in order to keep up the pretense that the fleet knew something about the kill order. Despite Jane's
enormous abilities, this would soon be beyond her-- she could pay some degree of attention to
hundreds, even thousands of things at a time, but it didn't take Miro long to realize that there was
no way she could handle all the monitoring and alterations this would take, even if she did nothing
One way or another, the secret would be out. And as Jane explained her plan, Miro knew that she
was right-- her best option, the one with the least chance of revealing her existence, was simply to
cut off all ansible communications between the fleet and the planetside stations, and between the
ships of the fleet. Let each ship remain isolated, the crew wondering what had happened, and they
would have no choice but to abort their mission or continue to obey their original orders. Either
they would go away or they would arrive at Lusitania without the authority to use the Little Doctor.
In the meantime, however, Congress would know that something had happened. It was possible
that with Congress's normal bureaucratic inefficiency, no one would ever figure out what happened.
But eventually somebody would realize that there was no natural or human explanation of what
happened. Someone would realize that Jane-- or something like her-- must exist, and that cutting
off ansible communications would destroy her. Once they knew this, she would surely die.
"Maybe not," Miro insisted. "Maybe you can keep them from acting. Interfere with interplanetary
communications, so they can't give the order to shut down communications."
No one answered. He knew why: she couldn't interfere with ansible communications forever.
Eventually the government on each planet would reach the conclusion on its own. She might live
on in constant warfare for years, decades, generations. But the more power she used, the more
humankind would hate and fear her. Eventually she would be killed.
"A book, then," said Miro. "Like the Hive Queen and the Hegemon. Like the Life of Human. The
Speaker for the Dead could write it. To persuade them not to do it."
"Maybe," said Valentine.
"She can't die," said Miro.
"I know that we can't ask her to take that chance," said Valentine. "But if it's the only way to save
the hive queen and the pequeninos--"
Miro was furious. "You can talk about her dying! What is Jane to you? A program, a piece of
software. But she's not, she's real, she's as real as the hive queen, she's as real as any of the piggies--
"More real to you, I think," said Valentine.
"As real," said Miro. "You forget-- I know the piggies like my own brothers--"
"But you're able to contemplate the possibility that destroying them may be morally necessary."
"Don't twist my words."
"I'm untwisting them," said Valentine. "You can contemplate losing them, because they're already
lost to you. Losing Jane, though--"
"Because she's my friend, does that mean I can't plead for her? Can life-and-death decisions only
be made by strangers?"
Jakt's voice, quiet and deep, interrupted the argument. "Calm down, both of you. It isn't your
decision. It's Jane's. She has the right to determine the value of her own life. I'm no philosopher, but
I know that."
"Well said," Valentine answered.
Miro knew that Jakt was right, that it was Jane's choice. But he couldn't bear that, because he also
knew what she would decide. Leaving the choice up to Jane was identical to asking her to do it.
And yet, in the end, the choice would be up to her anyway. He didn't even have to ask her what she
would decide. Time passed so quickly for her, especially since they were already traveling at near-
lightspeed, that she had probably decided already. It was too much to bear. To lose Jane now would
be unbearable; just thinking of it threatened Miro's composure. He didn't want to show such
weakness in front of these people. Good people, they were good people, but he didn't want them to
see him lose control of himself. So Miro leaned forward, found his balance, and precariously lifted
himself from his seat. It was hard, since only a few of his muscles responded to his will, and it took
all his concentration just to walk from the bridge to his compartment. No one followed him or even
spoke to him. He was glad of that.
Alone in his room, he lay down on his bunk and called to her. But not aloud. He subvocalized,
because that was his custom when he talked to her. Even though the others on this ship now knew
of her existence, he had no intention of losing the habits that had kept her concealed till now.
"Jane," he said silently.
"Yes," said the voice in his ear. He imagined, as always, that her soft voice came from a woman
just out of sight, but close, very close. He shut his eyes, so he could imagine her better. Her breath
on his cheek. Her hair dangling over his face as she spoke to him softly, as he answered in silence.
"Talk to Ender before you decide," he said.
"I already did. Just now, while you were thinking about this."
"What did he say?"
"To do nothing. To decide nothing, until the order is actually sent."
"That's right. Maybe they won't do it."
"Maybe. Maybe a new group with different policies will come into power. Maybe this group will
change its mind. Maybe Valentine's propaganda will succeed. Maybe there'll be a mutiny on the
This last was so unlikely that Miro realized Jane absolutely believed that the order would be sent.
"How soon?" asked Miro.
"The fleet should arrive in about fifteen years. A year or less after these two ships get there. That's
how I timed your voyage. The order will be sent sometime before. Maybe six months before
arrival-- which would be aboul eight hours ship's time before the fleet drops out of lightspeed and
staggerss down to normal speeds."
"Don't do it," said Miro.
"I haven't decided."
"Yes you have. You've decided to do it."
She said nothing.
"Don't leave me," he said.
"I don't leave my friends if I don't have to," she said. "Some people do, but I don't."
"Just don't," he said again. He was crying. Could she see that, sense it somehow through the jewel
in his ear?
"Find another way. Find another way to stop them. Find some way to put yourself outside the
philotic net so they can't kill you."
"That's what Ender said."
"Then do it!"
"I can search for such a way, but who knows if it exists?"
"It has to."
"This is why I wonder sometimes whether I'm alive or not. You living creatures, you think that
because you want something very much, it has to happen. That wishing something with all your
heart will make it so."
"How can you search for something if you don't believe that it exists?"
"Either I search or I don't," said Jane. "I don't get distracted or bored like humans do. I'll try to
think of something else."
"Think of this, too," said Miro. "Think of who you are. Of how your mind works. You can't
possibly find a way of saving your life until you understand how you came to life in the first place.
And once you understand yourself--"
"Then maybe I can make a copy and store it somewhere."
"Maybe," she echoed.
But he knew she didn't believe it, and neither did he. She existed in the philotic network of the
ansibles; she could store her memories in the network of computers on every world and every ship
in space, but there was nowhere that she could put her self, not if it required a network of philotic
"What about the fathertrees on Lusitania? They communicate philotically, don't they?"
"It's not the same thing," said Jane. "It isn't digital. It isn't coded the way the ansibles are."
"It may not be digital, but the information gets transferred somehow, it works philotically. And
the hive queen, too-- she communicates with the buggers that way."
"No chance of that," said Jane. "The structure's too simple. Her communication with them isn't a
network. They're all connected only to her."
"How do you know it won't work, when you don't even know for sure how you function?"
"All right. I'll think about it."
"Think hard," he said.
"I only know one way to think," said Jane.
"I mean, pay attention to it."
She could follow many trains of thought at once, but her thoughts were prioritized, with many
different levels of attention. Miro didn't want her relegating her self-investigation to some low
order of attention.
"I'll pay attention," she said.
"Then you'll think of something," he said. "You will."
She didn't answer for a while. He thought this meant that the conversation was over. His thoughts
began to wander. To try to imagine what life would be like, still in this body, only without Jane. It
could happen before he even arrived on Lusitania. And if it did, this voyage would have been the
most terrible mistake of his life. By traveling at lightspeed, he was skipping thirty years of realtime.
Thirty years that might have been spent with Jane. He might be able to deal with losing her then.
But losing her now, only a few weeks into knowing her-- he knew that his tears arose from self-
pity, but he shed them all the same.
"Miro," she said.
"What?" he asked.
"How can I think of something that's never been thought of before?"
For a moment he didn't understand.
"Miro, how can I figure out something that isn't just the logical conclusion of things that human
beings have already figured out and written somewhere?"
"You think of things all the time," said Miro.
"I'm trying to conceive of something inconceivable. I'm trying to find answers to questions that
human beings have never even tried to ask."
"Can't you do that?"
"If I can't think original thoughts, does that mean that I'm nothing but a computer program that got
out of hand?"
"Hell, Jane, most people never have an original thought in their lives." He laughed softly. "Does
that mean they're just ground-dwelling apes that got out of hand?"
"You were crying," she said.
"You don't think I can think of a way out of this. You think I'm going to die."
"I believe you can think of a way. I really do. But that doesn't stop me from being afraid."
"Afraid that I'll die."
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