I find it interesting to think of the different weapon types, particularly with the different tactics they require. It also uses wormholes for interstellar travel. I wonder how direct of an influence Bujold was on the game, or if they both borrowed from common sources. He miscalculates badly, though admittedly his biggest problem is assuming that Miles will obey his orders. I find that one of the best ways for me to lose sympathy for a character is for them to refuse to listen to someone else.
Miles does get to unleash that deadliest of weapons, his tongue, against Cavilo, and his speech is truly a tour de force, as Elena so ably summarizes. Between the two of them, and with Miles having some actual force on his side this time, they should be more than a match for Cavilo, who has discarded her own mercenary fleet…. Until next week, then….
Miles is granted an exercise period, in a gymnasium aboard the ship, empty but for himself and the guards, where he sees no opportunities for escape for him and his brittle bones. She tells him that, to safeguard the life of his Emperor, Miles has been given the task of retaking the Oseran Mercenaries. He would have to rub his madly itching nose soon. Your death has one use; your success, another. I will emphasize that any premature attempt to contact Barrayar could be very counterproductive. Miles asks, his eyes watering, if he can talk to Gregor himself, but Cavilo says that will be his reward for success.
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Cavilo is genuinely amused by this, wondering if she can turn this into a gas grenade. Miles asks if he can at least have some boots instead of his current slippers. His cabin is not much better than his cell, and he reflects on the supposed glory of ship duty, and his monumental screwup in losing Gregor.
Cease accelerating, and clear your portside lock for boarding for pre-docking inspection. Aslund Station reserves the right to deny you docking privileges if you fail to cooperate in pre-docking inspection. He pleads with them not to turn him over to the Oserans, because of an unfortunate incident involving faulty plasma arcs. Miles flashes back briefly to the bubble tent on Kyril Island as they eject him into space and pitch darkness, though he soon finds a cold-light tube to illuminate his claustrophobic enclosure.
Eventually, he finds himself snagged by a tractor beam, brought into an airlock, and rolled into a cargo bay. His rescuers free him from the pod, and Bel Thorne is surprised and elated to see Miles. Tung has been arrested, but nobody else, which puzzles Miles. Miles says that a fight among the Oserans is just what Cavilo wants, so he needs to do something unexpected, like get Oser to cooperate with him.
Once Miles gets himself a borrowed, overlarge uniform, he contacts Oser.
Miles leaned forward and smiled. And my conclusion is, you are in deep trouble. Miles offers Oser information about Cavilo, just as Oser discovers Miles is on the Ariel , and threatens Bel with charges of mutiny. Bel insists that Oser needs to listen to him. Oser asks for assurances, and Miles points out that he himself wants the assurance of not being spaced again, but he promises not to foment mutiny.
Oser finally agrees, reluctantly. They emerge to find Oser with a squad of escorts, and an unarmed Elena. Oser is eager to get to work, but Miles insists on a tour of the station first, where he makes an effort to be seen being friendly with Oser as much as he can, and greets as many Dendarii as he can as well.
Miles urges them to stun him for questioning, and eventually the firing dies down.
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He was shaking as badly as after the shock-stick beating. He regarded his spasming hands, lowered one to touch the corpse beside him in morbid wonder. Every day of the rest of my life will be your gift. Elena and another woman are dragging a man across the deck, stunned, and when they get closer Miles recognizes him as General Metzov.
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He tells them to take Metzov to sickbay and prepare him for fast-penta interrogation. Had Metzov been sent by Cavilo, or was this murder attempt entirely on his own time? If not, was there a back-up assassin around here somewhere, and if so was his target Metzov, if Metzov succeeded, or Miles, if Metzov failed?
Or both? I need to sit down and draw a flow-chart. Here is where, finally, Miles begins to turn the tables on people. Do we buy it? After all spoiler alert! At least a couple more minor characters get names, Lt. Lake and Sgt. Collins, though a little too late to do either of them any good. Metzov is just recovering from stun as Elena administers the fast-penta, and Miles himself is still shaky from the attack.
Metzov says that Cavilo had told him Miles had escaped and Metzov was the only one she could trust to kill him.
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From both sides at once. Cavilo gets paid by Vervani and Cetagandans before fencing the stolen goods, and the Cetagandans probably punch through into the Hegen Hub. Oser and Miles try to figure out when the invasion was planned for, if it was supposed to coincide with their planned infighting over the mercenary fleet.
Miles urges Oser to move closer to the Vervain wormhole, to try to blockade it against the Cetagandans. The Vervani will doubtless mobilize, but unfortunately against the Oserans rather than the Cetagandans. Miles says they will have to try to hold the wormhole and hope for reinforcements, Polians, Aslunders or even Barrayarans; he points out to Oser how Barrayaran intelligence activity has increased recently. He had the momentum now. His head spun with the unutterable relief of at last getting the shifting, writhing, cluttering might-be-might-be-might-be nailed to a fixed is.
The time is now. The word is go. Miles says that Cavilo still has Gregor, and explains her marriage plan. Elena judges Gregor as unlikely to be genuinely love-struck, having always seemed slightly undersexed. He rubbed it on his trouser seam. Miles tells him that they have some spare fast-penta, so they should bring up Captain Tung. When they ask for reinforcements, Miles suggests Sergeant Chodak.
After keying off the comm, Miles asks Elena why Oser only arrested Tung and not the rest of them; Elena says that Tung got arrested for losing his temper and beating Oser up, though he might have done it on purpose to draw attention away from the others. Tung arrives with an escort of six men, including Chodak; Oser is smiling benignly in his fast-penta haze, and Miles asks the squad to remain behind outside, and leave Chodak and one of his men inside to help out if Tung gets violent.
Tung exults in how the tables have been turned, but Miles has to bring him back down. He tells Tung how the freighter captain gave him up to Cavilo, and speculates on whether Tung planned it that way. Priorities and targets are to be my choice. Only the how is yours. Miles says the offer is conditional on Tung recognizing Miles as his superior officer, and Tung accepts.
He orders Tung to bring the fleet up to readiness, and to make up with Captain Auson. Auson accepts, conditional on Tung apologizing, but when the conversation turns to verbal sniping against Bel Thorne, Elena trains her nerve disrupter on Auson to shut him up. Eventually Tung accedes to an apology, of sorts:.
Tung took a breath. Of course Cetaganda is the most detailed examination of their culture, but they must also show up in Ethan of Athos , one of the earliest books. Three more chapters left in The Vor Game , so next week will likely see the climax, since there must be at least a chapter of denouement in there too… reads ahead …well, maybe half a chapter. Until then…. This week I continue with The Vor Game , fourth novel in the series chronologically and second featuring Miles Vorkosigan as protagonist, though it was originally published a bit out of order.
Elena appears down the corridor, and Miles is caught off guard by the short haircut she now sports.
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