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
"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 Marcdo'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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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