guilt for this crime. Father Estevao, who died pure, and yet whose name was on the blasphemous
lips of those who killed. The Speaker for the Dead, and those who traveled with him to bring home
the body of this martyred priest. And Valentine, the Speaker's sister, who warned the Mayor and
me of what would happen. Valentine knew history, she knew humanity, but the Mayor and I
thought that we knew you, and that you were stronger than history. Alas for us all that you are as
fallen as any other men, and so am I. The sin is on every one of us who could have tried to stop
this, and did not! On the wives who did not try to keep their husbands home. On the men who
watched but said nothing. And on all who held the torches in their hands and killed a tribe of fellow
Christians for a crime done by their distant cousins half a continent away.
"The law is doing its small part of justice. Gerao Gregorio Ribeira von Hesse is in prison, but that
is for another crime-- the crime of having violated his trust and told secrets that were not his to tell.
He is not in prison for the massacre of the pequeninos, because he has no greater share of guilt for
that than the rest of you who followed him. Do you understand me? The guilt is on us all, and all of
us must repent together, and do our penance together, and pray that Christ will forgive us all
together for the terrible thing we did with his name on our lips!
"I am standing on the foundation of this new chapel, which will be named for Father Estevao,
Apostle to the Pequeninos. The blocks of the foundation were torn from the walls of our cathedral--
there are gaping holes there now, where the wind can blow and the rain can fall in upon us as we
worship. And so the cathedral will remain, wounded and broken, until this chapel is finished.
"And how will we finish it? You will go home, all of you, to your houses, and you will break open
the wall of your own house, and take the blocks that fall, and bring them here. And you will also
leave your walls shattered until this chapel is completed.
"Then we will tear holes in the walls of every factory, every building in our colony, until there is
no structure that does not show the wound of our sin. And all those wounds will remain until the
walls are high enough to put on the roof, which will be beamed and rafted with the scorched trees
that fell in the forest, trying to defend their people from our murdering hands.
"And then we will come, all of us, to this chapel, and enter it on our knees, one by one, until every
one of us has crawled over the graves of our dead, and under the bodies of those ancient brothers
who lived as trees in the third life our merciful God had given them until we ended it. There we
will all pray for forgiveness. We will pray for our venerated Father Estevao to intercede for us. We
will pray for Christ to include our terrible sin in his atonement, so we will not have to spend
eternity in hell. We will pray for God to purify us.
"Only then will we repair our damaged walls, and heal our houses. That is our penance, my
children. Let us pray that it is enough."
In the middle of a clearing strewn with ash, Ender, Valentine, Miro, Ela, Quara, Ouanda, and
Olhado all stood and watched as the most honored of the wives was flayed alive and planted in the
ground, for her to grow into a new mothertree from the corpse of her second life. As she was dying,
the surviving wives reached into a gap in the old mothertree and scooped out the bodies of the dead
infants and little mothers who had lived there, and laid them on her bleeding body until they formed
a mound. Within hours, her sapling would rise through their corpses and reach for sunlight.
Using their substance, she would grow quickly, until she had enough thickness and height to open
up an aperture in her trunk. If she grew fast enough, if she opened herself soon enough, the few
surviving babies clinging to the inside of the gaping cavity of the old dead mothertree could be
transferred to the small new haven the new mothertree would offer them. If any of the surviving
babies were little mothers, they would be carried to the surviving fathertrees, Human and Rooter,
for mating. If new babies were conceived within their tiny bodies, then the forest that had known
all the best and worst that human beings could do would survive.
If not-- if the babies were all males, which was possible, or if all the females among them were
infertile, which was possible, or if they were all too injured by the heat of the fire that raged up the
mothertree's trunk and killed her, or if they were too weakened by the days of starvation they would
undergo until the new mothertree was ready for them-- then the forest would die with these brothers
and wives, and Human and Rooter would live on for a millennium or so as tribeless fathertrees.
Perhaps some other tribes would honor them and carry little mothers to them for mating. Perhaps.
But they would not be fathers of their own tribe, surrounded by their sons. They would be lonely
trees with no forest of their own, the sole monuments to the work they had lived for: bringing
humans and pequeninos together.
As for the rage against Warmaker, that had ended. The fathertrees of Lusitania all agreed that
whatever moral debt had been incurred by the death of Father Estevao, it was paid and overpaid by
the slaughter of the forest of Rooter and Human. Indeed, Warmaker had won many new converts to
his heresy-- for hadn't the humans proved that they were unworthy of the gospel of Christ? It was
pequeninos, said Warmaker, who were chosen to be vessels of the Holy Ghost, while human beings
plainly had no part of God in them. We have no need to kill any more human beings, he said. We
only have to wait, and the Holy Ghost will kill them all. In the meantime, God has sent us the hive
queen to build us starships. We will carry the Holy Ghost with us to judge every world we visit. We
will be the destroying angel. We will be Joshua and the Israelites, purging Canaan to make way for
God's chosen people.
Many pequeninos believed him now. Warmaker no longer sounded crazy to them; they had
witnessed the first stirrings of apocalypse in the flames of an innocent forest. To many pequeninos
there was nothing more to learn from humanity. God had no more use for human beings.
Here, though, in this clearing in the forest, their feet ankle-deep in ash, the brothers and wives
who kept vigil over their new mothertree had no belief in Warmaker's doctrine. They who knew
human beings best of all even chose to have humans present as witnesses and helpers in their
attempt to be reborn.
"Because," said Planter, who was now the spokesman for the surviving brothers, "we know that
not all humans are alike, just as not all pequeninos are alike. Christ lives in some of you, and not in
others. We are not all like Warmaker's forest, and you are not all murderers either."
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So it was that Planter held hands with Miro and Valentine on the morning, just before dawn, when
the new mothertree managed to open a crevice in her slender trunk, and the wives tenderly
transferred the weak and starving bodies of the surviving infants into their new home. It was too
soon to tell, but there was cause for hope: The new mothertree had readied herself in only a day and
a half, and there were more than three dozen infants who lived to make the transition. As many as a
dozen of them might be fertile females, and if even a quarter of those lived to bear young, the forest
might thrive again.
Planter was trembling. "Brothers have never seen this before," said Planter, "not in all the history
of the world."
Several of the brothers were kneeling and crossing themselves. Many had been praying
throughout the vigil. It made Valentine think of something Ouara had told her. She stepped close to
Miro and whispered, "Ela prayed, too."
"Before the fire. Quara was there at the shrine of the Venerados. She prayed for God to open up a
way for us to solve all our problems."
"That's what everybody prays for."
Valentine thought of what had happened in the days since Ela's prayer. "I imagine that she's rather
disappointed at the answer God gave her."
"People usually are."
"But maybe this-- the mothertree opening so quickly-- maybe this is the beginning of her answer."
Miro looked at Valentine in puzzlement. "Are you a believer?"
"Let's say I'm a suspecter. I suspect there may be someone who cares what happens to us. That's
one step better than merely wishing. And one step below hoping."
Miro smiled slightly, but Valentine wasn't sure whether it meant he was pleased or amused. "So
what will God do next, to answer Ela's prayer?"
"Let's wait and see," said Valentine. "Our job is to decide what we'll do next. We have only the
deepest mysteries of the universe to solve."
"Well, that should be right up God's alley," said Miro.
Then Ouanda arrived; as xenologer, she had also been involved in the vigil, and though this wasn't
her shift, news of the opening of the mothertree had been taken to her at once. Her coming had
usually meant Miro's swift departure. But not this time. Valentine was pleased to see that Miro's
gaze didn't seem either to linger on Ouanda or to avoid her; she was simply there, working with the
pequeninos, and so was he. No doubt it was all an elaborate pretense at normality, but in
Valentine's experience, normality was always a pretense, people acting out what they thought were
their expected roles. Miro had simply reached a point where he was ready to act out something like
a normal role in relation to Ouanda, no matter how false it might be to his true feelings. And maybe
it wasn't so false, after all. She was twice his age now. Not at all the girl he had loved.
They had loved each other, but never slept together. Valentine had been pleased to hear it when
Miro told her, though he said it with angry regret. Valentine had long ago observed that in a society
that expected chastity and fidelity, like Lusitania, the adolescents who controlled and channeled
their youthful passions were the ones who grew up to be both strong and civilized. Adolescents in
such a community who were either too weak to control themselves or too contemptuous of society's
norms to try usually ended up being either sheep or wolves-- either mindless members of the herd
or predators who took what they could and gave nothing.
She had feared, when she first met Miro, that he was a self-pitying weakling or a self-centered
predator resentful of his confinement. Neither was so. He might now regret his chastity in
adolescence-- it was natural for him to wish he had coupled with Ouanda when he was still strong
and they were both of an age-- but Valentine did not regret it. It showed that Miro had inner
strength and a sense of responsibility to his community. To Valentine, it was predictable that Miro,
by himself, had held back the mob for those crucial moments that saved Rooter and Human.
It was also predictable that Miro and Ouanda would now make the great effort to pretend that they
were simply two people doing their jobs-- that all was normal between them. Inner strength and
outward respect. These are the people who hold a community together, who lead. Unlike the sheep
and the wolves, they perform a better role than the script given them by their inner fears and
desires. They act out the script of decency, of self-sacrifice, of public honor-- of civilization. And in
the pretense, it becomes reality. There really is civilization in human history, thought Valentine, but
only because of people like these. The shepherds.
Novinha met him in the doorway of the school. She leaned on the arm of Dona Crista, the fourth
principal of the Children of the Mind of Christ since Ender had come to Lusitania.
"I have nothing to say to you," Novinha said. "We're still married under the law, but that's all."
"I didn't kill your son," he said.
"You didn't save him, either," she answered.
"I love you," Ender said.
"As much as you're capable of love," she said. "And then only when you've got a little time left
over from looking after everybody else. You think you're some kind of guardian angel, with
responsibility for the whole universe. All I asked you to do was take responsibility for my family.
You're good at loving people by the trillion, but not so good at dozens, and you're a complete
failure at loving one."
It was a harsh judgment, and he knew it wasn't true, but he didn't come to argue. "Please come
home," he said. "You love me and need me as much as I need you."
"This is home now. I've stopped needing you or anybody. And if this is all you came to say, you're
wasting my time and yours."
"No, it's not all."
"The files in the laboratory. You've sealed them all. We have to find a solution to the descolada
before it destroys us all."
She gave him a withering, bitter smile. "Why did you bother me with this? Jane can get past my
passwords, can't she?"
"She hasn't tried," he said.
"No doubt to spare my sensibilities. But she can, n‚?"
"Then have her do it. She's all you need now. You never really needed me, not when you had her."
"I've tried to be a good husband to you," said Ender. "I never said I could protect you from
everything, but I did all I could."
"If you had, my Estevao would be alive."
She turned away, and Dona Crista escorted her back inside the school. Ender watched her until
she turned a corner. Then he turned away from the door and left the school. He wasn't sure where
he was going, only that he had to get there.
"I'm sorry," said Jane softly.
"Yes," he said.
"When I'm gone," she said, "maybe Novinha will come back to you."
"You won't be gone if I can help it," he said.
"But you can't. They're going to shut me down in a couple of months."
"Shut up," he said.
"It's only the truth."
"Shut up and let me think."
"What, are you going to save me now? Your record isn't very good at playing savior lately."
He didn't answer, and she didn't speak again for the rest of the afternoon. He wandered out of the
gate, but didn't go up into the forest. Instead he spent the afternoon in the grassland, alone, under
the hot sun.
Sometimes he was thinking, trying to struggle with the problems that still loomed over him: the
fleet coming against them, Jane's shut-off date, the descolada's constant efforts to destroy the
humans of Lusitania, Warmaker's plan to spread the descolada throughout the galaxy, and the grim
situation within the city now that the hive queen kept constant watch over the fence and their grim
penance had them all tearing at the walls of their own houses.
And sometimes his mind was almost devoid of thought, as he stood or sat or lay in the grass, too
numb to weep, her face passing through his memory, his lips and tongue and teeth forming her
name, pleading with her silently, knowing that even if he made a sound, even if he shouted, even if
he could make her hear his voice, she wouldn't answer him.
Chapter 13 -- FREE WILL
<There are those among us who think that the humans should be stopped from the research into
the descolada. The descolada is at the heart of our life cycle. We're afraid that they'll find a way to
kill the descolada throughout the world, and that would destroy us in a generation.>
<And if you managed to stop human research into the descolada, they would certainly be wiped
out within a few years.>
<Is the descolada that dangerous? Why can't they keep on containing it as they have?>
<Because the descolada is not just randomly mutating according to natural laws. It is intelligently
adapting itself in order to destroy us.>
<We've been fighting the descoloda all along. Not in laboratories, like the humans, but inside
ourself. Before I lay eggs, there is a phase where I prepare their bodies to manufacture all the
antibodies they'll need throughout their lives. When the descoloda changes itself, we know it
because the workers start dying. Then an organ near my ovaries creates new antibodies, and we lay
eggs for new workers who can withstand the revised descolada.>
<So you, too, are trying to destroy it.>
<No. Our process is entirely unconscious. It takes place in the body of the hive queen, without
conscious intervention. We can't go beyond meeting the present danger. Our organ of immunity is
far more effective and adaptable than anything in the human body, but in the long run we'll suffer
the same fate as the humans, if the descolada is not destroyed. The difference is that if we are
wiped out by the descolada, there is no other hive queen in the universe to carry on our species. We
are the last.>
<Your case is even more desperate than theirs.>
<And we are even more helpless to affect it. We have no science of biology beyond simple
husbandry. Our natural methods were so effective in fighting disease that we never had the same
impetus that humans had, to understand life and control it.>
<Is that the way it is, then? Either we are destroyed, or you and the humans are destroyed. If the
descolada continues, it kills you. If it is stopped, we die.>
<This is your world. The descolada is in your bodies. If it comes time to choose between you and
us, it will be you that survives.>
<You speak for yourself, my friend. But what will the humans do?>
<If they have the power to destroy the descolada in a way that would also destroy you, we will
forbid them to use it.>
<Forbid them? When have humans ever obeyed?>
<We never forbid where we do not also have the power to prevent.>
<This is your world. Ender knows this. And if other humans ever forget, we will remind them.>
<I have another question.>
<What about those, like Warmaker, who want to spread the descolada throughout the universe?
Will you also forbid them?>
<They must not carry the descolada to worlds that already have multicellular life.>
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