Книга Komarr. Содержание - CHAPTER THREE

But it's treatable now, isn't it?

Yes, albeit expensively; that went with the rare part, no economies of scale. Miles scanned rapidly down the articles. Symptoms were manageable with a variety of costly biochemical concoctions to flush out and replace the distorted molecules; retrogenetic true cures were available at a higher price. Well, almost true cures: any progeny would still have to be screened for it, preferably at the time of fertilization and before being popped into the uterine replicator for gestation.

Hadn't young Nikolai been gestated in a uterine replicator? Good God, Vorsoisson surely hadn't insisted his wife—and child—go through the dangers of old-fashioned body-gestation, had he? Only a few of the most conservative Old Vor families still held out for the old ways, a custom upon which Miles's own mother had vented the most violently acerbic criticism he'd ever heard from her lips. And she should know.

So what the hell is going on here? He sat back, mouth tight. If, as the files suggested, Nikolai was known or suspected to carry Vorzohn's Dystrophy, one or both of his parents must also. How long had they known?

He suddenly realized what he should have noticed before, in the initial illusion of smug marital bliss which Vorsoisson managed to project. That was always the hardest part, seeing the absent pieces. About three more children were missing, that was what. Some little sisters for Nikolai, please, folks? But no. So they've known at least since shortly after their son was born. What a personal nightmare. But is he the carrier, or is she? He hoped it wasn't Madame Vorsoisson; horrible to think of that serene beauty crumbling under the onslaught of such internal disruption. . . .

I don't want to know all this.

His idle curiosity was justly punished. This idiot snooping was surely not proper behavior for an Imperial Auditor, however much it had been inculcated in an ImpSec covert ops agent. Former agent. Where was all that shiny new Auditor's probity now? He might as well have been sniffing in her underwear drawer. I can't leave you alone for a damn minute, can I, boy?

He'd chafed for years under military regulations, till he'd come to a job with no written regs at all. His sense of having died and gone to heaven had lasted about five minutes. An Imperial Auditor was the Emperor's Voice, his eyes and ears and sometimes hands, a lovely job description till you stopped to wonder just what the hell that poetic metaphor was supposed to mean.

So was it a useful test to ask himself, Can I imagine Gregor doing this or that thing? Gregor's apparent Imperial sternness hid an almost painful personal shyness. The mind boggled. All right, should the question instead be, Could I imagine Gregor in his office as Emperor doing this? Just what acts, wrong for a private individual, were yet lawful for an Imperial Auditor carrying out his duties? Lots, according to the precedents he'd been reading. So was the real rule, "Ad lib till you make a mistake, and then we'll destroy you"? Miles wasn't sure he liked that one at all.

And even in his ImpSec days, slicing through someone's private files had been a treatment reserved for enemies, or at least suspects. Well, and prospective recruits. And neutrals in whose territory you expected to be operating. And . . . and … he snorted self-derision. Gregor at least had better manners than ImpSec.

Thoroughly embarrassed, he closed the files, erased all tracks of his entry, and called up the next autopsy report. He studied what telltales he could glean from the bodily fragmentation. Death had a temperature, and it was damned cold. He paused to turn up the workroom's thermostat a few degrees before continuing.


Ekaterin hadn't realized how much a visit from an Imperial Auditor would fluster the staff of Nikolai's school. But the Professor, a long-time educator himself, quickly made them understand this wasn't an official inspection, and produced all the right phrases to put them at their ease. Still, she and Uncle Vorthys didn't linger as long as Tien had suggested to her.

To burn a bit more time, she took him on a short tour of Serifosa Dome's best spots: the prettiest gardens, the highest observation platforms, looking out across the sere Komarran landscape beyond the sealed urban sprawl. Serifosa was the capital of this planetary Sector—she still had to make an effort not to think of it as a Barrayaran-style District. Barrayaran District boundaries were more organic, higgly-piggly territories following rivers, mountain ranges, and ragged lines where Counts' armies had lost historic battles. Komarran Sectors were neat geometric slices equitably dividing the globe. Though the so-called domes, really thousands of interconnected structures of all shapes, had lost their early geometries centuries ago, as they were built outward in random and unmatching spurts of architectural improvement.

Somewhat belatedly, she realized she ought to be dragging the engineer emeritus through the deepest utility tunnels, and the power and atmosphere cycling plants. But by then it was time for lunch. Her guided tour fetched up near her favorite restaurant, pseudo-outdoors with tables spilling out into a landscaped park under the glassed-in sky. The damaged soletta-array was now visible, creeping along the ecliptic, veiled today by thin high clouds as if ashamedly hiding its deformations.

The enormous power of the Emperor's Voice conferred upon an Auditor hadn't changed her uncle much, Ekaterin was pleased to note; he still retained his enthusiasm for splendid desserts, and, under her guidance, constructed his menu choices from the sweets course backwards. She couldn't quite say "hadn't changed him at all"; he seemed to have acquired more social caution, pausing for more than just technical calculations before he spoke. But it wasn't as if he could entirely ignore other people's new and exaggerated reactions to him.

They put in their orders, and she followed her uncle's gaze upward as he briefly studied the soletta from this angle. She said, "There's not really a danger of the Imperium abandoning the soletta project, is there? We'll have to at least repair it. I mean … it looks so unbalanced like that."

"In fact, it is unbalanced at present. Solar wind. They'll have to do something about that shortly," he replied. "I should certainly not like to see it abandoned. It was the greatest engineering achievement of the Komarrans' colonial ancestors, apart from the domes themselves. People at their best. If it was sabotage . . . well, that was certainly people at their worst. Vandalism, just senseless vandalism."

An artist describing the defacement of some great historic painting could hardly have been more vehement. Ekaterin said, "I've heard older Komarrans talk about how they felt when Admiral Vorkosigan's invasion forces took over the mirror, practically the first thing. I can't think that it had much tactical value, at the high speed at which the space battles went, but it certainly had a huge psychological impact. It was almost as if we had captured their sun itself. I think returning it to Komarran civilian control in the last few years was a very good political move. I hope this doesn't mess that up."

"It's hard to say." That new caution, again.

"There was talk of opening its observation platform to tourism again. Though now I imagine they're relieved they hadn't yet."

"They still have plenty of VIP tours. I took one myself, when I was here several years ago teaching a short course at Solstice University. Fortunately, there were no visitors aboard on the day of the collision. But it should be open to the public, to be seen and to educate. Do it up right, with maybe a museum on-site explaining how it was first built. It's a great work. Odd to think that its principal practical use is to make swamps."

© 2012-2016 Электронная библиотека booklot.ru