She turned away her face from him.
"You don't understand aiuas?"
"To say that all people have always existed. That we are older than the oldest gods ..."
"Well, sort of," said Peter. "Only aiuas on the Outside, they can't be said to exist, or at least not
any kind of meaningful existence. They're just ... there. Not even that, because there's no sense of
location, no there where they might be. They just are. Until some intelligence calls them, names
them, puts them into some kind of order, gives them shape and form."
"The clay can become a bear," she said, "but not as long as it rests cold and wet in the riverbank."
"Exactly. So there was Ender Wiggin and several other people who, with luck, you'll never need
to meet, taking the first voyage Outside. They weren't going anywhere, really. The point of that first
voyage was to get Outside long enough that one of them, a rather talented genetic scientist, could
create a new molecule, an extremely complex one, by the image she held of it in her mind. Or
rather her image of the modifications she needed to make in an existing... well, you don't have the
biology for it. Anyway, she did what she was supposed to do, she created the new molecule, calloo
callay, only the thing is, she wasn't the only person doing any creating that day."
"Ender's mind created you?" asked Wang-mu.
"Inadvertently. I was, shall we say, a tragic accident. An unhappy side effect. Let's just say that
everybody there, everything there, was creating like crazy. The aiuas Outside are frantic to be made
into something, you see. There were shadow starships being created all around us. All kinds of
weak, faint, fragmented, fragile, ephemeral structures rising and falling in each instant. Only four
had any solidity. One was that genetic molecule that Elanora Ribeira had come to create."
"One was you?"
"The least interesting one, I fear. The least loved and valued. One of the people on the ship was a
fellow named Miro, who through a tragic accident some years ago had been left somewhat
crippled. Neurologically damaged. Thick of speech, clumsy with his hands, lame when he walked.
He held within his mind the powerful, treasured image of himself as he used to be. So-- with that
perfect self-image, a vast number of aiuas assembled themselves into an exact copy, not of how he
was, but of how he once was and longed to be again. Complete with all his memories-- a perfect
replication of him. So perfect that it had the same utter loathing for his crippled body that he
himself had. So ... the new, improved Miro-- or rather the copy of the old, undamaged Miro--
whatever-- he stood there as the ultimate rebuke of the crippled one. And before their very eyes,
that old rejected body crumbled away into nothing."
Wang-mu gasped, imagining it. "He died!"
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"No, that's the point, don't you see? He lived. It was Miro. His own aiua-- not the trillions of aiuas
making up the atoms and molecules of his body, but the one that controlled them all, the one that
was himself, his will-- his aiua simply moved to the new and perfect body. That was his true self.
And the old one ..."
"Had no use."
"Had nothing to give it shape. You see, I think our bodies are held together by love. The love of
the master aiua for the glorious powerful body that obeys it, that gives the self all its experience of
the world. Even Miro, even with all his self-loathing when he was crippled, even he must have
loved whatever pathetic remnant of his body was left to him. Until the moment that he had a new
"And then he moved."
"Without even knowing that he had done so," said Peter. "He followed his love."
Wang-mu heard this fanciful tale and knew that it must be true, for she had overheard many a
mention of aiuas in the conversations between Han Fei-tzu and Jane, and now with Peter Wiggin's
story, it made sense. It had to be true, if only because this starship really had appeared as if from
nowhere on the bank of the river behind Han Fei-tzu's house.
"But now you must wonder," said Peter, "how I, unloved and unlovable as I know I am, came into
"You already said. Ender's mind."
"Miro's most intensely held image was of his own younger, healthier, stronger self. But Ender, the
images that mattered most in his mind were of his older sister Valentine and his older brother Peter.
Not as they became, though, for his real older brother Peter was long dead, and Valentine-- she has
accompanied or followed Ender on all his hops through space, so she is still alive, but aged as he
has aged. Mature. A real person. Yet on that starship, during that time Outside, he conjured up a
copy of her youthful self. Young Valentine. Poor Old Valentine! She didn't know she was so old
until she saw this younger self, this perfect being, this angel that had dwelt in Ender's twisted little
mind from childhood on. I must say, she's the most put-upon victim in all this little drama. To know
that your brother carries around such an image of you, instead of loving you as you really are--
well, one can see that Old Valentine-- she hates it, but that's how everyone thinks of her now,
including, poor thing, herself-- one can see that Old Valentine is really having her patience tried."
"But if the original Valentine is still alive," said Wang-mu, puzzled, "then who is the young
Valentine? Who is she really? You can be Peter because he's dead and no one is using his name, but
"Quite puzzling, isn't it?" said Peter. "But my point is that whether he's dead or not, I'm not Peter
Wiggin. As I said before, I'm not myself."
He leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. The hologram above the terminal turned
to look at him. He had not touched the controls.
"Jane is with us," said Wang-mu.
"Jane is always with us," said Peter. "Ender's spy."
The hologram spoke. "Ender doesn't need a spy. He needs friends, if he can get them. Allies at
Peter reached idly for the terminal and turned it off. The hologram disappeared.
This disturbed Wang-mu very much. Almost as if he had slapped a child. Or beaten a servant.
"Jane is a very noble creature, to treat her with such disrespect."
"Jane is a computer program with a bug in the id routines."
He was in a dark mood, this boy who had come to take her into his starship and spirit her away
from the world of Path. But dark as his mood might be, she understood now, with the hologram
gone from the terminal, what she had seen. "It isn't just because you're so young and the holograms
of Peter Wiggin the Hegemon are of a mature man," said Wang-mu.
"What," he said impatiently. "What isn't what?"
"The physical difference between you and the Hegemon."
"What is it, then?"
"He looks-- satisfied."
"He conquered the world," said Peter.
"So when you have done the same, you will get that look of satisfaction?"
"I suppose so," said Peter. "It's what passes for a purpose in my life. It's the mission Ender has
sent me on."
"Don't lie to me," said Wang-mu. "On the riverbank you spoke of the terrible things I did for the
sake of my ambition. I admit it-- I was ambitious, desperate to rise out of my terrible lowborn state.
I know the taste of it, and the smell of it, and I smell it coming from you, like the smell of tar on a
hot day, you stink of it."
"Ambition? Has a stench?"
"I'm drunk with it myself."
He grinned. Then he touched the jewel in his ear. "Remember, Jane is listening, and she tells
Wang-mu fell silent, but not because she was embarrassed. She simply had nothing to say, and
therefore said nothing.
"So I'm ambitious. Because that's how Ender imagined me. Ambitious and nasty-minded and
"But I thought you were not yourself," she said.
His eyes blazed with defiance. "That's right, I'm not." He looked away. "Sorry, Gepetto, but I can't
be a real boy. I have no soul."
She didn't understand the name he said, but she understood the word soul. "All my childhood I
was thought to be a servant by nature. To have no soul. Then one day they discovered that I have
one. So far it has brought me no great happiness."
"I'm not speaking of some religious idea. I'm speaking of the aiua. I haven't got one. Remember
what happened to Miro's broken-down body when his aiua abandoned it."
"But you don't crumble, so you must have an aiua after all."
"I don't have it, it has me. I continue to exist because the aiua whose irresistible will called me into
existence continues to imagine me. Continues to need me, to control me, to be my will."
"Ender Wiggin?" she asked.
"My brother, my creator, my tormentor, my god, my very self."
"And young Valentine? Her too?"
"Ah, but he loves her. He's proud of her. He's glad he made her. Me he loathes. Loathes, and yet
it's his will that I do and say every nasty thing. When I'm at my most despicable, remember that I
do only what my brother makes me do."
"Oh, to blame him for--"
"I'm not blaming, Wang-mu. I'm stating simple reality. His will is controlling three bodies now.
Mine, my impossibly angelic sister's, and of course his own very tired middle-aged body. Every
aiua in my body receives its order and place from his. I am, in all ways that matter, Ender Wiggin.
Except that he has created me to be the vessel of every impulse in himself that he hates and fears.
His ambition, yes, you smell his ambition when you smell mine. His aggression. His rage. His
nastiness. His cruelty. His, not mine, because I am dead, and anyway I was never like this, never
the way he saw me. This person before you is a travesty, a mockery! I'm a twisted memory. A
despicable dream. A nightmare. I'm the creature hiding under the bed. He brought me out of chaos
to be the terror of his childhood."
"So don't do it," said Wang-mu. "If you don't want to be those things, don't do them."
He sighed and closed his eyes. "If you're so bright, why haven't you understood a word I've said?"
She did understand, though. "What is your will, anyway? Nobody can see it. You don't hear it
thinking. You only know what your will is afterward, when you look back in your life and see what
"That's the most terrible trick he's played on me," said Peter softly, his eyes still closed. "I look
back on my life and I see only the memories he has imagined for me. He was taken from our family
when he was only five. What does he know of me or my life?"
"He wrote The Hegemon."
"That book. Yes, based on Valentine's memories, as she told them to him. And the public
documents of my dazzling career. And of course the few ansible communications between Ender
and my own late self before I-- he-- died. I'm only a few weeks old, yet I know a quotation from
Henry X, Part I, Owen Glendower boasting to Hotspur. Henry Percy. How could I know that?
When did I go to school? How long did I lie awake at night, reading old plays until I committed a
thousand favorite lines to memory? Did Ender somehow conjure up the whole of his dead brother's
education? All his private thoughts? Ender only knew the real Peter Wiggin for five years. It's not a
real person's memories I draw on. It's the memories Ender thinks that I should have."
"He thinks you should know Shakespeare, and so you do?" she asked doubtfully.
"If only Shakespeare were all he had given me. The great writers, the great philosophers. If only
those were the only memories I had."
She waited for him to list the troublesome memories. But he only shuddered and fell silent.
"So if you are really controlled by Ender, then ... you are him. Then that is yourself. You are
Andrew Wiggin. You have an aiua."
"I'm Andrew Wiggin's nightmare," said Peter. "I'm Andrew Wiggin's self-loathing. I'm everything
he hates and fears about himself. That's the script I've been given. That's what I have to do."
He flexed his hand into a fist, then extended it partway, the fingers still bent. A claw. The tiger
again. And for a moment, Wang-mu was afraid of him. Only a moment, though. He relaxed his
hands. The moment passed. "What part does your script have in it for me?"
"I don't know," said Peter. "You're very smart. Smarter than I am, I hope. Though of course I have
such incredible vanity that I can't really believe that anyone is actually smarter than I am. Which
means that I'm all the more in need of good advice, since I can't actually conceive of needing any."
"You talk in circles."
"That's just part of my cruelty. To torment you with conversation. But maybe it's supposed to go
farther than that. Maybe I'm supposed to torture you and kill you the way I so clearly remember
doing with squirrels. Maybe I'm supposed to stake your living body out in the woods, nailing your
extremities to tree roots, and then open you up layer by layer to see at what point the flies begin to
come and lay eggs in your exposed flesh."
She recoiled at the image. "I have read the book. I know the Hegemon was not a monster!"
"It wasn't the Speaker for the Dead who created me Outside. It was the frightened boy Ender. I'm
not the Peter Wiggin he so wisely understood in that book. I'm the Peter Wiggin he had nightmares
about. The one who flayed squirrels."
"He saw you do that?" she asked.
"Not me," he said testily. "And no, he never even saw him do it. Valentine told him later. She
found the squirrel's body in the woods near their childhood home in Greensboro, North Carolina,
on the continent of North America back on Earth. But that image fit so tidily into his nightmares
that he borrowed it and shared it with me. That's the memory I live with. Intellectually, I can
imagine that the real Peter Wiggin was probably not cruel at all. He was learning and studying. He
didn't have compassion for the squirrel because he didn't sentimentalize it. It was simply an animal.
No more important than a head of lettuce. To cut it up was probably as immoral an act as making a
salad. But that's not how Ender imagined it, and so that's not how I remember it."
"How do you remember it?"
"The way I remember all my supposed memories. From the outside. Watching myself in horrified
fascination as I take a fiendish delight in cruelty. All my memories prior to the moment I came to
life on Ender's little voyage Outside, in all of them I see myself through someone else's eyes. A
very odd feeling, I assure you."
"Now I don't see myself at all," he said. "Because I have no self. I am not myself."
"But you remember. You have memories. Of this conversation, already you remember it. Looking
at me. You must, surely."
"Yes," he said. "I remember you. And I remember being here and seeing you. But there isn't any
self behind my eyes. I feel tired and stupid even when I'm being my most clever and brilliant."
He smiled a charming smile and now Wang-mu could see again the true difference between Peter
and the hologram of the Hegemon. It was as he said: Even at his most self-deprecating, this Peter
Wiggin had eyes that flashed with inner rage. He was dangerous. You could see it looking at him.
When he looked into your eyes, you could imagine him planning how and when you would die.
"I am not myself," said Peter.
"You are saying this to control yourself," said Wang-mu, guessing but also sure she was right.
"This is your incantation, to stop yourself from doing what you desire."
Peter sighed and leaned over, laying his head down on the terminal, his ear pressed against the
cold plastic surface.
"What is it you desire?" she said, fearful of the answer.
"Go away," he said.
"Where can I go? This great starship of yours has only one room."
"Open the door and go outside," he said.
"You mean to kill me? To eject me into space where I'll freeze before I have time to suffocate?"
He sat up and looked at her in puzzlement. "Space?"
His confusion confused her. Where else would they be but in space? That's where starships went,
Except this one, of course.
As he saw understanding come to her, he laughed aloud. "Oh, yes, you're the brilliant one, they've
remade the entire world of Path to have your genius!"
She refused to be goaded.
"I thought there would be some sensation of movement. Or something. Have we traveled, then?
Are we already there?"
"In the twinkling of an eye. We were Outside and then back Inside at another place, all so fast that
only a computer could experience our voyage as having any duration at all. Jane did it before I
finished talking to her. Before I said a word to you."
"Then where are we? What's outside the door?"
"We're sitting in the woods somewhere on the planet Divine Wind. The air is breathable. You
won't freeze. It's summer outside the door."
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