I am proud to unveil the official blurb (aka summary) and first excerpt from the sequel of my debut suspense novel, Agents of Change. If you haven’t read Change yet, I suggest you read no further than this paragraph as the blurb and excerpt both contain spoilers. And while you’re at it, why not order your copy? It’s currently available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon, and all other e-reader formats on Smashwords.
I’ll preface the blurb and excerpt by saying that I’m currently halfway through the first draft. As this excerpt is taken from the first draft, and although I’ve made an effort to clean things up and make it presentable, there may be typos. Also, what you read here may not necessarily end up in the final draft.
As a long-winded side note, I’m working with Streetlight Graphics again on a design for the Chaos cover, which will be done for both the ebook and paperback versions. This is noteworthy in that, for Change, I only commissioned Streetlight to design an ebook cover. When I discovered that I could sell paperback copies, I tried saving money at the time and simply spliced the ebook cover with one of CreateSpace’s generic paperback spine and back covers. Because of this, when I begin working with Streetlight in mid-August, they will also design paperback covers for both Change and Chaos. With the exception of a review quote thrown on there, the front cover for Change won’t be much different due to its positive response. The paperback cover as a whole, however, will look more polished and in tune with that iconic front cover.
Without further ado, here is the blurb for Book Two of the Agents of Change Series, Agents of Chaos:
Everything Happens for a Reason…
In this astonishing follow-up to Agents of Change, the Agencies of Influence and Justice have been effectively rendered powerless, and the world, for the time being, is safe. While this turn of events remains unbeknownst to the human race, the agencies are none too happy about it. Left as the only soul imbued with the Arrowhead of the Seminole’s power, Calvin Newsome has paid a heavy price for his heroics but knows not of true suffering until now.
Under the direction of their unscrupulous executive directors, each agency hires separate, highly-trained bounty hunters in a high-stakes race to capture Calvin, now an elusive yet impaired target. While one of those mercenaries is familiar to him, the other is not, and each has their own secret agenda, proving that money isn’t everything.
As he attempts to return to a state of normalcy, Calvin must utilize his abilities to evade both bounty hunters while further staving off global devastation and saving those closest to him. Unfortunately, each destructive encounter raises Calvin’s profile as a domestic terrorist while a lurking, more shocking danger threatens to bury him and the world that sits tenuously upon his shoulders.
Lasse Gantert looks up from his notes at the podium and studies the assembled mass, its collective attire homogeneous and its combined skin tone monochromatic. Some forty Agents of Influence, all without local branches to direct, stand before the German and scream at him with fire in their eyes and nothing but oxygen in their wallets.
Gantert holds up a hand in a meager attempt to quiet the enraged. “Gentlemen, calm down. You have my assurances. Your money is safe.”
“Not for long, it’s not!” one of the directors shouts. The rest of the crowd chimes in, roaring in agreement.
“Our clients have voted to give us two weeks before pulling their funds,” Gantert says.
“Two weeks?” another director asks. “He could be anywhere!”
Careful not to acknowledge his heckler with a nod, Gantert swallows hard and looks over the crowd filling the facility’s lobby. He rests his eyes at the camera behind the horde, which serves to broadcast this event to the many local Agency of Influence branches around the world.
“It’s true,” he says before waiting for the crowd to calm itself. “Two weeks is not a very long time.”
“What are we supposed to do? Sit around and wait?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do.” As the crowd of men roars again, Gantert takes a remote off of the podium and turns on a video projector. “Finding him in two weeks may be difficult. But it’s not impossible. That’s why the Agency of Justice has agreed to help us in our search for Calvin Newsome.”
Appearing on the recently-torn projection screen behind him is a man nearly ten years Gantert’s junior. Despite a spastic fumbling of his lapel microphone, Heath Pendleton can boast having taken a more aggressive approach to his agency’s mission in his three years as its executive director. He stands at a podium, one very similar to the one behind which Gantert is standing.
“Before escaping our facility,” Gantert says, “Newsome summoned a very powerful telekinetic rift. Assuming he’s still alive, he could not have gone far; he’ll need medical attention. If we can’t find him in two weeks…” Gantert catches himself and turns to look at the screen. “Heath, can you hear me?”
Pendleton quickly primps his sandy hair and responds with an awkward gaze into the camera as he holds an earpiece firmly in his ear. “Yes, Lasse, I can hear you,” he says with a British accent. “Let’s begin, shall we?”
Gantert nods in approval and turns back to the crowd of branch directors. “The question on many of your minds at this point, I’m sure, is how we intend on finding Agent Newsome. Finding a man like this requires a special person, someone trained to find those that others cannot see. That is why,” he says, motioning to the left of the crowd, “I have called upon on old friend.”
The directors in the crowd follow Gantert’s gaze to an imposing man with graying hair and hardened features. The man walks up the three stairs on the way to the stage and saunters over to the podium with the swagger of a man all too aware of himself. His boots tap the hollow stage as though it were a bass drum.
The two gentlemen shake hands before embracing. Before pulling away, Gantert leans in toward the man’s ear.
“Good to see you, old friend,” he whispers in German.
The man nods and smiles before standing beside Gantert.
“Max Krueger was a counterintelligence operative in the German MAD for twenty years. He’s one of the most lethal assassins I know. Since he’s not actually trying to kill anyone this time, this should be—oh, how do you call it? A piece of cake.”
One of the directors claps his hands before the rest of the crowd follows suit. Applause can be heard coming from the facility’s sound system. A similar throng is watching on Pendleton’s end.
“Of course, the only thing better than one bounty hunter is two of them.” Gantert turns back to the screen.
Pendleton cracks a self-assured grin. “Impressive, Herr Gantert. I, however, have taken a different approach. No outsourcing. I believe this requires a more … personal touch.”
He waves to someone off camera before stepping away from the podium. Applause can be heard through the speakers again. At the Agency of Influence, a murmur spreads through the crowd as a hooded figure, someone of a much smaller stature than Pendleton, appears onscreen.
“Why not take off your hood so everyone can see you?”
The assembled Agents of Influence gasp as the shrouded figure pulls back the hood to reveal a full head of long black hair. The woman tilts her head in a severe angle to look up at Pendleton as they shake hands. He then motions for her to turn toward the camera.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?”
The camera slowly zooms in on the woman’s face, silencing the growing dissention from the Agency of Influence. Scarred and deformed, the woman holds the camera’s attention with a steely gaze.
“Veronica Lee is one our most prolific agents,” Pendleton says. “She has carried out some of our most important missions.”
Ronni stifles a grin as they trade glances.
“And I don’t think there’s any doubt about her motivation, is there?”
As a hush continues to permeate throughout the Agency of Influence, the camera at the Agency of Justice goes back to Pendleton. “Your silence speaks volumes.”
The Agents of Influence reluctantly applaud.
Gantert leans into the podium. “Now, to put your minds at ease, I’m happy to tell you that Director Pendleton and I have agreed to return to our previous profit-sharing model upon the creation of a new Arrowhead.”
The crowd applauds yet again.
Gantert turns to face the screen. “Good luck to you, Director Pendleton.”
“And to you.”
The screen turns blue before Gantert turns off the projector. “Lastly, I have appointed one agent to assist us with this campaign.”
The directors look amongst themselves before an older man with white hair and days-old stubble emerges from the crowd and slowly, with the assistance of a cane, takes his place onstage to Gantert’s left. The crowd soundly approves of the man.
“When Agent Newsome infiltrated our facility, he impersonated Donald Richardson. When I gave him the news, nobody was angrier. I immediately knew I had to ask him out of retirement. Agent Richardson hired Newsome. He studied him for months. Nobody knows him better.”
Richardson waves to the crowd like a politician on election night.
Gantert places both hands on the top corners of the podium, as though ready to dance with it. His eyes turn serious as he looks at the directors scattered around the lobby.
“Make no mistake, Calvin Newsome may have already paid dearly for his actions, but his suffering has just begun.”
The directors cheer, some thrusting their hands into the air.
“This meeting’s adjourned.” Gantert looks at the two men that have accompanied him onstage and nods to the back of the lobby.
As the crowd files out of the lobby and onto the stairwell leading up to the facility’s hydraulic-powered door, the three men step down from the stage, walk across the lobby and enter a large office.
Situated on the wall beside Gantert’s desk—another of cherrywood color, fit for an executive—is a framed jersey from his hometown football team, FC Bayern Munich. Next to the jersey is a photo of Gantert and Krueger taken many decades ago in front of a pub in downtown Munich. In the image, the former’s arm is wrapped around the latter’s shoulder.
Gantert slips behind his desk, pulls out his chair and sits. “Thank you for joining me, gentlemen. Have a seat. This should be brief.”
Richardson and Krueger each sit in chairs in front of the executive director’s desk.
“I wanted to give you both a chance to get to know each other before we started this campaign. I’m going to be relying heavily on the both of you.”
Gantert’s two guests turn to look at one another, but before they can exchange pleasantries, he speaks again.
“Since you both got here on short notice, I also wanted to formally gauge your commitment to this campaign. In person.”
Richardson grins and furrows his eyebrows as he straightens his tie and wipes down the wrinkles in his suit jacket. “Well, I don’t have much to gain by cheating you, if that’s what you mean.”
“Of course you do. He who controls the Arrowhead controls the world. But, no, that’s not what I meant.”
The old man gives Gantert a look of puzzlement.
The executive director sits forward and stares into Richardson’s eyes. “Where does your allegiance lie?”
Richardson holds Gantert’s gaze, never letting it waver. “With the Agency of Influence, of course. Agent Newsome deserves to pay for what he did.”
He continues to peer into Richardson’s eyes for a few uncomfortable moments longer. “Good.” He then turns to Krueger. “And you, old friend?”
The bounty hunter shrugs. “I’ve never even seen the Arrowhead.”
Gantert waves him off. “Max, you’re the best assassin I know. But you’ve also lost a lot since we last met.”
Uncomfortable with the turn this conversation has taken, Max looks away briefly. “That has nothing to do with this.”
“The loss of your wife and daughter has everything to do with this. You’re a changed man.”
“I will do what is necessary.”
“Well, I hope that will include the girl, this Veronica Lee. Kill her if she gets in your way.”
“That wasn’t part of our agreement.”
“It is now. Believe me, they’re having the same conversation about you as we speak.”
“I thought you guys had a deal,” Richardson interjects.
“In name only. Our clients loved the idea.” Gantert sits back and folds his hands before turning his attention back to Krueger. “There’s no one else I trust to carry out this mission, Max. For your sake, I just hope you’re not … compromised.”