Re: In or out?
My dear Quince, I'm quite aware of the difference between combat command and flying a colony ship for a few dozen lightyears. If you feel your usefulness in space is over, then by all means, retire with full benefits. But if you stay in, and remain in near space, I can't promise you promotion within the I.F.
We suddenly find ourselves afflicted with peace, you see. Always a disaster for those whose careers have not reached their natural apex.
The colony ship I have offered you is not, contrary to your too-often-stated opinion (try discretion now and then, Quince, and see if it might not work better), a way to send you to oblivion. Retirement is oblivion, my friend. A forty- or fifty-year voyage means that you will outlive all of us who remain behind. All your friends will be dead. But you'll be alive to make new friends. And you'll be in command of a ship. A nice, big, fast one.
This is what the whole fleet faces. We have heroes out there who fought this war that The Boy is credited with winning. Have we forgotten them? ALL our most significant missions will involve decades of flight. Yet we must send our best officers to command them. So at any given moment, most of our best officers will be strangers to everyone at CentCom because they've been in flight for half a lifetime.
Eventually, ALL the central staff will be star voyagers. They will look down their noses at anyone who has NOT taken decades-long flights between stars. They will have cut themselves loose from Earth's timeline. They will know each other by their logs, transmitted by ansible.
What I'm offering you is the only possible source of career-making voyages: Colony ships.
And not only "a" colony ship, but one whose governor is a thirteen-year-old boy. Are you seriously going to tell me that you don't understand that you are not his "nanny," you are being entrusted with the highly responsible position of making sure that The Boy stays as far from Earth as possible, while also making sure that he is a complete success in his new assignment so that later generations cannot judge that he was not treated well?
Naturally, I did not send you this letter, and you did not read it. Nothing in this is to be construed as a secret order. It is merely my personal observation about the opportunity that you have been offered by a polemarch who believes in your potential to be one of the great admirals of the I.F.
Are you in? Or out? I need to draw up the papers one way or the other within the week.
Your friend, Cham
At the bottom of the ladderway that would take them from the shuttle up into the starship, Ender stopped and faced Valentine. "You can still go back now," he said. "You can see that I'll be fine. The people of the colony that I've met so far are very nice and I won't be lonely."
"Are you afraid to go up the ladder first?" asked Valentine. "Is that why you've stopped to make a speech?
So Ender went up the ladder and Valentine followed, making her the last of the colonists to cut the thread connecting them to Earth.
Below them, the hatch of the shuttle closed, and then the hatch of the ship. They stood in the airlock until a door opened and there was Admiral Quincy Morgan, smiling, his hand already extended. How long did he strike that pose before the door opened, Ender wondered. Was he there, perhaps, for hours, posed like a mannequin?
"Welcome, Governor Wiggin," said Morgan.
"Admiral Morgan," said Ender, "I'm not governor of anything until I set foot on the planet. On this voyage, on your ship, I'm a student of the Xenobiology and adapted agriculture of Shakespeare colony. I hope, though, that when you're not too busy, I'll have a chance to talk to you and learn from you about the military life."
"You're the one who's seen combat," said Morgan.
"I played a game," said Ender. "I saw nothing of war. But there are colonists on Shakespeare who made this voyage many years ago, and never had a hope of returning home to Earth. I want to get some idea of what their training was, their life."
"You'll have to read books for that," said Morgan, still smiling. "This is my first interstellar voyage, too. In fact, as far as I know, no one has ever made two of them. Even Mazer Rackham only made a single voyage, which ended at its starting place."
"Why, I believe you're right, Admiral Morgan," said Ender. "It makes us all pioneers together, here in your ship." There -- had he said "your ship" often enough to reassure Morgan that he knew the order of authority here?
Morgan's smile was unchanged. "I'll be happy to talk to you any time. It's an honor to have you on my ship, sir."
"Please don't 'sir' me, sir," said Ender. "We both know that I'm not a real admiral, and I don't want the colonists to hear anyone call me by a title other than Mr. Wiggin, and preferably not that. Let me be Ender. Or Andrew, if you want to be formal. Would that be all right, or would it interfere with shipboard discipline?"
"I believe," said Admiral Morgan, "that it won't interfere with discipline, and so it shall be entirely as you prefer. Now Ensign Akbar will show you and your sister to your stateroom. Since so few passengers are making the voyage awake, most families have quarters of similar size. I say this because of your memo requesting that you not have an exorbitantly oversized space on the ship."
"Is your family aboard, sir?" asked Ender.
"I wooed my superiors and they gave birth to my career," said Morgan. "The International Fleet has been my only bride. Like you, I travel as a bachelor."
Ender grinned at him. "I think your bachelorhood and mine are both going to be much in question before long."
"Our mission is reproduction of the species beyond the bounds of Earth," said Morgan. "But the voyage will go more smoothly if we guard our bachelorhood zealously while in transit."
"Mine has the safety of ignorant youth," said Ender, "and yours the distance of authority. Thank you for the great honor of greeting us here. I've underslept a little the past few days, and I hope I'll be forgiven for indulging myself in about eighteen hours of rest. I fear I'll miss the beginning of acceleration."
"Everyone will, Mr. Wiggin," said Morgan. "The inertia suppression on this ship is superb. In fact, we are already accelerating at the rate of two gravities, and yet the only apparent gravity is imparted by the centrifugal force of the spin of the ship."
"Which is odd," said Valentine, "since centrifugal force is also inertial, and you'd think it would also be suppressed."
"The suppression is highly directionalized, and affects only the forward movement of the ship," said Morgan. "I apologize for ignoring you so nearly completely, Ms. Wiggin. I'm afraid your brother's fame and rank have distracted me and I forgot courtesy."
"None is owed to me," said Valentine with a light laugh. "I'm just along for the ride."
With that they separated and Ensign Akbar led them to their stateroom. It was not a huge space, but it was well equipped, and it took the ensign several minutes to show them where their clothing, supplies, and desks had been stowed, and how to use the ship's internal communications system. He insisted on setting down both their beds and then raising them up again and locking them out of the way, so they'd seen a complete demonstration. Then he showed them how to lower and raise the privacy screen that turned the stateroom into two.
"Thank you," said Ender. "Now I think I'll take the bed down again so I can sleep."
Ensign Akbar was full of apologies and took both the beds down again, ignoring their protests that the point of his demonstration was so they could do it themselves. When he was finally done, he paused at the door. "Sir," he said, "I know I shouldn't ask. But. May I shake your hand, sir?"
Ender thrust out his hand and smiled warmly. "Thank you for helping us, Ensign Akbar."
"It's an honor to have you aboard this ship, sir." Then Akbar saluted. Ender returned the salute and the ensign left and the door closed behind him.
Ender went to his bed and sat down on it. Valentine sat on hers, directly across from him. Ender looked at her and started to laugh. She joined in his laughter.
They laughed until Ender was forced to lie down and rub the tears out of his eyes.
"May I ask," said Valentine, "if we're both laughing at the same thing?"
"Why? What were you laughing at?"
"Everything," said Valentine. "The whole picture-taking thing before we left, and Morgan greeting us so warmly, as if he weren't preparing to stab you in the back, and Ensign Akbar's hero worship despite your insistence that you were just 'Mr. Wiggin' -- which is, of course, an affectation too. I was laughing at the whole of it."
"I see that all of that is funny, if you look at it that way. I was too busy to be amused with it. I was just trying to stay awake and say all the right things."
"So what were you laughing at?"
"It was pure delight. Delight and relief. I'm not in charge of anything now. For the duration of the voyage, it's Morgan's ship, and I'm a free man for the first time in my life."
"Man?" asked Valentine. "You're still shorter than me."
"But Val," said Ender, "I have to shave every week now, or the whiskers show."
They laughed again, just a little. Then Valentine spoke the command to bring down the barrier between their beds. Ender stripped down to his underwear, crawled under a single sheet -- nothing more was needed in this climate-controlled environment -- and in moments he was asleep.
Public spaces were few on the "Good Ship Lollipop" (as Valentine called it), also known as "IFcoltrans1" (which was painted on its side and broadcast continuously from its beacon), or "Mrs. Morgan" (as the ship's officers and crew called it behind their captain's back).
There was the mess hall, where no one could linger long, since one dining shift or another started every hour. The library was for serious research by ship's personnel; passengers had full access to the contents of the library on their own desks in their staterooms and so were not particularly welcome in the library itself.
The officers' and crew's lounges were open to passengers by invitation only, and such invitations were rare. The theater was good for viewing holos and vids, or for gathering all the passengers for a meeting or announcement, but private conversations tended to be shushed, with some hostility.
For conviviality, this left the observation deck, whose walls only offered a view when the stardrive was off and the ship was maneuvering close to a planet; and the few open spaces in the cargo hold -- which would increase in number and size as they used up supplies during the voyage.
It was to the observation deck, then, that Ender betook himself every day after breakfast. Valentine was surprised at his apparent sociability. On Eros, he had been private, reluctant to converse, obsessed with his studies. Now he greeted everyone who entered the observation deck and chatted amiably with anyone who wanted his time.
"Why do you let them interrupt you?" asked Valentine one night, after they returned to their stateroom.
"They don't interrupt me," said Ender. "My purpose is to converse with them; I do my other work when no one wants me."
"So you're being their governor."
"I am not," said Ender. "I'm not governor of anything at the moment. This is Admiral Morgan's ship, and I have no authority here."
It was Ender's standard answer when anyone wanted him to solve a problem -- to judge a dispute, to question a rule, to ask for a change or a privilege. "I'm afraid that my authority doesn't begin until I set foot on the surface of the planet Shakespeare," he'd say. "But I'm sure that you'll get satisfaction from whatever officer Admiral Morgan has delegated to deal with us passengers."
"But you're an admiral, too," several people mentioned. A few even knew that Ender had a higher rank, among admirals, than Morgan. "You outrank him."
"He's captain of the ship," said Ender, always smiling. "There is no higher authority than that."
Valentine wasn't going to settle for such answers, not when they were alone. "Mierda, mi hermano," said Valentine. "If you don't have any official duties and you're not being governor, then why are you spending so much time being -- affable."
"Presumably," said Ender, "we will arrive at our destination someday. When that happens, I need to know every person who will stay with the colony. I need to know them well. I need to know how they fit together in their families, among the friendships they form on the ship. I need to know who speaks Common well and who has trouble communicating outside their native language. I must know who is belligerent, who is needy of attention, who is creative and resourceful, what education they have, how they think about unfamiliar ideas. For the passengers who are in cold storage, I had only a half hour meeting with each group. For those who are making the voyage awake, like us, I have much more time. Time enough, maybe, to find out why they chose not to sleep through the trip. Afraid of stasis? Hoping for some advantage when we get there? As you can see, Valentine, I'm working constantly out there. It makes me tired."
"I've been thinking of teaching English," said Valentine. "Offering a class."
"Not English," said Ender. "Common. It's spelled better -- no ughs and ighs -- and there's some special vocabulary and there's no subjunctive, no 'whom,' and the word 'of' is spelled as the single letter 'v'. To name just a few of the differences."
"So I'll teach them Common," said Valentine. "What do you think?"
"I think it'll be harder than you think, but it would really help the people who took the class -- if the ones who need it take it."
"So I'll see what language-teaching software there is in the library."
"First, though, I hope you'll check with Admiral Morgan."
"It's his ship. Offering a course can be done only with his permission."
"Why would he care?"
"I don't know that he does care. I just know that on his ship, we have to find out if he cares before we start something as formal and regular as a class."
As it turned out, the passenger liaison officer, a colonel named Jarrko Kitunen, was already planning to organize Common classes and he accepted Valentine as an instructor the moment she volunteered. He also flirted with her shamelessly in his Finnish accent, and she found that she rather enjoyed his company. With Ender always busy talking with somebody or reading whatever he'd just received by ansible or downloaded from the library, it was good to have a pleasant way to pass the time. She could only stand to work on her history of Battle School for a few hours at a time, so it was a relief to have human company.
She had come on this voyage for Ender, but until he was willing to take her fully into his confidence, she had no obligation to mope around wishing for more of Ender's soul than he was willing to share. And if it turned out that Ender never wished to take her into his life, to restore their old bond, then she would need to make a life for herself, wouldn't she?
Not that Jarrko would be that life. For one thing, he was at least ten years older than she was. For another, he was crew, which meant that when the ship was loaded up with whatever artifacts and trade goods and supplies Shakespeare was able to supply them with, it would be turning around and heading back to Earth, or at least to Eros. She would not be on it. So any relationship with Jarrko was going to end. He might be fine with that, but Valentine was not.
As Father always said, "Monogamy is what works best for any society in the long run. That's why half of us are born male and half female -- so we come out even."
So Valentine wasn't always with Ender; she was busy, she had things to do, she had a life of her own. Which was more than Peter had ever given her, so she rather enjoyed it.
It happened, though, that Valentine was with Ender in the Observation Deck, working on the book, when an Italian woman and her teenage daughter walked up to Ender and stood there, saying nothing, waiting to be noticed. Valentine knew them because they were both in her Common class.
Ender noticed them at once and smiled at them. "Dorabella and Alessandra Toscano," he said. "What a pleasure to meet you at last."
"We were not ready," said Dorabella in her halting Italian accent. "On till your sister could taught us English good enough." Then she giggled. "I mean 'Common.'"
"I wish I spoke Italian," said Ender. "It's a beautiful language."
"The language of love," said Dorabella. "Not is French, nasty language of kissy lips and spitting."
"French is beautiful, too," said Ender, laughing at the way she had imitated the French accent and attitude.
"To French and deaf peoples," said Dorabella.
"Mother," said Alessandra. She had very little Italian accent, but rather spoke like an educated Brit. "There are French speakers among the colonists, and he can't offend any of them."
"Why will they be any offended? They make the kissy mouth to talk, we pretend we not to notice it?"
Valentine laughed aloud. Dorabella really was quite funny, full of attitude. Sassy, that was the word. Even though she was old enough to be Ender's mother -- considering her daughter was Ender's age -- she could be seen as flirting with Ender. Maybe she was one of those women who flirted with everybody because they knew of no other way to relate to them.
"Now we are ready," said Dorabella. "Your sister teaching us good, so we ready for our half hour with you."
Ender blinked. "Oh, did you think -- I took a half-hour with all the colonists who were going to travel in stasis because that's all the time I had before they became unavailable. But the colonists on the ship -- we have a year or two, plenty of time. No need to schedule a half hour. I'm here all the time."
"But you are very important man, saving of the whole world."
Ender shook his head. "That was my old job. Now I'm a kid with a job that's too big for me. So sit down, let's talk. You're learning English very well -- Valentine has mentioned you, actually, and how hard you work -- and your daughter has no accent at all, she's fluent."
"Very intelligent girl my Alessandra," said Dorabella. "And pretty, too, yes? You think so? Nice figure for fourteen."
"Mother!" Alessandra shrank down into a chair. "Am I a used car? Am I a street vendor's sandwich?"
"Street vendors," sighed Dorabella. "I miss them yet."
"Already," Valentine corrected her.
"I am already miss them," said Dorabella, proudly correcting herself. "So small Shakespeare planet will be. No city! What you said, Alessandra? Tell him."
Alessandra looked flustered, but her mother pressed her. "I just said that there are more characters in Shakespeare's plays than there will be colonists on the planet named after him."
Ender laughed. "What a thought! You're right, we probably couldn't put on all of his plays without having to use several colonists for more than one part. Not that I have any particular plan to put on a Shakespearean play. Though maybe we should. What do you think? Would anyone want to be ready to put on a play for the colonists who are already there?"
"We don't know whether they like the new name," said Valentine. She also thought: does Ender have any idea how much work it is to put on a play?
"They know the name," Ender assured her.
"But do they like it?" asked Valentine.
"It doesn't matter," said Alessandra. "Not enough women ruoli, parti -- how do you say it?" She turned to Valentine helplessly.
"'Role,'" said Valentine. "Or 'part.'"
"Oh." Alessandra giggled. It was not an annoying giggle, it was a rather charming one. It didn't make her sound stupid. "The same words! Of course."
"She's right," said Valentine. "The colonists are about half and half, and Shakespeare's plays are what, five percent female parts?"
"Oh well," said Ender. "It was a thought."
"I wish we could put on a play," said Alessandra. "But maybe we can read them together?"
"In theater," said Dorabella. "The place for holografi. We all read. Me, I listen, my English is not good enough."
"It's a good idea," said Ender. "Why don't you organize it, Signora Toscano?"
"Please call me of Dorabella."
"There's no 'of' in that sentence," said Alessandra. "There isn't in Italian, either."
"English has so much 'of,' everywhere 'of,' except where I put it!" As Dorabella laughed, she touched Ender's arm. Probably Dorabella didn't see how he suppressed his instinct to flinch -- Ender didn't like being touched by strangers, he never had. But Valentine saw it. He was still Ender.
"I've never seen a play," said Ender. "I've read them, I've seen holos and vids of them, but I've never actually been in a room where people actually said the lines aloud. I could never put it together, but I'd love to be there and listen as it happens."
"Then you must!" said Dorabella. "You are governor, you make it happen!"
"I can't," said Ender. "Truly. You do it, please."
"No, I cannot," said Dorabella. "My English is too bad. Il teatro is for young persons. I will watch and listen. You and Alessandra do it. You are students, you are children. Romeo and Juliet!"
Could she possibly be any more obvious? though Valentine.
"Mother thinks that if you and I are together a lot," said Alessandra, "we'll fall in love and get married."
Valentine almost laughed aloud. So the daughter wasn't a co-conspirator, she was a draftee.
Dorabella feigned shock. "I have no plan like such!"
"Oh, Mother, you've been planning it from the start. Even back in the town we came from --"
"Monopoli," said Ender.
"She was calling you a 'young man with prospects.' A likely candidate for my husband. My personal opinion is that I'm very young, and so are you."
Ender was busy mollifying the mother. "Dorabella, please, I'm not offended and of course I know you weren't planning anything. Alessandra is teasing me. Teasing us both."
"I'm not, but you can say whatever it takes to make Mother happy," said Alessandra. "Our lives together are one long play. She makes me ... not the star of my own autobiography. But Mother always sees the happy ending, right from the start."
Valentine wasn't sure what to make of the relationship between these two. The words were biting, almost hostile. Yet as she said them, Alessandra gave her mother a hug and seemed to mean it. As if the words were part of a long ritual between them, but they no longer were meant to sting.
Whatever was going on, between Ender and Alessandra, Dorabella seemed mollified. "I like the happy ending."
"We should put on a Greek play," said Alessandra. "Medea. The one where the mother kills her own children."
Valentine was shocked at this -- what a cruel thing to say in front of her mother. But no, from Dorabella's reaction Alessandra wasn't referring to her. For Dorabella laughed and nodded and said, "Yes, yes, Medea, spiteful mama!"
"Only we'll rename her," said Alessandra. "Isabella!"
"Isabella!" cried Dorabella at almost the same moment. They two of them laughed so hard they almost cried, and Ender joined with them.
Then, to Valentine's surprise, while the other two were still hiccuping through the end of their laughter, Ender turned to her and explained. "Isabella is Dorabella's mother. They had a painful parting."
Alessandra stopped laughing and looked at Ender searchingly -- but if Dorabella was surprised that Ender knew so much of their past, she didn't show it. "We come on this colony to be free of my perfect mother. Santa Isabella, we will not pray to you!"
Then Dorabella leapt to her feet and began to do some kind of dance, a waltz perhaps, holding an imaginary full skirt in one hand, and with the other hand tracing arcane patterns in the air as she danced. "Always I have a magic land where I can be happy, and I take my daughter there with me, always happy." Then she stopped and faced Ender. "Shakespeare colony is our magic land now. You are king of the ... folletti?" She looked to her daughter.
"Elfs," said Alessandra.
"Elves," said Valentine.
"I elfi!" cried Dorabella in delight. "Again same word! Elfo, elve!"
"Elf," said Valentine and Alessandra together.
"King of the elves," said Ender. "I wonder what email address I'll get for that one. ElfKing@Faerie.gov." He turned to Valentine. "Or is that the title Peter aspires to?"
Valentine smiled. "He's still torn between Hegemon and God," she said.
Dorabella didn't understand the reference to Peter. She returned to her dancing, and this time she sang a wordless but haunting tune with it. And Alessandra shook her head but still joined in the song, harmonizing with it. So she had heard it before and knew it and had sung with her mother. Their voices blended sweetly.
Valentine watched Dorabella's dance, fascinated. At first it had seemed like a childish, rather mad thing to do. Now, though, she could see that Dorabella knew she was being silly, but still meant it from the heart. It gave the movement, and her facial expression, a sort of irony that made it easy to forgive the silliness and affectation of it, while the sincerity turned it into something quite winning.
The woman isn't old, thought Valentine. She's still young and quite good looking. Beautiful, even, especially now, especially in this strange fairyish dance.
The song ended. Dorabella kept dancing in the silence.
"Mother, you can stop flying now," said Alessandra gently.
"But I can't," said Dorabella, and now she was openly teasing. "In this starship we fly for fifty years!"
"Forty years," said Ender.
"Two years," said Alessandra.
Apparently Ender liked the idea of doing a play, because he brought them all back to the topic. "Not Romeo and Juliet," he said. "We need a comedy, not a tragedy."
"The Merry Wives of Windsor," said Valentine. "Lots of women's parts."
"The Taming of the Shrew!" cried Alessandra, and Dorabella almost collapsed with laughter. Another reference, apparently, to Isabella.
And so it was that the plan was conceived for a play reading in the theater three days later -- days by ship's time, though the whole concept of time seemed rather absurd to Valentine, on this voyage where forty years would pass in less than two. What would her birthday be now? Would she count her age by ship's time or the elapsed calendar when she arrived? And what did Earth's calendar mean on Shakespeare?
Naturally, Dorabella and Alessandra came to Ender often during the days of preparation, asking him endless questions. Even though he made it clear that all the decisions were up to them, that he was not in charge of the event, he was never impatient with them. He seemed to enjoy their company -- though Valentine suspected that it was not for the reason Dorabella had hoped. Ender wasn't falling in love with Alessandra -- if he was infatuated with anyone, it was likely to be the mother. No, what Ender was falling in love with was the family-ness of them. They were close in a way that Ender and Valentine had once been close. And they were including Ender in that closeness.
Why couldn't I have done that for him? Valentine was quite jealous, but only because of her own failure, not because she wished to deprive him of the pleasure he was getting from the Toscanos.
It was inevitable, of course, that they enlisted Ender himself to read the part of Lucentio, the handsome young suitor of Bianca -- played, of course, by Alessandra. Dorabella herself read Kate the shrew, while Valentine was relegated to the part of the Widow. Valentine didn't even pretend not to want to read the part -- this was the most interesting thing going on in the ship, and why not be at the heart of it? She was Ender's sister; let people hear her voice, especially in the ribald, exaggerated part of the widow.
It was entertaining for Valentine to see how the men and boys who were cast in the many other parts focused on Dorabella. The woman had an incredible laugh, rich and throaty and contagious. To earn a laugh from her in this comedy was a fine thing, and the men all vied to please her. It made Valentine wonder if getting Ender and Alessandra together was really Dorabella's agenda? Perhaps it's what she thought she was doing, but in fact Dorabella held the center of the stage herself, and seemed to love having all eyes on her. She flirted with them all, fell in love with them all, and yet always seemed to be in a world of her own, too.
Has Kate the Shrew ever been played like this before?
Does every woman have what this Dorabella has? Valentine searched in her heart to find that kind of ebullience. I know how to have fun, Valentine insisted to herself. I know how to be playful.
But she knew there was always irony in her wit, a kind of snottiness in her banter. Alessandra's timidity covered everything she did -- she was bold in what she said, but it was as if her own words surprised and embarrassed her after the fact. Dorabella, however, was neither ironic nor frightened. Here was a woman who had faced all her dragons and slain them; now she was ready for the accolades of the admiring throng. She cried out Kate's dialogue from the heart, her rage, her passion, her petulance, her frustration, and finally her love. The final monologue, in which she submits to her husband's will, was so beautiful it made Valentine cry a little, and she thought: I wonder what it would be like to love and trust a man so much that I'd be willing to abase myself as Kate did. Is there something in women that makes us long to be humbled? Or is it something in human beings, that when we are overmastered, we rejoice in our subjection? That would explain a lot of history.
Since everyone who was interested in the play was already in it, and attending the rehearsals, it's not as if the actual performance was going to surprise anyone. Valentine almost asked the whole group, at the last rehearsal, "Why bother to put it on? We just did it, and it was wonderful."
But there was still a kind of excitement throughout the ship about the coming performance, and Valentine realized that rehearsal was not performance, no matter how well it went. And there would be others there after all, who had not been at the last rehearsal: Dorabella was going around inviting members of the crew, many of whom promised to come. And passengers who weren't in the play seemed excited about coming, and some were openly rueful about having declined to take part. "Next time," they said.
When they got to the theater at the appointed time, they found Jarrko standing at the door, a stiff, formal expression on his face. No, the theater would not be opened; by order of the Admiral, the play reading had been canceled.
"Ah, Governor Wiggin," said Jarrko.
A bad sign, if the title was back, thought Valentine.
"Admiral Morgan would like to see you at once, if you please, sir."
Ender nodded and smiled. "Of course," he said.
So Ender had expected this? Or was he really that perfectly poised, so it seemed that nothing surprised him?
Valentine started to go with him, but Jarrko touched her shoulder. "Please, Val," he whispered. "Alone."
Ender grinned at her and took off with real bounce in his step, as if he was truly excited to be going to see the admiral.
"What's this about?" Valentine asked Jarrko quietly.
"I can't say," he said. "Truly. Just have my orders. No play, theater closed for the night, would the Governor please come see the Admiral immediately."
So Valentine stayed with Jarrko, helping soothe the players and other colonists, whose reactions ranged from disappointment to outrage to revolutionary fervor. Some of them even started reciting lines there in the corridor, until Valentine asked them not to. "Poor Colonel Kitunen will be in trouble if you keep this up, and he's too nice to stop you himself."
The result was that everyone was quite angry with Admiral Morgan for his arbitrary cancellation of a completely harmless event. And Valentine herself couldn't help but wonder: What was the man thinking? Hadn't he ever heard of morale? Maybe he'd heard of it, but was against it.
Something was going on here, and Valentine began to wonder if somehow Ender was behind it. Could it be that in his own way, Ender was just as sneaky and snaky as Peter?
No. Not possible. Especially because Valentine could always see through Peter. Ender wasn't devious at all. He always said what he meant and meant what he said.
What is the boy doing?
Admiral Morgan kept Ender waiting outside his office for two full hours. It was exactly what Ender expected, however, so he closed his eyes and used the time to take a long, refreshing nap. He awoke to hear someone shouting from the other side of a door: "Well, wake him up and send him in, I'm ready!"
Ender sat up immediately, instantly aware of his surroundings. Even though he had never knowingly been in combat, he had acquired the military habit of remaining alert even when asleep. By the time the ensign whose duty was to waken him arrived, Ender was already standing up and smiling. "I understand it's time for my meeting with Admiral Morgan."
"Yes sir, if you please sir." The poor kid (well, six or seven years older than Ender, but still young to have an admiral yelling at him all day) was all over himself with eagerness to please Ender. So Ender made it a point to be visibly pleased. "He's in a temper," the ensign whispered.
"Let's see if I can cheer him up a little," said Ender.
"Not bloody likely," whispered the ensign. Then he had the door open. "Admiral Andrew Wiggin, sir." Ender stepped in as he was announced; the ensign beat a hasty retreat and shut the door behind him.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" demanded Admiral Morgan, his face livid. Since Ender had been napping for two hours, that meant either that Morgan had maintained his lividity throughout the interim, or he was able to switch it on at will, for effect. Ender was betting on the latter.
"I'm meeting with the captain of the ship, at his request."
"Sir," said Admiral Morgan.
"Oh, you don't need to call me sir," said Ender. "Andrew will do. I don't like to insist on the privileges of rank." Ender sat down in a comfortable chair beside Morgan's desk, instead of the stiff chair directly in front of it.
"On my ship you have no rank," said Morgan.
"I have no authority," said Ender. "But my rank travels with me."
"You are fomenting rebellion on my ship, coopting vital resources, subverting a mission whose primary purpose is to deliver you to the colony that you purport to be ready to govern."
"Rebellion? We're reading Taming of the Shrew, not Richard II."
"I'm still talking, boy! You may think you're toguro personified because you and your little chums played a videogame that turned out to be real, but I won't put up with this kind of subversion on my own ship! Whatever you did that made you famous and got you that ridiculous rank is over. You're in the real world now, and you're just a snot-nosed boy with delusions of grandeur."
Ender sat in silence, regarding him calmly.
"Now you can answer."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Ender.
Whereupon Morgan let fly with a string of obscenities and vulgarities that it sounded like he had collected the favorite sayings of the entire fleet. If he had been red-faced before, he was purple now. And through it all, Ender struggled to figure out what it was about a play reading that had the man so insanely angry.
When Morgan paused for breath, leaning -- no, slumping -- on the desk, Ender rose to his feet. "I think you had better prepare the charges for my court martial, Admiral Morgan."
"Court martial! I'm not going to court martial you, boy! I don't have to! I can have you put in stasis for the duration of the voyage on the authority of my signature alone!"
"Not a person of admiralty rank, I'm afraid," said Ender. "And it seems that formal charges in a court martial are the only way I'm going to get a coherent statement from you about what I have supposedly done to offend your dignity and cause such alarm."
"Oh, you want a formal statement? How about this: Hijacking all ansible communications for three hours so that we are effectively cut off from the rest of the known universe, how about that? Three hours means more than two days back in real time -- for all I know there's been a revolution, or my orders have changed, or any number of things might be happening and I can't even send a message to inquire!"
"That's a problem, certainly," said Ender. "But why would you think I have anything to do with it?"
"Because it's got your name all over it," said Morgan. "The message is addressed to you. And it's still coming in, coopting our entire ansible bandwidth."
"Doesn't it occur to you," said Ender gently, "that the message is to me, not from me?"
"From Wiggin, to Wiggin, eyes only, so deeply encrypted that none of the shipboard computers can crack it."
"You tried to crack a secure communication addressed to a ranking officer, without first asking the permission of that officer?"
"It's a subversive communication, boy, that's why I tried to crack it!"
"You know it's subversive because you can't crack it, and you tried to crack it because you know it's subversive," said Ender. He kept his voice soft and cheerful. Not because he knew that it would drive Morgan crazy that Ender remained unflappable -- that was just a bonus. He simply assumed that the entire exchange was being recorded to be used as evidence later, and Ender was not going to say a word or reveal an emotion that would not redound to his credit in some later court proceeding. So Morgan could be as abusive as he pleased -- Ender was not going to make a single statement that could be excerpted and used to make him look subversive or angry.
"I don't have to justify my actions to you," said Morgan. "I brought you here and canceled your supposed play reading so that you could open the transmission in front of me."
"Eyes only, secure communication -- I'm not sure it's proper for you to insist on watching."
"Either you open it right now, in front of me, or you go into stasis and you never get off this ship until it returns to Eros for your court martial."
Someone's court martial, thought Ender, but probably not mine.
"Let me have a look at it," said Ender. "Though I can't promise to open it, since I have no idea what it is or who it's from."
"It's from you," said Morgan acidly. "You arranged this before you left."
"I did not do so, Admiral Morgan," said Ender. "I assume you have a secure access point here in your office?"
"Come around here and open it now," said Morgan.
"I suggest you rotate the terminal, Admiral Morgan," said Ender.
"I said come sit here!"
"Respectfully, Admiral Morgan, there will be no vid of me sitting at your desk."
Morgan stared at him, his face growing redder again. Then he reached down and rotated the holodisplay on his desk so it faced Ender.
Ender leaned forward and poked a couple of menu choices in the holodisplay as Admiral Morgan came around behind him to watch. "Move slowly so I can see what you're doing."
"I'm doing nothing," said Ender.
"Then you're going into stasis, boy. You were never fit to be governor of anything. Just a child who's been praised way too much and completely spoiled. Nobody on that colony is going to pay any attention to you! The only way you could ever survive as governor would be if I backed you up -- and after this, you can be sure I'll do no such thing. You're finished in this game of let's pretend."
"As you wish, Admiral," said Ender. "But I'm doing nothing with this message because there's nothing I can do. It isn't addressed to me and I have no way of opening a secure comm that isn't mine."
"Do you think I'm a fool? Your name is all over it!"
"On the outside," said Ender, "it specifies Admiral Wiggin, which is me, because it was send from IFCom through a secure military channel and the intended recipient has no standing in the fleet. But as soon as you open it -- and this is a level of opening that your techs did immediately, I'm sure -- you'll see that the Wiggin to whom the secure portion of the message is addressed is not A. Wiggin or E. Wiggin, which would be me, but V. Wiggin, which is my sister, Valentine."
"Didn't your techs tell you that? And while the actual authority for the message is the Minister of Colonization himself, again, the real sender is P. Wiggin, and his title is given as Hegemon. I find that interesting. The only P. Wiggin I'm personally acquainted with is my older brother, Peter, and this would seem to imply that my brother is now Hegemon. Did you know that? I certainly didn't. He wasn't when I left."
A long silence came from Admiral Morgan behind him. Ender finally turned and looked at him -- again, doing his best to keep any hint of triumph from showing in his face. "I think my brother, the Hegemon, is writing a private communication to my sister, with whom he had a long collaborative relationship. Perhaps he seeks her counsel. But it has nothing to do with me. You know that I haven't seen my brother or communicated with him in any way since I first entered Battle School at the age of six. And I only entered into communication with my sister for a few weeks before our ship was launched. I'm sorry that it tied up your communications, but as I said, I don't know anything about it, and it has nothing to do with me."
Morgan walked back and sat down behind his desk. "I am astonished," said Morgan.
"I am embarrassed," said Morgan. "It seemed to me that my ship's communications were under attack, and that the agent of this attack was Admiral Wiggin. In that light, your repeated meetings with a subset of the colonists, to which you have been inviting members of my crew, looked suspiciously like mutiny. So I treated it as mutiny. Now I find that my fundamental premise was incorrect."
"Mutiny is a serious business," said Ender. "Of course you were alarmed."
"It happens that your brother is Hegemon. Word came to me a week ago. Two weeks ago. A year ago Earth time, anyway."
"It's perfectly all right that you didn't tell me," said Ender. "I'm sure you thought I would have found out by other means."
"It did not cross my mind that this communication might be from him, and not to you."
"It's easy to overlook Valentine. She keeps to the background. It's just the way she is."
Morgan looked at Ender gratefully. "So you understand."
I understand you're a paranoid, power-hungry idiot, said Ender silently. "Of course I do," said Ender.
"Do you mind if I send for your sister?"
Suddenly it was "do you mind" -- but Ender had no interest in making Morgan squirm. "Please do. I'm as curious about this message as you are."
Morgan sent an ensign to bring her, and then sat down and tried to make small talk while they waited. He told two ostensibly amusing stories from his own training days -- he was never Battle School material, he came up "the hard way, through the ranks." It was clear that he resented Battle School and the implied inferiority of anyone who wasn't invited to attend.
Is that all this is? Ender wondered. The traditional rivalry between graduates of a service academy and those who didn't have such a head start?
Valentine came in to find Ender laughing at Morgan's story. "Val," said Ender, still chuckling. "We need you to help us with something." In a few moments he explained about the message that had preempted hours of ansible time, shutting everything else out. "It caused a lot of consternation, and naturally, Admiral Morgan has been concerned. It'll put our minds at ease if you can open the message right here and give us some idea of what it's about."
"I'll need to watch you open it," said Morgan.
"No you won't," said Valentine.
They looked at each other for a long moment.
"What Valentine meant to say," said Ender, "is that she doesn't want you to see her actual security procedures -- on a message from the Hegemon, you can understand her caution. But I'm sure that she'll let us know the contents of the message in some readily verifiable way." Ender looked at Valentine and gave her a mockingly cute smile and shrug. "For me, Val?"
He knew she would recognize this as a mockery of their relationship, put on entirely for Morgan's benefit; of course she played along. "For you, Mr. Potato Head. Where's the access?"
In moments, Valentine was sitting at the end of the desk, poking her way through the holodisplay. "Oh, this is only semi-secure," she said. "Just a fingerprint. Anybody could have gotten into it just by cutting off my finger. I'll have to tell Peter to use full security -- retina, DNA, heartbeat -- so that they have to keep me alive in order to get in. He just doesn't value me highly enough."
She sat there reading for a little while, then sighed. "I can't believe what an idiot Peter is. And Graff, for that matter. There's nothing in here that couldn't have been sent unsecured, and there's no reason why it couldn't have been sent piecemeal instead of in a single uninterruptible top-priority flow. It's just a bunch of articles and summaries and so on about events on Earth for the past couple of years. It seems that there are wars and rumors of wars." She glanced at Ender.
He got the King James Version reference -- he had memorized long passages of it as part of his strategy for dealing with a minor crisis in Battle School several years back. "Well, transmitting it certainly took time, and times, and half a time," he said.
"I'll need to -- I'd like to see some evidence that this is what you say," said Morgan. "You have to understand that anything that seemed to threaten the security of my ship and my mission must be verified."
"Well, that's the awkward thing," said Valentine. "I'm perfectly happy to let you see the entire infodump -- in fact, I suggest that it be put into the library so everyone can have access to it. It's bound to be fascinating to people to have an idea of the things that have been happening on Earth. I can't wait to read it myself."
"But?" asked Ender.
"It's the cover letter itself." She looked genuinely embarrassed. "My brother makes slighting references to you. I hope you understand that neither Ender nor I discussed you with Peter in any way -- anything he says is his own assumption. I can assure you that Ender and I hold you in the highest respect."
With that, she rotated the holodisplay and Ender and Valentine sat silently to watch Morgan read.
At the end, he sighed, then leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, his forehead on his fingertips. "Well, I am embarrassed indeed."
"Not at all," said Ender. "A perfectly understandable mistake. I'd rather fly with a captain who takes every potential threat to his ship seriously than one who thinks that losing communications for three hours is no big deal."
Morgan took the olive branch. "I'm glad you see it that way, Admiral Wiggin."
"Ender," Ender corrected him.
Valentine stood up, smiling. "So if you don't mind, I'll leave the whole thing unencrypted here on your desk, as long as you assure me that every speck of it will be downloaded into the library -- except my brother's personal letter." She turned to Ender. "He says he loves me and misses me and he wants me to tell you to write to our parents. They aren't getting any younger, and they're very hurt not to have heard from you."
"Yes," said Ender. "I should have done that as soon as the ship left. But I didn't want to take up ansible time on personal matters." He smiled ruefully at Morgan. "And then we end up doing this, all because Peter and Graff have an inflated sense of their own importance."
"I'll tell my egocentric brother to send future messages a different way," said Valentine. "I assume you won't mind my sending such a message by ansible."
They were heading for the door, Morgan shepherding them, full of smiles and "I'm glad you're so understanding," when Ender stopped.
"Oh, Admiral Morgan," said Ender.
"Please call me Quincy."
"Oh, I could never do that," said Ender. "Our respective ranks allow it, but if anybody heard me address you that way, there'd be no way to erase the visual image of a teenager speaking to the captain of the ship in a way that could only seem disrespectful. I'm sure we agree on that. Nothing can undermine the authority of the captain."
"Very wisely said," Morgan replied. "You're taking better care of my position than I am myself. But you wanted to say something?"
"Yes. The play reading. It really is just that -- we're reading Taming of the Shrew. I'm playing Lucentio. Val has a small part, too. Everyone was looking forward to it. And now it's been canceled without a word of explanation."
Morgan looked puzzled. "If it's just a play reading, then go ahead and do it."
"Of course we will," said Ender, "now that we have your permission. But you see, some of the participants invited crew members to attend. And the cancellation might leave some bad feelings. Hard on morale, don't you think? I wanted to suggest a sort of gesture from you, to show that it really was a misunderstanding. To patch up any bad feelings."
"What sort of gesture?" asked Morgan.
"Just -- when we reschedule it, why don't you come and watch? Let them see you laughing at the comedy."
"He could play a part," said Valentine. "I'm sure the man playing Christopher Sly --"
"My sister is joking," said Ender. "This is a comedy, and every part in it is beneath the dignity of the captain of the ship. I'm only suggesting that you attend. Perhaps just for the first half. You can always plead urgent business at the break halfway through. Everyone will understand. Meanwhile, though, they'll all see that you really do care about them and what they do during this voyage. It will go a long way toward making them feel good about your leadership, during the voyage and after we arrive."
"After we arrive?" asked Valentine.
Ender looked at her in wide-eyed innocence. "As Admiral Morgan pointed out to me during our conversation, none of the colonists will be likely to follow the leadership of a teenage boy. They'll need to be assured that Admiral Morgan's authority is behind whatever I do, officially, as governor. So I think that makes it all the more important that they see the Admiral and get to know him, so they'll trust him to provide strong leadership."
Ender was afraid Valentine was going to lose control right there and either laugh or scream at him. But she did neither. "I see," she said.
"That's actually a good idea," said Admiral Morgan. "Shall we go start it up?"
"Oh, no," said Valentine. "Everybody's too upset. Nobody will be at their best. Why not let us go smooth things over, explain that it was all a mistake and completely my fault. And then we can announce that you're going to attend, that you're glad the reading can go on after all, and we get a chance to perform for you. Everyone will be excited and happy. And if you can let off-duty crew come too, so much the better."
"I don't want anything that lessens ship's discipline," said Morgan.
Valentine's answer was immediate. "If you're right there with them, laughing at the play and enjoying it, then I can't see that it will cause any weakening of the crew. It might even help morale. We actually do a pretty good job with the play."
"It would mean a lot to all of us," said Ender.
"Of course," said Morgan. "You do that, and I'll be there tomorrow at 1900. That was the starting time today, wasn't it?"
Ender and Valentine made their good-byes. The officers they passed looked amazed and relieved to see them smiling and chatting comfortably as they left.
Not till they were back in the stateroom did they let down the façade, and then only long enough for Valentine to say, "He's planning for you to be a figurehead while he rules behind the throne?"
"There's no throne," said Ender. "It solves a lot of problems for me, don't you think? It was going to be tough for a fifteen-year-old kid to lead a bunch of colonists who've already been living and farming on Shakespeare for forty years by the time I get there. But a man like Admiral Morgan is used to giving orders and being obeyed. They'll fall right in line under his authority."
Valentine stared at him like he was insane. Then Ender gave that little twitch of his lower lip that had always been the giveaway that he was being ironic. He hoped she would leap to the correct conclusion -- that Admiral Morgan certainly had the means of listening in on all their conversations and was bound to be using it right now, so nothing they said could be regarded as private.
"All right," said Valentine. "If you're happy with it, I'm happy with it." Whereupon she did that momentary bug-eyed thing she did to let him know she was lying.
"I'm done with responsibility, Val," said Ender. "I had quite enough in Battle School and on Eros. I intend to spend the voyage making friends and reading everything I can get my hands on."
"And at the end, you can write an essay called, 'How I spent my summer vacation.'"
"It's always summer when your heart is full of joy," said Ender.
"You are so full of crap," said Valentine.
The play reading went off without a hitch. Everyone did well, or well enough, but Dorabella Toscano was luminous. She made a point of snubbing Admiral Morgan at first, but then played her great soliloquy straight to him, submissively kneeling and extending her hand. When he came up to her afterward, bursting with enthusiasm and, though he would not have said so, a feeling more ancient and powerful than mere admiration, she pouted at first. "You make me so mad to be almost stop this play," she said. But immediately she smiled and relented. "Now you are very glad you let me play my part?"
For the rest of the voyage, the crew and colonists were amused to watch Dorabella's coy reeling in of the bachelor admiral, and no one was surprised when, a few weeks before landing, she was able to persuade him that it would be better for everyone if she first set foot on Shakespeare Colony as Mrs. Quincy Morgan.
Dorabella had learned the lesson of her too-early marriage as a teenager. Morgan's desires had been held off until the ceremony was over. Afterward, the crew was even more amused than before, at Morgan's way of having urgent errands that somehow always seemed to lead back to his quarters and the woman who, wisely and patiently, waited for him there. He was never happier in his life.
But that did not mean he forgot, even for a moment, that his future on Shakespeare depended on keeping Ender Wiggin in his place. So Ender never relaxed his façade of eager, teachable youth, and gave every impression of being quite infatuated with Alessandra, so that Morgan could anticipate being Ender's father-in-law -- thus gaining influence on the boy through a young wife whose mother was devoted to advancing Quincy Morgan's career and prestige.
Through it all, Ender worked hard, going back over his correspondence with Governor Kolmogorov and the reports and logs of the original military expedition, learning everyone's name and story by heart. These were the people he had been sent to govern. If he did not try to understand them, he did not deserve his office and it would be right for Morgan to take it away from him.
The months of the voyage passed quickly enough, because they were all so busy. Then ... rapid deceleration, protected from inertia by technology acquired from the formics. They were coming to the planet Shakespeare; for the colonists, this meant they were coming home.
Admiral Morgan had been in communication with the acting acting governor, Ix Tolo -- ridiculous name -- because the official acting governor had had the bad manners to take off on a completely meaningless trip right when he was needed for the official public transfer of power. The man probably couldn't stand being displaced from his office. The vanity of some people.
Morgan's executive officer, Commodore Vlad das Lagrimas, confirmed that, as far as could be ascertained from orbit, the runway the colonists had constructed for the shuttle met the specifications. Thank heaven they didn't have to pave these things anymore -- it must have been tedious in the days when flying vehicles had to land on wheels.
The only thing that worried Morgan was bringing the Wiggin boy down with him for the first landing. It would be easy enough to tell the original settlers that Morgan was coming ahead of Wiggin to prepare the way. That would give him plenty of chance to make sure they were aware that Wiggin was a teenage boy and hardly likely to be the real governor.
Dorabella agreed with him. But then she pointed out, "Of course, all the older people in this colony are the pilots and soldiers who fought under Ender's command. They might be disappointed not to see him. But no, it will make it all the more special when he comes down later."
Morgan thought about it and decided that having Wiggin with him might be more of an asset than not. Let them see the legendary boy. Which was why he called the Wiggin boy to his quarters.
"I don't know that you need to say anything to the colonists on this first occasion," said Admiral Morgan. This was the test -- would Wiggin be miffed at being held in silence?
"Fine with me," said Wiggin instantly. "Because I'm not good at speeches."
"Excellent," said Morgan. "We'll have marines there in case these people are planning some sort of resistance -- you never know, all their cooperation might be a ruse. Four decades on their own here -- they might resent the imposition of authority from forty lightyears away."
Wiggin looked serious. "I never thought of that. Do you really think they might rebel?"
"No, I don't," said Morgan. "But a good commander prepares for everything. You'll acquire habits like that in time, I'm sure."
Wiggin sighed. "There's so much stuff to learn."
"When we get there, we'll put the ramp down at once and the marines will secure the immediate perimeter. When the people have assembled around the base of the ramp, then we'll come out. I'll introduce you, I'll say a few words, then you'll go back inside the shuttle until I can secure appropriate quarters for you in the settlement."
"Toguro," said Wiggin.
"Sorry. Battle School slang."
"Oh, yes. Never went to Battle School myself." Of course the little brat had to give his little reminder that he had gone to Battle School and Morgan had not. But his use of slang was encouraging. The more childish Wiggin appeared, the easier it would be to marginalize him.
"When can Valentine come down?"
"We won't start bringing down the new colonists for several days. We have to make sure we do this in an orderly way -- we don't want to swamp the old settlers with too many new ones before there's housing and food for them all. The same thing with supplies."
"We're going down empty-handed?" asked Wiggin, sounding surprised.
"Well, no, of course not," said Morgan. He hadn't thought of it that way. It would be a nice gesture to have some key supplies with them. "What do you think, some food? Chocolates?"
"They have better food than we do," said Ender. "Fresh fruits and vegetables -- that's going to be their gift to us. I bet they'd go boky over the skimmers, though."
"Skimmers! That's serious technology."
"Well, it's not like they're any use up here in the ship," said Ender, laughing. "But some of the xeno equipment, then. Something to show them how much it's going to help them, now that we're here. I mean, if you're worried they'll resent us, giving them some really useful tech will make us heroes."
"Of course -- that's what I was planning. I just didn't think of the skimmers on our first landing."
"Well, it'd sure help with carrying cargo to wherever it's going to be warehoused. I know they'd appreciate not having to lug stuff by hand or in carts or whatever they use for transportation."
"Excellent," said Morgan. "You're catching on to this leadership thing already." The kid really was clever. And Morgan would be the one to reap the good will that bringing the skimmers and other high-tech equipment would create. He would have thought of all this himself if he ever had a chance to stop and think about things. The boy could sit around and think about things, but Morgan couldn't afford the time. He was constantly on call, and though das Lagrimas handled most things well, Morgan also had to deal with Dorabella.
Not that she was demanding. In fact, she was amazingly supportive. He'd heard from other people that marriage was hellish. The honeymoon lasts a day, they said, and then she starts demanding, insisting, complaining.
All lies. If he had known marriage was like this, he'd have done it long ago. But maybe it was only like this with Dorabella. He was glad he had waited, to marry the one in a million who could make a man truly happy. Because he was besotted. He knew the men joked about it behind his back -- he caught their smirks whenever he came back from a rendezvous with Dorabella for an hour or two in the middle of the working day. Let them have their laughs! It was all about envy.
"Sir?" asked Wiggin.
"Oh, yes," said Morgan. It had happened again -- in the middle of a conversation, he had drifted off into thinking about Dorabella. "I have a lot on my mind, and I think we're through here. Just be in the shuttle at 0800 -- that's when we're closing the doors, everything loaded by the dawn watch. The descent will take several hours, the shuttle pilot tells me, but nobody will be able to sleep -- you'll want to get to bed early tonight so you're well rested. And it's better to enter the atmosphere on an empty stomach, if you know what I mean."
"Yes sir," said Wiggin.
"Dismissed, then," said Morgan.
Wiggin saluted and left. Morgan almost laughed out loud. The kid didn't realize that even on Morgan's ship, Wiggin's seniority as a Rear Admiral entitled him to courtesies, including the right to leave when he felt like it instead of being dismissed like a subordinate. But it was good to keep the boy in his place. Just because he had the office of admiral bestowed on him before Morgan actually earned his didn't mean Morgan had to pretend to show respect to an ignorant teenager.
Wiggin was in his place before Morgan got there, dressed in civilian clothes instead of military uniform -- which was all to the good, since it would not be helpful for people to see that they had identical dress uniforms and rank insignias, while Ender had markedly more battle decorations. Morgan merely nodded to Wiggin and went to his own seat, in the front of the shuttle with a communications array at his disposal.
At first the shuttle flight was normal space travel -- smooth, perfectly controlled. But as they orbited the planet and then dipped down into their point of entry, the shuttle reoriented itself to have the shield meet and dissipate the heat, which is when the bouncing and yawing and rolling began. As the pilot told him beforehand, "Roll and yaw mean nothing. If we start to pitch, then we've got problems."
Morgan found himself quite nauseated by the time they steadied out into smooth flight at ten thousand meters. But poor Wiggin -- the boy practically flew back to the head, where he was no doubt retching his poor head off. Unless the kid had forgotten not to eat and really had something to puke up.
The landing went smoothly, but Wiggin hadn't returned to his seat -- he took the landing in the head. And when the marines reported that the people were gathering, Wiggin was still inside.
Morgan went to the door of the head himself and rapped on it. "Wiggin," he said, "it's time."
"Just a few more minutes, sir," said Wiggin. His voice sounded weak and shaky. "Really. Looking at the skimmers will keep them busy for a few minutes, and then they'll meet us with a cheer."
It hadn't crossed Morgan's mind to send the skimmers out ahead of his own entrance, but Wiggin was right. If the people had already seen something wonderful from Earth technology, it would make them all the more enthusiastic when he came out himself. "They can't watch the skimmers forever, Wiggin," said Morgan. "When it's time to go out, I hope you're ready to join me."
"I will," said Wiggin. But then another retching sound gave the lie to that statement.
Of course, retching sounds could be made with or without nausea. Morgan had a momentary suspicion and so he acted on it, opening the door without any warning.
There was Wiggin, kneeling in front of the john, his belly convulsing as his body arched with another retch. He had his jacket and shirt off, tossed on the floor near the door -- at least the kid had thought ahead and arranged not to get vomit on his suit. "Anything I can do to help?" asked Morgan.
Wiggin looked at him, his face a mask of barely-controlled nausea. "I can't keep this up forever," he said weakly, managing a faint smile. "I'll be fine in a minute."
And then he turned his face toward the bowl again. Morgan closed the door and suppressed a smile. So much for any worries that the kid might not cooperate. Wiggin was going to miss his own grand entrance, and it wasn't even going to be Morgan's fault.
Sure enough, the midshipman he sent for Wiggin returned with a message, not the boy. "He says he'll come out as soon as he can."
Morgan toyed with sending back word that he was not going to have Wiggin's late arrival distract from his own speech. But no, he could afford to be magnanimous. Besides, it didn't look as if Wiggin would be ready any time soon.
The air of Shakespeare was pleasant but strange; there was a light breeze, and it carried some kind of pollen on it. Morgan was quite aware that just by breathing, he might be poisoning himself with the blood-sucking worm that almost killed this colony at the start, but they had treatments for it, and they'd get their first dose in plenty of time. So he savored the smell of planetside air for the first time in ages -- he had last been on Earth six years before this voyage began.
In the middle distance, the scenery was savannah-like -- trees dotting the landscape here and there, lots of bushes. But on either side of the runway, there were crops growing, and he realized that the only way they could accommodate the runway was in the midst of their fields. They had to resent that -- it was a good thing he had thought of sending out the skimmers first, to take their minds off the damage their landing had done to the crops.
The people were surprisingly numerous. He vaguely remembered that the hundreds in the original invasion force would now be more than two thousand, since they'd been reproducing like rabbits, even with the relatively few women in the original force.
What mattered most was that they were applauding when he came out. Their applause might be more for the skimmers than for him, but he was content with that, as long as there was no resistance.
His aides had set up a public address system, but Morgan didn't think they'd need it. The crowd was numerous, but many of them were children, and were so crowded together that from the top of the ramp they were all within easy hailing distance. Still, now that the lectern had been set up, it would look foolish of Morgan not to use it. So he strode to it and gripped it with both hands.
"Men and women of Shakespeare colony, I bring the greetings of the International Fleet and the Ministry of Colonization."
He had expected applause for that, but ... nothing.
"I am Rear Admiral Quincy Morgan, the captain of the ship that brought the new colonists, and new equipment and supplies, to your settlement."
Again, nothing. Oh, they were attentive, and not at all hostile, but they only nodded, and only a few of them. As if they were waiting. Waiting for what?
Waiting for Wiggin. The thought came to him like bile into his throat. They know that Wiggin is supposed to be their governor, and they're waiting for him.
Well, they'll find out soon enough just what Wiggin is -- and isn't.
Then Morgan heard the sound of running footfalls from inside the shuttle and coming out onto the ramp. Wiggin couldn't have timed it better. This really would go more smoothly with him for the crowd to look at.
The crowd's attention shifted toward Wiggin, and Morgan smiled. "I give you ..."
But they didn't hear his answer. They knew who it was. The applause and shouting overpowered Morgan's voice, even with the amplification, and he did not need to say Wiggin's name, because the crowd was shouting it.
Morgan turned to give a welcoming gesture to the boy, and was shocked to see that Wiggin was in full dress uniform. His decorations were almost obscenely vast -- dwarfing anything on Morgan's chest. It was so ridiculous -- Wiggin had been playing videogames, for all he knew, and here he was wearing decorations for every battle in the war, along with all the other medals he was given after his victory.
And the little bastard had deliberately deceived him. Wearing civilian clothes, and then changing in the bathroom, just so he could upstage him. Was the nausea all faked, too, so that he could make this grand entrance? Well, Morgan would wear a phony smile and then he'd make the kid pay for this later. Maybe he wouldn't keep Wiggin as a figurehead after all.
But Wiggin didn't go to the place that Morgan was gesturing him to take at his side, behind the lectern. Instead, Wiggin handed a folded piece of paper to Morgan and then jogged on down the ramp to the ground -- where he was immediately surrounded by the crowd, their shouts of "Ender Wiggin!" now giving way to chatter and laughter.
Morgan looked at the paper. On the outside, in pencil, Wiggin had written: "Your supremacy ended when this shuttle touched ground. Your authority ends at the bottom of this ramp." And he signed it, "Admiral Wiggin" -- reminding him that in port, Wiggin was senior to him.
The gall of the boy. Did he think such claims would hold up here, forty years away from any higher authority? And when it was Morgan who commanded a contingent of highly trained marines?
Morgan unfolded the paper. It was a letter. From Polemarch Bakossi Wuri and Minister of Colonization Hyrum Graff.
Ender recognized Ix Tolo immediately, from the late Governor Kolmogorov's description of him, and ran right up to him. "Ix Tolo," he shouted as he came. "I'm glad to meet you!"
But even before he reached Tolo and shook his hand, Ender was looking for old men and women. Most of them were surrounded by younger people, but Ender sought them out and tried to recognize the younger faces he had studied and memorized before this voyage even launched.
Fortunately, he guessed right about the first one, and the second one, calling them by rank and name. He made it solemn, that first meeting with the pilots who had actually fought in the war. "I'm proud to meet you at last," he said. "It's been a long wait."
At once the crowd caught on to what he was doing, and backed away, thrusting the old people forward so Ender could find them all. Many of them wept as they shook Ender's hands; some of the old women insisted on hugging him. They tried to speak to him, to tell him things, but he smiled and held up a hand, signaling, Wait a minute, there are more to greet.
He shook every soldier's hand, and when he occasionally guessed at the wrong name, they laughingly corrected him.
Behind him, there was still silence from the loudspeakers. Ender had no idea what Morgan would do about the letter, but he had to keep things moving forward here on the ground, so there was never a gap in which Morgan could insert himself.
The moment he had shaken the last old man's hand, Ender raised that hand up and then turned around, signaling for the people to gather around him. They did -- in fact, they already had, so he was now completely surrounded by the crowd. "There are names I didn't get to call," he said. "Men and women I didn't get to meet." Then, from memory, he spoke the names of all those who had died in the battle. "Too many lost. If only I had known what price was being paid for my mistakes, maybe I could have made fewer of them."
Oh, they wept at that, even as some of them called out, "What mistakes!"
And then Ender reeled off another list of names -- the colonists who had died in those first weeks of the settlement. "By their deaths, by your heroic efforts, this colony was established. Governor Kolmogorov told me about how you lived, what you accomplished. I was still a twelve-year-old boy on Eros when you were fighting the war against the diseases of this land, and you triumphed without any help from me."
Ender raised his hands to face level and clapped them, loudly and solemnly. "I honor those who died in space, and those who died here."
"I honor Vitaly Kolmogorov, who led you for thirty-six years of war and peace!" Another cheer. "And Sel Menach, a man so modest he could not bear to face the attention he knew would be paid to him today!" Cheers and laughter. "Sel Menach, who will teach me everything I need to know in order to serve you. Because I'm here, he will now have time to get back to his real work." A roar of laughter, and a cheer.
And now, from the back of the crowd, from the loudspeakers, came the sound of Morgan's voice. "Men and women of Shakespeare Colony, please forgive the interruption. This was not how the program for today was supposed to go."
The people around Ender glanced in puzzlement toward the top of the ramp. Morgan was speaking in a pleasant, perhaps jocular tone. But he was irrelevant to what had just been happening. He was an intruder in this ceremony. Didn't he see that Ender Wiggin was a victorious commander meeting with his veterans? What did Quincy Morgan have to do with that?
Hadn't he read the letter?
Morgan could only spare half his attention for the letter, he was so furious at Wiggin for heading straight into the crowd. What was he doing? Did he actually know these people's names?
But then the letter began to register with him and he read it with his full attention.
Dear Rear Admiral Morgan,
Former Polemarch Chamrajnagar, before his retirement, warned us that there was some risk that you would misunderstand the limited nature of your responsibilities upon reaching Shakespeare Colony. He takes full responsibility for any such misunderstanding, and if he was mistaken, we apologize for the actions we have taken. But you must understand that we were compelled to take preventive measures in case you had been misled into thinking that you were to exercise even momentary authority on the surface of the planet. We have been careful to make sure that if you behave with exact correctness, no one but you and Vice-Admiral Andrew Wiggin will ever know how we were prepared to deal with the situation if you acted inappropriately.
Correct action is this: You will recognize that upon setting foot on Shakespeare, Vice-Admiral Wiggin becomes Governor Wiggin, with absolute authority over all matters concerning the colony and all transfers of persons and material to and from the colony. He retains his rank of Vice-Admiral, so that outside your actual ship, he is your superior officer and you are subject to his authority.
You will return to your ship without setting foot on the planet. You will not meet with any persons from the colony. You will provide a full and orderly transfer of all cargos and persons from your ship to the colony, exactly as Governor Wiggin specifies. You will make all your actions transparent to IFCom and ColMin by reporting hourly by ansible on all actions taken in compliance with Governor Wiggin's orders.
We assume that this is what you intended to do all along. However, because of Polemarch Chamrajnagar's warning, we anticipate the possibility that you had different plans, and that you might consider acting on them. The forty-year voyage between us and you made it necessary for us to take actions which we can and will reverse upon your successful completion of this mission and your return to lightspeed.
Every twelve hours, Governor Wiggin will report to us by holographic ansible, assuring us of your compliance. If he fails to report, or seems to us to be under duress of any kind, we will activate a program now imbedded in your ship's computer. The program will also be activated by any attempt to rewrite the program itself or restore an earlier state of the software.
This program will consist of the vocal and holographic transmission to the ansibles aboard your ship and shuttles, through every speaker and computer display on your ship and shuttles, and to every ansible in Shakespeare colony, stating that you are charged with mutiny, ordering that no one obey you, and that you be arrested and placed in stasis for the return voyage to Eros, where you will be tried for mutiny.
We regret that the existence of this message will certainly cause offense to you if you did not plan to behave any way other than correctly. But in that case, your correct actions will ensure that no one sees this message, and when you have returned to lightspeed flight after successfully carrying out your mission, the message will be eliminated from your ship's computer and there will be no record whatsoever of this action. You will return with full honors and your career will continue without blemish.
A copy of this letter has been sent to your executive officer, Commodore Vlad das Lagrimas, but he cannot open it as long as Governor Wiggin continues to certify to us that you are taking correct actions.
Since yours is the first colony ship to arrive at its destination, your actions will establish the precedent for the entire I.F. We look forward to reporting on your excellent actions to the entire fleet.
Polemarch Bakossi Wuri
Minister of Colonization Hyrum Graff
Morgan read the letter, filled with rage and dread at first, but gradually taking a very different attitude. How could they imagine that he planned anything other than to oversee Wiggin's orderly assumption of power? How dare Chamrajnagar tell them anything that would lead them to think he intended anything else?
He would have to send them a very stiff letter informing them of his disappointment that they would treat him in this high-handed and completely unnecessary way.
No, if he sent a letter it would go into the record. He had to keep his record clean. And they were going to make a lot of hooplah about his being the first captain of a colony ship to complete his mission -- that would be a huge plus for his career.
He had to act as if this letter didn't exist.
The crowd was cheering. They had been cheering and clapping over and over again while Morgan read the letter. He looked out to see that they were now completely surrounding Wiggin, none of them even glancing at the shuttle, at the ramp, at Admiral Morgan. Now that he was looking at them, he could see that everyone was gazing intently at Ender Wiggin, devotedly, eagerly. Every word he said, they cheered at, or laughed, or wept.
Incredibly, they loved him.
Even without this letter, even without any intervention from IFCom or ColMin, Morgan lost this power struggle from the moment Ender Wiggin appeared in full uniform and called the veterans by name and invoked their memories of the dead. Wiggin knew how to win their hearts, and he did it without deception or coercion. All he did was care enough to learn their names and faces and remember them. All he did was lead them in victory forty-one years ago. When Morgan was in charge of a supply operation in the asteroid belt.
For all I know, this letter is a complete bluff. Wiggin wrote it himself. Just to keep me distracted while he carried out his public relations coup. If I decided to be obstructive, if I decided to work behind his back to undermine their confidence in him, to destroy him as governor so that I would have to step in and ...
They people cheered again, as Wiggin invoked the name of the acting governor.
No, Morgan would never be able to undermine their confidence in Wiggin. They wanted him to be their governor. While to them, Morgan was nothing. A stranger. An interloper. They weren't in the I.F. anymore. They didn't care about authority or rank. They were citizens of this colony now, but they had the legend of how they were founded. The great Ender Wiggin, by his victory, slew all the formics on the surface of this world, opening the land to these humans so they could come and dwell here. And now Wiggin had come among them in person. It was like the second coming of Christ. Morgan had zero chance now.
His aides were watching him intently. They had no idea what was in the letter, but he was afraid that his face might not have been as impassive as he'd meant, while he was reading it; in fact, his impassivity would be a strong message in itself. So now Morgan smiled at them. "Well, so much for our script. It seems Governor Wiggin had his own plans for how this day would go. It would have been nice of him to inform us, but ... there's no accounting for the pranks that boys will play."
His aides chuckled, because they knew he expected them to. Morgan knew perfectly well that they understood exactly what had happened here. Not the threats in the letter, but Wiggin's complete triumph. Nevertheless, Morgan would act as if this was exactly how things were always meant to turn out, and they would join him in acting that way, and ship's discipline would be maintained.
Morgan turned to the microphone. In a lull in the cheering and shouting of the crowd, he spoke, taking a friendly, joking tone. "Men and women of Shakespeare Colony, please forgive the interruption. This was not how the program for today was supposed to go."
The crowd turned toward him, distractedly, even annoyed. They immediately turned back to Wiggin, who faced Morgan, not with the jaunty smile of victory, but with the same solemn face that he always presented on the ship. The little bastard. He'd been plotting this the whole time, and never showed a sign of it. Even when Morgan looked over the vids of him in his quarters, even when he watched Wiggin with Dorabella's daughter, the boy never let his pretense lapse, not for a second.
Thank the stars he'll be staying on this world, and not returning to be my rival for preeminence in the I.F.
"I won't take but a moment more of your time," said Morgan. "My men will immediately unload all the equipment we brought with us, and the marines will stay behind to assist Governor Wiggin however he might desire. I will return to the ship and will follow Governor Wiggin's instructions as to the order and timing of the transfer of materials and persons from the ship to the ground. My work here is done. I commend you for your achievements here, and thank you for your attention."
There was scattered applause, but he knew that most of them had tuned him out and were merely waiting for him to be done in order to get back to lionizing Andrew Wiggin.
Ah well. When he got back to the ship, Dorabella would be there. It was the best thing he had ever done, marrying that woman.
Of course, he had no idea how she would take the news that she and her daughter would not be colonists after all -- that they would be staying with him on his voyage back to Earth. But how could they complain? Life in this colony would be primitive and hard. Life as the wife of an admiral -- the very admiral who was first to bring new settlers and supplies to a colony world -- would be a pleasant one, and Dorabella would thrive in such social settings; the woman really was brilliant at it. And the daughter -- well, she could go to university and have a normal life. No, not normal, exceptional -- because Morgan's position would be such that he could guarantee her the finest opportunities.
Morgan had already turned to go back inside the shuttle, when he heard Wiggin's voice calling to him. "Admiral Morgan! I don't think the people here have understood what you have done for us all, and they need to hear it."
Since Morgan had the words of Graff's and Wuri's letter fresh in his mind, he could not help but hear irony and bad intent in Wiggin's words. He almost decided to keep moving back into the shuttle, as if he hadn't heard the boy.
But the boy was the governor, and Morgan had his own command to think about. If he ignored the boy now, it would look to his own men like an acknowledgment of defeat -- and a rather cowardly one at that. So, to preserve his own position of respect, he turned to hear what the boy had to say.
"Thank you, sir, for bringing us all safely here. Not just me, but the colonists who will join with the original settlers and native-born of this world. You have retied the links between the home of the human race and these far-flung children of the species."
Then Wiggin turned back to the colonists. "Admiral Morgan and his crew and these marines you see here did not come to fight a war and save the human race, and none of them will die at the hands of our enemies. But they made one great sacrifice that is identical to one made by the original settlers here. They cut themselves loose from all that they knew and all that they loved and cast themselves out into space and time to find a new life among the stars. And every new colonist on that ship has given up everything they had, betting on their new life here among you."
The colonists spontaneously began applauding, a few at first, but soon all of them, and then cheering -- for Admiral Morgan, for the marines, for the unmet colonists still on the ship.
And the Wiggin boy, damn him, was saluting. Morgan had no choice but to return the salute and accept the gratitude and respect of the colonists as a gift from him.
Then Wiggin strode toward the shuttle -- but not to say anything more to Morgan. Instead, he walked toward the commander of the marine squad and called out to him by name. Had the boy learned the names of all of Morgan's crew and marines as well?
"I want you to meet your counterpart," Wiggin said loudly. "The man who commanded the marines with the original expedition." He led him to an old man, and they saluted each other, and in a few moments the whole place was chaotic with marines being swarmed by old men and women and young ones as well.
Morgan knew now that little of what Wiggin had done was really about him. Yes, he had to make sure Morgan knew his place. He accomplished that in the first minute, when he distracted Morgan with the letter while he showed that he knew all the original settlers by name, and acted -- with justification -- as the commander of veterans meeting with them forty-one years after their great victory.
But Wiggin's main purpose was to shape the attitude that this community would have toward Morgan, toward the marines, toward the starship's crew, and, most important, toward the new colonists. He brought them together with a knowledge of their common sacrifice.
And the kid claimed that he didn't like making speeches. What a liar. He said exactly what needed saying. Next to him, Morgan was a novice. No, a fumbling incompetent.
Morgan made his way back inside the shuttle, pausing only to tell the waiting officers that Governor Wiggin would be giving them their orders about unloading the cargo.
Then he went to the bathroom, tore the letter into tiny pieces, chewed them into pulp, and spat the wad into the toilet. The taste of paper and ink nauseated him, and he retched a couple of times before he got control of himself.
Then he went into his communications center and had lunch. He was still eating it when a lieutenant commander supervised a couple of the natives in bringing in a fine mess of fresh fruits and vegetables, just as Wiggin had predicted. It was delicious, and afterward, Morgan napped until one of his aides woke him to tell him the unloading was finished, they had taken aboard a vast supply of excellent foodstuffs and fresh water, and they were about to take off to return to the ship.
"The Wiggin boy will make a fine governor, don't you think?" Morgan said.
"Yes, sir, I believe so, sir," said the aide.
"And to think I imagined that he might need help from me to get started." Morgan laughed. "Well, I have a ship to run. Let's get back to it!"
on the art and business of science fiction writing.
Over five hours of insight and advice.
Recorded live at Uncle Orson's Writing Class in Greensboro, NC.
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We hope you will enjoy the wonderful writers and artists who contributed to IGMS during its 14-year run.