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  1. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
  2. The Vorkosigan Saga Reread: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Part 5
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  4. The Vorkosigan Saga Reread: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Part 5 | Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Captain Ivan Vorpatril sometimes thinks that if not for his family, he might have no troubles at all. But he has the dubious fortune of the hyperactive Miles Vorkosigan as a cousin, which has too-often led to his getting dragged into one of Miles' schemes, with risk to life and limb — and military career — that Ivan doesn't consider entirely fair.


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Although much practice has made Ivan more adept at fending off his mother's less-than-subtle reminders that he should be getting married and continuing the Vorpatril lineage. Fortunately, his current duty is on the planet Komarr as staff officer to Admiral Desplains, far from both his cousin and his mother back on their homeworld of Barrayar. It's an easy assignment and nobody is shooting at him. What could go wrong?

Plenty, it turns out, when Byerly Vorrutyer , an undercover agent for Imperial Security , shows up on his doorstep and asks him to make the acquaintance of a young woman, recently arrived on Komarr , who seems to be in danger. That Byerly is characteristically vague about the nature of the danger, not to mention the lady's name, should have been Ivan's first clue, but Ivan is no more able to turn aside from aiding a damsel in distress than he could resist trying to rescue a kitten from a tree. It is but a short step down the road of good intentions to the tangle of Ivan's life, in trouble with the Komarran authorities, with his superiors, and with the lethal figures hunting the mysterious but lovely Tej and her exotic blue companion Rish — a tangle to test the lengths to which Ivan will go as an inspired protector.

But though his predicament is complicated, at least Ivan doesn't have to worry about hassle from family. Or so he believes Tej ended up getting spotted by her pursuers, who tried to convince a local group of Barrayaran smugglers to help capture her.

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

He found Ivan Vorpatril, himself visiting Komarr to take part in fleet inspections, and persuaded Ivan to try to take Tej out on a date so that the pursuers would not catch her. Ivan's attempted seduction failed; Tej became suspicious of him and contacted Rish as she approached her apartment. When Tej brought him inside, Rish shot him in the legs with a stunner and the two of them took him up to their rooms and tied him to a chair in the kitchen while they tried to decide what to do with him.

Thus, when the actual kidnappers arrived and cut their way through the window, they found Ivan. He tricked them into thinking the women had already left, all the while talking loudly enough to wake them. Tej and Rish stunned the kidnappers and fled with Ivan. They agreed to go with him to his apartment; along the way, he paused to make an anonymous call to Dome Security to pick up the kidnappers.

By the following afternoon, at the end of the workday, Komarr's Dome Security had managed to track Ivan down as a person of interest in the matter of the disappearance of Tej and her 'maidservant'; they showed up at his workplace and asked a great many not-very-friendly questions.

The Vorkosigan Saga Reread: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Part 5

Tej and Rish responded by planning to jump off the balcony to their deaths rather than be captured. In a panic, Ivan proposed marriage to Tej — Dome Security wouldn't be able to claim he'd kidnapped her and Immigration wouldn't be able to arrest and deport a dependent of a Vor. Further, he stated that his court would not hear a repeat of the request for six months. Just as Ivan started to really appreciate the benefits of married life, things were thrown into complete disarray by the arrival of Tej's family. Acting on a tip from Lilly Durona , who was sheltering her brother Amiri , they showed up at the Vorbarr Sultana shuttleport under a variety of false identifications and arranged a two week temporary visa with the authorities, officially under Ivan's supervision.

In very short order, it became clear that they had much more on their minds than retrieving Rish and Tej, and Ivan and Byerly found themselves desperately trying to work out what was happening. Worse, Ivan found himself needing to court his increasingly elusive wife to persuade her to stay with him. It so happened that Tej's Grandmama, Moira ghem Estif , had been on Barrayar in the very last days of the Cetagandan Invasion , and she knew of a rather deeply-buried bunker that had once contained a whole lot of treasure stored in it.

It didn't appear to have been discovered by anyone, so it ought to still be there.

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The Arquas took on a treasure hunt, with some cooperation from Simon Illyan , who was hoping to generate an alliance with a restored House Cordonah. The dead snakes and the sluggish worms were returned to their senders with a variety of canned notes attached, with the heading From The Office of Admiral Desplains , ranging from patiently explanatory to brief and bitter, depending on how long it seemed to be taking the sender in question to learn to deal with his own damned wildlife. After some consideration, Ivan puts the ImpSec note in with the garden snakes, at the bottom of the list; he hopes to maintain his generally calm relationship with his boss as long as possible, and to that end he sneaks in a few trivial, amusing notes to try to keep him in a good mood.

As he sends the messages on to the Admiral, he reflects that he never wants to be one who has to deal with a box of hissing, poisonous snakes every morning, and considers methods to deal with the threat of such an eventuality.


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The ophidian census is definitely the highlight of the chapter as far as interesting description goes. Byerly does have a dangerous job. As long as his luck holds, at least. Tej is also in this chapter, of course. We find out a little more about her backstory, though mostly filling in gaps, the major revelations having come in the previous chapter. And obviously it is, since it shaped her adolescence, and seems to affect her interactions with a lot of people. Next week, one more chapter.


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