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The Pequeninos (Portuguese for "little ones"), or piggies, are a fictional alien species in the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card. They are first introduced in the book Speaker for the Dead. The Pequeninos are portrayed as forest-dwelling and technologically primitive, but incredibly intelligent species able to learn languages extremely quickly. They are given the nickname "piggy" by the colonists of the planet Lusitania where part of the series is set due to their pig-like appearance.
It was learned at the end of Speaker for the Dead that the pequeninos exhibit an extreme case of sexual dimorphism, a form of paedogenesis, and the unique plant/animal symbiosis that characterizes all life on their native planet of Lusitania. Taking this symbiosis to the extreme, pequeninos actually metamorphize from animal to plant. This interesting combination evolved in response to the virus known as the descolada.
It is important to note that the pequeninos have their own language and that the terms used below to describe their social and reproductive structures are thus bastardizations of human terms. Because the human terms (i.e. wife, brother, etc.) pertain specifically to the human reproductive structure, applying them to a different structure, such as that of the pequeninos, strains them somewhat.
Female Pequeninos reach sexual maturity while juvenile and before developing sentience. They are impregnated while still in their non-sentient (worm-like) infancy, by the fathertrees that are described in detail below. Referred to by pequeninos as little mothers, these female infants lack a birth canal and consequently do not survive the "birth" of their children. Embryotic pequeninos gain the strength to survive by eating their way out of their mothers' bodies, as it is the only way to exit their body.
This process takes place within the "birthing place", or mothertree of the pequenino tribe. Following birth, pequeninos of both sexes lead what is called the "first life" or "life of darkness". This stage is spent entirely within the mothertree. Most female infants do not pass this stage of development, instead dying as they deliver the next generation. However, a small number of females, who are sterile or selected for the role, progress past this stage to become wives, the matriarchs of the tribe. The matriarchs require a form of avoidance speech of any ambulatory males that desire to communicate with them.
When a new mothertree is needed (as when a tribe moves to a new forest), one of the wives enters into a process of metamorphosis similar to the one used in creating a fathertree. This process is described in detail below.
Male children eventually grow to their "second life" or "half-lit life" and leave the mothertree, finally entering the outside world. In this life, males are called brothers and compete for social status by hunting and foraging and waging war against other tribes. They also perform the honorific task of carrying little mothers to and from fathertrees for reproduction. It is in this stage that pequeninos most resemble humans in appearance and speech.
It is only in the "third life" or "life in the full light" that male pequeninos gain reproductive faculties. Hence, entering this stage is a privilege awarded only to males with the highest social standing. This is a decision usually made by the wives. Male pequeninos given this honor are ritualistically vivisected by a fellow brother and, through a delicate process of organ positioning, transfer their consciousness(es) into the trees that grow from their "second life"-corpses.
Fathertrees are indistinguishable from trees in appearance, but have limited movement capabilities. This mobility is used to communicate with the pequenino tribe via the Father's Language, a language consisting of the rhythmic beating of the Fathertree's trunk with sticks. The Fathertree then adjusts the shape and size of its internal cavities to alter the tone. Fathertrees can also communicate with each other via their philotic connections. The term "life in the full light" refers to the Fathertree's direct access to this philotic plane of existence. Fathertrees impregnate the little mothers brought to them with the pollen on their bark.
If a pequenino male dies without the proper rituals, he becomes a brothertree, which fails to retain full consciousness. It is from these trees that the pequeninos get wood for their tools and houses. By using the Father's Language, the pequeninos are able to tell the brothertrees what tools they need and the brother tree will shed portions of themselves in the form of the requested tools.
Fictional history within the series
The pequeninos were discovered on the planet Lusitania 1886 years after the formation of the human ruling body Starways Congress (around 3066 years after Ender's Xenocide, i.e. around AD 5250) by a group of Brazilian colonists of Roman Catholic religion.
This was only the second contact between humans and intelligent alien life, the Formics being the first, and Starways Congress decided to impose strict limitations on any kind of contact between pequeninos and humans — if any mistake were to occur it would be on the side of too little association, not too much.
Since preventing the piggies from knowing of the humans' existence was already impossible, other limits were imposed: the small colony of Milagre, Portuguese for "Miracle", was entirely surrounded by a high pain-stimulating fence intended to prevent both humans and pequeninos from crossing it. The only ones allowed to pass the fence were the scientist studying the pequeninos and his or her assistant, and they were never allowed to ask questions that reveals too much of human lifestyle to the pequeninos, to answer pequenino questions about humans or to bring with them any equipment whatsoever, other than the clothes they wore.
However, all these measures ended up eventually proving a complete failure — partly because the pequeninos were able to chew a native grass with anesthetic properties to cross the fence in secret and observe humans from up close. Also because the human xenologers' own feelings of compassion were making them unable to coldly observe the pequeninos even in times of suffering, without moving to help them. Reluctantly at first and systematically later on, Libo and his assistants taught the pequeninos the use of arrows and other undiscovered tools, the basics of herding and agriculture, and they even modified certain human plants to make them better fit for pequenino consumption. No barrier on cultural contamination lasted either—Miro and Ouanda ended up offering the pequeninos printouts of The Hive Queen and The Hegemon as well as a copy of the Gospel of John.
Two dark stains in the history of human-pequenino relationship were the brutal killings of the first two xenologers, Pipo Figueira and 17 years later his son Libo Figueira, at the hands of the pequeninos. In both cases each of them had been asked to bring a pequenino, Mandachuva and Leaf-eater respectively, to the "third life" to celebrate a recent accomplishment. Not understanding the pequenino transformations, in both times the human xenologers refused, preferring to sacrifice their own lives in the process — the piggies, likewise not understanding that the humans lacked the ability to pass on to a "third life", killed the xenologers thinking they were honoring them. For more details see the section on notable pequeninos.
The history of the pequeninos came to a radical turn with the coming of Ender Wiggin to the planet, who at the time was also seeking a planet suitable to relocate the one surviving Formic Hive Queen. The artificial intelligence Jane travelling with him, wishing to bring matters to a head, revealed to Starways Congress all the violations that the xenologers had committed to help the pequeninos: as a result the colony was faced with the prospect of forced removal. In response the human colony was forced to fully rebel against Starways Congress, taking down the fence and signing a treaty with the pequeninos.
That treaty ensured that technological and scientific know-how would no longer be kept secret from the pequeninos who eagerly wished to learn how to reach the stars: all barriers to communication would be broken down. At the same time all pequenino tribes entering that agreement would no longer be allowed to engage into aggressive war against other tribes. Pequenino law would apply within the forest, while human law within the colony and land given to them, and the bugger queen would likewise be allowed a place on the planet. Lusitania now transformed into the home of three species, and the third species would act as arbiter in all disputes between the other two.
This treaty was signed in ink and then sealed by blood as Ender Wiggin helped the pequenino called "Human" to his third life — by the rules of the treaty, the first and last time a human being would so help a pequenino. After this was accomplished, Ender Wiggin wrote the "Life of Human" as the third piece to accompany "The Hive Queen" and "The Hegemon" as the story of the three known intelligent species of the galaxy.
- Rooter: One of the first pequeninos introduced in the series, Rooter was the most inquisitive of the piggies and had a strong relationship with Libo before he was abruptly brought into his third life as a father-tree.
- Mandachuva: The first crisis in human-pequenino relations occurred with the death of the first xenologer, Pipo Figueira, at the hands of the pequeninos. When Pipo discovered that the Descolada virus, which had nearly destroyed the human population of Lusitania, was a part of the pequeninos' normal physiology, he went to share that information with the pequeninos. The pequenino Mandachuva brought that news back to the wives, along with the implication that the humans were not all-powerful and godlike, and that in some respects pequeninos were even more powerful than humans. It was a revelation to be rewarded, but when Pipo was asked to bring Mandachuva to the "third life", Pipo, not understanding the nature of pequenino transformation, thought he was being asked to kill Mandachuva. He refused, preferring to lose his own life in the process. On their side Mandachuva, and the pequeninos in general, thought that they were rewarding Pipo, bringing him on to his third life, not understanding that no such thing existed for humans.
- Leaf-eater: Seventeen years later after the incident of Pipo and Mandachuva, the new xenologer and Pipo's son, Libo Figueira, suffered a similar fate. The piggy Leaf-eater had convinced the wives to let many more little mothers conceive than normal, and then convinced Libo to help them out with the famine that they were sure to face. It was an enormous risk because if Libo refused to help that whole generation of pequeninos would have starved, but the humans did in fact step in and provide assistance. After the first amaranth harvest, Libo was, like Pipo before him, asked to bring Leaf-eater to the third life, and, like his father, refused, thinking that he was saving Leaf-eater's life. Leaf-eater killed Libo, thinking on his part that he was helping Libo achieve his third life even though humans did not have a third life.
- Human: One of the sons of Rooter. Human was offered a chance to be brought into the third life as a fathertree, but only if Ender performed the ritual. Like Pipo and Libo before him, Ender showed extreme distaste at the concept, but he managed to do so with a full understanding of the consequences of his actions. Soon after, Ender wrote a biography called "Life of Human" in memory of his friend. The name "Human" was given to him by the Pequeninos "because he was very smart".
- Warmaker: A pequenino that died and entered the "third life" as a tree. He convinced a tribe of Pequeninos that the Descolada virus was a form of the Holy Ghost of Christ and that it should be spread to all humans on the Hundred Worlds. The tribe kidnapped and tortured Father Estevão, Ender's stepson, by exposing him to the virus for several days without medication. This event triggered a massacre of the pequeninos by the humans of Lusitania.
- Planter: A pequenino featured prominently in Xenocide. When it was revealed to him that the descolada was manipulating pequenino behavior, he became almost suicidal, insisting that he be deprived of the descolada until death to prove that the pequenino's sentience was not caused by the descolada. Although he never entered the third life as a fathertree, he was awarded the honor of retaining his name after being planted, something which no other brothertree was given.
- Glass: Similar to Planter, Glass was the subject of a descolada deprivation test. However, Glass's experiment was the testing of Ela's new recoloda virus. He successfully made the transition into the third life as fathertree.
- Fire-quencher: The pequenino representative who travels to the planet of the descoladores with Miro, Val, and the others in Children of the Mind.
- Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
- Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
- Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card