Remember when Miles was just a kid, climbing the dock and jumping back into the lake down at Vorkosigan Surleau, and sneaking rides on his grandfather’s horse? All he ever wanted to be was a soldier in Barrayar’s space navy. Here we are now, in chapter 25 (I checked), and his life has taken more twists and turns than he can count. BUT SOFT, WHAT LIGHT THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS? It is the East, and Lucas Haroche is the sun.
As you may recall from last week, Miles had left Gregor’s reception and was headed to ImpSec to try to address the bogus treason charges and spring Galeni when he had a badly timed seizure.
Not that there is any such thing as a well-timed seizure.
Miles gave in to the urgings of both his adolescent driver and his common sense and went home to sleep off the aftereffects. He greets the morning with a mug of coffee and a thorough review of the report on Galeni’s alleged effort to insert Miles’s name in the evidence room visitor logs. The case seems flawless. Miles can’t find anything in it that suggests that Galeni was being framed too, probably because Haroche wrote the report. Miles drags himself reluctantly into ImpSec when Dr. Weddell calls to report on the Komarran virus. It is indeed the same one that felled Illyan, and it was administered via airborne spores. Since Miles is in the building, Haroche asks him to drop by the office for a chat.
Haroche wants Miles to throw Galeni under the bus, and he knows the shape of Miles’s elephant. Haroche first offers to try to limit the consequences for Galeni—he suggests a reduction in charges, a possible pardon, and the drawbacks of a witch hunt in ImpSec. Continuing to search for a traitor in the ranks could indeed be very disruptive for ImpSec. Unless, you know, there actually was a traitor in ImpSec, and he had attacked the head of ImpSec in ImpSec HQ and then framed two other people for it. I think that could be disruptive too. Haroche seems less concerned by that possibility. He moves on to suggest that the real reason he’s called Miles here today is to give him some captain’s tabs and send him back to the Dendarii. Haroche likes working with people who take risks no one else will to get results no one else can.
We’ve heard about results before; Cordelia trusts beyond reason to get results beyond hope. I just thought I’d mention that other approach to results because Miles and Haroche can’t trust each other. I’m particularly snitty about Haroche in this scene because he disses Quinn. He calls her “This woman Quinn,” which is not her rank, and he suggests that he wants Miles to handle a situation that’s brewing out near Kline Station. You know who’s particularly well-suited to handle situations near Kline Station? QUINN. She’s a native. Knows the station and its complicated sanitation and waste disposal regs like the back of her hand. She’s also one of approximately three people in the Galactic Nexus who might have a useful personal contact on Athos, which is kind of near Kline Station (as close as Athos is to anything). I’m dying to know what that situation is, out by Kline Station. I hope it wasn’t just another ImpSec covert ops agent who was planning to recycle Miles’s biomass through a newt. Miles does a lot of thinking in chapter 25, but somehow, the possibility that the Kline Station thing was just a quick trip to his girlfriend’s newt-infested hometown algae tanks isn’t on his radar. How many sons do you think Quinn has by now? How many of them are also Terrence’s nephews? I bet it would be interesting if one of Elli’s psychic sons did the tyramine challenge with one of Miles’s children. The further I get into this reread, the more room I see in the Galactic Nexus for a lot more books.
Miles is so excited by Haroche’s offer that he almost walks into a wall on his way out of the office. Miles saw through the offer—he knows that Haroche is hoping that the possibility of a return to the Dendarii will encourage Miles to close his case and let Galeni hang. He only barely manages to suggest that he needs to think about it. It’s fortunate that he’s still capable of further reflection because a very little more thought leads him to the conclusion that Haroche wouldn’t allow Naismith to live very long. It would only work if Miles got Haroche first. I think that would have been an amazing spy vs. spy story, and that the Miles we saw in it would not be the Miles we have come to know. I’m glad it’s not an easy decision for Miles—his grief at losing Naismith was so great, it wouldn’t make sense for him not to wrestle with the possibility of getting him back. This is the “best two falls out of three” scene. The first fall was to the immediate impulse. The second fall weighs Galeni’s life and career against the lives that Miles has already sacrificed for his career. Miles doesn’t want to sacrifice Galeni, but the opportunity to save him is rapidly shrinking—Galeni is at Haroche’s mercy, and that mercy is likely to expire when Miles rejects his offer. Is it really a sacrifice if Miles couldn’t save Galeni anyway? I think temptation would have won round two if Miles hadn’t seen a way.
Good news for Duv! Miles does see a way. Next week, Miles invades ImpSec.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.