Human Resources 1: Peter Rabbit

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Harumi Ryouno, of the Third. Incubator's aide. Civilian.

I'd tell people I work in communications, if I hadn't pretty much blown them all off when I faked my death. Pretty good trick, I thought. Nice funeral, or so I'm told. To the rest of the Officio? I work HR; yeah, yeah, I know. Coincidence is a funny thing. Honest answer? Practically the Devil's right hand. Hell, it pays the bills.

...Okay, that was pretty bad.

It's a friday night like any other, which means I've got absolutely nothing to do. That probably sounds nice; I don't have my eternal soul jammed into some pretty little rock, so I get to have weekends off like the rest of us mortals. Let me rephrase that: I've got nothing to do, no one to talk to, and I'm bored out of my skull. I'd kick back and waste away in front of the TV, but I can't quite stomach going back to it. Call me sentimental - I'd laugh you out of the room most days if you did, for the record - but I never could watch much ever since, well, you know. Not long before I started here.

Still stings a bit, I guess.

Looking over my options again. Know them well enough, but sometimes you'll look again, just in case you were wrong the last twenty times. ...At least, I'm hoping that's not just me. Phone I use to call no one, TV I use to watch nothing at all, mattress I don't generally bother sleeping on, fridge I keep pretty near empty because I can't be bothered with cooking for myself. It's like I don't even live here. Then there's the stupid little netbook the rabbit told me I'll need; never got the hang of the thing, just something I had to bring to the Officio one day that spends every day just shy of breaking down completely.

...Heh. Guess that's part of my job, really. At least it's better behaved than your average gem-sporting teenager.

There's a mirror too, just lying around. Handy little thing for when I need to look just right for the role I'm told to step into. This isn't one of those times. Instead, I see a tired-looking face staring out at me from the glass, brown eyes practically covered over by shaggy black hair. None of those crazy colours all the Officio kids seem to have. Never did figure out what the deal was that. Past the head, the picture in the mirror is just some lanky thing trailing across the floor behind me, wrapped up in a baggy, shapeless mess of green and grey cloth. ...It's warm and comfortable, don't judge me. Kinda nice, not having to care about this stuff.

Callidus. Might've been handy for what I do. Hah, like I'd ever take a contract.

So there's also a bottle. I'm not doing that tonight. Usually try not to. Jamming a bottle into my face late at night? Come on, that's drunkard talk unless you've got some company. Before I know it, I'm setting up a game of solitaire - always preferred it with real cards, somehow - and sweeping it right back into the box. I'll just call that one a win. Can hardly ever be bothered with actually playing.

It's funny, the things you realise now and then. Like the company you've got on a friday night, the sort of people you can expect to go to. Not the kids I work with, obviously. Bad for business, getting too attached to them. Never much cared for most of them anyway, crazy brats as far as the eye can see. Other than that... what? Lost everyone I needed to a while back, they all think I kicked the bucket.

So I look down, and I start dialing a number. Gotta have some friends you can count on, you know? I don't have that, but I've got the next best thing. ...Maybe not the next. Definitely not the best. It's a thing, I can say that much. Any port in a storm, or something along those lines. I'm pretty sure he doesn't have anything to do at this hour, but he lets it ring three times first anyway. Warms my heart when he does that, I tell you; taught him the trick myself. Makes people think you're just a little too important for them, but you'll do them a favour anyway.

Others get nine. Three sets of three, so we can pretend he cares about a silly little number. I just get three to show me he hasn't forgotten. The rabbit's got a good memory. Thick as molasses when it comes to some things, though. He's alright when you get to know... well, maybe not, but I kind of like...

Don't feel like lying when I'm not even on the clock, so let's just say I'm not that picky sometimes.

It's kind of funny, the way I recognise his voice on the line. I mean, it's not like I could get anyone else from this number, so that helps. I don't know anyone who can quite sound like no one at all the way he does, though, all the same. It's the most boring voice in the world. Told him that once, and he almost seemed proud. He wasn't, of course, knowing him.

"Sanbey." Same way he always answered, no sprucing it up with titles, not even 'Sanbey of the Third Officio Assassinorum' or anything. Asked him about it once; he said that showed pride, and he wouldn't go the way of his brothers.

"Hey, Rabbit. Got a minute?" See, that's the nice thing about knowing he doesn't care. Get to call him what you want without him getting annoyed. 'Names are immaterial and pointless', he used to say. Even 'Sanbey' was kind of a grudging pick. Seems to think it's a bad precedent, like it's some kind of gateway drug that'll make him grow a personality before he knows it.

"...I suppose so. Some sort of emergency?" Yeah. Yeah, you could say that.

"Nah, just felt like talking." I mean, it's not like this is the first time I've bugged Sanbey. He's used to it, and he doesn't mi- well, I guess he doesn't care enough to be bothered by it. Perks of working for an emotionless space monster, or something like that.

So here I am. Little soul-sucking alien looking like a rabbit that woke up on the wrong side of Chernobyl, and it's what I have to chat with at one in the morning. Can't understand the first thing about this funny-looking monkey it puts up with, and it's the closest I've got to family. Of course I laughed, I felt too sick to do anything else.

"Ryouno?" So he heard me laughing, huh?

"...Ah, it's nothing, boss."

"Very well, then. Now, as you are no doubt aware, there is scarcely any reason for me to-" Oh boy, this again. Did I mention he's about as fun as a spreadsheet? ...Maybe not the best comparison, I usually end up handling some of those every day.

"Listen, I've had a bad day," not strictly true, but it wasn't exactly cloud nine either. "And if you don't get out of your ivory tower, I'm just going to have to turn into some big weird-" Hadn't really seen any witches first hand - only in photos - so it's probably a good thing he stopped me there.

"If you recall, Ryouno, you refused the contract and run no such risk." And there's the problem with a boss who's only as dumb as a sack of bricks when the mood takes him. Inconvenient. Alright, so it was a pretty bad excuse, too; again, I keep the good stuff for when I'm on the clock. Only so much effort in me.

"Yeah, I was sort of hoping you wouldn't remember. You coming over or what? I can share a glass, carrot juice or whatever it is you take. I'll let you go by the time the sun's up. We'll pretend it's... I dunno, a business meeting or something. Officio talk."

"Somehow, I highly doubt that would be your intention."

"Well, lucky you, I don't have much to talk about besides work anyway."

A heavy sigh over the line. Might have thought he meant it, if I hadn't taught him that. Little bit of emoting will get you far, even if your fluffy little alien-devil heart isn't really in it. Still weirds me out how he sounds pretty much human, though. Should be something more like... I don't know, one of those little cartoon animals or something. Not right.

"If I must." Knew it. I can usually count on him for this, who even knows why. Guess we both make our fair share of bad decisions.

"I'll leave the cat flap unlo-"

"That won't be necessary."


Doorbell rings eventually, hell if I know how he does it. Still sitting on the ground when I find him. Little guy looks just like his brother at the Ninth, but with bright blue eyes. Never could decide if that's more or less creepy, but I don't like it much. Gotta have some flair, you know? Not some kind of palette swap - a term I have the kids at the Third to thank for. Keep telling him to spruce it up a bit, maybe a tiny hat or something, but he's having none of it. Would really help him stand out, though, you know? Play up the whole mascot thing.

Then I hear about the Eighth and count my blessings.

Scoop him up and drop him on the couch; of course he doesn't mind, apathy's a fun little thing.

"Come oooooon. Not even a little smile for your favourite lackey?" Got him to blink, at least. I'm going to pretend that means I surprised him. Got to keep him on his toes, or something like that. At least be wrong enough to confuse him.

"You know perfectly well that my facial expression is non-negotiable, Ryouno." Yeah, I noticed. Weird little critter.

"Beep boop."

"...What?" Twice in a row! I'm on a roll.

"Ah, nothing. What had you cooped up in the office all day, anyhow?" I know the answer, of course. Habit. Guy doesn't have anything else to do; kind of like me, but he doesn't bother pretending. Gets him talking, though.

"The Yumishita case," he tells me, and that's about all I need to hear. Crazy Vindicare went rogue a few weeks back, started camping out in witch barriers and shooting out the soul gems of the teams we send in. Ran off pretty much right after her training finished, too; don't know what's going on there, and Sanbey himself isn't telling me all that much. That or he really doesn't know much, wouldn't put it past him. Been digging into it whenever I get the time, though; having all those souls shot out is bad for business, you know? Gotta have her put down.

"I'll get back to to it tomorrow, then, after I've checked in on the others."

"Ryouno, I trust you are aware that tomorrow is a Saturday?"

"...Ah? Yeah, right. Forgot." Damn it, he wasn't supposed to call me on that. What am I supposed to do out here, huh? Gather dust harder? "Might as well hash out what we know, though. Not like we've got much else to do, right?"


"Hey, Peter." Mitakihara's looking nice, right about now. Cities are at their best when the sun goes down, pretty little light show off in the distance. Looked nicer a while back before some of the lights started going off, but this'll have to do. I notice I'm giving him my special three-glasses-in voice by now; good on him if he can make sense of whatever's crawling out of my mouth at this point. I have to listen pretty hard to tell what I'm saying myself.

"Excuse me?" I guess I hadn't called him that before.

"Don't.... donlookatme like that, I just call rabbits what they are." That was a pretty stupid laugh. They probably all sound that way to him, though.

"That scarcely seems necessary." Yeah, well, that's how you take every joke; you and most of the little soul-sucking cottonballs.

"You don't get to talk about how 'names serve no purpose' and then complain about the one I give you." I give his big, floppy ears a little tug. That was pretty clever of me, I'd like to think. I think a lot of what I say is clever, right around this time of the night. "So hey, Peter."

"Yes?" Pretty sure he tried to sound a bit resigned, right around then. No, it wasn't that good. Yeah, I could stand to teach him better.

"'Bout when you said... when you said you'd set me up to get into acting if I still want to. Never thought you meant right away. Real quick-thinking of you, sending me right off like that, into the thick of it. Never saw it coming." Aw, he thinks I'm serious. At least, that might be what the little tilt of the head means. Jokes or no, I have to say, this is probably some real good practice. Real good. Get to wondering what I'll do once I've retired from this little stage, sometimes.

"Ryouno, that was hardly my inten-"

"Shhh. Only kidding. Just relax and- whoops, sorry about that." Ended up leaning a bit to the side, using the little guy like an armrest. Squashed him a bit and he never said a word, but on the other hand, I'm not actually sure he noticed even when Yumishita put an entire giant bolt through him before she ran off. Weird little thing didn't so much as flinch, just had some kind of... of backup. Started eating the body, too. Aliens, huh?

What'd she call it, again? 'Arbalest setting' or something. Funny, she never had anything against ME. I'm sort of flattered by that, almost, but mostly proud.

"Hey, Petey? You're alright, you know." Just sort of muttered in the couch's general direction, something he's free to catch if he likes.

"Hmm?" Funny, the way we keep wasting our time together like this. I hate knowing this is what I've got, if I'm being honest, and he isn't exactly thrilled about hanging around with some human either. Thinks it's a bad sign, looking at all his brothers, and oh, does he ever harp on about how they went wrong. Not that he's annoyed, mind; always says he's above that. Pretty silly, really, but maybe I just don't get space rabbit things.

"Nah, only kidding," I tell him with the biggest grin I can manage. "You're a horr'ble little freak of nature. Don't you change, now." Turns out trying to high-five an incubator's ear when he has no idea what you're going for doesn't really work out. I would've known that, earlier today.


By the time I hear something again - or notice it, anyway - I'm out like a light, with my head on the armrest. Just about manage to pull myself up a bit and see across the room, even though it's spinning way more than I'd like. "I believe that marks sunrise, Ryouno. I will return to my office now." ...Think I might've mumbled something to him when he left. Didn't think he'd stick around, guess he figures nothing back at home's too urge-

Did I just call the office home? Weird.

Well, day's started now, nothing for it; I'll just turn in early or whatever. I shamble over to the frid- to the big cold cereal container - may as well call it what it is - and I end up laughing so hard I need to hold onto one of the wall beams to keep myself up. It's all a bit too ridiculous to do anything else.

The things we do with our time, huh? Unbelievable.