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Lucas Haroche's future boss strode into his office like he owned the planet.

The neat cut of his uniform, surety of his stride, and aura of command might have impressed another man, but Haroche had seen generations of baby officers with the same affectations. The midget thing didn't help, either, nor the sickly pallor, nor the faint hint of sulkiness.

Haroche sighed and looked down at Vorkosigan's military record. The first pages were the succinct official version, with most of it crossed out and cryptically annotated by Illyan. Things like "EODM, detached" might make sense to the Captain, but weren't too helpful to him. He'd gotten to the first page of the classified version, documenting the Imperial order that had shoved him into the Academy, before he'd put it aside, realizing that reading it was not really going to help their professional relationship.

Goddamn Vor. The kid had no business being a soldier. He'd spent well over a year on medical leave, all told, out of less than a ten-year stint. Haroche had spent ten years in the Service before he'd ever been an officer, and his own mode of command owed more to his former master sergeants than Vor arrogance.

Lord Vorkosigan did not look like a man who listened to his sergeants.

Lucas let the silence draw itself out. He'd gotten further than he'd ever dreamed in ImpSec, and was so close – but there were some heights that a former non-com couldn't aspire to, and a lifetime of service couldn't compete with the right relatives. He felt like he was back in the ranks, puppy-training yet another young kid with the brains of a radish.

Finally, he returned the salute. Well, Vorkosigan was his young kid now. Hopefully he wouldn't be totally useless.