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Graff is upset because the mind game is, ahem, playing with Ender’s mind. He’s also a little nervous about the whole “End of the World” thing because he’s just a nervous Nelly.
Major Imbu (who must be a computer person) explains that the mind game does what it thinks is necessary to help the student along and that “The End of the World” might have a different meaning for Ender.
Right about now you might be wondering what happened to Peter and Val – you know, Ender’s siblings? We last saw them in Chapter 3. Well, let’s pretend that you were wondering. What are they up to?
They’ve moved with their parents to Greensboro, North Carolina (where Orson Scott Card lives, coincidentally enough). Val misses Ender and does what all sisters do when they miss a brother: she lights fires to commemorate his birthday.
Meanwhile, they moved so Peter would mellow out, and he’s now doing better at school. But he also tortures forest animals in his spare time, so it’s not totally working, Val thinks. (Then again, she sets fires.)
Peter tells Val that he needs her help to take over the world. And no, he’s not joking.
See, Peter knows that there’s a war coming; and he also knows that he and Val are smart enough to make it a small war – if only people listened to them. Which leads to this great exchange (that also tells us how old the Wiggin kids are):
Val: “Peter, you’re twelve years old. I’m ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice” (9.61).
Peter: “But we don't think like other children, do we, Val? We don't talk like other children. And above all, we don't write like other children” (9.62).
If they can get on the Internet as adults, then they can insert their ideas into public debates.
Val worries that Peter is sick, what with the fantasies of taking over the world and the killing of small animals. She still agrees to help him.
They log on and start commenting, seeing what attracts attention and honing their style. (Also, probably honing their use of emoticons.) When they know enough about writing, they start building two different personalities, Locke and Demosthenes. Locke is rational and is written by Peter. Demosthenes is a little more…hostile and Val writes for him.
They get attention, become popular, and get invited to write columns for newspapers. It’s all going well, though when we think of this plan we’re always reminded of this cartoon.
Meanwhile, Ender has hit a wall. No, not literally, but he’s sure depressed about his life. He’s a toon leader in Phoenix Army, under Petra Arkanian, but isn’t progressing as a student/soldier.
He also doesn’t feel like he has any friends. And in the Fairyland game, he can’t get past the tower room with the mirror. He always sees Peter’s face there after he kills the snake.
The best part of this glimpse into Ender’s world is probably the image of the giant’s body in the Fairyland game: it’s now totally a part of the landscape – there’s actually a village of dwarves living in what used to be his ribcage. But that’s not enough to make Ender less depressed.
Graff visits Valentine to ask why Ender always sees Peter in the mirror. Val says that Ender is the total opposite of Peter – that Ender is totally good. In fact, Val feels like she betrayed Ender by partnering with Peter on the Locke and Demosthenes scheme.
Graff agrees that Ender is totally good. (How many people does this kid have to beat up before someone says, well, maybe he’s not totally good?)
Graff asks Val to write a letter to Ender reminding him that he’s totally good.
Back at school, Ender gets a letter from Val that’s so full of inside jokes he knows they put her up to it.
Now the one thing he was fighting for (his sister) has kind of been ruined by the school.
Ender does what anyone who is deeply angry and despairing does: he signs on to a computer game. Instead of killing the snake, though, he kisses it and it turns into Valentine.
But then the mirror opens up and they leave the tower. Still, Ender knows that his sister will always be with him, even though in the real world she betrayed him by working with his enemies. Well, at the very least, he’s no longer depressed.