Imperial Order

by Eric M. Snodgrass

Part 1

"So both were actually seen at once?"
"Yes, General. Century-Captain Gilla and Lieutenant Tabor saw the mercenary Naismith and Lord Vorkosigan at the same time on Earth. They carried on a conversation with the two of them."
"What was said?"
"Vorkosigan actually said the Barrayarans thought Naismith was cloned by us, if you can believe that. Apparently the Komarran rebels created him."
"Hmmm. Very well Colonel. You are dismissed."
Imperial Security Chief ghem-General Garsha waited until he heard the door close behind his aide before reaching for his secured comconsole. Working quickly, he pulled up the file on Ser Galen's Komarran rebel group, and entered the word "clone" and the date of the Marilac incident into the search engine.
The report of the Cetagandan informant in the group was the first document shown, which had four stars of a possible five in the reliability blurb.
"Nice try, Captain Illyan, but not nice enough. Seems that the clone Vorkosigan's whereabouts can be documented on Earth while your vorling was interfering with our prerogatives. That cannot be tolerated." With several brief commands the order went out.

Part 2

"You sent for me, General Garsha?"
"Yes, Benin". You had contacts with Lord Miles Vorkosigan of Barrayar during the late Empress Dowager's funeral, correct?"
"Yes, I did. He....."
Ghem-General Garsha had not lost his old habit of cutting off speakers. "I'd like you to make a record of your observations of him. Anything that might be useful to our special teams."
"Special teams?"
"Yes, Benin. It turns out that he was behind the Dagoola fiasco. I have ordered that he be disposed of as soon as he can be found outside their empire".
A veteran investigator, Benin was extremely good at hiding his reactions. He was not good enough to fool Garsha. "You appear suprised."
"Not about Dagoola, General. He struck me as extremely sharp, and that was a well executed operation. It had to be...."
"It was a violation of our prerogatives that cannot be tolerated".
" Another interruption", Benin thought, "as perceptive as Garsha is you would think he would learn to listen one of these days".
"Nevertheless, General, I am somewhat suprised that the Emperor acceded to the order."
"I can assure you, Benin, I have the authority to order disposals without running to the Emperor".
Amazing. "I was under the impression that the Emperor must accede to the execution of a holder of the Order of Merit."
"A disposal is not an execution. I am authorized to order the disposal of enemies of the Empire".
"General, are you certain that the Emperor will agree?"
"I don't see why he would not."
Benin cleared his throat. "General, I must officially advise you to consult the Emperor on this matter. You see...."
"All right, all right...I will talk to the Emperor. Then you will see." Garsha angrily got up. "You are dismissed, Benin".
"Unbelievable." Benin thought. "Oh let him go to the Emperor without knowing all the background. Maybe he will finally start to listen."

Part 3

"Miles, come in here for a minute."
Miles walked into Simon Illyan's office. "Yes sir, what's up?"
"I'd like you to record any and all recollections you might have of General Benin during your encounter on Cetaganda."
"Ah, Benin." Miles grinned. "Actually a rather good sort. Certainly persistent, yet open to suggestion. What's going on with him?"
"He's my new counterpart".

This story is based upon characters and concepts created by Lois McMaster Bujold. All additional characters and all scenarios shall be considered the property of Ms. Bujold, and used by permission.

© 1998 by Eric M. Snodgrass (

Current version by Michael Bernardi,

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Last updated: July 14th 2002