Shadows in Flight
by Orson Scott Card
Concept Art by Nick Greenwood
Seeing the Future
Bean looked at his three children and it was only with effort that he concealed the
depth of his grief and fear for them. He had known it was only a matter of time,
and while he was relieved that Ender had finally woken out of his long pacifist
slumber to end Sergeant's domination, he knew that they had only set the scene for
conflict to come. What will happen when I'm gone? thought Bean.
Petra, I have botched this completely, but I don't know how I could have done it
better. They've had too much freedom, but I couldn't chase them through
corridors where my body no longer fit.
"Andrew," said Bean, "I appreciate your loyalty to me, and the fact that you
repeated all conversations verbatim, including the incredibly stupid and dangerous
things you said."
Bean watched as Ender blushed a little -- not from embarrassment, but from anger.
He also saw how Carlotta looked a little relieved, and Cincinnatus -- Bean had
always hated the nickname "Sergeant" -- got a sudden look of triumphant hope.
These children had no idea how transparent they were to him. Learning to read
other people took time, no matter how clever a child might be.
Though they might be better at it than Bean supposed. What if they knew exactly
what emotions they were showing now, and let them show deliberately?
Petra, you got the easier bargain. I never thought how challenging it would be,
raising children who were so grimly determined to survive -- however they chose
to define that -- and so preternaturally good at acquiring the skills to do it.
I must have been just a little terrifying myself at that age, if anyone had cared to
notice. If Achilles had understood me only a little better, he would have killed me
and not Poke. But Achilles was insane, and killed out of need rather than policy.
Ender had the self-control not to plead his case, despite the criticism, nor to try to
build more of a case against the others. Instead he stood patiently, despite that
slight blush, which was already fading.