Wakka’s bold, caustic statement was met with an uproar that was a mixture of cheers of agreement and oaths of disdain. It took me a little longer to calm the crowd down that it had last time, but when they’d finally quieted, I asked Wakka to elaborate.
“With pleasure,” Wakka said, still abrasive but seeming to appreciate that I was giving him serious consideration. “Zyzyfus may be Vilnius’s son, but he’s just a kid. He hasn’t even hit his twentieth birthday yet and I can guarantee you he doesn’t have a fucking clue how to run this joint. Malkino may be the highest-ranking demon now that Vilnius is gone, but he’s only had that position for a decade or so and he still ranks below me. I was Vilnius’s second-in-command, his right hand man, his go-to guy, and it had been that way for the last hundred and fifty years.” He was starting to froth at the mouth a little as he continued breathlessly. “I know the ins and the outs of this Department better than anybody else, and I deserve to be in charge more than anybody else. And it’s not about a power grab like those greedy pricks, it’s about doing a job and doing it right.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, that makes sense to me,” I said. I realized I was giving very brief job interviews here, but so far my impressions were that Malkino was your typical power-hungry asshole demon, Zyzyfus was halfway between that and Torvin’s useless cowardice, and Wakka was the one levelheaded guy surrounded by a maelstrom of incompetence.
“You can’t make him a Director,” Malkino protested. “He’s not even a demon!”
“Winston is the Director of Assignment and he’s human,” I reminded him.
“Yeah, and he’s a useless fat fuck,” Malkino reasoned indelicately. “Humans have no business wielding power in Hell and neither do Pit Guards.”
“Well, that settles it, then,” I said. “Wakka is the new Director of Development.” It was worth it if only to see Malkino’s face twist up indignantly.
“This is bullshit!” Malkino screamed.
I interrupted what was clearly the beginning of a brilliant temper tantrum by teleporting directly behind him, gripping him by the neck, and lifting him up so his ear was in front of my mouth. “And if anything happens to Wakka, I’ll kill you myself,” I grated ominously. I tossed him on the ground and turned to face the assembly. “Wakka now has absolute authority over this Department,” I announced. “Anyone who has a problem with that has a problem with me. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve been down here,” I added with a smirk, “It’s that the best way for me to solve my problems in Hell is by killing someone.”
The crowd was silent. I think they got the message. I had to admit, despite my initial revulsion to the idea of becoming the Devil, it was damn good to have this kind of power.