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Admiral Chamrajnagar and Graff talk about Ender. Graff says that Ender has “a magnitude of spirit” (14.4), which we would like on a t-shirt.
Meanwhile, Ender hates Eros because: a) it feels weird, like it wasn’t built right; b) there are too many strangers; and c) he’s kept isolated (again).
For “fun,” Ender starts playing a new space war simulator, which sounds less awesome than Starcraft.
Some Battle School skills transfer, like his ability to reorient himself; but the computer is apparently dumb and he wishes for his platoon leaders.
He still wins all his games and tells Graff that he’s bored with the game.
The next day, Ender meets an old man, who introduces himself by beating Ender up. This is the first lesson: don’t trust old men. No, wait, the first lesson… maybe it’s something like “things that don’t look dangerous might be dangerous.”
The old man says that he’s Ender’s teacher but that “There is no teacher but the enemy” (14.66).
Ender beats the old man a little, who then introduces himself as…Mazer Rackham. Surprised, right?
Mazer takes over Ender’s teaching, which is what he’s there for. Seriously – he’s only alive to teach Ender. Instead of dying a natural death decades ago, the military put him on a spaceship traveling near the speed of light, so that fifty years passed in the world while only eight years passed for Mazer. (In fact, Mazer will later note that he gave up everything, including his wife, when he agreed to jump fifty years into the future. Which raises the question: why couldn’t his wife just come with him?)
(Now, if you’re wondering why Mazer can’t just control the fleet, well, we’re not sure either. He says he can’t control the fleet for “good and sufficient reasons” but doesn’t say what they are (14.98).)
Mazer reveals the secret of his EPIC WIN in the Second Invasion: he killed the queen and she’s the brain for the whole hive. So, he killed the brain and all the other buggers soon died too.
Mazer actually explains a lot about the buggers, which is pretty amazing considering his one interaction with them was blowing a ship out of space. Well, OK, he’s mostly guessing, but still.
One important thing that Mazer adds is that Eros used to be a bugger place, which is why it feels so weird to Ender.
Actually, the most interesting thing Mazer tells Ender is that the buggers probably killed people in the first invasion because they didn’t think of the people as individuals; it would be “like clipping your nails” to them (14.139).
But the fact that people aren’t a hive creature is actually a big advantage for us, according to Mazer. Because the buggers can only have one thought at a time, but a whole group of people can have a lot of ideas. (And that’s a good thing.)
Mazer also tells Ender about the new weapon they have, which is a disintegration ray. That is, it’s…well, no, disintegration ray seems pretty accurate.
Lastly, Mazer explains some changes they’re making to the simulator: Mazer will be programming the enemy and Ender will be commanding human subordinates.
And guess who those subordinates are? It’s all his old friends: Alai, Bean, Petra, Dink, and “all the best students Ender had fought with or fought against, everyone that Ender had trusted in Battle School” (14.181). Including some people that we’ve never heard about before, like Vlad and Dumper (we definitely would’ve remembered those names).
And then, guess what? Ender’s team becomes great and wins some games. Only some? No, he wins them all, even though the situation keeps changing from game to game.
Ender is still lonely, though. And he’s not getting enough sleep. When he does, he dreams of Fairyland and the dead giant. Which we’re sure isn’t that important. No reason to pay attention to these dreams, right?
He also dreams about fighting Bonzo. Except in the dream, he kills Bonzo, which is curious, because he really did kill Bonzo.
Some of the other kids don’t respond well to the challenge. For instance, Petra cracks during a game. And Ender passes out and is delirious for days.
When Ender’s delirious, he hears Graff and Rackham talk about how much they care for him.
After Ender wakes up, he still wins.
Things go on this way until Ender’s final examination, which is, naturally, a simulated battle.
A bunch of people are in the room to watch his final examination, and today’s simulation has the bugger army around a planet. Ender’s army is outnumbered by a huge margin.
Ender is about to give up when Bean tells everyone that “the enemy’s gate is down.” That reminds them all that this is just a dumb game, even if all the adults are taking it super seriously.
Ender decides that he might as well cheat, so he blows up the enemy planet.
And the crowd goes wild. Seriously, all the adults in the room shout and hug each other and cry and pray.
Ender is confused. Until Mazer confesses: for the past few months, Ender hasn’t been playing against Mazer’s simulations – he’s actually been fighting against the buggers.
Now that he’s killed off an entire species, the adults let Ender rest.
Graff and Mazer also tell him that it’s not his fault – they tricked him into doing it because they needed someone who could think like the enemy. Is Ender guilty for killing off an entire species?
Ender goes into an angst-induced coma for a few days, and when he comes out of it, his friends are all there to congratulate him.
And also tell him about a little war they had on Earth. The truce to this war was…wait for it…the Locke Proposal (so we know Peter and Val had something to do with it).
Someone makes a joke about how they’ll have to go to school because they’re still kids and everyone laughs until they cry.