Secret Agent Witch Book 1: The Spy Who Tamed a Dragon
The Agents of Dragonfly take the business of magic very seriously. What mysteries will Aisling solve while working in the field with American Agent Lance Stone?
Secret Agent Witch snippet –
Aisling Keane walked through Victoria Square in Birmingham, England, with a smile at the locals and tourists already populating it at this early hour. The summer day ahead promised to be a beautiful one, and the square was always packed on such occasions. She, unfortunately, was headed to work. While her job was enjoyable most days, the idea of staying out in the sun and relaxing also had its appeal.
Her destination, the Birmingham Council House, lay in front of her. The Victorian building’s outer skin was a brown that seemed like dusky gold when the sun hit it properly. It was liberally adorned with carvings and topped with a domed spire over the entrance section.
Although her organization wasn’t an officially recognized part of the Council House, she and her coworkers were encouraged to dress like the council staff so as not to cause any consternation among the tourists. Aisling had on black slacks with a bright red blouse tucked in and low heels. She passed through the entry doors and the initial layer of guards nodded in acknowledgment of the identification pass she wore on a lanyard around her neck.
The credential didn’t exempt her from the series of detectors hidden in the lobby’s ornamental archway. They scanned for explosives, magic, and metal large enough to be a weapon. The silver stud earrings in her ears, which, with a touch of magic, would connect her by voice to her sister Cait in Boston, didn’t set it off. Neither did the more fashionable ones dangling below them.
The five rings adorning the fingers of her right hand were polished enough to almost look like metal, but were, in fact, wood. A Dwarven craftsperson had converted the wand that allowed her to use her magic into a tool more appropriate to her technomancy skills, which involved blending magic and technology and often required precision a standard wand couldn’t provide. Her coven’s magic teacher, Sashura, suspected the conversion lessened the power she was able to channel through them, but Aisling had discovered no evidence either way. Her sisters used bracelets instead, and as far as she could tell, it hadn’t seemed to hamper them.
She turned right after reaching the lobby, then walked through several public corridors before reaching a door marked “staff.” It gave her access to what she thought of as the “backstage” area of the Council House, and she exchanged greetings with people along the way. Her route took her over the bridge that led to the art gallery extension, referred to by many as a “new” addition to the place even though it had been added over a century before. Her access to her magic faded as she entered the gallery’s anti-magic field.
Aisling passed through several rooms of the gallery before again passing through a staff door. The circular staircase beyond it took her down to the underground section of the building. That portion of the Council House had been added in secret, disguised by the work above, and held the main headquarters of the secretive group known as Dragonfly.
She exited at her level and stepped through a door into a small chamber. It held only another door with a modest plaque set beside it. Every floor she’d visited in the facility had the same one. They all read, “Deception without and truth within.”
The reference was to the organization’s creation, an alliance of several countries that professed neutrality during World War I but actually worked covertly against the Germans and their allies. The initial group included Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain. It expanded over the years to include several more countries and now numbered twelve, including Aisling’s own country, Ireland. Dragonfly was dedicated to addressing intelligence and criminal issues of international significance that the larger agencies ignored.
She pressed her badge against the plaque, and the door before her unlocked. After she stepped through, a transparent wall of thick plastic snapped down from the ceiling to block retreat in what they commonly referred to as the “airlock.” She uttered her personal password for the voice analysis, a line from a raucous Irish song, “Shillelagh law was all the rage,” and waited while the AI that oversaw HQ security checked her height, weight, body outline, and retinal pattern against its records. When the system was satisfied of her identity, the wall in front of her opened, and she walked toward her workspace.
Aisling breathed a sigh of relief as she entered the large room and her magic returned to her. Dragonfly personnel included a mix of magical and non-magical, and thus, certain regions had to be protected from the influence of the anti-magic emitters for the magicals to do their work.
The space held four work areas, each consisting of a rib-high, eight-foot-long white plastic workbench with a high rolling chair in front of it. Drawers under the table on both sides of the seat held tools and materials. General illumination came down from incandescent lights above, but each workbench also had adjustable task lighting. This was the place where those who worked with physical object analysis did their thing. She was currently the only magical in the Investigation unit, though she wasn’t the first magical to be part of the organization.
It was rare for all four workbenches to be filled at once, as Dragonfly was a two-shift operation. Aisling worked early, as was her preference. She imagined the other woman in the room, Victoria Watson, probably would’ve preferred the later shift based on her rather active social life, but Aisling was glad that it had turned out like this instead.
Vicki turned at her entrance and gave her a grin. “Hello, Aisling.”
She smiled at her coworker. Victoria had long blonde hair and eyes so bright blue that they seemed to sparkle. She was tall and slender and never suffered for attention while out socializing, which gave her a steady pool of interested parties to pry secrets from. “You look beautiful today.” She wore a simple red dress that looked stunning on her, and a pair of impractical black heels.
“I have a lunch date. Someone I met last night.”
Aisling laughed as she climbed into her seat. “Go ahead. I know you’re dying to tell me.”
Victoria swiveled to face her fully. “It was nothing big. I went out to a local pub and got myself invited to join a table with four guys out for drinks. I did my usual magic, getting them to talk about themselves. Well, my kind of magic, not your sort.”
“And then you used every fact they revealed to get them to share more.”
Victoria laughed. “Have to keep those investigator skills sharp, right?” Each of the four people who worked in this area was officially an investigator in the nomenclature of the organization. In practice, that meant they spent most of their time at headquarters reviewing evidence gathered by agents or examining objects brought back from the field. It wasn’t quite what Aisling had envisioned when Annika Lind had recruited her for Dragonfly, but she’d come to believe in the mission of the organization and understand that every role was vital.
Aisling shook her head. “I don’t know how you do it.”
Victoria lifted her shoulders in a dismissive shrug. “It’s easy. You listen long enough to figure them out, then push on their weak spots.”
Aisling swung her chair around and gave the commands to call up her workspace. A holographic display grew into being above the workbench, and she arranged the virtual panels with gestures to create an open space in the middle to manipulate the day’s research object. “You should definitely be a field agent.”
Victoria’s laugh was infectious. “Not my cup of tea, love. I like it in here where it’s safe.”
“Not at all. If you had a social life, you’d enjoy the respite of being in the office, too.”
Aisling snorted. “No thanks.” When the space was arranged to her liking, she called up her files on a device that had been found at the site of a terrorist attack in Germany. Part of it was charred, but almost two-thirds of the object remained intact. The field agents hadn’t been able to figure out what it was, which was why it had landed on her desk.
She’d spent the previous workday cleaning the item with precision an archaeologist would envy. One of the drawers beside her legs was filled with brushes from large to almost microscopic, and she’d used most of them in the process, along with a cleaning agent she’d created shortly after being hired that was now favored by the whole team.
After tapping in a code to unlock the top drawer on her left, Aisling lifted the object out of its secure storage and set it on the table. Data filled the floating, semi-transparent screens as the sensing tools built into the worktable’s surface got to work on it. She scanned the information to satisfy herself that nothing had changed from the day before. A verbal command and a gesture summoned a new panel with a magnified view of the object directly above it. She used her magic to lift and turn the damaged sphere to allow her eyes to get a good look at it and the system to map it from every angle.
Aisling had done the same thing at the end of her last session, but her work was all about precision, and the first step in being precise was avoiding assumptions. It wasn’t impossible that the object might have degraded in the interval between examinations. She locked off a portion of her mind to keep the item in the air and made a series of intricate gestures. An eyedropper filled with a particular reagent floated over, and she watched in the magnified view as drops of liquid hit the surface.
It revealed nothing. “This thing’s not made of anything that can combine to explode, so it probably wasn’t part of the detonation. It’s weird that it seemed to have an empty space in the middle.”
“Maybe what was inside was gas or liquid and leaked out?” Victoria offered.
Aisling frowned. “A biological weapon, you mean?”
“Not necessarily. Could be something more like a marker, maybe.”
“Hmm.” Aisling whispered a spell under her breath. “Magic to hurt, magic to heal; all magic present, now reveal.” Her fingers twisted in the appropriate gesture and her magic combined the words, the motions, and her intent to examine the object magically. She had several spells for doing so, and thought of them almost like lenses on a microscope. This one was designed to show traces of magic, some kinds of which left a detectable residue behind. It rhymed because that made it easy to remember, although the words were more about channeling her thoughts in the proper direction than actually invoking the magic.
A spot on the device began to glow, and a moment later the brightness shot out in all directions. Soon the interior of the broken sphere was covered with what looked like circuitry but was in fact evidence of magic. She nodded in approval. “Magical circuits in addition to physical ones. Whatever this is, they really wanted it to work.”
Before she could consider the item further, the door to the workshop area slid open. She turned to see a man with short brown hair, handsome features that gave a sense of boyishness, and a frown. His suit was off the rack, and he moved in it like he wore them all the time. An American accent hit her ears and confirmed her initial guess that he was agent Lance Stone. He growled, “I need an investigator right now.”
Before Aisling could reply, Victoria said, “Your turn, Aisling.”
She spun on her chair to scowl at her colleague. “It’s always my turn. How does that work out?”
A grin spread across the other woman’s painted lips. “You like the outside. I, on the other hand, do not.”
It seems like Aisling is about to be thrust into a new adventure as well as a new case. Find out what is in store for her on May 19th, when Secret Agent Witch Book 1: The Spy Who Tamed a Dragon is released. Until then head to Amazon and pre-order today.