officers' respect was justified-that they really were the good soldiers their officers believed them to
In Battle School, Bean had used his brief time in command of an army to teach himself-he led his
men to defeat every time, because he was more interested in learning what he could learn than in
racking up points. This was demoralizing to his soldiers, but he didn't carehe knew that he would
not be with them long, and that the time of the Battle School was nearly over. Here in Thailand,
though, he knew that the battles coming up were real, the stakes high, and his soldiers' lives would
be on the line. Victory, not information, was the goal. And, behind that obvious motive, there lay
an even deeper one. Sometime in the coming war-or even before, if he was lucky-he would be
using a portion of this strike force to make a daring rescue attempt, probably deep inside India.
There would be zero tolerance for error. He would bring Petra out. He would succeed.
He drove himself as hard as he drove any of his men. He made it a point to train alongside them-a
child going through all the exercises the men went through. He ran with them, and if his pack was
lighter it was only because he needed to carry fewer calories in order to survive. He had to carry
smaller, lighter weapons, but no one begrudged him that-besides, they saw that his bullets went to
the mark as often as theirs. There was nothing he asked them to do that he did not do himself And
when he was not as good as his men, he had no qualms about going to one of the best of them and
asking him for criticism and advice-which he then followed.
This was unheard of, for a commander to risk allowing himself to appear unskilled or weak in front
of his men. And Bean would not have done it, either, because the benefits did not usually outweigh
the risks. However, he was planning to go along with them on difficult maneuvers, and his training
had been theoretical and game-centered. He had to become a soldier, so he could be there to deal
with problems and emergencies during operations, so he could keep up with them, and so that, in a
pinch, he could join effectively in a fight.
At first, because of his youth and small stature, some of the soldiers had tried to make things easier
for him. His refusal had been quiet but firm. "I have to learn this too," he would say, and that was
the end of the discussion. Naturally, the soldiers watched him all the more intensely, to see how he
measured up to the high standard he set for them. They saw him tax his body to the utmost. They
saw that he shrank from nothing, that he came out of mudwork slimier than anyone, that he went
over obstacles just as high as anyone's, that he ate no better food and slept on no better a patch of
ground on maneuvers.
They did not see how much he modeled this strike force on the Battle School armies. With two
hundred men, he divided them into five companies of forty. Each company, like Ender's Battle
School army, was divided into five toons of eight men each. Every toon was expected to be able to
carry out operations entirely on its own; every company was expected to be able to deal with
complete independence. At the same time, he made sure that they became skilled observers, and
trained them to see the kinds of things he needed them to see.
"You are my eyes," he said. "You need to see what I would look for and what you would see. I will
always tell you what I am planning and why, so you will know if you see a problem I didn't
anticipate, which might change my plan. Then you will make sure I know. My best chance of
keeping you all alive is to know everything that is in your heads during battle, just as your best
chance of staying alive is to know everything that is in my head."
Of course, he knew that he could not tell them everything. No doubt they understood this as well.
But he spent an inordinate amount of time, by standard military doctrine, telling his men the
reasoning behind his orders, and he expected his company and toon commanders to do the same
with their men. "That way, when we give you an order without any reasons, you will know that it's
because there's no time for explanation, that you must act now-but that there is a good reason,
which we would tell you if we could."
Once when Suriyawong came to observe his training of his troops, he asked Bean if this was how
he recommended training soldiers throughout the whole army.
"Not a chance," said Bean.
"If it works for you, why wouldn't it work everywhere?"
"Usually you don't need it and can't afford the time," said Bean.
"But you can?"
"These soldiers are going to be called on to do the impossible. They aren't going to be sent to hold a
position or advance against an enemy posting. They're going to be sent to do difficult, complicated
things right under the eyes of the enemy, under circumstances where they can't go back for new
instructions but have to adapt and succeed. That is impossible if they don't understand the purpose
behind all their orders. And they have to know exactly how their commanders think so that trust is
perfect-and so they can compensate for their commanders' inevitable weaknesses."
"Your weaknesses?" asked Suriyawong.
"Hard to believe, Suriyawong, but yes, I have weaknesses."
That earned a faint smile from Surly-a rare prize. "Growing pains?" asked Suriyawong.
Bean looked down at his ankles. He had already had new uniforms made twice, and it was time for
a third go. He was almost as tall now as Suriyawong had been when Bean first arrived in Bangkok
half a year before. Growing caused him no pain. But it worried him, since it seemed unconnected
with any other sign of puberty. Why, after all these years of being undersized, was his body now so
determined to catch up?
He experienced none of the problems of adolescence-not the clumsiness that comes from having
limbs that swing farther than they used to, not the rush of hormones that clouded judgment and
distracted attention. So if he grew enough to carry better weapons, that could only be a plus.
"Someday I hope to be as fine a man as you," said Bean.
Suriyawong grunted. He knew that Surly would take it as a joke. He also knew that, somewhere
deeper than consciousness, Suriyawong would also take it at face value, for people always did. And
it was important for Suriyawong to have the constant reassurance that Bean respected his position
and would do nothing to undermine him.
That had been months ago, and Bean was able to report to Suriyawong a long list of possible
missions that his men had been trained for and could perform at any time. It was his declaration of
Then came the letter from Graff. Carlotta forwarded it to him as soon as she got it. Petra was alive.
She was probably with Achilles in Hyderabad.
Bean immediately notified Suriyawong that an intelligence source of a friend of his verified an
apparent nonaggression pact between India and Pakistan, and a movement of troops away from the
shared border-along with his opinion that this guaranteed an invasion of Burma within three weeks.
As to the other matters in the letter, Graff's assertion that Petra might have gone over to Achilles'
cause was, of course, absurd-if Graff believed that, he didn't know Petra. What alarmed Bean was
that she had been so thoroughly neutralized that she could seem to be on Achilles' side. This was
the girl who always spoke her mind no matter how much abuse it caused to come down on her
head. If she had fallen silent, it meant she was in despair.
Isn't she getting my messages? Has Achilles cut her off from information so thoroughly that she
doesn't even roam the nets? That would explain her failure to answer. But still, Petra was used to
standing alone. That wouldn't explain her silence.
It had to be her own strategy for mastery. Silence, so that Achilles would forget how much she
hated him. Though surely she knew him well enough by now to know that he never forgot
anything. Silence, so that she could avoid even deeper isolation-that was possible. Even Petra could
keep her mouth shut if every time she spoke up it cut her off from more and more information and
Finally, though, Bean had to entertain the possibility that Graff was right. Petra was human. She
feared death like anyone else. And if she had, in fact, witnessed the death of her two guardians in
Russia, and if Achilles had committed the killings with his own handswhich Bean believed likely-
then Petra was facing something she had never faced before. She could speak up to idiotic
commanders and teachers in Battle School because the worst that could happen was reprimands.
With Achilles, what she had to fear was death.
And the fear of death changed the way a person saw the world, Bean knew that. He had lived his
first years of life under the constant pressure of that fear. Moreover, he had spent a considerable
time specifically under Achilles' power. Even though he never forgot the danger Achilles posed,
even Bean had come to think Achilles wasn't such a bad guy, that in fact he was a good leader,
doing brave and bold things for his "family" of street urchins. Bean had admired him and learned
from him-right up to the moment when Achilles murdered Poke.
Petra, fearing Achilles, submitting to his power, had to watch him closely just to stay alive. And,
watching him, she would come to admire him. It's a common trait of primates to become
submissive and even worshipful toward one who has the power to kill them. Even if she fought off
those feelings, they would still be there.
But she'll awaken from it, when she's out from under that power. I did. She will. So even if Graff is
right, and Petra has become some thing of a disciple to Achilles, she will turn heretic once I get her
out. Still, the fact remained-he had to be prepared to bring her out even if she resisted rescue or
tried to betray them.
He added dartguns and will-bending drugs to his army's arsenal and training.
Naturally, he would need more hard data than he had if he was to mount an operation to rescue her.
He wrote to Peter, asking him to use some of his old Demosthenes contacts in the U.S. to get what
intelligence data they had on Hyderabad. Beyond that, Bean really had no resources to tap without
giving away his location. Because it was a sure thing that he couldn't ask Suriyawong for
information about Hyderabad. Even if Suriyawong was feeling favorably disposed-and he had been
sharing more information with Bean lately-there was no way to explain why he could possibly need
information about the Indian high command base at Hyderabad.
Only after days of waiting for Peter, while training his men and himself in the use of darts and
drugs, did Bean realize another important implication of discovering that Petra might actually be
cooperating with Achilles. Because none of their strategy was geared to the kind of campaign Petra
He requested a meeting with both Suriyawong and the Chakri. After all these months of never
seeing the Chakri's face, he was surprised that the meeting was granted-and without delay. He sent
his request when he got up at five in the morning. At seven, he was in the Chakri's office, with
Suriyawong beside him.
Suriyawong only had time to mouth, with annoyance, the words "What is this?" before the Chakri
started the meeting.
"What is this?" said the Chakri. He smiled at Suriyawong; he knew he was echoing Suriyawong's
question. But Bean also knew that it was a smile of mockery. You couldn't control this Greek boy
"I just found out information that you both need to know," said Bean. Of course, this implied that
Suriyawong; might not have recognized the importance of the information, so that Bean had to
bring it to Chakri Naresuan directly. "I meant no lack of respect. Only that you must be aware of
"What possible information can you have," said Chakri Naresuan, "that we don't already know?''
"Something that I learned from a well-connected friend," said Bean. "All our assumptions were
based on the idea of the Indian Army using the obvious strategy-to overwhelm Burmese and Thai
defenses with huge armies. But I just learned that Petra Arkanian, one of Ender Wiggin's jeesh,
may be working with the Indian Army. I never thought she would collaborate with Achilles, but the
possibility exists. And if she's directing the campaign, it won't be a flood of soldiers at all."
"Interesting," said the Chakri. "What strategy would she use?"
"She would still overwhelm you with numbers, but not with massed armies. Instead there would be
probing raids, incursions by smaller forces, each one designed to strike, draw your attention, and
then fade. They don't even have to retreat. They just live off the land until they can re-form later.
Each one is easily beaten, except that there's nothing to beat. By the time we get there, they're gone.
No supply lines. No vulnerabilities, just probe after probe until we can't respond to them all. Then
the probes start getting bigger. When we get there, with our thinly stretched forces, the enemy is
waiting. One of our groups destroyed, then another."
The Chakri looked at Suriyawong. "What Borommakot says is possible," said Suriyawong. "They
can keep up such a strategy forever. We never damage them, because they have an infinite supply
of troops, and they risk little on each attack. But every loss we suffer is irreplaceable, and every
retreat gives them ground."
"So why wouldn't this Achilles think of such a strategy on his own?" asked the Chakri. "He's a very
bright boy, they say."
"It's a cautious strategy," said Bean. "One that is very frugal with the lives of the soldiers. And it's
"And Achilles is never careful with the lives of his soldiers?"
Bean thought back to his days in Achilles' "family" on the streets of Rotterdam. Achilles was, in
fact, careful of the lives of the other children. He took great pains to make sure they were not
exposed to risk. But that was because his power base absolutely depended on losing none of them.
If any of the children had been hurt, the others would have melted away. That would not be the
case with the Indian Army. Achilles would spend them like autumn leaves.
Except that Achilles' goal was not to rule India. It was to rule the world. So it did matter that he
earn a reputation as a beneficent leader. That he seem to value the lives of his people.
"Sometimes he is, when it suits him," said Bean. "That's why he would follow such a plan if Petra
outlined it for him."
"So what would it mean," said the Chakri, "if I told you that the attack on Burma has just been
launched, and it is a massive frontal assault by huge Indian forces, just as you originally outlined in
your first memo to us?"
Bean was stunned. Already? The apparent nonaggression pact between India and Pakistan was only
a few days old. They could not possibly have amassed troops that quickly.
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