As our scene opens, we see a new blog post arriving on the Internet. According to the caption, the blog is something called the Vorkosigan Saga Reread; from previous information, you realize that this means it probably has to do with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga…but what? Could our intrepid blogger be trying to summarize and make insightful comments on the books in the series, a chapter or two at a time? Right now it seems to be close to the end of the series, in the book CryoBurn, though of course the series is theoretically open-ended, so who knows what will come in the future. The lights go down, and we begin the chapter…
With Jin’s anxious guidance, Johannes brings the lift van up to the rooftop menagerie, and under the canopy, hopefully to conceal their activities from anyone watching. Ako, who’s been trying to feed the falcon, is waiting for them; Miles and Jin get out to talk to her alone. Ako is happy to see Jin back, at last, and Miles thanks her for her efforts looking after the animals. Jin says that they’re going to be moving the animals somewhere else, and Miles says that he needs to talk to Suze first.
Rowan, Roic and Johannes emerge from the lift-van, and Jin introduces them to Ako, assuring her that they’re offworlders, not cops. Raven joins Miles and Jin (Roic staying behind with Johannes, under protest) to head inside; Miles picks up some coffee in the kitchen, and they head up to Suze’s room, where he asks Jin to let him do the talking. They knock on her door, and Suze greets them blearily and suspiciously, grumpy as always, but the coffee seems to sway her to let them inside. She says that Miles seems to have recovered his resources, and Miles says he’s back in business, on an investigation; Jin assures her that it’s some kind of insurance fraud, and Miles reminds himself to tell him sometimes what his real job is.
Miles says he wants to talk to her about using her facilities; Suze says they don’t want to draw attention, and Miles says he doesn’t either. Suze asks if he wants to illegally freeze someone, in a way that makes Miles think that she’s done that before, and he wonders if she’s used that to help secure their protection, but she refuses to confirm this. Miles says they want to revive someone instead, which takes her aback; he assures her that Dr. Durona has the necessary skills, and they just need some facilities. In lieu of money, Miles offers them another free cryorevival, which Suze finds a startling, and tempting, offer; he shows them his own needle-grenade scars as proof of Raven’s skill, omitting that he was only assisting at the time. Raven suggests that they make up a list of candidates and he’ll figure out which ones have the best chance.
Suze considers it for a while, and Jin implores her to do it; she asks why he cares so much, and Jin says that they’re going to bring his mother back. Suze says that Lisa Sato will draw attention if nothing else does, but Miles says they’ll take her back to the Barrayaran embassy right away, so any attention should end up focused there first; Suze says they’ll still want to find out who unfroze her in the first place. Miles makes vague promises to give them something more important to worry about first, his plans being far from firm yet; he notes that Madame Sato may have to recover from cryoamnesia first.
Miles…turned again to Suze. “I need one more favor. I’d like to borrow a cryo-corpse.”
“What,” Suze began in a towering tone, which weakened to, “. . . kind?”
“Female, about fifty kilos. As young as you have available. Anything else, Raven?”
Raven shook his head. “That should do it.”
“We undertake not to damage her in any way that would compromise her future revival,” Miles went on, hoping he didn’t sound too airy.
Miles notes that there will be some risks in their operation, and Suze is less than reassured, so he ups his offer to two free cryorevivals; eventually she gives in and sends them on to Vristi Tanaka, the medtech, and says she’ll go along if they can get Tanaka’s buy-in. Miles promises her it will be interesting, since he can’t bring himself to promise that she won’t regret it.
Jin leads them up to the infirmary on the second floor; Tenbury is outside, and greets Jin warmly and Miles and Raven warily. Jin says they need to see Tanaka; Tenbury says she’s busy preparing, and Raven says he’d like to see it. Jin introduces Raven as a doctor from Escobar, which doesn’t reassure Tenbury that much, but Miles goes ahead and knocks.
Tanaka opens the door, a woman of an age with Suze, also pleased to see Jin but expecting him to be bringing news of another person hurt by his animals. Jin says Suze sent them, and it’s kind of urgent, and introduces his companions yet again; Miles mentions the plan to use their facilities for a revival. She looks askance at Raven, and Miles wonders if they should have made him look less respectable so he wouldn’t look quite so out of place.
An old man is in cryoprep, his brain being chilled and his blood replaced with cryofluid; Jin stares, and Miles belatedly wonder if the boy finds it disturbing, perhaps a reminder of what happened to his mother, or if he’d seen it before. Ako asks if they’re getting a real doctor, and Miles explains that they’re just visiting. Raven asks about the provenance of the cryofluid, a crucial part of the process, and Tanaka says it’s black-market fluid, past the use-by date; Raven allows that might be okay if the date was conservative in the first place, and Miles thinks that they don’t have much choice about it.
They finish prepping the body, and load it onto a float pallet, where Tenbury prepares to take it down to storage; he invites Jin to join him, but Jin prefers to stay in the infirmary with the others. While Ako cleans up, Miles trots out his pitch for Tanaka, heavily implying Suze’s approval already given, and letting Jin chime in to implore their help. Tanaka is dubious, but mostly because she’s not sure how much functional equipment they have for revival purposes, but she can go look.
Miles asks about Suze, and Tanaka says her full name is Susan Suzuki; Tanaka, Suze, and her sister were the three founders of the scheme, with Tenbury added soon after. She’s surprised it’s lasted this long, since it started out as just a symbolic protest, but the street people needed their services, and that’s kept them going. Ako came to them after her great-aunt got sick, and she proved a willing worker, so she was allowed to help.
They go upstairs to look at the revival facilities, mostly gutted, but with one functioning operating room; Tanaka and Raven consult in upbeat-sounding medspeak, which requires Tenbury to be brought in. Miles asks who legally owns the building; Tanaka says it’s a contractor, who only found out about the cryocorpses on the premises after he bought it, and now he can’t sell it because of the legal liability. Suze has him under control, but they’re afraid that someday he might try to get rid of the place by burning it down; they just keep going day to day. Tenbury returns upstairs, and the inspection continues; Raven eventually says that it should work out, with some improvising.
Miles asks Raven when he’ll be ready for the operation; he says he’d like to bring Raven along on snatching Lisa Sato’s body, if he’s up for it. Raven isn’t afraid of arrest, knowing Mark will get him out if Miles doesn’t, and they can go any time; Miles says he’d rather do it sooner than later, both to get home sooner and give himself time to deal with whatever complications arise from Sato’s revival. Raven says he’ll stay there and get things set up, and encourages Miles to take Jin and the animals back to the consulate; he will want to use the tight-beam later to contact Mark and/or Lily, because he thinks he’s found something of interest to the Duronas.
Back at the consulate, Mina is happy to be reunited with the cat, Lucky, and Jin shows her the pet rats as well; Vorlynkin admires the falcon, and the chickens seem happy in the green grass, while Roic unloads the terrariums against the back of the house. Lucky ingratiates himself with the Consul, and Mina convinces them to keep Lucky inside, as long as she and Jin look after her.
Miles-san strolled past. “All shipshape here, Jin? Then I need Johannes back.” He added to Consul Vorlynkin, “We’ll be in your tight-room for a time. A lot of detail-work still to do.” At his gesture, Roic rose and took up what seemed his accustomed place at his shoulder.
“Is your scheme going to fly, then?” Vorlynkin asked. Miles-san nodded. Vorlynkin grimaced.
Miles-san returned a wry smile. “Flexibility, Vorlynkin. That’s the key.” He trod indoors, swinging his cane. Jin and Vorlynkin stared after him.
Vorlynkin voiced Jin’s own half-formed thought: “Was that supposed to be reassuring?”
Suze seems really shocked at the offer a free cryorevival, like there’s someone that she has in mind, and Miles knows it; he seems not to be surprised by her reaction, but I guess I missed this. Who is frozen that she wants back? Another scene spent outside of Miles’s head so he can keep secrets from us. Suze is fairly old, so maybe someone frozen when she was younger? Not sure.
What did Raven find that he thinks the Duronas will be interested in? Well, the actual quote is “I may have found some elements of interest to the Durona group, here.” Is “here” the secret cryofacility, or Kibou-daini itself? Is it to do with the cryorevival? Some piece of equipment? The whole cryocorp scam? Not sure if this comes out later or not, though I do know that we do see Mark before the end of the book, so perhaps it does.
So Miles goes ahead and manages to talk everyone into doing what he wants, getting Suze and Tanaka to go along with his idea, having Jin’s buy-in because he wants his mother back, and of course generally being able to order the Barrayarans around from his rank and Raven because of whatever deal he made with Lily. Raven is really part of the secret preparation he made for this mission, part of the background that we haven’t been actually told about because most of the flashbacks have been on Roic’s part. Even when we get Miles’s point of view we don’t get to see much of his plan; he’s turned into an unreliable narrator for this book, which is frankly a little annoying after the previous books, where we tended to get deep inside him and his head. Maybe that’s one of the several reasons I’m not as fond of this book.
Next chapter: the actual body-heist. Now, some excitement! At last! Or, rather: next week, some excitement! At last!