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Children of the Fleet is the first novel in the Fleet School series. It was written by Orson Scott Card.

Short Summary

Ender Wiggin won the Third Formic War, ending the alien threat to Earth. Afterwards, all the terraformed Formic worlds were open to settlement by humans, and the International Fleet became the arm of the Ministry of Colonization, run by Hyrum Graff. MinCol now runs Fleet School on the old Battle School station, and still recruits very smart kids to train as leaders of colony ships, and colonies.

Dabeet Ochoa is a very smart kid. Top of his class in every school. But he doesn’t think he has a chance at Fleet School, because he has no connections to the Fleet. That he knows of. At least until the day that Colonel Graff arrives at his school for an interview.

Detailed Summary

The novel begins in 1 AX, where Dabeet has grown tired of living with his mother, Maria Rafaella Ochoa, and her lies. One day he applied to Fleet School in his mother's name.

About a year later, the Minister of Colonization Hyrum Graff appears at Dabeet's apartment to recruit him for Fleet School. Graff pretended that he did not want to accept Dabeet into Fleet School, but was actually looking for how Dabeet would convince him otherwise. Dabeet asked for Graff to tell him the truth of his father's identity. Graff told him that his father was a member of the IF and that he had no relation to his supposed "mother". Graff reveals the truth that he was born in Ecuador to a mother who could not take care of him and was placed into foster care. His supposed foster mother was Maria Rafaella Ochoa, who brought him into the United States so he could be better educated. After this, Graff left, telling Dabeet that he had given him information and a test, and that if he was ready for anything that concerned Graff he would let him know.

The next day, Dabeet went to school like usual but could not concentrate as he was thinking about what Graff had told him. During his lunch, the principal of his school told him that his father was at the school and that he was supposed to take Dabeet to him. When they reached the spot he was supposed to be, both Dabeet and the principal fell unconscious from a gas.

When Dabeet woke, he was on an airplane seated near a man behind a desk (nicknamed the General) talking to a man on a speakerphone whom he presumed was Brazilian. Dabeet discussed the policy of the International Fleet with these men and how it would affect the wars to come on Earth, and found out the men were planning some kind of attack on Fleet School in order to involve the IF in Earthside affairs to protect smaller countries. Dabeet realized that the IF's policy of non-intervention would lead to large amounts of refugees that would be beneficial for the Dispersal Project. In order to prevent these wars caused by the Fleet's policy, Dabeet decided that there had to be some kind of attack on the IF to provoke them. He told the two men that if he were accepted into Fleet School, he would open a door on the station twice to signal to the men that they were clear to attack. Afterward, the plane was turned around and returned to the United States so Dabeet could eventually make it to Fleet School.

After the kidnapping event, Graff communicated with Dabeet, likely over the Nets, discussing what had happened. At the end of the conversation, Graff told Dabeet that he was accepted into Fleet School.

Dabeet began mentally preparing to head to Fleet School by skipping class and cutting off his friendships, as they no longer mattered to him. However, now that he knew that he would actually be leaving his mother, he realized how much she did for him. His mother attempted to find a way to come with Dabeet to Fleet School as a nurse, but Dabeet shut the idea down. He told her to take care of herself now that he would be gone, and the two cried together. Maria then remembered that she had been given a phone for Dabeet that she assumed was from the Fleet. However, Dabeet realized that it was from the men who had kidnapped him, as Fleet School would have high tech Desks better than phones. This was a signal from the kidnappers that they knew where his mother was and that if Dabeet turned against them they could harm her.

One day near the end of school, the General from the plane came up to Dabeet and said they needed to talk. The General explained the phone to Dabeet and how to relay information to him while he was at Fleet School. Dabeet considered that once he led these men into Fleet School, he would have no control over their actions, but reaffirmed his commitment to the plan of involving the International Fleet in the Earthside wars. However, he could not turn back or they would kill his mother.

Soon after, Dabeet left Earth on a shuttle to Lunar orbit, where he would transfer to a supply ship making a stop at Fleet School. Once on the station, Dabeet met Lieutenant Odd Oddson and he brought him to see the Commandant of Fleet School, Colonel Urska Kaluza. When he arrived, Colonel Urska commented on his Earthside origin and sneered at his application to the school. After a bit more back-and-forth, Urska dismissed Dabeet and told him that Lieutenant Oddson would take him to his barracks to meet his team.

When they arrived at the barracks, all the boys stood to attention for Lieutenant Oddson except for Cabeza, who did so after a delay in a joking manner. Oddson introduced Dabeet to the team, but the students ridiculed him for being an Earthsider.

Dabeet spent the next few days analyzing his classmates and found that they were not cohesive as a team at all. He attributed this division to the groupings the students placed themselves in respect to their family heritage. He tried to find a mentor, but the only advice he received was from Delgado, who told him to practice in the battleroom. Oddson told Dabeet to do coursework before beginning in the battleroom. He finished this quickly, and then Oddson gave Dabeet a Flash Suit and told him to practice putting it on and off. Dabeet asked why the school allowed the students' divisions to create disunity in teams, but Oddson did not answer. He then realized that he would have to work hard if he wanted to become the type of person his team would want to follow.

One one occasion during battleroom practice, Dabeet discovered that shaped could be pulled out of the Stars and walls. Ragnar Olafson told him that it was pointless to "play with the shapes" as they had no strategic value in the battleroom. Dabeet tried connecting the shapes from the walls to the Stars to build a structure. When one of the Stars moved to adapt to his structure, it surprised him and a nearby student, Zhang He. He and Dabeet discussed the logistics of building one of these structures during a battle, but were interrupted by both He's toon leader and the commander of the army, Bartolomeo Ja. Bartolomeo warned He not to waste his time with Dabeet, but He did not care and the two tried timing how long it would take to build a structure with the two of them working together.

After battleroom practice was over, Dabeet contemplated the fact that he was cooperating with others, something he did not do prior. Zhang He and Dabeet ate lunch together and they joked about the food. Dabeet asked He what about him affronted others when he offered them help, and He told him that he was sometimes rude and condescending because he was smarter than them. After a bit more bantering, Dabeet realized that He was his friend.

Some time later, Lieutenant Odd had the team practice station maintenance tasks in preparation for being an exploratory commander. Enya Polonia, the cargo and loading supervisor, gave Dabeet and Zhang He a task to check the cargo from a ship and compare it with the bill of lading, hinting that there would be 5 discrepancies. However, after investigating, Dabeet and He found 2 extra discrepancies. Unsure if this was part of the test or if the two were genuine contraband, they decided not to tell anyone.

As Dabeet and He practiced using the battleroom construction system, other students including Ragnar, Timeon, Cabeza, and Monkey joined in. Later, Dabeet met with Robota Smirnova, the station head of security, to confide with her what he had found out while tallying cargo and to attempt to get her to open the doors to signal the message to The General. When he asked if their conversation was private, she took him to the unfinished section of the station that had no listening devices and discussed the situation with her.

When Dabeet asked Urska Kaluza to communicate with Graff via ansible, he instead was greeted by Ender Wiggin while en route to Shakespeare, then an unnamed colony. He asked Ender for advice on his situation, and the soon-to-be-governor said that he should explain the situation to his team and Colonel Kaluza so that they would be safe in the event of an attack. After finishing the ansible call, Dabeet went to talk with Kaluza about the threat to Fleet School, but she rebuffed him and threatened to confine him.

Dabeet received a letter from his mother that had a cipher disguised as a crossword puzzle attached to it from the terrorists. He stayed up all night attempting to solve it, and had no sleep for the battle the next day. Afterward, Dabeet was forced to tell Zhang He about some of the situation, and he gave him some hints about how to solve the cipher. Zhang's hints worked and Dabeet solved the cipher. As he struggled to find out how he would find a way to let The General and his men in, his grades in classes began to slip and he started skipping battleroom practice. To empty his mind, he went to the game room when he noticed an airduct that looked like it had been clamped down, though it was not built to. As he contemplated why this security was needed, Monkey appeared behind him and explained that it was because of Bean. After moving on to talking about Dabeet's closed-off nature, Monkey got him to break down his barriers and talk to her. He explained the situation with the terrorists and his mother being held hostage to her. Since Monkey had lived on a ship before coming to Fleet School, she knew a lot about mechanics and agreed to help Dabeet's problem as long as he followed everything she said.

Soon after, the two went to an unoccupied area of the station and opened a wall panel, looking around in the space behind it. Monkey told him that he was likely chosen to betray Fleet School since he was from Earth and would feel no allegiance to them, and they deduced that the person behind the planned attack was likely someone familiar with Battle School and hated it, and wanted to kill everybody inside the station.

Monkey organized a meeting with Zhang, Ragnar, Timeon, and Ignazio to tell them about the terrorist situation. They discussed it, with the group being angry at Dabeet. He understood that he was not wanted and he left the room. While he was trying to enter one of the service closets, a teacher named Gusti passed him in the hallway, looking for Timeon. This indicated to Dabeet that the security system was off, as normally they would know where he was through his tracker. After this, he discovered that if he double-palmed a door panel it would open, no matter what. He returned to the group to tell them this, but left again after. Dabeet went up a level and discovered a service corridor with carts that the students could escape to when the attack happened. He went back to the group to let them know, but they were discussing the problem and Zhang He told him to hold off showing them until later.

Monkey asked Dabeet to show her the service corridor, and after playing with the carts for a bit they discussed the plan the group had formulated and the upcoming attack in general. To prepare for it, Dabeet asked Monkey to tell him tips for moving around in space outside the station. She gave him 6 rules, and when he repeated them exactly to her she wished him luck and she jogged off. Dabeet then went to the airlock and performed an EVA, familiarizing himself with the structure of the station and moving around outside in the vacuum.

While in logistics class, Dabeet was called out to be reassigned and was to report to the docking port. He realized that the Fleet was getting rid of him, Urska Kaluza, and the training officers before the terrorist attack so they would be safe and that they would not interfere. Instead of going, Dabeet went to the airlock he used before and went outside the station. He observed its structure and investigated the small ship that was transporting the reassignees. After the ship left, he stayed out there and waited for the raiding ship to come.

After about 5 days, Dabeet saw a Juke Limited ship attached to the hull. He knew this was the raiders' ship and went inside to get to a closer airlock. He passed two girls and told them to notify Monkey and Zhang He about it, then went to another airlock and crawled toward the ship. After jumping from the station to the Juke vessel, he opened the airlock and went inside the cargo bay. Inside, he found an abandoned ship with crates full of Vacoplaz and wired together to make a single detonation. He left the ship and went to the service corridor, doubting that any of his peers would be there but he found Zhang, Monkey, Timeon, Ignazio, Ragnar, and Bartolomeo waiting for him. He told them what he had learned and they set off to take action.

They made their way to the airlock and planned to evacuate the ship's atmosphere and blow it away from the station. Since Dabeet already had a suit on board the ship, he took charge and said he would do it. The plan was for Dabeet to blow out the atmosphere, jump out as soon as he saw the station, and grab the line that Monkey would throw out for him, and she would grab him to pull him back. After he agreed to follow her rules, they saluted each other and Dabeet headed inside the ship.

Dabeet secured his hold on the ship's hull and blew the airlock out. Once his position had somewhat stabilized, he jumped out towards the station, but he was slightly off in his direction. However, Monkey still got him with the tether, and when he noticed the tear in her suit from the debris he locked his onto her to prevent the air from escaping. They hit the station's hull and rolled into the airlock, where after repressurization they found that Monkey was okay and she thanked Dabeet for saving her life. Bartolomeo Ja also thanked Dabeet for saving the station.

After a bit more dialogue between the cadets, Dabeet burst into tears and thanked all of them for helping. Suddenly, they remembered that the raiders were still onboard the station, likely in the battlerooms. The group decided to head to the commandant's office and use the intercom to tell them to surrender. Dabeet did the announcement, speaking to the invaders and told them that whoever was in charge of them had set them up on a suicide mission that had failed, and told them that they should surrender unless they wanted to be killed by the Fleet ships that would soon arrive. The group told Dabeet that he had done a good job, and most of them left to make sure the invaders had given up, leaving behind Monkey, Dabeet, and Ignazio.

Ragnar came in after a half an hour and let them know that 2 of the raiders' officers were shot dead by their own men and the rest were locked in the battlerooms. After 3 hours, the Fleet soldiers arrived, and a colonel checked in Kaluza's office to find the three cadets there. They joked with him and he assumed they were drunk, but a teacher let him know that they were the ones who saved the station. Impressed, the colonel and his men left them to enjoy their just rewards.

In a communication with Mazer Rackham, Graff revealed that Dabeet was his son, and that there was nothing like having genetic offspring when compared to somebody one mentored, like Mazer to Ender Wiggin. He also deduces that the only person capable of funding and organizing the terrorists was Achilles de Flandres, who did it in an effort to get back at Battle School for expelling him.

During the dinner celebration, Dabeet was constantly being approached by students so he could not finish his food. Eventually his friends moved the crowd away so he could eat. During this, Robota Smirnova appeared and explained that the Fleet had been planning an operation to board the enemy ship before Dabeet and his team blew it away, saving their lives. She also told the students that Urska Kaluza was in custody for being a collaborator of the terrorists and informed Dabeet that his mother was safe. Dabeet began to cry and his friends comforted him.

Several days later after things calmed down after the attack, Dabeet was called from class into the commandant's office where he was greeted by Hyrum Graff alongside Robota. After congratulating her on her promotion, Robota left the room to give the two privacy. Graff gave Dabeet a choice to stay at Fleet School or return to Earth, where he would not be involved with the Fleet's inquiry into the event. Dabeet chose to remain in Fleet School. Graff then told Dabeet that his mother was an officer of the Fleet assigned to Dabeet, so there would be no reason to go and visit her. When Dabeet inquired further into his parentage, Graff told him not to bother and that he would never find out, though he said they were alive and distressed that their son could not know them due to ambiguous circumstances. When Dabeet noticed a flash of pain on Graff's face when he disparaged his parents' absence, he asked if Graff was his father. Graff lied to Dabeet and said no, but if he were he would gladly take ownership of him. Dismissed, Dabeet walked back through the halls of Fleet School and accepted it as his home.

Editions

Trivia

  • The title Children of the Fleet is in reference to Fleet School's policy of only accepting its students from children of members of the International Fleet.

References

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