Road To Con City

Road To Con City

A retired chainsmoker hitman is called upon to deliver a pen drive to Con City. Can he survive the machinations of a ruthless arms dealer, or will he fall to the blade of an unhinged rival assassin?

Jonesy, a chain-smoker and retired professional hitman fed up with the world, spends his days enjoying the quiet solitude of the Con County savanna in his search for inner peace. His former employer, a shady arms dealer who calls himself Hades, asks him to deliver a pen drive to Con City. Finding himself in need of cash, Jonesy accepts the offer. Little does he know that the pen drive holds a weapon of mass destruction and he soon finds himself entangled in a web of deceit as a sick megalomaniac bent on world domination tries to bring all of Con County to its knees with the most dangerous computer virus ever designed by man. Capable of setting computers on fire, the Burnout virus and its enhanced, even more dangerous 2.0 version threaten to engulf the world in flames. All hope is not lost though, for the only thing more dangerous than a psychopath in possession of a lethal computer virus is a retired chain-smoker hitman on nicotine withdrawal.

Road To Con City is a dark comedy/parody taking place in and around the fictional metropolis of Con City in the early 21st century and is a prequel to Con City. Featuring epic levels of destruction, non-stop insanity, and a cast of no less over the top characters than the original Con City including both new and familiar faces, Road To Con City caters to fans of the original novel as well as newcomers to the franchise. Highly recommended for all fans of dark humor and fans of all things 80s.

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The Con County savanna is a vast expanse of grassland fields and sparse oak woods occupying nearly half the county. It stretches from Con City all the way to the western edge of Con County. Small towns like Brickton, Desert Rock, and Greenwell litter the landscape here and there but most of it is as uninhabited as it was before civilization. And that's how Daniel Richard Jones liked it.

Jonesy, as most people called him, was a man fed up with civilization. In his mind, civilization was every bit as barbaric as it was sterile. He had grown up in it and lived in it for most of his life. He had worked in Con City as a professional hitman for the better part of a decade until he had had enough. Then he had left civilization behind and retreated to the tranquility of nature. Here, he sought to find his inner peace.

He appreciated the savanna, looked upon it as a work of art made by the greatest artist that had ever existed: nature. When he thought back to the old tales of the birth of civilization, of how man had created civilization to cheat the laws of nature and avoid being eaten by tigers, of how man had built great cities to escape the barbarism of nature... the only word that came to his mind was bullshit. As a man who had worked as a hitman for many years he had seen the dark side of civilization. He had concluded over the years that man had simply exchanged the barbarism of nature for a different kind of barbarism, and that man lived under the illusion that they had the barbarism of civilization under control. He and his former colleagues were the living examples of how false that belief of control really was.

In contrast, the savanna offered an appealing alternative. Pure air, idyllic landscapes, and most of all, not another human soul for a hundred miles. At the very least.

Yet even a man like Jonesy needed his luxuries. Three of them, to be exact. First, there was his campervan. Living in a tent in the cold of night would not do, after all, and he needed to have decent transportation anyway so a campervan was a wise investment for him when he retired. He chose the Landshark, a robust four-wheel drive campervan ironically made by the Runamok Corporation, an automobile firm who were not exactly famous for building slow and robust vehicles. Jonesy did not care what drove the firm to design the vehicle, all he cared was that the Landshark suited all his needs. It was a vehicle that could traverse the roughest terrain in the savanna with ease and yet offered plenty of comfort in the living compartment.

On that fateful Monday morning when Ralph Briggs became acquainted with his boss's most insane corporate strategy to date, Jonesy was quite comfortably asleep in his luxurious campervan. He took his time getting out of bed and prepared himself for the day. He stepped out of the living compartment of the Landshark and stretched his arms. He walked past the large pile of garbage that had accumulated beside the campervan over the course of the past week, walked up to a lone tree and raised the groundwater level. Then he walked back to the campervan and leaned against it.

This was when the second item of luxury in Jonesy's life came into play: his pack of cigarettes. Of all his old bad habits from his tenure as a hitman, the one thing he could not shed was his love of tobacco. Back in Con City he was quite the chain smoker, easily consuming a pack each day. Compared to that he was content with half a pack a day since retirement. His brand of choice was the Souleater, a brand famous for its support of lung cancer research.

He took a cigarette out of the pack and put it between his lips. Then he took his lighter out of his pocket. It was a golden cigarette lighter, Jonesy's most prized possession. Most hitmen kept some of their weapons upon retirement. If not for practical reasons, then for the sake of nostalgia. Not Jonesy. He wanted to leave everything about his old life behind and he couldn't care less about guns or grenades in the savanna. All he wanted was a solid gold source of flame to carry in his pocket. He even had a name for the lighter. He called it Joybringer. Joybringer was Jonesy's best friend in the entire world. Like a true best friend, Joybringer had never let Jonesy down.

Yet on that fateful Monday morning when Jonesy tried to light his cigarette, Joybringer produced no flame. That was when all the trouble began.


Jonesy tried in vain to get Joybringer to produce some flame for over two minutes. He shook the lighter and judged that there was still sufficient lighter fluid inside, and the lighter did seem to spark. He had no idea what was wrong with it. The thought that the lighter may be broken made him very uncomfortable. He took the cigarette out of his mouth and broke it in half, then tossed the remains into the garbage pile beside the Landshark. He pocketed the lighter. Then his cell phone rang.

He took it out of his pocket and looked at it. He could not imagine who it could be, nor could he fathom how there was reception so deep into the savanna. He accepted the call and raised the phone to his ear, but did not speak into the phone.

`Hello? Jonesy?' the voice on the other end of the line said. Jonesy said nothing. He recognized the voice, and was both surprised and unhappy to hear it.

`Jonesy? Are you there?' the voice said. Jonesy decided to get the inevitable over with.

`Hades...' he said, not even trying to hide the palpable disappointment in his voice.

`How's it going Jonesy? Enjoying your retirement?'

Jonesy took just one glance at the broken cigarette in the garbage pile and he was already mad enough to want to strangle Hades with his voice.

`Yeah. What do you want?'

`Nothing special. I just wanted to catch up with you. I've been wondering what you've been up to, I haven't heard from you in years.'

`You're not the type that makes social calls,' Jonesy sneered, no less angry than before. `Spit it out, what do you want?'

Hades went on the defensive in a hurry.

`Okay, okay, if you insist... Jonesy, how would you like to make some money?'

Jonesy rubbed his face and shook his head, suddenly sure that Hades was either playing dumb, or he was being a complete fucking idiot. Either case would give Jonesy ample reason to break all his fingers.

`Hades, I'm retired,' he said finally, slowly, to be absolutely sure Hades would understand.

`I know that, thank you. Fortunately it's not a hitman I need, it's a courier.'

Jonesy's anger disappeared in an instant and was replaced by utter and complete confusion.


`I need a courier,' Hades repeated. `You know... A delivery man. I need an item of mine transported to a client in Con City. A simple delivery job. Interested?'

Jonesy scratched his head and thought hard about Hades' words. They made no sense to him at all.

`Why do you need a retired hitman for a delivery job?'

`Assassins are extremely reliable, Jonesy. In fact, before I called you about this job, I offered it to Jake. Sadly, he declined.'

Jonesy couldn't help but laugh.

`Ha! Jake? The Jake? Ha ha! He hates Con City.'

`Yeah, I figured that out by now. Anyway, want the job? Again, simple delivery. Nobody has to die. Just take the item to the client. Very. Simple.'

`If it's so simple, why don't you do it yourself?'

`I'm busy. Things are pretty hectic around here and my presence is required. The delivery on the other hand is quite urgent, which is why I need you. Come on, don't let me down. I'll pay you handsomely!'

Jonesy took Joybringer out of his pocket and looked at it. He tried to produce some flames from the lighter, but to no avail. He sighed.

Mick Clifford sat in the cafeteria of the University of Con City. He was a master's student in software engineering at the High Performance Computing Center. He was not one of the brightest students all around, but he knew how to write code. He was an average programmer in every sense of the word. In fact, he was average in just about everything. The one thing in which he excelled was his vast knowledge of comic books.

As a lifelong comic book nerd, he possessed a sizable collection, most of which he stored at his parents' house much to their displeasure. He had nowhere near enough space in the apartment where he had been staying over the course of his studies to store them all. He did have his most prized specimens in the apartment though. He needed them for inspiration to write his own comic book.

It was called The Binary Avenger and it was about a superhero who was just a programmer student in real life but every night would don a costume covered in glowing green zeros and ones and go out into the streets of Con City to clean up crime. The character aside, it wasn't very original and Mick knew it. He had been struggling to come up with ways to make it more unique, to stand out among the classic comics out there, but had made little to no progress. He had considered making the character an alien from another planet but decided it would be too boring. He had contemplated changing the setting to be inside a computer but in the end found it lacking mainstream appeal. Most of all, he had not been able to come up with a decent arch enemy for the Binary Avenger. His obvious pick had been the Hexadecimal Outlaw. He knew it was too cheesy to work.

At least he did not have any problems with the artwork. His drawings were quite good in fact, and his mother had wanted him to go to art school and become an illustrator, but young Mick had fancied computers too much to listen to her. Now, in his first year of his master's studies, he found himself regretting that decision. Although his master's project on massively parallel programming interested him quite a bit, he could not see himself working as a programmer after graduating. He wanted to earn a living making comic books and if he had an arts degree he could probably get a job as a comic illustrator. Alas, this train was long gone. He had to publish his own comics as an independent.

What he needed was a writer. Someone to come up with the story and maybe even the characters, while he would do the illustrations. He long considered telling some of his fellow students about his passion but he was afraid of their reaction. There was only one student he dared to tell about his plans: Joanna Bennett, a feisty redhead in her final year of her master's studies.

Joanna was every nerd's wet dream. She was the best programmer at the university, she dressed like a comic book heroine might, and she swore like a trooper. Mick would never admit it to himself but he was secretly in love with her. He had never dared to ask her out on a date, but one time a few weeks ago she went up to him and asked him to help her out with a bit of parallel programming. Mick had found that strange given that Joanna was such a good code writer. He thought she had simply used the code as an excuse to talk to him but he had to learn that there had been a bad call to a parallel subroutine in Joanna's code and after he had pointed that out he had not seen her again. Still, the ice had been broken and this morning he had approached her and asked her to look at some of his work at lunchtime.

She had agreed not knowing that it wasn't his master's project he wanted her to look at. She had come to the cafeteria for the meeting as promised and had looked through the first issue of The Binary Avenger. Now that she was done, Mick was eager to hear her feedback.

`So, what do you think?' he asked. Joanna flipped through the pages and replied without looking in his eyes.

`The artwork is really good. Did you draw all of it?'

`Yeah. My mother always said I had a talent for it.'

`You might. I mean, it's not perfect but it is very good.'

Mick blushed.

`What about the story?' he asked. Joanna looked up at him.

`Honestly? It sucks ass,' she said bluntly. Mick had been afraid she'd say that.

`Yes, but do you think it can be improved?'

`Improved?' Joanna asked, turning the comic around and pointing at one of the panels. `Mick, you can't improve shit. You can shape it into a castle and it's still going to be shit. Look at that. The Binary Avenger saves a bus full of dumb little brats from a tidal wave while simultaneously feeding a stray dog, singing the national anthem, and beating up a bank robber with a pogo stick. That is just fucking stupid.'

`Okay, maybe it's a little over the top but...'

`This isn't over the top. Over the top would be the Binary Avenger throwing the Hexadecimal Outlaw into a fucking volcano and frying sausages in the lava. This... is just stupid.'

Mick suddenly became very enthusiastic.

`I knew you were the person to talk to! Throw him into the volcano and fry sausages in the lava... That is brilliant! Don't stop, tell me more!'

Joanna facepalmed.

`No, it's not brilliant. It's better than what you wrote but it's still not good.'

`That's okay, improvement will be gradual. Tell me more!' Mick said with bright eyes. He already saw himself and Joanna writing the greatest comic book of all time.

`No, listen...' Joanna began. `You need two things before you start making a comic book. A good main character and a good origin story. Get these down before you start writing the adventures of the character.'

`Why? What's wrong with the Binary Avenger?'

`For starters, why does he look like you?'

Mick blushed again.


`And where did you get the idea for that idiotic costume?'

`Every superhero needs a costume!'

Joanna shook her head.

`Not really, but if you must put him in a costume at least make it something sensible. Like, give him some high tech gear, night vision goggles, a computer in a wrist watch, things like that. And a dark outfit or maybe a trench coat if you want it to be cool. Not a bright clown outfit that points him out to every fucking sniper in a mile wide radius!'

`Okay, okay,' Mick said, trying to be agreeable. `I'll fix the outfit. But what's wrong with his origin story?'

`Really? Do I really need to point this out?' Joanna asked with a really annoyed face. Mick smiled apologetically.


Joanna sighed. She turned to the first page of Mick's manuscript.

`Okay. It says here that the Binary Avenger gained his superpowers after getting his finger shocked by a radioactive supercomputer. That is just so fucking ridiculous... First of all, there's no such thing as a radioactive supercomputer, and if there was one, I'm pretty sure you'd die if you went anywhere near it. Second, I don't think you'd survive the electric shock from such an incident in the first place.'

`It's just static electricity...' Mick argued.

`Then how do you explain that it did anything to the hero at all?'

Mick ran out of answers. He rubbed his chin and tried to think of some way to fix the problems Joanna had pointed out but could not for the life of him come up with a solution.

`How would you solve it?' he asked in the end.

`It's not my comic, it's yours. You need to sort it out yourself.'

`Look, I need a co-author. Someone to... you know, give me direction.'

Joanna's eyebrows ran up to the top of her head in surprise.

`You want me to write a comic with you? Seriously?'

The lack of enthusiasm in her voice made Mick's heart sink. The part of him that was in love with Joanna wanted to cry, but that part of Mick was buried so deep in his mind that Mick hardly took notice. All he could think of was getting the story up to par with the professional comics out there.

`Yeah. Seriously,' he said. `I can't do it on my own. My writing is shit.'

Joanna shook her head.

`I can't spare time for this, Mick. I have to finish my thesis and I have this consultancy job. You'll need to find someone else.'

`I don't have anyone else to turn to,' Mick said, desperate for help from the one person to whom he had dared to show his comic.

Joanna rubbed her eyes and looked at Mick for a while in silence. Mick waited patiently for her answer.

When the Russian walked into the Con City branch of the Hades Corporation, Ralph Briggs skipped a heartbeat. He had never considered himself to be a coward but some of Hades' acquaintances had a reputation that terrified him. The Russian was one of these people. No one knew the name of the Russian, and unlike Hades, he refused to hang a fancy nickname on himself, hence everyone just called him the Russian. Strictly speaking this was incorrect, for he was three quarters Russian and one quarter Japanese, but since he had a clearly Russian accent and his eyes gave nothing away of his mixed heritage, it seemed appropriate enough.

Briggs had never met the Russian before. He had heard of him, of course, but had never been in the same room with him.

Neither had Hades, it would seem.

`Welcome! It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person,' Hades said, and he extended his hand for a handshake. The Russian stood opposite the room wearing a fine white suit and a blue shirt that may have been silk but Briggs could not be certain. He held a long, white object in his hand that at first looked like an antique Japanese sword to Briggs until he realized that it was just an umbrella with a handle that shaped the hilt of a sword. It must have been; after all, there was no way the Russian could have walked through the streets of Con City with a real sword in his hand.

`Entropy beckons us and we must answer the summons, Mister Hades,' he said in a calm, soothing voice, without shaking Hades' hand. `You and me both.'

`No need for such formalities. Just call me Hades.'

`As you wish,' the Russian nodded.

`And how may I address you?'


It was at this point that the smile faded from Hades' face. Realizing that there would be no handshake, he put his hand in his pocket. He walked up to his desk and sat down in his chair. He shuffled around in it for a while, trying to find the most comfortable way to sit in it. Briggs knew that his boss, much preferring Desert Rock over Con City, hardly ever spent time in this office, hence he was not surprised. Nor was he surprised to see Hades putting his feet up on the desk.

`To business then,' Hades said when he finally deemed himself comfortable enough. `As I explained to you over the phone last night, I require your services. I need some information extracted from a target and I need it before this day is through. Can you handle that?'

`I am here to serve,' the Russian said. `Who is the target?'

`Ralphie, explain the details.'

Briggs nodded and opened the file he had been holding. He cleared his throat and began explaining the situation to the Russian.

`The target is a programmer student at the University of Con City. His name is Mick Clifford.'

He handed a photo of the target to the Russian and continued.

`He is what you would expect from a programmer student. Intelligent and harmless, possessing minimal muscle mass and no combat training whatsoever. No weapons in his possession, either. An easy target.'

The Russian gave the photo back.

`If the target is easy, why was I summoned?'

`Because one of our operatives proved to be a useless incompetent jackass yesterday and got himself killed in the process of trying to nab the target,' Hades said. `I'm through taking chances.'

`The target was taken in for questioning after the incident,' Briggs continued. `He was since allowed to go home to his apartment. The police have stationed a rookie police officer in front of his door. Beyond that, he is not guarded. You will have little to no difficulty with him.'

The Russian nodded and turned to Hades.

`You mentioned extracting information from the target. What do you need from him?'

`Ralphie, show it to him.'

Briggs took a page out of the file folder and handed it to the Russian.

`This is what we need,' he said. `Please memorize it and...'

Before he could finish, the Russian gave the sheet of paper back.

`I have,' he said.

`But... you barely took a glance...'

`Our friend has photographic memory, Ralphie,' Hades interjected. `Just one of the many reasons why he is so highly regarded by his peers.'

`I am not your friend, Hades,' the Russian said. `I am the tool to sow the seeds of chaos with.'

Hades paused before he responded.

`Does that bother you?' he asked. The Russian shook his head briefly.

`No. Does it bother you?'

Hades shrugged.

`No. Why would it?'

`I am the tool to sow the seeds of chaos with. I am the one who bloodies his hands, I do the dirty work. When all is said and done, it is Entropy who reaps the reward of my hard labor. Between Entropy and myself, you are just the middle man. Of the three of us, you are the most insignificant.'

Briggs could tell that Hades was struggling to hold back laughter. While Briggs himself found the philosophy of the Russian awkward and eccentric, Hades found it laughable.

`I like being the middle man,' Hades said after a long pause, smiling. `It is what I was born to be.'

`We all can rise above what we were born to be, Hades.'

`I'm sure my time will come,' Hades said curtly, brushing the topic aside. `Do you have any questions about the job?'

`Yes, one question. What am I to do with the target after I obtain the information?'

`You must make sure he doesn't talk,' Briggs said. `It is essential that no one learns what it was that you made him tell you.'

`There are multiple ways of preventing people from talking,' the Russian said. Hades interjected before Briggs could have replied.

`Use the most efficient method. The permanent one.'

The Russian held up his umbrella in both hands and bowed.

`I shall serve and you shall have what you seek,' the Russian said. It was then that Briggs realized, the umbrella he had taken for a sword really was a sword.

`Is... is that a katana?' he asked. The Russian turned to face him.

`It is. A fine weapon. It belonged to my grandfather.'

`But... how did you walk through the streets with it? How did the police not arrest you?'

`I follow the way of the samurai, Mister Briggs. I hide in plain sight and so does my sword. The adversaries of a samurai do not see the samurai coming until it is too late.'

`Hey, I'm no expert on oriental shit, but aren't you confusing the samurai with the ninjas?' Hades said. Briggs expected the Russian to lash out at his boss in anger but the Russian did no such thing. He responded in the same calm, soothing voice he had used throughout the meeting.

`Ninjas are merely assassins, Hades,' he said. `What I am, is the greatest weapon that has ever served Entropy.'