spacetobreathe: (f ~ face)
Elli Quinn ([personal profile] spacetobreathe) wrote2015-07-22 01:44 pm

style substance subterfuge

Miles-toting is a reasonably fun part of Elli's job. She is privy to such secrets as "where he is being toted from" and "who he will be when picked up to be toted", so she's the one who fetches Miles Vorkosigan, watches over his transformation into Miles Naismith, and accompanies the latter to his destination, pretending this time to be business partners (she Sales And Marketing, he eccentrically Development, product Top Secret).

Currently they're sliding back into their ranks and uniforms - she's got her Dendarii pants on already and lovely scarlet accessories to turn them into shiny silver fashion statements. But before they fully reintegrate with their outfit and she dons the rest of her outfit there is a hospital visit to make.

The survivors of the incident, such as they are, aren't in great shape. Miles knows how the dead-and-irrecoverable wanted to be disposed of; he knows his obligations to the crippled, likewise, and he discharges them with all the gravity and generosity that could be wished. Quinn wants his job, so she watches him do it, even this least lovely part. Reminds her a little of the news that her face was getting artistically replaced. But that doesn't mean she doesn't wonder why he has to get that up close and personal with Aziz, who after all probably can't understand a word he says.

Miles demurs with something about a fascinated fear of the loss of mind, and Elli lets it go.

They get good news about Marilac, about the value of their work there.

They split up so that he can shower, and she can get into her greys, and then there's going to be the usual meeting.
thisvorlunatic: (⑪ theoretical)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 09:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Admiral Naismith's cabin on the Triumph has been stripped of most of his belongings.

Miles finds this out only after he gets out of the shower, so he's a little irritable by the time he confirms that even his space armour has vanished from its locker. Rather than test the oft-repeated assertion that he could carry on naked and make his officers feel overdressed, however, he gets back into his travel clothes.

On his way to the briefing room, he passes Sandy Hereld and nods a greeting. She gives him the startled glance of someone who was not expecting her admiral today. "You're back, sir! That was quick."

Back from what, his two-hour visit to the hospital planetside? "Eh?"

They exchange looks of puzzlement as both continue in opposite directions, Miles toward a lift tube and Hereld toward a cross corridor. He puts the incident out of his mind as he swings into the tube and descends toward his meeting.

He arrives to find the day's third surprise: more than a dozen officers assembled on time, and Bel Thorne not among them. Bel late to a mission briefing is as likely as an eager child late to its own birthday party. Not to be thought of. Technically it won't be late for another ninety seconds or until Quinn shows up with the files, whichever comes later; still, weird not to see it perched in a chair waiting for presents in the form of a shiny new mission.

Miles frowns to himself, but shrugs and turns to ask of Elena, "Did you get a chance to visit your mother?"
armswoman: (e ~ softer moment)

[personal profile] armswoman 2015-07-22 09:43 pm (UTC)(link)
"I did, yes. It was... it was nice. We talked, we hadn't really had a chance before."
thisvorlunatic: (⑤ miles)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 09:46 pm (UTC)(link)
"Good," he says, smiling, at the news and at the positive effect it seems to have had on Elena's mood.
thisvorlunatic: (⑫ complexities)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 09:48 pm (UTC)(link)
He waits for Bel until the actual time of the meeting, and then another half-minute, frowning increasingly.

"Is there some reason Captain Thorne is late?"
armswoman: (g ~ soldier)

[personal profile] armswoman 2015-07-22 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
The various officers look at each other. Eventually the eye contact adds up to Elena speaking:

"...Was Bel supposed to be back first, Miles?"
thisvorlunatic: (⑨ obstacles)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 09:53 pm (UTC)(link)
"Back first? From—?"

From whatever extracted Miles's full kit from his cabin? From whatever Lieutenant Hereld expected him to still be out doing? Once is chance, twice is coincidence...

"Oh, fuck," he says. "From what?"
Edited 2015-07-22 21:54 (UTC)
armswoman: (j ~ but no)

[personal profile] armswoman 2015-07-22 09:55 pm (UTC)(link)
"...Bel left with you, three days ago, in the Ariel -"
thisvorlunatic: (⑧ business)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 10:00 pm (UTC)(link)
"It left with an accurate facsimile, I'm sure," says Miles. For fuck's sake, he was sure Mark wouldn't impersonate him - no, he was sure Mark wouldn't impersonate Lord Vorkosigan, and this has proven to be correct, he just failed to consider whether Mark would impersonate Naismith instead. "Where to?"
armswoman: (g ~ soldier)

[personal profile] armswoman 2015-07-22 10:03 pm (UTC)(link)
"Jackson's Whole," Elena answers, peering at him minutely. "Assuming that was your clone and this is you."
thisvorlunatic: (⑦ negotiation)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 10:10 pm (UTC)(link)
"If you have doubts, get a med scanner. In fact, perhaps I should have made it official policy to scan me every time I show up, because without that policy, my fucking twin brother managed to con Bel Thorne into taking the fucking Ariel to Jackson's fucking Whole!" He throws up his hands.
thisvorlunatic: (⑨ obstacles)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
"Let it be known," says Miles, for the benefit of those who weren't around for that fiasco on Earth, "that is what a correct and appropriate medical scan of me looks like. I have a twin brother - a trained impersonator, although I was not his intended target - who can fake everything about me except for the old bone fractures. Until just now, he's never actually given it a serious try. And he absconded with the Ariel, of all the ships he could've picked, which means I'm going to have to rethink the upcoming mission if it takes too long to haul him back. This meeting is cancelled."
thisvorlunatic: (⑮ mountains)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 10:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles sits at the conference table and puts his head in his hands and swears quietly to himself. He retains enough situational awareness to keep the profanity strictly Betan until everyone who lacks the relevant clearance is out of the room.
thisvorlunatic: (⑦ negotiation)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 10:53 pm (UTC)(link)
The communications turnaround to Jackson's Whole is long enough that a few minutes either way is near-guaranteed to be swallowed up by en-route delays, but any more than that would just be self-indulgent. He drags himself from the table, parks in front of a comconsole, and composes a vid message to Captain Thorne.

"Bel," he starts off, "as you may or may not be aware, you've been travelling with the wrong Naismith. I don't know what the two of you think you're doing out there, and I don't care. You are to scan the little shit's bones if you haven't already, and when you verify that he is not me, you are to turn around and make all haste back to Escobar. I will meet you en route. Do not fuck with me on this one. I'm sure Mark's intentions are good, but I will not tolerate impersonation, no matter how well-meaning."

He pauses, considering priorities, then adds: "If he seems inclined to flee when he hears I'm after him, don't bother trying to chase him down and haul him back to me. The important part here is reuniting you with the fleet. I trust that you find these orders clear and unambiguous." And will therefore not deliberately waste time sending back clarification requests until Mark has already grabbed a double fistful of your easily-tugged Betan heartstrings and dragged you into God knows what sort of trouble trying to save all of Jackson's Whole with one commando squad. He trusts this subtext is conveyed by his expression. "Naismith out."

Then he gets the message sealed and sent, and spends a little while longer poring over the mission files and muttering obscenities. Fucking Mark. This could be anything from misguided heroics to a bizarre and elaborate prank. The one thing he's sure it isn't is a trap. Mark has made it very clear what he thinks of being used as a weapon against Miles. If somebody were to try it against Mark's will, Miles's expectations lie firmly in the area of 'and the body was never found'.


He calls up to Nav and Com again, and the comm officer on duty obligingly locates Baz, Elena, and Elli and directs them back to the briefing room. Miles awaits them calmly for about three seconds, and then jumps to his feet and starts pacing.
Edited 2015-07-22 23:37 (UTC)
thisvorlunatic: (⑥ ivan)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-22 11:52 pm (UTC)(link)
He sighs in wry awareness of how stupid the plan is probably going to sound. "I go after Mark, of course."
thisvorlunatic: (⑧ business)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:19 am (UTC)(link)
"No, the other contract has to go forward." He shakes his head. "But we don't need the whole fleet to pull it off. If my recall message reaches Bel, and if nothing else goes wrong along the way, then the Ariel will be back in time for departure and my pursuit will amount to nothing more than a waste of a little fuel. If not, though - Baz, you're in charge of this one."

He brings up a map with a woggle of his pen.

"We're smuggling pack-horses, so to speak. Vega Station," he indicates the map, "is an independent deep-space transfer station currently under an arms embargo courtesy of the Cetagandan Empire, who owns one of its neighbours and strong-armed the other two. We come in through Toranira with a perfectly legitimate flight plan filed, headed to Illyrica through Zoave Twilight. And that is exactly where we go, but while we're in Vega space, we drop off three of our ships - not troops or armaments, but the ships themselves. Then at Illyrica we pick up three new ones. Winterfair gifts from Emperor Gregor."

Through the ship's internal system rather than his pen, he sends the specs to Baz's comconsole.

"The only trouble is, my brother just walked off with a third of our trade inventory. We were supposed to give away the Triumph, the D-16, and the Ariel. The nearest possible substitute for the missing ship is Truzillo's Jayhawk. I'm really hoping I can reel Thorne back in before we have to leave, because while the replacement ship would be an across-the-board improvement on the Ariel, it falls a little short of the Jayhawk's firepower. If I take too long chasing down the Ariel, though - Baz, can you talk Captain Truzillo into the trade?"
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2015-07-23 12:22 am (UTC)(link)
Baz peers at the information about the would-be replacement. "Oh, wait'll he sees - yes I can. You could too, of course."
thisvorlunatic: (⑨ obstacles)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:36 am (UTC)(link)
"Yeah. But if I'm around to persuade him it will be because Thorne has made it thankfully unnecessary."

He sighs again and sends Baz a data dump of the rest of the mission files.

"Elena, I'm taking the Peregrine for this. We wait here for as long as it takes to get the ship ready to go. If we hear back from Bel in the meantime, well and good, we meet it en route and escort the Ariel back to the fleet. If not - the departure schedule for this mission is flexible on the scale of days, but not weeks. I give it until forty-eight hours from this moment. If that time comes and goes and the Ariel is not confirmed on its way to Escobar, Baz, you pack up and head for Vega Station without us."
thisvorlunatic: (⑧ business)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:43 am (UTC)(link)
"ImpSec will cover it."
thisvorlunatic: (⑦ negotiation)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:51 am (UTC)(link)
"A legitimate potential heir to the Barrayaran Imperium, deserving no less of their attention than I," says Miles. "Which fact I have made more than clear to Simon. If I have to go to expensive lengths to fish him out of whatever shit he's diving into, Simon will cough up the money the same way he would if it were me who needed the rescue."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2015-07-23 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
"A legitimate potential - the entire imperium would go into convulsions," Baz says. "They wouldn't have you on suspicion of mutation; someone who looks just like you and is a clone to boot can hardly improve on the situation."
thisvorlunatic: (⑨ obstacles)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:57 am (UTC)(link)
"I didn't say likely, I said legitimate. But yes, granted, either of us trying for the Imperium would land like a bomb. That doesn't make either of us any less ImpSec's business - more, if anything, against the possibility that someone might try to throw that bomb. It does make me wish Gregor would get married and have five children already, but that's rather outside the scope of my current worries."
Edited 2015-07-23 00:57 (UTC)
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2015-07-23 12:58 am (UTC)(link)
Baz nods, satisfied with this explanation. "Still, best if Bel turns around," he sighs.
thisvorlunatic: (⑧ business)

[personal profile] thisvorlunatic 2015-07-23 12:59 am (UTC)(link)
"Emphatically agreed."