Prologue
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I’m a normal guy, things were going okay, and my education was through. Nearly managed to get in a position where I could coast through my life too… then that god-damned war happened.

Things were going well. The world was recovering from a widespread pandemic, a rover landed on Mars, and many other things that should have just kept things calm. Until late in the year, some god-forsaken country that had suddenly sprung up tore a hole in reality… a rift in dimensions. Or at least so was the theory. They didn’t just open a single rift. That would have been such a great thing instead of what they did next. Humanity would have traversed a new frontier, but they put that aside and threw their advent of science towards an attempt at conquest. Portals opened all over the world.

The first year the perpetrating country crumbled into itself. But the machinations of their greed continued to gnaw at the world with its fire, tendrils, and claws. Monsters spilled through the portals no matter where they opened, and we spent six long years fighting tooth and nail against otherworldly powers before we were given the reprieve to start rebuilding. The portals had to be closed one by one. Closing them was such a taxing event. I became one of many that experienced their closings firsthand. And for the relief, I felt… I still fear what should no longer exist.

The damage was done, and all we could do was pick up the pieces. I tell myself this every time, but it’s painful when I consider all the lives that could have been, that I saw away…

“Ai-“

My view on the ceiling just up and ahead of me had remained unchanged for the past hour…I must have spaced out again.

“Aida-“

Hmmm? Oh, I lost myself.

“Aidan, fill this line. We need your signature to finish this up.”

“Ah, sorry, I was a bit distracted for a moment.”

I rubbed my neck some after being brought back to reality by the clerk in front of me. She had me here with her for half the day, just filling in personal information. Today, she was assigned to complete my pension paperwork and network registration.

I was done. They didn’t need me anymore, and I was broken from the years of fighting. I could do nothing for them anyway.

“My bad, that should be it now.”

I signed the final signature on my end, and now all I had to do was wait.

“Alright, I’ll have this back to you in a few moments, and you can head home.”

The clerk stood up and headed out of the cubicle. I eyed her as she stood and left to a printer. The corner breaking my sight as she continued through the office. I returned my gaze to the ceiling and yawned, reclining some in my chair. Bringing my hands behind my head, I sat like that for a while.

“It's all coasting from here… ”

I talked as if there were really a purpose to this, but it is not like I had a fitting excuse.

No one to talk to in my free time anyway. A few minutes passed as I continued to idly stare at the ceiling before the clerk came back holding out a sealed document towards me.

“Well, Aidan, it was a pleasure handling your case, this went rather smoothly, so I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day.”

She winked at me after handing me the document. Nodding, I stood up and headed out of the office. Another chance tossed...damn.

The stale, cool air of the office contrasted from the warm, muggy atmosphere outside so much that the windows started to fog over some as I stepped out when I opened the door. I’d already started sweating as I’d walked the near one hundred meters to my truck that had been waiting for me with all of my belongings packed within, waiting to begin my long trip to wherever I may find a home.

Pulling out my keys, I unlocked the driver-side door and checked my watch. It was early afternoon, so I found myself with enough time to catch a late lunch before my drive, so I didn’t hurry when I hopped in to start it up. Looking at the packet one last time before throwing it into the center console, I thought it over for a brief moment.

My body is in tatters from the last six years of service. I'm afraid of my own shadow, and I'm not even able to do more than huddle myself into whatever room I'll eventually find myself in.

“Such a fuckin coward.”

I shook my head as I openly berated myself. As if someone would agree.

At least I can forget it all for a moment over some lunch.

I would have hoped for that to be the case, but when I reached forward and engaged my ignition to start the heater block in the truck, everything went black.

The last thing I felt was a heavy impact and a searing heat randomly throughout my body.

 

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