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The Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol Book 1

Duncan M. Hamilton


Also by Duncan M. Hamilton


Part I

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Part II

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Part III

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

From the Author

About the Author


Also by Duncan M. Hamilton

Also by Duncan M. Hamilton

Fantasy Novels

The Dragonslayer Trilogy


Knight of the Silver Circle

Servant of the Crown

The Wolf of the North Trilogy

The Wolf of the North

Jorundyr’s Path

The Blood Debt

The Society of the Sword Trilogy

The Tattered Banner

The Huntsman’s Amulet

The Telastrian Song

Society of the Sword Trilogy Omnibus

The First Blade of Ostia

Copyright © Duncan M. Hamilton 2021

All Rights Reserved

The right of Duncan M. Hamilton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or downloaded in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction. All of the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Cover Art by Fred Gambino

Cover Typography by Christian Bentulan

Part I


Oculus System, Frontier Space - 2362

The Terran Union Ship Sidewinder idled up to the unidentified vessel. Lieutenant Jack Samson watched it pass by the Sidewinder’s viewport, hopeful for the first bit of excitement on this cruise. The ship wasn’t broadcasting a transponder signal, and that usually meant it was up to no good. He scanned for weapons systems, but there were none obviously visible. That didn’t mean there weren’t any, though.

‘All stop,’ Captain Kate Stettin said.

‘Aye, Captain,’ the coxswain said. ‘All stop.’

A series of thrusters fired, and Samson could feel the subtle change in inertia, but he kept his focus on the subject of their investigation. She was a generic design, the type of mass-produced vessel that could be easily modified to fill any of a dozen roles. Her hull was scratched and pitted like any ship that had been in service for a long time, but it seemed his visual and sensor scans were correct—she had no weapons systems. He targeted her engines as per procedure, then sat back in his chair waiting for further instruction from his captain.

‘This is Terran Union Ship Sidewinder hailing the ship off our bow,’ Captain Stettin said. ‘Identify yourself.’

The half-dozen crew on the Sidewinder’s bridge remained silent at their stations, their tension palpable. Samson knew that, like him, they were all wondering if the ship would respond, try to make a run for it, or attack. Interdicting a ship was a tense time. Scans didn’t always pick up weapons, and a brief visual inspection was no guarantee either. It was a moment of complete uncertainty, something he hated and loved in equal measure.

The bridge was filled with the sound of static clearing to reveal a man’s voice. ‘This is Cargo Vessel Arlen’s Bounty. I’m Arlen. What can I do for you, Sidewinder?’

Captain Stettin stood from her command chair and walked over to the viewport to take a closer look at the ship.

‘You’re not broadcasting your identification transponder,’ she said. ‘Why?’

There was a delay before the response came. ‘Transponder’s broken. Has been for months. I’m sure you know how hard it is to get parts out here.’

The Sidewinder’s lonely duty was to patrol a section of the Frontier—it was the only naval vessel for several systems, and at the very outer limit of human expansion into the galaxy. The nearest worthwhile space station was a month away, and nothing lay between but small planetary settlements and smaller orbital relays. Extending the rule of law was their mandate, but dealing with smugglers, outlaws, and those seeking to live beyond legality was their stock in trade. It wasn’t the exciting life of a young naval officer that Samson had dreamed of, nor was it the one he was accustomed to.

‘I do,’ Captain Stettin said. ‘But for some reason I think you switched yours off. Power down and prepare to be boarded.’ She made a chopping gesture with her hand, and the communications officer cut off the transmission. Her eyes fell on Samson, sitting beside the main weapons battery control panel.

‘Mr. Samson,’ she said. ‘I believe it’s your turn.’

‘I believe it is, Captain,’ he said, a smile spreading across his face. It would be the first time he had led a boarding mission under Captain Stettin’s command, the first chance to prove himself to his new commander, and the first thing he had felt even remotely excited about since arriving on the Frontier.

‘You’re relieved from bridge duty, Lieutenant,’ she said. ‘Three Marines, Lieutenant Harper, and two sailors to complete the party. Good luck.’

Samson headed for the armoury. His team would meet him in the Sidewinder’s small hangar, then the ship’s launch would take them across the void to the Arlen’s Bounty. It didn’t take long to get where he was going. He had served on capital ships where it could take a full thirty minutes to walk from stem to stern, with small trams installed to speed up the journey, but the Sidewinder was definitely not one of them. Small and cramped, there was barely enough room for two people to pass one another in the corridors, and at six feet two inches, Samson had to be careful when passing through bulkhead doors. At times he felt he was built for capital-ship service, rather than a small corvette that was a leftover from the Separatist Wars nearly a century earlier.

When he arrived at the armoury he pulled his boarding suit from his locker and put it on as quickly as possible, being careful not to snag or tear the fabric. A vessel with no atmosphere was not the place to discover you’d damaged your suit. He

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