The Perfect Run. CHAPTER 1-4



The Perfect Run

by Maxime J. Durand (Void Herald)

1: Quicksave

gear pointing energy rifles at him from behind. They surrounded his car, while they proudly displayed the ouroboros symbol of the Dynamis corporation on their chests; probably members of Private Security. A crowd of civilians had gathered outside the bar, looking at the scene while maintaining a respectful distance. Some had even started taking pictures.

“Hey, I’m just trying to help!” Ryan protested, waving his bloodstained bat in surrender after kicking the assassin with his boot one last time.

“You blew up my bar!” Renesco protested, emerging from behind the counter with a crimson face.

“Oh, you want money?” Quicksave quickly searched inside his trench coat as three red circles appeared on his mask, before bringing out a wad of banknotes worth fifty thousand euros. “Here, have a treat!”

Renesco looked at the money, grabbed it, counted, and then made a conflicted face. “That’s more than enough to pay for the repairs,” he told the guards. “The guy on the floor tried to attack us, the other weirdo came to help.”

“You have a license?” one of the security guards asked Ryan, who shook his head. “You’re a vigilante? An Augusti? Company Genome?”

“Nope!” Ryan replied.

“Well, if you don’t have a license, why shouldn’t we take you into custody alongside that bone guy?”

“What, you want money too?”

And Ryan threw a bribe at him.

The security captain grabbed the wad with one hand, counted while keeping his weapon aimed at Quicksave’s head, then chuckled. “You think you can buy our honor with that?”

Ryan threw him a bigger bribe.

“Better,” the Security guardsman said, putting the money in a pocket full of grenades. He lowered his rifle and had his two compatriots gently grab the assassin, after punching him in the gut. “I’m glad we helped make the neighborhood safer today.”

“Me too,” Ryan replied. “Me too.”

“Renesco?” The captain asked the barman, as his men carried the assassin away. “Don’t forget to pay your monthly subscription. We won’t always be there to protect your establishment.”

And on these wise words, the trio left without looking back.

“Do you always carry wads of money on yourself?” Renesco asked Quicksave, astonished by the surreal scene.

“When you cause as much collateral damage as I do, it’s a real time saver,” Ryan replied, the baseball bat still dripping with blood. “Who was that skeletal fellow anyway?”

“Ghoul, a Psycho from the Meta-Gang. Elixir junkies who have been hitting places like mine recently.” Renesco glared at Ryan, then at his car, and then back at its driver. “Now, get the fuck out of my bar.”

“Uh, not until after I finish the damn delivery.” Ryan handed the briefcase to Renesco, not really caring about the attention he brought on it. Quicksave always delivered; no matter how many deaths needed!

The barman’s eyes flashed with recognition, and then confusion. “I don’t get it,” Renesco said, as he grabbed the briefcase. “You aren’t paid half of what you spent in the last minute.”

“It’s not about the money,” Ryan replied. He looked around as if worried that anyone listened, then whispered into Renesco’s ear.

“I’m just bored.”

The man looked at Ryan in silence, while the courier whistled to himself as he returned to his car, driving under the sunset towards new adventures.

Sidequest, complete!

2: Story Branching

on the other end answered.

Ryan raised an eyebrow behind his mask. “Wait, am I being spied on?”

“Few places are off the grid in New Rome.”

Note to self: find a more discreet hotel next loop. “I’m pretty sure the last person who used that line didn’t encrypt their voice. Who are you, creepy mystery voice?”

“My name is Vulcan,” the caller answered. “I represent the Augusti. We are the organization that runs things in New Rome, and most of Italy.”

“I thought it was Dynamis?” Ryan deadpanned.

“That’s what they say,” the voice laughed. “But Italy only has one emperor, and his name is Augustus.”

Hard to disagree, the guy was invincible and could shoot homing lightning. He had more victims to his name than the cigarette.

“You have our thanks for saving our employee from that Meta trash,” Vulcan said. “All this to say, whatever the winged lizard promised you, we can offer more.”

“Is it an offer you can’t refuse, or an offer-offer? ‘Cause I’m allergic to horses.”

“We need tough people who get things done,” Vulcan replied. “You want women or boys? New hardware, good weapons? Enough Bliss to fly you to the moon? All that shit can be yours… if you prove you’re a team player.”

“And how do I do that?”

An email notification popped up, indicating an address. Ryan quickly checked, identifying the location as a casino called the Bakuto. “We own the establishment,” Vulcan explained. “Come tonight, alone, and don’t make us wait. We never ask twice.”

Ryan ended the call, pondering about the offers. Phew, you beat up one guy—showing extreme restraint and delicateness by your usual standards—and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of you.

Then again, either group could help him find Len, and he had created a save point before coming to town.

That could only mean one thing.

3: Men of Honor

stuff, no Psychos running around. When Augustus takes over Italy, and he will, you won’t recognize our country. It will be like before the Wars.”

The man sounded like he really believed it too. He seemed a bit young to rant about the ‘good old days’ though.

“Oh, also, do you have anything child related?” Ryan asked. “Because I’m pretty flexible, but if I find you do anything reprehensible to teens and below, then we’re going to have a problem.”

Zanbato’s mouth twisted into an expression of absolute disgust. “We don’t even sell Bliss to minors,” he said. “We aren’t savages. Not like the Meta. Anyway, do you know how we work as an organization? Because if you want to join us, you will have to bend to the hierarchy.”

“I’m more of a free spirit kind of guy,” Ryan said. “I’m just looking for help in finding a friend.”

“Oh?” this seemed to surprise the Genome. He must have thought Ryan a money-only kind of guy. “Whom?”

“Her name is Len. Black hair, blue eyes, Marxist-Leninist.”

“Do you have a photo?” Ryan shook his head. “Is she your girlfriend?”

“No, just my best friend. Been looking for her for years, until a client tried to pay me in tech she made. He said it came from New Rome.”

“Tech. She’s a Genius?” Zanbato finished his beer, mulling over that information. “Okay, look, if she’s what matters to you, then we’ll help you find her. Favor for a favor.”

Ryan could live with that. Once he had the information, he could always start a new loop and go to Len directly, without having to put a horse’s head in someone’s bed. “What favor?”

“We need muscle,” Zanbato said. “New Rome has a new problem called the Meta-Gang. They’re all Psychos.”

“I know them,” Ryan replied. “Had a skirmish with them years ago, back when they were small fries.”

Ghoul hadn’t joined then, but they were already vicious assholes.

Not that Ryan could blame them. The human body wasn’t made to handle more than one Elixir, even knockoffs. The combination of two powers made the genetic code unstable, usually driving the recipient mad. Sure, they gained an additional ability—nobody ever developed more than two as far as Ryan knew—but needed periodical injections of Elixirs to stabilize their body. These Genome mutants had the well-deserved nickname of Psychos.

You would think people knew better. But the thought of exceptional cases like Augustus, who gained two obscene powers with no ill-effects, always drove fools to try their luck.

“Long story short, these junkies started moving into our turf recently, especially the north neighborhoods,” Zanbato explained, as shouts erupted behind them. Ryan glanced behind him, noticing a new Colosseum battle had begun on TV. “They attacked our guys, we hit ‘em back, and now they assault our associates and suppliers like Renesco.”

“Can’t you…” Ryan mimicked a beheading motion. “You know…”

“Yes we can, but for now they’re just an annoying nuisance and the bosses want our best men to focus on more important matters.” Zanbato asked for another beer. “So what do you say? Help us beat up some mutants, get your girl?”

“Oooh, business.” Ryan joined his hands. “How many?”

“How many what?

“How many casualties?”

4: Random Encounter

her gauntlets from above to rain short blasts at the walkway, “I’m a necrophiliac.”

Oh, a fellow quipper! Ryan was so happy to have some back and forth interactions, even if he needed to focus on avoiding the blasts. So many people just tried to kill him without exchanging pleasantries, it was just rude.

Stopping time again, Ryan ran away and managed to reach the part of the walkway which hadn’t frozen over. Running on ice was a lot harder to do than it sounded, and more importantly, made him look like a klutz. When time resumed, Sarin’s volley had turned the frozen pavement into a cheese. On the horizon, the courier noticed Zanbato and Luigi finishing the supply run, seeing that he could handle the situation well. “I’m sure we’ll break the ice between us.”

“That’s just pitiful,” Sarin replied upon landing on the roof of a waterfront warehouse. The height gave her a better view of the walkway, and solid ground allowed her to focus entirely on Ryan. This time, having resolved her own performance issues, she switched from short bursts to sustained fire.

“Did my invitation leave you… stone cold?” Quicksave shouted innocently to Miss Chernobyl, running away while managing to unjam Fisty. The sustained blast collapsed the walkway behind him, stones falling on the beach. Frankly, it surprised Ryan that they hadn’t woken up the whole neighborhood.

“Don’t you ever shut up?!” Ghoul’s voice snarled, as the drenched Psycho leaped on the walkway for a second round. Even with his armor of ice on, he left saltwater behind with every step, and… was that a starfish stuck to his leg?

“Anyway, as I said before you interrupted me, whatever happens…”

Ryan turned to face his foes and extended his arms, doing his best to look fabulous.

“I won’t take you seriously.”

“Multiple routes unlocked!”

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