All of these quotes are taken from Ender's Game © Orson Scott Card. If you haven't read the book, these quotes will obviously contain spoilers. Go read the book straight away - then come back and enjoy this work-in-progress. :)
"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."
Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.
I have to win this now, and for all time, or I'll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse.
It would not be a good game, Ender knew. It was not a question of winning. When kids played in the corridors, whole troops of them, the buggers never won, and sometimes the games got mean. But here in their flat, the game would start mean, and the bugger couldn't just go empty and quit the way the buggers did in the real wars. The bugger was in it until the astronaut decided it was over.
"Ender and I aren't stupid. We scored just as well as you did on everything. Better on some things. We're all such wonderfully bright children. You're not the smartest, Peter, just the biggest."
I know I'm a third, I know it, if you want I'll go away so you don't have to be embarrassed in front of everybody, I'm sorry I lost the monitor and now you have three kids with no obvious explanation, so inconvenient for you, I'm sorry sorry sorry.
Father thumbed a key and a man appeared on his video. He was wearing the only military uniform that meant anything anymore, the I.F., the International Fleet.
"I thought it was over," said Father.
Peter said nothing, just poured milk over his cereal.
And Ender thought, Maybe I won't have to go to school today after all.
"Conscripts make good cannon fodder, but for officers we need volunteers."
He didn't like Peter's kind, the strong against the weak, and he didn't like his own kind, either, the smart against the stupid.
"Valentine loves me."
"With all her heart. Completely, unstintingly, she's devoted to you, and you adore her. I told you it wouldn't be easy."
"Ender Wiggin, if it were a matter of choosing the best and happiest future for you, I'd tell you to stay home. Stay here, grow up, be happy. There are worse things than being a Third, worse than a big brother who can't make up his mind whether to be a human being or a jackal. Battle School is one of those worse things."
"Good-bye," Ender said to his family. He reached out and took Colonel Graff's hand and walked out the door with him."Kill some buggers for me," Peter shouted.
"I love you, Andrew!" Mother called.
"We'll write to you!" Father said.
And as he got into the car that waited silently in the corridor, he heard Valentine's anguished cry. "Come back to me! I love you forever!"
They talked and joked and bragged and laughed. Ender kept his silence. He noticed how Graff and the other officers were watching them. Analyzing. Everything we do means something, Ender realized. Them laughing. Me not laughing.
He toyed with the idea of trying to be like the other boys. But he couldn't think of any jokes, and none of theirs seemed funny. Wherever their laughter came from, Ender couldn't find such a place in himself. He was afraid, and fear made him serious.
Later, though, he would remember that it was even before he left Earth that he first thought of it as a planet, like any other, not particularly his own.
"There's only one boy on this launch with any brains at all, and that's Ender Wiggin. Take a good look at him, little boys. He's going to be a commander when you're still in diapers up there. Because he knows how to think in null gravity, and you just want to throw up."
"There's only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that's being so good at what you do that they can't ignore you."
I will not be the bugger of my group, Ender thought. I didn't leave Valentine and Mother and Father to come here just to get iced.
Dap came to the door that night and moved quietly among the beds, touching a hand here, a forehead there. Where he went there was more crying, not less. The touch of kindness in this frightening place was enough to push some over the edge into tears. Not Ender, though. When Dap came, his face was dry. It was the lying face he presented to Mother and Father, when Peter had been cruel to him and he dare not let it show. Thank you for this, Peter. For dry eyes and silent weeping. You taught me how to hide everything I felt. More than ever, I need that now.
COVER YOUR BUTT. BERNARD IS WATCHING. -- GOD
"Yesterday someone sent a message that was signed GOD," Bernard said.
"Really?" said Dap. I didn't know he was signed onto the system." Dap turned and left, and the room was filled with laughter.
When it came time to choose their launch leader, Alai was the most unanimous choice. Bernard sulked for a few days and then he was fine, and everyone settled into the new pattern. The launch was no longer divided into Bernard's in-group and Ender's outcasts. Alai was the bridge.
And instead of pushing his face into one of the liquids, he kicked one over, then the other, and dodged the Giant's huge hands as the Giant shouted, "Cheater, cheater!" He jumped at the Giant's face, clambered up his lip and nose, and began to dig in the Giant's eye. The stuff came away like cottage cheese, and as the Giant screamed, Ender's figure burrowed into the eye, climbed right in, burrowed in and in.
He hadn't meant to kill the Giant. This was supposed to be a game. Not a choice between his own grisly death and an even worse murder. I'm a murderer, even when I play. Peter would be proud of me.
ASSIGNED SALAMANDER ARMY
COMMANDER BONZO MADRID
CODE GREEN GREEN BROWN
NO POSSESSIONS TRANSFERRED
Alai suddenly kissed Ender on the cheek and whispered in his ear, "Salaam." Then, red-faced, he turned away and walked to his own bed at the back of the barracks. Ender guessed that the kiss and the word were somehow forbidden. A surpressed religion, perhaps. Or maybe the word had some private and powerful meaning for Alai alone. Whatever it meant to Alai, Ender knew that it was sacred; that he had uncovered himself for Ender, as once Ender's mother had done, when he was very young, before they put the monitor in his neck, and she had put her hands on his head when she thought he was asleep, and prayed over him.
At last he came to a door, with these words in glowing emeralds:
THE END OF THE WORLD
He did not hesitate. He opened the door and stepped through.
Perhaps it's called the end of the world because it's the end of the games, because I can go to one of the villages and become one of the little boys working and playing there, with nothing to kill and nothing to kill me, just living there. As he thought of it, though, he could not imagine what "just living" might actually be. He had never done it in his life. But he wanted to do it anyway.
"Just between you and me," Petra said, "if they gave the Battle School an enema, they'd stick it in at green green brown."
A boy stood there, tall and slender, with beautiful black eyes and slender hips that hinted at refinement. I would follow such beauty, said something inside of Ender. I would see as those eyes see.
"Bonzo, he so pre-cise. He so careful, he piss on a plate and never splash."
"Hey, look! Salamander's getting babies now! Look at this! He could walk between my legs without touching my balls!"
"'Cause you got none, Dink, that's why," somebody answered.
As he left the room he heard somebody else say, "It's Wiggin. You know, the smartass Launchie from the game room."
He walked down the corridor smiling. He may be short, but they knew his name.
He could see Bonzo's anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender's anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo's was hot, and so it used him.
The enemy's gate was down.
"Ender Wiggin is ten times smarter and stronger than I am. What I'm doing to him will bring out his genius. If I had to go through it myself, it would crush me. Major Anderson, I know I'm wrecking the game, and I know you love it better than any of the boys who play. Hate me if you like, but don't stop me."
"So teach me."
"I don't want to Rose mad at me. I want to be part of the battles now, I'm tired of sitting out till the end."
"Your standings will go down."
This time Ender didn't answer.
More battles. This time Ender played a proper role within a toon. He made mistakes. Skirmishes were lost. He dropped from first to second in the standings, then to fourth. Then he made fewer mistakes, and began to feel comfortable within the framework of his toon, and he went back up to third, then second, then first.
"He doesn't know what he's doing. He's winning, but that scares him worse of all, because he doesn't know why he's winning, except that I have something to do with it. Any minute somebody could find out that Rosen isn't some magic Israeli general who can win no matter what. He doesn't know why anybody wins or loses. Nobody does." Dink
"It doesn't mean he's crazy, Dink."
"I know, you've been here a year, you think these people are normal. Well, they're not. We're not. I look in the library, I call up books on my desk. Old ones, because they won't let us have anything new, but I've got a pretty good idea what children are, and we're not children. Children can lose sometimes and nobody cares. Children aren't in armies, aren't commanders, they don't rule over forty other kids, it's more than anybody can take and not get crazy."
He is dead, she thought bitterly, because we have forgotten him.
Yet at school he acted as though he were excited about the puerile lesson of the day. Oh, wow, I never knew that frogs looked like this inside, he'd say, and then at home he studied the binding of cells into organisms through the philotic collection of DNA. Peter was a master of flattery, and all the teachers bought it.
Still, it was good. Peter never fought anymore. Never bullied. Got along well with everybody. It was a new Peter.
Everyone believed it. Mother and Father said it, so often it made Valentine want to scream at them. It isn't the new Peter! It's the old Peter, only smarter!
"Peter, you're 12 years old. I'm ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and treat us like mice."
"Funny as a one-legged rabbit, Val."
"Of which there are no doubt several in these woods."
"Hopping in neat little circles."
Valentine laughed at the gruesome image and hated herself for thinking it was funny.
"I can't do a weekly column," Valentine said, "I don't even have a monthly period yet."
The only person Ender loves and trusts at all. She felt a deep stab of pain, of regret, of shame that it was now Peter she was close to, Peter who was the center of her life. For you, Ender, I light fires on your birthday. For Peter I help fulfil all his dreams.
"I know what you're thinking, you bastard, you're thinking that I'm wrong, that Ender's like Peter. Well maybe I'm like Peter, but Ender isn't, he isn't at all, I used to tell him when he cried, I told him that lots of times, you're not like Peter, you never like to hurt people, you're kind and good and not like Peter at all!"
Dink was right, they were the enemy, they loved and cared for nothing and he was not going to do what they wanted, he was damn well not going to do anything for them. He had had only one memory that was safe, one good thing, and those bastards had plowed it into him with the rest of the manure -- and so he was finished, he wasn't going to play.
"The most noble title any child can have," Demosthenes wrote, "is Third."
For you, Ender, she said to herself as she wrote.
Peter laughed in delight when he read it. "That'll make them sit up and take notice. Third! A noble title! Oh, you have a wicked streak."
"We're doing something unusual with Dragon Army. I hope you don't mind. We've assembled a new army by advancing the equivalent of an entire launch course early and delaying the graduation of quite a few advanced students. I think you'll be pleased with the quality of your soldiers. I hope you are, because we're forbidding you to transfer any of them."
"You can use a side handhold if you want," Ender said.
"Go suck on it," said the boy.
"You!" Ender said, pointing at the small one. "Which way is down?"
"Toward the enemy door." The answer was quick. It was also surly, as if to say, OK, OK, now get on with the important stuff.
"This soldier's name is Bean, sir."
"Get that for size or for brains?"
Yes, thought Ender. Not bad. They gave me an untrained army, with no excellent veterans, but at least it isn't a crop of fools. I can work with this.
"Sir," Ender said softly.
Well, what I've done to you this day, Bean, I've done. But I'll be watching you, more compassionately than you know, and when the time is right you'll find that I'm your friend, and you are the soldier you want to be.
"Sir," Ender said softly.
"I taught you everything you know. But I didn't teach you everything I know."
"I knew all along that you were holding something back, Ender.
A pause. Ender's bear was in trouble on the screen. He climbed a tree. "I wasn't, Alai. Holding anything back."
"I know." said Alai. "Neither was I."
"Alas, it is not to be."
"Peace. It's what salaam means. Peace be unto you."
He rolled off his bunk and crawled in the darkness the two meters to the door. There was a slip of paper there. He couldn't read it, of course, but he knew what it was. Battle. How kind of them. I wish, and they deliver.
They were in good shape, light and agile, and above all excited about the battle to come. A few of them spontaneously began to wrestle -- the gym, instead of being tedious, was suddenly fun, because of the battle to come. Their confidence was the supreme confidence of those who have never been into the contest, and think they are ready. Well, why shouldn't they think so? They are. And so am I.
In the distance, in the dim light, he could see the enemy door, their lighted flash suits already pouring out. Ender knew a moment's pleasure. Everyone had learned the wrong lesson from Boozo's misuse of Ender Wiggin. They all dumped through the door immediately, so that there was no chance to do anything other than name the formation they would use. Commanders didn't have time to think. Well, Ender would take the time, and trust his soldiers' ability to fight with flashed legs to keep them intact as they came late through the door.
In all the other armies Ender had fought in, he would have been worrying right now about making sure he and his toon were in their proper place in their own formation. Instead, he and all his men were only thinking of ways to slip around past the formation, control the stars and the corners of the room, and then break the enemy formation into meaningless chunks that didn't know what they were doing. Even with less than four weeks together, the way they fought already seemed like the only intelligent way, the only possible way. Ender was almost surprised that Rabbit Army didn't know already that they were hopelessly out of date.
Crisp, military appearance, that's what he wanted when Carby and Rabbit Army got their bodies under control again. They may curse us and lie about us, but they'll remember that we destroyed them, and no matter what they say other soldiers and other commanders will see that in their eyes; in those Rabbit eyes, they'll see us in neat formation, victorious and almost undamaged in our first battle. Dragon Army isn't going to be an obscure name for long.
"Didn't find the paper till you got back from the showers, right?"
Ender looked for the source of the voice. It was Bean, already in his flash suit, looking insolent. Time to repay old humiliations, is that it, Bean?
"Of course," Ender said, contemptuously. "I'm not as close to the floor as you are."
"As long as you're cheating," Ender said to Anderson, "why don't you train the other army to cheat intelligently!"
Only as Ender himself was leaving the battleroom did he realize that Bonzo would not realize that Ender was angry at the teachers. Spanish honor. Bonzo would only know that he had been defeated even when the odds were stacked in his favor; that Ender had had the youngest child in his army publicly state what Bonzo should have done to win; and that Ender had not even stayed to receive Bonzo's dignified surrender. If Bonzo had not already hated Ender he would surely have begun; and hating him as he did, this would surely turn his rage murderous. Bonzo was the last person to strike me, thought Ender. I'm sure he has not forgotten that.
"They can't break you."
"You'd be surprised." Ender breathed sharply, suddenly, as if there were a stab of pain, or he had to catch a sudden breath in a wind; Bean looked at him and realized that the impossible was happening. Far from baiting him, Ender Wiggin was actually confiding in him. Not much. But a little. Ender was human and Bean had been allowed to see.
"What's the worst that could happen? You lose one game."
"Yes. That's the worst that could happen. I can't lose any games. Because if I lose any--"
He didn't explain himself, and Bean didn't ask.
"I need you to be clever, Bean. I need you to think of solutions to problems we haven't seen yet. I want you to try things that no one has ever tried because they're absolutely stupid."
He thought of a half dozen ideas betore he went to sleep. Ender would be pleased -- every one of them was stupid.
"Ender Wiggin must believe that no matter what happens, no adult will ever, ever step in to help him in any way. He must believe, to the core of his soul, that he can only do what he and the other children work out for themselves. If he does not believe that, then he will never reach the peak of his abilities."
DON'T BE ALONE. EVER. -- DINK
"Be proud, Bonito, pretty boy. You can go home and tell your father, Yes, I beat up Ender Wiggin, who was barely ten years old, and I was thirteen. And I had only six of my friends to help me, and somehow we managed to defeat him, even though he was naked and wet and alone -- Ender Wiggin is so dangerous and terrifying it was all we could do not to bring two hundred."
Bonzo stopped smiling. It was the thing he hated most about Ender, that Ender really mattered to other people, and in the end, Bonzo did not. You've killed me with those words, Dink. Bonzo doesn't want to hear that I might save the world.
There was no doubt now in Ender's mind. There was no help for him. Whatever he faced, now and forever, no one would save him from it. Peter might be scum, but Peter had been right, always right; the power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you.
As if to corroborate Bean's statement, the enemy began to call out to them. "Hey! We be hungry, come and feed us! Your ass is draggin'! Your ass is Dragon!
Ender was smiling. "I beat you again, sir," he said.
"Nonsense, Ender," Anderson said softly. "Your battle was with Griffin and Tiger."
"How stupid do you think I am?" said Ender.
Anderson handed him the hook. Ender unfroze everyone at once. To hell with protocol. To hell with everything. "Hey!" he shouted as Anderson moved away. "What is it next time? My army in a cage without guns, with the rest of the Battle School against them? How about a little equality?"
There was a loud murmur of agreement from the other boys, and not all of it came from Dragon Army. Anderson did not so much as turn around to acknowledge Ender's challenge. Finally, it was William Bee who answered. "Ender, if you're on one side of the battle, it won't be equal no matter what the conditions are."
Ender slammed his open hand against the wall and shouted at the boy. "I don't care about the game anymore!" His voice echoed through the corridor. Boys from other armies came to their doors. He spoke quietly into the silence -- "Do you understand that?" And he whispered. "The game is over."
He was a soldier, and if anyone had asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wouldn't have known what they meant.
"Ender Wiggin isn't a killer. He just wins -- thoroughly. If anybody's going to be scared, let it be the buggers."
Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.
"Ender's only ten years old," she said. "I thought you told us the first time he'd be eligible for a leave was when he was twelve."
"He skipped a few grades."
Ender didn't wave when she walked down the hill toward him, didn't smile when she stepped onto the floating boat slip. But she knew that he was glad to see her, knew it because of the way his eyes never left her face.
"I didn't want to see you."
"They told me."
"I was afraid that I'd still love you."
"I hoped that you would."
"My fear, your wish -- both granted."
"Ender, it really is true. We may be young, but we're not powerless. We play by their rules long enough, and it becomes our game."
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--"
"You beat them." For a moment she was not afraid of his understanding.
"No, you don't understand. 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."
"Human beings didn't evolve brains in order to lie around on lakes. Killing's the first thing we learned. And a good thing we did, or we'd be dead, and the tigers would own the earth."
Graff led him through a maze of clearances. Authority was a little plastic ball that Graff carried. He dropped it into chutes, and doors opened and people stood up and saluted and the chutes spat out the ball and Graff went on. Ender noticed that at first everyone watched Graff, but as they penetrated deeper into the spaceport, people began watching Ender. At first it was the man of real authority they noticed, but later, where everyone had authority, it was his cargo they cared to see.
That is Earth, he thought. Not a globe thousands of kilometers around, but a forest with a shining lake, a house hidden at the crest of the hill, high in the trees, a grassy slope leading upward from the water, fish leaping and birds strafing to take the bugs that lived at the border between water and sky. Earth was the constant noise of crickets and winds and birds. And the voice of one girl, who spoke to him out of his far-off childhood. The same voice that had once protected him from terror. The same voice that he would do anything to keep alive, even return to school, even leave Earth behind again for another four or forty or four thousand years. Even if she loved Peter more.
His eyes were closed, and he had not made any sound but breathing; still, Graff reached out and touched his hand across the aisle. Ender stiffened in surprise, and Graff soon withdrew, but for a moment Ender was struck with the startling thought that perhaps Graff felt some affection for him. But no, it was just another calculated gesture. Graff was creating a commander out of a little boy. No doubt Unit 17 in the course of studies included an affectionate gesture from the teacher.
"Squirrels never built starships," said Graff.
"If the other fellow can't tell you his story, you can never be sure he isn't trying to kill you."
And for pleasure, there was the simulator, the most perfect videogame he had ever played.
He had long since realized that as the battleroom was to Battle School, so the simulator was to Command School. The classes were valuable, but the real education was the game. People dropped in from time to time to watch him play. They never spoke -- hardly anyone ever did, unless they had something specific to teach him. The watchers would stay, silently, watching him run through a difficult simulation, and then leave just as he finished. What are you doing, he wanted to ask. Judging me? Determining whether you want to trust the fleet to me? Just remember that I didn't ask for it.
"I am your enemy, the first one you've ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will ever tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the only rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher."
For the first time in his life, a teacher was pointing out things that Ender had not already seen for himself. For the first time, Ender had found a living mind he could admire.
"Salaam," said a whisper in his ears.
"Alai," said Ender.
"And me, the dwarf."
And Petra, and Dink; Crazy Tom, Shen, Hot Soup, Fly Molo, all the best students Ender had fought with or fought against, everyone that Ender had trusted in Battle School.
The trust was complete, the working of the fleet quick and responsive. And at the end of three weeks, Mazer showed him a replay of their most recent battle, only this time from the enemy's point of view.
"This is what he saw as you attacked. What does it remind you of? The quickness of response, for instance?"
"We look like a bugger fleet."
"You match them, Ender. You're as fast as they are."
"Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf. Survival first, then happiness as we can manage it."
"Mazer, I don't want to keep dreaming these things. I'm afraid to sleep. I keep thinking of things that I don't want to remember. My whole life keeps playing out as if I were a recorder and someone else wanted to watch the most terrible parts of my life."
Forget it, Mazer. I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules, if you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly -- I'll beat you unfairly first.
If I break this rule, they'll never let me be a commander. It would be too dangerous. I'll never have to play a game again. And that is victory.
"I don't have to be your commander anymore, do I?" asked Ender. "I don't want to command anybody again."
"You don't have to command anybody," said Dink, "but you're always our commander."
"In all the world, the name of Ender is one to conjure with. The child-god, the miracle worker, with life and death in his hands. Every petty tyrant-to-be would like to have the boy, to set him in front of an army and watch the world either flock to join or cower in fear."
"I know what you're thinking, Ender. You're thinking that I'm trying to control you just as much as Peter or Graff or any of the others."
"It crossed my mind."
"Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who love you. I didn't come here because I wanted to be a colonist. I came because I've spent my whole life in the company of the brother that I hated. Now I want a chance to know the brother that I loved, before it's too late, before we're not children anymore."
"While you're governing the colony and I'm writing political philosophy, they'll never guess that in the darkness of night we sneak into each other's room and play checkers and have pillowfights."
"Eat it, Ender, I'm coming with you."
"Eat it yourself, Abra, or I'll stuff you with mud."
There was no memory of pain or fear, though. What the hive-queen felt was sadness, a sense of resignation. She had not thought these words as she saw the humans coming to kill, but it was in words that Ender understood her: They did not forgive us, she thought. We will surely die.
We are like you; the thought pressed into his mind. We did not mean to murder, and when we understood, we never came again. We thought we were the only thinking beings in the universe, until we met you, but never did we dream that thought could arise from the lonely animals who cannot dream each other's dreams. How were we to know? We could live with you in peace. Believe us, believe us, believe us.
Come into our home, daughters of Earth; dwell in our tunnels, harvest our fields; what we cannot do, you are now our hands to do for us. Blossom, trees; ripen, fields; be warm for them, suns; be fertile for them, planets: they are our adopted daughters, and they have come home.