It was May 8th, 2020 for the third time, and Ryan had already caused two traffic accidents.
He blamed the people of New Rome for this. The city’s inhabitants were as nervous as coffee addicts in the morning, and drove their cars like monkeys out for his blood. Moving on the walkway would have been safer.
Thankfully, he had saved right before passing the ‘Welcome to New Rome’ sign at the end of the highway linking the city to the rest of the Campania region.
Driving his highly customized silver Plymouth Fury, Ryan stopped right before a tank truck would have hit him to the left, dodged a Bliss-addict meth-head, and then finally reached New Rome’s strip.
Owing to its reputation as the largest metropolis in Italy and a ravaged Europe’s capital of sin, New Rome was quite the sight. Built around the shores of the gulf of Naples years after Mechron’s drones bombed it to oblivion, it had the tallest buildings Ryan had seen since the fall of the Genome Wars. None held a candle to the Dynamis Tower north of town, a glass spire symbolizing the company’s power over the region; corporate money had built New Rome, a city with no gods nor kings. Only money.
At the left of the driveway, Ryan could see the pristine Mediterranean sea, glittering with the sunset while a distant island cast a long shadow on the horizon; on his right, he could glance at the countless casinos, gambling dens, and luxury hostels who drew so many tourists to the city. He even glimpsed the famous Colosseum Maximus, a modern replica of the old world’s Colosseum.
This district truly deserved its name of the Golden Coast.
Ryan himself attracted a few glances from tourists since he drove in his Quicksave costume. He covered his adorable face with a metal, mouthless mask with two rounded glasses for eyes, and his black hair beneath a black top hat. Add to that a navy blue trench coat, a purple shirt, blue pants, black gloves, and boots, and you became style incarnate.
The outfit was hot to wear, and not very practical for fighting, but it looked amazing. To Quicksave, that was all that mattered.
As he continued moving north towards his destination, Ryan noticed a few eye-catching publicity boards. One of them portrayed the superheroine Wyvern, a beautiful amazon of a woman with shoulder-length black hair, sharp greyish eyes, and a white bodysuit, showing off her muscles with a green potion in the background.
‘Want to be as strong as Wyvern? With our Hercules Elixir, what Hercules did in twelve labors, you will do in an afternoon!’
‘One hundred thousand euros, only at Dynamis!’
Meh, everyone wanted to be a Genome these days, even the shadow of one. Then again, who could resist superpowers-in-a-can? Ryan hadn’t, although he had taken the real stuff, not a cheap knockoff giving just a fraction of a real superpower.
His life had been a rollercoaster ever since.
Driving in front of a cliff tourist spot and a Miami-like beach, Ryan reached a tourist district, full of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. The place smelled of drugs and alcohol, but it didn’t look seedy either. The worst neighborhoods were in the north, from what he had heard.
Having memorized the city’s map, Ryan quickly found the place he was looking for; an unremarkable pub located between an Italian restaurant and a closed nightclub. Parking his car nearby, the courier stepped down and opened his trunk.
Never good at organizing stuff, the young man had left all his belongings in a chaotic mess. His tools, computers, and weapons formed a mass of metal almost overflowing from the car; although none compared to his white rabbit plushie, the most devastating tool in his arsenal.
After searching, Ryan quickly found the black briefcase he had been hired to deliver, seized it, closed the trunk, and then entered the pub.
It was something of a cozy place with ten tables, only a third of them occupied. He briefly noticed some Latin muchacho trying to impress his date by levitating a coin in the air—he must have wasted fifty thousand bucks on a knockoff elixir. A balding, wrinkled old man with tanned skin stood behind the counter, looking at the newcomer suspiciously.
“Hello, local humans, I come in peace!” Ryan addressed the carbon-based lifeform called a barman. “Is this Renesco’s Jolie Wrangler?”
The man behind the counter glared at him. “It’s written on the front door. What do you want?”
Why did the bar’s title involve both French and English words, while the barman sounded like a true Italian? Multiculturalism struck again! “Then you must be Renesco!” Ryan handed the poor fellow the briefcase. “I’ve been hired to give you this! It’s full of mushrooms and a bomb, but I didn’t open it this time.”
“This time?” the barman frowned. “Are you…”
“I’m Quicksave,” Ryan introduced himself, tipping his hat. “I’m immortal, but don’t tell anyone.”
“Man, you said it loud enough for everyone to hear!” someone jeered at the back, the few clients laughing.
“That’s your power?” the barman asked, unimpressed. “Immortality?”
“It’s part of a package deal,” Ryan replied.
“Whatever,” Renesco grumbled while he seized the briefcase. “I’ll tell my boss and you should receive your payment soon.”
“Good to hear!” Ryan replied, a hand on the counter. “Hey, look, since I’m here, have you seen a girl called Len? Black hair, blue eyes, Marxist-Leninist?”
“Never heard of her,” the barman said with a shrug. “If you’re looking for a girl, try a brothel.”
“That’s not really the type, but thanks anyway.” Knowing her, Len was probably hiding in some underground Kremlin bunker. “Any place where you can buy custom genius tech? Homemade?”
“Try Rust Town in the north, if you’re brave enough. You can always find interesting stuff at the Junkyard, but it’s full of cutthroats and Psychos nowadays.” The barman looked at Quicksave head to toe. “They’re going to eat you alive.”
Ryan shrugged, while he heard someone enter the bar. The temperature seemed to suddenly drop a few degrees. “Renesco?” the newcomer asked.
“Yes?” the barman replied, frowning.
A second later, an ice spear tore out Renesco’s throat and nailed him to the back wall.
Ryan tried to activate his time-stop, but a sharp icicle hit his chest at astonishing speed. It pierced his bulletproof jacket and his ribs like a spear, then came out on the other side; leaving a gaping hole where the lungs should have been.
The room erupted in screams, as projectiles shredded the tables and clients alike. Struggling against the sharp pain in his chest, Ryan collapsed on the counter but managed to glance at his attacker.
The newcomer removed his hoodie, revealing his face… or rather his lack of one. He looked like a walking, skinless skeleton with vestigial muscles, skeletal fingers, and frozen eyes. An unnatural, chilling mist came out of his mouth and nasal cavities, transforming into ice weapons.
A Genome. Considering his physical mutation, maybe even a Psycho.
“Adam sends his regards,” the killer rasped. The muchacho man in the bar’s back tried to telekinetically throw a chair at him, but the hostile Genome grew an armor of ice over his bones. A few icicles later, the Spanish guy and his date had their face redrawn in a cubic style.
“I will get you…” Ryan dramatically raised a finger at his murderer, blood flowing from his mouth, “on my next save...”
The undead froze him alive with a wave of his hand, and all went dark.