Human Resources 5: The Rabbit And The Snake

From Magical Girl Noir Quest Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

It was about midnight – I had some loose ends to tie up, and nothing in particular to do at home – when I came back into the office and found him there. Sitting on the windowsill, an opening to something that seems halfway real rather than the strange room around us, staring off into the distance. Well, no, not quite the distance, nothing so vague. He was staring at the QB Heavy offices like his eyes were glued to it. Wish I could say there was some kind of look or the other on his face, but there never is; he's about the only one here that I can't read.

I wouldn't pay much attention to this ordinarily, especially when I'm just reporting in before I head home, but he was there six hours ago, too. I couldn't quite tell if he moved.

“Something bothering you, Petey?” Sure, he had enough reasons to be upset, but he never seemed to mind. It was weird, seeing him acting like this.

“I am well, Miss Ryouno. Please go about your business. You are dismissed for today.” Well, that was pretty wooden even for him. ...Don't know why I stuck around. Curiosity at that point, I guess.

“Is that why you've been staring at a tower for the last six hours?” That got him a bit, I think. Little flick of the ear, and he just sort of... sagged a little, like any sort of breath or effort went right out of him.

“...Would you care to hear a story, Ryouno?”

“A story? I didn't know you told those. What's it about, then?”

“The parable of the rabbit and the snake. Have you heard it before?”

“...No, not that I remember. Go on.” So there I was, taking a seat next to an incubator in the middle of the night so he can tell me a story. At least it got him off the windowsill, even if he did sneak a glance at the tower now and then.


There were once two snakes, who found themselves hungry. Food had become scarce, and the land barren. Without a new source to feed upon, not only would they starve, but countless others might as well. This would not do, and so they set out in search of greener pastures. One – we will refer to him, for simplicity, as the Scaleless – stumbled, or slithered, upon the discovery that would one day save him. It had been a long journey from his home, but one that had been worth the arduous travel.

For you see, the Scaleless had found a rabbit burrow.

He would need to exercise caution, of course, lest he deplete their numbers. He would need to employ a disguise, lest he frighten the rabbits. So it was that he lived among them, always at the mouth of the burrow, mixing sweet gifts and bitter poison in his daily offerings to them. The rabbits prospered and, at times, dwindled for the sake of the serpent they carried within their ranks. Their lives had gone on to save those of others, and the Scaleless thought that this was well.

Years passed, and the snake went unknown through their numbers all this time. Perhaps they had never noticed that he was not a rabbit, or they simply did not care. Could the Scaleless himself remember that he was a snake, when the only reminder came from the venom that leaked from his fangs ever so rarely?

Happily, he was not left alone with their kind forever.

When the Earth had spun around the sun one time too many, the second snake arrived at long last, finding by chance the very same burrow. The Scaleless was elated, finally finding one of his kind to join him in this curious, almost maddening isolation, solitude among a crowd. The one who had shed his scales for a coat of fur was only too happy to help, to the newcomer's surprise and bewilderment. Why? Was it for their mutual mission, perhaps, or some sort of agenda? No, no, nothing of the sort.

You see, helping him to find his place brought the Scaleless joy in itself, because the snake was his brother, from the very same burrow. Why, it must have seemed very strange indeed to the snake back then – those that slither know neither family nor friends, after all – but he did not show this, for a snake can neither smile nor frown, only stare and watch. How curious and mad the Scaleless must have sounded then, lurking at the edge of the burrow and playing the part of his own prey.

In time, the newcomer had learned to adjust, and was even thankful for the help he had been given. For a while, the two serpents were happy in each other's company, brothers that were never meant to be. The Scaleless heard his brother's voice from before him, at first, baffled by the role he had chosen for himself. Happily, one day, they came to an understanding, and began to speak side by side. Perhaps the Scaleless had already poisoned his brother then? Or had the rabbits done so themselves, however unknowingly? He would never learn the answer.

One day, he heard the voice from behind himself instead. He thought nothing of it for one day, then another, until finally he thought to look around; he might have done so sooner, but he already had an inkling of what he might find, and dared not turn his head.

Behind him sat his brother, but not as he once was. Where the Scaleless had only ever lain at the door of the burrow, his brother was within the burrow, further below: A snake no longer, but a rabbit in full. Had he even noticed the change, this poor, maddened creature? No, perhaps not, as even the Scaleless had not seen it himself. They traded glances then, the Scaleless and the rabbit. The rabbit did not know that anything was amiss, for it is in a rabbit's nature to know nothing that would discomfit it. The once-snake saw his brother's eyes, then, and knew that they had gone mad. They could never return home again; the scaleless serpent could only do his best to hang onto a few scraps of memory for both their sakes.

Today, the rabbit, prosperous beyond measure, looks at the snake and sees a brother. The snake watches the rabbit, hoping to find someone he can remember, and sees only his own future in those beady red eyes.

And that is the end of their tale.


“The moral of the story is...” he stops there for a second, not quite sure how to finish. I'm not used to seeing him hesitate. “Is... no. I am still an incubator, Ryouno, or so I wish to believe. We are skilled in neither parables nor morals.”

It's funny, in a way, how long you can know someone for and still learn something new out of nowhere. Maybe that's what he was thinking, too. ...Wasn't all that subtle even when he tried this hard, though.

“So that's how-” he cuts me off before I can say anything. Sounds the same as ever, even through this.

“...Purely allegorical. A story I heard once in the past. It is, as they say, a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” If that's what he wants to think, I'm not about to stop him. I won't get it until he gives the green light.

“I've heard it before, you know. The way you go on about the 'corruption' in other incubators. Is that what happened to Kyubey?” He's quiet for a while; either he's trying to think, or he doesn't want to say anything. I can never tell.

“He is still my dear brother,” the rabbit answers eventually – or is that the snake again, by now? “I would trust him with my life, and those of each and every person in this Officio.” ...Yeah, I guess that's how it goes. We choose some funny company, when we think it might give us someone to talk to. Someone to trust.

“What will you do when you retire?” Huh. I wasn't... I didn't quite see that coming, got to hand it to him. It's not a hard question, though. I always planned to get out of this eventually, buy my way into film or something. Maybe theatre, that's got a nice, classy sort of edge to it. It was always the plan, even if I'm less than sure that it'll work out, some days. Made me wonder, somehow, if he's worried about the day I walk out.

“You? I mean... if you ever let yourself take a break.” It was a bit of a stupid question, one of those 'you too' moments. Not like he was ever going to do anything else. He took it pretty seriously, though, like he did with everything else. Maybe that's what made him the sane incubator, or one of the last to snap, as far as they're concerned.

“I'm afraid I can't imagine the alternatives. I will have to answer some other time.”

Caught him staring out the window again. Have to say, I was impressed, in a way. Didn't expect him to make up a story on the spot, even if that's... probably a bad sign for him, huh. He tried his best, though; maybe in too many directions at once. Not that I could really understand. How can I? It's hard enough wrapping my head around how he thinks at the best of times, never mind when he starts worrying about turning as crazy as the rest of us. About losing his brother – one he never had in the first place - to us.

I notice myself wondering, after a bit, about what he's going to do now. Takes me a little too long, thinking back, to piece it together. He'd look for someone like him, I guess. Someone who can... sort of meet him halfway, even if neither quite gets the other. A good match for a half-snapped incubator, not quite as normal as they come, but not as far gone as the others. And there's only one other incubator in Mitakihara. You'd think nothing could replace that.

...Guess that explains a thing or two. Not sure how I feel about that. Maybe I should be flattered, or worried.


Nothing. I put a hand on one of the rabbit's ears - or the snake, I'll figure that out when he makes up his mind - in case that gets his attention.

“Hey, Peter?”


“You mind if I stay here a little longer?”


...Done stranger things, for stranger people.