contained no descolada virus within it. If Ela's new virus was right, then the capim here would
work as the descolada-ruled capim had always worked.
"If I pass into the third life," said Glass, "the honor belongs to God and to his servant Planter, not
It was fitting that Glass had chosen to use his last words of brother-speech to praise Planter. But
his graciousness did not change the fact that thinking of Planter's sacrifice caused many among the
humans to weep; hard as it was to interpret pequenino emotions, Ender had no doubt that the
chattering sounds from the pequeninos gathered outside were also weeping, or some other emotion
appropriate to Planter's memory. But Glass was wrong to think that there was no honor for him in
this. Everyone knew that failure was still possible, that despite all the cause for hope they had, there
was no certainty that Ela's recolada would have the power to take a brother into the third life.
The sterile-suited brothers raised their knives and set to work. Not me, this time, thought Ender.
Thank God I don't have to wield a knife to cause a brother's death.
Yet he didn't avert his gaze, as so many others in the lab were doing. The blood and gore were not
new to him, and even if that made it no less pleasant, at least he knew that he could bear it. And
what Glass could bear to do, Ender could bear to witness. That was what a speaker for the dead was
supposed to do, wasn't it? Witness. He watched as much as he could see of the ritual, as they
opened up Glass's living body and planted his organs in the earth, so the tree could start to grow
while Glass's mind was still alert and alive. Through it all, Glass made no sound or movement that
suggested pain. Either his courage was beyond reckoning, or the recolada had done its work in the
capim grass as well, so that it maintained its anesthetic properties.
At last it was done, and the brothers who had taken him into the third life returned to the sterile
chamber, where, once their suits were cleansed of the recolada and viricide bacteria, they shed them
and returned naked into the lab. They were very solemn, but Ender thought he could see the
excitement and exultation that they concealed. All had gone well. They had felt Glass's body
respond to them. Within hours, perhaps minutes, the first leaves of the young tree should arise. And
they were sure in their hearts that it would happen.
Ender also noticed that one of them was a priest. He wondered what the Bishop would say, if he
knew. Old Peregrino had proved himself to be quite adaptable to assimilating an alien species into
the Catholic faith, and adapting ritual and doctrine to fit their peculiar needs. But that didn't change
the fact that Peregrino was an old man who didn't enjoy the thought of priests taking part in rituals
that, despite their clear resemblance to the crucifixion, were still not of the recognized sacraments.
Well, these brothers knew what they were doing. Whether they had told the Bishop of one of his
priests' participation or not, Ender wouldn't mention it; nor would any of the other humans present,
if indeed any of them noticed.
Yes, the tree was growing, and with great vigor, the leaves visibly rising as they watched. But it
would still be many hours, days perhaps, before they knew if it was a fathertree, with Glass still
alive and conscious within it. A time of waiting, in which Glass's tree must grow in perfect
If only I could find a place, thought Ender, in which I could also be isolated, in which I could
work out the strange things that have happened to me, without interference.
But he was not a pequenino, and whatever unease he suffered from was not a virus that could be
killed, or driven from his life. His disease was at the root of his identity, and he didn't know if he
could ever be rid of it without destroying himself in the process. Perhaps, he thought, Peter and Val
represent the total of who I am; perhaps if they were gone, there'd be nothing left. What part of my
soul, what action in my life is there that can't be explained as one or the other of them, acting out
his or her will within me?
Am I the sum of my siblings? Or the difference between them? What is the peculiar arithmetic of
Valentine tried not to be obsessed with this young girl that Ender had brought back with him from
Outside. Of course she knew it was her younger self as he remembered her, and she even thought it
was rather sweet of him to carry inside his heart such a powerful memory of her at that age. She
alone, of all the people on Lusitania, knew why it was at that age that she lingered in his
unconscious. He had been in Battle School till then, cut off completely from his family. Though he
could not have known it, she knew that their parents had pretty much forgotten him. Not forgotten
that he existed, of course, but forgotten him as a presence in their lives. He simply wasn't there,
wasn't their responsibility anymore. Having given him away to the state, they were absolved. He
would have been more a part of their lives if he had died; as it was, they didn't have even a grave to
visit. Valentine didn't blame them for this-- it proved that they were resilient and adaptable. But she
wasn't able to mimic them. Ender was always with her, in her heart. And when, after being
inwardly battered as he was forced to meet all the challenges they threw at him in Battle School,
Ender now resolved to give up on the whole enterprise-- when he, in effect, went on strike-- the
officer charged with turning him into a pliant tool came to her. Brought her to Ender. Gave them
time together-- the same man who had torn them apart and left such deep wounds in their hearts.
She healed her brother then-- enough that he could go back and save humanity by destroying the
Of course he holds me in his memory at that age, more powerfully than any of our countless
experiences together since. Of course when his unconscious mind brings forth its most intimate
baggage, it is the girl I was then who lingers most deeply in his heart.
She knew all this, she understood all this, she believed all this. Yet still it rankled, still it hurt that
this almost mindlessly perfect creature was what he really thought of her all along. That the
Valentine that Ender truly loved was a creature of impossible purity. It was for the sake of this
imaginary Valentine that he was so close a companion to me all the years before I married Jakt.
Unless it was because I married Jakt that he returned to this childish vision of me.
Nonsense. There was nothing to be gained by trying to imagine what this young girl meant.
Regardless of the manner of her creation, she was here now, and must be dealt with.
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Poor Ender-- he seemed to understand nothing. He actually thought at first that he should keep
young Val with him. "Isn't she my daughter, after a fashion?" he had asked.
"After no fashion is she your daughter," she had answered. "If anything, she's mine. And it is
certainly not proper for you to take her into your home, alone. Especially since Peter is there, and
he isn't the most trustworthy co-guardian who ever lived." Ender still didn't fully agree-- he would
rather have got rid of Peter than Val-- but he complied, and since then Val had lived in Valentine's
house. Valentine's intention had been to become the girl's friend and mentor, but in the event she
simply couldn't do it. She wasn't comfortable enough in Val's company. She kept finding reasons to
leave home when Val was there; she kept feeling inordinately grateful when Ender came to let her
tag along with him and Peter.
What finally happened was that, as so often before, Plikt silently stepped in and solved the
problem. Plikt became Val's primary companion and guardian in Valentine's house. When Val
wasn't with Ender, she was with Plikt. And this morning Plikt had suggested setting up a house of
her own-- for her and Val. Perhaps I was too hasty in agreeing, thought Valentine. But it's probably
as hard on Val to share a house with me as for me to share a house with her.
Now, though, watching as Plikt and Val entered the new chapel on their knees and crawled
forward-- as all the other humans who entered had also crawled-- to kiss Bishop Peregrino's ring
before the altar, Valentine realized that she had done nothing for "Val's own good," whatever she
might have told herself. Val was completely self-contained, unflappable, calm. Why should
Valentine imagine that she could make young Val either more or less happy, more or less
comfortable? I am irrelevant to this girlchild's life. But she is not irrelevant to mine. She is at once
an affirmation and a denial of the most important relationship of my childhood, and of much of my
adulthood as well. I wish that she had crumbled into nothingness Outside, like Miro's old crippled
body did. I wish I had never had to face myself like this.
And it was herself she was facing. Ela had run that test immediately. Young Val and Valentine
were genetically identical.
"But it makes no sense," Valentine protested. "Ender could hardly have memorized my genetic
code. There couldn't possibly have been a pattern of that code in the starship with him."
"Am I supposed to explain it?" asked Ela.
Ender had suggested a possibility-- that young Val's genetic code was fluid until she and
Valentine actually met, and then the philotes of Val's body had formed themselves into the pattern
they found in Valentine's.
Valentine kept her own opinion to herself, but she doubted that Ender's guess was right. Young
Val had had Valentine's genes from the first moment, because any person who so perfectly fit
Ender's vision of Valentine could not have any other genes; the natural law that Jane herself was
helping to maintain within the starship would have required it. Or perhaps there was some force
that shaped and gave order even to a place of such utter chaos. It hardly mattered, except that
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however annoyingly perfect and uncomplaining and unlike me this new pseudo-Val might be,
Ender's vision of her had been true enough that genetically they were the same. His vision couldn't
be much off the mark. Perhaps I really was that perfect then, and only got my rough edges during
the years since then. Perhaps I really was that beautiful. Perhaps I really was so young.
They knelt before the Bishop. Plikt kissed his ring, though she owed no part of the penance of
When it came time for young Val to kiss the ring, however, the Bishop pulled away his hand and
turned away. A priest came forward and told them to go to their seats.
"How can I?" said young Val. "I haven't given my penance yet."
"You have no penance," said the priest. "The Bishop told me before you came; you weren't here
when the sin was committed, so you have no part in the penance."
Young Val looked at him very sadly and said, "I was created by someone other than God. That's
why the Bishop won't receive me. I'll never have communion while he lives."
The priest looked very sad-- it was impossible not to feel sorry for young Val, for her simplicity
and sweetness made her seem fragile, and the person who hurt her therefore had to feel clumsy for
having damaged such a tender thing. "Until the Pope can decide," he said. "All this is very hard."
"I know," whispered young Val. Then she came and sat down between Plikt and Valentine.
Our elbows touch, thought Valentine. A daughter who is perfectly myself, as if I had cloned her
thirteen years ago.
But I didn't want another daughter, and I certainly didn't want a duplicate of me. She knows that.
She feels it. And so she suffers something that I never suffered-- she feels unwanted and unloved
by those who are most like her.
How does Ender feel about her? Does he also wish that she would go away? Or does he yearn to
be her brother, as he was my young brother so many years ago? When I was that age, Ender had not
yet committed xenocide. But then, he had not yet spoken for the dead, either. The Hive Queen, The
Hegemon, The Life of Human-- all that was beyond him then.
He was just a child, confused, despairing, afraid. How could Ender yearn for that time again?
Miro soon came in, crawled to the altar, and kissed the ring. Though the Bishop had absolved him
of any responsibility, he bore the penance with all others. Valentine noticed, of course, the many
whispers as he moved forward. Everyone in Lusitania who had known him before his brain damage
recognized the miracle that had been performed-- a perfect restoration of the Miro who had lived so
brightly among them all before.
I didn't know you then, Miro, thought Valentine. Did you always have that distant, brooding air?
Healed your body may be, but you're still the man who lived in pain for this time. Has it made you
cold or more compassionate?
He came and sat beside her, in the chair that would have been Jakt's, except that Jakt was still in
space. With the descolada soon to be destroyed, someone had to bring to Lusitania's surface the
thousands of frozen microbes and plant and animal species that had to be introduced in order to
establish a self-regulating gaialogy and keep the planetary systems in order. It was a job that had
been done on many other worlds, but it was being made trickier by the need not to compete too
intensely with the local species that the pequeninos depended on. Jakt was up there, laboring for
them all; it was a good reason to be gone, but Valentine still missed him-- needed him badly, in
fact, what with Ender's new creations causing her such turmoil. Miro was no substitute for her
husband, especially because his own new body was such a sharp reminder of what had been done
If I went out there, what would I create? I doubt that I'd bring back a person, because I fear there
is no one soul at the root of my psyche. Not even my own, I fear. What else has my passionate
study of history been, except a search for humanity? Others find humanity by looking in their own
hearts. Only lost souls need to search for it outside themselves.
"The line's almost done," whispered Miro.
So the service would begin soon.
"Ready to have your sins purged?" whispered Valentine.
"As the Bishop explained, he'll purge only the sins of this new body. I still have to confess and do
penance for the sins I had left over from the old one. Not many carnal sins were possible, of course,
but there's plenty of envy, spite, malice, and self-pity. What I'm trying to decide is whether I also
have a suicide to confess. When my old body crumbled into nothing, it was answering the wish of
"You should never have got your voice back," said Valentine. "You babble now just to hear
yourself talk so prettily."
He smiled and patted her arm.
The Bishop began the service with prayer, giving thanks to God for all that had been
accomplished in recent months. Conspicuous by omission was the creation of Lusitania's two
newest citizens, though Miro's healing was definitely laid at God's door. He called Miro forward
and baptized him almost at once, and then, because this was not a mass, the Bishop proceeded
immediately to his homily.
"God's mercy has an infinite reach," said the Bishop. "We can only hope he will choose to reach
farther than we deserve, to forgive us for our terrible sins as individuals and as a people. We can
only hope that, like Nineveh, which turned away destruction through repentance, we can convince
our Lord to spare us from the fleet that he has permitted to come against us to punish us."
Miro whispered, softly, so that only she could hear, "Didn't he send the fleet before the burning of
"Maybe the Lord counts only the arrival time, not the departure," Valentine suggested. At once,
though, she regretted her flippancy. What was happening here today was a solemn thing; even if
she wasn't a deep believer in Catholic doctrine, she knew that it was a holy thing when a
community accepted responsibility for the evil it committed and did true penance for it.
The Bishop spoke of those who had died in holiness-- Os Venerados, who first saved humanity
from the descolada plague; Father Estevao, whose body was buried under the floor of the chapel
and who suffered martyrdom in the cause of defending truth against heresy; Planter, who died to
prove that his people's soul was from God, and not from a virus; and the pequeninos who had died
as innocent victims of slaughter. "All of these may be saints someday, for this is a time like the
early days of Christianity, when great deeds and great holiness were much more needed, and
therefore much more often achieved. This chapel is a shrine to all those who have loved their God
with all their heart, might, mind and strength, and who have loved their neighbor as themself. Let
all who enter here do it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, so that holiness may also touch
The homily wasn't long, because there were many more identical services scheduled for that day--
the people were coming to the chapel in shifts, since it was far too small to accommodate the whole
human population of Lusitania all at once. Soon enough they were done, and Valentine got up to
leave. She would have followed close behind Plikt and Val, except that Miro caught at her arm.
"Jane just told me," he said. "I thought you'd want to know."
"She just tested the starship, without Ender in it."
"How could she do that?" asked Valentine.
"Peter," he said. "She took him Outside and back again. He can contain her aiua, if that's how this
process is actually working."
She gave voice to her immediate fear. "Did he--"
"Create anything? No." Miro grinned-- but with a hint of the twisted wryness that Valentine had
thought was a product of his affliction. "He claims it's because his mind is much clearer and
healthier than Andrew's."
"Maybe so," said Valentine.
"I say it's because none of the philotes out there were willing to be part of his pattern. Too
Valentine laughed a little.
The Bishop came up to them then. Since they were among the last to leave, they were alone at the
front of the chapel.
"Thank you for accepting a new baptism," said the Bishop.
Miro bowed his head. "Not many men have a chance to be purified so far along in their sins," he
"And Valentine, I'm sorry I couldn't receive your-- namesake."
"Don't worry, Bishop Peregrino. I understand. I may even agree with you."
The Bishop shook his head. "It would be better if they could just--"
"Leave?" offered Miro. "You get your wish. Peter will soon be gone-- Jane can pilot a ship with
him aboard. No doubt the same thing will be possible with young Val."
"No," said Valentine. "She can't go. She's too--"
"Young?" asked Miro. He seemed amused. "They were both born knowing everything that Ender
knows. You can hardly call the girl a child, despite her body."
"If they had been born," said the Bishop, "They wouldn't have to leave."
"They're not leaving because of your wish," said Miro. "They're leaving because Peter's going to
deliver Ela's new virus to Path, and young Val's ship is going to go off in search of planets where
pequeninos and hive queens can be established."
"You can't send her on such a mission," said Valentine.
"I won't send her," said Miro. "I'll take her. Or rather, she'll take me. I want to go. Whatever risks
there are, I'll take them. She'll be safe, Valentine."
Valentine still shook her head, but she knew already that in the end she would be defeated. Young
Val herself would insist on going, however young she might seem, because if she didn't go, only
one starship could travel; and if Peter was the one doing the traveling, there was no telling whether
the ship would be used for any good purpose. In the long run, Valentine herself would bow to the
necessity. Whatever danger young Val might be exposed to, it was no worse than the risks already
taken by others. Like Planter. Like Father Estevao. Like Glass.
The pequeninos gathered at Planter's tree. It would have been Glass's tree, since he was the first to
pass into the third life with the recolada, but almost his first words, once they were able to talk with
him, were an adamant rejection of the idea of introducing the viricide and recolada into the world
beside his tree. This occasion belonged to Planter, he declared, and the brothers and wives
ultimately agreed with him.
So it was that Ender leaned against his friend Human, whom he had planted in order to help him
into the third life so many years before. It would have been a moment of complete joy to Ender, the
liberation of the pequeninos from the descolada-- except that he had Peter with him through it all.
"Weakness celebrates weakness," said Peter. "Planter failed, and here they are honoring him,
while Glass succeeded, and there he stands, alone out there in the experimental field. And the
stupidest thing is that it can't possibly mean anything to Planter, since his aiua isn't even here."
"It may not mean anything to Planter," said Ender-- a point he wasn't altogether sure of, anyway--
"but it means something to the people here."
"Yes," he said. "It means they're weak."
"Jane says she took you Outside."
"An easy trip," said Peter. "Next time, though, Lusitania won't be my destination. "
"She says you plan to take Ela's virus to Path."
"My first stop," Peter said. "But I won't be coming back here. Count on that, old boy."
"We need the ship."
"You've got that sweet little slip of a girl," said Peter, "and the bugger bitch can pop out starships
for you by the dozen, if only you could spawn enough creatures like me and Valzinha to pilot
"I'll be glad to see the last of you."
"Aren't you curious what I intend to do?"
"No," said Ender.
But it was a lie, and of course Peter knew it. "I intend to do what you have neither the brains nor
the stomach to do. I intend to stop the fleet."
"How? Magically appear on the flagship?"
"Well, if worse came to worst, dear lad, I could always deliver an M.D. Device to the fleet before
they even knew I was there. But that wouldn't accomplish much, would it? To stop the fleet, I need
to stop Congress. And to stop Congress, I need to get control."
Ender knew at once what this meant. "So you think you can be Hegemon again? God help
humanity if you succeed."
"Why shouldn't I?" said Peter. "I did it once before, and I didn't do so badly. You should know--
you wrote the book yourself."
"That was the real Peter," said Ender. "Not you, the twisted version conjured up out of my hatred
Did Peter have soul enough to resent these harsh words? Ender thought, for a moment at least, that
Peter paused, that his face showed a moment of-- what, hurt? Or simply rage?
"I'm the real Peter now," he answered, after that momentary pause. "And you'd better hope that I
have all the skill I had before. After all, you managed to give Valette the same genes as Valentine.
Maybe I'm all that Peter ever was."
"Maybe pigs have wings."
Peter laughed. "They would, if you went Outside and believed hard enough."
"Go, then," said Ender.
"Yes, I know you'll be glad to get rid of me."
"And sic you on the rest of humanity? Let that be punishment enough, for their having sent the
fleet." Ender gripped Peter by the arm, pulled him close. "Don't think that this time you can
maneuver me into helplessness. I'm not a little boy anymore, and if you get out of hand, I'll destroy
"You can't," said Peter. "You could more easily kill yourself."
The ceremony began. This time there was no pomp, no ring to kiss, no homily. Ela and her
assistants simply brought several hundred sugar cubes impregnated with the viricide bacterium, and
as many vials of solution containing the recolada. They were passed among the congregation, and
each of the pequeninos took the sugar cube, dissolved and swallowed it, and then drank off the
contents of the vial.
"This is my body which is given for you," intoned Peter. "This do in remembrance of me."
"Have you no respect for anything?" asked Ender.
"This is my blood, which I shed for you. Drink in remembrance of me." Peter smiled. "This is a
communion even I can take, unbaptized as I am."
"I can promise you this," said Ender. "They haven't invented the baptism yet that can purify you."
"I'll bet you've been saving up all your life, just to say that to me." Peter turned to him, so Ender
could see the ear in which the jewel had been implanted, linking him to Jane. In case Ender didn't
notice what he was pointing out, Peter touched the jewel rather ostentatiously. "Just remember, I
have the source of all wisdom here. She'll show you what I'm doing, if you ever care. If you don't
forget me the moment I'm gone."
"I won't forget you," said Ender.
"You could come along," said Peter.
"And risk making more like you Outside?"
"I could use the company."
"I promise you, Peter, you'd soon get as sick of yourself as I am sick of you."
"Never," said Peter. "I'm not filled with self-loathing the way you are, you poor guilt-obsessed
tool of better, stronger men. And if you won't make more companions for me, why, I'll find my
own along the way."
"I have no doubt of it," said Ender.
The sugar cubes and vials came to them; they ate, drank.
"The taste of freedom," said Peter. "Delicious."
"Is it?" said Ender. "We're killing a species that we never understood."
"I know what you mean," said Peter. "It's a lot more fun to destroy an opponent when he's able to
understand how thoroughly you defeated him."
Then, at last, Peter walked away.
Ender stayed through the end of the ceremony, and spoke to many there: Human and Rooter, of
course, and Valentine, Ela, Ouanda, and Miro.
He had another visit to make, however. A visit he had made several times before, always to be
rebuffed, sent away without a word. This time, though, Novinha came out to speak with him. And
instead of being filled with rage and grief, she seemed quite calm.
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