Lord Miles Vorkosigan of Barrayar and his wife, Lady Ekaterin , have other things on their minds, such as getting home in time to attend the long-awaited births of their first children. Waiting on Graf Station are diplomatic snarls, tangled loyalties, old friends, new enemies, racial tensions, lies and deceptions, mysterious disappearances, and a lethal secret with wider consequences than even Miles anticipates: a race with time for life against death in horrifying new forms. The downside of being a troubleshooter comes when trouble starts shooting back. The situation called for an Imperial Auditor.
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Lord Miles Vorkosigan of Barrayar and his wife, Lady Ekaterin , have other things on their minds, such as getting home in time to attend the long-awaited births of their first children. Waiting on Graf Station are diplomatic snarls, tangled loyalties, old friends, new enemies, racial tensions, lies and deceptions, mysterious disappearances, and a lethal secret with wider consequences than even Miles anticipates: a race with time for life against death in horrifying new forms.
The downside of being a troubleshooter comes when trouble starts shooting back. The situation called for an Imperial Auditor. And, oh by the way, matters surrounding the Cetagandans around Rho Ceta were getting peculiar: he and Ekaterin should get home soonest. The fleet stayed put for a time while they tried to find him, but there was no success and the search was in danger of being called off. An urgent recall was sent out to all the crews to return to ship.
The only missing pieces to the story were "how did the large blood stain come about? Or might he? Some quaddie-downsider partnerships have quaddie children, some have downsiders, some have some of each—Bel, show Lord Vorkosigan your baby pictures! He began a thorough investigation of the event, complete with acting out several possible scenarios and ordering a more complex set of tests to be performed on the blood. Meanwhile there was quite a bit of room for improving the public image of Barrayarans; Bel Thorne and Ekaterin decided that a visit to the Minchenko Auditorium to see space ballet was in order.
At the end of that meeting, one of the passengers came to him with a request. On the way out of the meeting, the trio of Miles, Dubauer, and Bel were attacked by an assailant wielding a hot riveter with the safeties removed.
The riveter shot hot brass at the three, but only managed to slightly wound Dubauer. After this, Bel accompanied Dubauer onto the freighter to tend to the fetuses.. They design their emperors, there. Hell, they design the whole haut race, there. They think it would be beneath them. Suddenly the passenger, far more likely to be a Cetaganda ba than a Betan herm, was much more interesting.
This passenger was self-identified as an amphibious man, heavily gengineered. At this point, some very unwelcome news came out: Bel Thorne had disappeared. Further news determined that it was last seen with Garnet Five, and she had also disappeared. Some hours later, she turned up at the police station without Bel. She and Bel had been following the amphibian when it turned on them and hit them with a gas that put them both to sleep.
She awoke in a trash bin and with no sign of Bel anywhere. Gupta had been trying to kill the ba, but now that it had seen him, he figured himself for dead sooner or later. Investigation of these new facts took Miles and the quaddies to the Idris. The ba then took over Navigation and Communications on the ship, demanding a jump pilot be brought aboard, or else it would kill the people on board and leave behind a biobomb somewhere on Graf Station.
Corbeau volunteered; soon after, Miles and his armsman Roic broke into Nav and Comm and apprehended the ba. It planned a new empire—with itself as both emperor and empress. It stole the haut children of Rho Ceta not just as a core population for its planned new society, but as Hubris," she sighed. In the only way it could War was prevented, Miles and Bel were successfully treated, and Gupta was free to join the Dendarii Mercenaries , if he wished. Are we heroes here today, or the greatest traitors unhung?
What would these tiny, high haut hopefuls grow into, in time? Great men and women? Terrible foes? Had he, all unknowing, saved here some future nemesis of Barrayar—enemy and destroyer of his own children still unborn? Major Characters.
Plot summary[ edit ] Miles Vorkosigan, the main character in the series, and Ekaterin Vorsoisson are enjoying a delayed honeymoon off-world while their first two children are approaching birth in their uterine replicators back on Barrayar. They have just left Earth to begin the journey home when Miles is dispatched by Emperor Gregor Vorbarra to Graf Station in Quaddiespace to untangle a diplomatic incident in his capacity as the nearest Imperial Auditor. There, he is unexpectedly reunited with the Betan hermaphrodite Bel Thorne, a trusted former Dendarii Mercenaries subordinate and his good friend. Quaddies are the result of genetic manipulation centuries before, as described in the novel Falling Free. Intended to be used as laborers in zero-G before the invention of artificial gravity, they have extra arms instead of legs, along with many physiological alterations. At Graf Station the Quaddies occupy a zero-G section of the station while visitors use a section with artificial gravity. Quaddies tend to be suspicious of other humans based on a history of callous exploitation.