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Washington, D. C.

Fritz Vaine stumbled back to his apartment around 2 in the morning after several hours of keeping the shine on the bar with the sleaze of his coat. He immediately fell into a fitful sleep, dreams of strange numbers and equations dancing around nonsensically filling his brain.

At 7, as he had grown used to over the past several years, Fritz woke up despite not feeling particularly rested. He got halfway through his usual morning preparations before he realized that there was nothing to prepare for anymore. His job was gone. His project was gone. And he was having severe doubts about his career. Hell, his life... as though that wasn't the same as his career.

Fritz walked out of the shower, his hair still half-shampooed, and he dropped down on his couch. It'll probably ruin the upholstery. Fuck it. At least maybe then it'll look like someone lives here. Indeed, the apartment looked much the same as it did when he first moved in -- he had only used it for sleeping between 14-hour work days. The TV wasn't even hooked up. Oh well, all that was on there was stupid crap for stupider people. He could kill time now, but it'd only kill brain cells.

He dicked around on the Internet for a bit, and then tried to muster up the energy to look for a new job. He should, he knew. The money was running out. But what's the fucking point'?

At around noon Fritz got bored of the computer (if he read any more xkcd comics he was going to kill himself.) He looked at the clock. 12:30. Not too early for a drink.

Ten hours later, he was drunk off his ass and thoroughly numb at some hole-in-the wall bar. It was almost deserted, as tonight was... a Tuesday? Wednesday? It didn't fucking matter anymore. One of those days where people with jobs didn't get drunk.

Fritz slammed his shotglass on the table. "Another."

"Man, I don't know," the bartender said. "You've been here all day for the past three days. I think you need to stop, dude."

"Don't 'dude' me," Fritz said, his face flushing with rage. "You want to cut me off, you metrosexual college dropout oh-so-sensitive shitstain? You think that your six weeks of bartending school and lifetime of MADD commercials fucking qualify you to tell when people have to stop drinking? You in all your twenty-whatever years have NO idea how low in life people can get, and how... how people just need a drink. It's a free country, and I have a right to drink myself to death if I fucking want to." He relapsed into swearing in German.

"I think you need to leave," the bartender said, his voice level.

Fritz got up and slammed his drink down on the bar for emphasis, although the fact that he had to pick it up first lessened the dramatic gesture. "I think I need to leave too!" And so he left.

He wandered through the warm June air, caught up in his own thoughts and misery. He wandered as though in a dream. Sure enough, he found himself back at his work, having taken the path he knew by heart. The government labs loomed tall in front of him, closed for the night but still imposing... or maybe more imposing because of their darkness. "FUCK YOU!" he yelled at them, as loud as he could. They didn't respond.

There were some kids there. Punk teenagers, with ratty clothes and hair they had clearly spent hours on. A couple were throwing rocks while one was spray-painting the walls. Fritz stumbled towards them. "What are you kids doing here."

All of the teenagers' heads snapped towards him. A couple started to back away but the one that seemed to be oldest, a pimply young man with a blue mohawk and a shirt with the anarchy symbol on it, swaggered right up to Fritz. "We're striking back at the military-industrial complex. You got a problem with that?"

"Huh," Fritz said. "Well, I'm striking back at assholes who don't know anything about science." He picked up a rock and chucked it at a second-floor window. It bounced off. Maybe if I throw it from the right angle I can break it...

And so midnight found a drunken Fritz Vaine vandalizing his old workplace alongside a bunch of teenage anarchists.

In his drunken stupor, and with his single-minded concentration on the task at hind, it takes a while for Fritz to notice the teens backing away from him in fear. "What'sa matter with you kids?" he asks, his speech not entirely clear.

"Dude..." says one of them. "You're... glowing..."

Fritz looks down at his hands. So he is. He isn't sure exactly what to do about that at this point, so he threw another rock. Again, due to his state of inebreation, it takes Fritz a fair amount of time to notice the other changes happening to his body and senses. The light, the numbness. All the sounds of the kids cries fade. Fritz stumbles and falls.

In other circumstances, the kids would have just thought the man had passed out from the alchohol. Were it not for the fact that his body had entirely disappeared.


---Prologues-->

----Chapter 1-->