I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve a few more updates on my upcoming Alpha Protocol installment today! First off, the title reveal! This third book in the series is titled: The Privateer – Alpha Protocol Book 3. I think that’ll give a bit of a hint where we’re heading with this one, but there’ll still be plenty of surprises in store! The Privateer is available to preorder now (links below!) and will be released on 1 December, with audio and paperback to follow shortly after.
My choice of excerpt is one of my favourite scenes, and it reintroduces us to a reader favourite character who was absent from book 2. Back by popular demand is law abiding citizen of the Terran Union, Kingston Smith!
‘I imagine old Alfie will be dropping a hot load in his shorts ‘round about now,’ Smith said, a satisfied smile on his face.
‘Does he think you’re dead?’ Samson said. In all legal respects, Arthur Kingsley, pirate extraordinaire, was dead and, in reality, had been even before the Union had chosen to allow Smith his new identity and a clean record.
‘Probably has his suspicions that I’m still knocking about,’ Smith said, looking up directly into the camera above the door and smiling. The door panel flashed green and slid open. There was a waiting room on the other side, filled with a number of comfortable-looking couches, not that Samson would get the chance to try one. Every seat was occupied by what looked like the full catalogue offering from Rent a Thug Inc. There weren’t any cybernetic implants on show, but that was the only part of Samson’s imagining this group failed to satisfy. No amount of expensive tailoring could make the collection of men and women in that room look like anything other than blunt instruments of violence. Judging from the way they were sitting, they hadn’t been here long. Mobilised in something of a panic, perhaps?
‘Blimey,’ Smith said. ‘Take a butcher’s at you lot o’ Hampton Wicks. Don’t you make a pretty picture. Your mummies dress you up in those bowls o’ fruit?’
Samson grimaced. He had to work through the words to decipher Smith’s slang, even though similar had been used in parts of his neighbouring home planet of New Southampton, but he could tell right away it wasn’t a friendly greeting.
Butchers… Butcher’s hook, look. Hampton Wick…don’t remember that one. Well, it’s definitely not a compliment…bowl of fruit. Easy enough. Suit. Samson nodded to himself, satisfied he had the gist of it.
Opening with an insult wouldn’t have been his preferred approach, but there was no taking it back now. Smith seemed to be laying on the rhyming slang thicker than usual. Was this Arthur Kingsley reemerging from the shadow of Kingston Smith? Samson wasn’t sure he liked the idea of that.
Samson realised in the moment of silent frozen tension that followed that Smith simply couldn’t help himself. He naturally responded to a threat with an insinuation of the same. In insulting them, he was telling them he was unafraid of them, but also inviting them to have a go if they thought they had it in them. Samson reckoned there were probably easier ways to do it, but it seemed to have worked for Smith so far.
Smith scanned the gathered goons, then stopped and craned his head for a closer look.
‘Billy?’ he said. ‘Billy Simpson? That you, lad? It is. Look, Jack.’
He backhanded Jack on the chest as though Jack was supposed to recognise this person. He still had no idea who Smith was talking about.
‘Billy Simpson. Gordon Bennett, lad. What have they been feeding you?’
‘Awright, Arfur,’ a chunky goon in a shiny suit with close cropped hair and a tattoo on the side of his neck—not that the description did much to differentiate him from the others filling the room—said. He spoke with a heavy accent that Samson recognised as belonging to New Portsmouth, the same planet Smith was from.
‘Thought you was dead,’ Billy said.
‘I am, son,’ Smith said. ‘I am. Back to life as Kingston Smith Esquire. Your boss about?’
‘He said we’re not to let you in,’ Billy said, looking uncomfortable at having become the de facto mouthpiece for the collection of goons.
Samson wondered how long it would take him to draw his pistol from the back of his pants, and regretted not having had the opportunity to practice it. He’d look quite the fool if he wound up dropping it. For all the few seconds afterwards that he was likely to live.
‘How’s your mum, Billy?’ Smith said, in an unexpected change of direction for the conversation.
‘Piss off, Arfur,’ Billy said. ‘You’re not gettin’ in. Mister Polter said to say he’s glad you’re up and about, and to apologise but he can’t do business with you and he’s not goin’ to see you. You don’t run things anymore.’
‘Mister Polter,’ Smith said, his voice dripping with contempt. ‘The cobbler’s awls on that fella.’
Samson searched his recollection for that one, but came up short. Again, not a compliment, he thought.
‘Now, I know Alfie thinks he’s a big shot these days,’ Smith said, ‘but tell me this. If I’m not running things no more, why didn’t that fella at the desk downstairs not let you know I was coming up?’
Samson did his best to keep a blank expression, but they had no way of knowing the receptionist hadn’t warned Polter. Might the goons only have realised Smith was here when the door buzzed and it was Smith’s face on the camera? Smith certainly seemed to think so, and was willing to gamble on it.
Billy shrugged. ‘Don’t know, Arfur. Not my job to.’
‘I get that, son,’ Smith said, moving farther into the room. ‘I get that.’
Samson watched him walk to the middle of the room and stop. Samson had read about circus performers of the past putting their heads into lions’ mouths. The image flashed into his mind now, but it seemed like a relatively safe pastime compared to what Smith had just surrounded himself with.
‘Tell me, Billy,’ Smith said. ‘Do you really think I’d have wandered in here unannounced with only my china plate over there for company?’
China plate…mate. Friend. Samson smiled to himself. He was getting the hang of this.
‘Don’t know, Arfur.’
‘You think I’m bloody stupid, Billy?’ Smith screamed. His face was bright red and the veins at his temples bulged.
I think that’s a good spot to cut it off, and I hope it whets your appetite for what’s to come! You can preorder The Privateer – Alpha Protocol Book 3 now, over on Amazon at the following links:
For those who missed it (probably due to my technical difficulties the week of posing, now sorted out, I hope!), here’s another look at the wonderful cover art by Fred Gambino!
I’ll have more updates in coming days, and a firm release date as soon as I know myself! Until next week!