Monday, March 9, 2015

Company Daughter (Book 1 of The Children of Astraea) by Callan Primer

Release date: March 4, 2015
Subgenre: Young adult science fiction, space opera

About Company Daughter:

A girl. A saucepan. A plan to conquer the universe.

Aleta Dinesen doesn't see the point of hanging around home, not when she can cook a mean paella. But her plan to conquer the universe one meal at a time runs afoul of her overprotective father, commander of a tough mercenary company. And when he puts his foot down, he's got the firepower to back it up.

Undeterred, Aleta escapes the dreadnaught she calls home one step ahead of the gorgeous, highly disapproving Lieutenant Park, the unlucky young officer tasked with hauling her back. But the universe isn't the safe place she thought it was. Stranded in a dangerous mining community, she clings to survival by her fingernails. Only by working with someone she can't stand will she have a chance to escape, proving to everyone that a teenage cook can be the most dangerous force in the universe. 



Ogres and Omelets
The ogre looked at his omelet and sniffed it, his nasal slits flaring. With a dubious series of clicks from his throat mike, he tried to hand it back. I don't speak ogre, but I'd been around them all my life. I knew what he meant. Shoving the plate back at him through the hatch, I told him, “Yes, I cooked it. No, it doesn't have a rat bar hidden in it.”

More clicks.

“I don't care what it smells like. You ordered it, you eat it.”

He tried to look woebegone, which is hard to do when you're an eight-foot, green-skinned, tusked monstrosity.


That was my boss of only two hours, Jack Choi, manning the deep fryer. His wife, Eva, was at the narrow shelf we used as a prep table, dicing onions, garlic, and jalapenos for salsa. I looked at him questioningly.

“We don't boss the customers around. If he thinks there's something wrong with the omurice, make him a fresh one.”

Jack was one of the few people willing to hire me. I had tried all the restaurants on both Two and Three Below, but each of them pointed to the door, too intimidated by my father to give me a chance. Even Mama DeFino, who had taught me to make panna cotta, told me to come back when I finished school. But Jack was a retired mech who feared nothing in the universe, least of all his former commanding officer. And he thought anyone willing to support themselves had the right to be called an adult.

“He's just giving me a hard time.”

Jack sighed, dumping a load of fried jalapenos—the nuclear version from Hirconia Five that the ogres loved—into a basket. “Just make it again, okay?”

I gritted my teeth. This was my first job. Likely to be my last if Dad had his way, but I wouldn't be fired through any fault of mineI reached through the hatch and tried to take the plate back from the ogre. He clutched it protectively to his chest.

Outsiders found the ogres—our mechanized soldiers—creepy. The Gaians, those pious hypocrites who thought we all should live in dirt huts and run our food down on foot, were worse; they wanted them all exterminated. But the ogres were men under all the biological and mechanical alterations, men who liked good food, men who... had really long memories. The rat bar incident had been years ago.

This particular ogre had known me since I was a child. In fact, he'd been there for the rat bar incident—which did not give him a right to harass me on my first real job. I glowered at him, and the eight-foot slab of muscle with radiation-proof skin pretended to cower.

“Just give me that—” I said, making a snatch for the plate. “I'll make you a new omurice, and you can watch what goes in it.”

He lifted it out of my reach. With his free hand, he gently tweaked my nose with sausage-sized fingers.

I'm usually better at knowing when I'm being teased. Not knowing what Dad, aka the Commandant of the Free Company of the Astraea and my personal cross to bear, was up to had left me sensitive. I waved him off with a tense smile. He grabbed the basket of fried jalapenos along with his omurice and took it over to his squad, who stood at the tall tables Jack kept for ogres. There was a moment of silent communication among them, and they all shook with the signs of ogre laughter. Great. Now they were all going to do it.

Nine more orders for omurice popped up on the display above the grill, confirming my worst suspicions. With a sigh, I got another crate of eggs from the fridge and started cooking.

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About Callan Primer:

Born in the Year That Shall Not Be Mentioned, Callan's hobbies are woodworking, cat wrangling, and wandering off the beaten path. Otherwise, she lives a quiet life in the Midwest, providing tech support for friends, family, and the occasional paying customer.

Equally entranced by shiny technology as she is by deep magic, she writes what she likes to read: strange worlds and adventurous characters who do their best to remember their heart and humanity.


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