"What can I do to persuade you? If I say nothing, you will do it, and when I speak to beg you, you
will do it all the more surely."
"Do you know how you could stop me? You could speak to me as if you knew the speaking of the
gods is the product of a brain disorder, and then, when I know you see the world clear and true, you
could persuade me with good arguments that such a swift, complete, and devastating change would
be harmful, or whatever other argument you might raise."
"So to persuade my father, I must lie to him?"
"No, my Gloriously Bright. To persuade your father, you must show that you understand the
"I understand the truth," said Qing-jao. "I understand that some enemy has stolen you from me. I
understand that all I have left now is the gods, and Mother who is among them. I beg the gods to let
me die and join her, so I don't have to suffer any more of the pain you cause me, but still they leave
me here. I think that means they wish me still to worship them. Perhaps I'm not yet purified
enough. Or perhaps they know that you will soon turn your heart around again, and come to me as
you used to, speaking honorably of the gods and teaching me to be a true servant."
"That will never happen," said Han Fei-tzu.
"Once I thought you could someday be the god of Path. Now I see that, far from being the
protector of this world, you are its darkest enemy."
Han Fei-tzu covered his face and left the room, weeping for his daughter. He could never persuade
her as long as she heard the voice of the gods. But perhaps if they brought the virus, perhaps if the
gods fell silent, she would listen to him then. Perhaps he could win her back to rationality.
They sat in the starship-- more like two metal bowls, one domed over the other, with a door in the
side. Jane's design, faithfully executed by the hive queen and her workers, included many
instruments on the outside of the ship. But even bristling with sensors it didn't resemble any kind of
starship ever seen before. It was far too small, and there was no visible means of propulsion. The
only power that could carry this ship anywhere was the unseeable aiua that Ender carried on board
They faced each other in a circle. There were six chairs, because Jane's design allowed for the
chance that the ship would be used again, to carry more people from world to world. They had
taken every other seat, so they formed a triangle: Ender, Miro, Ela.
The good-byes had all been said. Sisters and brothers, other kin and many friends had come. One,
though, was most painful in her absence. Novinha. Ender's wife, Miro's and Ela's mother. She
would have no part of this. That was the only real sorrow at the parting.
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The rest was all fear and excitement, hope and disbelief. They might be moments away from
death. They might be moments away from filling the vials on Ela's lap with the viruses that would
mean deliverance on two worlds. They might be the pioneers of a new kind of starflight that would
save the species threatened by the M.D. Device.
They might also be three fools who would sit on the ground, in a grassy field just outside the
compound of the human colony on Lusitania, until at last it grew so hot and stuffy inside that they
had to emerge. No one waiting there would laugh, of course, but there'd be laughter throughout the
town. It would be the laughter of despair. It would mean that there was no escape, no liberty, only
more and more fear until death came in one of its many possible guises.
"Are you with us, Jane?" asked Ender.
The voice in his ear was quiet. "While I do this, Ender, I'll have no part of me that I can spare to
talk to you."
"So you'll be with us, but mute," said Ender. "How will I know you're there?"
She laughed softly in his ear. "Foolish boy, Ender. If you're still there, I'm still inside you. And if
I'm not inside you, you will have no 'there' to be."
Ender imagined himself breaking into a trillion constituent parts, scattering through chaos.
Personal survival depended not only on Jane holding the pattern of the ship, but also on him being
able to hold the pattern of his mind and body. Only he had no idea whether his mind was really
strong enough to maintain that pattern, once he was where the laws of nature were not in force.
"Ready?" asked Jane.
"She asks if we're ready," said Ender.
Miro was already nodding. Ela bowed her head. Then, after a moment, she crossed herself, took
firm hold on the rack of vials on her lap, and nodded.
"If we go and come again, Ela," said Ender, "then this was not a failure, even if you didn't create
the virus that you wanted. If the ship works well, we can return another time. Don't think that
everything depends on what you're able to imagine today."
She smiled. "I won't be surprised at failure, but I'm also ready for success. My team is ready to
release hundreds of bacteria into the world, if I return with the recolada and we can then remove the
descolada. It will be chancy, but within fifty years the world will be a self-regulating gaialogy
again. I see a vision of deer and cattle in the tall grass of Lusitania, and eagles in the sky." Then she
looked down again at the vials in her lap. "I also said a prayer to the Virgin, for the same Holy
Ghost that created God in her womb to come make life again here in these jars."
"Amen to the prayer," said Ender. "And now, Jane, if you're ready, we can go."
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Outside the little starship, the others waited. What did they expect? That the ship would start to
smoke and jiggle? That there would be a thunderclap, a flash of light?
The ship was there. It was there, and still there, unmoving, unchanged. And then it was gone.
They felt nothing inside the ship when it happened. There was no sound, no movement to hint of
motion from Inspace into Outspace.
But they knew the moment it occurred, because there were no longer three of them, but six.
Ender found himself seated between two people, a young man and a young woman. But he had no
time even to glance at them, for all he could look at was the man seated in what had been the empty
seat across from him.
"Miro," he whispered. For that was who it was. But not Miro the cripple, the damaged young man
who had boarded the ship with him. That one was still sitting in the next chair to Ender's left. This
Miro was the strong young man that Ender had first known. The man whose strength had been the
hope of his family, whose beauty had been the pride of Ouanda's life, whose mind and whose heart
had taken compassion on the pequeninos and refused to leave them without the benefits he thought
that human culture might offer them. Miro, whole and restored.
Where had he come from?
"I should have known," said Ender. "We should have thought. The pattern of yourself that you
hold in your mind, Miro-- it isn't the way you are, it's the way you were. "
The new Miro, the young Miro, he raised his head and smiled to Ender. "I thought of it," he said,
and his speech was clear and beautiful, the words rolling easily off his tongue. "I hoped for it. I
begged Jane to take me with her because of it. And it came true. Exactly as I longed for it."
"But now there are two of you," said Ela. She sounded horrified.
"No," said the new Miro. "Just me. Just the real me."
"But that one's still there," she said.
"Not for long, I think," said Miro. "That old shell is empty now."
And it was true. The old Miro slumped within his seat like a dead man. Ender knelt in front of
him, touched him. He pressed his fingers to Miro's neck, feeling for a pulse.
"Why should the heart beat now?" said Miro. "I'm the place where Miro's aiua dwells."
When Ender took his fingers away from the old Miro's throat, the skin came away in a small puff
of dust. Ender shied back. The head dropped forward off the shoulders and landed in the corpse's
lap. Then it dissolved into a whitish liquid. Ender jumped to his feet, backed away. He stepped on
"Ow," said Valentine.
"Watch where you're going," said a man.
Valentine isn't on this ship, thought Ender. And I know the man's voice, too.
He turned to face them, the man and woman who had appeared in the empty seats beside him.
Valentine. Impossibly young. The way she had looked when, as a young teenager, she had swum
beside him in a lake on a private estate on Earth. The way she had looked when he loved her and
needed her most, when she was the only reason he could think of to go on with his military
training; when she was the only reason he could think of why the world might be worth the trouble
of saving it.
"You can't be real," he said.
"Of course I am," she said. "You stepped on my foot, didn't you?"
"Poor Ender," said the young man. "Clumsy and stupid. Not a really good combination."
Now Ender knew him. "Peter," he said. His brother, his childhood enemy, at the age when he
became Hegemon. The picture that had been playing on all the vids when Peter managed to arrange
things so that Ender could never come home to Earth after his great victory.
"I thought I'd never see you face to face again," said Ender. "You died so long ago."
"Never believe a rumor of my death," said Peter. "I have as many lives as a cat. Also as many
teeth, as many claws, and the same cheery, cooperative disposition."
"Where did you come from?"
Miro offered the answer. "They must have come from patterns in your mind, Ender, since you
"They do," said Ender. "But why? It's our self-conception we're supposed to carry with us out
here. The pattern by which we know ourselves."
"Is that so, Ender?" said Peter. "Then you must be really special. A personality so complicated it
takes two people to contain it."
"There's no part of me in you," said Ender.
"And you'd better keep it that way," said Peter, leering. "It's girls I like, not dirty old men."
"I don't want you," said Ender.
"Nobody ever did," said Peter. "They wanted you. But they got me, didn't they? They got me up to
here. Do you think I don't know my whole story? You and that book of lies, the Hegemon. So wise
and understanding. How Peter Wiggin mellowed. How he turned out to be a wise and fair-minded
ruler. What a joke. Speaker for the Dead indeed. All the time you wrote it, you knew the truth. You
posthumously washed the blood from my hands, Ender, but you knew and I knew that as long as I
was alive, I wanted blood there."
"Leave him alone," said Valentine. "He told the truth in the Hegemon."
"Still protecting him, little angel?"
"No!" cried Ender. "I've done with you, Peter. You're out of my life, gone for three thousand
"You can run but you can't hide!"
"Ender! Ender, stop it! Ender!"
He turned. It was Ela crying out to him.
"I don't know what's going on here, but stop it! We only have a few minutes left. Help me with the
She was right. Whatever was going on with Miro's new body, with Peter's and Valentine's
reappearance here, the important thing was the descolada. Had Ela succeeded in transforming it?
Creating the recolada? And the virus that would transform the people of Path? If Miro could
remake his body, and Ender could somehow conjure up the ghosts of his past and make them flesh
again, it was possible, really possible, that Ela's vials now contained the viruses whose patterns she
had held in her mind.
"Help me," whispered Ela again.
Ender and Miro-- the new Miro, his hand strong and sure-- reached out, took the vials she offered
them, and began the test. It was a negative test-- if the bacteria, algae, and tiny worms they added to
the tubes remained for several minutes, unaffected, then there was no descolada in the vials. Since
the vials had been teeming with the living virus when they boarded the ship, that would be proof
that something, at least, had happened to neutralize them. Whether it was truly the recolada or
simply a dead or ineffective descolada remained to be discovered when they returned.
The worms and algae and bacteria underwent no transformations. In tests beforehand, on
Lusitania, the solution containing the bacteria turned from blue to yellow in the presence of the
descolada; now it stayed blue. On Lusitania the tiny worms had quickly died and, graying husks,
floated to the surface; now they wriggled on and on, staying the purplish-brown color that in them,
at least, meant life. And the algae, instead of breaking apart and dissolving completely away,
remained in the thin strands and tendrils of life.
"Done, then," said Ender.
"At least we can hope," said Ela.
"Sit down," said Miro. "If we're done, she'll take us back."
Ender sat. He looked at the seat where Miro had been sitting. His old crippled body was no longer
identifiably human. It continued crumbling, the pieces breaking up into dust or flowing away as
liquid. Even the clothing was dissolving into nothing.
"It's not part of my pattern anymore," said Miro. "There's nothing to hold it together anymore."
"What about these?" demanded Ender. "Why aren't they dissolving?"
"Or you?" asked Peter. "Why don't you dissolve? Nobody needs you now. You're a tired old fart
who can't even hold onto his woman. And you never even fathered a child, you pathetic old eunuch.
Make way for a real man. No one ever needed you-- everything you've ever done I could have done
better, and everything I did you never could have matched."
Ender buried his face in his hands. This was not an outcome he could have imagined in his worst
nightmares. Yes, he knew they were going out into a place where things might be created out of his
mind. But it had never occurred to him that Peter was still lingering there. He thought he had
expunged that old hatred long ago.
And Valentine-- why would he create another Valentine? This one so young and perfect, sweet
and beautiful? There was a real Valentine waiting for him back on Lusitania-- what would she
think, seeing what he created out of his own mind? Perhaps it would be flattering to know how
closely she was held in his heart; but she would also know that what he treasured was what she
used to be, not what she was now.
The darkest and the brightest secrets of his heart would both stand exposed as soon as the door
opened and he had to step back out onto the surface of Lusitania again.
"Dissolve," he said to them. "Crumble away."
"You do it first, old man," said Peter. "Your life is over, and mine is just beginning. All I had to
try for the first time was Earth, one tired old planet-- it was as easy as it would be for me to reach
out and kill you with my bare hands, right now, if I wanted to. Snap your little neck like a dry
"Try it," whispered Ender. "I'm not the frightened little boy anymore."
"Nor are you a match for me," said Peter. "You never were, you never will be. You have too much
heart. You're like Valentine. You flinch away from doing what has to be done. It makes you soft
and weak. It makes you easy to destroy."
A sudden flash of light. What was it, death in Outspace after all? Had Jane lost the pattern in her
mind? Were they blowing up, or failing into a sun?
No. It was the door opening. It was the light of the Lusitanian morning breaking into the relative
darkness of the inside of the ship.
"Are you coming out?" cried Grego. He stuck his head into the ship. "Are you--"
Then he saw them. Ender could see him silently counting.
"Nossa Senhora," whispered Grego. "Where the hell did they come from?"
"Out of Ender's totally screwed-up head," said Peter.
"From old and tender memory," said the new Valentine.
"Help me with the viruses," said Ela.
Ender reached out for them, but it was Miro she gave them to. She didn't explain, just looked
away from him, but he understood. What had happened to him Outside was too strange for her to
accept. Whatever Peter and this young new Valentine might be, they shouldn't exist. Miro's creation
of a new body for himself made sense, even if it was terrible to watch the old corpse break into
forgotten nothingness. Ela's focus had been so pure that she created nothing outside the vials she
had brought for that purpose. But Ender had dredged up two whole people, both obnoxious in their
own way-- the new Valentine because she was a mockery of the real one, who surely waited just
outside the door. And Peter managed to be obnoxious even as he put a spin on all his taunting that
was at once dangerous and suggestive.
"Jane," whispered Ender. "Jane, are you with me?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Did you see all this?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Do you understand?"
"I'm very tired. I've never been tired before. I've never done something so very hard. It used up--
all my attention at once. And two more bodies, Ender. Making me pull them into the pattern like
that-- I don't know how I did it."
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