It took a while of ginger negotiation, but Halkkor and I devised a plan to restructure the admissions process for new arrivals in Hell.
The waiting room in which I'd arrived would be converted into a hallway. The hallway would house a line of freshly-damned souls shambling slowly toward a door at the end where they'd be introduced to the demon whose job it would be to torture them. Demons would be assigned unceremoniously based on who was next up. It was simple, methodical, and, by Halkkor's design, much less bureaucratic.
The barracks would be expanded to allow one small room for each soul to live and suffer in--which would mean constant construction, allowing the Department of Construction to stay in place, at least until Halkkor devised a way to eliminate it. I couldn't convince him to stagger the severity of the punishments based on the seriousness of their crimes, but I did manage to convince him to allow a system of recommendation for demons to submit the hard cases for transfer to the old Department of Torture, where Kivra, working with an extremely smaller staff, would supervise the tormenting of souls who were more resistant to traditional methods of torture. Halkkor insisted on reviewing these recommendations personally to ensure they weren't overused.
"This isn't good enough," Halkkor announced in frustration after we'd finished. "Too many departments will remain in operation and too little of the power will be centralized. We need a better arrangement."
"So, what, you just want to scrap the last few hours of planning and start from scratch?" I asked. I immediately regretted making that suggestion, even though I meant for it to sound like a bad idea.
He paused, apparently considering my suggestion.
"Listen," I blurted, hoping to interrupt his thought process and give him a less horrible one. "Listen, this kind of extreme change is going to be difficult to enact all at once. Why don't we work on restructuring the entrances and build from there? This is a good start, right? It's progress? Let's put it into action and improve it more once we get it established."
He stared at me wordlessly for a long time. Actually, it might have been only a few seconds, but the appraising quality of his gaze and its perturbing intensity made it seem like that stare went on for much, much longer than it needed to.
Finally he gave me a curt nod and said, "Yes. I suppose that will do for now."
I smiled uncomfortably. "Super. Let's get to work."