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A Most Secret Transcript

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A Most Secret Transcript of a Recording Made, and Promptly Deleted by Imperial Order,
on the One-Year Anniversary of the Death of Viceroy Count Aral Vorkosigan


Hey, Ivan, you heard this one?

There once was an Emperor named Ezar,
who planned to make Vor last forever.
He ruled with an iron fist,
but in the end – what a twist!
He gave his only heir to be raised by my Da.

(indistinct murmur)

No, that’s … that’s the funny part. Counts and Lord Auditors and Emperors and it looks, it looks like we run the planet, the whole Empire. Don’t, though. S’illusion. Mother knows. And Gregor, better ‘n anyone.

Pass the bottle back. You don’t even like maple mead.

Vor’s not any old mass hallucination, though. It’s a frog.

See, on Earth, they say if you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps right out. But if you put it in a pot and slowly heat up the water, the frog will boil with a smile on its face.

Don’t look at me like that, Ivan, I never tested it out! I’ve never even seen a frog, in person. In froghood? It was one of the stories Da used to tell. And that – that’s the point. The Vor. They were his frog.

In Granda’s day they called it treason;
now transmuted by Barrayaran honor and Betan reason
to just another compromise debated in Council.

It took a mother’s love, and a father’s too,
Maybe a mutie lord or two.
Industry, education, and uterine replicators for all!

(I suspect that gender imbalance was my mother’s touch of genius. Do you know how many Vor men have married smart, rich, gorgeous prole women in the last few years?)

Have a lord who is a clone. A lord who was a lady.
A Komarran Head of Komarran Security.
Why not a Komarran Emperess?

(It’s true love for Gregor, Ivan, I know it is, but how could he look at her and not see the political ramifications in that beautiful smile?)

The Cetaganadans couldn’t tear Barrayar away from the Vor with nukes.
My Father the Count almost polished them off within one generation,
and they never even saw it coming.

(Shove off, Ivan, I'm fine. I've done some of my best plotting while flat on my back.)

I salute you, Da! It was a brilliant strategy.
Gregor and I’ll finish the job for you.
It just needs a few explosions to push it all over the cliff.
I’m sure I can come up with something good…