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Excerpt from Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card

Shadow of The Hegemon

by Orson Scott Card
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  • First Published:
  • Jan 1, 2001
  • Paperback:
  • Dec 2001
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"A boat," said Nikolai. "And not a rental. They're probably waiting for us to put ourselves in their hands, so there won't be a struggle."

"Several of the nearby houses have boats," said Father. "But we don't know these people."

"They know us," said Nikolai. "Especially Bean. We are war heroes, you know."

"But any house around here could be the very one from which they're watching us," said Father. "If they're watching us. We can't trust anybody."

"Let's get in our bathing suits," said Bean, "and walk to the beach and then wander as far as we can before we cut inland and find somebody with a boat."

Since no one had a better plan, they put it into action at once. Within two minutes they were out the door, carrying no wallets or purses, though Father and Mother slipped a few identification papers and credit cards into their suits. Bean and Nikolai laughed and teased each other as usual, and Mother and Father held hands and talked quietly, smiling at their sons ... as usual. No sign of alarm. Nothing to cause anyone watching to spring into action.

They were only about a quarter mile up the beach when they heard an explosion -- loud, as if it were close, and the shockwave made them stumble. Mother fell. Father helped her up as Bean and Nikolai looked back.

"Maybe it's not our house," said Nikolai.

"Let's not go back and check," said Bean.

They began to jog up the beach, matching their speed to Mother, who was limping a little from having skinned one knee and twisted the other when she fell. "Go on ahead," she said.

"Mother," said Nikolai, "taking you is the same as taking us, because we'd do whatever they wanted to get you back."

"They don't want to take us," said Bean. "Petra they wanted to use. Me they want dead."

"No," said Mother.

"He's right," said Father. "You don't blow up a house in order to kidnap the occupants."

"But we don't know it was our house!" Mother insisted.

"Mother," said Bean. "It's basic strategy. Any resource you can't get control of, you destroy so your enemy can't have it."

"What enemy?" Mother said. "Greece has no enemies!"

"When somebody wants to rule the world," said Nikolai, "eventually everyone is his enemy."

"I think we should run faster," said Mother.

They did.

As they ran, Bean thought through what Mother had said. Nikolai's answer was right, of course, but Bean couldn't help but wonder: Greece might have no enemies, but I have. Somewhere in this world, Achilles is alive. Supposedly he's in custody, a prisoner because he is mentally ill, because he has murdered again and again. Graff promised that he would never be set free. But Graff was court-martialed -- exonerated, yes, but retired from the military. He's now Minister of Colonization, no longer in a position to keep his promise about Achilles. And if there's one thing Achilles wants, it's me, dead.

Kidnaping Petra, that's something Achilles would think of. And if he was in a position to cause that to happen -- if some government or group was listening to him -- then it would have been a simple enough matter for him to get the same people to kill Bean.

Or would Achilles insist on being there in person?

Probably not. Achilles was not a sadist. He killed with his own hands when he needed to, but would never put himself at risk. Killing from a distance would actually be preferable. Using other hands to do his work.

Who else would want Bean dead? Any other enemy would seek to capture him. His test scores from Battle School were a matter of public record since Graff's trial. The military in every nation knew that he was the kid who in many ways had topped Ender himself. He would be the one most desired. He would also be the one most feared, if he were on the other side in a war. Any of them might kill him if they knew they couldn't take him. But they would try to take him first. Only Achilles would prefer his death.

Copyright © 2000 Orson Scott Card

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