For a change of pace, this chapter opens with two people discussing Peter and Valentine Wiggin.
They’re surprised that Locke and Demosthenes are really children – Peter is only fourteen and Valentine is twelve. They wonder at the fact that Valentine (mild) is writing Demosthenes (spicy) and Peter (jackal) is writing Locke (the moderate). They decide not to interfere with the two of them, but to keep their eyes on them.
Val and Peter continue to take over the world through writing, which is a totally stupid plan that we’re not jealous of at all. Yeah, we could take over the world through writing if we wanted to.
Graff comes again to see Val and take her out to visit Ender. Ender is being weird again.
Also, Graff admits to knowing that she’s Demosthenes. Which is a little like, “Hey, could you do us this favor, and I have a huge amount of blackmail material on you.”
Ender’s been relaxing at this house by a lake for two months. He built a raft and just wants to go swimming. Which is like the first time in a while that we totally agree with Ender on something.
Ender and Val go out on the raft and just talk, talk, talk. One of the most interesting things that comes out of this meeting is that, for a moment, Val wonders if she and Ender and Peter are really all that different.
Probably the most important part is when Ender explains to Val how his gift works. See, in order to be the perfect killer, he has to understand his enemy: “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them […] I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they don't exist” (13.127-129).
Val eventually convinces Ender that he has to protect her from the buggers, just like she used to protect him from Peter. Since Ender and Val love each other, Ender agrees to go to Command School for her.
Graff and Ender go by space shuttle to the Inter-Planetary Launch space station and grab a tug to take them to the secret IF Command School on the asteroid Eros. (And because it’s secret, the captain of that ship won’t be able to leave until the war is over. Because Graff can’t get a good night’s rest unless he screwed over at least one person that day.)
On the trip to Eros, Graff tells Ender all he knows about the buggers, which is basically that they’re spaceship-building ants that communicate by telepathy.
In fact, people learned how to communicate instantaneously through a device called an “ansible” only after they knew it was possible – and they knew it was possible because the buggers do it.
Science fiction history lesson: Graff says that “somebody dredged the name ansible out of an old book somewhere and it caught on” (13.236), which is kind of a joke because the name “ansible” is from Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction books. (Which you should totally read, by the way.)
Then Graff reveals the big, big secret (that we learned in Chapter 8), which is that people are invading the buggers’ worlds this time. Apparently, as soon as people had the ansible to be able to communicate immediately across huge distances, IF sent its ships to attack the bugger worlds: “We are the Third Invasion” (13.248).
Graff tells him that the invasion will happen sometime in the next five years. With all this talking that Graff does, we almost wish he had Anderson or someone to talk to again.
They arrive at Eros, and Ender asks Graff why they’re fighting the buggers. Graff says no one knows, but he thinks that it’s basically because we can’t talk to each other. In other words, this war is a big misunderstanding, sort of. But even though the buggers might be leaving humans alone, that’s too great a risk to take.
Ender agrees: “I’m in favor of surviving” (13.287).