|Ender in Flight
Included in Ender in Exile
by Orson Scott Card
Re: In or out?
My dear Quince, I'm quite aware of the difference between combat
command and flying a colony ship for a few dozen lightyears. If you feel
your usefulness in space is over, then by all means, retire with full
benefits. But if you stay in, and remain in near space, I can't promise you
promotion within the I.F.
We suddenly find ourselves afflicted with peace, you see. Always a
disaster for those whose careers have not reached their natural apex.
The colony ship I have offered you is not, contrary to your too-often-stated
opinion (try discretion now and then, Quince, and see if it might not work
better), a way to send you to oblivion. Retirement is oblivion, my friend. A
forty- or fifty-year voyage means that you will outlive all of us who remain
behind. All your friends will be dead. But you'll be alive to make new
friends. And you'll be in command of a ship. A nice, big, fast one.
This is what the whole fleet faces. We have heroes out there who fought
this war that The Boy is credited with winning. Have we forgotten them?
ALL our most significant missions will involve decades of flight. Yet we
must send our best officers to command them. So at any given moment,
most of our best officers will be strangers to everyone at CentCom
because they've been in flight for half a lifetime.
Eventually, ALL the central staff will be star voyagers. They will look down
their noses at anyone who has NOT taken decades-long flights between
stars. They will have cut themselves loose from Earth's timeline. They
will know each other by their logs, transmitted by ansible.
What I'm offering you is the only possible source of career-making
voyages: Colony ships.
And not only "a" colony ship, but one whose governor is a thirteen-year-old boy. Are you seriously going to tell me that you don't understand that
you are not his "nanny," you are being entrusted with the highly
responsible position of making sure that The Boy stays as far from Earth
as possible, while also making sure that he is a complete success in his
new assignment so that later generations cannot judge that he was not
Naturally, I did not send you this letter, and you did not read it. Nothing in
this is to be construed as a secret order. It is merely my personal
observation about the opportunity that you have been offered by a
polemarch who believes in your potential to be one of the great admirals
of the I.F.
Are you in? Or out? I need to draw up the papers one way or the other
within the week.
Your friend, Cham
At the bottom of the ladderway that would take them from the shuttle up into
the starship, Ender stopped and faced Valentine. "You can still go back now,"
he said. "You can see that I'll be fine. The people of the colony that I've met so
far are very nice and I won't be lonely."
"Are you afraid to go up the ladder first?" asked Valentine. "Is that why you've
stopped to make a speech?
So Ender went up the ladder and Valentine followed, making her the last of the
colonists to cut the thread connecting them to Earth.
Below them, the hatch of the shuttle closed, and then the hatch of the ship.
They stood in the airlock until a door opened and there was Admiral Quincy
Morgan, smiling, his hand already extended. How long did he strike that pose
before the door opened, Ender wondered. Was he there, perhaps, for hours,
posed like a mannequin?
"Welcome, Governor Wiggin," said Morgan.
"Admiral Morgan," said Ender, "I'm not governor of anything until I set foot on
the planet. On this voyage, on your ship, I'm a student of the Xenobiology and
adapted agriculture of Shakespeare colony. I hope, though, that when you're
not too busy, I'll have a chance to talk to you and learn from you about the
"You're the one who's seen combat," said Morgan.
"I played a game," said Ender. "I saw nothing of war. But there are colonists
on Shakespeare who made this voyage many years ago, and never had a hope
of returning home to Earth. I want to get some idea of what their training was,
"You'll have to read books for that," said Morgan, still smiling. "This is my first
interstellar voyage, too. In fact, as far as I know, no one has ever made two of
them. Even Mazer Rackham only made a single voyage, which ended at its
"Why, I believe you're right, Admiral Morgan," said Ender. "It makes us all
pioneers together, here in your ship." There -- had he said "your ship" often
enough to reassure Morgan that he knew the order of authority here?
Morgan's smile was unchanged. "I'll be happy to talk to you any time. It's an
honor to have you on my ship, sir."