But Wiggin didn't take umbrage at Crazy Tom's correction. He just corrected him back, mildly.
"There *is* no combat without movement. Now, with your legs frozen like this, can you push off
Bean had no idea. Neither did anyone else.
"Bean?" asked Wiggin. Of course.
"I've never tried it," said Bean, "but maybe if you faced the wall and doubled over at the waist --"
"Right but wrong. Watch me. My back's to the wall, legs are frozen. Since I'm kneeling, my feet
are against the wall, Usually, when you push off you have to push downward, so you string out
your body behind you like a string *bean*, right?"
The group laughed. For the first time, Bean realized that maybe Wiggin wasn't being stupid to get
the whole group laughing at the little guy. Maybe Wiggin knew perfectly well that Bean was the
smartest kid, and had singled him out like this because he could tap into all the resentment the
others felt for him. This whole session was guaranteeing that the other kids would all think it was
OK to laugh at Bean, to despise him even though he was smart.
Great system, Wiggin. Destroy the effectiveness of your best soldier, make sure he gets no
However, it was more important to learn what Wiggin was teaching than to feel sullen about the
way he was teaching it. So Bean watched intently as Wiggin demonstrated a frozen-leg takeoff
from the wall. He noticed that Wiggin gave himself a deliberate spin. It would make it harder for
him to shoot as he flew, but it would also make it very hard for a distant enemy to focus enough
light on any part of him for long enough to get a kill.
I may be pissed off, but that doesn't mean I can't learn.
It was a long and grueling practice, drilling over and over again on new skills. Bean saw that
Wiggin wasn't willing to let them learn each technique separately. They had to do them all at once,
integrating them into smooth, continuous movements. Like dancing, Bean thought. You don't learn
to shoot and then learn to launch and then learn to do a controlled spin -- you learn to launch-shoot-
At the end, all of them dripping with sweat, exhausted, and flushed with the excitement of having
learned stuff that they'd never heard of other soldiers doing, Wiggin assembled them at the lower
door and announced that they'd have another practice during free time. "And don't tell me that free
time is supposed to be free. I know that, and you're perfectly free to do what you want. I'm
*inviting* you to come to an extra, *voluntary* practice."
They laughed. This group consisted entirely of kids who had *not* chosen to do extra battleroom
practice with Wiggin before, and he was making sure they understood that he expected them to
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change their priorities now. But they didn't mind. After this morning they knew that when Wiggin
ran a practice, every second was effective. They couldn't afford to miss a practice or they'd fall
significantly behind. Wiggin would get their free time. Even Crazy Tom wasn't arguing about it.
But Bean knew that he had to change his relationship with Wiggin right now, or there was no
chance that he would get a chance for leadership. What Wiggin had done to him in today's practice,
feeding on the resentment of the other kids for this little pipsqueak, would make it even less
plausible for Bean to be made a leader within the army -- if the other kids despised him, who would
So Bean waited for Wiggin in the corridor after the others had gone on ahead.
"Ho, Bean," said Wiggin.
"Ho, Ender," said Bean. Did Wiggin catch the sarcasm in the way Bean said his name? Was that
why he paused a moment before answering?
"*Sir*," said Wiggin softly.
Oh, cut out the merda, I've seen those vids, we all *laugh* at those vids. "I know what you're
doing, *Ender*, sir, and I'm warning you."
"I can be the best man you've got, but don't play games with me."
"Or I'll be the worst man you've got. One or the other." Not that Bean expected Wiggin to
understand what he meant by that. How Bean could only be effective if he had Wiggin's trust and
respect, how otherwise he'd just be the little kid, useful for nothing. Wiggin would probably take it
to mean that Bean meant to cause trouble if Wiggin didn't use him. And maybe he did mean that, a
"And what do you want?" asked Wiggin. "Love and kisses?"
Say it flat out, put it in his mind so plainly he can't pretend not to understand. "I want a toon."
Wiggin walked close to Bean, looked down at him. To Bean, though, it was a good sign that
Wiggin hadn't just laughed. "Why should you get a toon?"
"Because I'd know what to do with it."
"Knowing what to do with a toon is easy. It's getting them to do it that's hard. Why should any
soldier want to follow a little pinprick like you?"
Wiggin had got straight to the crux of the problem. But Bean didn't like the malicious way he said
it. "They used to call *you* that, I hear. I hear Bonzo Madrid still does."
Wiggin wasn't taking the bait. "I asked you a question, soldier."
"I'll earn their respect, sir, if you don't stop me."
To his surprise, Wiggin grinned. "I'm helping you."
"Nobody would notice you, except to feel sorry for the little kid. But I made sure they *all*
noticed you today."
You should have done your research, Wiggin. You're the only one who didn't know already who I
"They'll be watching every move you make," said Wiggin. "All you have to do to earn their
respect now is be perfect."
"So I don't even get a chance to learn before I'm being judged." That's not how you bring along
"Poor kid. Nobody's treatin' him fair."
Wiggin's deliberate obtuseness infuriated Bean. You're smarter than this, Wiggin!
Seeing Bean's rage, Wiggin brought a hand forward and pushed him until his back rested firmly
against the wall. "I'll tell you how to get a toon. Prove to me you know what you're doing as a
soldier. Prove to me you know how to use other soldiers. And then prove to me that somebody's
willing to follow you into battle. Then you'll get your toon. But not bloody well until."
Bean ignored the hand pressing against him. It would take a lot more than that to intimidate him
physically. "That's fair," he said. "*If* you actually work that way, I'll be a toon leader in a month."
Now it was Wiggin's turn to be angry. He reached down, grabbed Bean by the front of his flash
suit, and slid him up the wall so they stood there eye to eye. "When I say I work a certain way,
Bean, then that's the way I work."
Bean just grinned at him. In this low gravity, so high in the station, picking up little kids wasn't
any big test of strength. And Wiggin was no bully. There was no serious threat here.
Wiggin let go of him. Bean slid down the wall and landed gently on his feet, rebounded slightly,
settled again. Wiggin walked to the pole and slid down. Bean had won this encounter by getting
under Wiggin's skin. Besides, Wiggin knew he hadn't handled this situation very well. He wouldn't
forget. In fact, it was Wiggin who had lost a little respect, and he knew it, and he'd be trying to earn
Unlike you, Wiggin, I *do* give the other guy a chance to learn what he's doing before I insist on
perfection. You screwed up with me today, but I'll give you a chance to do better tomorrow and the
But when Bean got to the pole and reached out to take hold, he realized his hands were trembling
and his grip was too weak. He had to pause a moment, leaning on the pole, till he had calmed
That face-to-face encounter with Wiggin, he hadn't won that. It might even have been a stupid
thing to do. Wiggin *had* hurt him with those snide comments, that ridicule. Bean had been
studying Wiggin as the subject of his private theology, and today he had found out that all this time
Wiggin didn't even know Bean existed. Everybody compared Bean to Wiggin -- but apparently
Wiggin hadn't heard or didn't care. He had treated Bean like nothing. And after having worked so
hard this past year to earn respect, Bean didn't find it easy to be nothing again. It brought back
feelings he thought he left behind in Rotterdam. The sick fear of imminent death. Even though he
knew that no one here would raise a hand against him, he still remembered being on the edge of
dying when he first went up to Poke and put his life in her hands.
Is that what I've done, once again? By putting myself on this roster, I gave my future into this
boy's hands. I counted on him seeing in me what I see. But of course he couldn't. I have to give him
If there *was* time. For the teachers were moving quickly now, and Bean might not *have* a
year in this army to prove himself to Wiggin.
CHAPTER 14 -- BROTHERS
"You have results for me?"
"Interesting ones. Volescu *was* lying. Somewhat."
"I hope you're going to be more precise than that."
"Bean's genetic alteration was not based on a clone of Volescu. But they *are* related. Volescu is
definitely not Bean's father. But he is almost certainly Volescu's [sic -- should be "Bean's"] half-
uncle or a double cousin. I hope Volescu has a half-brother or double first cousin, because such a
man is the only possible father of the fertilized egg that Volescu altered."
"You have a list of Volescu's relatives, I assume?"
"We didn't need any family at the trial. And Volescu's mother was not married. He uses her
"So Volescu's father had another child somewhere only you don't even know his name. I thought
you knew everything."
"We know everything that we knew was worth knowing. That's a crucial distinction. We simply
haven't looked for Volescu's father. He's not guilty of anything important. We can't investigate
"Another matter. Since you know everything that you know is worth knowing, perhaps you can
tell me why a certain crippled boy has been removed from the school where I placed him?"
"Oh. Him. When you suddenly stopped touting him, we got suspicious. So we checked him out.
Tested him. He's no Bean, but he definitely belongs here."
"And it never crossed your mind that I had good reason for keeping him out of Battle School?"
"We assumed that you thought that we might choose Achilles over Bean, who was, after all, far
too young, so you offered only your favorite."
"You assumed. I've been dealing with you as if you were intelligent, and you've been dealing with
me as if I were an idiot. Now I see it should have been the exact reverse."
"I didn't know Christians got so angry."
"Is Achilles already in Battle School?"
"He's still recovering from his fourth surgery. We had to fix the leg on Earth."
"Let me give you a word of advice. Do *not* put him in Battle School while Bean is still there."
"Bean is only six. He's still too young to *enter* Battle School, let alone graduate."
"If you put Achilles in, take Bean out. Period."
"If you're too stupid to believe me after all my other judgments turned out to be correct, why
should I give you the ammunition to let you second-guess me? Let me just say that putting them in
school together is a probable death sentence for one of them."
"That rather depends on which one sees the other first."
"Achilles says he owes everything to Bean. He loves Bean."
"Then by all means, believe him and not me. But don't send the body of the loser back to me to
deal with. You bury your own mistakes."
"That sounds pretty heartless."
"I'm not going to weep over the grave of either boy. I tried to save both their lives. You apparently
seem determined to let them find out which is fittest in the best Darwinian fashion."
"Calm down, Sister Carlotta. We'll consider what you've told us. We won't be foolish."
"You've already been foolish. I have no high expectations for you now."
As days became weeks, the shape of Wiggin's army began to unfold, and Bean was filled with
both hope and despair. Hope, because Wiggin was setting up an army that was almost infinitely
adaptable. Despair, because he was doing it without any reliance on Bean.
After only a few practices, Wiggin had chosen his toon leaders -- every one of them a veteran
from the transfer lists. In fact, every veteran was either a toon leader or a second. Not only that,
instead of the normal organization -- four toons of ten soldiers each -- he had created five toons of
eight, and then made them practice a lot in half-toons of four men each, one commanded by the
toon leader, the other by the second.
No one had ever fragmented an army like that before. And it wasn't just an illusion. Wiggin
worked hard to make sure the toon leaders and seconds had plenty of leeway. He'd tell them their
objective and let the leader decide how to achieve it. Or he'd group three toons together under the
operational command of one of the toon leaders to handle one operation, while Wiggin himself
commanded the smaller remaining force. It was an extraordinary amount of delegation.
Some of the soldiers were critical at first. As they were milling around near the entrance to the
barracks, the veterans talked about how they'd practiced that day -- in ten groups of four.
"Everybody knows it's loser strategy to divide your army," said Fly Molo, who commanded A toon.
Bean was a little disgusted that the soldier with the highest rank after Wiggin would say
something disparaging about his commander's strategy. Sure, Fly was learning, too. But there's
such a thing as insubordination.
"He hasn't divided the army," said Bean. "He's just organized it. And there's no such thing as a
rule of strategy that you can't break. The idea is to have your army concentrated at the decisive
point. Not to keep it huddled together all the time."
Fly glared at Bean. "Just cause you little guys can hear us doesn't mean you understand what we're
"If you don't want to believe me, think what you want. My talking isn't going to make you
stupider than you already are."
Fly came at him, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him to the edge of his bunk.
At once, Nikolai launched himself from the bunk opposite and landed on Fly's back, bumping his
head into the front of Bean's bunk. In moments, the other toon leaders had pulled Fly and Nikolai
apart -- a ludicrous fight anyway, since Nikolai wasn't that much bigger than Bean.
"Forget it, Fly," said Hot Soup -- Han Tzu, leader of D toon. "Nikolai thinks he's Bean's big
"What's the kid doing mouthing off to a toon leader?" demanded Fly.
"You were being insubordinate toward our commander," said Bean. "And you were also
completely wrong. By your view, Lee and Jackson were idiots at Chancellorsville."
"He keeps doing it!"
"Are you so stupid you can't recognize the truth just because the person telling it to you is short?"
All of Bean's frustration at not being one of the officers was spilling out. He knew it, but he didn't
feel like controlling it. They needed to hear the truth. And Wiggin needed to have the support when
he was being taken down behind his back.
Nikolai was standing on the lower bunk, so he was as close to Bean as possible, affirming the
bond between them. "Come on, Fly," said Nikolai. "This is *Bean*, remember?"
And, to Bean's surprise, that silenced Fly. Until this moment, Bean had not realized the power that
his reputation had. He might be just a regular soldier in Dragon Army, but he was still the finest
student of strategy and military history in the school, and apparently everybody -- or at least
everybody but Wiggin -- knew it.
"I should have spoken with more respect," said Bean.
"Damn right," said Fly.
"But so should you."
Fly lunged against the grip of the boys holding him.
"Talking about Wiggin," said Bean. "You spoke without respect. 'Everybody knows it's loser
strategy to divide your army.'" He got Fly's intonation almost exactly right. Several kids laughed.
And, grudgingly, so did Fly.
"OK, right," said Fly. "I was out of line." He turned to Nikolai. "But I'm still an officer."
"Not when you're dragging a little kid off his bunk you're not," said Nikolai. "You're a bully when
you do that."
Fly blinked. Wisely, no one else said a thing until Fly had decided how he was going to respond.
"You're right, Nikolai. To defend your friend against a bully." He looked from Nikolai to Bean and
back again. "Pusha, you guys even look like brothers." He walked past them, heading for his bunk.
The other toon leaders followed him. Crisis over.
Nikolai looked at Bean then. "I was never as squished up and ugly as you," he said.
"And if I'm going to grow up to look like you, I'm going to kill myself now," said Bean.
"Do you have to talk to really *big* guys like that?"
"I didn't expect you to attack him like a one-man swarm of bee."
"I guess I wanted to jump on somebody," said Nikolai.
"You? Mr. Nice Guy?"
"I don't feel so nice lately." He climbed up on the bunk beside Bean, so they could talk more
softly. "I'm out of my depth here, Bean. I don't belong in this army."
"What do you mean?"
"I wasn't ready to get promoted. I'm just average. Maybe not that good. And even though this
army wasn't a bunch of heroes in the standings, these guys are good. Everybody learns faster than
me. Everybody *gets* it and I'm still standing there thinking about it."
"So you work harder."
"I *am* working harder. You -- you just get it, right away, everything, you see it all. And it's not
that I'm stupid. I always get it, too. Just ... a step behind."
"Sorry," said Bean.
"What are *you* sorry about? It's not *your* fault."
Yes it is, Nikolai. "Come on, you telling me you wish you weren't part of Ender Wiggin's army?"
Nikolai laughed a little. "He's really something, isn't he?"
"You'll do your part. You're a good soldier. You'll see. When we get into the battles, you'll do as
well as anybody."
"Eh, probably. They can always freeze me and throw me around. A big lumpy projectile weapon."
"You're not so lumpy."
"Everybody's lumpy compared to you. I've watched you -- you give away half your food."
"They feed me too much."
"I've got to study." Nikolai jumped across to his bunk.
Bean felt bad sometimes about having put Nikolai in this situation. But when they started
winning, a lot of kids outside of Dragon Army would be wishing they could trade places with him.
In fact, it was kind of surprising Nikolai realized he wasn't as qualified as the others. After all, the
differences weren't that pronounced. Probably there were a lot of kids who felt just like Nikolai.
But Bean hadn't really reassured him. In fact, he had probably reaffirmed Nikolai's feelings of
What a sensitive friend I am.
There was no point in interviewing Volescu again, not after getting such lies from him the first
time. All that talk of copies, and him the original -- there was no mitigation now. He was a
murderer, a servant of the Father of Lies. He would do nothing to help Sister Carlotta. And the need
to find out what might be expected of the one child who evaded Volescu's little holocaust was too
great to rely again on the word of such a man.
Besides, Volescu had made contact with his half-brother or double cousin -- how else could he
have obtained a fertilized egg containing his DNA? So Sister Carlotta should be able either to
follow Volescu's trail or duplicate his research.
She learned quickly that Volescu was the illegitimate child of a Romanian woman in Budapest,
Hungary. A little checking -- and the judicious use of her security clearance -- got her the name of
the father, a Greek-born official in the League who had recently been promoted to service on the
Hegemon's staff. That might have been a roadblock, but Sister Carlotta did not need to speak to the
grandfather. She only needed to know who he was in order to find out the names of his three
legitimate children. The daughter was eliminated because the shared parent was a male. And in
checking the two sons, she decided to go first to visit the married one.
They lived on the island of Crete, where Julian ran a software company whose only client was the
International Defense League. Obviously this was not a coincidence, but nepotism was almost
honorable compared to some of the outright graft and favor-trading that was endemic in the
League. In the long run such corruption was basically harmless, since the International Fleet had
seized control of its own budget early on and never let the League touch it again. Thus the
Polemarch and the Strategos had far more money at their disposal than the Hegemon, which made
him, though first in title, weakest in actual power and independence of movement.
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