Chapter six of A Civil Campaign is one of those moments when the book takes a breath. We’re still meeting new characters—René and Tatya Vorbretten make their first appearance in this chapter—but we’re mostly being reminded of how our characters are changing and where they are.
The chapter opens with Ekaterin wandering Vorkosigan House unescorted. Some part of Miles’s household arrangements have broken down, because this is a direct contradiction to his orders about Madame Vorsoisson’s presence in the house. She is to be made comfortable and offered the finest hospitality the house and its staff have to offer to stall her so that Miles can be alerted and scrambled to her location. She is not supposed to be knocking on the door of Kareen’s Butter Bug Ranch asking if they would like some amelanchier bushes and what they’re using all of this earth-descended biological matter for. Miles would especially like her to not encounter any butter bugs and not be fed any samples of bug vomit. Miles’s days with the Dendarii are not so far gone that he should have forgotten that even the most competent hand-selected personnel sometimes experience mission failure. Miles swings through the hatch/lab door like the combat trooper he once was—yelling like the first time he went into combat, although it’s hard to evaluate his volume on the page—to escort Ekaterin and her newly acquired bag of bug guano back to work. It’s very nice bug guano, OK?