Shadow of the Giant

《Shadow_of_the_Giant》

Chapter 1

MANDATE OF HEAVEN

From: Graff%[email protected]

To: Soup%[email protected]

Re: Free Vacation Offer

Destination of your choice in the known universe. And we pick you up!

Han Tzu waited until the armored car was completely out of sight before he ventured out into the bicycle-and-pedestrian-packed street. Crowds could make you invisible, but only if you were moving in the same direction, and that's the thing Han Tzu had never really been able to do, not since he came home to China from Battle School.

He always seemed to be moving, not upstream, but crossways. As if he had a completely different map of the world from the one everyone around him was using.

And here he was again, dodging bikes and forward-pressing people on their ten thousand errands in order to get from the doorway of his apartment building to the door of the tiny restaurant across the street.

But it was not us hard as it would have been for most people. Han Tzu had mastered the art of using only his peripheral vision, so his eyes stared straight ahead. Without eye contact, the others on the street could not face him down, could not insist that he yield the right of way. They could only dodge him, as if he were a boulder in the stream.

He put his hand to the door and hesitated. He did not know why he had not been arrested and killed or sent for retraining already, but if he was photographed taking this meeting, then it would be easy to prove that he was a traitor.

Then again, his enemies didn't need evidence to convict - all they needed was the inclination. So he opened the door, listened to the tinkle of the little bell, and walked toward the back of the narrow corridor between booths.

He knew he shouldn't expect Graff himself. For the Minister of Colonization to come to Earth would be news, and Graff avoided news unless it was useful to him, which this would certainly not be. So whom would Graff send? Someone from Battle School, undoubtedly. A teacher? Another student? Someone from Ender's Jeesh? Would this be a reunion?

To his surprise, the man in the last booth sat with his back toward the door, so all Han Tzu could see was his curly steel-grey hair. Not Chinese. And from the color of his ears, not European. The pertinent fact, though, was that he was not facing the door and could not see Han Tzu's approach. However, once Han Tzu sat down, he would be facing the door, able to observe the whole room.

That was the smart way to do it - after all, Han Tzu was the one who would recognize trouble if it came in the door, not this foreigner, this stranger. But few operatives on a mission this dangerous would have the brass to turn their backs on the door just because the person they were meeting would be a better observer.

The man did not turn as Han Tzu approached. Was he unobservant, or supremely confident?

"Hello," the man said softly just as Han Tzu came up beside him. "Please sit down."

Han Tzu slid into the booth opposite him and knew that he knew this old man but could not name him.

"Please don't say my name," said the man softly.

"Easy," said Han Tzu. "I don't remember it."

"Oh, yes you do," said the man. "You just don't remember my face. You haven't seen me very often. But the leader of the Jeesh spent a lot of time with me."

Now Han Tzu remembered. Those last weeks in Command School - on Eros, when they thought they were in training