Книга Komarr. Содержание - CHAPTER TWELVE

When this bed had been impossible to bear in the night, it had been her habit to sneak off to her workroom and fiddle with her virtual gardens. The Barrayaran garden had increasingly been her choice, of late. It lacked the texture, the smell, the slow dense satisfactions of the real, but it had soothed her mind nonetheless. But first Vorkosigan had occupied the room, and now he'd ordered her not to touch the comconsoles till ImpSec had drained them. She sighed and turned over, huddled in her accustomed corner of the bed even though the rest was unoccupied. I want to leave this place as soon as I can. I want to be someplace where Tien has never been.

She did not expect to sleep, but whether from the pain meds or exhaustion or the combination, she fell into a doze at last.


Miles could tell right away that he wasn't going to enjoy waking up. A bad seizure usually left him with hangover-like symptoms the following day, and the lingering effects of heavy stun included muscle aches, muscle spasms, and pseudo-migraines. The combination, it appeared, was downright synergistic. He groaned, and tried to regain unconsciousness. A gentle touch on his shoulder thwarted his intent.

"Lord Vorkosigan?"

It was Ekaterin Vorsoisson's soft voice. His eyes sprang open on thankfully-dim lighting. He was in her son Nikki's room, and could not remember how he'd arrived here. He rolled over and blinked up at her. She had changed clothes since his last memory of her, kneeling beside him on her living room floor; she now wore a soft, high-necked beige shirt and darker-toned trousers in the Komarran style. Her long dark hair lay loose in damp new-washed strands on her shoulders. He still had on his blood-stained shirt and wrinkled trousers from yesterday's nightmare.

"I'm sorry to wake you," she continued, "but Captain Tuomonen is here."

"Ah," said Miles thickly. He struggled upright. Madame Vorsoisson was holding out a tray with a large mug of black coffee and a bottle of painkiller tablets. Two tablets had already been extracted from the bottle, and lay ready for ingestion beside the cup. Only in his imagination did a heavenly choir supply background music. "Oh. My."

She didn't say anything more till he had fumbled the tablets to his lips and swallowed them. His swollen hands weren't working too well, but did manage to clutch the mug in something resembling a death-grip. A second swallow scalded away a world of nastiness lingering in his mouth, well worth the challenge to the queasiness in his stomach. "Thank you." After a third gulp, he achieved, "What time is it?"

"It's about an hour after dawn."

He'd been out of the loop for about four hours, then. All sorts of events could occur in four hours. Not parting with the mug, he kicked his legs out of the bed. His sock-clad feet groped for the floor. Walking was going to be a chancy business for the first few minutes.

"Is Tuomonen in a hurry?"

"I can't tell. He looks tired. He says they found your seal."

That decided it; Tuomonen before a shower. He swallowed more coffee, handed the mug back to Ekater—to Madame Vorsoisson—and levered himself to his feet. After an awkward smile at her, he did a few bends and stretches, to be certain he could walk down the hall without falling over in front of ImpSec.

He had not the first idea what to say to her. I'm sorry I got your husband killed was inaccurate on a couple of counts. Up to the point he had been stunned, Miles might have done half a dozen different things to have altered last night's outcome; but if only Vorsoisson had checked his own damned breath mask before going out, the way he was supposed to, Miles was pretty certain he would still have been alive this morning. And the more he learned about the man, the less convinced he was that his death was any disservice to his wife. Widow. After a moment he essayed, "Are you all right?"

She smiled wanly, and shrugged. "All things considered."

Thin lines etched parallels between her eyes. "Did you, um . . ."he gestured at the bottle of tablets, "get any of those for yourself?"

"Several. Thank you."

"Ah. Good." Harm has been done you, and I don't know how to fix it. It was going to take a hell of a lot more than a couple of pills, though. He shook his head, regretted the gesture instantly, and staggered out to see Tuomonen.

The Imp Sec captain was waiting on the circular couch in the living room, also gratefully sucking down Madame Vorsoisson's coffee. He appeared to consider standing at some sort of quasi-attention when the Lord Auditor entered the room, but then thought better of it. Tuomonen gestured, and Miles seated himself across the table from the captain; they each mumbled their good-mornings. Madame Vorsoisson followed with Miles's half-empty coffee cup and set it before him, then, after a wary glance at Tuomonen, quietly seated herself. If Tuomonen wanted her to leave, he was going to have to ask her himself, Miles decided. And then justify the request.

In the event, Tuomonen merely nodded thanks to her, and shifted around and drew a plastic packet from his tunic. It contained Miles's gold-encased Auditor's electronic seal. He handed it across to Miles.

"Very good, Captain," said Miles. "I don't suppose you were so fortunate as to find it on the person of its thief?"

"No, more's the pity. You'll never guess where we did find it."

Miles squinted and held the plastic bag up to the light. A sheen of condensation fogged the inside. "In a sewer pipe halfway between here and the Serifosa Dome waste treatment plant, would be my first guess."

Tuomonen's jaw fell open. "How did you know?"

"Forensic plumbing was once a sort of hobby of mine. Not to sound ungrateful, but has anyone washed it?"

"Yes, in fact."

"Oh, thank you." Miles opened the packet and shook the heavy little device into his palm. It appeared undamaged.

Tuomonen said, "My lieutenant had its signal traced, or at any rate, triangulated, within half an hour of your call. He led an assault team down into the utility tunnels after it. I wish I could have seen it, when they finally figured out what was going on. You would have appreciated it, I'm almost certain."

Miles grinned despite his headache. "I was in no shape last night to appreciate anything, I'm afraid."

"Well, they made an impressive delegation when they went to wake up the Serifosa Dome municipal engineer. She's Komarran, of course. ImpSec coming for her in the middle of the night—her husband about had a heart spasm. My lieutenant finally got him calmed down, and got across to her what we needed . . . I'm afraid she found it an occasion for, er, considerable irony. We are all grateful that my lieutenant didn't yield to his first impulse, which was to have his team blast open the pipe section in question with their assault plasma rifles. …"

Miles almost choked on a swallow of coffee. "Exceedingly grateful." He stole a glance at Ekaterin Vorsoisson, who was leaning back against the cushions listening to this, eyes alight, a hand pressed to her lips. His painkillers were cutting in; she didn't look so blurry now.

"There was no sign by then of our human quarry, of course," Tuomonen finished with a sigh. "Long gone."

Miles stared at his distorted reflection in the dark surface of his drink. "One sees the scenario. You should be able to work out the timetable quite precisely. Foscol and an unknown number of accomplices pick my pocket, tie me and the Administrator to the railing, fly back to Serifosa, call Madame Vorsoisson. Probably from someplace nearby. As soon as she vacates her apartment, they break in, knowing they have at least an hour to explore before the alarm goes up. They use my seal to open the data case and access my report files. Then they flush the seal down the toilet and leave. Not even breathing hard."

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