Out-of-universe note: This tale is set in the context of the Broken Masquerade universe. It is recommended you be familiar with that canon's setting and plot before proceeding.
“A month. Tops.”
“I won’t get… What, any details?”
”I’m not personally privy to the details, I’m afraid, even if I were allowed to disclose them.”
“H-how do I know what I did wrong?”
"I'm not sure what you mean by that. Your errors were explained to you thoroughly."
I have no need for a memory of my life before this. The prospect of it seems painful. Whatever my meaning was previous to this has been outweighed by usefulness, potential or otherwise, and that’s fine. I had nothing to spend my paycheck on when I lived in the real world, so what was the point of receiving it? It's fine. It’s reasonable enough, and it’s fine.
I have spent anywhere from two to six years here, give or take a few years that might have gotten fucked around in my memory or wiped out of it entirely. It was clear to me when I was hired that this organization’s purpose wasn’t as scientifically oriented as I’d originally thought, and that was fine too. It was important work, work I didn’t mind dedicating myself toward despite a few ethical doubts I had towards the beginning. I was here because I wanted to be here. That was my intention, and it was a comfortable and confident one.
I never had an issue with what we did, either; however, I often had the unfortunate pleasure of working with sapient anomalies, so I suppose I need to factor that into my view of the Foundation before I say anything too self-absorbed. I worked in the Field Research department of Site-81, and my days were spent burning up my biology degree in the humidity of the midwest, tracking people and animals through the filthy alleyways of Indianapolis and the deep woods of Bloomington alike. Anomalous creatures don't grow on trees, after all, and each project took up months of my time. My days were long and my pay was low, but it's what I had wanted to do and it's what I'd been doing.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize how purposeless I would feel if I hadn't been hired by the Foundation or a similar organization. I could spend my days slaving away at a nine-to-five job, like I spent my teens and early twenties, but what would I be doing? Helping some no-name company make its money? No, I'd rather do something important, even if that meant doing things the outside world frowns upon.
After the legal shitshow sparked by the events in Korea cracked the Foundation's backbone, containment of human anomalies was the new animal testing in the public's eye, and no amount of logical reasoning would sway their vitriolic and destructive activism. For a while, I started to wish that I was from a different education background - anything other than biology - just so that I could turn a blind eye to the Foundation's 'questionable morals' and file paperwork in some dusty office wing. Anything other than what was popular controversy. Anything that didn't involve sentient subjects.
That being said, I was torn. The human anomalies I worked with - and there were only three of them in my entire career - didn't behave like people. A person doesn't scream and kick when approached in calm conversation, a person doesn't attempt to murder the doctor attending to them, a person doesn't spend hours at night wailing at the ceiling and only stop when forcibly sedated; an animal does those things. I was working with animals, whether I wanted to admit it at the time or not. Right?
The more I considered the concepts involved, the more I came to the realization that it would be downright unintelligent to ignore how environment has the capacity to enforce and cause behavior. Of course a person acts like an animal when you put them in a cage, I explained to my supervisor a few years back; living things conform to the context of their environment, I know that much, and when a living thing's environment is designed to enforce a mindset, how can you in good faith lay the blame of the results on the victim?
He didn't like that. It was a telltale sign of concerning sympathy, he said, and he'd be moving me to a "less stress-inducing work environment" ("for my own safety," of course). I'll get my head in the right place, he told me. Amnesticization is always an option.
As of now, I am not certain where I stand.
I never had to deal with humanoids after that. I researched Safe-classes in a quiet lab. Nothing sentient or sapient. My pay decreased, but I didn't care. I ignored my feelings, I ignored the news and the rumors and I ignored everything but my work. After a while, my head felt lighter. Weeks blurred together faster than they ever had before, and I found that I rarely left the Site anymore. My life was a cycle of lab to quarters to cafeteria over and over and over again, and it was acceptable. Even comfortable. I was useful - I felt useful - and I saw it in my daily patterns as much as I saw it in my work.
I have found that there is no difference between usefulness in the lab and usefulness in the field. This organization cannot function with the personal cushioning that is individuality; to have it present is to clog the gears and stop the clock, and in this day and age more so than ever, we are a clock that cannot afford to be stopped. The clock must continue to function as a whole, and it does not matter which of the cogs I control; all that matters is that I continue to function.
The issue is not that the Foundation does not see me as human, despite what the newspapers will have you believe. Whether they ever did is of course always in question, but by this point, outside factors and the draining, inescapable influence that is publicity have caused them to at least try. No, the issue isn’t that the Foundation does not see me as human. The issue is that I no longer see myself as human, and my own conviction is the most valuable tool at their hands.
But it's fine, really;