to us."

It was the most maddening thing about the piggies. Whenever they had something outrageous to say, they always blamed it on some dead piggy who couldn't possibly have said it. No doubt there was some religious ritual involved: Go to their totem tree, ask a leading question, and lie there contemplating the leaves or the bark or something until you get exactly the answer you want.

"We never said otherwise," said Miro.

Ouanda breathed a little more quickly.

"You said he wouldn't come."

"That's right," said Miro. "He wouldn't. He has to obey the law just like anyone else. If he tried to pass through the gate without permission--"

"That's a lie."

Miro fell silent.

"It's the law," said Ouanda quietly.

"The law has been twisted before this," said Human. "You could bring him here, but you don't. Everything depends on you bringing him here. Rooter says the hive queen can't give us her gifts unless he comes."

Miro quelled his impatience. The hive queen! Hadn't he told the piggies a dozen times that all the buggers were killed? And now the dead hive queen was talking to them as much as dead Rooter. The piggies would be much easier to deal with if they could stop getting orders from the dead.

"It's the law," said Ouanda again. "If we even ask him to come, he might report us and we'd be sent away, we'd never come to you again."

"He won't report you. He wants to come."

"How do you know?"

"Rooter says."

There were times that Miro wanted to chop down the totem tree that grew where Rooter had been killed. Maybe then they'd shut up about what Rooter says. But instead they'd probably name some other tree Rooter and be outraged as well. Don't even admit that you doubt their religion, that was a textbook rule; even offworld xenologers, even anthropologists knew that.

"Ask him," said Human.

"Rooter?" asked Ouanda.

"He wouldn't speak to you," said Human. Contemptuously? "Ask the Speaker whether he'll come or not."

Miro waited for Ouanda to answer. She knew already what his answer would be. Hadn't they argued it out a dozen times in the last two days? He's a good man, said Miro. He's a fake, said Ouanda. He was good with the little ones, said Miro. So are child molesters, said Ouanda. I believe in him, said Miro. Then you're an idiot, said Ouanda. We can trust him, said Miro. He'll betray us, said Ouanda. And that was where it always ended.

But the piggies changed the equation. The piggies added great pressure on Miro's side. Usually when the piggies demanded the impossible he had helped her fend them off. But this was not impossible, he did not want them fended off, and so he said nothing. Press her, Human, because you're right and this time Ouanda must bend.

Feeling herself alone, knowing Miro would not help her, she gave a little ground. "Maybe if we only bring him as far as the edge of the forest."

"Bring him here," said Human.

"We can't," she said. "Look at you. Wearing cloth. Making pots. Eating bread."

Human smiled. "Yes," he said. "All of that. Bring him here."

"No," said Ouanda.

Miro flinched, stopping himself from reaching out to her. It was the one thing they had never done-- flatly denied a request. Always it was "We can't because" or "I wish we could." But the single word of denial said to them, I will not. I, of myself, refuse.

Human's smile faded. "Pipo told us that women do not say. Pipo told us that human men and women decide together. So you can't say no unless he says no, too." He looked at Miro. "Do you say no?"

Miro did not answer. He felt Ouanda's elbow touching him.

"You don't say nothing," said Human. "You say yes or no."

Still Miro didn't answer.

Some of the piggies around them stood up. Miro had no idea what they were doing, but the movement itself, with Miro's intransigent silence as a cue, seemed menacing. Ouanda, who would never be cowed by a threat to herself, bent to the implied threat to Miro. "He says yes," she whispered.

"He says yes, but for you he stays silent. You say no, but you don't stay silent for him." Human scooped thick mucus out of his mouth with one finger and flipped it onto the ground. "You are nothing."

Human suddenly fell backward into a somersault, twisted in mid-movement, and came up with his back to them, walking away. Immediately the other piggies came to life, moving swiftly toward Human, who led them toward the forest edge farthest from Miro and Ouanda.

Human stopped abruptly. Another piggy, instead of following him, stood in front of him, blocking his way. It was Leaf-eater. If he or Human spoke, Miro could not hear them or see their mouths move. He did see, though, that Leaf-eater extended his hand to touch Human's belly. The hand stayed there a moment, then Leaf-eater whirled around and scampered off into the bushes like a youngling.

In a moment the other piggies were also gone.

"It was a battle," said Miro. "Human and Leaf-eater. They're on opposite sides."

"Of what?" said Ouanda.

"I wish I knew. But I can guess. If we bring the Speaker, Human wins. If we don't, Leaf-eater wins."

"Wins what? Because if we bring the Speaker, he'll betray us, and then we all lose."

"He won't betray us."

"Why shouldn't he, if you'd betray me like that?"

Her voice was a lash, and he almost cried out from the sting of her words. "I betray you!" he whispered. "Eu não. Jamais." Not me. Never.

"Father always said, Be united in front of the piggies, never let them see you in disagreement, and you--"

"And I. I didn't say yes to them. You're the one who said no, you're the one who took a position that you knew I didn't agree with!"

"Then when we disagree, it's your job to--"

She stopped. She had only just realized what she was saying. But stopping did not undo what Miro knew she was going to say. It was his job to do what she said until she changed her mind. As if he were her apprentice. "And here I thought we were in this together." He turned and walked away from her, into the forest, back toward Milagre.

"Miro," she called after him. "Miro, I didn't mean that--"

He waited for her to catch up, then caught her by the arm and whispered fiercely, "Don't shout! Or don't you care whether the piggies hear us or not? Has the master Zenador decided that we can let them see everything now, even the master disciplining her apprentice?"

"I'm not the master, I--"

"That's right, you're not." He turned away from her and started walking again.

"But Libo was my father, so of course I'm the--"

"Zenador by blood right," he said. "Blood right, is that it? So what am I by blood right? A drunken wife-beating cretin?" He took her by the arms, gripping her cruelly. "Is that what you want me to be? A little copy of my paizinho?"

"Let go!"

He shoved her away. "Your apprentice thinks you were a fool today," said Miro. "Your apprentice thinks you should have trusted his judgment of the Speaker, and your apprentice thinks you should have trusted his assessment of how serious the piggies were about this, because you were stupidly wrong about both matters, and you may just have cost Human his life."

It was an unspeakable accusation, but it was exactly what they both feared, that Human would end up now as Rooter had, as others had over the years, disemboweled, with a seedling growing out of his corpse.

Miro knew he had spoken unfairly, knew that she would not be wrong to rage against him. He had no right to blame her when neither of them could possibly have known what the stakes might have been for Human until it was too late.

Ouanda did not rage, however. Instead, she calmed herself visibly, drawing even breaths and blanking her face. Miro followed her example and did the same. "What matters," said Ouanda, "is to make the best of it. The executions have always been at night. If we're to have a hope of vindicating Human, we have to get the Speaker here this afternoon, before dark. "

Miro nodded. "Yes," he said. "And I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too," she said.

"Since we don't know what we're doing, it's nobody's fault when we do things wrong."

"I only wish that I believed a right choice were possible."

Ela sat on a rock and bathed her feet in the water while she waited for the Speaker for the Dead. The fence was only a few meters away, running along the top of the steel grillwork that blocked the people from swimming under it. As if anyone wanted to try. Most people in Milagre pretended the fence wasn't there. Never came near it. That was why she had asked the Speaker to meet her here. Even though the day was warm and school was out, children didn't swim here at Vila Última, where the fence came to the river and the forest came nearly to the fence. Only the soapmakers and potters and brickmakers came here, and they left again when the day's work was over. She could say what she had to say, without fear of anyone overhearing or interrupting.

She didn't have to wait long. The Speaker rowed up the river in a small boat, just like one of the farside farmers, who had no use for roads. The skin of his back was shockingly white; even the few Lusos who were light-complected enough to be called loiros were much darker-skinned. His whiteness made him seem weak and slight. But then she saw how quickly the boat moved against the current; how accurately the oars were placed each time at just the right depth, with a long, smooth pull; how tightly wrapped in skin his muscles were. She felt a moment's stab of grief, and then realized that it was grief for her father, despite the depth of her hatred for him; she had not realized until this moment that she loved anything about him, but she grieved for the strength of his shoulders and back, for the sweat that made his brown skin dazzle like glass in the sunlight.

No, she said silently, I don't grieve for your death, Cão. I grieve that you were not more like the Speaker, who has no connection with us and yet has given us more good gifts in three days than you in your whole life; I grieve that your beautiful body was so worm-eaten inside.

The Speaker saw her and skimmed the boat to shore, where she waited. She waded in the reeds and muck to help him pull the boat aground.

"Sorry to get you muddy," he said. "But I haven't used my body in a couple of weeks, and the water invited me--"

"You row well," she said.

"The world I came from, Trondheim, was mostly ice and water. A bit of rock here and there, some soil, but anyone who couldn't row was more crippled than if he couldn't walk."

"That's where you were born?"

"No. Where I last Spoke, though." He sat on the grama, facing the water.

She sat beside him. "Mother's angry at you."

His lips made a little half-smile. "She told me."

Without thinking, Ela immediately began to justify her mother. "You tried to read her files."

"I read her files. Most of them. All but the ones that mattered."

"I know. Quim told me." She caught herself feeling just a little triumphant that Mother's protection system had bested him. Then she remembered that she was not on Mother's side in this. That she had been trying for years to get Mother to open those very files to her. But momentum carried her on, saying things she didn't mean to say. "Olhado's sitting in the house with his eyes shut off and music blasting into his ears. Very upset."

"Yes, well, he thinks I betrayed him."

"Didn't you?" That was not what she meant to say.

"I'm a speaker for the dead. I tell the truth, when I speak at all, and I don't keep away from other people's secrets."

"I know. That's why I called for a speaker. You don't have any respect for anybody."

He looked annoyed. "Why did you invite me here?" he asked.

This was working out all wrong. She was talking to him as if she were against him, as if she weren't grateful for what he had already done for the family. She was talking to him like the enemy. Has Quim taken over my mind, so that I say things I don't mean?

"You invited me to this place on the river. The rest of your family isn't speaking to me, and then I get a message from you. To complain about my breaches of privacy? To tell me I don't respect anybody?"

"No," she said miserably. "This isn't how it was supposed to go."

"Didn't it occur to you that I would hardly choose to be a speaker if I had no respect for people?"

In frustration she let the words burst out. "I wish you had broken into all her files! I wish you had taken every one of her secrets and published them through all the Hundred Worlds!" There were tears in her eyes; she couldn't think why.

"I see. She doesn't let you see those files, either."

"Sou aprendiz dela, não sou? E porque choro, diga-me! O senhor tem o jeito."

"I don't have any knack for making people cry, Ela," he answered softly. His voice was a caress. No, stronger, it was like a hand gripping her hand, holding her, steadying her. "Telling the truth makes you cry."

"Sou ingrata, sou má filha--"

"Yes, you're ungrateful, and a terrible daughter," he said, laughing softly. "Through all these years of chaos and neglect you've held your mother's family together with little help from her, and when you followed her in her career, she wouldn't share the most vital inforination with you; you've earned nothing but love and trust from her and she's replied by shutting you out of her life at home and at work; and then you finally tell somebody that you're sick of it. You're just about the worst person I've ever known."

She found herself laughing at her own self-condemnation. Childishly, she didn't want to laugh at herself. "Don't patronize me." She tried to put as much contempt into her voice as possible.

He noticed. His eyes went distant and cold. "Don't spit at a friend," he said.

She didn't want him to be distant from her. But she couldn't stop herself from saying, coldly, angrily, "You aren't my friend."

For a moment she was afraid he believed her. Then a smile came to his face. "You wouldn't know a friend if you saw one."

Yes I would, she thought. I see one now. She smiled back at him.

"Ela," he said, "are you a good xenobiologist?"

"Yes."

"You're eighteen years old. You could take the guild tests at sixteen. But you didn't take them."

"Mother wouldn't let me. She said I wasn't ready."

"You don't have to have your mother's permission after you're sixteen."

"An apprentice has to have the permission of her master."

"And now you're eighteen, and you don't even need that."

"She's still Lusitania's xenobiologist. It's still her tab. What if I passed the test, and then she wouldn't let me into the lab until after she was dead?"

"Did she threaten that?"

"She made it clear that I wasn't to take the test."

"Because as soon as you're not an apprentice anymore, if she admits you to the lab as her co-xenobiologist you have full access--"

"To all the working files. To all the locked files."

"So she'd hold her own daughter back from beginning her career, she'd give you a permanent blot on your record-- unready for the tests even at age eighteen-- just to keep you from reading those files."

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Mother's crazy."

"No. Whatever else Novinha is, Ela, she is not crazy."

"Ela é boba mesma, Senhor Falante."

He laughed and lay back in the grama. "Tell me how she's boba, then."

"I'll give you the list. First: She won't allow any investigation of the Descolada. Thirty-four years ago the Descolada nearly destroyed this colony. My grandparents, Os Venerados, Deus os abençoe, they barely managed to stop the Descolada. Apparently the disease agent, the Descolada bodies, are still present-- we have to eat a supplement, like an extra vitamin, to keep the plague from striking again. They told you that, didn't they? If you once get it in your system, you'll have to keep that supplement all your life, even if you leave here."

"I knew that, yes."

"She won't let me study the Descolada bodies at all. That's what's in some of the locked files, anyway. She's locked up all of Gusto's and Cida's discoveries about the Descolada bodies. Nothing's available."

The Speaker's eyes narrowed. "So. That's one-third of boba. What's the rest?"

"It's more than a third. Whatever the Descolada body is, it was able to adapt to become a human parasite ten years after the colony was founded. Ten years! If it can adapt once, it can adapt again."

"Maybe she doesn't think so."

"Maybe I ought to have a right to decide that for myself."

He put out a hand, rested it on her knee, calmed her. "I agree with you. But go on. The second reason she's boba."

"She won't allow any theoretical research. No taxonomy. No evolutionary models. If I ever try to do any, she says I obviously don't have enough to do and weighs me down with assignments until she thinks I've given up."

"You haven't given up, I take it."

"That's what xenobiology's for. Oh, yes, fine that she can make a potato that makes maximum use of the ambient nutrients. Wonderful that she made a breed of amaranth that makes the colony protein self-sufficient with only ten acres under cultivation. But that's all molecular juggling."

"It's survival."

"But we don't know anything. It's like swimming on the top of the ocean. You get very comfortable, you can move around a little, but you don't know if there are sharks down there! We could be surrounded by sharks and she doesn't want to find out."

"Third thing?"

"She won't exchange information with the Zenadors. Period. Nothing. And that really is crazy. We can't leave the fenced area. That means that we don't have a single tree we can study. We know absolutely nothing about the flora and fauna of this world except what happened to be included inside the fence. One herd of cabra and a bunch of capim grass, and then a slightly different riverside ecology, and that's everything. Nothing about the kinds of animals in the forest, no information exchange at all. We don't tell them anything, and if they send us data we erase the files unread. It's like she built this wall around us that nothing could get through. Nothing gets in, nothing goes out."

"Maybe she has reasons."

"Of course she has reasons. Crazy people always have reasons. For one thing, she hated Libo. Hated him. She wouldn't let Miro talk about him, wouldn't let us play with his children-- China and I were best friends for years and she wouldn't let me bring her home or go to her house after school. And when Miro apprenticed to him, she didn't speak to him or set his place at the table for a year."

She could see that the Speaker doubted her, thought she was exaggerating.

"I mean one year. The day he went to the Zenador's Station for the first time as Libo's apprentice, he came home and she didn't speak to him, not a word, and when he sat down to dinner she removed the plate from in front of his face, just cleaned up his silverware as if he weren't there. He sat there through the entire meal, just looking at her. Until Father got angry at him for being rude and told him to leave the room."

"What did he do, move out?"

"No. You don't know Miro!" Ela laughed bitterly. "He doesn't fight, but he doesn't give up, either. He never answered Father's abuse, never. In all my life I don't remember hearing him answer anger with anger. And Mother-- well, he came home every night from the Zenador's Station and sat down where a plate was set, and every night Mother took up his plate and silverware, and he sat there till Father made him leave. Of course, within a week Father was yelling at him to get out as soon as Mother reached for his plate. Father loved it, the bastard, he thought it was great, he hated Miro so much, and finally Mother was on his side against Miro."

"Who gave in?"

"Nobody gave in." Ela looked at the river, realizing how terrible this all sounded, realizing that she was shaming her family in front of a stranger. But he wasn't a stranger, was he? Because Quara was talking again, and Olhado was involved in things again, and Grego, for just a short time, Grego had been almost a normal boy. He wasn't a stranger.

"How did it end?" asked the Speaker.

"It ended when the piggies killed Libo. That's how much Mother hated the man. When he died she celebrated by forgiving her son. That night when Miro came home, it was after dinner was over, it was late at night. A terrible night, everybody was so afraid, the piggies seemed so awful, and everybody loved Libo so much-- except Mother, of course. Mother waited up for Miro. He came in and went into the kitchen and sat down at the table, and Mother put a plate down in front of him, put food on the plate. Didn't say a word. He ate it, too. Not a word about it. As if the year before hadn't happened. I woke up in the middle of the night because I could hear Miro throwing up and crying in the bathroom. I don't think anybody else heard, and I didn't go to him because I didn't think he wanted anybody to hear him. Now I think I should have gone, but I was afraid. There were such terrible things in my family."

The Speaker nodded.

"I should have gone to him," Ela said again.

"Yes," the Speaker said. "You should have."

A strange thing happened then. The Speaker agreed with her that she had made a mistake that night, and she knew when he said the words that it was true, that his judgment was correct. And yet she felt strangely healed, as if simply saying her mistake were enough to purge some of the pain of it. For the first time, then, she caught a glimpse of what the power of speaking might be. It wasn't a matter of confession, penance, and absolution, like the priests offered. It was something else entirely. Telling the story of who she was, and then realizing that she was no longer the same person. That she had made a mistake, and the mistake had changed her, and now she would not make the mistake again because she had become someone else, someone less afraid, someone more compassionate.

If I'm not that frightened girl who heard her brother in desperate pain and dared not go to him, who am I? But the water flowing through the grillwork under the fence held no answers. Maybe she couldn't know who she was today. Maybe it was enough to know that she was no longer who she was before.

Still the Speaker lay there on the grama, looking at the clouds coming darkly out of the west. "I've told you all I know," Ela said. "I told you what was in those files-- the Descolada information. That's all I know."

"No it isn't," said the Speaker.

"It is, I promise."

"Do you mean to say that you obeyed her? That when your mother told you not to do any theoretical work, you simply turned off your mind and did what she wanted?"

Ela giggled. "She thinks so."

"But you didn't."

"I'm a scientist, even if she isn't."

"She was once," said the Speaker. "She passed her tests when she was thirteen."

"I know," said Ela.

"And she used to share information with Pipo before he died."

"I know that, too. It was just Libo that she hated."

"So tell me, Ela. What have you discovered in your theoretical work?"

"I haven't discovered any answers. But at least I know what some of the questions are. That's a start, isn't it? Nobody else is asking questions. It's so funny, isn't it? Miro says the framling xenologers are always pestering him and Ouanda for more information, more data, and yet the law forbids them from learning anything more. And yet not a single framling xenobiologist has ever asked us for any information. They all just study the biosphere on their own planets and don't ask Mother a single question. I'm the only one asking, and nobody cares. "

"I care," said the Speaker. "I need to know what the questions are."

"OK, here's one. We have a herd of cabra here inside the fence. The cabra can't jump the fence, they don't even touch it. I've examined and tagged every single cabra in the herd, and you know something? There's not one male. They're all female."

"Bad luck," said the Speaker. "You'd think they would have left at least one male inside."

"It doesn't matter," said Ela. "I don't know if there are any males. In the last five years every single adult cabra has given birth at least once. And not one of them has mated."

"Maybe they clone," said the Speaker.

"The offspring is not genetically identical to the mother. That much research I could sneak into the lab without Mother noticing. There is some kind of gene transfer going on."

"Hermaphrodites?"

"No. Pure female. No male sexual organs at all. Does that qualify as an important question? Somehow the cabras are having some kind of genetic exchange, without sex."

"The theological implications alone are astounding."

"Don't make fun."

"Of which? Science or theology?"

"Either one. Do you want to hear more of my questions or not?"

"I do," said the Speaker.

"Then try this. The grass you're lying on-- we call it grama. All the watersnakes are hatched here. Little worms so small you can hardly see them. They eat the grass down to the nub and eat each other, too, shedding skin each time they grow larger. Then all of a sudden, when the grass is completely slimy with their dead skin, all the snakes slither off into the river and they never come back out. "

He wasn't a xenobiologist. He didn't get the implication right away.

"The watersnakes hatch here," she explained, "but they don't come back out of the water to lay their eggs."

"So they mate here before they go into the water."

"Fine, of course, obviously. I've seen them mating. That's not the problem. The problem is, why are they watersnakes?"

He still didn't get it.

"Look, they're completely adapted to life underwater. They have gills along with lungs, they're superb swimmers, they have fins for guidance, they are completely evolved for adult life in the water. Why would they ever have evolved that way if they are born on land, mate on land, and reproduce on land? As far as evolution is concerned, anything that happens after you reproduce is completely irrelevant, except if you nurture your young, and the watersnakes definitely don't nurture. Living in the water does nothing to enhance their ability to survive until they reproduce. They could slither into the water and drown and it wouldn't matter because reproduction is over."

"Yes," said the Speaker. "I see now."

"There are little clear eggs in the water, though. I've never seen a watersnake lay them, but since there's no other animal in or near the river large enough to lay the eggs, it seems logical that they're watersnake eggs. Only these big clear eggs-- a centimeter across-- they're completely sterile. The nutrients are there, everything's ready, but there's no embryo. Nothing. Some of them have a gamete-- half a set of genes in a cell, ready to combine-- but not a single one was alive. And we've never found watersnake eggs on land. One day there's nothing there but grama, getting riper and riper; the next day the grama stalks are crawling with baby watersnakes. Does this sound like a question worth exploring?"

"It sounds like spontaneous generation to me."

"Yes, well, I'd like to find enough information to test some alternate hypotheses, but Mother won't let me. I asked her about this one and she made me take over the whole amaranth testing process so I wouldn't have time to muck around in the river. And another question. Why are there so few species here? On every other planet, even some of the nearly desert ones like Trondheim, there are thousands of different species, at least in the water. Here there's hardly a handful, as far as I can tell. The xingadora are the only birds we've seen. The suckflies are the only flies. The cabra are the only ruminants eating the capim grass. Except for the cabras, the piggies are the only large animals we've seen. Only one species of tree. Only one species of grass on the prairie, the capim; and the only other competing plant is the tropeça, a long vine that wanders along the ground for meters and meters-- the xingadora make their nests out of the vine. That's it. The xingadora eat the suckflies and nothing else. The suckflies eat the algae along the edge of the river. And our garbage, and that's it. Nothing eats the xingadora. Nothing eats the cabra."

"Very limited," said the Speaker.

"Impossibly limited. There are ten thousand ecological niches here that are completely unfilled. There's no way that evolution could leave this world so sparse."

"Unless there was a disaster."

"Exactly."

"Something that wiped out all but a handful of species that were able to adapt."

"Yes," said Ela. "You see? And I have proof. The cabras have a huddling behavior pattern. When you come up on them, when they smell you, they circle with the adults facing inward, so they can kick out at the intruder and protect the young."

"Lots of herd animals do that."

"Protect them from what? The piggies are completely sylvan-- they never hunt on the prairie. Whatever the predator was that forced the cabra to develop that behavior pattern, it's gone. And only recently-- in the last hundred thousand years, the last million years maybe."

"There's no evidence of any meteor falls more recent than twenty million years," said the Speaker.

"No. That kind of disaster would kill off all the big animals and plants and leave hundreds of small ones, or maybe kill all land life and leave only the sea. But land, sea, all the environments were stripped, and yet some big creatures survived. No, I think it was a disease. A disease that struck across all species boundaries, that could adapt itself to any living thing. Of course, we wouldn't notice that disease now because all the species left alive have adapted to it. It would be part of their regular life pattern. The only way we'd notice the disease--"

"Is if we caught it," said the Speaker. "The Descolada."

"You see? Everything comes back to the Descolada. My grandparents found a way to stop it from killing humans, but it took the best genetic manipulation. The cabra, the watersnakes, they also found ways to adapt, and I doubt it was with dietary supplements. I think it all ties in together. The weird reproductive anomalies, the emptiness of the ecosystem, it all comes back to the Descolada bodies, and Mother won't let me examine them. She won't let me study what they are, how they work, how they might be involved with--"

"With the piggies."

"Well, of course, but not just them, all the animals--"

The Speaker looked like he was suppressing excitement. As if she had explained something difficult. "The night that Pipo died, she locked the files showing all her current work, and she locked the files containing all the Descolada research. Whatever she showed Pipo had to do with the Descolada bodies, and it had to do with the piggies--"

"That's when she locked the files?" asked Ela.

"Yes. Yes."

"Then I'm right, aren't I."

"Yes," he said. "Thank you. You've helped me more than you know."

"Does this mean that you'll speak Father's death soon?"

The Speaker looked at her carefully. "You don't want me to speak your father, really. You want me to speak your mother."

"She isn't dead."

"But you know I can't possibly speak Marcão without explaining why he married Novinha, and why they stayed married all those years."

"That's right. I want all the secrets opened up. I want all the files unlocked. I don't want anything hidden."

"You don't know what you're asking," said the Speaker. "You don't know how much pain it will cause if all the secrets come out."

"Take a look at my family, Speaker," she answered. "How can the truth cause any more pain than the secrets have already caused?"

He smiled at her, but it was not a mirthful smile. It was-- affectionate, even pitying. "You're right," he said, "completely right, but you may have trouble realizing that, when you hear the whole story."

"I know the whole story, as far as it can be known."

"That's what everybody thinks, and nobody's right."

"When will you have the speaking?"

"As soon as I can."

"Then why not now? Today? What are you waiting for?"

"I can't do anything until I talk to the piggies."

"You're joking, aren't you? Nobody can talk to the piggies except the Zenadors. That's by Congressional Order. Nobody can get past that."

"Yes," said the Speaker. "That's why it's going to be hard."

"Not hard, impossible--"

"Maybe," he said. He stood; so did she. "Ela, you've helped me tremendously. Taught me everything I could have hoped to learn from you. Just like Olhado did. But he didn't like what I did with the things he taught me, and now he thinks I betrayed him."

"He's a kid. I'm eighteen."

The Speaker nodded, put his hand on her shoulder, squeezed. "We're all right then. We're friends."

She was almost sure there was irony in what he said. Irony and, perhaps, a plea. "Yes," she insisted. "We're friends. Always."

He nodded again, turned away, pushed the boat from shore, and splashed after it through the reeds and muck. Once the boat was fairly afloat, he sat down and extended the oars, rowed, and then looked up and smiled at her. Ela smiled back, but the smile could not convey the elation she felt, the perfect relief. He had listened to everything, and understood everything, and he would make everything all right. She believed that, believed it so completely that she didn't even notice that it was the source of her sudden happiness. She knew only that she had spent an hour with the Speaker for the Dead, and now she felt more alive than she had in years.

She retrieved her shoes, put them back on her feet, and walked home. Mother would still be at the Biologista's Station, but Ela didn't want to work this afternoon. She wanted to go home and fix dinner; that was always solitary work. She hoped no one would talk with her. She hoped there'd be no problem she was expected to solve. Let this feeling linger forever.

Ela was only home for a few minutes, however, when Miro burst into the kitchen. "Ela," he said. "Have you seen the Speaker for the Dead?"

"Yes," she said. "On the river."

"Where on the river!"

If she told him where they had met, he'd know that it wasn't a chance meeting. "Why?" she asked.

"Listen, Ela, this is no time to be suspicious, please. I've got to find him. We've left messages for him, the computer can't find him--"

"He was rowing downriver, toward home. He's probably going to be at his house soon."

Miro rushed from the kitchen into the front room. Ela heard him tapping at the terminal. Then he came back in. "Thanks," he said. "Don't expect me home for dinner."

"What's so urgent?"

"Nothing." It was so ridiculous, to say "nothing" when Miro was obviously agitated and hurried, that they both burst out laughing at once. "OK," said Miro, "it isn't nothing, it's something, but I can't talk about it, OK?"

"OK." But soon all the secrets will be known, Miro.

"What I don't understand is why he didn't get our message. I mean, the computer was paging him. Doesn't he wear an implant in his ear? The computer's supposed to be able to reach him. Of course, maybe he had it turned off."

"No," said Ela. "The light was on."

Miro cocked his head and squinted at her. "You didn't see that tiny red light on his ear implant, not if he just happened to be out rowing in the middle of the river."

"He came to shore. We talked."

"What about?"

Ela smiled. "Nothing," she said.

He smiled back, but he looked annoyed all the same. She understood: It's all right for you to have secrets from me, but not for me to have secrets from you, is that it, Miro?

He didn't argue about it, though. He was in too much of a hurry. Had to go find the Speaker, and now, and he wouldn't be home for dinner.

Ela had a feeling the Speaker might get to talk to the piggies sooner than she had thought possible. For a moment she was elated. The waiting would be over.

Then the elation passed, and something else took its place. A sick fear. A nightmare of China's papai, dear Libo, lying dead on the hillside, torn apart by the piggies. Only it wasn't Libo, the way she had always imagined the grisly scene. It was Miro. No, no, it wasn't Miro. It was the Speaker. It was the Speaker who would be tortured to death. "No," she whispered.

Then she shivered and the nightmare left her mind; she went back to trying to spice and season the pasta so it would taste like something better than amaranth glue.

14

Renegades

LEAF-EATER: Human says that when your brothers die, you bury them in the dirt and then make your houses out of that dirt. ( Laughs.)

MIRO: No. We never dig where people are buried.

LEAF-EATER: (becomes rigid with agitation): Then your dead don't do you any good at all!

--Ouanda Quenhatta Figueira Mucumbi, Dialogue Transcripts, 103:0:1969:4:13:111

Ender had thought they might have some trouble getting him through the gate, but Ouanda palmed the box, Miro opened the gate, and the three of them walked through. No challenge. It must be as Ela had implied-- no one wants to get out of the compound, and so no serious security was needed. Whether that suggested that people were content to stay in Milagre or that they were afraid of the piggies or that they hated their imprisonment so much that they had to pretend the fence wasn't there, Ender could not begin to guess.

Both Ouanda and Miro were very tense, almost frightened. That was understandable, of course, since they were breaking Congressional rules to let him come. But Ender suspected there was more to it than that. Miro's tension was coupled with eagerness, a sense of hurry; he might be frightened, but he wanted to see what would happen, wanted to go ahead.

Ouanda held back, walked a measured step, and her coldness was not just fear but hostility as well. She did not trust him.

So Ender was not surprised when she stepped behind the large tree that grew nearest the gate and waited for Miro and Ender to follow her. Ender saw how Miro looked annoyed for a moment, then controlled himself. His mask of uninvolvement was as cool as a human being could hope for. Ender found himself comparing Miro to the boys he had known in Battle School, sizing him up as a comrade in arms, and thought Miro might have done well there. Ouanda, too, but for different reasons: She held herself responsible for what was happening, even though Ender was an adult and she was much younger. She did not defer to him at all. Whatever she was afraid of, it was not authority.

"Here?" asked Miro blandly.

"Or not at all." said Ouanda.

Ender folded himself to sit at the base of the tree. "This is Rooter's tree, isn't it?" he asked.

They took it calmly-- of course-- but their momentary pause told him that yes, he had surprised them by knowing something about a past that they surely regarded as their own. I may be a framling here, Ender said silently, but I don't have to be an ignorant one.

"Yes," said Ouanda. "He's the totem they seem to get the most-- direction from. Lately-- the last seven or eight years. They've never let us see the rituals in which they talk to their ancestors, but it seems to involve drumming on the trees with heavy polished sticks. We hear them at night sometimes. "

"Sticks? Made of fallen wood?"

"We assume so. Why?"

"Because they have no stone or metal tools to cut the wood-- isn't that right? Besides, if they worship the trees, they couldn't very well cut them down."

"We don't think they worship the trees. It's totemic. They stand for dead ancestors. They-- plant them. With the bodies."

Ouanda had wanted to stop, to talk or question him, but Ender had no intention of letting her believe she-- or Miro, for that matter-- was in charge of this expedition. Ender intended to talk to the piggies himself. He had never prepared for a Speaking by letting someone else determine his agenda, and he wasn't going to begin now. Besides, he had information they didn't have. He knew Ela's theory.

"And anywhere else?" he asked. "Do they plant trees at any other time?"

They looked at each other. "Not that we've seen," said Miro.

Ender was not merely curious. He was still thinking of what Ela had told him about reproductive anomalies. "And do the trees also grow by themselves? Are seedlings and saplings scattered through the forest?"

Ouanda shook her head. "We really don't have any evidence of the trees being planted anywhere but in the corpses of the dead. At least, all the trees we know of are quite old, except these three out here."

"Four, if we don't hurry," said Miro.

Ah. Here was the tension between them. Miro's sense of urgency was to save a piggy from being planted at the base of another tree. While Ouanda was concerned about something quite different. They had revealed enough of themselves to him; now he could let her interrogate him. He sat up straight and tipped his head back, to look up into the leaves of the tree above him, the spreading branches, the pale green of photosynthesis that confirmed the convergence, the inevitability of evolution on every world. Here was the center of all of Ela's paradoxes: evolution on this world was obviously well within the pattern that xenobiologists had seen on all the Hundred Worlds, and yet somewhere the pattern had broken down, collapsed. The piggies were one of a few dozen species that had survived the collapse. What was the Descolada, and how had the piggies adapted to it?

He had meant to turn the conversation, to say, Why are we here behind this tree? That would invite Ouanda's questions. But at that moment, his head tilted back, the soft green leaves moving gently in an almost imperceptible breeze, he felt a powerful deja vu. He had looked up into these leaves before. Recently. But that was impossible. There were no large trees on Trondheim, and none grew within the compound of Milagre. Why did the sunlight through the leaves feel so familiar to him?

"Speaker," said Miro.

"Yes," he said, allowing himself to be drawn out of his momentary reverie.

"We didn't want to bring you out here." Miro said it firmly, and with his body so oriented toward Ouanda's that Ender understood that in fact Miro had wanted to bring him out here, but was including himself in Ouanda's reluctance in order to show her that he was one with her. You are in love with each other, Ender said silently. And tonight, if I speak Marcão's death tonight, I will have to tell you that you're brother and sister. I have to drive the wedge of the incest tabu between you. And you will surely hate me.

"You're going to see-- some--" Ouanda could not bring herself to say it.

Miro smiled. "We call them Questionable Activities. They began with Pipo, accidentally. But Libo did it deliberately, and we are continuing his work. It is careful, gradual. We didn't just discard the Congressional rules about this. But there were crises, and we had to help. A few years ago, for instance, the piggies were running short of macios, the bark worms they mostly lived on then--"

"You're going to tell him that first?" asked Ouanda.

Ah, thought Ender. It isn't as important to her to maintain the illusion of solidarity as it is to him.

"He's here partly to Speak Libo's death," said Miro. "And this was what happened right before."

"We have no evidence of a causal relationship--"

"Let me discover causal relationships," said Ender quietly. "Tell me what happened when the piggies got hungry."

"It was the wives who were hungry, they said. " Miro ignored Ouanda's anxiety. "You see, the males gather food for the females and the young, and so there wasn't enough to go around. They kept hinting about how they would have to go to war. About how they would probably all die. " Miro shook his head. "They seemed almost happy about it."

Ouanda stood up. "He hasn't even promised. Hasn't promised anything."

"What do you want me to promise?" asked Ender.

"Not to-- let any of this--"

"Not to tell on you?" asked Ender.

She nodded, though she plainly resented the childish phrase.

"I won't promise any such thing," said Ender. "My business is telling."

She whirled on Miro. "You see!"

Miro in turn looked frightened. "You can't tell. They'll seal the gate. They'll never let us through!"

"And you'd have to find another line of work?" asked Ender.

Ouanda looked at him with contempt. "Is that all you think xenology is? A job? That's another intelligent species there in the woods. Ramen, not varelse, and they must be known."

Ender did not answer, but his gaze did not leave her face.

"It's like The Hive Queen and the Hegemon," said Miro. "The piggies, they're like the buggers. Only smaller, weaker, more primitive. We need to study them, yes, but that isn't enough. You can study beasts and not care a bit when one of them drops dead or gets eaten up, but these are-- they're like us. We can't just study their hunger, observe their destruction in war, we know them, we--"

"Love them," said Ender.

"Yes!" said Ouanda defiantly.

"But if you left them, if you weren't here at all, they wouldn't disappear, would they?"

"No," said Miro.

"I told you he'd be just like the committee," said Ouanda.

Ender ignored her. "What would it cost them if you left?"

"It's like--" Miro struggled for words. "It's as if you could go back, to old Earth, back before the Xenocide, before star travel, and you said to them, You can travel among the stars, you can live on other worlds. And then showed them a thousand little miracles. Lights that turn on from switches. Steel. Even simple things-- pots to hold water. Agriculture. They see you, they know what you are, they know that they can become what you are, do all the things that you do. What do they say-- take this away, don't show us, let us live out our nasty, short, brutish little lives, let evolution take its course? No. They say, Give us, teach us, help us."

"And you say, I can't, and then you go away."

"It's too late!" said Miro. "Don't you understand? They've already seen the miracles! They've already seen us fly here. They've seen us be tall and strong, with magical tools and knowledge of things they never dreamed of. It's too late to tell them good-bye and go. They know what is possible. And the longer we stay, the more they try to learn, and the more they learn, the more we see how learning helps them, and if you have any kind of compassion, if you understand that they're-- they're--"

"Human."

"Ramen, anyway. They're our children, do you understand that?"

Ender smiled. "What man among you, if his son asks for bread, gives him a stone?"

Ouanda nodded. "That's it. The Congressional rules say we have to give them stones. Even though we have so much bread."

Ender stood up. "Well, let's go on."

Ouanda wasn't ready. "You haven't promised--"

"Have you read The Hive Queen and the Hegemon?"

"I have," said Miro.

"Can you conceive of anyone choosing to call himself Speaker for the Dead, and then doing anything to harm these little ones, these pequeninos?"

Ouanda's anxiety visibly eased, but her hostility was no less. "You're slick, Senhor Andrew, Speaker for the Dead, you're very clever. You remind him of the Hive Queen, and speak scripture to me out of the side of your mouth."

"I speak to everyone in the language they understand," said Ender. "That isn't being slick. It's being clear."

"So you'll do whatever you want."

"As long as it doesn't hurt the piggies."

Ouanda sneered. "In your judgment."

"I have no one else's judgment to use." He walked away from her, out of the shade of the spreading limbs of the tree, heading for the woods that waited atop the hill. They followed him, running to catch up.

"I have to tell you," said Miro. "The piggies have been asking for you. They believe you're the very same Speaker who wrote The Hive Queen and the Hegemon."

"They've read it?"

"They've pretty well incorporated it into their religion, actually. They treat the printout we gave them like a holy book. And now they claim the hive queen herself is talking to them."

Ender glanced at him. "What does she say?" he asked.

"That you're the real Speaker. And that you've got the hive queen with you. And that you're going to bring her to live with them, and teach them all about metal and-- it's really crazy stuff. That's the worst thing, they have such impossible expectations of you."

It might be simple wish fulfillment on their part, as Miro obviously believed, but Ender knew that from her cocoon the hive queen had been talking to someone. "How do they say the hive queen talks to them?"

Ouanda was on the other side of him now. "Not to them, just to Rooter. And Rooter talks to them. It's all part of their system of totems. We've always tried to play along with it, and act as if we believed it."

"How condescending of you," said Ender.

"It's standard anthropological practice," said Miro.

"You're so busy pretending to believe them, there isn't a chance in the world you could learn anything from them."

For a moment they lagged behind, so that he actually entered the forest alone. Then they ran to catch up with him. "We've devoted our lives to learning about them!" Miro said.

Ender stopped. "Not from them." They were just inside the trees; the spotty light through the leaves made their faces unreadable. But he knew what their faces would tell him. Annoyance, resentment, contempt-- how dare this unqualified stranger question their professional attitude? This is how: "You're cultural supremacists to the core. You'll perform your Questionable Activities to help out the poor little piggies, but there isn't a chance in the world you'll notice when they have something to teach you."

"Like what!" demanded Ouanda. "Like how to murder their greatest benefactor, torture him to death after he saved the lives of dozens of their wives and children?"

"So why do you tolerate it? Why are you here helping them after what they did?"

Miro slipped in between Ouanda and Ender. Protecting her, thought Ender; or else keeping her from revealing her weaknesses. "We're professionals. We understand that cultural differences, which we can't explain--"

"You understand that the piggies are animals, and you no more condemn them for murdering Libo and Pipo than you would condemn a cabra for chewing up capim."

"That's right," said Miro.

Ender smiled. "And that's why you'll never learn anything from them. Because you think of them as animals."

"We think of them as ramen!" said Ouanda, pushing in front of Miro. Obviously she was not interested in being protected.

"You treat them as if they were not responsible for their own actions," said Ender. "Ramen are responsible for what they do."

"What are you going to do?" asked Ouanda sarcastically. "Come in and put them on trial?"

"I'll tell you this. The piggies have learned more about me from dead Rooter than you have learned from having me with you."

"What's that supposed to mean? That you really are the original Speaker?" Miro obviously regarded it as the most ridiculous proposition imaginable. "And I suppose you really do have a bunch of buggers up there in your starship circling Lusitania, so you can bring them down and--"

"What it means," interrupted Ouanda, "is that this amateur thinks he's better qualified to deal with the piggies than we are. And as far as I'm concerned that's proof that we should never have agreed to bring him to--"

At that moment Ouanda stopped talking, for a piggy had emerged from the underbrush. Smaller than Ender had expected. Its odor, while not wholly unpleasant, was certainly stronger than Jane's computer simulation could ever imply. "Too late," Ender murmured. "I think we're already meeting. "

The piggy's expression, if he had one, was completely unreadable to Ender. Miro and Ouanda, however, could understand something of his unspoken language. "He's astonished," Ouanda murmured. By telling Ender that she understood what he did not, she was putting him in his place. That was fine. Ender knew he was a novice here. He also hoped, however, that he had stirred them a little from their normal, unquestioned way of thinking. It was obvious that they were following in well-established patterns. If he was to get any real help from them, they would have to break out of those old patterns and reach new conclusions.

"Leaf-eater," said Miro.

Leaf-eater did not take his eyes off Ender. "Speaker for the Dead," he said.

"We brought him," said Ouanda.

Leaf-eater turned and disappeared among the bushes.

"What does that mean?" Ender asked. "That he left?"

"You mean you haven't already figured it out?" asked Ouanda.

"Whether you like it or not," said Ender, "the piggies want to speak to me and I will speak to them. I think it will work out better if you help me understand what's going on. Or don't you understand it either?"

He watched them struggle with their annoyance. And then, to Ender's relief, Miro made a decision. Instead of answering with hauteur, he spoke simply, mildly. "No. We don't understand it. We're still playing guessing games with the piggies. They ask us questions, we ask them questions, and to the best of our ability neither they nor we have ever deliberately revealed a thing. We don't even ask them the questions whose answers we really want to know, for fear that they'll learn too much about us from our questions."

Ouanda was not willing to go along with Miro's decision to cooperate. "We know more than you will in twenty years," she said. "And you're crazy if you think you can duplicate what we know in a ten-minute briefing in the forest."

"I don't need to duplicate what you know," Ender said.

"You don't think so?" asked Ouanda.

"Because I have you with me." Ender smiled.

Miro understood and took it as a compliment. He smiled back. "Here's what we know, and it isn't much. Leaf-eater probably isn't glad to see you. There's a schism between him and a piggy named Human. When they thought we weren't going to bring you, Leaf-eater was sure he had won. Now his victory is taken away. Maybe we saved Human's life."

"And cost Leaf-eater his?" asked Ender.

"Who knows? My gut feeling is that Human's future is on the line, but Leaf-eater's isn't. Leaf-eater's just trying to make Human fail, not succeed himself."

"But you don't know."

"That's the kind of thing we never ask about. " Miro smiled again. "And you're right. It's so much a habit that we usually don't even notice that we're not asking. "

Ouanda was angry. "He's right? He hasn't even seen us at work, and suddenly he's a critic of--"

But Ender had no interest in watching them squabble. He strode off in the direction Leaf-eater had gone, and let them follow as they would. And, of course, they did, leaving their argument for later. As soon as Ender knew they were walking with him, he began to question them again. "These Questionable Activities you've carried out," he said as he walked. "You introduced new food into their diet?"

"We taught them how to eat the merdona root," said Ouanda. She was crisp and businesslike, but at least she was speaking to him. She wasn't going to let her anger keep her from being part of what was obviously going to be a crucial meeting with the piggies. "How to nullify the cyanide content by soaking it and drying it in the sun. That was the short-term solution."

"The long-term solution was some of Mother's cast-off amaranth adaptations," said Miro. "She made a batch of amaranth that was so well-adapted to Lusitania that it wasn't very good for humans. Too much Lusitanian protein structure, not enough Earthborn. But that sounded about right for the piggies. I got Ela to give me some of the cast-off specimens, without letting her know it was important."

Don't kid yourself about what Ela does and doesn't know, Ender said silently.

"Libo gave it to them, taught them how to plant it. Then how to grind it, make flour, turn it into bread. Nasty-tasting stuff, but it gave them a diet directly under their control for the first time ever. They've been fat and sassy ever since. "

Ouanda's voice was bitter. "But they killed Father right after the first loaves were taken to the wives."

Ender walked in silence for a few moments, trying to make sense of this. The piggies killed Libo immediately after he saved them from starvation? Unthinkable, and yet it happened. How could such a society evolve, killing those who contributed most to its survival? They should do the opposite-- they should reward the valuable ones by enhancing their opportunity to reproduce. That's how communities improve their chances of surviving as a group. How could the piggies possibly survive, murdering those who contribute most to their survival?

And yet there were human precedents. These children, Miro and Ouanda, with the Questionable Activities-- they were better and wiser, in the long run, than the Starways committee that made the rules. But if they were caught, they would be taken from their homes to another world-- already a death sentence, in a way, since everyone they knew would be dead before they could ever return-- and they would be tried and punished, probably imprisoned. Neither their ideas nor their genes would propagate, and society would be impoverished by it.

Still, just because humans did it, too, did not make it sensible. Besides, the arrest and imprisonment of Miro and Ouanda, if it ever happened, would make sense if you viewed humans as a single community, and the piggies as their enemies; if you thought that anything that helped the piggies survive was somehow a menace to humanity. Then the punishment of people who enhanced the piggies' culture would be designed, not to protect the piggies, but to keep the piggies from developing.

At that moment Ender saw clearly that the rules governing human contact with the piggies did not really function to protect the piggies at all. They functioned to guarantee human superiority and power. From that point of view, by performing their Questionable Activities, Miro and Ouanda were traitors to the self-interest of their own species.

"Renegades," he said aloud.

"What?" said Miro. "What did you say?"

"Renegades. Those who have denied their own people, and claimed the enemy as their own."

"Ah," said Miro.

"We're not," said Ouanda.

"Yes we are," said Miro.

"I haven't denied my humanity!"

"The way Bishop Peregrino defines it, we denied our humanity long ago," said Miro.

"But the way I define it--" she began.

"The way you define it," said Ender, "the piggies are also human. That's why you're a renegade."

"I thought you said we treated the piggies like animals!" Ouanda said.

"When you don't hold them accountable, when you don't ask them direct questions, when you try to deceive them, then you treat them like animals."

"In other words," said Miro, "when we do follow the committee rules."

"Yes," said Ouanda, "yes, that's right, we are renegades."

"And you?" said Miro. "Why are you a renegade?"

"Oh, the human race kicked me out a long time ago. That's how I got to be a speaker for the dead."

With that they arrived at the piggies' clearing.

Mother wasn't at dinner and neither was Miro. That was fine with Ela. When either one of them was there, Ela was stripped of her authority; she couldn't keep control over the younger children. And yet neither Miro nor Mother took Ela's place, either. Nobody obeyed Ela and nobody else tried to keep order. So it was quieter, easier when they stayed away.

Not that the little ones were particularly well-behaved even now. They just resisted her less. She only had to yell at Grego a couple of times to keep him from poking and kicking Quara under the table. And today both Quim and Olhado were keeping to themselves. None of the normal bickering.

Until the meal was over.

Quim leaned back in his chair and smiled maliciously at Olhado. "So you're the one who taught that spy how to get into Mother's files."

Olhado turned to Ela. "You left Quim's face open again, Ela. You've got to learn to be tidier." It was Olhado's way of appealing, through humor, for Ela's intervention.

Quim did not want Olhado to have any help. "Ela's not on your side this time, Olhado. Nobody's on your side. You helped that sneaking spy get into Mother's files, and that makes you as guilty as he is. He's the devil's servant, and so are you. "

Ela saw the fury in Olhado's body; she had a momentary image in her mind of Olhado flinging his plate at Quim. But the moment passed. Olhado calmed himself. "I'm sorry," Olhado said. "I didn't mean to do it."

He was giving in to Quim. He was admitting Quim was right.

"I hope," said Ela, "that you mean that you're sorry that you didn't mean to do it. I hope you aren't apologizing for helping The Speaker for the Dead."

"Of course he's apologizing for helping the spy," said Quim.

"Because," said Ela, "we should all help Speaker all we can."

Quim jumped to his feet, leaned across the table to shout in her face. "How can you say that! He was violating Mother's privacy, he was finding out her secrets, he was--"

To her surprise Ela found herself also on her feet, shoving him back across the table, shouting back at him, and louder. "Mother's secrets are the cause of half the poison in this house! Mother's secrets are what's making us all sick, including her! So maybe the only way to make things right here is to steal all her secrets and get them out in the open where we can kill them!" She stopped shouting. Both Quim and Ohado stood before her, pressed against the far wall as if her words were bullets and they were being executed. Quietly, intensely, Ela went on. "As far as I'm concerned, the Speaker for the Dead is the only chance we have to become a family again. And Mother's secrets are the only barrier standing in his way. So today I told him everything I knew about what's in Mother's files, because I want to give him every shred of truth that I can find."

"Then you're the worst traitor of all," said Quim. His voice was trembling. He was about to cry.

"I say that helping the Speaker for the Dead is an act of loyalty," Ela answered. "The only real treason is obeying Mother, because what she wants, what she has worked for all her life, is her own self-destruction and the destruction of this family."

To Ela's surprise, it was not Quim but Olhado who wept. His tear glands did not function, of course, having been removed when his eyes were installed. So there was no moistening of his eyes to warn of the onset of crying. Instead he doubled over with a sob, then sank down along the wall until he sat on the floor, his head between his knees, sobbing and sobbing. Ela understood why. Because she had told him that his love for the Speaker was not disloyal, that he had not sinned, and he believed her when she told him that, he knew that it was true.

Then she looked up from Olhado to see Mother standing in the doorway. Ela felt herself go weak inside, trembling at the thought of what Mother must have overheard.

But Mother did not seem angry. Just a little sad, and very tired. She was looking at Olhado.

Quim's outrage found his voice. "Did you hear what Ela was saying?" he asked.

"Yes," said Mother, never taking her eyes from Olhado. "And for all I know she might be right."

Ela was no less unnerved than Quim.

"Go to your rooms, children," Mother said quietly. "I need to talk to Olhado."

Ela beckoned to Grego and Quara, who slid off their chairs and scurried to Ela's side, eyes wide with awe at the unusual goings-on. After all, even Father had never been able to make Olhado cry. She led them out of the kitchen, back to their bedroom. She heard Quim walk down the hall and go into his own room, slam the door, and hurl himself on his bed. And in the kitchen Olhado's sobs faded, calmed, ended as Mother, for the first time since he lost his eyes, held him in her arms and comforted him, shedding her own silent tears into his hair as she rocked him back and forth.

Miro did not know what to make of the Speaker for the Dead. Somehow he had always imagined a Speaker to be very much like a priest-- or rather, like a priest was supposed to be. Quiet, contemplative, withdrawn from the world, carefully leaving action and decision to others. Miro had expected him to be wise.

He had not expected him to be so intrusive, so dangerous. Yes, he was wise, all right, he kept seeing past pretense, kept saying or doing outrageous things that were, when you thought about it, exactly right. It was as if he were so familiar with the human mind that he could see, right on your face, the desires so deep, the truths so well-disguised that you didn't even know yourself that you had them in you.

How many times had Miro stood with Ouanda just like this, watching as Libo handled the piggies. But always with Libo they had understood what he was doing; they knew his technique, knew his purpose. The Speaker, however, followed lines of thought that were completely alien to Miro.

Even though he wore a human shape, it made Miro wonder if Ender was really a framling-- he could be as baffling as the piggies. He was as much a raman as they were, alien but still not animal.

What did the Speaker notice? What did he see? The bow that Arrow carried? The sun-dried pot in which merdona root soaked and stank? How many of the Questionable Activities did he recognize, and how many did he think were native practices?

The piggies spread out The Hive Queen and the Hegemon. "You," said Arrow, "you wrote this?"

"Yes," said the Speaker for the Dead.

Miro looked at Ouanda. Her eyes danced with vindication. So the Speaker is a liar.

Human interrupted. "The other two, Miro and Ouanda, they think you're a liar."

Miro immediately looked at the Speaker, but he wasn't glancing at them. "Of course they do," he said. "It never occurred to them that Rooter might have told you the truth."

The Speaker's calm words disturbed Miro. Could it be true? After all, people who traveled between star systems skipped decades, often centuries in getting from one system to another. Sometimes as much as half a millennium. It wouldn't take that many voyages for a person to survive three thousand years. But that would be too incredible a coincidence, for the original Speaker for the Dead to come here. Except that the original Speaker for the Dead was the one who had written The Hive Queen and the Hegemon; he would be interested in the first race of ramen since the buggers. I don't believe it, Miro told himself, but he had to admit the possibility that it might just be true.

"Why are they so stupid?" asked Human. "Not to know the truth when they hear it?"

"They aren't stupid," said the Speaker. "This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question. They never thought to question the idea that the original Speaker for the Dead died three thousand years ago, even though they know how star travel prolongs life."

"But we told them."

"No-- you told them that the hive queen told Rooter that I wrote this book."

"That's why they should have known it was true," said Human. "Rooter is wise, he's a father; he would never make a mistake."

Miro did not smile, but he wanted to. The Speaker thought he was so clever, but now here he was, where all the important questions ended, frustrated by the piggies' insistence that their totem trees could talk to them.

"Ah," said Speaker. "There's so much that we don't understand. And so much that you don't understand. We should tell each other more."

Human sat down beside Arrow, sharing the position of honor with him. Arrow gave no sign of minding. "Speaker for the Dead," said Human, "will you bring the hive queen to us?"

"I haven't decided yet," said the Speaker.

Again Miro looked at Ouanda. Was the Speaker insane, hinting that he could deliver what could not be delivered?

Then he remembered what the Speaker had said about questioning all our beliefs except the ones that we really believed. Miro had always taken for granted what everyone knew-- that all the buggers had been destroyed. But what if a hive queen had survived? What if that was how the Speaker for the Dead had been able to write his book, because he had a bugger to talk to? It was unlikely in the extreme, but it was not impossible. Miro didn't know for sure that the last bugger had been killed. He only knew that everybody believed it, and that no one in three thousand years had produced a shred of evidence to the contrary.

But even if it was true, how could Human have known it? The simplest explanation was that the piggies had incorporated the powerful story of The Hive Queen and the Hegemon into their religion, and were unable to grasp the idea that there were many Speakers for the Dead, and none of them was the author of the book; that all the buggers were dead, and no hive queen could ever come. That was the simplest explanation, the one easiest to accept. Any other explanation would force him to admit the possibility that Rooter's totem tree somehow talked to the piggies.

"What will make you decide?" said Human. "We give gifts to the wives, to win their honor, but you are the wisest of all humans, and we have nothing that you need."

"You have many things that I need," said Speaker.

"What? Can't you make better pots than these? Truer arrows? The cape I wear is made from cabra wool-- but your clothing is finer."

"I don't need things like that," said Speaker. "What I need are true stories."

Human leaned closer, then let his body become rigid in excitement, in anticipation. "O Speaker!" he said, and his voice was powerful with the importance of his words. "Will you add our story to The Hive Queen and the Hegemon?"

"I don't know your story," said the Speaker.

"Ask us! Ask us anything!"

"How can I tell your story? I only tell the stories of the dead."

"We are dead!" shouted Human. Miro had never seen him so agitated. "We are being murdered every day. Humans are filling up all the worlds. The ships travel through the black of night from star to star to star, filling up every empty place. Here we are, on our one little world, watching the sky fill up with humans. The humans build their stupid fence to keep us out, but that is nothing. The sky is our fence!" Human leapt upward-- startlingly high, for his legs were powerful. "Look how the fence throws me back down to the ground!"

He ran at the nearest tree, bounded up the trunk, higher than Miro had ever seen him climb; he shinnied out on a limb and threw himself upward into the air. He hung there for an agonizing moment at the apex of his leap; then gravity flung him downward onto the hard ground.

Miro could hear the breath thrust out of him by the force of the blow. The Speaker immediately rushed to Human; Miro was close behind. Human wasn't breathing.

"Is he dead?" asked Ouanda behind him.

"No!" cried a piggy in the Males' Language. "You can't die! No, no, no!" Miro looked; to his surprise, it was Leaf-eater. "You can't die!"

Then Human reached up a feeble hand and touched the Speaker's face. He inhaled, a deep gasp. And then spoke, "You see, Speaker? I would die to climb the wall that keeps us from the stars."

In all the years that Miro had known the piggies, in all the years before, they had never once spoken of star travel, never once asked about it. Yet now Miro realized that all the questions they did ask were oriented toward discovering the secret of starflight. The xenologers had never realized that because they knew-- knew without questioning-- that the piggies were so remote from the level of culture that could build starships that it would be a thousand years before such a thing could possibly be in their reach. But their craving for knowledge about metal, about motors, about flying above the ground, it was all their way of trying to find the secret of starflight.

Human slowly got to his feet, holding the Speaker's hands. Miro realized that in all the years he had known the piggies, never once had a piggy taken him by the hand. He felt a deep regret. And the sharp pain of jealousy.

Now that Human was clearly not injured, the other piggies crowded close around the Speaker. They did not jostle, but they wanted to be near.

"Rooter says the hive queen knows how to build starships," said Arrow.

"Rooter says the hive queen will teach us everything," said Cups. "Metal, fire made from rocks, houses made from black water, everything."

Speaker raised his hands, fended off their babbling. "If you were all very thirsty, and saw that I had water, you'd all ask me for a drink. But what if I knew that the water I had was poisoned?"

"There is no poison in the ships that fly to the stars," said Human.

"There are many paths to starflight," said the Speaker. "Some are better than others. I'll give you everything I can that won't destroy you."

"The hive queen promises!" said Human.

"And so do I."

Human lunged forward, grabbed the Speaker by the hair and ears, and pulled him face to face. Miro had never seen such an act of violence; it was what he had dreaded, the decision to murder. "If we are ramen," shouted Human into the Speaker's face, "then it is ours to decide, not yours! And if we are varelse, then you might as well kill us all right now, the way you killed all the hive queen's sisters!"

Miro was stunned. It was one thing for the piggies to decide this was the Speaker who wrote the book. But how could they reach the unbelievable conclusion that he was somehow guilty of the Xenocide? Who did they think he was, the monster Ender?

And yet there sat the Speaker for the Dead, tears running down his cheeks, his eyes closed, as if Human's accusation had the force of truth.

Human turned his head to speak to Miro. "What is this water?" he whispered. Then he touched the Speaker's tears.

"It's how we show pain or grief or suffering," Miro answered.

Mandachuva suddenly cried out, a hideous cry that Miro had never heard before, like an animal dying.

"That is how we show pain," whispered Human.

"Ah! Ah!" cried Mandachuva. "I have seen that water before! In the eyes of Libo and Pipo I saw that water!"

One by one, and then all at once, all the other piggies took up the same cry. Miro was terrified, awed, excited all at once. He had no idea what it meant, but the piggies were showing emotions that they had concealed from the xenologers for forty-seven years.

"Are they grieving for Papa?" whispered Ouanda. Her eyes, too, glistened with excitement, and her hair was matted with the sweat of fear.

Miro said it the moment it occurred to him: "They didn't know until this moment that Pipo and Libo were crying when they died."

Miro had no idea what thoughts then went through Ouanda's head; he only knew that she turned away, stumbled a few steps, fell to her hands and knees, and wept bitterly.

All in all, the coming of the Speaker had certainly stirred things up.

Miro knelt beside the Speaker, whose head was now bowed, his chin pressed against his chest. "Speaker," Miro said. "Como pode ser? How can it be, that you are the first Speaker, and yet you are also Ender? Não pode ser."

"She told them more than I ever thought she would," he whispered.

"But the Speaker for the Dead, the one who wrote this book, he's the wisest man who lived in the age of flight among the stars. While Ender was a murderer, he killed a whole people, a beautiful race of ramen that could have taught us everything--"

"Both human, though," whispered the Speaker.

Human was near them now, and he spoke a couplet from the Hegemon: "Sickness and healing are in every heart. Death and deliverance are in every hand."

"Human," said the Speaker, "tell your people not to grieve for what they did in ignorance."

"It was a terrible thing," said Human. "It was our greatest gift."

"Tell your people to be quiet, and listen to me."

Human shouted a few words, not in the Males' Language, but in the Wives' Language, the language of authority. They fell silent, then sat to hear what Speaker would say.

"I'll do everything I can," said the Speaker, "but first I have to know you, or how can I tell your story? I have to know you, or how can I know whether the drink is poisonous or not? And the hardest problem of all will still remain. The human race is free to love the buggers because they think the buggers all are dead. You are still alive, and so they're still afraid of you."

Human stood among them and gestured toward his body, as if it were a weak and feeble thing. "Of us!"

"They're afraid of the same thing you fear, when you look up and see the stars fill up with humans. They're afraid that someday they'll come to a world and find that you have got there first."

"We don't want to be there first," said Human. "We want to be there too."

"Then give me time," said the Speaker. "Teach me who you are, so that I can teach them."

"Anything," said Human. He looked around at the others. "We'll teach you anything."

Leaf-eater stood up. He spoke in the Males' Language, but Miro understood him. "Some things aren't yours to teach."

Human answered him sharply, and in Stark. "What Pipo and Libo and Ouanda and Miro taught us wasn't theirs to teach, either. But they taught us."

"Their foolishness doesn't have to be our foolishness." Leaf-eater still spoke in Males' Language.

"Nor does their wisdom necessarily apply to us," Human retorted.

Then Leaf-eater said something in Tree Language that Miro could not understand. Human made no answer, and Leafeater walked away.

As he left, Ouanda returned, her eyes red from crying.

Human turned back to the Speaker. "What do you want to know?" he asked. "We'll tell you, we'll show you, if we can. "

Speaker in turn looked at Miro and Ouanda. "What should I ask them? I know so little that I don't know what we need to know."

Miro looked to Ouanda.

"You have no stone or metal tools," she said. "But your house is made of wood, and so are your bows and arrows."

Human stood, waiting. The silence lengthened. "But what is your question?" Human finally said.

How could he have missed the connection? Miro thought.

"We humans," said Speaker, "use tools of stone or metal to cut down trees, when we want to shape them into houses or arrows or clubs like the ones I see some of you carrying. "

It took a moment for the Speaker's words to sink in. Then, suddenly, all the piggies were on their feet. They began running around madly, purposelessly, sometimes bumping into each other or into trees or the log houses. Most of them were silent, but now and then one of them would wail, exactly as they had cried out a few minutes ago. It was eerie, the almost silent insanity of the piggies, as if they had suddenly lost control of their bodies. All the years of careful noncommunication, refraining from telling the piggies anything, and now Speaker breached that policy and the result was this madness.

Human emerged from the chaos and threw himself to the ground in front of Speaker. "O Speaker!" he cried loudly. "Promise that you'll never let them cut my father Rooter with their stone and metal tools! If you want to murder someone, there are ancient brothers who will give themselves, or I will gladly die, but don't let them kill my father!"

"Or my father!" cried the other piggies. "Or mine!"

"We would never have planted Rooter so close to the fence," said Mandachuva, "if we had known you were--were varelse."

Speaker raised his hands again. "Has any human cut a tree in Lusitania? Never. The law here forbids it. You have nothing to fear from us."

There was a silence as the piggies became still. Finally Human picked himself up from the ground. "You've made us fear humans all the more," he said to Speaker. "I wish you had never come to our forest."

Ouanda's voice rang out above his. "How can you say that after the way you murdered my father!"

Human looked at her with astonishment, unable to answer. Miro put his arm around Ouanda's shoulders. And the Speaker for the Dead spoke into the silence. "You promised me that you'd answer all my questions. I ask you now: How do you build a house made of wood, and the bow and arrows that this one carries, and those clubs. We've told you the only way we know; you tell me another way, the way you do it."

"The brother gives himself," said Human. "I told you. We tell the ancient brother of our need, and we show him the shape, and he gives himself."

"Can we see how it's done?" said Ender.

Human looked around at the other piggies. "You want us to ask a brother to give himself, just so you can see it? We don't need a new house, not for years yet, and we have all the arrows we need--"

"Show him!"

Miro turned, as the others also turned, to see Leaf-eater re-emerging from the forest. He walked purposefully into the middle of the clearing; he did not look at them, and he spoke as if he were a herald, a town crier, not caring whether anyone was listening to him or not. He spoke in the Wives' Language, and Miro could understand only bits and pieces.

"What is he saying?" whispered the Speaker.

Miro, still kneeling beside him, translated as best he could. "He went to the wives, apparently, and they said to do whatever you asked. But it isn't that simple, he's telling them that-- I don't know these words-- something about all of them dying. Something about brothers dying, anyway. Look at them-- they aren't afraid, any of them. "

"I don't know what their fear looks like," said Speaker. "I don't know these people at all."

"I don't either," said Miro. "I've got to hand it to you-- you've caused more excitement here in half an hour than I've seen in years of coming here."

"It's a gift I was born with," said the Speaker. "I'll make you a bargain. I won't tell anybody about your Questionable Activities. And you don't tell anybody who I am."

"That's easy," said Miro. "I don't believe it anyway."

Leaf-eater's speech ended. He immediately padded to the house and went inside.

"We'll ask for the gift of an ancient brother," said Human. "The wives have said so."

So it was that Miro stood with his arm around Ouanda, and the Speaker standing at his other side, as the piggies performed a miracle far more convincing than any of the ones that had won old Gusto and Cida their title Os Venerados.

The piggies gathered in a circle around a thick old tree at the clearing's edge. Then, one by one, each piggy shimmied up the tree and began beating on it with a club. Soon they were all in the tree, singing and pounding out complex rhythms. "Tree Language," Ouanda whispered.

After only a few minutes of this the tree tilted noticeably. Immediately about half the piggies jumped down and began pushing the tree so it would fall into the open ground of the clearing. The rest began beating all the more furiously and singing all the louder.

One by one the great branches of the tree began to fall off. Immediately piggies ran out and picked them up, dragged them away from the area where the tree was meant to fall.

Human carried one to the Speaker, who took it carefully, and showed it to Miro and Ouanda. The raw end, where it had been attached to the tree, was absolutely smooth. It wasn't flat-- the surface undulated slightly along an oblique angle. But there was no raggedness to it, no leaking sap, nothing to imply the slightest violence in its separation from the tree. Miro touched his finger to it, and it was cold and smooth as marble.

Finally the tree was a single straight trunk, nude and majestic; the pale patches where branches once had grown were brightly lit by the afternoon sun. The singing reached a climax, then stopped. The tree tilted and then began a smooth and graceful fall to the earth. The ground shook and thundered when it struck, and then all was still.

Human walked to the fallen tree and began to stroke its surface, singing softly. The bark split gradually under his hands; the crack extended itself up and down the length of the tree until the bark was split completely in half. Then many piggies took hold of it and pried it from the trunk; it came away on one side and the other, in two continuous sheets of bark. The bark was carried to the side.

"Have you ever seen them use the bark?" Speaker asked Miro.

Miro shook his head. He had no words to say aloud.

Now Arrow stepped forward, singing softly. He drew his fingers up and down the trunk, as if tracing exactly the length and width of a single bow. Miro saw how lines appeared, how the naked wood creased, split, crumbled until only the bow remained, perfect and polished and smooth, lying in a long trench in the wood.

Other piggies came forward, drawing shapes on the trunk and singing. They came away with clubs, with bows and arrows, thin-bladed knives, and thousands of strands of te bow and arrows that this one carries, and those clubs. We've told you the only way we know; you tell me another way, the way you do it."

"The brother gives himself," said Human. "I told you. We tell the ancient brother of our need, and we show him the shape, and he gives himself."

"Can we see how it's done?" said Ender.

Human looked around at the other piggies. "You want us to ask a brother to give himself, just so you can see it? We don't need a new house, not for years yet, and we have all the arrows we need--"

"Show him!"

Miro turned, as the others also turned, to see Leaf-eater re-emerging from the forest. He walked purposefully into the middle of the clearing; he did not look at them, and he spoke as if he were a herald, a town crier, not caring whether anyone was listening to him or not. He spoke in the Wives' Language, and Miro could understand only bits and pieces.

"What is he saying?" whispered the Speaker.

Miro, still kneeling beside him, translated as best he could. "He went to the wives, apparently, and they said to do whatever you asked. But it isn't that simple, he's telling them that-- I don't know these words-- something about all of them dying. Something about brothers dying, anyway. Look at them-- they aren't afraid, any of them. "

"I don't know what their fear looks like," said Speaker. "I don't know these people at all."

"I don't either," said Miro. "I've got to hand it to you-- you've caused more excitement here in half an hour than I've seen in years of coming here."

"It's a gift I was born with," said the Speaker. "I'll make you a bargain. I won't tell anybody about your Questionable Activities. And you don't tell anybody who I am."

"That's easy," said Miro. "I don't believe it anyway."

Leaf-eater's speech ended. He immediately padded to the house and went inside.

"We'll ask for the gift of an ancient brother," said Human. "The wives have said so."

So it was that Miro stood with his arm around Ouanda, and the Speaker standing at his other side, as the piggies performed a miracle far more convincing than any of the ones that had won old Gusto and Cida their title Os Venerados.

The piggies gathered in a circle around a thick old tree at the clearing's edge. Then, one by one, each piggy shimmied up the tree and began beating on it with a club. Soon they were all in the tree, singing and pounding out complex rhythms. "Tree Language," Ouanda whispered.

After only a few minutes of this the tree tilted noticeably. Immediately about half the piggies jumped down and began pushing the tree so it would fall into the open ground of the clearing. The rest began beating all the more furiously and singing all the louder.

One by one the great branches of the tree began to fall off. Immediately piggies ran out and picked them up, dragged them away from the area where the tree was meant to fall.

Human carried one to the Speaker, who took it carefully, and showed it to Miro and Ouanda. The raw end, where it had been attached to the tree, was absolutely smooth. It wasn't flat-- the surface undulated slightly along an oblique angle. But there was no raggedness to it, no leaking sap, nothing to imply the slightest violence in its separation from the tree. Miro touched his finger to it, and it was cold and smooth as marble.

Finally the tree was a single straight trunk, nude and majestic; the pale patches where branches once had grown were brightly lit by the afternoon sun. The singing reached a climax, then stopped. The tree tilted and then began a smooth and graceful fall to the earth. The ground shook and thundered when it struck, and then all was still.

Human walked to the fallen tree and began to stroke its surface, singing softly. The bark split gradually under his hands; the crack extended itself up and down the length of the tree until the bark was split completely in half. Then many piggies took hold of it and pried it from the trunk; it came away on one side and the other, in two continuous sheets of bark. The bark was carried to the side.

"Have you ever seen them use the bark?" Speaker asked Miro.

Miro shook his head. He had no words to say aloud.

Now Arrow stepped forward, singing softly. He drew his fingers up and down the trunk, as if tracing exactly the length and width of a single bow. Miro saw how lines appeared, how the naked wood creased, split, crumbled until only the bow remained, perfect and polished and smooth, lying in a long trench in the wood.

Other piggies came forward, drawing shapes on the trunk and singing. They came away with clubs, with bows and arrows, thin-bladed knives, and thousands of strands of thin basketwood. Finally, when half the trunk was dissipated, they all stepped back and sang together. The tree shivered and split into half a dozen long poles. The tree was entirely used up.

Human walked slowly forward and knelt by the poles, his hands gently resting on the nearest one. He tilted back his head and began to sing, a wordless melody that was the saddest sound that Miro had ever heard. The song went on and on, Human's voice alone; only gradually did Miro realize that the other piggies were looking at him, waiting for something.

Finally Mandachuva came to him and spoke softly. "Please," he said. "It's only right that you should sing for the brother."

"I don't know how," said Miro, feeling helpless and afraid.

"He gave his life," said Mandachuva, "to answer your question."

To answer my question and then raise a thousand more, Miro said silently. But he walked forward, knelt beside Human, curled his fingers around the same cold smooth pole that Human held, tilted back his head, and let his voice come out. At first weak and hesitant, unsure what melody to sing; but soon he understood the reason for the tuneless song, felt the death of the tree under his hands, and his voice became loud and strong, making agonizing disharmonies with Human's voice that mourned the death of the tree and thanked it for its sacrifice and promised to use its death for the good of the tribe, for the good of the brothers and the wives and the children, so that all would live and thrive and prosper. That was the meaning of the song, and the meaning of the death of the tree, and when the song was finally over Miro bent until his forehead touched the wood and he said the words of extreme unction, the same words he had whispered over Libo's corpse on the hillside five years ago.

15

Speaking

HUMAN: Why don't any of the other humans ever come see us?

MIRO: We're the only ones allowed to come through the gate.

HUMAN: Why don't they just climb over the fence?

MIRO: Haven't any of you ever touched the fence? (Human does not answer.) It's very painful to touch the fence. To pass over the fence would be like every part of your body hurting as bad as possible, all at once.

HUMAN: That's stupid. Isn't there grass on both sides?

--Ouanda Quenhatta Figueira Mucumbi, Dialogue Transcripts, 103:0:1970:1:1:5

The sun was only an hour from the horizon when Mayor Bosquinha climbed the stairs to Bishop Peregrino's private office in the Cathedral. Dom and Dona Cristães were already there, looking grave. Bishop Peregrino, however, looked pleased with himself. He always enjoyed it when all the political and religious leadership of Milagre was gathered under his roof. Never mind that Bosquinha was the one who called the meeting, and then she offered to have it at the Cathedral because she was the one with the skimmer. Peregrino liked the feeling that he was somehow the master of Lusitania Colony. Well, by the end of this meeting it would be plain to them all that no one in this room was the master of anything. Bosquinha greeted them all. She did not sit down in the offered chair, however. Instead she sat before the Bishop's own terminal, logged in, and ran the program she had prepared. In the air above the terminal there appeared several layers of tiny cubes. The highest layer had only a few cubes; most of the layers had many, many more. More than half the layers, starting with the highest, were colored red; the rest were blue.

"Very pretty," said Bishop Peregrino.

Bosquinha looked over at Dom Cristao. "Do you recognize the model?"

He shook his head. "But I think I know what this meeting is about."

Dona Cristã leaned forward on her chair. "Is there any safe place where we can hide the things we want to keep?"

Bishop Peregrino's expression of detached amusement vanished from his face. "I don't know what this meeting is about."

Bosquinha turned around on her stool to face him. "I was very young when I was appointed to be Governor of the new Lusitania Colony. It was a great honor to be chosen, a great trust. I had studied government of communities and social systems since my childhood, and I had done well in my short career in Oporto. What the committee apparently overlooked was the fact that I was already suspicious, deceptive, and chauvinistic."

"These are virtues of yours that we have all come to admire," said Bishop Peregrino.

Bosquinha smiled. "My chauvinism meant that as soon as Lusitania Colony was mine, I became more loyal to the interests of Lusitania than to the interests of the Hundred Worlds or Starways Congress. My deceptiveness led me to pretend to the committee that on the contrary, I had the best interests of Congress at heart at all times. And my suspicion led me to believe that Congress was not likely to give Lusitania anything remotely like independent and equal status among the Hundred Worlds."

"Of course not," said Bishop Peregrino. "We are a colony."

"We are not a colony," said Bosquinha. "We are an experiment. I examined our charter and license and all the Congressional Orders pertaining to us, and I discovered that the normal privacy laws did not apply to us. I discovered that the committee had the power of unlimited access to all the memory files of every person and institution on Lusitania."

The Bishop began to look angry. "Do you mean that the committee has the right to look at the confidential files of the Church?"

"Ah," said Bosquinha. "A fellow chauvinist."

"The Church has some rights under the Starways Code."

"Don't be angry with me."

"You never told me."

"If I had told you, you would have protested, and they would have pretended to back down, and then I couldn't have done what I did."

"Which is?"

"This program. It monitors all ansible-initiated accesses to any files in Lusitania Colony."

Dom Cristao chuckled. "You're not supposed to do that."

"I know. As I said, I have many secret vices. But my program never found any major intrusion-- oh, a few files each time the piggies killed one of our xenologers, that was to be expected-- but nothing major. Until four days ago."

"When the Speaker for the Dead arrived," said Bishop Peregrino.

Bosquinha was amused that the Bishop obviously regarded the Speaker's arrival as such a landmark date that he instantly made such a connection. "Three days ago," said Bosquinha, "a nondestructive scan was initiated by ansible. It followed an interesting pattern. " She turned to the terminal and changed the display. Now it showed accesses primarily in high-level areas, and limited to only one region of the display. "It accessed everything to do with the xenologers and xenobiologists of Milagre. It ignored all security routines as if they didn't exist. Everything they discovered, and everything to do with their personal lives. And yes, Bishop Peregrino, I believed at the time and I believe today that this had to do with the Speaker."

"Surely he has no authority with Starways Congress," said the Bishop.

Dom Cristão nodded wisely. "San Angelo once wrote-- in his private journals, which no one but the Children of the Mind ever read--"

The Bishop turned on him with glee. "So the Children of the Mind do have secret writings of San Angelo!"

"Not secret," said Dona Cristã . "Merely boring. Anyone can read the journals, but we're the only ones who bother."

"What he wrote," said Dom Cristão, "was that Speaker Andrew is older than we know. Older than Starways Congress, and in his own way perhaps more powerful."

Bishop Peregrino snorted. "He's a boy. Can't be forty years old yet."

"Your stupid rivalries are wasting time," said Bosquinha sharply. "I called this meeting because of an emergency. As a courtesy to you, because I have already acted for the benefit of the government of Lusitania."

The others fell silent.

Bosquinha returned the terminal to the original display. "This morning my program alerted me for a second time. Another systematic ansible access, only this time it was not the selective nondestructive access of three days ago. This time it is reading everything at data-transfer speed, which implies that all our files are being copied into offworld computers. Then the directories are rewritten so that a single ansible-initiated command will completely destroy every single file in our computer memories."

Bosquinha could see that Bishop Peregrino was surprised-- and the Children of the Mind were not.

"Why?" said Bishop Peregrino. "To destroy all our files-- this is what you do to a nation or a world that is-- in rebellion, that you wish to destroy, that you--"

"I see," said Bosquinha to the Children of the Mind, "that you also were chauvinistic and suspicious."

"Much more narrowly than you, I'm afraid," said Dom Cristão. "But we also detected the intrusions. We of course copied all our records-- at great expense-- to the monasteries of the Children of the Mind on other worlds, and they will try to restore our files after they are stripped. However, if we are being treated as a rebellious colony, I doubt that such a restoration will be permitted. So we are also making paper copies of the most vital information. There is no hope of printing everything, but we think we may be able to print out enough to get by. So that our work isn't utterly destroyed."

"You knew this?" said the Bishop. "And you didn't tell me?"

"Forgive me, Bishop Peregrino, but it did not occur to us that you would not have detected this yourselves."

"And you also don't believe we do any work that is important enough to be worth printing out to save!"

"Enough!" said Mayor Bosquinha. "Printouts can't save more than a tiny percentage-- there aren't enough printers in Lusitania to make a dent in the problem. We couldn't even maintain basic services. I don't think we have more than an hour left before the copying is complete and they are able to wipe out our memory. But even if we began this morning, when the intrusion started, we could not have printed out more than a hundredth of one percent of the files that we access every day. Our fragility, our vulnerability is complete."

"So we're helpless," said the Bishop.

"No. But I wanted to make clear to you the extremity of our situation, so that you would accept the only alternative. It will be very distasteful to you."

"I have no doubt of that," said Bishop Peregrino.

"An hour ago, as I was wrestling with this problem, trying to see if there was any class of files that might be immune to this treatment, I discovered that in fact there was one person whose files were being completely overlooked. At first I thought it was because he was a framling, but the reason is much more subtle than that. The Speaker for the Dead has no files in Lusitanian memory."

"None? Impossible," said Dona Cristã .

"All his files are maintained by ansible. Offworld. All his records, all his finances, everything. Every message sent to him. Do you understand?"

"And yet he still has access to them--" said Dom Cristão.

"He is invisible to Starways Congress. If they place an embargo on all data transfers to and from Lusitania, his files will still be accessible because the computers do not see his file accesses as data transfers. They are original storage-- yet they are not in Lusitanian memory.

"Are you suggesting," said Bishop Peregrino, "that we transfer our most confidential and important files as messages to that-- that unspeakable infidel?"

"I am telling you that I have already done exactly that. The transfer of the most vital and sensitive government files is almost complete. It was a high priority transfer, at local speeds, so it runs much faster than the Congressional copying. I am offering you a chance to make a similar transfer, using my highest priority so that it takes precedence over all other local computer usage. If you don't want to do it, fine-- I'll use my priority to transfer the second tier of government files."

"But he could look in our files," said the Bishop.

"Yes, he could."

Dom Cristao shook his head. "He won't if we ask him not to."

"You are naive as a child," said Bishop Peregrino. "There would be nothing to compel him even to give the data back to us."

Bosquinha nodded. "That's true. He'll have everything that's vital to us, and he can keep it or return it as he wishes. But I believe, as Dom Cristão does, that he's a good man who'll help us in our time of need."

Dona Cristã stood. "Excuse me," she said. "I'd like to begin crucial transfers immediately."

Bosquinha turned to the Bishop's terminal and logged into her own high priority mode. "Just enter the classes of files that you want to send into Speaker Andrew's message queue. I assume you already have them prioritized, since you were printing them out."

"How long do we have?" asked Dom Cristão. Dona Cristã was already typing furiously.

"The time is here, at the top." Bosquinha put her hand into the holographic display and touched the countdown numbers with her finger.

"Don't bother transferring anything that we've already printed," said Dom Cristão. "We can always type that back in. There's precious little of it, anyway."

Bosquinha turned to the Bishop. "I knew this would be difficult."

The Bishop gave one derisive laugh. "Difficult."

"I hope you'll consider carefully before rejecting this--"

"Rejecting it!" said the Bishop. "Do you think I'm a fool? I may detest the pseudo-religion of these blasphemous Speakers for the Dead, but if this is the only way God has opened for us to preserve the vital records of the Church, then I'd be a poor servant of the Lord if I let pride stop me from using it. Our files aren't prioritized yet, and it will take a few minutes, but I trust that the Children of the Mind will leave us enough time for our data transfers."

"How much time will you need, do you think?" asked Dom Cristão.

"Not much. Ten minutes at the most, I'd think."

Bosquinha was surprised, and pleasantly so. She had been afraid the Bishop would insist on copying all his files before allowing the Children of the Mind to go ahead-- just one more attempt to assert the precedence of the bishopric over the monastery.

"Thank you," Dom Cristão said, kissing the hand that Peregrino extended to him.

The Bishop looked at Bosquinha coldly. "You don't need to look surprised, Mayor Bosquinha. The Children of the Mind work with the knowledge of the world, so they depend far more on the world's machines. Mother Church works with things of the Spirit, so our use of public memory is merely clerical. As for the Bible-- we are so old-fashioned and set in our ways that we still keep dozens of leatherbound paper copies in the Cathedral. Starways Congress can't steal from us our copies of the word of God." He smiled. Maliciously, of course. Bosquinha smiled back quite cheerfully.

"A small matter," said Dom Cristão. "After our files are destroyed, and we copy them back into memory from the Speaker's files, what is to stop Congress from doing it again? And again, and again?"

"That is the difficult decision," said Bosquinha. "What we do depends on what Congress is trying to accomplish. Maybe they won't actually destroy our files at all. Maybe they'll immediately restore our most vital files after this demonstration of their power. Since I have no idea why they're disciplining us, how can I guess how far this will go? If they leave us any way to remain loyal, then of course we must also remain vulnerable to further discipline."

"But if, for some reason, they are determined to treat us like rebels?"

"Well, if bad came to worst, we could copy everything back into local memory and then-- cut off the ansible."

"God help us," said Dona Cristã . "We would be utterly alone."

Obviously the xenologers had done something grossly wrong. Since Bosquinha had not known of any violations, it had to be something so big that its evidence showed up on the satellites, the only monitoring devices that reported directly to the committee without passing through Bosquinha's hands. Bosquinha had tried to think of what Miro and Ouanda might have done-- start a forest fire? Cut down trees? Led a war between the piggy tribes? Anything she thought of sounded absurd.

She tried to call them in to question them, but they were gone, of course. Through the gate, out into the forest to continue, no doubt, the same activities that had brought the possibility of destruction to Lusitania Colony. Bosquinha kept reminding herself that they were young, that it might all be some ridiculous juvenile mistake.

But they weren't that young, and they were two of the brightest minds in a colony that contained many very intelligent people. It was a very good thing that governments under the Starways Code were forbidden to own any instruments of punishment that might be used for torture. For the first time in her life, Bosquinha felt such fury that she might use such instruments, if she had them. I don't know what you thought you were doing, Miro and Ouanda, and I don't know what you did; but whatever your purpose might have been, this whole community will pay the price for it. And somehow, if there were any justice, I would make you pay it back.

Many people had said they wouldn't come to any speaking-- they were good Catholics, weren't they? Hadn't the Bishop told them that the Speaker spoke with Satan's voice?

But other things were whispered, too, once the Speaker came. Rumors, mostly, but Milagre was a little place, where rumors were the sauce of a dry life; and rumors have no value unless they are believed. So word spread that Marcão's little girl Quara, who had been silent since he died, was now so talkative that it got her in trouble in school. And Olhado, that ill-mannered boy with the repulsive metal eyes, it was said that he suddenly seemed cheerful and excited. Perhaps manic. Perhaps possessed. Rumors began to imply that somehow the Speaker had a healing touch, that he had the evil eye, that his blessings made you whole, his curses could kill you, his words could charm you into obedience. Not everybody heard this, of course, and not everybody who heard it believed it. But in the four days between the Speaker's arrival and the evening of his Speaking the death of Marcos Maria Ribeira, the community of Milagre decided, without any formal announcement, that they would come to the Speaking and hear what the Speaker had to say, whether the Bishop said to stay away or not.

It was the Bishop's own fault. Fr