SHADOW PUPPETS is the third book in the 'Bean' sequence of Card's Ender books. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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August 17, 2002
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Excerpt from Shadow Puppets by Ben Stroud
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Re: Final decision
Subj not to be killed. Subj will be transported according to plan 2, route 1. Dep Tue. 0400, checkpoint #3 @ 0600, which is first light. Please be smart enough to remember the international dateline. He is yours if you want him.
If your intelligence outweighs your ambition you will kill him. If vice versa, you will try to use him. You did not ask my advice, but I have seen him in action: Kill him.
True, without an antagonist to frighten the world you will never retrieve the power the office of Hegemon once had. It would be the end of your career.
Let him live, and it is the end of your life, and you will leave the world in his power when you die. Who is the monster Or at least monster #2
And I have told you how to get him. Am I monster #3 Or merely fool #1
Your faithful servant in motley.
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Bean kind of liked being tall, even though it was going to kill him.
And at the rate he was growing, it would be sooner rather than later. How long did he have A year Three Five The ends of his bones were still like a child's, blossoming, lengthening; even his head was growing, so that like a baby he had a soft patch of cartilage and new bone along the crest of his skull.
It meant constant adjustment, as week by week his arms reached farther when he flung them out, his feet were longer and caught on stairs and sills, his legs were longer so that as he walked he covered ground more quickly, and companions had to hurry to keep up. When he trained with his soldiers, the elite company of men that constituted the entire military force of the Hegemony, he could now run ahead of them, his stride longer than theirs.
He had long since earned the respect of his men. But now, thanks to his height, they finally, literally, looked up to him.
Bean stood on the grass where two assault choppers were waiting for his men to board. Today the mission was a dangerous one -- to penetrate Chinese air space and intercept a small convoy transporting a prisoner from Beijing toward the interior. Everything depended on secrecy, surprise, and the extraordinarily accurate information the Hegemon, Peter Wiggin, had been receiving from inside China in the past few months.
Bean wished he knew the source of the intelligence, because his life and the lives of his men depended on it. The accuracy up to now could easily have been a setup. Even though "Hegemon" was essentially an empty title now, since most of the world's population resided in countries that had withdrawn their recognition of the authority of the office, PeterWiggin had been using Bean's soldiers well. They were a constant irritant to the newly expansionist China, inserting themselves here and there at exactly the moment most calculated to disrupt the confidence of the Chinese leadership.
The patrol boat that suddenly disappears, the helicopter that goes down, the spy operation that is abruptly rolled up, blinding the Chinese intelligence service in yet another country -- officially the Chinese hadn't even accused the Hegemon of any involvement in such incidents, but that only meant that they didn't want to give any publicity to the Hegemon, didn't want to boost his reputation or prestige among those who feared China in these years since the conquest of India and Indochina. They almost certainly knew who was the source of their woes.
Indeed, they probably gave Bean's little force the credit for problems that were actually the ordinary accidents of life. The death of the foreign minister of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. only minutes before meeting with the U.S. president -- they might really think PeterWiggin's reach was that long, or that he thought the Chinese foreign minister, a party hack, was worth assassinating.