Adamant(Alliance, #1)

By: Emma L. Adams

The Alliance Series Book One




About Adamant (Alliance, #1)



Ever since a devastating magical war tore apart Ada Fletcher's homeworld, she and her family have lived under cover on the low-magic Earth. Stuck in a dead-end job in London, Ada has spent her life hiding her true identity--and her magic--while risking her life to help others from her homeworld. Until she loses her job, is chased by a rampaging monster, and is arrested as a prime suspect for a murder she had nothing to do with. It really isn't Ada's day.



Kay Walker, grandson of the Inter-World Alliance's late founder, expects to spend his first week as an Alliance employee hunting rogue monsters, not solving his supervisor's murder or questioning a strange, fierce young woman caught trespassing on Alliance premises. Killer or not, her abilities raise questions about the Alliance's history, and the closer he gets to the truth, the higher the body count rises.



The last thing Ada wants to do is help the infuriating Alliance guard who arrested her, but it soon becomes clear that the Alliance knows too much about Ada's magic. More, in fact, than she knows herself. One thing's certain: she's not the only one keeping secrets, and trusting the wrong person might cost more than her life.



Adamant is the first in the world-hopping urban fantasy Alliance series.





CHAPTER ONE



ADA



Pulling up my hood to hide my face, I slipped from the fog-shrouded London street into a narrow alleyway between two abandoned buildings, a smile forming at the prospect of breaking the Alliance’s rules. Rule number one: no trespassing in the Passages. Rule number two: no leaving Earth without a permit.

Lucky they didn’t know about this particular door.

I rubbed my arms, the chill from the alley wall penetrating the thin fabric of my coat. Several feet in, the brick gave way to a fake section of wall which wasn’t obvious at first glance. This area was so off-radar, no one would ever come looking for trouble here, not of the magic variety. But my fingers found the familiar cracks between brick and metal, and a gentle push made the fake part of the wall slide away, revealing cold metal.

I didn’t know who’d first discovered the Passage here, nor who’d concealed it. The Alliance had logged every single one, including the handful that existed on Earth, but this was hidden even from them. A nice irony that the biggest illegal offworld operation in the Multiverse was in the same city as Earth’s main Alliance branch.

Nothing was quite like that first thrill when magic made itself known, buzzing under my skin as my fingers brushed the metal wall. It was icy to the touch and functioned like a sliding panel, moving back to reveal a dark corridor. Heart beating fast, I stepped over the threshold.

The Passages were always freezing, no matter the time of day. There was no sun here, and on the lowest level, where I was, it felt like the inside of a gigantic refrigerator. The lowest level, or “level zero”, was the most dangerous, which was most likely why the Alliance hadn’t found the door. Even Alliance guards could get eaten alive by the monsters down here.

Luckily, this time it was quiet, though the lingering stench of Cethrax’s swamp followed me through the corridors. That world was not on my list of tourist destinations. But once I’d escaped the warren of the lower levels via a concealed staircase, I was in the Passages for real. The first-level corridor opened before me, branching out into countless others. All identical—high-ceilinged, ten metres wide, and lined with metal doors like the one that led to Earth. All were labelled with numbers in an order only the Alliance knew, to ensure nobody but them could tell which door led to which universe. There were thousands in total, spread throughout these corridors. Maybe even millions—I hadn’t seen them all.

For me, imagining was part of the thrill. Every hum of the wind in the dark whispered promises of worlds beyond imagining, every door held something new behind its cold metal exterior. I’d come here too many times to count, yet I’d never set foot beyond one of those doors. But God, the temptation was so intense I could taste it.

And then there was magic. You couldn’t really see magic on Earth the way I could here, like the shift of a tinted lens, enough to make the world look one degree different. And I could feel it under my skin, like I was plugged into a live wire. Something in the Earth’s atmosphere stifled magic, which was why the Alliance relied so much on their offworld technology. No denying they needed it, seeing as they were the one force standing between Earth and the mercy of a thousand offworld threats. And yet, I’d be at their mercy if they found me here. Using an unregistered Passage to help illegal magic-wielders from another world that the Alliance deemed ‘dangerous’ would mean instant imprisonment, if I was lucky.

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