Guess what? Two people are talking about Ender – that’s a total shock, right?
Apparently Ender is obsessing over a level called “The Giant’s Drink” in a game they call “the mind game” (which sure sounds innocent). That makes these guys a little nervous.
Also, Ender’s launch group isn’t bonding and one guy blames Ender for that.
They want to see how Ender will solve these two problems. Will he? Tune in next week to find out. No, kidding – just read on.
Ender and the Launchies are going into the battleroom for the first time, wearing those stiff spacesuits that Ender found in his locker. And because the suits are stiff and the battleroom has null gravity, it’s a little weird to move around. Ender starts practicing.
As do two other boys: Bernard the bully and his friend Alai. Alai is a natural, so he and Ender start practicing together. And they instantly become friends.
(It helps that, even while they’re working through null-gravity physics problems, they’re making jokes about farts. It’s a nice reminder that they are little boys still. Or, possibly, writers for The Family Guy.)
Then Ender and Alai learn that the guns they have shoot out light that freezes the suit. If you get hit in the arm, your arm would freeze; if you get hit in the body, then you’re out of the game. Basically, they’re playing laser tag. Which might sound nerdy, but sounds pretty awesome to us – laser tag in null gravity.
Ender, Alai, Bernard, and Shen freeze everyone else in their group. Which somehow rearranges the social situation – instead of Bernard and Ender having two separate groups, Alai has become the head of a new super-group.
It seems Ender has solved one of the problems that the two voices mentioned at the beginning of this chapter.
Ender plays the mind game during his free time. This game constantly changes and Ender can go anywhere in it and die very graphic deaths. (Imagine Grand Theft Auto, but designed by a fairy tale-loving psychologist who also enjoyed the finishing moves of Mortal Kombat. Awesome, right?)
Ender is stuck on the Giant’s Drink, where his character (a mouse) is challenged by a giant: the giant will take Ender to Fairyland if Ender can choose which of two drinks isn’t poison. Except both drinks are always poison.
Ender does the obvious thing: he cheats and kills the giant by burrowing into its eye. That’s apparently the right solution to this game since he gets taken to Fairyland.
But – oh no – Ender feels terrible about killing, even in a game.