Happy Friday! It’s been a while since I posted to the blog, so I thought I’d start a new weekly snippet feature. I’ll post up a peek at a book and you can see if it’s something that interests you. I’m going to start this off with a peek at Translucid, which is the first in my own Dragonfire Station series. It’s hard to find a scene that gives some insight into the characters, without giving away spoilers. So here’s a low-key moment early on, when Em’s trying to get a handle on who she really is, and who she can trust.
Em closed the cooler and opened the pantry door. She recognized all the fresh fruits and vegetables inside, as well as the dry goods like sugar and flour. An impressive collection of spices sat to one side. But did she ever use any of them? None of the ingredients called “Cook me” to her. Maybe she didn’t cook. Or maybe she needed to start doing it for her brain to make the connections. Fine. What to try?
She aimed for low-hanging fruit. Or pasta with cream sauce, as the ready-made packet said. She put the packet into the heat exchange, which recognized the label and made a soft click as it began the appropriate cooking cycle. In less than a minute, the heatex clicked again, and she pulled out the hot packet.
Okay. Now what? She opened another door and found dishes. She unsealed the packet and emptied the steaming pasta and sauce into a serving bowl. But it looked awfully plain, lying there. Just some noodles. They needed protein.
She grabbed a packet of chicken and opened it onto a cutting board. After chopping it into bite-sized pieces, she set the heatex for “grill.” While the chicken cooked, she sliced an onion and added it to a bowl with some butter. After the meat came out, smelling delicious, she set the heatex to sauté and waited on the onion. She added the chicken and onions to the pasta, stirring it all with a spoon, and felt pleased with herself. The aroma was wonderful, and her stomach growled. Maybe she hadn’t truly cooked, depending on one’s definition of the word, but she’d managed to put together a meal.
With the dinner in the heatex to keep it hot until Wren got home, Em set the table with napkins, water, and chopsticks. Did Wren like something else to drink when she got home? Maybe some Sarkavian wine? She’d noted a few bottles of it. But so far she’d only seen Wren drink water, so she decided to stick with that.
The knife slipped off the wet cutting board and started to fall off the counter. She caught it and noticed that it wasn’t badly balanced, for a kitchen knife. She hefted it in her hand, measuring its quality in a way she hadn’t before. Quite good, actually. She turned from the counter, shifting her grip so that she held the knife by the blade. She took two steps and snapped her arm forward. The knife flew across the space and embedded itself half an inch into the wall. Hm. Interesting.
She retrieved the knife, returned to her previous position, and threw again, aiming for the same spot. She pulled the knife from the wall and examined the marks. Only about three millimeters apart.
She threw again, aiming for the space between the two marks. Perfect. She walked back to the kitchen with the knife in her hands, considering. She could throw a knife with the best of them. Literally. At any interplanetary contest, she’d be sure to place, if not win. But knife-throwing skills were not listed in her personnel file. They absolutely should be. Hm.
She wondered if she had other skills not listed in her file. She’d start investigating that tomorrow. Actually, it sounded fun. A thrill of enthusiasm buzzed in her abdomen. Discovering herself on her own, rather than being told by a computer or some other person, sounded like an exciting change.
The doors opened and Wren stepped into the quarters. She smiled at Em. “You cooked. It smells really good. Chicken?” She shrugged out of a greasy lab coat and turned it so that she held it by the clean inner side.
“Chicken and pasta.”
Wren’s smile broadened. “The ready-made doctor at work, huh? Nice.” She started toward the necessary.
“Ready-made doctor?” Em busied herself with washing up the cutting board and knives.
“Nickname. You were always good at doctoring prepared packets into something much better. I’m glad to see you at it. Especially today.” Wren smiled cheekily. “I’m starved.”
“I don’t cook from scratch?” Em asked.
Wren paused in the doorway to the bedroom, looking over her shoulder. “Not often. I mean, you can, but you like starting off with something. You always said it gave you more ideas than raw ingredients.”
Wren’s gaze caught on the mark on the wall and she turned back around to face Em. “Knife practice?”
“Uh. Yeah. It just seemed…” She trailed off, not knowing how to explain.
Wren laughed. “I just repaired the wall from last time the other day. Seriously, we need to put up a board for you to throw at. Every time I suggest it, you promise it won’t happen again. Then it does.” She shook her head with amusement. “I’ll just get cleaned up. Should only take me a few minutes.”
Five minutes later they sat at the table. Wren had changed into lounge clothes, but Em still wore her uniform. She didn’t see a reason to change, though she’d removed her belt and secured her weapon. She felt perfectly comfortable. She did sense that she should make conversation, though, so she decided to ask about Wren’s day. Seemed like a safe subject.
“How was work?” She spread a napkin over her lap.
“Busy. Had to refit a personal cruiser that had burned hard all the way here from the Terran system. They made it in three weeks and fried their engines in the process. Three weeks! Crazy, even for a high-end cruiser like theirs. I have no idea what they were in such a hurry for, but it was definitely a very expensive hurry.”
Em wondered if she knew much about mechanics. She cast her thoughts toward engines and repairs, but failed to pull up much beyond schematics and basics. Nope. Engineering and mechanics were clearly not her thing. No talking shop about Wren’s work, then.
Wren dabbed her mouth with a napkin. “What about your day? Everything go okay? Or maybe it didn’t, and that was why you were throwing knives in our home?” She sent Em a teasing look.
“It was fine. Met Cabot Layne. And Arin. Several of my staff. Nevitt was just as you described.” She pinched a piece of pasta between her chopsticks.
“Did anything seem familiar?”
Still chewing, Em shook her head. She swallowed. “I remember skills. My job. Knife throwing.” She smirked. “But nothing about myself, or my relationships with people.”
“Nothing at all?” Wren made a valiant attempt to cover her disappointment, but failed.
“No. I’m sorry.”
Wren smiled brightly. “We’ll figure it out. Don’t worry.” She took a hearty bite of her dinner.
Em appreciated Wren’s optimism. She could tell that Wren wanted to be supportive and not add to Em’s worries with her own feelings. Em wondered if she should start to trust Wren. Maybe share her discoveries, such as the aberrant knife skills. Wren could be a big help in sorting things out. But Em wasn’t sure yet.
She needed to wait a little longer.