Human Resources 8: Tricks of the Trade

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It was a favour for a friend, in a way, keeping me at home on a day that would've had me at the office. Well, a friend of a friend, which would mean Sanbey is-

That still doesn't feel right. Probably isn't.

The Third and Ninth - well, Petey and Little Coobs, and the officios by extension - always were pretty close. Kyubey's sort of like a little brother to him. ...Hah. The rabbit and the snake, I guess. Never did figure out which was which, and I didn't even realise he was the type to go in for metaphors. Anyway, once in a while, he still helps out. Like when the Ninth's got some kind of up and coming star, someone who looks promising enough to work on. Peter sends someone over to help them out, give a bit of training, that sort of thing. It's a little different this time, the kind of thing that needs to be kept quiet. That, and honestly, writing should do.

So here I am, sitting by my laptop at home while it rains outside - hey, at least I'm not missing out on anything by staying in the apartment - and typing away something that might look like pearls of wisdom, if you squint a bit. A little push to help out the Ninth, a couple tricks of the trade. Gotta admit, I'm a little proud that he'd line me up for this kind of thing, and the one who's going to be hearing this... met her before, she knows what she's doing. She'll go far if she doesn't witch out, I reckon.

It's probably not a waste of time unless she drops dead, is what I'm saying, and that's all you can ask of talking to anyone but an incubator in this business.


Forget step one, this is about step zero. Figure out what you want; no, what the officio needs, and let that decide your course. Talk to your incubator before you make any decisions, at least at first, to get a good handle for things. Keep them in the loop, no point working alone. May as well talk to us - Sanbey and me, I mean - too. If nothing else we can share grief seeds if you're running low. Recruits... maybe not so much. You know how things are over here.

Point is, you have to know what you need. Is it fresh recruits? Someone you need to have six feet under? But most importantly, you need to manage this every time you make a decision: Do you need grief seeds, or do you need live ones if you're getting low on numbers? I've attached a couple guidelines - seasonal, since you're going to want everything you can throw out there around Walpurgisnacht, to take one example - but ask me if you need anything else. Eventually you'll crunch the numbers long enough to get a feel for it, probably a better one as far as the Ninth goes than I can give you.

I'm going to cover four things in here: Recruitment, keeping them happy, making them crack, and damage control.

First of all, know where to look. An information network and knowing just where or when to go in, a 'tell your friends' policy, bringing family in, keeping an eye on troubled houses and poor neighbourhoods... that's all very well, but it's not exactly efficient. It's a bonus to your baseline, or at least it should be.

Try to get Kyubey to start buying up a couple places that might be useful; upshot is, it's even good for your reputation. Obvious ones are orphanages, for one - support a couple and, as far as most are concerned, you've practically got a halo around your head - and hospitals. Keep an eye out for the terminally ill, the crippled, the ones that get hurt enough to drop dead at any moment, and work your magic. 'Offer they can't refuse', so to speak. I mean, no offense, but from what I heard, you know how well that works.

I don't care what you've heard, avoid mental hospitals. Rule one of recruiting, no head cases. At the very least, don't go out of your way for it. Sure, they're easy pickings and generally more powerful, but you have to keep the full picture in mind. They're hard to work with or predict, you can't read them, you can't order, organise or properly train them, and they snap like no one else. I don't mean they witch out, I mean they go out of control and start all sorts of trouble, or so I heard; like I said, no first-hand examples around here for the most part. More trouble than they're worth. Just look at the Eighth. Sanbey's got his hands in just about all the places I mentioned around Mitakihara, but... I don't know, talk to your boss about it, I know the rabbit goes out of his way to help Kyubey. He might work something out.

Now, just because it's a shorter explanation, here's how you turn a magical girl into a grief seed on the double. Like keeping them happy, it depends on getting to know them first. Look over those files on your off days - I know, it's a pain - and meet them enough times to figure out how they tick. You can isolate them and, if they live at the officio, drop their living quality down the drain, send them on the worst assignments you've got... but that's the lazy way, and it doesn't always work. Some people take it all and keep going. The trick is to keep an eye on what's happening to them from day to day. Find or make an event that sets them off, gets them to slip a bit, then go in. Or don't. Depending on the person, a couple things they didn't want to hear can be better or worse than nothing at all. Make sure they feel alone, cut off, twist the knife a little. Most of all, don't give them anyone to blame. If they find someone to hate, that gives too much to hold onto, and it can make them dangerous, too.

If you haven't got the stomach for all that, well, that's fine. Honestly, it doesn't usually take much to make most of them come to pieces. Just not being there for them is enough half the time.

Keeping them stable is worth a lot more most of the time, just because it's not what you might call the natural state. First, remember everything. Faces, names, those are the big ones, but if you can keep birthdays in mind, that always helps. Hobbies, little details like that, they mean the world. No one would bother to know the little things, right? So the less it matters, the less important it is, the more it means to remember it for them. Could make someone's day just playing along and acting like you know everything about them, like the same stuff they do, things like that.

Be there for them. Now, obviously we're busy, and you're going to triage it a bit to figure out who to hang out with, but make time for the promising ones and the ones that look like they need it most. That's not a bad thing; the rarer your time is, the more it's worth, but you've got to make sure they know - even when you can't make it - that there's nothing you'd like more than sticking around and chatting for a couple hours. Otherwise you risk just looking aloof. On the same note, 'breaking' the rules now and then helps too. 'Oh, I shouldn't really, but I'm sure everything else can wait'. Or you pretend you badgered Kyubey into making a special exception as a favour to someone or the other, that sort of thing. Again, it means more if it's special, or you went out of your way for it.

Make sure you meet the recruits right away, and visit the Venenum wing now and then. Build up an image, a name, make sure everyone knows your face and you know theirs. Have to make sure your first impression is a good one, after all. Another trick I've learned is learning how to cook something or the other. Doesn't really matter what, as long as it's good, you can count on kids liking it, and it turns into something good for them to associate with you. Helps with the image too, like an older sister or mother for the whole officio. For example... well, there's recipe I use. Trade secret of a sort - least, that's what I always tell everyone - but I may as well make an exception. I've got it attached to the message. Give it a try some time, it'll probably go over well.

There's more, but this is getting long, so I'll cover damage control next. Namely, two big ones: Retirements and Walpurgisnacht. The first one is one where, like pushing someone to witch out, you've got to keep links in mind. The thing about someone dying or witching out is that it makes ripples. Some people are going to get upset about it, real upset sometimes, enough to make them snap, and suddenly you've got a crowd of weird little monsters on your hands. If you planned for it, good, but as always, 'I meant to do that' is kind of a key point in here. Don't let it blindside you or happen by accident. Keep this in mind for a retirement, including whether one is worthwhile to begin with. Make an opportunity of it, if you can: Send someone who's only too happy to off them, or someone who'd break if they had to do it, and if you don't have a good reason to do either, there's always someone who won't care one bit. Worst case, you hire someone from another officio to do it.

Then there's Walpurgisnacht. Gonna be honest, this one's a mess, and it always will be. No one wins here, and it'll be a test of all your management and name-juggling as much as cleaning up the wreckage after. And, of course, actually killing witches, if you put yourself on the front lines for this one. Pick all your best for the night, but only if you're either sure you won't lose them, or you can afford to. Be ready for the waves it makes, all the witches you'll be dealing with in the weeks after - like I said, every death affects others - and make sure the ones on the front lines are expendable. Luckily, tactics are more warmaster territory. We can still sit down and work it out together when the time comes, if you need.

There's plenty more, but I'll leave that for another time, I've given you enough to sit through. Good luck out there.

- H.R.


Whew. That's that out of the way. Send and- oh, yeah, that's right, forgot the address. Can't quite remember, hopefully it's in the address boo- oh, there it is. Good.

Mami Tomoe.

Promising kid, really. Decent type for a magical girl. Definitely going places, at this rate.