In Kirby's Case, Part II: A Methodology
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rating: +5+x

The Foundation is well-known for the numerous Lovecraftian creatures and possibly cursed objects in confinement, which are subject to experiment after experiment before being thrown into a dark cell down the hall. Their methods even apply to those who bear a more human resemblance, whether they possess a humanoid figure or a level of sapience. Regardless of who — or rather, what — you are, this organization views you as but another test subject, an anomaly, the furthest thing from normal.

Despite the harsh phrasing, it's undeniably true. Staff is merely being advised not to grow too attached to the specimens in containment, as many issues could arise. Their sense of ethicality is questionable at best, often overtaken by their very purpose of capturing those who defy the Veil. They wipe the memories of their friends and families, provide nothing but the bare minimum for one to survive, and bar them from any outside interaction. The Foundation only served to study, not to cater.

Sure, they took drastic precautions, but they're precautions, nonetheless. Better safe than sorry, as they say.

Kirby believed it was for the best. The protection of humanity from the torturous unknown relies on such measures to stay intact. Even the most seemingly harmless anomalies can be capable of tearing down entire sites without warning, so it's better to avoid the risk.

Case spent their years with that exact viewpoint in mind, but now times have changed. They had to grow a heart of gold instead of steel where they currently stood.


Amelie and Kirby strolled through the facility as they made their way to the first stop of their tour: The Housing and Commons Area. Usually, they would go down the list of each section, but, in her words, "That would be too boring." So instead, they focused on the more notable areas since that's a great way to conduct this orientation.

You could tell the director took every step with a hint of glee, eager to showcase the newcomer the gist of their cotton candy future. Meanwhile, the agent couldn't be less thrilled, remaining silent and finding themselves staring at the floor below them.

Anomalies would occasionally pass them by, greeting Amelie through their alien language (which she just so happened to learn) or by waving at her with their multiple appendages. She was quite the social butterfly. Mx. Case trailed behind, trying their best not to look like some lost child in a supermarket. Well, they did feel lost, but they were not a child. That's for sure.

"Great weather we're having, wouldn't you agree?" the woman spoke, attempting to muster a conversation.

Kirby glanced at the sky — a ray of sunlight cloaked under a bed of clouds — and responded, "Indeed, it is."

She turned to Case, "What kind of weather do you prefer?"

They paused for a moment, "The rain. I do enjoy a light shower every once in a while."

"Yeah, I can see that. I take it, for an agent, you don't get time to relax. Always on your toes when you're on some dangerous mission."

And dangerous they were.

When you're an agent on the field, you learn to remove empathy from the equation. If one is capable of causing mass destruction, then it must be exterminated at all costs. The issue with sentient anomalies is how unpredictable they may be, with the intricacy of emotions, motivations, and goals. A reason to fight can pierce defenses like paper.

The agent learned to cast aside their feelings to protect the world from devastation. It was how they managed to last this long in the line of duty. But now, they had to cast aside their experiences and bring out their empathic self once more. There was one problem, though. Gawking at their reflection, they thought:

'Could I even do such a thing?'

Normally, Kirby wouldn't give it a second thought and just fled the building once they'd finish. They didn't even realize how their bitterness toward the AEED began to melt away.


And with that, they were finally there. Doors lined both sides of the hall, along with a few personnel conversing with the skips. Case caught themselves staring at them again.

"So this is our Commons Area. It serves as temporary cells for our exceptional friends. If you want, you could also reserve a room for yourself."

Kirby noticed how furnished these rooms were, as if they were suddenly in a standard hotel. They saw the atmosphere around them brighten as they stepped through the corridor. With anomalies freely walking wherever they wanted, you would expect nothing but chaos running down the streets. But no, they were peacefully interacting with the staff despite their obvious chance of escape.

Amelie went around and continued to greet the anomalies. She also attempted to bring Case into their conversations as a way for them to familiarize themselves with the environment. The agent did their best not to bite their tongue and go along with their talks. It went well if you ignored how their instincts almost kicked in when they realized they were speaking to a reality bender at one point.

"You seem to be holding up pretty well," she gleamed.

Kirby took a deep breath and responded, "You think so?"

"Of course. Interaction with the anomalies is one thing we expect from you. Make sure you treat them with respect. Talk to them like they're close acquaintances, not like murderous prisoners or pure strangers."

"But they technically are strangers. I've never met them before."

The director scratched the back of her head, chuckling, "Well, you could say that. But it only takes a conversation to know someone."

Kirby wasn't the most versed in casual exchanges. They only ever opened their mouth at conferences or missions, rarely opening up and discussing everyday topics with their colleagues. It was not as if Case had some deep grudge or tragic backstory. They just felt like they had no reason to speak when it wasn't necessary. Wonder what led them to that conclusion.

It was tempting, the agent thought. They wanted to talk to someone, not as a superior, not as a random person on the street, but as a confidante. But with what they've done, would that even be possible? Kirby was hesitant about taking that step when they'd been walking backwards this entire time.

Case lowered their eyebrows for a moment, then proceeded. Next stop: The Playground.


A containment cell would typically consist of an isolated space with a single light on the ceiling, a blinking security camera, and a one-way observation window. You wouldn't imagine an open field comprised of a garden, a running track, and an assortment of gym equipment in the far corner. Granted, this wasn't an area anomalies were confined in, but they were free to rest here if they wanted.

Kirby and Amelie sat at a nearby bench as they viewed the little children, shooting various elements from their fingers while playing tag with the staff. The agent gaped — not condescendingly, mind you — but intriguingly. They didn't notice it themselves, but Ms. Metanoia was smirking at them.

"You seem interested," she pointed.

"Oh, no. I was… I was merely taken aback by this place. Where are we now anyway?"

The director leaned back. "This is the Playground, where you can take five and relax for a bit. Many people tend to come here when they're off the clock."

A boy dressed as an emperor was battling an employee cosplaying as a knight. The king raised his arm and lifted the caretaker into the air as the two pridefully lashed out their lengthy monologues. The worker noted how they'd never done a flip until now before bursting into a heap of laughter.

"There's a costume closet nearby, you know."

Case flinched, "Y-Your point being?"

She crossed her arms, "Oh, no reason. I was just saying that in case you were wondering."

Kirby wouldn't partake in such activities. They thought it'd be too childish for them. But seeing it in person — the expressions on their faces — maybe it wouldn't be so bad to try it out at least once.

All this time, their hands served to break, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to try making an outfit every so often. Case saw it as a fun experience. 'What is fun?' they paused. They wanted to find out for themselves.

They'd need to take sewing lessons, though.

"Alright, it's about time I show you our main attraction," Amelie stated.

What did she mean by that, you ask? Well, this is the Anomalous Entity Engagement Division. What do you think she meant?

It was a department for recreational purposes, and what better way to understand it than its many recreational facilities.


"Do you like playing dodgeball?"

This sub-level facility was split into various sections, each serving to accommodate every skipper that came for some free time to kill. A mini-theatre was displaying the latest performance by the department's acting crew, a reading area where aspiring superheroes researched the Marvel comics, and some cloaked figures were playing dungeons and dragons in the central space.

"It's been some time, but it was amusing."

The two were by the court, currently hosting an intense game of dodgeball. And yes, the ball itself was also participating as an actual player. It enjoyed being thrown around the place, chuckling as they flew through the sky and trying their best to land a hit.

Kirby was startled as some water from the nearby pool was spewed in their direction, causing them to step back.

"Sorry 'bout that!" a telepathic shark yelled as he continued his swimming lessons.

Amelie laughed, "Looks like Frankie has yet to get the hang of it."

'How did they manage to tame such a vicious creature?' Case squinted. But they backtracked, correcting themselves: 'Well, it is a sapient being, so "tame" is probably too harsh to describe it.'

I agree.

"Oh, who's that I see?"

Two more people came into the facility: A man and a bioluminescent, neon-coloured girl. The latter kept trying to ignore the caretaker as she sported an expressionless face.

"It seems she hasn't gotten used to this place yet."

"Who're they?" Kirby raised an eyebrow.

The director's tone felt more concerning, "That's one of our lovely caretakers, Mr Harold Fletcher. The young one next to him is Shelby. She recently transferred here the other week."

Case saw how Fletcher was struggling to bond with the kid, but she just wasn't used to suddenly being brought into a completely foreign place. It made sense. Not everyone can merely accept an abrupt shift in their daily life. Apparently, even the AEED fails to reach out and welcome the anomalies with open arms.

It was unfortunate. Maybe this is one of many instances where it simply doesn't work out, and the anomaly ends up going wherever else to be contained. It could be why the AEED is so diminutive compared to other branches of the Foundation. They just weren't as successful.

The agent believed that was the assurance they needed, to go on and depart from a world they didn't belong in, a world they couldn't fit in. But as that thought crossed their mind — forgetting to look both ways — they were likewise surprised.

As the awkward duo crossed the central area, the short girl's eyes widened as she caught something lying among the tabletop and board games: A pack of UNO cards.

Fletcher caught on, gesturing to it and offering her a chance to play. The little one nervously fidgeted her fingers but ultimately decided to join in. As the two promptly sat down, they gradually began to converse regarding their lives. The child's pupils lightened up, and a smile slowly cracked through her facade. He finally managed to spark some joy in her.

The kid won, by the way.

It took a moment for Kirby to process the series of events, but Amelie merely went on and applauded.

"Aw, now isn't that just nice? Harry got through to her, after all. I knew he could do it."

Case stuttered, "How— How did he do that?"

"As I said, all it takes is a conversation. If you treat people with respect, you can understand them better. You can't help someone without knowing how."

"You're telling me it's as simple as that?"

"Exactly. But even then, some people are… just not willing to take the chance."

People like Kirby.

They would only follow orders, unaware of other possibilities. Anomalies were dangerous for a reason, but if it was that simple to keep up the peace between both worlds, then what were they doing? Were they causing bloodshed for no reason whatsoever? Could there have been another way of doing this?

Had they been taking innocent lives without realizing it?

Case didn't recognize their palms; they were too red, too dirty to clean.

Was it their fault?

Had they been wrong?

Why did they do this?

How could they do this?

Why did they come here?

They didn't deserve to be here, not at all.

"Hey, where are you going?"

Kirby didn't answer. They fled the building as they wanted.

But did they want this?

But they shouldn't be here in the first place. They said it themselves.

But then… why?

"Case? Case!"

Why were they here?

Kirby didn't know.

rating: +5+x

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