|The Gold Bug
Included in Ender in Exile and the DabelPro Comic
by Orson Scott Card
It was all based on trust, wasn't it? You join the Fleet, you train until it's as natural to pilot your
ship as to dance, as reflexive to fight with the ship's weapons as to use your fists. Then you go
where they send you, leaving behind your family and friends, knowing that relativistic travel
ensures you'll never see them again. To all intents and purposes, you've already given your life
for your country -- no, your species.
You can only trust that when you commit to battle near some far-off world, the commander
they've assigned to you will actually win, will make it worth the sacrifice.
As to you, personally, does it matter whether you live or die? Sel Menach asked himself this
question more than once during the two-year voyage to war. Sometimes he thought it really
didn't matter at all. All he cared about was victory.
But when they got to the Formic world, forty lightyears from Earth, and he and his warship
hurtled from the transport and faced the enemy formation, he discovered that no matter what his
mind decided, his body was determined to live.
It was a child's voice he heard over his headset, giving commands to his squad. And another
child giving commands to his commander. They had been warned; it had been explained to
them. Mazer Rackham's voice came over the ansible, acquainting them with how these children
had been screened, trained, tested, and now the finest military minds among the human race, the
most relentlessly competitive, with the fastest reflexes, would give them their orders.
"They don't know the test they're taking is real," said Rackham. "To them, it's all about
winning. I can assure you that the supreme commander, Ender Wiggin, does not waste his
resources. He will be as careful of your lives as if he knew you were there."
We're trusting our lives to children?
But what choice did they have?