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Книга Komarr. Содержание - CHAPTER FOURTEEN

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"No one expressed a dislike of Trogir, but she seems damned elusive," Tuomonen noted. "The Waste Heat department has a reputation for keeping itself to itself, apparently. The one woman in Waste Heat who was supposed to be her friend didn't have much to say. I wonder if I ought to get a female interrogator?"

"Mm, maybe. Though I thought Komarrans were supposed to be more egalitarian about such things. Maybe a Komarran female interrogator?" Miles sighed. "D'you know that according to the latest statistics, half of the Barrayaran women who take advanced schooling on Komarr don't go home again? There's a small group of alarmist bachelors who are trying to get the Emperor to deny them exit visas. Gregor has declined to hear their petition."

Tuomonen smiled slightly. "Well, there's more than one solution to that problem."

"Yes, how have your Komarran in-laws taken the announcement of the Emperor's betrothal to the Toscane heiress?"

"Some of them think it's romantic. Some of them think it's sharp business practice on Emperor Gregor's part. Coming from Komarrans, that's a warm compliment, by the way."

"Technically, Gregor owns the planet Sergyar. You might point that out to anyone who theorizes he's marrying Laisa for her money."

Tuomonen grinned. "Yes, but is Sergyar a liquid asset?"

"Only in the sense of Imperial funds gurgling down the drain, according to my father. But that's an entire other set of problems. And what do the Barrayaran expatriates around here think of the marriage?"

"In general, it's favored." Tuomonen smiled dryly into his coffee cup. "Five years ago, my colleagues thought I was cutting my career throat by my own marriage. I'd never get promoted out of Serifosa, they said. Now I am suspected of secret genius, and they've taken to regarding me with wary respect. I think . . . it's best if I be amused."

"Hen. You are a wise man, Captain." Miles finished off a starchy and gelid square of pasta-and-something, and chased it with the last of his cooling coffee. "So what did Trogir's friends think of Radovas?"

"Well, he's certainly managed to give a consistent impression of himself. Nice, conscientious guy, didn't make waves, kept to Waste Heat, his elopement a surprise to most. One woman thought it was your math fellow Cappell who was sweet on Trogir, not Radovas."

"He sounded more sour than sweet to me. Frustrated, perhaps?" Miles's back-brain sketched a nice, straightforward scenario of jealous murder, involving pushing Radovas out an airlock on a trajectory that only just by coincidence matched that of some soletta debris. You can wish. And anyway, it seemed more logical that any homicidal maniac wishing to clear a path to Trogir's side ought to have started with Andro Farr, and what the hell did any of this tragic romance have to do with an ore freighter swinging off course and smashing into the soletta array anyway? Unless the jealous maniac was Andro Farr … the Serifosa Dome police were supposed to be looking into that possibility.

Tuomonen grunted. "I will say, I got more of a sense of Trogir's personality from the few minutes I spent with Farr than I have from the rest of this crew all morning. I want to talk with him again, I think."

"I want to go topside, dammit. But whatever the end of the story is, up there, it certainly has to have begun here. Well . . . onward, I guess."

Soudha supplied Miles with more human sacrifices in the form of employees called back from the experiment station. They all seemed more interested in their work than in office gossip, but perhaps, Miles reflected, that was an observer-effect. By late afternoon, Miles was reduced to amusing himself wandering around the project offices and terrorizing employees by taking over their comconsoles at random and sampling data, and occasionally emitting ambiguous little "Hm …" noises as they watched him in fearful fascination. This lacked even the challenge of dissecting Madame Vorsoisson's comconsole, since the government-issue machines all opened everything immediately to the overrides in his Auditor's seal, regardless of their security classification. He mainly learned that terraforming was an enormous project with a centuries-long scientific and bureaucratic history, and that any individual who attempted to sort clues through sheer mass data assimilation had to be frigging insane.

Now, delegating that task, on the other hand . . . Who do I hate enough in ImpSec?

He was still pondering this question as he browsed through the files on Venier's comconsole in the Administrator's outer office. The nervous Venier had fled after about the fourth "Hm," apparently unable to stand the suspense. Tien Vorsoisson, who had intelligently left Miles pretty much to his own devices all day, poked his head around the corner and offered a tentative smile.

"My Lord Auditor? This is the hour at which I normally go home. Do you wish anything else from me?"

Departing employees had been trickling past the open doorway for the past several minutes, and office lights had been going out all down the corridor. Miles sat back and stretched. "I don't think so, Administrator. I want to look at a few more files, and talk to Captain Tuomonen. Why don't you go on. Don't wait your dinner." A mental picture of Madame Vorsoisson, moving gracefully about preparing delectable aromatic food for her husband's return, flashed unbidden in his brain. He suppressed it. "I'll be along later to collect my things." Or better yet . . . "Or I may send one of Tuomonen's corporals for them. Give your lady wife my best thanks for the hospitality of her household." There. That finished that. He wouldn't even have to say good-bye to her.

"Certainly, my Lord Auditor. Do you, ah, expect to be here again tomorrow?"

"That rather depends on what turns up overnight. Good evening, Administrator."

"Good evening, my lord." Tien withdrew quietly.

A few minutes later, Tuomonen wandered in, his hands full of data disks. "Finding anything, my lord?"

"I got all excited for a moment when I found a personal seal, but it turned out to be just Venier's file of Barrayaran jokes. Some of them are pretty good. Do you want a copy?"

"Is that the one that starts out: 'ImpSec Officer: What do you mean he got away? Didn't I tell you to cover all the exits?—ImpSec Guard: I did sir! He walked out through one of the entrances.'"

"Yep. And the next one goes, 'A Cetagandan, a Komarran, and a Barrayaran walked into a genetic counselor's clinic—' "

Tuomonen grimaced. "I've seen that collection. My mother-in-law sent it to me."

"Ratting on her disaffected Komarran comrades, was she?"

"I don't think that was her intent, no. I believe it was more of a personal message." Tuomonen looked around the empty office and sighed. "So, my Lord Auditor. When do we break out the fast-penta?"

"I've found nothing, here, really." Miles frowned thoughtfully. "I've found too much of nothing here. I may have to sleep on this overnight, let my back-brain play with it. The library analysis may provide some direction. And I certainly want to see Waste Heat's experiment station tomorrow morning, before I go back topside. Ah, Captain, it's tempting. Call out the guards, descend in force, freeze everything, full financial audit, fast-penta everyone in sight . . . turn this place upside down and shake it. But I need a reason."

"I would need a reason," said Tuomonen. "With full documentation, and my career on the line if I spent that much of ImpSec's budget and guessed wrong. But you, on the other hand, speak with the Emperor's Voice. You could call it a drill." There was no mistaking the envy in his voice.

"I could call it a quadrille." Miles smiled wryly. "It may come to that."

"I could call HQ, have them put a flying squad on alert," murmured Tuomonen suggestively.

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