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A Diversity of Perspective

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"It was completely unfair!" Miss Granger insisted, her earrings swinging with the force of her momentum as she jabbed her hand forward in emphasis. Vorlaurence wondered darkly to himself for a moment if they declared her in a committed relationship with arguing with Barrayarans, but feeling a brief flush of shame, suppressed the thought as unworthy; Miss Granger was perhaps being rude, but that was hardly any reason to be rude in return, even if only on the inside of his head.

"They accepted a bribe to let a foreign power through to attack," he said instead, sharply. "Millions died who might have lived. I cannot for my part call it injustice, to return upon them what they would have had done to us, and much less kindly."

Miss Granger did not appear impressed. "Everyone who was bribed is dead, you're only taking it out on their descendants now. Who suffer under your rule, so by your own logic surely they're right to resist."

"I hardly think—" began Vorlaurence, not in truth sure what he was going to say, but she interrupted him: "What do you think," and Vorlaurence turned to see whom she was asking: Galeni, a boy slightly taller than he himself was, studious and tending towards calm and, Vorlaurence was now remembering, Komarran.

Currently he bore an extremely dry expression on his face, and Vorlaurence realized with a flush of discomfort that perhaps Galeni might have reason to find it uncomfortable to speak his thoughts on the Barrayaran occupation in front of a Barrayaran Vor. Yet he could hardly excuse himself so suddenly from the conversation with any degree of politeness; and by the time he had finished the thought, Galeni was speaking after all.

"The invasion—ah, both invasions—are past." He seemed to be addressing Miss Granger more than Vorlaurence. "What matters now is the present, and the future. Barrayar—" now he glanced at Vorlaurence "—isn't going anywhere; it can't afford to. It's only got one wormhole; without Komarr, it's too strategically vulnerable. Which means that formenting discontent—" his tone on those two words was even drier than his expression had been "—is pointless. All it's going to do is get more Komarrans killed."

Miss Granger was frowning, torn Vorlaurence thought between displeasure and uncertainty. "But what do you want to do instead?"

"I've been thinking about that," said Galeni. He turned to Vorlaurence. "Have you heard the rumours that the Regent is planning on opening the Service to Komarrans?"

"Yes," Vorlaurence was forced to admit, "I have," but surely the man was not thinking of—?

Galeni leaned back in his chair. "That's what I'm going to do," and at Miss Granger's inquiring glance he elaborated, "I'm going to apply to the Imperial Service Academy."