Книга Komarr. Содержание - CHAPTER EIGHT

If Tien had been afflicted with some great misguided political passion—thrown in his lot with the wrong side in Vordarian's Pretendership, whatever—if he had followed his convictions, she might well have followed him with all good will. But this was not allegiance to some greater truth, or even to some grandly tragic mistake.

It was just stupidity, piled on venality. It wasn't tragedy, it was farce. It was Tien all over. But if there was any honor to be regained by turning her own sick husband over to the authorities, she surely did not see it either.

If I grow much smaller, trying to keep my height under his, I believe I must soon disappear altogether.

But if she was not a Vor woman, what was she? To step away from her oath-sworn place at Tien's side was to step across a precipice into the dark, naked of any identity at all.

It was, what did they call it, a window of opportunity. If she left before the crisis broke, before this whole hideous mess came out in some public way, she would not be deserting Tien in his hour of greatest need, would she?

Ask your soldier's heart, woman. Is deserting the night before the battle any better than deserting in the heat?

Yet if she did not go, she tacitly acquiesced to this farce. Only ignorance was innocence, was bliss. Knowledge was . . . anything but power.

No one else would save her. No one else could. And even to open her lips and whisper "help" was to choose Tien's destruction.

She sat still as stone, in silence, for a very long time.


Captain Tuomonen arranged to rendezvous with Miles and Tien in the lobby of the Vorsoissons' residence building, rather than at the Terraforming Project offices, a blandly sociable gesture that did not fool Miles for a moment. The Imperial Auditor was to be saddled with an ImpSec guard whether he'd ordered one or not, it appeared. Miles almost looked forward to seeing the test of Tuomonen's polite ingenuity this security determination was doubtless going to demonstrate.

At the bubble-car platform across the park, Miles seized the opportunity to shunt Tien into another car and claim a private one for himself and Tuomonen, the better to decant the night's news from him. A few early morning commuters crowded in with the administrator, and his car slid away into the tubes. But as soon as the next pair of Komarrans, already hesitant at the sight of the green Imperial uniform, got close enough to make out the ImpSec eyes on the captain's collar, they sheered off hastily from any attempt to join Miles's little party.

"Do you always get a bubble-car to yourself?" Miles inquired of Tuomonen as the canopy closed and the car began to move.

"When I'm in uniform. Works like a charm." Tuomonen smiled slightly. "But if I want to eavesdrop on Serifosans, I make sure to wear civvies."

"Ha. So what's the status on Radovas's library this morning?"

"I dispatched one of the compound guards last night to hand-carry it to HQ in Solstice. Solstice is three time zones ahead of us; their analyst should have started on it by now."

"Good." Miles's brow wrinkled. Compound guards? "Um . . . just how big is ImpSec Serifosa, Captain Tuomonen?"

"Well . . . there's myself, my desk sergeant, and two corporals. We keep the data base, coordinate information flow to HQ, and provide support for any investigators HQ sends out on special projects. Then there is my lieutenant who commands the guards at the Sector Sub-Consulate compound. He has a unit of ten men to cover security there."

The Imperial Counselor was how the Barrayaran Viceroy of Komarr was styled, in deference to local custom. Miles's incognito arrival in Serifosa had excused him, or so he'd chosen to pretend, from a courtesy call on the Counselor's Serifosa Sector regional deputy. "Only ten men? For around the clock, all week?"

"I'm afraid so." Tuomonen smiled wryly. "Not much goes on in Serifosa, my lord. It was one of the least active Domes in the Komarr Revolt, a tradition of political apathy it has since maintained. It was the first Sector to have its occupying Imperial garrison withdrawn. One of my Komarran in-laws facetiously blames the lack of urban renewal in the Dome's central section on the previous generation's failure to arrange for it to have been leveled by Imperial forces." That aging and decrepit area was visible now in the distance, as the car reached the top of an arc and bumped into an intersecting tube. They rotated and began to descend toward Serifosa's newer rim.

"Still—apathetic or not—how do you stay on top of things?"

"I have a budget for paid informers. We used to pay them on a piecework-basis, till I discovered that when they had no real news to sell, they'd make some up. So I cut their numbers in half and put the best ones on a part-time regular salary, instead. We meet about once a week, and I give them a little security workshop and we have a gossip swap. I try to get them to think of themselves as low-level civilian analysts, rather than merely informers. It seems to have significantly helped the reliability of my information flow."

"I see. Do you have anyone planted in the Terraforming Project?"

"No, unfortunately. Terraforming is not considered security-critical. I do have people at the shuttleport, in the Locks district, in the Dome police, and a few in the local Dome government offices. We also cover the power plant, atmosphere cycling, and water treatment both independently and in cooperation with local authorities. They check their job applicants for criminal records and psychological instability, we check them for potentially dangerous political associations. Terraforming has always been just too damn far down the list for my budget to cover. I will say its employment background check standards are among the lowest in the civil service."

"Hm. Wouldn't that policy tend to concentrate the disaffected?"

Tuomonen shrugged. "Many intelligent Komarrans still do not love the Imperium. They have to do something for a living. To qualify for the Terraforming Project, it is perhaps enough that they love Komarr. They have simply no political motivation for sabotage there."

Barto cared about the future of Komarr, his widow had said. Might Radovas have been among the disaffected? And if he were, so what? Miles frowned in puzzlement as the car pulled into the stop in the station beneath the Terraforming Project offices.

As instructed, Tien Vorsoisson was waiting for them on the platform. He escorted them as before up through the atrium of his building to the floors of his domain; though a few doors were open on early morning activity in various departments as they passed, they were the first to arrive in Vorsoisson's office.

"Do you have any preference as to how to divide this up?" Miles asked Tuomonen, staring around meditatively as Vorsoisson brought up the lights.

"I managed to squeeze in a short interview with Andro Farr this morning," said Tuomonen. "He gave me some names of Marie Trogir's particular acquaintances at work. I believe I'd like to start with them."

"Good. If you want to start with Trogir, I'll start with Radovas, and we can meet in the middle. I want to begin by interviewing his boss, Soudha, I believe, Administrator Vorsoisson."

"Certainly, my Lord Auditor. Do you wish to use my office?"

"No, I think I want to see him in his own territory."

"I'll take you downstairs, then. I'll be at your disposal in just a moment, Captain Tuomonen."

Tuomonen seated himself at Vorsoisson's comconsole and eyed it thoughtfully. "Take your time, Administrator."

Vorsoisson, with a worried look over his shoulder, led Miles down one flight to the Department of Waste Heat Management. Soudha had not yet arrived; Miles dispatched Tien back to Tuomonen, then circled the engineer's office slowly, examining its decor and contents.

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