Harry was perplexed. His team was in a nibsugar break to renew some energy and he wasn’t able to focus on food right now. They had at best two more chances of reaching the target before a colony could face annihilation – death by starving (DBS) as they called it for the rest of the season.
Harry belonged to the 4th division of the WrenchBackAny (WBA) Company famous for its success rate on hitting the target no matter how difficult and how much farther from the base. They had the finest workforce on the base who are very committed to deliver. The WBA had simple principles – build on your strength, back each other and never lose antegrity – which was the ability to “be” who you are all the time and show/tell the same. Antegrity was not just any simple principle, it was the tenet which protected WBAs workforce and kept the death rates under check. WBA reported less than 12% death toll per mission whereas the industry average on the base was over 40%. And the 4th division of WBA was the finest of the company. Harry lead the 4th division.
WBA started as a dream from a few selfless martyrs who received the golden medal of honor for upholding the highest levels of antegrity on the base. Soon WBA grew more by inspiration than by ambition. Harry grew up hearing the tales of great soldiers of WBA, their missions of valor, the distance they covered to achieve the target and their contributions towards major evacuations to newer locations on the base. The founders of WBA attended the Antza Academy prior to embarking on their life’s mission and Harry followed suit. He qualified at the academdy with the highest medal of honor – “dist-ant”. “Dist-ant” was bestowed on that student who dared to cover maximum distance in the pursuit of a game/target to complete the thesis as part of the education at Antza. Harry was a popular ant even before he left Antza and was being eyed by WBA. It was a seamless merger of Harry’s ambition and WBAs reputation of picking the best.
As WBA grew, they gained more and more missions, many from the queen herself and some from the private colonies that were preparing themselves to fight the starvation of the upcoming seasons. WBA sent the 4th division on the most gruesome missions and they returned successful with the target – a drop of honey, a cube of sugar, pieces of insect legs, and so on depending on the season, all neatly antsized into deliverable packages for the colonies. The 4th division had the picks mostly from Antza with cadets displaying highest levels in antegrity and a few that received the “dist-ant” award. However, the scale started to hit WBA and the first signs of antegrity being shaken were visible.
It all started with the last member from the original founders retiring from the board of WBA. Joshua, had 3 weeks of illustrative career record where he has lead tens of missions all across the 10 meter radius of the base and has helped several colonies to thrive. He was an epitome of antegrity and ensured that every ant at WBA stuck to it. But after his retirement, WBA has suddenly become ambitious. The recruitment silently overlooked credentials and commitment to only focus on fame and opened up the gates to mass recruitment. Even the 4th division was impacted and diluted.
Harry felt that the last two missions were extremely dangerous and he almost failed his team. Harry’s estimates that each of his ant-cadets could carry 50 more ants on them (as they build a chain towards a high dangling target) started to shake. Some of the ants in the middle of the chain, with lesser antegrity, started to wobble and put pressure on the rest of the ants.
Harry’s reflective mood was broken by his lieutenant – “Its time Harry!”. Harry saw his team huddling around making the base formation towards the hanging piece of dried honey drop. Harry remembered his grandfather’s words of wisdom – “When perplexed on a mission, remember the test of antegrity – ants with high antegrity will act, they have nothing to hold back or hold them back”. Harry started to observe the formation of his team and as his ants moved like clockwork, he could spot a few who were not following the line. The “talkers” Harry thought as he recollected how these ants secured a spot in his division by moving through the ranks just by talking rather than real credentials and mission experience.
As the team successfully wrenched the goal and reassembled to head back to base, Harry gets a call to prepare for the next mission. Resolute to make amends to WBA, Harry marched on towards the base with his team with no deaths to report.