to be about sixty, by far the oldest man Ender had seen on Eros. He had a day's growth of
white whiskers that grizzled his face only slightly less than his close-cut hair. His face
sagged a little and his eyes were surrounded by creases and lines. He looked at Ender
with an expression that bespoke only apathy.
Ender turned back to the door and tried again to open it.
"All right," he said, giving up. "Why's the door locked?"
The old man continued to look at him blankly.
So this is a game, thought Ender. Well, if they want me to go to class, they'll unlock the
door. If they don't, they won't. I don't care.
Ender didn't like games where the rules could be anything and the objective was known
to them alone. So he wouldn't play. He also refused to get angry. He went through a
relaxing exercise as he leaned on the door, and soon he was calm again. The old man
continued to watch him impassively.
It seemed to go on for hours, Ender refusing to speak, the old man seeming to be a
Sometimes Ender wondered if he were mentally ill, escaped from some medical ward
somewhere in Eros, living out some insane fantasy here in Ender's room. But the longer it
went on, with no one coming to the door, no one looking for him, the more certain he
became that this was something deliberate, meant to disconcert him. Ender did not want
to give the old man the victory. To pass the time he began to do exercises. Some were
impossible without the gym equipment, but others, especially from his personal defense
class, he could do without any aids.
The exercises moved him around the room. He was practicing lunges and kicks. One
move took him near the old man, as he had come near him before, but this time the old
claw shot out and seized Ender's left leg in the middle of a kick. It pulled Ender off his
feet and landed him heavily on the floor.
Ender leapt to his feet immediately, furious. He found the old man sitting calmly, cross-
legged, not breathing heavily, as if he had never moved. Ender stood poised to fight, but
the other's immobility made it impossible for Ender to attack. What, kick the old man's
head off? And then explain it to Graff -- oh, the old man kicked me, and I had to get
He went back to his exercises; the old man kept watching.
Finally, tired and angry at this wasted day, a prisoner in his room, Ender went back to
his bed to get his desk. As he leaned over to pick up the desk, he felt a hand jab roughly
between his thighs and another hand grab his hair. In a moment he had been turned
upside down. His face and shoulders were being pressed into the floor by the old man's
knee, while his back was excruciatingly bent and his legs were pinioned by the old man's
Ender was helpless to use his arms, he couldn't bend his back to gain slack so he could
use his legs. In less than two seconds the old man had completely defeated Ender Wiggin.
"All right," Ender gasped. "You win."
The man's knee thrust painfully downward. "Since when," asked the man, his voice soft
and rasping, "do you have to tell the enemy when be has won?"
Ender remained silent.
"I surprised you once, Ender Wiggin. Why didn't you destroy tne immediately
afterward? Just because I looked peaceful? You turned your back on me. Stupid. You
have learned nothing. You have never had a teacher."
Ender was angry now, and made no attempt to control or conceal it. "I've had too many
teachers, how was I supposed to know you'd turn out to be a--"
"Au enemy, Ender Wiggin," whispered the old man. "I am your enemy, the first one
you've ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. No one
but the enemy will ever tell you what the enemy is going tu do. No one but the enemy
will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you
are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the only rules of the game
are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your
enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher."
Then the old man let Ender's legs fall. Because he still held Ender's head to the floor, the
boy couldn't use his arms to compensate, and his legs hit the surface with a loud crack
and a sickening pain. Then the old man stood and let Ender rise.
Slowly Ender pulled his legs under him, with a faint groan of pain. He knelt on all fours
for a moment, recovering. Then his right arm flashed out, reaching for his enemy. The
old man quickly danced back, and Ender's hand closed on air as his teacher's foot shot
forward to catch Ender on the chin.
Ender's chin wasn't there. He was lying flat on his back, spinning on the floor, and
during the moment that his teacher was off balance from his kick, Ender's feet smashed
into the old man's other leg. He fell in a heap -- but close enough to strike out and hit
Ender in the face. Ender couldn't find an arm or a leg that held still long enough to be
grabbed, and in the meantime blows were landing on his back and arms. Ender was
smaller -- he couldn't reach past the old man's flailing limbs. Finally he managed to pull
away and scramble back near the door.
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The old man was sitting cross-leged again, but now the apathy was gone. He was
smiling. "Better, this time, boy. But slow. You will have to be better with a fleet than you
are with your body or no one will be safe with you in command. Lesson learned?"
Ender nodded slowly. He ached in a hundred places.
"Good," said the old man. "Then we'll never have to have such a battle again. All the
rest with the simulator. I will program your battles now, not the computer; I will devise
the strategy of your enemy, and you will learn to be quick and discover what tricks the
enemy has for you. Remember, boy. From now on the enemy is more clever than you.
From now on the enemy is stronger than you. From now on you are always about to
The old man's face grew serious again. "You will be about to lose, Ender, but you will
win. You will learn to defeat the enemy. He will teach you how."
The teacher got up. "In this school, it has always been the practice for a young student to
be chosen by an older student. The two become companions, and the older boy teaches
the younger one everything he knows. Always they fight, always they compete, always
they are together. I have chosen you."
Ender spoke as the old man walked to the door. "You're too old to be a student."
"One is never too old to be a student of the enemy. I have learned from the buggers.
You will learn from me."
As the old man palmed the door open, Ender leaped into the air and kicked him in the
small of the back with both feet. He hit hard enough that he rebounded onto his feet, as
the old man cried out and collapsed on the floor.
The old man got up slowly, holding onto the door handle, his face contorted with pain.
He seemed disabled, but Ender didn't trust him. Yet in spite of his suspicion, he was
caught off guard by the old man's speed. In a moment he found himself on the floor near
the opposite wall, his nose and lip bleeding where his face had hit the bed. He was able to
turn enough to see the old man standing in the doorway, wincing and holding his back.
The old man grinned.
Ender grinned back. "Teacher," he said. "Do you have a name?"
"Mazer Rackham," said the old man. Then he was gone.
From then on, Ender was either with Mazer Rackham or alone. The old man rarely
spoke, but he was there; at meals, at tutorials, at the simulator, in his room at night.
Sometimes Mazer would leave, but always, when Mazer wasn't there, the door was
locked, and no one came until Mazer returned. Ender went through a week in which he
called him Jailor Rackham, Mazer answered to the name as readily as to his own, and
showed no sign that it bothered him at all. Ender soon gave it up.
There were compensations -- Mazer took Ender through the videos of the old batties
from the First Invasion and the disastrous defeats of the IF in the Second Invasion. These
were not pieced together from the censored public videos, but whole and continuous.
Since many videos were working in the major battles, they studied bugger tactics and
strategies from many angles. For the first time in his life, a teacher was pointing out
things that Ender had not already seen for himself. For the first time, Ender had found a
living mind he could admire.
"Why aren't you dead?" Ender asked him. "You fought your battle seventy years ago. I
don't think you're even sixty years old."
"The miracles of relativity," said Mazer. "They kept me here for twenty years after the
battle, even though I begged them to let me command one of the starships they launched
against the bugger home planet and the bugger colonies. Then they -- came to understand
some things about the way soldiers behave in the stress of battle."
"You've never been taught enough psyholgy to understand. Enough to say that they
realized that even though I would never be able to command the fleet -- I'd be dead
before the fleet even arrived -- I was still the only person able to understand the things I
understood about the buggers. I was, they realized, the only person who had ever
defeated the bugeers by intelligence rather than luck. They needed me here to teach the
person who *could* command the fleet."
"So they sent you out in a starship, got you up to a relativistic speed--"
"And then I turned around and came home. A very dull voyage, Ender. Fifty years in
space. Officially, only eight years passed for me, but it felt like five hundred. All so I
could teach the next commander everything I knew."
"Am I to be the commander, then?"
"Let's say that you're our best bet at present."
"There are others being prepared, too?"
"That makes me the only choice, then, doesn't it'?"
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"Except you. You're still alive, aren't you? Why not you?"
Mazer shook his head.
"Why not? You won before."
"I cannot be the commander for good and sufficient reasons."
"Show me how you beat the buggers, Mazer."
Mayer's face went inscruta ble.
"You've shown me every other battle seven times at least. I think I've seen ways to beat
what the buggers did before, but you've never shown me how you actually did beat
"The video is a very tightly kept secret, Ender."
"I know. I've pieced it together, partly. You, with your tiny reserve force, and their
armada, those great big heavy-bellied starships launching their swarms of fighters. You
dart in at one ship, fire at it, an explosion. That's where they always stop the clips. After
that, it's just soldiers going into bugger ships and already finding them dead inside."
Mazer grinned. "So much for tightly kept secrets. Come on, let's watch the video."
They were alone in the video room, and Ender palmed the door locked. "All right, let's
The video showed exactly what Ender had pieced together. Mazer's suicidal plunge into
the heart of the enemy formation, the single explosion, and then--
Nothing. Mazer's ship went on, dodged the shock wave, and wove his way among tOe
other bugger ships. They did not fire on him. They did not change course. Two of them
crashed into each other and exploded a needless collision that either pilot could have
avoided. Neither made the slightest movement.
Mazer sped up the action. Skipped ahead. "We waited for three hours," he said.
"Nobody could believe it." Then the IF ships began approaching the bugger starships.
Marines began their cutting and boarding operations. The videos showed the buggers
already dead at their posts.
"So you see," said Mazer, "you already knew all there was to see."
"Why did it happen?"
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"Nobody knows. I have my personal opinions. But there are plenty of scientists who tell
me I'm less than qualified to have opinions."
"You're the one who won the battle."
"I thought that qualified me to comment, too, but you know how it is. Xenobiologists
and xenopsychologists can't accept the idea that a starpilot scooped them by sheer
guesswork. I think they all hate me because, after they saw these videos, they had to live
out the rest of their natural lives here on Eros. Security, you know. They weren't happy."
"The buggers don't talk. They think to each other, and it's instantaneous like the philotic
effect. Like the ansible. But most people always thought that meant a controlled
comunication like language -- I think you a thought and then you answer me. I never
believed that. It's too immediate, the way they respond together to things. You've seen the
videos. They aren't conversing and deciding among possible courses of action. Every ship
acts like part of a single organism. It responds the way your body responds during
combat, different parts automatically, thoughtlessly doing everything they're supposed to
do. They aren't having a mental conversation between peopie with different thought
processes. All their thoughts are present, together, at once."
"A single person, and each bugger is like a hand or a foot?"
"Yes. I wasn't the first person to suggest it, but I was the first person to believe it. And
something else. Something so childish and stupid that the xenobiologists laughed me to
silence when I said it after the battle. The buggers are bugs. They're like ants and bees. A
queen, the workers. That was maybe a hundred million years ago, but that's how they
started, that kind of pattern. It's a sure thing none of the buggers we saw had any way of
making more little buggers. So when they evolved this ability to think together, wouldn't
they still keep the queen? Wouldn't the queen still be the center of the group? Why would
that ever change?"
"So it's the queen who controls the whole group."
"I had evidence, too. Not evidence that any of them could see. lt wasn't there in the First
Invasion, because that was exploratory. But the Second Invasion was a colony. To set up
a new hive, or whatever."
"And so they brought a queen."
"The videos of the Second Invasion, when they were destroying our fleets out in the
comet shell." He began to call them up and display the buggers' patterns. "Show me the
It was subtle. Ender couldn't see it for a long time. The bugger ships kept moving, all of
them. There was no obvious flagship, no apparent nerve center. But gradually, as Mazer
played the videos over and over again, Ender began to see the way that all the movements
focused on, radiated from a center point. The center point shifted, but it was obvious,
after he looked long enough, that the eyes of the fleet, the *I* of the fleet, the perspective
from which all decisions were being made, was one particular ship. He pointed it out.
"You see it. I see it. That makes two people out of all of those who have seen this video.
But it's true, isn't it."
"They make that ship move just like any other ship."
"They know it's their weak point."
"But you're right. That's the queen. But then you'd think that when you went for it, they
would have immediately focused all their power on you. They could have blown you out
of the sky."
"I know. That part I don't understand. Not that they didn't try to stop me -- they were
firing at me. But it's as if they really couldn't believe, until it was too late, that I would
actually kill the queen. Maybe in their world, queens are never killed, only captured, only
checkmated. I did something they didn't think an enemy would ever do."
"And when she died vhe others all died,"
"No, they just went stupid. The first ships we boarded, the buggers were still alive.
Organically. But they didn't move, didn't respond to anything, even when our scientists
vivisected some of them to see if we could learn a few more things about buggers. After a
while they all died. No will. There's nothing in those little bodies when the queen is
"Why don't they believe you?"
"Because we didn't find a queen."
"She got blown to pieces."
"Fortunes of war. Biology takes second place to survival. But some of them are coming
around to my way of thinking. You can't live in this place without the evidence staring
you in the face."
"What evidence is there in Eros?"
"Ender, look around you. Human beings didn't carve this place. We like taller ceilings,
for one thing. This was the buggers' advance post in the First Invasion. They carved this
place out before we even knew they were here. We're living in a bugger hive. But we
already paid our rent. lt cost the marines a thousand lives to clear them out of these
honeycombs, room by room. The buggers fought for every meter of it."
Now Ender understood why the rooms had always felt wrong to him. "I knew this
wasn't a human place."
"This was the treasure trove. If they had known we would win that first war, they
probably' would never have built this place. We learned gravity manipulation because
they enhanced the gravity here. We learned efficient use of stellar energy because they
blacked out this planet. In fact, that's how we discovered them. In a period of three days,
Eros gradually disappeared from telescopes. We sent a tug to find out why. It found out.
The tug transmitted its videos, including the buggers boarding and slaughtering the crew.
It kept right on transmitting through the entire bugger examination of the boat. Not until
they finally dismantled the entire tug did the transmissions stop. It was their blindness --
they never had to transmit anything by machine, and so with the crew dead, it didn't
occur to them that anybody could be watching."
"Why did they kill the crew?"
"Why not? To them, losing a few crew members would be like clipping your nails.
Nothing to get upset about. They probably thought they were routinely shutting down our
communications by turning off the workers running the tug. Not murdering living,
sentient beings with an independent genetic future. Murder's no big deal to them. Only
queen-killing, really, is murder, because only queen-killing closes off a genetic path."
"So they didn't know what they were doing."
"Don't start apologizing for them, Ender. Just because they didn't know they were
killing human beings doesn't mean they weren't killing human beings. We do have a right
to defend ourselves as best we can, and the only way we found that works is killing the
buggers before they kill us. Think of it this way. In all the bugger wars so far, they've
killed thousands and thousands of living, thinking beings. And in all those wars, we've
killed only one."
"If you hadn't killed the queen, Mazer, would we have lost the war?"
"I'd say the odds would have been three to two against us. I still think I could have
trashed their fleet pretty badly before they burned us out. They have great response time
and a lot of firepower, but we have a few advantages, too. Every single one of our ships
contains an intelligent human being who's thinking on his own. Every one of us is
capable of coming up with a brilliant solution to a problem. They can only come up with
one brilliant solution at a time. The buggers think fast, but they aren't smart all over. Even
when some incredibly timid and stupid commanders lost the major battles of the Second
Invasion, some of their subordinates were able to do real damage to the bugger fleet."
"What about when our invasion reaches them? Will we just get the queen again?"
"The buggers didn't learn interstellar travel by being dumb. That was a strategy that
could work only once. I suspect that we'll never get near a queen unless we actually make
it to their home planet. After all, the queen doesn't have to be with them to direct a battle.
The queen only has to be present to have little baby buggers. The Second invasion was a
colony -- the queen was coming to populate the Earth. But this time -- no, that won't
work. We'll have to beat them fleet by fleet. And because they have the resources of
dozens of star systems to draw on, my guess is they'll outnumber us by a lot, in every
Ender remembered his battle against two armies at once. And I thought they were
cheating. When the real war begins, it'll be like that every time. And there won't be any
gate I can go for.
"We've only got two things going for us, Ender. We don't have to aim particularly well.
Our weapons have great spread."
"Then we aren't using the nuclear missiles from the First and Second Invasions?"
"Dr. Device is much more powerful. Nuclear weapons, after all, were weak enough to
be used on Earth at one time. The Little Doctor could never be used on a planet. Still, I
wish I'd had one during the Second Invasion."
"How does it work?"
"I don't know, not well enough to build one. At the focal point of two beams, it sets up a
field in which molecules can't hold together anymore. Electrons can't be shared. How
much physics do you know, at that level?"
"We spend most of our time on astrophysics, but I know enough to get the idea."
"The field spreads out in a sphere, but it gets weaker the farther it spreads. Except that
where it actually runs into a lot of molecules, it gets stronger and starts over. The bigger
the ship, the stronger the new field."
"So each time the field hits a ship, it sends out a new sphere--"
"And if their ships are too close together, it can set up a chain that wipes them all out.
Then the field dies down, the molecules come back together, and where you had a ship,
you now have a lump of dirt with a lot of iron molecules in it. No radioactivity, no mess.
Just dirt. We may be able to trap them close together on the first battle, but they learn
fast. They'll keep their distance from each other."
"So Dr. Device isn't a missile -- I can't shoot around corners.
"That's right. Missiles wouldn't do any good now. We learned a lot from them in the
First Invasion, but they also learned from us -- how to set up the Ecstatic Shield, for
"The Little Doctor penetrates the shield?"
"As if it weren't there. You can't see through the shield to aim and focus the beams, but
since the generator of the Ecstatic Shield is always in the exact center, it isn't hard to
figure it out."
"Why haven't I ever been trained with this?"
"You always have. We just let the computer tend to it for you. Your job is to get into a
superior strategic position and choose a target. The shipboard computers are much better
at aiming the Doctor than you are."
"Why is it called Dr. Device?"
"When it was developed, it was called a Molecular Detachment Device. M.D. Device."
Ender still didn't understand.
"M.D. The initials stand for Medical Doctor, too. M.D. Device, therefore Dr. Device. It
was a joke." Ender didn't see what was funny about it.
They had changed the simulator. He could still control the perspective and the degree of
detail, but there were no ship's controls anymore. Instead, it was a new panel of levers,
and a small headset with earphones and a small microphone.
The technician who was waiting there quickly explained how to wear the headset.
"But how do I control the ships?" asked Ender.
Mazer explained. He wasn't going to control ships anymore. "You've reached the next
phase of your training. You have experience in every level of strategy, but now it's time
for you to concentrate on commanding an entire fleet. As you worked with toon leaders
in Battle School, so now you will work with squadron leaders. You have been assigned
three dozen such leaders to train. You must teach them intelligent tactics; you must learn
their strengths and limitations; you must make them into a whole."
"When will they come here?"
"They're already in place in their own simulators. You will speak to them through the
headset. The new levers on your control panel enable you to see from the perspective of
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