The follow up to A Protocol for Monsters picks up a few days after its prequel. Although I'm trying to write them in such a fashion that you could read the titles out of sequence without losing too much.
That's a challenge for ya, right there.
As in Protocol it's a single PoV novel, with the story told from the hero's perspective. I am indulging in a couple of points of view in the prologue however. Partly to give myself some relief, partly to help confused readers who come to the series out of order.
So Book II is as yet untitled, and there's a cameo to be had for anyone who can come up with something as pleasing to my ear as A Protocol for Monsters. But the prologue takes place on the same day the day the monsters emerge in Protocol. In the scene below, however, nobody except Dave, our hard partying, deadbeat dad and Deepwater Horizon safety boss has figured out the monster thing.
It's raw copy. Even Murph hasn't had a chance to tell me all the ways I've got it wrong yet. There are two more sections to the prologue. At least one involving monsters. If you behave yourself, I might let you see them. Maybe.
On a mild evening of the second day of Autumn in the year of our Lord, 2009, Supervisory Agent Robert ‘E-for-Easy’ Lee Suffolk II, went out to catch him a Goddamned Russki. A spy, but not just any old spy. Special Agent IN Charge Easy-Lee Suffolk’s Russki was an honest-to-Goddamn master spy of the female variety.
Because this damned Russki, a colonel of the GRU no less, was not your run of the mill agent, but a field controller of deep cover agents, a femme-most-fatale, Robert E-for-Easy Lee Suffolk, Supervisory agent of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Division in the New York Field Office insisted on belt and braces and extra safety pins all around to ensure it was not he who ended up pants down and red-faced at the end of the night.
This lady was, in his professional opinion, less Anna Chapman and more Nikita.
Right on the knocker at nineteen hundred and thirty hours, fifteen fleet vehicles rolled out of the underground car park at 26 Federal Plaza, bearing thirty-three special agents, including twelve heavy hitters from Manhattan’s FBI SWAT team.
The convoy moved east on Chambers for five blocks, escorted by two police cruisers. By prior arrangement with Metro Transport their progress through the thick, early evening traffic was hastened by staging a pulse of green lights between Federal Plaza and the target address on W27th street. The two cruisers did not power up their flashers. The long train of heavy black vehicles did draw the attention of some New Yorkers as it passed, some of whom used their phones to take photographs of the convoy, doubtless posting them immediately to Facebook or Twitter, and causing Special Agent in Charge Easy Lee Suffolk to wonder for the umpteenth time how anybody in his line of work was expected to get anything done in secret these days.
The soft warmth of the summer just gone still lingered in the evening air, and in the lead vehicle, a black Chevy Tahoe, SAC Suffolk sweated inside his dark blue suit jacket and heavy ballistic vest. He rode up front on the passenger side – the shotgun seat as he liked to call it – with the climate control pushed all the way down to Arctic, but his vest was leaden with trauma plates and his bespoke three-button blue suit was a heavy wool blend that he had had tailored at a very reasonable price in Hong Kong. It looked very smart, but did not breathe well. The ballistic vest he wore over it did not breathe at all. Every Special Agent rolling in convoy on the small art gallery in Chelsea were similarly attired and weighed down by armor. Boss’s orders.
The nick-name Easy Lee? That was strictly ironic.
The twelve tactical operators riding in two anonymous commercial vans just behind Suffolk’s Chevy were kitted out in armour, helmets, combat goggles and tactical black. They too looked the part but Easy Lee still worried about their combat load out and readiness. They were not HRT, which he had requested. Twice. The New York office, like all regional offices, maintained a tac-squad of part-time volunteers. Naturally, they received extra training and specialised equipment. The very name of the squad – Special Weapons and Tactics – would otherwise be a misnomer. But Agent Suffolk worried that his twelve operators were not quite special enough.
After all, this was one of the GRU’s top field operatives they were rolling on this evening. This lady had game.
Easy Lee Suffolk had thus seen fit to remonstrate with Assistant Special Agent in Charge Malcolm Preston, the part-time commander of New York’s part time SWAT team, that he was mistaken if he thought this would be some sort of cake run just because the target was a woman and her intention tonight was not to openly subvert the United States of America, but rather to launch an art exhibition. The art, after all, was part of her cover.
And anyway, were you to ask the opinion of Special Agent in Charge Easy Lee Suffolk, when he was off the clock and entitled to a private opinion, he would definitely tell you that as threats to the long term survival of these United States went, artists and communists were not a thousand miles removed from each other, or Ay-rabs or gay marrieds or that damned Rachel Maddow woman.
“Karen Warat – nee, Varatschevsky – is a full tweety bird colonel of the goddamned GRU of the Generalnovo Shtaba of the Armed Goddamned Forces of the Russian Federation,” he had lectured Agent Preston. “And if you assume her to be anything less than a deadly threat you will make an ass of ‘U’ and ‘Me’.”
Agent Preston had reminded Suffolk that he was, in fact an Assistant Special Agent in Charge, and that neither he nor his men made any such assumptions.
Still, as the police cruiser ahead of him swung onto Chambers for the quick run up West Street, Easy Lee could only wish that his request for a full HRT squad had been approved. Or even his request for a couple of back up NYPD SWAT teams in Bearcat armoured vehicles. Or a helicopter. Just one lousy helicopter would have been a consolation to his anxious mood.
The two NYPD liaison officers would make sure the local precinct uniforms took care of business out on West 27th, closing off the block to traffic, clearing any civilians who wandered into the tactical area like dopey cud-chewing moo cows and, of course, screening anyone swept up at the art gallery but…
Easy Lee Suffolk remained less than easy.