Vulcan didn’t call him all day long.
Disturbed, Ryan went to the Bakuto casino anyway at night, but the guards refused to let him in when he arrived in costume. Unlike last time, they gently told him to fuck off after noticing his A-bomb.
As if it was a crime to carry a thermonuclear bomb nowadays!
So Ryan returned but unmasked and in civilian clothes; he even put on his red tie. This time, he managed to slip in, the guards mistaking him for a normal client.
“Hey, friendly nameless extra,” Ryan asked a card croupier, playing blackjack with a well-dressed group of professional gamblers straight out of Casino Royale. “I am looking for Zanbato. Have you seen him?”
“Zanbato?” the croupier frowned. “No, he’s not here tonight.”
“My plumber friend Luigi then?”
The dealer shrugged his shoulders. “No, I don’t think so. What is it about? I can give them a message if I see them.”
Damn it. Still, Ryan approached the dealer’s ear and whispered into it. “The jackal is in the hen house.”
“The jackal is in the hen house?”
“It’s a code, they will understand. Their lives depend on it, so don’t screw up.” The dealer nodded seriously, promising to deliver the message.
But still, goddamnit! Clearly things had gone off the rails somewhere, but what caused it? Shooting Ghoul? The hotel switch? Warning Wyvern about Ghoul’s escape? Whatever it was, it made him fall off the Augusti’s radar or changed their priorities, just when he finally found a lead on Len!
Ryan stayed at the casino just in case, playing for hours. Knowing the results of every game, he accumulated quite a nice sum at the roulette and Colosseum bets, although he was very careful never to overplay his hand. Having entire lifetimes worth of cheating experience, the courier had mastered the art of looking like a professional gambler; sacrificing money when needed, discussing overcomplicated probability theories with other players, faking nerve-wracking tension while waiting for the results. He also played legitimately at poker and blackjack, not even using his time-stop to look at his rivals’ hands.
In the end, the main defense against anti-seer methods was banality. Seers were rare and usually obvious, always trying to win it big; while skilled gamblers and talented amateurs were legion. Ryan just had to convince guards he belonged to the latter group, winning high but believable amounts, and it did the work.
Ryan usually enjoyed these tricks, but his heart wasn’t in it. Instead, he kept asking himself questions. Should he go to the supply run at the harbor even without being invited? It could get him right back on tracks, but Ryan wasn’t sure if it would even happen now.
Also, who killed him in the last loop? The Meta were the obvious suspect, but it could also be an unrelated hit. Since the courier took a job for the Augusti after denying Wyvern, Dynamis could have simply ordered him dead.
No, the easiest solution was to reload and deviate after receiving the mission, but Ryan needed to die first.
Car crash? Too common already. Traffic had killed him almost as often as enemy Genomes.
Bullet to the head? The last time he tried he woke up six months later, the medics congratulating themselves on their ‘miraculous’ surgery.
Train tracks? Unoriginal, everybody did that nowadays.
Roman suicide? Thematic and classy, but he would have to find a sword or hemlock.
“Nice play.” Ryan glanced at the left of his table, noticing that a stunning woman had taken a seat right next to him. It was an elegant lady with long black hair, a crimson gown, and a beauty spot on the right cheek. She played with a glass full of alcohol, clearly trying to get Ryan’s attention. “This’ the first time I’ve seen you around here.”
It was strange how everybody wanted to be Ryan’s friend when he started making money. Was it his magnetic personality shining? “Sorry, I’m thinking about something else.”
“What could be more important than accumulating a big pile of money?” she asked, flirtatiously playing with her glass.
“I’m trying to find a suicide method that hasn’t been done before. Something original and over-the-top.”
The question took her aback, but the woman did consider it. “Jumping into Mt. Vesuvius?” she proposed.
“Already done, though with Etna rather than Vesuvius.”
“I didn’t know,” she replied, sipping her cocktail. “Do you want to commit suicide or is this just theoretical?”
Already bored with the conversation and failing to find a suicide method he hadn’t already tried, Ryan raised his hand at a waiter. “Can I have an electric fan?”
“A fan, sir?” the waiter asked, confused. Ryan answered by giving him a three hundred euro tip.
One minute later, he had his fan.
While he took most of his winnings for himself, the Genome piled up thousands of euros banknotes in front of the fan, aiming for the center of the casino. The woman at his side probably guessed what crossed his mind, if the flash of recognition in her eyes was of any indication.
Ryan switched on the fan, which sent euro bills flying all over the casino. “To the fastest!” he shouted as loud as he could, a flash of greed in everyone’s eyes.
When the Genome exited the Bakuto, all the locals were fighting over the bills, the woman included. Even the bouncers and the staff tried to grab a fistful.
Ignoring the chaos he started, Ryan glanced at Wyvern’s business card and the Dynamis logo on its back. Should he check them out?
Mmm… no. Len was his priority—his only priority. He was tired of these long years of loneliness, and he wanted to find her at all costs.
The Augusti had provided him hints already. Ryan knew people used her Genius technology, and that people traded such devices in Rust Town. If the Augusti Path was closed to him for this loop, then he should try to figure out where they could have obtained the bathyspheres. If there was a black market for Genius goods, he should check it out.
He could always kill himself afterward.