All right, it’s my move now…I roll a five, and head down the hallway and into my blog. I suggest that it was myself, on the blog, with the Vorkosigan Saga Reread. Does anyone object? No? Then, I accuse myself of the Vorkosigan Saga Reread on my blog. As evidence, I present the following, which devotes itself so a chapter of Lois McMaster Bujold’s novel CryoBurn, latest chronologically in the Vorkosigan Saga, in which Miles and Jin are reunited and Miles begins to plan some shenanigans.
When Jin knocks at the door of the consulate, he and Mina are hustled inside by Lieutenant Johannes, who runs downstairs after seating them in the kitchen, before Jin can even get a word out. Consul Vorlynkin comes up, as expected, but then a really tall Barrayaran, whose arrival almost conceals that of Miles-san. Jin’s first words end up being accusation of Miles-san abandoning his creatures, but Miles assures him that he left Ako in charge with a list of instructions.
“And who are you, young lady?” Miles-san addressed Mina. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”
“Sister,” muttered Jin. “It wasn’t my idea to bring her.”
“I have a name,” Mina pointed out. “It’s Mina. Want to see my blisters?”
Miles-san didn’t even blink. “Sure! Are they good ones? Have they popped yet?”
“Oh, yes-they made my socks all bloody, too.”
“Well, Miss Mina, why don’t you sit down here–” Miles-san pulled out a kitchen chair with a flourish, and half-bowed Mina into it, as if she’d been a grownup lady, “–and show me.”
They peel her socks off her feet, while Miles sends Johannes to find something suitable for the kids to eat and drink, which ends up being vat-octopus pizza; Vorlynkin brings a first-aid kit, and gives it to a slim man named Raven, an Escobaran doctor, who deals with Mina’s feet. Mina asks Miles about Roic, who looks like a policeman, but Miles assures her that Roic works for him now, and so isn’t a real policeman anymore, which reassures her; Roic gives them some water to drink.
Jin finally gets to tell his well-rehearsed story about what happened to the money he was sent with; when he’s done, Vorlynkin says they traced the envelope to police evidence rooms, which supports his story; Miles says the Consul is grateful that Jin didn’t bring him into it, which Vorlynkin unwillingly corroborates. Miles then skillfully extracts the story of their escape from their relatives, and when the story’s told Jin almost feels like he’s told too much. Johannes returns with supper, and mentions that the children have been reported missing; Jin protests that they can’t turn them in to the police, and Miles says that they have no intention of doing so. Vorlynkin says that they can’t harbour runaways, though Jin protests that he needs to get back to his animals; Miles suggests, half-seriously, granting them asylum, though Vorlynkin says that it’s out of the question.
After the meal they go downstairs, and Miles says that he’d looked into what happened to Jin’s mother, and he wonders if they know how she ended up being frozen. Jin, uncomfortable with the topic, says he doesn’t know much about her work, since she mostly left them at school or with their aunt while she was out, which Aunt Lorna didn’t always care for; they weren’t allowed to go along to the meetings themselves. Miles muses that he always got to sit in on his father’s meetings, which was very educational, but they were held in his home; Jin says that they didn’t have room in their apartment, so the meetings were always somewhere else. Mina says that she remembers one time some people came over late at night, not long before she was arrested, which Jin slept right through; Mina heard them arguing in the kitchen.
“Can you remember what they were arguing about? Anything at all that was said?”
Mina scrunched her face in thought. “They were talking about the corps, and money. They were always talking about the corps, and money, only this time they seemed more excited. George-san’s voice was really boomy, and Mommy was talking all fast and sharp, except she didn’t sound mad, exactly. And the new guy yelled something about, it wasn’t any temp’rary setback-this could bring the corps to their knees, right before he came out in the hallway on the way to the bathroom and found me. And Mommy let me have an ice cream bar and put me back to bed and told me to stay there.”
“Do you know who the people were? Had you ever seen them before?”
Mina nodded. “There was George-san, he was always nice to me when he came to pick up Mommy. And old Mrs. Tennoji, she always wore a lot of perfume. They called the new one Leiber-sensei.”
Miles says that they must have had some sort of secret; he’d run across Tennoji and George Suwabi in his research, though no Dr. Leiber. And those two are dead now, so they’ll have better luck waking up Lisa Sato to ask her. Mina is galvanized at the prospect of getting her mother back, but Miles backpedals a bit, saying that he can’t just order it done, like he could on Barrayar; Mina says it’s mean of him to suggest it if he can’t do it. Miles and Raven muse about the possibility of actually doing it–medically it seems feasible, if they can just get hold of her, assuming she was prepped properly in the first place, with the right supplies and facility.
Vorlynkin is disturbed at Miles’s train of thought, but Miles points out that it would solve a number of problems; most of his lines of investigation seem to converge on Lisa Sato, and it would also solve the problem of what to do with her children. Mina, distressed, asks what they’re talking about, and Miles says that he thinks their mother would know something useful about the case he’s working on, and tells her that Dr. Durona is a cryo-revival specialist. He says they have a doctor to revive her, now they just need to get hold of her, which he thinks he can do, and that’ll leave Consul Vorlynkin to keep her from being taken away again.
Miles asks Vorlynkin what actual protection the consulate can offer, if they need to, and Vorlynkin says they’re not quite a full embassy but more than just a consulate, so there are some ambiguous legalities; Miles says that that in itself will help them stall for time if necessary. Jin watches Miles, wondering what exactly his “Auditor” job amounts to–something to do with insurance?–and whether he really can get their mother back…
After finding out from Johannes what vehicles they have available, Miles announces that they’ll be sending the lift van to pick up Jin’s animals tomorrow; Jin isn’t sure why they don’t just let him go back, but he supposes he’ll be fine wherever as long as he can have his menagerie. Vorlynkin is dubious about hosting the animals, and Jin tries to assure him that they’ll be fine. Miles adds that while they’re there, he’ll check out whether they have a working cryo-revival facility there already, which will save having to rig one up at the consulate. Jin suggests they go early in the morning, when Suze will be sober.
The next step, Miles says, is securing Lisa Sato, who is apparently at NewEgypt’s facility in Northbridge. Roic, alarmed, asks if they can’t just buy up her contract, but Miles says that they’re surely alert to any interest in her, and it would tip them off; though they can look into it later, to try to legitimize the operation. Raven points out that they’ll need to fudge the readouts so they won’t notice the body’s gone, or just swap in another corpse; Miles muses that they might be able to get one of those from Suze as well.
Vorlynkin choked. “Do you have any idea how many different crimes you’ve just rattled off?”
“No, but it might not hurt to make up a list, should your lawyer need it. Could speed things up, in a pinch.”
“I thought the task of an Imperial Auditor was to uphold the law!”
Miles-san’s eyebrows flew up. “No, whatever gave you that idea? The task of an Imperial Auditor is to solve problems for Gregor. Those greasy cryocorps bastards just tried to steal a third of his empire. That’s a problem.” Despite his smiling lips, Miles-san’s eyes glittered, and Jin realized with a start that underneath, he was really angry about something. “I’m still considering the solution.”
Jin wondered who Gregor was. Miles-san’s insurance boss?
The discussion is interrupted by Mina starting to cry; at Miles’s urging, Jin comforts her, and Vorlynkin urges that they be sent to bed. Miles agrees, suggesting they bed down in Roic’s room, and this plan is swiftly executed. Once they’re left alone, they open up Lady Murasaki’s box and toss her in a dead moth to eat. Mina asks if he thinks Miles can really get their mother back, and Jin says he’s not sure; he’s privately a little daunted by the unstoppable force Miles-san has turned into.
Roic is glad that M’lord has enlisted Johannes, as this will give Roic some backup at last, though Johannes is beginning to look a little out of his depth at all this covert ops talk. M’lord says that they’ll have to tell the clerk Matson that the children are protected witnesses, and is amused at Vorlynkin’s distaste at having to lie. Vorlynkin asks him about the risks the children are under, and questions whether they wouldn’t be safer with their legal guardians; Miles says that Lisa Sato may be a dead end, but if not, then it may be risky to wake her up.
Roic’s own conviction was that as soon as that poor frozen woman had intersected m’lord’s orbit, this chain of events had become inevitable. Worse than dangling a string in front of a cat, it was. He likely shouldn’t explain this to Vorlynkin; an armsman was supposed to be loyal in thought, word, and deed. But not blind . . .
Vorlynkin asks Miles if he’d want some offworlder to treat his own children that way; Miles says that if he were dead and Ekaterin frozen, he’d be happy for anyone who could reunite her with them. He’s also reminded of his father’s experience, having his mother executed in front of him by Mad Emperor Yuri; Jin’s is similar, except that, since his mother isn’t really dead, he doesn’t get to actually mourn her.
Miles’s ease at dealing with Mina definitely shows his experience of parenthood; he mentioned to Vorlynkin later that girls seem to want their wounds appreciated, which does sound like a wee overgeneralization. Of course, Miles was able to deal well with Nikki even before becoming a parent himself, so maybe it’s just his instinct to treat them as people rather than obstacles or chores; there was also the story he told Nikki about using a young girl as a courier.
Is it a bad sign that the children are wary of policemen? I mentioned before that we don’t have a clear impression of how corrupt they are, but assuming that they’re not too obviously so, they still seem to be obstacles. And they view the children as problems to be solved, rather than people whose goals are worth considering. Which, again, is something Miles seems better able to avoid.
He is definitely manifesting a cavalier attitude toward the laws of Kibou-daini. On Barrayar, of course, he’s above the law, or makes the law, or something, but here he really only has control of the Barrayarans, if that. What kind of diplomatic incident would be caused if he were to be arrested doing something illegal on Kibou-daini? It would be quite a loss of face for Gregor, because Miles’s Auditorial status makes his actions Gregor’s direct responsibility; perhaps he’d even be forced to grant concessions on Komarr to the Kibou. Or maybe Vorlynkin could smooth the whole thing over, but considering how short-staffed his consulate is, his resources are a little limited. So Miles is taking a substantial risk here. But he seems confident…perhaps it’s that his opponents don’t seem to have done anything too overtly violent so far. Unless what happened to Lisa Sato’s co-conspirators was their doing, which is far from clear. But if he’s got them snowed with his seeming willingness to be bribed, they won’t be expecting action from him, so he’s got surprise on his side for a little while, at least.
Next week, nextchapter…well, probably back to the secret community we saw before, and we’ll see if Suze is on board with this plan….