In A War of Gifts we learn of a soldier named Zeck Morgan who refused to participate in the Battle Room games because he was a conscientious objector. From A War of Gifts:

He did nothing to cause disturbance, obeyed every order he was given. When his launch group first went into the Battle Room, Zeck learned to fly just like all the others. He even pointed his weapon at targets that were assigned.

It took quite a while before anyone noticed that Zeck never actually hit anybody with his weapon. In every battle, he was zero for zero. Statistically, he was the worst soldier in the history of the school.

From Ender's Game:

But it was no accident that I got the soldiers I got. Launchies, rejects from other armies, but put them together and my worst soldier could be a toon leader.

Considering they were trying to stack the game against his favor, is it likely that Zeck ended up being assigned to Dragon Army?

2 Answers 2


TL;DR Not very likely. Zeck Morgan wasn't a good soldier objectively and couldn't help Ender.

If you read "The Ender's Shadow" you will see the back-story as to how Dragon Army was composed. (spoilers follow)

In short, Bean - the smartest kid in the school - was tasked with assembling the perfect army for Wiggin. Well, to be more precise, he tasked himself and then was tasked by the teachers.

The "rejects" and "dregs" were actually specially hand-picked by Bean for either overlooked qualities or because they meshed well with others or with Ender.

It started when he was doing it as a mental exercise:

For the sense of urgency in teacher evaluations was getting greater. The ordinary students -- as if any child here were ordinary -- were getting briefer and briefer notations. They weren't being ignored, exactly. But the best were being identified and lifted out.

The seeming best. For Bean began to realize that the teachers' evaluations were often colored by which students they liked the best. The teachers pretended to be dispassionate, impartial, but in fact they got sucked in by the more charismatic children, just as the other students did.


So Bean began constructing his own anti-army. Kids who weren't getting picked out by the teachers, but were the real talents, the ones with heart and mind, not just face and chat. He began to imagine who among them should be officers, leading their own toons under the command of ...

Of Ender Wiggin, of course. Bean could not imagine anyone else in that position. Wiggin would know how to use them.

And then, Graff, Anderson and Dimak actually decided to ask him to do the exercise in practice:

"... The thing is, Bean has been studying the dossiers of all the other students. We think he's evaluating them for loyalty to their native identity group, and also for their excellence as commanders."
"By his standards of excellence."
"We need to get Ender the command of an army. We're under a lot of pressure to get our leading candidates into Command School. But if we bust one of the current commanders in order to make a place for Ender, it'll cause too much resentment."
"So you have to give him a new army."
"There are still kids here who remember the last Dragon Army."
"Right. I like that. The jinx."
"I see. You want to give Ender a running start."
"It gets worse."
"I thought it would."
"We also aren't going to give him any soldiers that aren't already on their commanders' transfer list."
"The dregs? What are you doing to this kid?"
"If we choose them, by our ordinary standards, then yes, the dregs. But we aren't going to choose Ender's army."
"Our tests are worthless on this, right? Some of those dregs are the very best students, according to Bean, right? And he's been studying the launchies. So give him an assignment. Tell him to solve a hypothetical problem. Construct an army only out of launchies. Maybe the soldiers on the transfer lists, too."

And, shortly thereafter, they asked Bean to do it:

"Let's see just how good your analysis is. Let me give you an assignment."
"For which class?"
"No class, Bean. I want you to create a hypothetical army. Working only with launchies, construct an entire roster, the full complement of forty-one soldiers."
"No veterans?"
Bean meant the question neutrally, just checking to make sure he understood the rules. But Dimak seemed to take it as criticism of the unfairness of it. "No, tell you what, you can include veterans who are posted for transfer at their commanders' request. That'll give you some experienced ones."
The ones the commander couldn't work with. Some really were losers, but some were the opposite. "Fine," said Bean.
"How long do you think it will take you?"
Bean already had a dozen picked out. "I can tell the list to you right now."
"I want you to think about it seriously."
"I already have. But you need to answer a couple of questions first. You said forty-one soldiers, but that would include the commander."
"All right, forty, and leave the commander blank."
"I have another question. Am I to command the army?"
"You can write it up that way, if you want."
But Dimak's very unconcern told Bean that the army was not for him. "This army's for Wiggin, isn't it?"
Dimak glowered. "It's hypothetical."
"Definitely Wiggin," said Bean. "You can't boot somebody else out of command to make room for him, so you're giving Wiggin a whole new army. I bet it's Dragon."
Dimak looked stricken, though he tried to cover it.
"Don't worry," said Bean. "I'll give him the best army you can form, following those rules."
"You will. Because I'll be right and you'll know it," said Bean. "And I can promise you, it'll be a hell of an army. With Wiggin to train us, we'll kick ass."
"The reason this army can be so good is that your system's been promoting a lot of the wrong kids. About half the best kids in this school are launchies or on the transfer lists, because they're the ones who haven't already been beaten into submission by the kiss-ass idiots you put in command of armies or toons. These misfits and little kids are the ones who can win. Wiggin will figure that out. He'll know how to use us."

  • 1
    I loved that book (and this scene in particular) because while the powers that be were aware that Bean was a step ahead of them, they were laughably unaware that that "step" was about a mile and a half long.
    – gobernador
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 19:28

Don't have an exact quote right now, but at some point in the book Ender claims that All forty of our soldiers are inside the top 50 highest ranked soldiers. Since Zeck had a zero hit list and was last, he can't have been in Ender's troop.

  • Excellent catch. +1. the quote also mentioned that you had to go down 17 rows to find a non-Dragon soldier. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 16:56
  • That was after they became members of Dragon Army and trained them. My quote says that before they joined Dragon Army they were misfits. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 16:58
  • Your quote also says "In every battle, he was zero for zero" - not that before he joined Dragon he was 0 for 0. I think the every is important in that quote if we're also going to consider the quote apoorv020 provides.
    – Dason
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 17:36
  • @JackBNimble - do you find it plausible that Zeck would somehow start shooting at soldiers even if he was put into Dragon army? Safe money says he wouldn't, so he'd have still be last in rankings. He wasn't last because he needed training. He was last because he refused to shoot at people Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 17:55
  • @DVK Well, maybe after his talk with Ender in A War of Gifts maybe he became a real soldier. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 18:27

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