Harry paced on the grass strip restlessly. Pritter, the cadet from the border-watch-patrol brought in disturbing news to the counsel of Harry’s clan. Their clan stands an immediate threat of a wipe out if they do not initiate a mass movement out to a different and more secure place.
“Signs of activity all around the border, trampled blades, broken twigs, dead ants and other insects”, gasped a petrified Pritter!
“But it could have been an unruly four-legged mammoth?”, questioned the head of the clan, who was called Bubah.
“There are no signs of colored clay or stinky water which we usually find”, Pritter tried to explain – “besides we found several bits of foreign objects that usually don’t belong to this part of the world”
The head of the clan tried to remain calm. This could be anything, could be humans trampling the place or clearing it away for something. It was too dangerous to ignore the signs. Last time he ignored it, there was a flood of water that demolished the ant-hills within minutes. “…it was kids playing in the garden”, he remembered the intelligence report from his counsel, from those who survived the deluge.
Bubah turned to the troops lead by Harry to execute this relocation. And Harry had the massive task of the safety of his clan. Harry has done these evacuations before and is an expert at planning these exodus type of events.
Yet, something perplexed him deeply this time. There were several aspects involved, finding an alternative, making plans to safely move the families and doing so unnoticed. Given the nature of their existence, the clan already had alternatives thought through and Harry has picked one. What he lacked was enough competent cadets who could chart the exit path carefully.
He had a few good cadets left, but some of the better ones left the team for “more comfortable jobs”, as Harry recalled them say. And this was having an impact on those that stuck around.
The time was too short to train new cadets at this job when disaster strikes. But more importantly, the challenge lay in preparing his team mentally, to commit to something like this and make them believe that great challenge usually brings forth great rewards.
Harry weighed these thoughts in his mind carefully, as he prepared to address his cadets.
“So what do you think? Who would like to lead the charting mission?”, asked Harry.
“Zooka was the best, but he is not with us anymore…”, belched Pritter. “I know the way, but I need strength to clear away the path and chart the right course”.
“Not just that, we need an early alarm in case we need to abort, we need a good abort-ant leading ahead of the clan”, Harry’s statement was firm.
“Falback, I want you to take this up. You are quick and you have very good scenting skills”
“But…”, Pritter raised one of his antennae!
“Yes, Pritter, Distreco was our best cadet and he is not with us, I know…”, exclaimed Harry.
“Guys, I know this is hard, and without our best cadets in the clan, it is life threatening to evac” Harry tried to calm down the suspicious looking cadets.
“If we move, may be we risk it, but there is a very good chance of survival. But if we don’t move, we will definitely perish!”, Harry heard himself getting reflective about this.
The bulkiest of the group, called Herculant spoke up – “it pains to see those who worked with us leave us, Harry, after all we’ve been through and learned together”.
“…and even that can’t stop us from moving forward, Herc”, smiled Harry. “Pritter has a very good view of what lies ahead, Falback will lead the way and you will cover us…”
“I won’t guarantee that we will succeed, but I guarantee that by taking the leap forward, we become the beacon of hope for our entire clan, this includes those who left us”,
Harry saw the spirit of inspiration tingling through the antlers of his best cadets.
“And I will double up cheering the clan as they make their way through the path…”, squirted Zappy, known to be the fastest moving girl on the block.
“And remember the rule of the game? Bring on your ETCHs forth, folks” asks Harry as he saw the cadets getting busy with the preparations for the move.
“This is the time to unleash them and create new legends!”, Harry was visibly positive now, “you need a great evac to bring the great ones out!”.
ETCH was the rule of the game in Harry’s group. ETCH created many superstars like Zooka, Distreco, Pritter and so on. ETCH was a way of every accomplished cadet identifying any number of other cadets and training them in their own skill – towards preparation of Hazards.
ETCH stood for – Each (ant) Trains a Cadet for Hazards. Once you train another cadet as an ETCH, you give them an ETCH badge and they literally carry your ETCH, until they are tested in a couple of missions and certified to be real cadets who can ETCH onto other ants.
Herculant was the leader in ETCHing and ETCHed another 50 new cadets in his skill of strength and protection. “There is nothing more noble than backing up your clan”, is what Herculant sincerely believed and rubbed off on his ETCHes.
“I can’t find anyone fast enough to ETCH”, sheepishly commented Zappy as Harry cheerfully explained, “you will get your chance Zappy, with this evac”.
“Let’s call it – Operation GreatHill!”, beamed Harry to his team and the 100 ETCH cadets assembled by them, “…as we move from the current ant-hills towards building greater ones”.
“Remember – this is not just an evacuation of the clan – it is evacuation of the doubts that haunt your minds and stopping you from moving towards GreatHills!”
“Lets Evac-To-Great!”, Harry let out a battle-cry, as other voices echoed and cheered with enthusiasm.