With the new book releasing soon, it's time for our very first teaser! 

Sage and Grey’s phones buzzed at the same time.

All Available Agents, Report to Conference Room 1!

“Something major must have happened for Ava to call in the cavalry like this,” Grey commented as they waded through the mass of agents in the hallway. Everyone headed toward the conference room, which had filled to standing room only by the time they made it inside.
Ava stood at the head of the room behind a wooden podium. A projector had been set up on the back wall. It silently played clips from the current morning’s news. Traffic at a standstill. People crying. Children slapping their hands against the windows of a bright yellow school bus. A strange headline scrolled across the bottom of the screen.


“That can’t be good,” Sage whispered to Grey.
His eyes, like all the others in the room, were glued to the ridiculous images being presented on screen. How the hell had she not heard about this? She’d been so preoccupied with getting her paperwork in she hadn’t bothered to check in with the news. No wonder Ava had called in every available agent. This was a clear breech of magical security.
Mumbles in the room echoed her thoughts. Fellow agents wondered who would be stupid enough to pull a stunt like this. More discussed loudly about the effect this would have on ASSET’s credibility with the magical community. They were supposed to prevent revelations of real magic, like this, from ever reaching human awareness.
Ava stood at the podium, but unlike all the others watching the projector screen in horror, she was watching the room. Her keen eyes absorbed the reactions of her agents, allowing the horror to sink in before she began to address them.
Sage hoped Ava had a plan of attack. She couldn’t begin to comprehend how to deal with something this ridiculously damning. If the news was broadcasting it, no doubt it had already gone viral on social media. Real magic out there for all to see.
The most incriminating clip of all came from an eyewitness who captured the video on their cell phone. A school bus, suspended in the air. Traffic was at a standstill all around it. Motorists and pedestrians all stopping to gawk at the sight.
Shocked murmurs continued to rumble through the room.
“Pack it in here. We don’t have time to dawdle,” Ava addressed the people standing in the conference room doorway. “As of eight thirty this morning, a bus carrying fifty children, en route to its elementary school, lifted six feet off the road. It remained suspended in midair for a full twenty minutes before returning to the ground. Upon its descent, a message appeared on the side of the bus.”

The projector screen next to Ava zoomed in on the side of the bus. The tree of life, the symbol of the Terra race, looked as if it had been die-cut out of the bus.

“I don’t need to tell you how dangerous this incident is to ASSET. We all bear the mark, as well as those among us who have not yet been awakened. Our families, your children. We cannot risk the mark being associated with such a public act of magical terrorism.” Ava did not have to speak loudly to be heard. The room had gone all but silent as if everyone had taken a collective breath in anticipation of her next words.
The image on the screen froze on the symbol. Sage looked down to the mark on her wrist. The cutout on the side of the bus matched in every single detail. Magic. No question about it. But how? Why? It made no sense.
“Do we know if any Terra children were on that bus?” an agent seated in the front of the room asked.
“Yes,” Ava responded quickly. “The parents have been notified, and a team has been dispatched for extraction.”
It shouldn’t have struck her as odd. She had grown up unaware of ASSET’s true nature. But hearing that there were other Terra children surprised Sage more than the images of the bus floating in the air.
Sage leaned in to whisper in Grey’s ear, “How many Terra kids live her?”
“A fair few. You’d be surprised.”
“This job isn’t exactly conducive to raising a family.” Sage commented more to herself than in response to Grey, but he’d heard her all the same and shot her a strange look of confusion.
“We have to repopulate somehow,” he shrugged.
Maybe to him it wasn’t a big deal, but Sage couldn’t imagine trying to raise a child while going on dangerous missions and fighting all kinds of crazy magic. Trying to play the loving mother while secretly putting her life on the line. Returning home, helping with homework and social issues, as if those were the most stressful things in the world to worry about. The secrecy had to be maintained even within the confines of the home. Never being able to talk about the cooler aspects of magic. Or prepare one’s child for the dangers they might one day face. How the hell had her mother pulled it off? Sage had been none the wiser until her mom died. She’d grown up perfectly normal. Well, as normal as anyone could claim to be.
Grey was still staring at her, as if he expected some kind of response to his previous remark. She had none. He didn’t need to be privy to the internal freak-out she was having over the idea of more Terra children being out there.
“You do have a point.” He nudged her shoulder. “Children do pose a very interesting problem at the moment.”
“You can say that again,” Sage mumbled under her breath. She’d never put her own kids through that. Scratch that. She wouldn’t have kids. Period.
Another hand shot up from the crowd. “Do we have any suspects at this time?”
“On the record, no. It is our belief that this incident was perpetrated by the organization calling themselves The Order of the Mystics. The use of our symbol accompanying such a public act of magical terrorism is unprecedented. They may simply be attempting to discredit us to the magical community, or this may have a deeper impact by drawing attention of our kind to the humans we interact with on a daily basis. The Order of the Mystics have made no secret of their disdain for the position ASSET and the Terra people play in the magical hierarchy. No matter what their intentions were, the deed is done. It is up to us now to do what we do best. Damage control is our top priority at the moment. We need to get the media off this story in whatever way we can.” 
Sage watched the screen, paying attention to the faces of the children through the bus windows. She couldn’t imagine how scary it must have been for those poor kids. So little. Totally unable to understand what was happening. Some children were crying, but the longer she stared Sage began to  notice a surprising majority of the children had expressions of wonder. Little fingers poked through the symbol that had been punched into the side of the bus. Tiny eyes gazed through the cracks, looking more astonished than frightened.
Sage raised her hand. “Any injuries?”
“As of now, no injuries have been reported,” Ava replied.
That was a relief. Children were innocents. Harming them would turn this act of magical defiance into a true witch hunt.
How would it have been if they had pulled a stunt like this with adults? People were dangerous when scared. And more often than not, these days, people were walking around armed. Veritable powder keg ready to blow up in the face of the unknown. Maybe that was why the Mystics chose children for their targets. Kids might be scared, but their response to fear would be far less dangerous. Children were often more accepting of magic, still believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and other gift-giving creatures of magical nature.
The act itself was definitely a form of terrorism, but perhaps it had been carefully thought out to avoid casualties. Sage made a mental note of that to look into later.
The news continued to silently play the rescue of the children after the bus had settled back on the road. Sage watched with interest to see if there might be any further clues to the person or persons who had pulled off the stunt. If not for the glaring symbol of her people stamped into the side of the bus, she might have disagreed with Ava’s assessment that this was the work of the Mystics. But she knew better. The Mystics had a vendetta with ASSET as the judge, jury, and executioners of magical law. Ava herself had called the Mystics out, very publicly, during Sage’s mockery of a trial. Perhaps this was direct retaliation. The Mystics were calling out ASSET in as public a way as they possibly could.
“I need all hands on deck here,” Ava continued. “We’ll need a team on site to assess the scene as well as teams handling all media outlets. We’ll also need spin doctors, so I’m reaching out to the shadow clans for assistance with memory modification and social media campaigns to spin this as a hoax. All remaining agents who are not currently working on cases are to remain in house under our protection. Your families will need to be temporarily relocated as well. You all know what you need to do. Dismissed!” 
The assembled group sprang into action as Ava folded her notebook and left the podium.
Her keen eyes zeroed in on Sage with laser-like focus. She made a beeline through the mass of agents toward Sage and Grey. “Shadow Ops. My office, now!”
Sage followed silently behind her boss wondering what part she’d be assigned in this mess.
She was last to enter the room, pulling the door closed behind her.
The moment the lock clicked, Ava pounced. “I need answers. You two, get out there. Find out who did this and why.”
Grey stood like a good soldier at attention, his face an emotionless mask. “We’ll get names.”
“Names… I want their heads on pikes! Gods, I miss the old days!” Ava growled. “We need proof that it was in fact members of the Mystics before we can legally bring anyone in, of course. That is your job, Shadow Ops.” She slashed her fisted hand in the air, extending a single finger in Sage’s direction. “You are to employ all your resources. Discreetly. Find the people responsible for this.”
Needle in a haystack much? Sage sighed but dare not speak those words aloud. Ava would just as soon place her head on a pike. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I don’t need to tell you how important it is to have this mission zipped up quickly, do I?”
Ava’s question needed no answer. Of course she wanted everything handled quickly.
Grey, however, seemed to have an answer Sage did not know existed. “Mabon?” He spoke the word like a prayer.
“They couldn’t have picked a worse time to start this little war.” Ava nodded.
Sage leaned in closer to Grey and whispered, “Mabon?”
He shook his head, giving her a side-eyed glare that she knew to mean, “Shut up, newbie.” When she turned to look at Ava, her boss mirrored the same annoyed expression.
“Do your research, Miss Cynwrig.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Sage hung her head sheepishly.
“With Mabon upon us, our city will be crawling with magical tourists. I’m already up to my eyeballs in travel notices, and now, thanks to this mess, we have to expend manpower we don’t have on damage control. Short-staffed as we are, we cannot afford an international incident.”
“We will do all we can,” Grey said in his most assuring voice.

 “See that you do.” Ava slammed her pages down on the desk and yanked open the lid of her laptop. “Dismissed.”

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About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.