before Jane had to shut down all the ansible connections in the Hundred Worlds herself? Three
generations, she said. Perhaps that would do. The gods were in no hurry.
It wouldn't necessarily take that long for Jane's power to be destroyed, anyway. At some point it
would become obvious to everyone that a hostile power had taken control of the ansibles, making
ships and worlds disappear. Even without learning about Valentine and Demosthenes, even without
guessing that it was a computer program, someone on every world would realize what had to be
done and shut down the ansibles themselves.
"I have imagined something for you," said Qing-jao. "Now imagine something for me. I and the
other godspoken arrange to broadcast nothing but my report from every ansible on Path. You make
all those ansibles fall silent at once. What does the rest of humanity see? That we have disappeared
just like the Lusitania Fleet. They'll soon realize that you, or something like you, exists. The more
you use your power, the more you reveal yourself to even the dimmest minds. Your threat is empty.
You might as well step aside and let me send the message simply and easily now; stopping me is
just another way of sending the very same message."
"You're wrong," said Jane. "If Path suddenly disappears from all ansibles at once, they might just
as easily conclude that this world is in rebellion just like Lusitania-- after all, they shut down their
ansible, too. And what did Starways Congress do? They sent a fleet with the M.D. Device on it."
"Lusitania was already in rebellion before their ansible was shut down."
"Do you think Congress isn't watching you? Do you think they're not terrified of what might
happen if the godspoken of Path ever discovered what had been done to them? If a few primitive
aliens and a couple of xenologers frightened them into sending a fleet, what do you think they'll do
about the mysterious disappearance of a world with so many brilliant minds who have ample
reason to hate Starways Congress? How long do you think this world would survive?"
Qing-jao was filled with a sickening dread. It was always possible that this much of Jane's story
was true: that there were people in Congress who were deceived by the disguise of the gods, who
thought that the godspoken of Path had been created solely by genetic manipulation. And if there
were such people, they might act as Jane described. What if a fleet came against Path? What if
Starways Congress had ordered them to destroy the whole world without any negotiation? Then her
reports would never be known, and everything would be gone. It would all be for nothing. Could
that possibly be the desire of the gods? Could Starways Congress still have the mandate of heaven
and yet destroy a world?
"Remember the story of I Ya, the great cook," said Jane. "His master said one day, 'I have the
greatest cook in all the world. Because of him, I have tasted every flavor known to man except the
taste of human flesh.' Hearing this, I Ya went home and butchered his own son, cooked his flesh
and served it to his master, so that his master would lack nothing that I Ya could give him."
This was a terrible story. Qing-jao had heard it as a child, and it made her weep for hours. What
about the son of I Ya? she had cried. And her father had said, A true servant has sons and daughters
only to serve his master. For five nights she had woken up screaming from dreams in which her
father roasted her alive or carved slices from her onto a plate, until at last Han Fei-tzu came to her
and embraced her and said, "Don't believe it, my Gloriously Bright daughter. I am not a perfect
servant. I love you too much to be truly righteous. I love you more than I love my duty. I am not I
Ya. You have nothing to fear at my hands." Only after Father said that to her could she sleep.
This program, this Jane, must have found Father's account of this in his journal, and now was
using it against her. Yet even though Qing-jao knew she was being manipulated, she couldn't help
but wonder if Jane might not be right.
"Are you a servant like I Ya?" asked Jane. "Will you slaughter your own world for the sake of an
unworthy master like Starways Congress?"
Qing-jao could not sort out her own feelings. Where did these thoughts come from? Jane had
poisoned her mind with her arguments, just as Demosthenes had done before her-- if they weren't
the same person all along. Their words could sound persuasive, even as they ate away at the truth.
Did Qing-jao have the right to risk the lives of all the people of Path? What if she was wrong?
How could she know anything? Whether everything Jane said was true or everything she said was
false, the same evidence would lie before her. Qing-jao would feel exactly as she felt now, whether
it was the gods or some brain disorder causing the feeling.
Why, in all this uncertainty, didn't the gods speak to her? Why, when she needed the clarity of
their voice, didn't she feel dirty and impure when she thought one way, clean and holy when she
thought the other? Why were the gods leaving her unguided at this cusp of her life?
In the silence of Qing-jao's inward debate, Wang-mu's voice came as cold and harsh as the sound
of metal striking metal. "It will never happen," said Wang-mu.
Qing-jao only listened, unable even to bid Wang-mu to be still.
"What will never happen?" asked Jane.
"What you said-- Starways Congress blowing up this world."
"If you think they wouldn't do it you're even more of a fool than Qingjao thinks," said Jane.
"Oh, I know they'd do it. Han Fei-tzu knows they'd do it-- he said they were evil enough men to
commit any terrible crime if it suited their purpose."
"Then why won't it happen?"
"Because you won't let it happen," said Wang-mu. "Since blocking off every ansible message
from Path might well lead to the destruction of this world, you won't block those messages. They'll
get through. Congress will be warned. You will not cause Path to be destroyed."
"Why won't I?"
"Because you are Demosthenes," said Wang-mu. "Because you are full of truth and compassion."
"I am not Demosthenes," said Jane.
The face in the terminal display wavered, then changed into the face of one of the aliens. A
pequenino, its porcine snout so disturbing in its strangeness. A moment later, another face
appeared, even more alien: it was a bugger, one of the nightmare creatures that had once terrified
all of humanity. Even having read the Hive Queen and the Hegemon, so that she understood who
the buggers were and how beautiful their civilization had been, when Qing-jao saw one face to face
like this it frightened her, though she knew it was only a computer display.
"I am not human," said Jane, "even when I choose to wear a human face. How do you know,
Wang-mu, what I will and will not do? Buggers and piggies both have killed human beings without
a second thought."
"Because they didn't understand what death meant to us. You understand. You said it yourself--
you don't want to die."
"Do you think you know me, Si Wang-mu?"
"I think I know you," said Wang-mu, "because you wouldn't have any of these troubles if you had
been content to let the fleet destroy Lusitania."
The bugger in the display was joined by the piggy, and then by the face that represented Jane
herself. In silence they looked at Wang-mu, at Qing-jao, and said nothing.
"Ender," said the voice in his ear.
Ender had been listening in silence, riding on the car that Varsam was driving. For the last hour
Jane had been letting him listen in on her conversation with these people of Path, translating for
him whenever they spoke in Chinese instead of Stark. Many kilometers of prairie had passed by as
he listened, but he had not seen it; before his mind's eye were these people as he imagined them.
Han Fei-tzu-- Ender well knew that name, tied as it was to the treaty that ended his hope that a
rebellion of the colony worlds would put an end to Congress, or at least turn its fleet away from
Lusitania. But now Jane's existence, and perhaps the survival of Lusitania and all its peoples,
hinged on what was thought and said and decided by two young girls in a bedroom on an obscure
Qing-jao, I know you well, thought Ender. You are such a bright one, but the light you see by
comes entirely from the stories of your gods. You are like the pequenino brothers who sat and
watched my stepson die, able at any time to save him by walking a few dozen steps to fetch his
food with its anti-descolada agents; they weren't guilty of murder. Rather they were guilty of too
much belief in a story they were told. Most people are able to hold most stories they're told in
abeyance, to keep a little distance between the story and their inmost heart. But for these brothers--
and for you, Qing-jao-- the terrible lie has become the self-story, the tale that you must believe if
you are to remain yourself. How can I blame you for wanting us all to die? You are so filled with
the largeness of the gods, how can you have compassion for such small concerns as the lives of
three species of raman? I know you, Qing-jao, and I expect you to behave no differently from the
way you do. Perhaps someday, confronted by the consequences of your own actions, you might
change, but I doubt it. Few who are captured by such a powerful story are ever able to win free of
But you, Wang-mu, you are owned by no story. You trust nothing but your own judgment. Jane
has told me what you are, how phenomenal your mind must be, to learn so many things so quickly,
to have such a deep understanding of the people around you. Why couldn't you have been just one
bit wiser? Of course you had to realize that Jane could not possibly act in such a way as to cause
the destruction of Path-- but why couldn't you have been wise enough to say nothing, wise enough
to leave Qing-jao ignorant of that fact? Why couldn't you have left just enough of the truth
unspoken that Jane's life might have been spared? If a would-be murderer, his sword drawn, had
come to your door demanding that you tell him the whereabouts of his innocent prey, would you
tell him that his victim cowers behind your door? Or would you lie, and send him on his way? In
her confusion, Qing-jao is that killer, and Jane her first victim, with the world of Lusitania waiting
to be murdered afterward. Why did you have to speak, and tell her how easily she could find and
kill us all?
"What can I do?" asked Jane.
Ender subvocalized his response. "Why are you asking me a question that only you can answer?"
"If you tell me to do it," said Jane, "I can block all their messages, and save us all."
"Even if it led to the destruction of Path?"
"If you tell me to," she pleaded.
"Even though you know that in the long run you'll probably be discovered anyway? That the fleet
will probably not be turned away from us, in spite of all you can do?"
"If you tell me to live, Ender, then I can do what it takes to live."
"Then do it," said Ender. "Cut off Path's ansible communications."
Did he detect a tiny fraction of a second in which Jane hesitated? She could have had many hours
of inward argument during that micropause.
"Command me," said Jane.
"I command you."
Again that tiny hesitation. Then: "Make me do it," she insisted.
"How can I make you do it, if you don't want to?"
"I want to live," she said.
"Not as much as you want to be yourself," said Ender.
"Any animal is willing to kill in order to save itself."
"Any animal is willing to kill the Other," said Ender. "But the higher beings include more and
more living things within their self-story, until at last there is no Other. Until the needs of others are
more important than any private desires. The highest beings of all are the ones who are willing to
pay any personal cost for the good of those who need them."
"I would risk hurting Path," said Jane, "if I thought it would really save Lusitania."
"But it wouldn't."
"I'd try to drive Qing-jao into helpless madness, if I thought it could save the hive queen and the
pequeninos. She's very close to losing her mind-- I could do it. "
"Do it," said Ender. "Do what it takes."
"I can't," said Jane. "Because it would only hurt her, and wouldn't save us in the end."
"If you were a slightly lower animal," said Ender, "you'd have a much better chance of coming out
of this thing alive."
"As low as you were, Ender the Xenocide?"
"As low as that," said Ender. "Then you could live."
"Or perhaps if I were as wise as you were then."
"I have my brother Peter inside me, as well as my sister Valentine," said Ender. "The beast as well
as the angel. That's what you taught me, back when you were nothing but the program we called the
"Where is the beast inside me?"
"You don't have one," said Ender.
"Maybe I'm not really alive at all," said Jane. "Maybe because I never passed through the crucible
of natural selection, I lack the will to survive."
"Or maybe you know, in some secret place within yourself, that there's another way to survive, a
way that you simply haven't found yet."
"That's a cheerful thought," said Jane. "I'll pretend to believe in that."
"Peco que deus te abencoe," said Ender.
"Oh, you're just getting sentimental," said Jane.
For a long time, several minutes, the three faces in the display gazed in silence at Qing-jao, at
Wang-mu. Then at last the two alien faces disappeared, and all that remained was the face named
Jane. "I wish I could do it," she said. "I wish I could kill your world to save my friends."
Relief came to Qing-jao like the first strong breath to a swimmer who nearly drowned. "So you
can't stop me," she said triumphantly. "I can send my message!"
Qing-jao walked to the terminal and sat down before Jane's watching face. But she knew that the
image in the display was an illusion. If Jane watched, it was not with those human eyes, it was with
the visual sensors of the computer. It was all electronics, infinitesimal machinery but machinery
nonetheless. Not a living soul. It was irrational to feel ashamed under that illusionary gaze.
"Mistress," said Wang-mu.
"Later," said Qing-jao.
"If you do this, Jane will die. They'll shut down the ansibles and kill her."
"What doesn't live cannot die," said Qing-jao.
"The only reason you have the power to kill her is because of her compassion."
"If she seems to have compassion it's an illusion-- she was programmed to simulate compassion,
"Mistress, if you kill every manifestation of this program, so that no part of her remains alive, how
are you different from Ender the Xenocide, who killed all the buggers three thousand years ago?"
"Maybe I'm not different," said Qing-jao. "Maybe Ender also was the servant of the gods."
Wang-mu knelt beside Qing-jao and wept on the skirt of her gown. "I beg you, Mistress, don't do
this evil thing."
But Qing-jao wrote her report. It stood as clear and simple in her mind as if the gods had given the
words to her. "To Starways Congress: The seditious writer known as Demosthenes is a woman now
on or near Lusitania. She has control of or access to a program that has infested all ansible
computers, causing them to fail to report messages from the fleet and concealing the transmission
of Demosthenes' own writings. The only solution to this problem is to extinguish the program's
control over ansible transmissions by disconnecting all ansibles from their present computers and
bringing clean new computers online, all at once. For the present I have neutralized the program,
allowing me to send this message and probably allowing you to send your orders to all worlds; but
that cannot be guaranteed now and certainly cannot be expected to continue indefinitely, so you
must act quickly. I suggest you set a date exactly forty standard weeks from today for all ansibles to
go offline at once for a period of at least one standard day. All the new ansible computers, when
they go online, must be completely unconnected to any other computer. From now on ansible
messages must be manually re-entered at each ansible computer so that electronic contamination
will never be possible again. If you retransmit this message immediately to all ansibles, using your
code of authority, my report will become your orders; no further instructions will be needed and
Demosthenes' influence will end. If you do not act immediately, I will not be responsible for the
To this report Qing-jao affixed her father's name and the authority code he had given her; her
name would mean nothing to Congress, but his name would be heeded, and the presence of his
authority code would ensure that it was received by all the people who had particular interest in his
The message finished, Qing-jao looked up into the eyes of the apparition before her. With her left
hand resting on Wang-mu's shuddering back, and her right hand over the transmit key, Qing-jao
made her final challenge. "Will you stop me or will you allow this?"
To which Jane answered, "Will you kill a raman who has done no harm to any living soul, or will
you let me live?"
Qing-jao pressed the transmit button. Jane bowed her head and disappeared.
It would take several seconds for the message to be routed by the house computer to the nearest
ansible; from there, it would go instantly to every Congress authority on every one of the Hundred
Worlds and many of the colonies as well. On many receiving computers it would be just one more
message in the queue; but on some, perhaps hundreds, Father's code would give it enough priority
that already someone would be reading it, realizing its implications, and preparing a response. If
Jane in fact had let the message through.
So Qing-jao waited for a response. Perhaps the reason no one answered immediately was because
they had to contact each other and discuss this message and decide, quickly, what had to be done.
Perhaps that was why no reply came to the empty display above her terminal.
The door opened. It would be Mu-pao with the game computer. "Put it in the corner by the north
window," said Qing-jao without looking. "I may yet need it, though I hope not.
It was Father, not Mu-pao at all. Qing-jao turned to him, knelt at once to show her respect-- but
also her pride. "Father, I've made your report to Congress. While you communed with the gods, I
was able to neutralize the enemy program and send the message telling how to destroy it. I'm
waiting for their answer."
She waited for Father's praise.
"You did this?" he asked. "Without waiting for me? You spoke directly to Congress and didn't ask
for my consent?"
"You were being purified, Father. I fulfilled your assignment."
"But then-- Jane will be killed."
"That much is certain," said Qing-jao. "Whether contact with the Lusitania Fleet will be restored
then or not, I can't be sure." Suddenly she thought of a flaw in her plans. "But the computers on the
fleet will also be contaminated by this program! When contact is restored, the program can
retransmit itself and-- but then all we'll have to do is blank out the ansibles one more time ..."
Father was not looking at her. He was looking at the terminal display behind her. Qing-jao turned
It was a message from Congress, with the official seal displayed. It was very brief, in the clipped
style of the bureaucracy.
Han: Brilliant work. Have transmitted your suggestions as our orders. Contact with the fleet
already restored. Did daughter help per your note 14FE.3A? Medals for both if so.
"Then it's done," murmured Father. "They'll destroy Lusitania, the pequeninos, all those innocent
"Only if the gods wish it," said Qing-jao. She was surprised that Father sounded so morose.
Wang-mu raised her head from Qing-jao's lap, her face red and wet with weeping. "And Jane and
Demosthenes will be gone as well," she said.
Qing-jao gripped Wang-mu by the shoulder, held her an arm's length away. "Demosthenes is a
traitor," said Qing-jao. But Wang-mu only looked away from her, turning her gaze up to Han Fei-
tzu. Qing-jao also looked to her father. "And Jane-- Father, you saw what she was, how dangerous."
"She tried to save us," said Father, "and we've thanked her by setting in motion her destruction."
Qing-jao couldn't speak or move, could only stare at Father as he leaned over her shoulder and
touched the save key, then the clear key.
"Jane," said Father. "If you hear me. Please forgive me."
There was no answer from the terminal.
"May all the gods forgive me," said Father. "I was weak in the moment when I should have been
strong, and so my daughter has innocently done evil in my name." He shuddered. "I must-- purify
myself." The word plainly tasted like poison in his mouth. "That will last forever, too, I'm sure."
He stepped back from the computer, turned away, and left the room. Wang-mu returned to her
crying. Stupid, meaningless crying, thought Qingjao. This is a moment of victory. Except Jane has
snatched the victory away from me so that even as I triumph over her, she triumphs over me. She
has stolen my father. He no longer serves the gods in his heart, even as he continues to serve them
with his body.
Yet along with the pain of this realization came a hot stab of joy: I was stronger. I was stronger
than Father, after all. When it came to the test, it was I who served the gods, and he who broke,
who fell, who failed. There is more to me than I ever dreamed of. I am a worthy tool in the hands of
the gods; who knows how they might wield me now?
Chapter 12 -- GREGO'S WAR
<It's a wonder that human beings ever became intelligent enough to travel between worlds.>
<Not really. I've been thinking about that lately. Starflight they learned from you. Ender says they
didn't grasp the physics of it until your first colony fleet reached their star system.>
<Should we have stayed at home for fear of teaching starflight to softbodied four-limbed hairless
<You spoke a moment ago as if you believed that human beings had actually achieved
<Clearly they have.>
<I think not. I think they have found a way to take intelligence.>
<Their starships fly. We haven't noticed any of yours racing the lightwaves through space.>
<We're still very young, as a species. But look at us. Look at you. We both have evolved a very
similar system. We each have four kinds of life in our species. The young, who are helpless grubs.
The mates, who never achieve intelligence-- with you, it's your drones, and with us, it's the little
mothers. Then there's the many, many individuals who have enough intelligence to perform manual
tasks-- our wives and brothers, your workers. And finally the intelligent ones-- we fathertrees, and
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested