Simon Illyan looked at the two Vorkosigan scions seated on the other side of his desk. "I asked for a report from the Vorkosigan who regularly works for ImpSec. To what do I owe the honor of your appearance here, Lord Mark?"
Mark's still bloated and bruised body leaned back in a slouch that was almost but not quite a gesture of disdain. "Well, I wanted to see you, you wanted to see Miles, and Miles wanted to be around when I saw you." His face creased in the slightest of grins.
"That could not be less illuminating if you tried." Illyan's face was it's usual deadpan. "Perhaps, you Miles, could help make things clearer. Although I am aware that is asking the pot to explain the kettle."
Miles's eyes held a sparkle, but he was in control of the rest of his face. "Well sir, you asked for my report. Mark wanted to see you and had the, no doubt, erroneous idea that you would not be amenable to meeting with him. So, since I was eager to be present and you wanted to see me, this debriefing can serve all our purposes."
Illyan's face became very sardonic. "All right, Lord Mark, what do you wish to report?"
"Oh, not report. Contribute, bestow, donate, hand over, entrust, perhaps. As I am sure has been reported by the Dendarii who were present, I made a deal with Baron Fell. I gave him Ryoval's code ring in return for freedom for the Duronas and a sum of money." Mark paused and looked off into the distance, contemplating the deal or remembering his cost.
As the pause lengthened, Illyan prompted, "Yes, I had received a report that you are a very wealthy young man. My congratulations. So . . . ?"
Mark's smile was every bit as sardonic as Illyan's, "I did not get more than a fifth of the agreed on price, but it is enough for a start, and the first thing I am going to do is give you one million Betan dollars."
Illyan's jaw dropped. He gaped and stared at the fat, little, er, upstart. Finally he got his jaw closed, opened it to speak but was still so stunned that no words came out. Neither Mark nor Miles could tell if this was caused by a failure of neural functions of the brain or immobile vocal chords.
Finally Illyan broke the long silence with a throat clearing. The brothers sat up in anticipation, both with expressions of attention masking their glee. They looked so much alike, despite their weight differences, that Illyan was again struck dumb.
When at last Simon was able to speak, he remarked, "I believe it is your family that funded your last jaunt to Jackson's Whole. You do not owe ImpSec for that."
"No, I agree," Mark riposted, "but you are caring for the clones the first attempt was able to free. They are an expense, and I am sure, not one you had planned for in your budget."
Illyan was recovering fast, now. "You would be surprised what gets covered by my budget for which there was no planning."
"Just so. But I don't intend to contribute to those unplanned items. I have put the Betan dollars into an account which only ImpSec can draw on for the clones. I anticipate that about the time they have finished their schooling the money will be gone."
Mark sat back, swinging his legs as if at complete ease. Miles, on the other hand, was trying to keep an eye on both Mark and Simon at the same time which made him look very twitchy.
Illyan narrowed his eyes at Lord Mark. Mark continued to swing his legs unconcernedly. Illyan's eyes ran over Mark in a manner that was usually successful in discomforting even the highest echelons of ImpSec analyses. Mark raised an eyebrow and stared blandly back.
At last Simon spoke, tacitly backing off, while not admitting defeat or contest. "And the mortgage on Vorkosigan Surleau?"
"Paid in full this morning. The report will no doubt be on your desk before much longer, not that I consider it any of ImpSec's business." Mark smiled like a shark's-all teeth.
"Ah, thank you, Lord Mark. Is there anything else?" Not being on top of
things was a feeling Illyan experienced more than he would like, but
today's example was definitely unique.
"And you, Lieutenant Vorkosigan, what have your to report? Just to use this time in a manner that ImpSec usually expects of its commanding officer."
"Yes sir. Well, I was shot by a needler, put in cryo, revived by the
Duronas, captured by House Bharaputra, sold to Ryoval, arrived at his
totally secret installation after Mark had killed Ryoval, managed to trick
my guards, got off my chains and on my clothes, cobbled up a computer
contact to your people, and after Mark made his deal with Baron Fell we
came back to Barrayar. Oh yes, I had to ask Bel Thorne to resign because
it knew Mark wasn't me before the drop started and it did nothing about it.
I think you could recruit it without much trouble. I took the liberty of suggesting something of the sort and it did not immediately say no to the idea." Miles had decided to be as brief as possible for this verbal report. Illyan already had his written one, one on the trip home.
Simon's face got red, then he exploded. "There's not a hair's difference between the two of you. I would know you both as Aral Vorkosigan's get by the way you think . . . and act. Well, thank you both for your . . . whatevers. I won't honor them as reports. I receive your orders, gentlemen, and will act on them as I see fit. Good day. Dismissed."
When the two Vorkosigans were at last out of the monstrosity the housed ImpSec, they both turned to each other and share a grin. It wasn't until they were in the ground car headed back to Vorkosigan House that Mark turned to Miles and asked, "Well, did it meet your expectations?"
Miles started to laugh. And laugh. He got control of himself about the time they were turning into their drive. "Oh much more than I dreamed, dear brother. It was almost worth the last few months to see that. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
© 1998 by Judy Nott (email@example.com)
Current version by Michael Bernardi, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last updated: July 13th 2001