[LMB] Piotr's Dagger

pouncer at aol.com pouncer at aol.com
Mon Aug 29 03:59:53 BST 2016

Corrina Lawson writes:

>Piotr is interesting 

I suggest the adjective "painful"  instead

> to think about in general because we see him only
> after he's suffered all the tragedies in his life, 
> and only through Cordelia or Miles' eyes.

>He lost his Olivia (who seemingly meant as much to him as
>Cordelia means to Aral) and that was one tragedy too much ...

The second before last one, I think.  He did not, then,  
collapse, he reacted: bringing down Yuri and installing
Ezar. Imposing ANOTHER, interal, war on his poor 
recovering homeland (at age 40) before it has quite recovered 
from the Ceta invasion (at age 20) AND Dorca's war (at age 10) 
to consolidate the disjunct Counts. Choosing Aral's side in 
the Pretender's War (at age 80) must have been nearly as 


Negri's lightflyer, delivering Gregor, arrived DURING THE 
ARGUMENT where Aral has learned Piotr did, as feared, attempt 
again to kill his own grandson; and Piotr has learned that
Aral has, completely unexpectedly, set up a trap if the Great 
General tried to use his "go anywhere and do anything" card. 
(Piotr had already tried bribes, threats, and orders on Vaagan;
that day he had settled on doing the job himself.) Now Negri
has delivered an even greater card into his hand -- the Emperor
himself. And Aral reinforces the deal: giving Cordelia and
Bothari into Piotr's care and direction.  We have Cordelia's
viewpoint -- a not-very-Shakespearean one -- who can't even 
begin to see the tragedy-in-the-making shape up. Aral may have
"trusted beyond reason" once again; or maybe he was just too
busy to break a lifelong habit of trust and mutual loyalty. But can
we imagine the situation from inside Piotr's head? 

Look there at Bothari.  A new father in his own right; of the baby
Elena. By all accounts the child is perfect. By what inhuman power
has a prole and bastard and (admittedly useful) mental defective like 
Bothari brought forth a perfect child?  Not the first to do so.  
The boy Gregor, now. Another, apparently, perfect one -- from 
the crazed bloodlines of Yuri the mad murderer, Ezar the Imperial
Despot, and Serg the Pervert. Has the purity of Kareen's bloodline
truly purged the problem from the Vorbarra line?  Is it even possible
that a new start, from Vordarian and Kareen, might be MORE of a 
risk than this, seemingly, perfect child? No man can say. Or could
have said; a few years back. This Vaagen and Henri pair, chattering 
on last week and ignoring hints, both seemed to believe their new
Galactic machines could calculate such risks.  Filter mutations and
taints and bad blood from the seed before conception; or copy 
("clone" was the word they used) known good children to be "replicated"
(another fancy word) Failing all that, they could repair damage in 
the metal eggs they clutched. Except, of course, when thy couldn't.
Perhaps it was so. Perhaps the Bothari child proved it. Galactic
godlings -- playing with life itself.  They makes my mere meddling 
with Empires and dynasties pale in comparison. Or, *snort* Vordarian's.
The young fart has no practice in this game. Too young to remember
Mad Yuri's War. The lesson _I_ learned, a generation before that, 
taking the Countship was I could not hold my own seat, much
less affect the Empire, without embracing the Galactic changes. He
attempts to roll back not only Aral's changes, but mine.  Verminous
Vidal, head in the muck. Lucky for the loyalists.  What would I 
do, or a Galactic-minded supporter do, were such a man on the Pretender's
side? Taking the capital, any territory, does him little good. I
wonder if he knows that?  It is a war for loyalties. Men's minds.

And women's. I wonder if the Vermin has realized THAT?  There's the
Betan frill.  What would she do if her precious Vaagen or Henri relay
the Pretender's ransom demand for her half-hatched mutant? What would
she NOT do? But, speculating on the mind of any woman, much less a
Galactic -- pointless. 

But I must consider, what I will do, should such a demand be relayed to me.

The Vermin may not realize just dumping the yolk from its eggshell 
would be more a service than a threat to House Vorkosigan. Were I 
tempted at all to deal with traitors, I might even ...  But let us 
not jump to temptations; sufficient for the day are the seductions 

What seductions, on that day, would a clever man offer me? What is
the Galactic goodie from some Beta Colony cookie jar that would 
tempt me to abandon this perfect boy in my lap? Another perfect
child? An heir for Aral, some compromise with Cordelia, a "clone"?
Could it be possible? Some "genetic" copy of the child Aral and
Cordelia conceived -- but without the "terror-genic" (remembered
correctly? If not, apt malaprop) damage.  A clean copy of a 
blotted page. Is that seduction enough, old man?  Let the demons inside
your head, who sound so much like your own voice, offer you another.

Shall we screen the sleeping boy sharing your saddle for 
the mysterious mental mutations that his sire and ancestors
bore? Shall we then clone his cells, cleanse any discovered taint,
and print another clean copy of THAT page?  We need not even 
destroy this warm and breathing boy, the way we would dump 
Cordelia's damaged chicklet from the shell. By your leave and
cooperation, we might just ensure a blood-cursed child NEVER
sits the camp-stool. A Lord, not Emperor, Gregor can grow happily 
while his Galactically-Blessed twin-and-younger brother is guided 
to maturity by his mother Kareen and the experienced Emperor-maker 
General Piotr and the far-sighted, Galactically-Aware, Count Vordarian, 
during an only-slightly-longer-than-anticipated Regency? 

The current young Regent, of course, so prone already to abuses of 
authority such as revoking well-earned security clearances, would be 
corrected for his errors, and relieved of future Imperial 
responsibilities. But perhaps he might take over the duties --
burdens -- of the Countship, while you, old man, could retire into 
only the one job of watching  -- and rarely correcting - the Emperor's 
new Regent Vordarian for excess. An auditor's role, belike. There is, 
no doubt, precedent. Perhaps, you might even select a successor for
the Countship of the Vordarian District, so to shape the direction and
policy of the Council of Counts as well as the Execution of Imperial 

Do you suppose yourself already too old to take that simple role -- 
you now riding out to make a war of empire as if you were only 40?
Do you suppose the Galactic godlings who can shape the births of 
children would fail to deliver you, in an alternative future of peace,
two decades more of life in which you offer Barrayar your wisdom?  
Is the risk you would die of age in such an uncompleted mission so
much greater than the risk to your own life in this coming war? 

What of Aral's life, and wife, and your Armsmen, and all your
allied Counts and followers, in a protracted war?  If embracing 
Vaagen's Betan technology could AVOID Aral's war, in the way 
embracing Xav's Betan technology WON Dorca's wars -- wouldn't you?
Shouldn't you?

Is it so unlikely you could live, in peace, to see your century ended
with healthy grandchildren, and a greatful adult Emperor, at your 

Left to the mind of Vidal Vordarian, damned unlikely, yes. 

But from the mind, and Voice, of a Vorkosigan, into an appropriate ear?

Am I considering the response to a temptation or God Help Me am I
strategizing my own damnation? Could this be the solution to all our
problems -- or 

Is this a dagger I see before me?


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