Friday, September 11, 2009

A Different War

Ender's Game, Ender
How I Live Now, Daisy
A shuttle station

It was not like before.
Smoldering structures and a tormented landscape lay before the eyes of Ender Wiggin on his third return home. Something had gone terribly wrong in the months he was gone, and it was obviously not the buggers as it had been before. This time, it was old-fashioned war: humans versus humans.
The shuttle that brought Ender didn’t stay long, of course, so he was left in a devastated shuttle station with little more than his belongings, several armed soldiers, a couple broken vending machines, and a girl about 17 years old.
At first, Ender thought (and hoped) that it was his sister, Valentine. Alas, it soon became true that this was not so as the figure walked up to Ender and introduced herself.
“Hello,” she said simply. “My name is Daisy. I’m here to explain the condition of the Earth you’ve been protecting for all these years.” Ender already knew the answers, but he let Daisy continue. Talking would reduce his lack of comfort from the natural gravity and flat ground.
“As you’ve noticed,” Daisy continued, “war has broken out while the majority of America’s fighters were away in space. Naturally, we were defenseless and useless against the assault. This is the state most of the country has been in for about a year now. Nowhere is safe, but they told me you’ll manage fine on your own.”
“They were right,” Ender said as he surveyed the area. “There’s no need to put more lives in danger. He noticed that the girl had not asked his name. So they know about my planetary murder even in homeland warfare, Ender thought coldly.
If Daisy was disappointed at Ender’s words, she didn’t show it. “Okay then. There’s a bus waiting outside the station. I have another shuttle to greet”. Sure enough, another shuttle was landing over Ender’s shoulder.
It was just then that Ender noticed the soldier on the glass roof above. He couldn’t tell what side he was on, but he made a fair assumption a rocket flew from the man’s launcher and collided with the incoming shuttle. One fireball and shockwave later set off a storm of bullets from the surrounding soldiers into the ceiling, shattering the glass causing the assailant to fall to the concrete below. The rocket wielder was a distraction. Through the double entrance doors came about 30 other armed forces, and the fighting began.
Ender felt a push on his back. Daisy grasped his shirt and pulled him into a nearby bathroom, away from the bullets. Ender wasn’t used to having someone else make the decisions, but he made an exception since it wasn’t his war this time. The gunfire echoed around the restroom, but at least the two could hear each other.
“Like I said,” Daisy panted, “nowhere is safe”.
“Our first priority is to escape the station.” Ender had never fought on Earth before, but he knew how to survival tactfully. “I noticed one wall that was torn down when I arrived. It’s behind the fighting with sufficient cover. We can run from there”.
“They told me you were the best,” she said with a sad smile, “but I was skeptical.”
“Everyone always is,” agreed Ender as he led the way into the firefight. About half of the forces on each side were already dead, but, just as Ender planned, there was no one near the hole in the wall. So they ran.
In the long run, luck was with them. There was a lot of cover, and the only soldier who noticed their escape was one of the militia that greeted Ender. The gunfire was still audible after Ender and Daisy had made it through the hole, but the station bus waited in the back for the return to the city.
For a rare moment in his life, Ender didn’t know what to do next. “What do I do to help repair this broken place?”
Daisy smiled. “Do what I do. Even the smallest things I’ve done so far have improved the city’s welfare”.
“In that case, I will return with you to end this war.” The second war in two months, Ender noted to himself as he and Daisy stepped onto the bus, towards his next mission.