Only the computer had not deleted it. Or if it had, the deletion had been intercepted by the supposed estate-management software and then sent on to the Giant without any editing at all, and without the knowledge of Petra Arkanian.

The Hive Queen communicated with her daughters continuously.

My mother never actually meant to send me a message at all. To the degree she even made a stab at it, she regarded it as a failure and deleted it unsent. The Giant tried to make something out of it. From ten hours of hologram, he had put together five minutes that might be comforting to Petra's children.

Comparatively speaking, Mother never thought of us at all. Just a few minutes among hours spent railing at or forgiving or pleading with the Giant.

The difference is that when a Hive Queen stops talking with her daughters, they die. When I realized that my mother had never even tried to talk to me, I deleted the file.

Of course, Carlotta undeleted it immediately and then made several backups on other ansible-linked computers on widely separated sites in the human-settled portion of the galaxy. There might come a time when she wanted to view it again. Perhaps a time when she would share it with her brothers -- wildly volatile Sergeant, placid-to-the-point-of-apathetic Ender.

But so far she had not looked at it a second time.

She didn't have to. Her memory was too good. She could play back every painful moment of the broadcast in her own mind.

That's where the Hive Queen was so tragic. There was no one left to play back anything. No children left to whom she could send a memory.

Tags: Orson Scott Card The Shadow Science Fiction