The Waterwood Box, 41

Catch up!

The Admiral wasted no time in replying. “Well, I’m glad you asked! This is a much more interesting topic than nasty, old Tiskaloo. This-” the Admiral leaned his body out and swept it in the kelp forest’s direction, “-is one of many recruitment areas for King Altern’s Urchin Army.”

Adam sensed the urchin’s spikes tingle with pride. “You come by every now and then to ask for volunteers?”

“There are some volunteers, yes. But we mostly grow our own recruits.”

“You grow them?”

“Why, yes. We use only the most exceptional parents to give us the most exceptional offspring. Nothing but the best for the Urchin Army.”

“That’s very wrong, Admiral. You shouldn’t take a child from its parents.”

“Oh, come now. We are not barbarians. The child never meets its parents. Starfish tend over our recruits from the moment they are born. They see to it that our recruits are properly cared for until they are old enough to join the Army.” If the Admiral had a smile to give its brilliance would surely blind. “The system is as close to perfect as we’re likely to get.”

“Don’t you ever get recruits who don’t want to join the Army? Maybe they want to be farmers or teachers?”

“No. Not a one. The army is what these creatures, what I, was born to do. We know nothing else. To not be a part of this great organization would be to remove our purpose for living.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t, water-man. You’ve been brought up with the notion that you are free to make of yourself exactly what you want in whatever manner you see fit. You were raised to believe you have a choice in deciding how things turn out for you. A pesky, Tiskaloon quality, that.”

The Waterwood Box, 41

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