"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, Maezinha," she
said, "tamb‚m 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
"I thought you Speakers were supposed to be like priests or something. How did you get so good
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
"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
"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
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."
Chapter 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
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
"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?"
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
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
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
"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
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
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 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 nao. Jamais." Not me. Never.
"Father always said, Be united in front of the piggies, never let them see you in disagreement, and
"And 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?"
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
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."
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