We gotcher Vorkosigan Saga Reread right here! That’s contents: chapters, Thirteen, from Burn, Cryo-, Bujold, Lois McMaster. Lessee, topics, topics…bringin’ the dead back to life, letters from the family at home. Comments? That’s extra. You want ’em? Sure thing. Sign here, willya? Thanks. Have a nice day!
The next day they drive over to Dr. Seiichiro Leiber’s neighbourhood in the west of Northbridge. Miles hadn’t found any links between Leiber and Sato in his research, which is probably he didn’t end up getting charged/killed/frozen with the rest of her group. He’d acquired his Ph.D. at an unremarkable age, scholarship funded by cryocorps, which determined the direction of his research.
Miles tells Johannes to drop him and Raven off at the corner and Roic around the back; it’ll be too conspicuous for the lift van to hang around, so he sends Johannes off to park and get a coffee, listening on their comlinks. Miles and Raven ring his doorbell, and when Dr. Leiber himself answers, Miles introduces himself and Raven; Leiber recognizes the Durona name, and Miles says they were there for the conference, and hoped to talk to him. Leiber invites them in, saying that he didn’t make it to the conference; he asks about the N.H.L.L. fiasco, and Raven shares a slightly edited version of his story as a captive. The two scientists then move into more technical discussions, until Leiber seems at ease.
Miles decided on a direct approach. “I’m actually here this morning on behalf of the next-of-kin of Lisa Sato. I believe you had some dealings with her eighteen months ago, just before her arrest?”
Shock and dismay bloomed unconcealed on Leiber’s face. Well, he was the scientist type, not a con artist, nor, probably, a very good liar. Fine by me.
“How do you know-what makes you think that?” Leiber fumbled, confirming Miles’s judgment.
“But no one saw-there wasn’t-but Suwabi died.”
Leiber excuses himself to make them some tea, and Miles doesn’t intercept him in time; Raven congratulates Miles on his palpable hit. Then they hear the back door open, and they check the kitchen to find him gone; Miles notifies Roic, and Roic goes after him, but is unable to catch him before he ducks into a neighbour’s house. Miles tells Roic to go meet up with Johannes, while he and Raven search his house. Miles finds little upstairs, and tells Raven they should leave before the police show up, but Raven says that given what he found on the bottom floor, he wouldn’t even have called them.
In the basement, Raven shows him, under an old bedspread, a portable cryochamber, plugged in, running, and occupied. Miles wonders if this is what they’re looking for, or if it’s just a normal Kibou thing to have a frozen person in your basement. Raven finds a garage door at one end of the room, explaining how they got it in; the cryochamber doesn’t come with a built-in float pallet, but Miles contacts Johannes and confirms that they stil have one in the back of the van, and tells him and Roic to come around to the back garage.
Raven raised his eyebrows. “Isn’t that theft? Breaking and entering?”
“No, the homeowner let us in. Breaking and exiting, maybe. If it’s theft, I’m guessing it’s the second time around for this item. And while it’s not true that you can’t cheat an honest man, crooked men are less likely to complain to the authorities, afterward. I don’t think Leiber will tell anyone.”
Roic and Johannes arrive and begin loading the cryochamber; Miles goes back upstairs and leaves an unsigned note asking to be contacted at his consulate. He tells Roic that he’s confident that Leiber will contact them to finish their conversation, but there’s no point in waiting around for him to come back while they’re in his house. Then they head back to Suze’s, Raven hoping they haven’t just stolen Leiber’s grandmother or something.
As Roic helps move Sato’s body into place for the cryorevival, he remembers back to his medic training back when he became an Armsman, and how he’d practiced emergency cryoprep on a realistic dummy, which is still nothing like the real thing; Lisa Sato doesn’t look like like a corpse, a living person, or a dummy. Still, hopefully this experience will help him if he ever has to do a real cryoprep. Miles is sure they have the right woman this time, though he didn’t use the children to identify her this time.
Vorlynkin stops by to tell Miles about a message that came for him; this time he’s left the children with Johannes, though Miles is hopeful that he’ll be able to bring them over soon. Raven tells the Consul he can come in and watch, if he puts on a mask, and Vorlynkin complies, as Raven begins the revival, inserting oxygenated fluid; Roic thinks that she looks a little like Ekaterin, with carefully preserved long dark hair, and Vorlynkin comments that she looks better than he expected. Raven says the cryoprep seems to have been first-rate, much better than Lord Vorkosigan was when he came in.
“She looks like something out of a fairy tale.”
“What,” said m’lord, swinging one heel to tap upon a stool leg, “Snow White with just one dwarf?”
Vorlynkin reddened, an I-didn’t-say-that look in his eyes.
M’lord snickered at him. “Now all we need is a prince.”
“So who’s t’ frog?” asked Roic, secretly glad not to be alone in his fanciful impressions.
“Different fairy tale,” m’lord told him kindly. “I hope.”
They begin putting real blood into her, and her skin tone becomes almost lifelike, and finally they finish with the fluids and begin resuscitation; they stimulate her brain with an electrified cap, and she actually begins to breathe, raggedly at first, then more strongly. Raven checks her peripheral nerves and reflexes, which all seem to be in order, then calls her name; her eyes open briefly, and Miles tells her, reassuringly, that she’s been rescued, her children are safe, and she’ll get to see them soon. She moans in response, reassuring Raven that both hearing and voice both seem to be working. Then she slips back into sleep, which Raven says is highly desirable, and they begin moving her to a gurney; Raven says she’ll need some time to rebuild her white cells before she can be moved to the consulate.
Miles asks Vorlynkin why he’s here, and the Consul says he has a sealed message from Barrayar; Miles says they’re pretty much done, and they make ready to return to the consulate, Vorlynkin exclaiming over the extraordinary experience of watching someone brought back to life. While Miles talks to Raven one last time, Vorlynkin comments to Roic that Lord Vorkosigan isn’t what he expected from an Imperial Auditor; Roic tells him that the Auditors are a varied lot, but the Emperor is good at matching them with the right cases.
Back at the consulate, Miles checks the message, which turns out to be a regular weekly message from Ekaterin and the children, important, to him at least, but not urgent; he eagerly activates it, taking a minute to drink in Ekaterin’s appearance before moving onward. He wonders at the lack of grey in her hair, considering how much effort she puts in wrangling the four children they’ve had in the last six years, effort which he’d greatly underestimated at the time.
“Greetings, my love,” she said. “We’ve received your latest here with much relief and rejoicing, though fortunately I didn’t tell the children about that first alarming message before the second had overtaken it. I shudder to think what your parents went through during your old career. Though I suppose your father kept his high-Vor upper lip suitably stiff, and your mother, well, I can scarcely imagine. Said tart Betan things, I suppose.”
Actually, he’d dodged those issues during his covert ops days by almost never sending any messages, or updates. It wasn’t as if his father couldn’t have demanded a report on his missions from the head of ImpSec any time he wanted one. Or nerved himself to it, he imagined his mother’s voice remarking tartly.
She brings him up to date on District matters, which reassures him that there aren’t any pressing family matters; he feels guilty for neglecting his District, but there doesn’t seem to be anything too urgent this week. Then she cuts to a video, filmed by Helen, one of his twins, of his youngest, Taura, ten months old, taking her first steps–or, at least, a strategically restaged set of wobbly almost-first steps–with Helen’s twin Sasha and three-year-old Lizzie looking on. She returns to tell him that Sasha has decided he now wants to be called Alex, having gone through and discarded a number of other variations on his name; Miles recalls how late Sasha/Alex ended up talking, before they realized that it was just that his sister was doing all the talking for him. Finally she bids farewell and wishes him home soon; he almost wishes he had left Kibou-daini when he had the chance.
He hopes Leiber shows up soon, and wonders why the man was so alarmed when they showed up, who he thought they represented; unfortunately, they don’t have the manpower to hunt him down right now. He sends off a requisition to Escobar for an ImpSec team, with a potential need for forensic accountants and lawyers in the near future, though it’ll take at least five days for them to arrive. He hopes that Lisa Sato regains her voice soon, too, so he can find out what he needs to know from her if not from Leiber.
So they’ve found this Dr. Leiber, brazen their way in, and then scare him off…but they find Lisa Sato’s body in the basement anyway, and just drag her away. That’s good, I guess? The revival goes smoothly this time, too. So we’re two thirds of the way through, and maybe we’ll finally get to find out what’s _really_ going on. I suppose it’s the right time for it, but it still feels like they’ve met too little opposition. The activist guys at the beginning have faded away, the cryocorps themselves haven’t done anything actually threatening, nobody’s been shot or killed or turned up dead, apart from that frozen woman they tried reviving last chapter. The tension just…isn’t there.
The best part of this chapter is, pretty much, the message from home, a glimpse, finally, at the growing Vorkosigan family–Helen and Aral Alexander/Sasha/Alex, Lizzie (named after Elizabeth Naismith, apparently), and now Taura. Three girls and only one boy; not sure why they’re not trying to balance it out, keep a spare for their heir, but maybe they’re still not done yet? A very small slice of life, which makes me want to spend more time back on Barrayar with them, perhaps a little older? It might be time to advance the years again, put Count Miles on the back burner and see what Alex is like growing up.
I find Dr. Leiber’s highly Japanese first name somewhat incongruous, in an amusing way. I suppose it’s no worse than having someone with a highly Ukrainian surname and a first name like Bob or Rick or something; still, I’d almost expect “Leiber” to have been assimilated a little into Japanese phonotactics, an extra vowel on the end or something. I guess they all do seem to speak Galactic Standard, even Jin and Mina…so why the Japanese names at all, then? Well, whatever.