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Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Saga 1 - Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card


  by Orson Scott Card

  (c) 1985 by Orson Scott Card

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1 -- Third

  Chapter 2 -- Peter

  Chapter 3 -- Graff

  Chapter 4 -- Launch

  Chapter 5 -- Games

  Chapter 6 -- The Giant's Drink

  Chapter 7 -- Salamander

  Chapter 8 -- Rat

  Chapter 9 -- Locke and Demosthenes

  Chapter 10 -- Dragon

  Chapter 11 -- Veni Vidi Vici

  Chapter 12 -- Bonzo

  Chapter 13 -- Valentine

  Chapter 14 -- Ender's Teacher

  Chapter 15 -- Speaker for the Dead

  Chapter 1 -- Third

  "I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."

  "That's what you said about the brother."

  "The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability."

  "Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He's too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else's will."

  "Not if the other person is his enemy."

  "So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?"

  "If we have to."

  "I thought you said you liked this kid."

  "If the buggers get him, they'll make me look like his favourite uncle."

  "All right. We're saving the world, after all. Take him."


  The monitor lady smiled very nicely and tousled his hair and said, "Andrew, I suppose by now you're just absolutely sick of having that horrid monitor. Well, I have good news for you. That monitor is going to come out today. We're going to just take it right out, and it won't hurt a bit."

  Ender nodded. It was a lie, of course, that it wouldn't hurt a bit. But since adults always said it when it was going to hurt, he could count on that statement as an accurate prediction of the future. Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.

  "So if you'll just come over here, Andrew, just sit right up here on the examining table. The doctor will be in to see you in a moment."

  The monitor gone. Ender tried to imagine the little device missing from the back of his neck. I'll roll over on my back in bed and it won't be pressing there. I won't feel it tingling and taking up the heat when I shower.

  And Peter won't hate me any more. I'll come home and show him that the monitor's gone, and he'll see that I didn't make it, either. That I'll just be a normal kid now, like him. That won't be so bad then. He'll forgive me that I had my monitor a whole year longer than he had his. We'll be-- not friends, probably. No, Peter was too dangerous. Peter got so angry. Brothers, though. Not enemies, not friends, but brothers-- able to live in the same house. He won't hate me, he'll just leave me alone. And when he wants to play buggers and astronauts, maybe I won't have to play, maybe I can just go read a book.

  But Ender knew, even as he thought it, that Peter wouldn't leave him alone. There was something in Peter's eyes, when he was in his mad mood, and whenever Ender saw that look, that glint, he knew that the one thing Peter would not do was leave him alone. I'm practising piano, Ender. Come turn the pages for me. Oh, is the monitor boy too busy to help his brother? Is he too smart? Got to go kill some buggers, astronaut? No, no, I don't want your help. I can do it on my own, you little bastard, you little Third.

  "This won't take long, Andrew," said the doctor.

  Ender nodded.

  "It's designed to be removed. Without infection, without damage. But there'll be some tickling, and some people say they have a feeling of something missing. You'll keep looking around for something. Something you were looking for, but you can't find it, and you can't remember what it was. So I'll tell you. It's the monitor you're looking for, and it isn't there. In a few days that feeling will pass."

  The doctor was twisting something at the back of Ender's head. Suddenly a pain stabbed through him like a needle from his neck to his groin. Ender felt his back spasm, and his body arched violently backward; hi head struck the bed. He could feel his legs thrashing, and his hands were clenching each other, wringing each other so tightly that they ached.

  "Deedee!" shouted the doctor. "I need you!" The nurse ran in, gasped. "Got to relax these muscles. Get it to me, now! What are you waiting for!"

  Something changed hands; Ender could not see. He lurched to one side and fell off the examining table. "Catch him!" cried the nurse.

  "Just hold him steady."

  "You hold him, doctor, he's too strong for me."

  "Not the whole thing! You'll stop his heart."

  Ender felt a needle enter his back just above the neck of his shirt. It burned, but wherever in him the fire spread, his muscles gradually unclenched. Now he could cry for the fear and pain of it.

  "Are you all right, Andrew?" the nurse asked.

  Andrew could not remember how to speak. They lifted him onto the table. They checked his pulse, did other things; he did not understand it all.

  The doctor was trembling; his voice shook as he spoke. "They leave these things in the kids for three years, what do they expect? We could have switched him off, do you realise that? We could have unplugged his brain for all time."

  "When does the drug wear off'?" asked the nurse.

  "Keep him here for at least an hour. Watch him. If he doesn't start talking in fifteen minutes, call me. Could have unplugged him forever. I don't have the brains of a bugger."


  He got back to Miss Pumphrey's class only fifteen minutes before the closing bell. He was still a little unsteady on his feet.

  "Are you all right, Andrew?" asked Miss Pumphrey.

  He nodded.

  "Were you ill?"

  He shook his head.

  "You don't look well."

  "I'm OK."

  "You'd better sit down, Andrew."

  He started toward his seat, but stopped. Now what was I looking for? I can't think what I was looking for.

  "Your seat is over there," said Miss Pumphrey.

  He sat down, but it was something else he needed, something he had lost. I'll find it later.

  "Your monitor," whispered the girl behind him.

  Andrew shrugged.

  "His monitor," she whispered to the others.

  Andrew reached up and felt his neck. There was a band aid. It was gone. He was just like everybody else now.

  "Washed out, Andy?" asked a boy who sat across the aisle and behind him. Couldn't think of his name. Peter. No, that was someone else.

  "Quiet, Mr. Stilson," said Miss Pumphrey. Stilson smirked.

  Miss Pumphrey talked about multiplication. Ender doodled on his desk, drawing contour maps of mountainous islands and then telling his desk to display them in three dimensions from every angle. The teacher would know, of course, that he wasn't paying attention, but she wouldn't bother him. He always knew the answer, even when she thought he wasn't paying attention.

  In the corner of his desk a word appeared and began marching around the perimeter of the desk. It was upside down and backward at first, but Ender knew what it said long before it reached the bottom of the desk and turned right side up.


  Ender smiled. He was the one who had figured out how to send messages and make them march-- even as his secret enemy called him names, the method of delivery praised him. It was not his fault he was a Third. It was the government's idea, they were the ones who authorised it-- how else could a Third like Ender have got into school? And now the monitor was gone. The experiment entitled
Andrew Wiggin hadn't worked out alter all. If they could, he was sure they would like to rescind the waivers that had allowed him to be born at all. Didn't work, so erase the experiment.

  The bell rang. Everyone signed off their desks or hurriedly typed in reminders to themselves. Some were dumping lessons or data into their computers at home. A few gathered at the printers while something they wanted to show was printed out. Ender spread his hands over the child-size keyboard near the edge of the desk and wondered what it would feel like to have hands as large as a grown-up's. They must feel so big and awkward, thick stubby fingers and beefy palms. Of course, they had bigger keyboards-- but how could their thick fingers draw a fine line, the way Ender could, a thin line so precise that he could make it spiral seventy-nine times from the centre to the edge of the desk without the lines ever touching or overlapping. It gave him something to do while the teacher droned on about arithmetic. Arithmetic! Valentine had taught him arithmetic when he was three.

  "Are you all right. Andrew?"

  "Yes, ma'am."

  "You'll miss the bus."

  Ender nodded and got up. The other kids were gone. They would be waiting, though, the bad ones. His monitor wasn't perched on his neck, hearing what heard and seeing what he saw. They could say what they liked. They might even hit him now-- no one could see any more, and so no one would come to Ender's rescue. There were advantages to the monitor, and he would miss them.

  It was Stilson, of course. He wasn't bigger than most other kids, but he was bigger than Ender. And he had some others with him. He always did.

  "Hey, Third."

  Don't answer. Nothing to say.

  "Hey, Third, we're talkin' to you, Third, hey bugger-lover, we're talkin' to you."

  Can't think of anything to answer. Anything I say will make it worse. So will saying nothing.

  "Hey, Third, hey, turd, you flunked out, huh? Thought you were better than us, but you lost your little birdie, Thirdie, got a band aid on your neck."

  "Are you going to let me through?" Ender asked.

  "Are we going to let him through? Should we let him through?" They all laughed. "Sure we'll let you through. First we'll let your arm through, then your butt through, then maybe a piece of your knee."

  The others chimed in now. "Lost your birdie, Thirdie. Lost your birdie, Thirdie."

  Stilson began pushing him with one hand, someone behind him then pushed him toward Stilson.

  "See-saw, marjorie daw," somebody said.



  This would not have a happy ending. So Ender decided that he'd rather not be the unhappiest at the end. The next time Stilson's arm came out to push him, Ender grabbed at it. He missed.

  "Oh, gonna fight me, huh? Gonna fight me, Thirdie?"

  The people behind Ender grabbed at him, to hold him.

  Ender did not feel like laughing, but he laughed. "You mean it takes this many of you to fight one Third?"

  "We're people, not Thirds, turd face. You're about as strong as a fart!"

  But they let go of him. And as soon as they did, Ender kicked out high and hard, catching Stilson square in the breastbone. He dropped. It took Ender by surprise he hadn't thought to put Stilson on the ground with one kick. It didn't occur to him that Stilson didn't take a fight like this seriously, that he wasn't prepared for a truly desperate blow.

  For a moment, the others backed away and Stilson lay motionless. They were all wondering if he was dead. Ender, however, was trying to figure out a way to forestall vengeance. To keep them from taking him in a pack tomorrow. I have to win this now, and for all time, or I'll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse. Ender knew the unspoken rules of manly warfare, even though he was only six. It was forbidden to strike the opponent who lay helpless on the ground; only an animal would do that.

  So Ender walked to Stilson's supine body and kicked him again, viciously, in the ribs. Stilson groaned and rolled away from him. Ender walked around him and kicked him again, in the crotch. Stilson could not make a sound; he only doubled up and tears streamed out of his eyes.

  Then Ender looked at the others coldly. "You might be having some idea of ganging up on me. You could probably beat me up pretty bad. But just remember what I do to people who try to hurt me. From then on you'd be wondering when I'd get you, and how bad it would be." He kicked Stilson in the face. Blood from his nose spattered the ground nearby. "It wouldn't be this bad," Ender said. "It would be worse."

  He turned and walked away. Nobody followed him, He turned a corner into the corridor leading to the bus stop. He could hear the boys behind him saying, "Geez. Look at him. He's wasted." Ender leaned his head against the wall of the corridor and cried until the bus came. I am just like Peter. Take my monitor away, and I am just like Peter.

  Chapter 2 -- Peter

  "All right, it's off. How's he doing?"

  "You live inside somebody's body for a few years, you get used to it. I look at his face now, I can't tell what's going on. I'm not used to seeing his facial expressions. I'm used to feeling them."

  "Come on, we're not talking about psychoanalysis here. We're soldiers, not witch doctors. You just saw him beat the guts out of the leader of a gang."

  "He was thorough. He didn't just beat him, he beat him deep. Like Mazer Rackham at the--"

  "Spare me. So in the judgement of the committee, he passes.

  "Mostly. Let's see what he does with his brother, now that the monitor's off."

  "His brother. Aren't you afraid of what his brother will do to him?"

  "You were the one who told me that this wasn't a no-risk business."

  "I went back through some of the tapes. I can't help it. I like the kid. I think we're going to screw him up."

  "Of course we are. It's our job. We're the wicked witch. We promise gingerbread, but we eat the little bastards alive."


  "I'm sorry, Ender," Valentine whispered. She was looking at the band aid on his neck.

  Ender touched the wall and the door closed behind him. "I don't care. I'm glad it's gone."

  "What's gone?" Peter walked into the parlour, chewing on a mouthful of bread and peanut butter.

  Ender did not see Peter as the beautiful ten-year-old boy that grown-ups saw, with dark, thick, tousled hair and a face that could have belonged to Alexander the Great. Ender looked at Peter only to detect anger or boredom, the dangerous moods that almost always led to pain. Now as Peter's eyes discovered the band aid on his neck, the tell-tale flicker of anger appeared.

  Valentine saw it too. "Now he's like us," she said, trying to soothe him before he had time to strike.

  But Peter would not be soothed. "Like us? He keeps the little sucker till he's six years old. When did you lose yours? You were three. I lost mine before I was five. He almost made it, little bastard, little bugger."

  This is all right, Ender thought. Talk and talk, Peter. Talk is fine.

  "Well, now your guardian angels aren't watching over you," Peter said. "Now they aren't checking to see if you feel pain, listening to hear what I'm saying, seeing what I'm doing to you. How about that? How about it?"

  Ender shrugged.

  Suddenly Peter smiled and clapped his hands together in a mockery of good cheer. "Let's play buggers and astronauts," he said.

  "Where's Mum?" asked Valentine.

  "Out," said Peter. "I'm in charge."

  "I think I'll call Daddy."

  "Call away," said Peter. "You know he's never in."

  "I'll play," Ender said.

  "You be the bugger," said Peter.

  "Let him be the astronaut for once," Valentine said.

  "Keep your fat face out of it, fart mouth," said Peter. "Come on upstairs and choose your weapons."

  It would not be a good game, Ender knew it was not a question of winning. When kids played in the corridors, whole troops of them, the buggers never won, and sometimes the games got mean. But here in their flat, the game would start mean, and the bu
gger couldn't just go empty and quit the way buggers did in the real wars. The bugger was in it until the astronaut decided it was over.

  Peter opened his bottom drawer and took out the bugger mask. Mother had got upset at him when Peter bought it, but Dad pointed out that the war wouldn't go away just because you hid bugger masks and wouldn't let your kids play with make-believe laser guns. The better to play the war games, and have a better chance of surviving when the buggers came again.

  If I survive the games, thought Ender. He put on the mask. It closed him in like a hand pressed tight against his face. But this isn't how it feels to he a bugger, thought Ender. They don't wear this face like a mask, it is their face. On their home worlds, do the buggers put on human masks, and play? And what do they call its? Slimies, because we're so soft and oily compared to them?

  "Watch out, Slimy," Ender said.

  He could barely see Peter through the eye holes. Peter smiled at him. "Slimy, huh? Well, bugger-wugger, let's see how you break that face of yours."

  Ender couldn't see it coming, except a slight shift of Peter's weight; the mask cut our his peripheral vision. Suddenly there was the pain and pressure of a blow to the side of his head; he lost balance, fell that way.

  "Don't see too well, do you, bugger?" said Peter.

  Ender began to take off the mask. Peter put his toe against Ender's groin. "Don't take off the mask," Peter said.

  Ender pulled the mask down into place, took his hands away.

  Peter pressed with his foot. Pain shot through Ender; he doubled up.

  "Lie flat, bugger. We're gonna vivisect you, bugger. At long last we've got one of you alive, and we're going to see how you work."

  "Peter, stop it," Ender said.

  "Peter, stop it. Very good. So you buggers can guess our names. You can make yourselves sound like pathetic, cute little children so we'll love you and be nice to you. But it doesn't work. I can see you for what you really are. They meant you to be human, little Third, but you're really a bugger, and now it shows."