WARNING! The following page contains spoilers for the lore and story of Worlds Adrift
When I received the news from the Employment sub-committee, I admit I was disappointed. Shame on me for betraying my godhood, but I'd hoped to be an Essedari soldier, so I could fly the world. As it turned out, the letter informed me that I would shortly be assigned to a research position. I was going to become a student.
I had visions of dingy libraries and austere silences. I saw myself leafing through dusty tomes, as love and summer passed me by. On top of that, the University was in Redusa, which meant I would probably have to move home. It was with anxiety then, that I took my letter to the employment office.
You have been assigned to..."
I held my breath.
the University annexe, here in Agbana. Nature conservation. You will assist with the interpretation of animal behaviours, and help towards a better understanding of the habitats in which they live."
Well, this was a surprise. I was pleased, at least, that I would not be leaving Agbana. But as to the work, I had little or no knowledge of the animal kingdom at that time, and did not know what to think.
Our new cohort was sent out with a tutor, Pater, who had been at the ministry for three years. We were expecting a trip into the wilderness. To our surprise, we were taken no more than fifty metres, to a scree slope I had seen, but seldom paid much notice. Now I saw that the square had been built around it, and that it was covered in beautiful jasmine flowers.
Please, please, please, do not harm any of the creatures you see," Pater said grimly, "nor should you take it upon yourself to come to their aid, since you may inadvertently damage the delicate balance that exists, even in such a mundane place as this."
What he wished to bring to our attention, was the life cycle of a colony of ants.
See how each ant fulfills duties they are stuck with from birth. They have no choice, yet they bear such responsibility implicitly. See how this one strides boldly under the eyes of its predators, so certain is he in the system he is part of."
It was intriguing to see so many facets of our own lives mirrored in the meanderings of this unseen community. Of course, the lives of the ants seemed a lot less pleasurable than our own. A blue lizard appeared, for example, and ate several ants with a single flick of tongue. The hive turned on the lizard, and managed to drive him away, swarming over him, and biting through his loose and wrinkled skin.
This is exactly the kind of example we provide to the schools," Pater continued. "The lesson you should learn from today, is that no matter your prior experience, there is a project to reach out to you, and consume you."
I was rather taken with the ants, myself. in them I saw the things I had craved from a military career. A sense of purpose, of belonging, and of good organisation. But then I also came to see things I was glad to have passed up. None of the ants had any steer to their own beyond immediate threats to the wellbeing of their nest. I imagined soldiery to be similar. Although presently there was little to occupy our armies, who could say what the future held?