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From the Old to the New

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The cruelest trick of imperialism is this: it is impressed upon you in a thousand ways, every day, that the children of the empire are superior to you. You accept this in public, while denying it in your mind. Then the bait is held out, subtly; only profess your complete loyalty, offer up your heart, and you too could win acceptance to this chosen group. You too could be one of them.

As with all false constructions there is inevitably a moment when the edifice of lies crashes down, and it becomes clear that you are not one of them. A thousand things set you apart: the pallor of your skin, the inflection of your voice, the principle ingrained in your mind that all men and women are born free and equal; these things and many more will forever distinguish you, and so you can never and will never be one of them.




Excerpt from the testimony given by Colonel Lord Anatole Vortala to the Special Inquiry Session of the Council of Counts, 822 YAI:

LORD GUARDIAN: You will show due respect to this Council, my lord. The whole Nexus knows his account of that night. This Council has summoned you to hear your side of the story.

VORTALA: All right, then. It was the Emperor’s Birthday - the Emperor’s majority, in fact. I was an ensign newly posted in Vorbarr Sultana. A couple of my friends and I were coming back from a pleasure trip on Earth. We went to this bar next to the shuttleport in the University sector. By the time we got there it was crowded, people were standing to toast the Emperor. There was this man sitting all alone at a corner table.

LORD GUARDIAN: Why did you notice this man in particular?

VORTALA: He looked different, that’s all. All pale and pasty like dome-bred men. And he was all alone, just sitting there staring into his glass and thinking, like he was trying to solve a difficult problem. He didn’t even hear us when we told him to get up. So we told him again, and he said no. And, well… we told him that Komarrans shouldn’t sit while Vor were standing. But he hesitated, like he had as much right to sit there as we did.

LORD GUARDIAN: So then what did you do?

VORTALA: Well, it was just that hesitation. Stefan pulled the chair out from under him, and he tried to get up, and Pavlos punched him in the face and he went down again. [Pause] Look, I want you to understand that I’m not proud of this, all right? We were all stupid when we were young.


VORTALA: We threw him out. Then we sat down at that table and ordered drinks.

LORD GUARDIAN: And no one said anything?

VORTALA: He was Komarran and I was wearing my House uniform. Of course nobody said anything. A few people looked terribly shocked – I suppose they were Progressive types who thought such things never happened in the University Sector – but in the end they didn’t interfere.

LORD GUARDIAN: And is that the end of the story, my lord?

VORTALA: You all already know it isn’t. After a while he tried to come back, saying all his papers were inside and he needed them. He was Komarran, they needed to have ID wherever they went on Barrayar. It was the law. Stefan called the municipal guard and told them there was a Komarran making trouble, insulting the Vor on the Emperor’s Birthday. We thought it would teach him a lesson.

LORD GUARDIAN: Here is a question to which we do not know the answer, my lord. Did you realize that this man was – had just been accepted as – an Imperial cadet? A fellow soldier in the Emperor’s service?

VORTALA: How could we? He never mentioned it.

LORD GUARDIAN: Would it have made a difference to you if he had?

VORTALA: At the time? Maybe. I don’t know.




For one who has spent his formative years under the omnipresent shadow of an empire, it is far more difficult to accept this: you should not be one of them.




Excerpt from an interview given by Councilor Dr. Laisa Galen to the Komarran Free Press, 830 YAI:

INTERVIEWER: So, can you tell us how you first met David Galen?

GALEN: Oh, I remember it well. I was working for my doctorate at Solstice University, and one night a friend of mine took me along to a Resistance meeting – to this day I have no idea why she did, but she did. I didn’t even know where we were going. As soon as I realized what it was, I was shocked – forget that it was illegal and I could be arrested just for being there, but my family was loyal to the Barrayaran government, I couldn’t afford even to be seen at such a place. I was just going to slip out when David stood up to speak.

INTERVIEWER: What made you stop?

GALEN: At first, simple curiosity. The others there were agitators, demagogues – not the kind of people I would instinctively trust even if I was on their side. But he looked like one of my younger professors – the type who I thought would harbor resistance sympathies, but never actually get out of their lecture halls and do anything seditious. And after I listened to him…

INTERVIEWER: You came back, didn’t you?

GALEN: (laughing) I came back the next week in disguise, and then the next and the next. The thing was… this David Galen, he thought like me. He’d held the same ideas as me, once, about integration. But he stood there and proved, again and again, that the program simply wasn’t working. Not that it wasn’t being implemented, but that it couldn’t work. The money the Barrayaran government was supposedly returning to Komarr: when you put the numbers on the board, it wasn’t going to Komarrans. It was going to Barrayaran-controlled military and commercial installations on Komarr. The rights that Emperor Gregor was supposedly giving the people of Komarr were designed to bind us closer in service, not to improve our lives. I tried to do the analysis myself, and I couldn’t fault his conclusions; they made such terrible sense.

INTERVIEWER: What did you do once you realized you agreed with him?

GALEN: It wasn’t so easy. I knew there was a cost to being part of the Barrayaran Empire. But I’d always assumed that there was no choice. That we had no option but to just… do the best we could with whatever the Barrayarans gave us. What else was there, except another Revolt? David convinced me, for the first time in my life, to look for alternatives. I told him my conclusions, and it turned out that they were also his. (Smiling) We were married that planetary winter, after we’d known each other exactly six months.

INTERVIEWER: But that couldn’t have been easy either, could it? What did it mean for the Toscane heiress to marry a revolutionary?

GALEN: My parents were horrified when they realized who David was. They were among the most prominent supporters of Barrayaran rule. So I changed my name, sold my shares in the Toscane Fleet and invested the money off-planet. That gave us the funds we needed to start in politics.

INTERVIEWER: That must have been a painful decision for you.

GALEN: Of course. There were so many debates, so many arguments. My parents didn’t speak to me for months afterwards. But honestly - both of them had lost family and friends in the Solstice Massacre. They publicly opposed my decision – but I knew that deep down, they understood it, too.




Excerpt from a report found in the declassified archives of the [former] Barrayaran Imperial Security agency, Division of Komarran Affairs, dated 794 YAI:

Meanwhile, attendance continues to decline at the anti-Imperial meetings in Solstice. At this week’s meeting I observed only one new visitor, a woman who looked as though she wanted to escape from the place as soon as she realized what she’d gotten into. She stayed only for half the meeting.

Apart from that, there was only one item of unusual interest. Ser Ruis introduced and vouched for a new speaker: David Galen. This man has been identified as the only surviving son of the late terrorist Ser Galen. Previous references to David Galen are attached:

1. Summary of Ser Galen’s actions during the Komarran Revolt, including the possible involvement of his family.

2. Application for admission into the Imperial Service Academy, submitted by Duv Galeni (David Galen).

3. Messages exchanged between Captain Simon Illyan and Prime Minister Count Aral Vorkosigan, re: Candidature of Duv Galeni (David Galen) for the Imperial Service.

4. Confirmation of acceptance from the Imperial Service Academy. Note: this seat was eventually passed to another candidate, as the invitation was not accepted. No reason was given.

Assessment: Galen is a careful, academic speaker, and lacks any sort of confidence or public charisma that could sway men to his cause. Despite the father’s record of terrorism, the son appears to be no more than a harmless scholar with delusions of grandeur. The latest policy from the Prime Minister’s Office instructs us to let such people be.




The truly benevolent empire is a myth. While unity imposed by force doubtless has benefits, oppression is also an inevitable outcome.




Excerpt from ‘David Galen: his beginnings’, a doctoral thesis submitted to the Helen Vorthys School of Barrayaran History, University of Vorbarr Sultana, by Anna Kosigan, 890 YAI:                                                                                               

It is easy for objective observers, especially those personally unfamiliar with the Dome Era, to underestimate how central the terraforming program was to the sense of a Komarran planetary identity. Yet we know that one of the early moves by Emperor Ezar’s occupying government was to place Barrayaran officers in charge of all aspects of terraforming. This functioned as a visible symbol of Imperial ownership; not only over the planet of Komarr, but over its future. By the time David Galen entered politics, highly qualified Komarrans competed for low-level jobs while the senior posts, carrying money and influence, were dominated by Barrayarans.

It is therefore unsurprising that David and Laisa Galen’s first legal protest targeted a case of perceived Vor nepotism in the terraforming project. The case of Scott vs. Voraronberg, funded and promoted by the Galens, was fought viciously all the way to the Imperial Counselor’s court, with accusations of bribery and legal misconduct on both sides. It resulted in a partial victory for the Komarran side; while three Imperial bureaucrats were indeed judged to have received unfair preferential treatment, no measures were put in place to address the general discrimination.

Letters exchanged between David and Laisa Galen during this time make it clear that this was a carefully calculated move. Most of the Komarrans in the project, whose lives were affected by the verdict, were scions of wealthy families, people with useful influence in the government; yet at the same time David Galen made sure to choose a cause that was close to the hearts of all Komarrans.

It gave the Galens the following they needed, and brought them to the notice of the larger Nexus. Most of all, it made David Galen’s voice heard when he - like many others who had tried and failed – decided at last to challenge the Komarran Security Act.




The most successful resistances to such rule are therefore those that are led from below, by those most oppressed. To merely remove Imperial rule is of no use unless the system that replaces it provides a lasting resistance against oppression in all its forms.




Excerpt from the annual report of the Interstellar Judiciary Human Rights Commission, 785 YAI:

We note with dismay that the Barrayaran government’s so-called emergency measures, originally put in place after the Komarran Revolt, continue to be indefinitely extended. The Komarran Security Act has remained in place long beyond the time it could be justified as necessary.

This Act forces all Komarrans to produce on demand official identification at all times within the Empire, and effectively authorizes security forces to imprison any Komarran suspected of terrorism, without trial. Technically, these provisions could be applied to everything from distribution of subversive literature to insulting the Imperial Counselor.

More troubling still is that the law requires Komarran women to carry identity cards bearing the names and contact details of their father or husband, without which no legal transactions can be carried out; no such information is expected from men.

The Barrayaran government has already been criticized in interstellar courts for continuing such discriminatory legal practices. Should more of these spread to Komarr, an entire planet stands at risk of losing liberties that most of the civilized galaxy takes for granted.




Excerpt from a deposition given by Lieutenant Alexi Kostov to the Special Inquiry Committee of the [former] Barrayaran Imperial Security agency, 822 YAI:

We’d been hearing whispers that something was stirring in Solstice University for months, but there were no signs of danger. We knew there was no movement of weapons, none of our known troublemakers doing anything suspicious.

And then one night we got the report of the students gathering in the plaza and incinerating all their identity papers, all their clearance documents. Then they just sat there. I mean, what were we supposed to do? We’d all heard stories of what the University did during the Revolt – but to stun three thousand students, half of them women, for sitting quietly in a public place? With the galactic press all watching?

Finally we got orders from above to arrest them all. We expected resistance, so we sent in enough armed troops to outnumber them; instead they all just came quietly. It looked ridiculous on the vids, riot troops everywhere for nothing.

Then it turned out that the same thing had happened in other universities too. Within days it had spread planet-wide. They had the kind of coordination and numbers that we hadn’t seen since the Revolt – we just weren’t prepared, and it got to the point where we didn’t have enough room to put them all. We had to let a third of them go in the end, with heavy fines and temporary IDs.

They went and incinerated those, too. And we didn’t even manage to get all the Betan press’s concealed cameras.

Well, by the end of the week the Security Act had become one big galactic joke. It was downright embarrassing. I don’t envy the poor man who had to explain it all to the Prime Minister.




Mob violence is effective under certain conditions, but it inevitably breeds a society accustomed to solving problems by mob violence. There are intelligent alternatives.




Excerpt from an interview given by Councilor Dr. Laisa Galen to the Komarran Free Press, 830 YAI:

GALEN: After months of careful preparation, the Security Act campaign was a triumph beyond our hopes. Within weeks we had an acknowledgment from the Imperial Counselor’s office, a temporary suspension of the worst sections of the Act pending Imperial review. Everyone came to the next meeting to hear David, and for once, it wasn’t because of his father’s name. Ser Rusan, Sera Morane, all the old leaders who’d ignored us until then. We were exultant - before it all went wrong.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us how that meeting went.

GALEN: David…well, I think the truth is that we’d both been spending too much time among University students. David went into historian mode, in a place and time that was not suited for it.


GALEN: David meant to use that meeting to convince the old guard of the Resistance that violence was not necessary; that, given enough time, we could achieve significant goals by peaceful legal and political means. But then he went on to tell them why violence would be counterproductive as well as unnecessary.

INTERVIEWER: And what reasons did he give that day?

GALEN: It was simple. No amount of blood would ever make Barrayar let go, because Barrayar needed Komarr to keep the Cetagandans at bay. And the truth was that Komarr needed Barrayar for the same reason. The wormholes were our curse as well as our profit. And even that was fine – until David said that for mutual defense if nothing else, Komarr and Barrayar must remain allies even if Komarr ever managed to become free. And therefore we should not do anything that might jeopardize the trust of that future alliance.

INTERVIEWER: And then it wasn’t fine anymore.

GALEN: No. For all that we’d lost family in the Revolt and the Massacre, David and I weren’t motivated by it. We were academics, acting for the common good, and in doing so, we’d underestimated the need some people had for revenge.

INTERVIEWER: What happened then?

GALEN: Anne Morane stood up, called David a disgrace to the memory of his father and his aunt, and walked out. We tried to go after her, to find her. We all knew her reputation; we knew she’d do something. But we didn’t know what.




Transcript from the archives of the [former] Imperial News Agency of Barrayar, dated 798 YAI:

NEWSREADER: Six hours ago, a bomb exploded in front of a local security office in the Serifosa dome. Fourteen people are reported dead, including the deputy chief of ImpSec Serifosa.

[Vid pans over across the burnt shell of a building. Medical personnel carrying bodies out of the ruins.]

NEWSREADER: Reports are coming in of more bombs across Serifosa, Solstice, and Equinox. So much for David Galen’s peaceful protest.




It has been said that between justice and genocide, there is, in the long run, no middle ground. As a guiding principle for government, this is both misleading and inadequate. Justice imposed on a captive populace from above is no justice at all, and is, in fact, the most treacherous of all middle grounds.




Transcript of a security recording from the secret prison base of the [former] Barrayaran Imperial Security agency, dated 799 YAI :

GUARD: All clear, sir. 

VORKOSIGAN: Thank you, Corporal.

GUARD: Stand up.

[Prime Minister Admiral Count Aral Vorkosigan enters the room.]

GUARD: Stand up.

VORKOSIGAN: Please leave us alone, Corporal. [He sits opposite the prisoner.] Duv Galeni. I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time.

GALEN: My name is David Galen.

VORKOSIGAN: That is the name of a boy who carried bombs through the streets of Solstice at the command of his father. I have come here to speak to the man who wrote the most finely crafted – and the most heartfelt - application to the Imperial Service Academy that I have ever seen.

GALEN: I am both of those. The name doesn’t make any difference to the actions I committed, both times. Willingly.


VORKOSIGAN: David, then. I never ordered the Solstice massacre.

GALEN: I know.


GALEN: Of course you didn’t do it. It was an idiotic decision, and you, whatever else might be said, were not an idiot. Did you think I was here because I was out for some petty family vengeance? If that was the case, I would never have put away the bombs.

VORKOSIGAN: Then I would like very much to know why you are here, David.

GALEN: I’m here because the only possible alternative was to be one of the men on the other side of that door.

VORKOSIGAN: And why could you not be one of them? Was it the possibility that you might have to act against your old friends? Put them in prison, such as this?

GALEN: No, not that. I’d have done all of that, if I’d believed in it. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, but that wouldn’t matter if I thought it would lead to good in the long term.

VORKOSIGAN: I believe that your service, in any capacity, would have led to good.

GALEN: So you promised, Prime Minister. And yet… what has changed? A few Komarrans enter high places, where they are required to bend the knee to the Vor, and ignore the needs of all those on whose shoulders they truly stand. Nothing has really changed in what you yourself call the most important battlefield; the enemy’s mind.

VORKOSIGAN: Are we the enemy, still? I have read your speeches on Komarr. The injustices you point out… they do exist, I cannot deny that. But it is also true that some of us have tried to change things.

GALEN: By some of us, you mean yourself. The majority of the Vor think of Komarr as their personal conquest. They would impose an archaic military law on a planet that trades with the entire Nexus, and they expect Komarrans to give them honors and privileges, when they certainly never fought to liberate us from the Cetagandans.

VORKOSIGAN: Tell me, David. There was a time when you knew all this, yet you were ready to put your hands between mine. What would you have me do now? What do I have to do to win back your allegiance?

GALEN: Appoint sixty Komarrans to the Council of Counts. You’ll have my loyalty for life.

VORKOSIGAN: This is not a joke. And I cannot transform the Empire overnight. You know that.

GALEN: But have you transformed it at all, or have you merely held off the inevitable? There’s a man in the cell next to me - I don’t know who he is, but when he cries out in the night, it’s in a Komarran voice. Spend a night in this place, Vorkosigan; this place that doesn’t exist officially, but which every Komarran knows about. Half the people here had no trials. They had orders, some of which were signed by you. Can you stand here and truly believe that your integration program will survive you?

VORKOSIGAN: I had hoped to have it on a solid footing within my lifetime. I confess that it has not received the acceptance that I had hoped. Though Komarrans have joined the government and military, I have not found the man that I would have held up to the Vor as an example of how Komarr could serve the Empire if the Empire served Komarr. I had hoped that you could be that man, and I would not be here now if I did not still hope for it.

GALEN: You know the statements I’ve made in public, the charge for which I’m here. I doubt any Vor would find me an example of anything except their existing prejudices.

VORKOSIGAN: But it was not always so. Once you understood my plans better than any of my advisors, better than I did myself. You wanted to be that man, and you still want to, David. I was not wrong about you.

GALEN: I… yes. I wanted to. I read your speeches too, and I wanted to put my hands between yours, to trust that you would lead us well, that you would give us justice. I can’t deny that I still want to.

VORKOSIGAN: Then why do you refuse to do so, David? My policies have not changed.

GALEN: I refuse because I think those policies come from your guilt, Prime Minister. Not from you. In your heart, Komarr isn’t equal, and it will never be, because equality isn’t something you can dispense according to your own will. You give us gestures but not substance; authority in your name, but never the right to determine our own fate.

VORKOSIGAN: That is something that none of us can truly lay claim to. We are all in service.

GALEN: All of you - but we weren’t, once. You want us to forget that, to give up and accept whatever scraps of freedom you find convenient to dole out, to assuage your conscience. You surround us with hopeful words instead of warships, and demand our surrender once again, and I… I refuse to give you mine.

VORKOSIGAN: You will choose to remain in this place, then, when you could be shaping a future for both our planets.

GALEN: It is not I who make that choice, Prime Minister.

VORKOSIGAN: No. I, at least, do not underestimate the danger you represent to the Empire I serve. [Standing] Corporal, you may return the prisoner to his cell.




Transcript of a security recording from the secret prison base of the [former] Barrayaran Imperial Security agency, dated 800 YAI :

SER GALEN: Hello, David.






Excerpt from the autobiography of Ser Luca Ruis, published 824 YAI:

We got the news of David’s arrest in the middle of the night. Fortunately, we had contingency plans in place; we left our homes at once, made it to the old spaceport in disguise. The only reason we managed to escape detection was because Laisa had called in favors from her old Toscane contacts, and there was a Betan-registered shuttle waiting to take us to Escobar – and then on to Beta Colony, even Earth. 

From the day they met, Laisa and David made an incredible political team. Laisa had everything David needed but lacked in himself; beauty, charm, money. Now with David gone, Laisa gathered what remained of our party, traveling from planet to planet, making our case to exiles and leaders, gathering support from Komarran expatriates.

At that time, Escobar was the only world that gave us real support. They hated Barrayar even more than any of us, though they were diplomats enough not to show it. Beta offered us refuge, but the Escobaran government handed us information, resources, contacts, money, routes to pass plans back to our supporters on Komarr. In a private meeting with Laisa, Marsha Alfredi offered weapons too, but Laisa said no. She said that another Revolt would do Komarr no good.

Laisa took the money willingly, though, and invested it. People talk about the heroes back on Komarr, the protesters who called for David’s release, but truly, it was Laisa’s economic analysis that kept the Resistance afloat in those years. It was Laisa who found Enrique Borgos, and we all thought she was insane until we saw the first radiation-tolerant prototype. There we were, all of us, planning for the next meeting, the next protest or appeal, and only David and Laisa had been thinking decades ahead.

But more and more time passed, and we began to think that David was gone forever, disappeared never to return like so many others; that we should go back to the old way, the old people. Laisa was an exceptional woman, but her will was flagging too, and she was an economist, not a politician; she couldn’t hold us together by herself.

And then David found us.




Excerpt from a report submitted to the Chief of Imperial Security, Captain Simon Illyan, security classification Gold, copy eyes-only to Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, Prime Minister Admiral Count Aral Vorkosigan, Countess Cordelia Vorkosigan, dated 800 YAI.

The investigative team has confirmed our initial conclusion that the prisoner, David Galen, was broken out of prison by his father, Ser Galen. Ser Galen is a known terrorist and leader of the Komarran Revolt, and was previously thought to have died in that Revolt.

Today, six days after the breakout, an anonymous message left at ImpSec Solstice station alerted the duty officer to the probable location of Ser Galen. On arrival at the specified location, agents found and arrested Ser Galen and several accomplices, but not his son. Four ImpSec agents died in the firefight.

From Ser Galen’s possession, agents recovered the following records, under the seal of House Bharaputra of Jackson’s Whole…




Transcript from the archives of the Escobaran Secret Service, 800 YAI:

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I know what really happened there. You betrayed him to the Barrayarans – your father broke you out of Barrayaran prison, and you gave him to them in return. How could you do it?

GALEN: I don’t know. I don’t know how I managed it. The only answer I can give you was that it was a choice between my father and my planet, and I chose Komarr.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: Your father served Komarr!

GALEN: He served his revenge, and used Komarr as an excuse. There is a distinction.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: A distinction worth betraying your own father for?

GALEN: I’ve seen the way you’ve looked at me since you figured it out. Do you intend to kill me, Miles? I have no doubt that you could.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I should. It’s what he’d want me to do. If I can’t kill the Butcher as I was meant to do – at least I can do this.

GALEN: And yet I don’t see you raising that knife you’ve concealed so carefully.


GALEN: He trained me to be a killer too, Miles.


GALEN: And what would happen to you, afterwards? Imperial Security knows of your existence now. I know how he treated you. Would you truly kill for his memory?

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: And what happens to me if I don’t? I can see how uncomfortable you are, even if you try not to show it. You want to get away from me. I’m the Butcher’s genetic offspring. I don’t belong here.

GALEN: Honestly, I agree. But the question remains: where do you belong? Would you have me send you to Vorbarr Sultana? Vorkosigan House?

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: No. Not with those people. I’ve got the Butcher’s genes, but I’ve got nothing to do with him. I’m a clone, bought and paid for.

GALEN: Bought and paid for by my father. You were his responsibility, his ward. By Komarran law, you’re of our clan, and I… I am in truth the head of that clan now, whatever state it’s in. I’m responsible for you, though Komarran law isn’t even upheld on Komarr anymore.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: Don’t lie to me. I’m an assassin, and I heard enough of your arguments with your father to know that you don’t want assassins in your organization.

GALEN: No, I don’t, and I won’t have one. But you were shaped into an assassin by my father, and as I changed, so can you. The question is: do you want to change?


GALEN: You tell me. What would you do? If you could do anything?

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I… I hate Bharaputra. Everything they do, the whole cloning industry. I want to bring them down. But I was taught about Komarr, too, and even if I don’t… I can’t turn my back on what I was made for, can I?

GALEN: What if you could do both?


GALEN: You want to bring down Bharaputra and liberate the clones. I want to liberate Komarr. I offer you a collaboration. No assassinations involved.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I think you’re crazy.

GALEN: There are means to destroy our opponents other than violence, Miles; means that our clan has used in the past, before we were reduced to terrorists, madmen and dreamers.

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: If this is a trick, I really will kill you.

GALEN: Agreed. As the Jacksonians say – do we have a deal, Miles?

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I don’t want to be called Miles. That’s not my name. It’s his… and I’d really rather not have anything to do with him anymore.

GALEN: It is custom on Komarr to name new members of the clan after old ones, even if they are not directly related. I had a brother once. His name was Sebastian Paul Galen. Not the first name, but… the second? Would you accept that?

CLONE OF MILES VORKOSIGAN: I could live with that. I think. Deal.




Excerpt from ‘David Galen: his beginnings’, a doctoral thesis submitted to the Helen Vorthys School of Barrayaran History, University of Vorbarr Sultana, by Anna Kosigan, 890 YAI:

Perhaps David Galen’s single greatest achievement was transforming the post-revolt Komarran Resistance from an oligarchs’ club into a true mass movement. The change began when Galen started to rebuild his organization from exile on Escobar, this time along the lines of the clan his aunt had once controlled; only he brought into his inner circle the ordinary Komarrans who had suffered most under Barrayaran rule. And he gave them voting shares.

Though the gesture was symbolic rather than practical, it proved in the minds of many that Galen, at least, was more than just another oligarch trying to get his money back from the Barrayarans.

And then he returned to Komarr.




Transcript of a security recording from the Imperial Residence, 805 YAI:

ARAL VORKOSIGAN: Are you serious, Simon? Galen is promising foreign governments eight per cent?

SIMON ILLYAN: That’s what my informants on Earth tell me.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: But eight per cent? How does he ever plan to afford that?

SIMON ILLYAN: I don’t believe he can. He’s promising the impossible, and if we only wait long enough, the rest of the Nexus will come to the same conclusion.

ARAL VORKOSIGAN: You underestimate him again, Simon. Galen intends to do it - by taxing the oligarchs and redistributing their shares. And that is one thing we can never afford to do, because these same oligarchs are our only real allies on Komarr.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Do you recommend that we arrest Galen again?

SIMON ILLYAN: And make it a hundred times worse? There is a positive side to this. Galen has driven the oligarchs, at least, further into our arms.

ARAL VORKOSIGAN: He is an oligarch, at least by birth and marriage. That man would impose the same tax on himself.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: This does not augur well for your policy, Aral.

ARAL VORKOSIGAN: It might yet, if we could only win him to our side.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: You are both looking at this from the wrong angle. Aral, this isn’t one disillusioned man you can win over by trying again and again. Simon, we are not facing another Revolt. If Galen continues in this vein, we will find ourselves facing the possibility of a widespread, sustained and supported movement for independence on Komarr, which is an entirely different thing, and one that I do not believe we are prepared to handle.

SIMON ILLYAN: On reflection, sire, I think we should arrest him after all.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: No. I have a better idea.

ARAL VORKOSIGAN: Dare I ask, Gregor?

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: I’m going to give him what he wants.




Transcript of a security recording from the Green Room of the Imperial Residence, 805 YAI:


LAISA GALEN: I am indeed Dr. Galen, but please – to avoid unnecessary confusion, call me Laisa.


DAVID GALEN: You promised us safe conduct.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: I did, and I will keep my word. Sit down, Dr. Galen – Laisa.

[They sit.]

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Let us get straight to the point, Dr. Galen. In the five years since your escape from prison, you have been a continuous thorn in the side of the Imperium, both on and outside Komarr. We find that We can no longer accept this.

DAVID GALEN: To the point, then. In the thirteen years since your majority, over a thousand Komarrans have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and Komarr remains as economically exploited as on the day your Regent promised equal rights. We find that we can no longer accept this.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: You studied history; you know how Komarr violated a solemn treaty when they allowed the Cetagandans to pass their wormhole. I hoped that this meeting might stand as a new beginning, to put the mistrust of past generations behind us.

DAVID GALEN: An eloquent speech, but baseless. What, after all, could they have done? Refused the Cetagandans? Do you think it would have made the slightest difference to them?

LAISA GALEN: Admiral Vorkosigan could have taken the high orbitals and the wormholes in his conquest, and faced no opposition. What threat was the planet? The Imperium annexed Komarr for only two things; taxation and revenge.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: It might have been so, once; but we are trying to make the Komarran people part of our future.

DAVID GALEN: But you have never asked the Komarran people whether the future you have planned is one they want to be part of. If you truly wish for peace, Komarr needs a better demonstration.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Very good, Dr. Galen. How exactly would you have me demonstrate it? And please, do not give me that absurd line about sixty Komarran Counts. You want that even less than I do.


EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: You are not a fool, Dr. Galen, and not a blind idealist either. You may say many things to your own people, to foreign governments, even in private conversations. But you know the truth; that our two planets are inextricably bound by circumstances beyond your control or mine. No Emperor in my position would dare let go of Komarr, for that would risk war. You have always known this; therefore you have prepared for it.

LAISA GALEN: Oh, very good.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: So: the two of you have not come to me demanding that I release Komarr from my Empire, because that would be the demand of a blind idealist. State your real terms.

LAISA GALEN: First. Home Rule. Komarrans will vote for their own legislature as they did before, only with voting shares distributed equally, and the elected council will be responsible for all domestic laws.

DAVID GALEN: Second, the Komarran planetary council will have operational control over half the civilian wormhole jump-points. We won’t ask for the one to Barrayar, or Sergyar, or Rho Ceta.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: I take it there is a third point as well?

DAVID GALEN: Yes, and it is this. The Imperium will declare a complete amnesty for all Komarran political prisoners. For each one who died in captivity, the Imperium will provide records detailing how and why they died, and by whose order.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: You surely realize there will be serious security issues-

LAISA GALEN: Then this discussion is at an end.

DAVID GALEN: You must understand that we are not here for revenge, either. It is necessary. If we are to hold our people to such an agreement – an agreement that will look to most of them like a compromise - we need to prove to them that their dead, at least, have been respected. That their names will not be erased from history. 

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: All political prisoners, Dr. Galen?


EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: I am prepared, perhaps, to concede your last two demands. But the first will require the assent of the Joint Council.

DAVID GALEN: The first is the most essential.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: And if it goes through - there will be no more talk of Komarran separation?

LAISA GALEN: No. As you guessed, our goal is simply a just and prosperous regime on Komarr. If we all work for it, we believe it is possible to achieve that through home rule. Personally, I think that if we get it, we’d be far too busy to demand anything else. We’re willing to give it a fair chance. Are you?

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Perhaps, Laisa. Perhaps.




Written by the hand of Emperor the Haut Fletchir Giaja for the eyes of Ghem-General Dag Benin, Chief of Security for the Celestial Garden, in the nine hundred and sixteenth cycle of the Unified Constellations:

General Benin,

We have read with great interest your notes on the proposed Komarran Home Rule Act. You have Our compliments for a masterly analysis.

It would please your Emperor greatly if this Act were not to pass. All the resources you require to achieve this are yours.




Statement issued to the press by President Tailor of Beta Colony, 807 YAI:

It is with great regret that I have received the news that the Barrayaran Joint Council of Counts and Ministers voted to dismiss the proposal for Komarran Home Rule by thirty votes to twenty-two.

I now join the Presidents of Escobar and Earth in condemning the illegal Barrayaran occupation of Komarr. We call upon Emperor Gregor to accept the Interstellar Judiciary’s offer to conduct a free and fair plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Komarran people. Failing his acceptance, we will have no choice but to reimpose the economic and military sanctions that were placed on Barrayar following their unprovoked invasion of Escobar thirty years ago.

Let every planet in the Nexus know that Beta Colony will always promote the cause of freedom and self-determination for all people.




Excerpt from the first Galen Memorial Lecture, given by Delia Koudelka, at the Institute for Galactic Studies, Earth, 850 YAI:

I was twenty years old and I’d just graduated with honors in history from the University of Vorbarr Sultana. My tutor during my final year was Professora Helen Vorthys, who is now best known around the Nexus as Dr. David Galen’s thesis supervisor. She convinced me to apply for further studies at Solstice University, telling me – rightly – that Komarr was a better planet to be a woman on.

I’d just spent a week there when I started realizing how much she hadn’t told me. On Komarr, I was privileged above others as a Barrayaran, yet I was shunned by the Komarrans for the same reason. Everything I hated on Barrayar, everything I’d wanted to get away from – Vor privilege, nepotism, misogyny, discrimination – it was all there, only now it was being perpetrated by Barrayarans on Komarrans.

As I lived on Komarr, as I came to know Komarrans, and above all as I studied their history, I realized that this was a society more advanced than Barrayar’s, older than Barrayar’s, freer and kinder. And instead of learning from it, we were remaking it in the worst possible image of ourselves.

There was an editor of the Solstice news who lectured at the University once. He wrote an editorial expressing support for the protesters - he was sent to prison immediately afterwards, and I’ll never forget the way my Komarran classmates looked at me. And things just got worse and worse from there, as Emperor Gregor’s Home Rule compromise collapsed and David Galen started the boycotts that shut down the Imperial Counselor’s government.

The Barrayarans, civilians as well as security, reacted badly. Many of them had become so used to their privilege that they couldn’t stand anyone telling them it had to end. So many old grudges from the Revolt were brought up in those days.

I had been on Komarr three years when the Solstice Riot happened. At least, that’s what the Barrayaran press called it. It wasn’t a riot at all; it was a peaceful protest that was attacked thanks to a terrible overreaction in ImpSec. I saw that plaza afterwards, littered with scraps of clothing, shoes, helmets. In some places blood had seeped into the paving stones.

Though the protesters were made to disperse in the end, it was Dr. Galen who won that day. He won over everybody in Solstice, including Barrayarans. Including me, for the very next morning, I walked into Dr. Riva’s office in the physics department and asked her for an introduction to the man she really worked for.

I met David Galen in a soundproofed room in Riva’s laboratory, and he was everything the Komarran students whispered he was. I told him I was prepared to stay if I could help – and he told me to go back.

So I went back, and I ran the Komarran information ring in Vorbarr Sultana. I passed information to Komarrans, helped Komarran literature get on to the black market. When ImpSec edited the public news, I helped people distribute the reality of what was happening on Komarr. I knew the right people. I knew who was reporting to ImpSec, how to not to be found out by Lady Alys and Captain Illyan.

Those of us who supported Dr. Galen in those days faced accusations of treason, both public and private. For me, it was not only treason; it was personal. Emperor Gregor had been a close friend all my life. Viceroy Count Vorkosigan was practically family. Lady Alys was one of my mother’s dearest friends, and she was furious at all of us after the whole wedding fiasco. It was the most embarrassing situation possible for my parents.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to understand that the Komarran movement for independence wasn’t about Komarr against Barrayar. No civil struggle can be so cleanly divided, even one between conqueror and conquered. How many people, even now, know that Professora Helen Vorthys, one of Barrayar’s most renowned historians, was a recruiter for the Komarran Resistance for decades? Her contribution was far more valuable than mine, and I only wish she could have lived long enough to give this speech, which she would undoubtedly have done far better. There were Barrayarans on both sides, and Komarrans on both sides, too.

Of course, at the time I didn’t realize that in several districts, it wasn’t just sympathy for Komarr that led people to buy David Galen’s books.




 Excerpt from the autobiography of Rebecca Toscane-Galen, published 870 YAI:

Though I was born and raised on Escobar, my father insisted that I should spend time on Komarr. So I came to Komarr when I was fifteen, and saw just as little of my parents as I ever had while we were on separate planets. My mother traveled from dome to dome to collect and manage the flow of money through the Resistance’s network, and my father to meet scholars and clan heads, to plan his year-long series of boycotts of the Barrayaran government.

My father used to tell us, again and again, that we must remember we were doing this for Komarr. Not for ourselves, not for revenge or even justice, but for the future. I remember him saying, in answer to some question, that when we were in doubt and we couldn’t contact our leaders we should not think of the past, but picture the future we would be creating by our actions, and we would know what to do.

And then he would leave us behind to move to another dome, and say the same things over again. 

I admired my father; I obeyed him, followed him – but I never had the chance to know him, not really.




For all its apparent beauty, a society built around a structure of dependence and subjection can neither be free nor free another. Freedom of thought, without fear and without barriers, is a gift far too great to be sacrificed on the altar of blind loyalty.




Transcript of a security recording from the Emperor’s office, Imperial Residence, dated 817 YAI:

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Give me the worst of it, Guy.

ALLEGRE: The worst of it, at the moment, is that a portion of Vortrifrani’s District has decided to very politely request you to give them a new Count.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: Well, at least that’s one I haven’t heard before.

ALLEGRE: By the look of it, sire, these… incidents are not coordinated or even connected. They are simply happening, independently, around the planet, as people become… inspired.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: And there is very little I can do about any of them. I am in service to my Counts just as much as they are to me. If I act in a manner they consider a betrayal of our class, let alone a betrayal of Barrayar, how many would turn against me?

ALLEGRE: I could give you a number, sire.

EMPEROR GREGOR VORBARRA: I know it already. And because I know that number I have been silent, and by my silence I have proven to Komarr that Galen was right about us all along. We never truly considered them our equal subjects.

ALLEGRE: You must speak now, sire. What with Galen, the Komarrans, the interstellar sanctions, and now this - you cannot let them all feed off each other and grow unchecked, or you will find yourself facing rebellion on three worlds one day. You must do something to stabilize the situation.




Found in the Cordelia Naismith Archive, Silica City, Beta Colony, dated 817 YAI:

Captain Naismith:

I have always believed that in the matter of Komarr, your private sympathies were different from your husband’s. Neither family loyalty nor feudal oath compels your silence any longer, and I request, on behalf of an entire planet, that you will see fit to end it. 


David Galen.




Transcript of a security recording from the Imperial Counselor’s Residence, Komarr, 817 YAI:

MILES VORKOSIGAN: Dr. Galen, it’s an honor to meet you at last. Thank you for taking the risk of coming to see me in person.

DAVID GALEN: Counselor Count Vorkosigan. I have heard a lot about you, but I can’t truthfully say that it’s an honor, or even a pleasure.

MILES VORKOSIGAN: I’m sorry to tell you that your father died in prison three months ago. His death was natural.

DAVID GALEN: Thank you for telling me. Your clone is collaborating with a mad Escobaran geneticist to develop vacuum-tolerant beetles to terraform Komarr.

MILES VORKOSIGAN: Wait, he’s - what?

DAVID GALEN: Actually, Vorkosigan, let’s not go there. I know your reputation, and I have absolutely no intention of allowing you to lead me off the point.

MILES VORKOSIGAN: Yes. You might start by telling me why I haven’t seen a single Komarran face in the whole dome of Solstice today. I’d thought the silent protest would at least wait until I’d done something.

DAVID GALEN: Counselor, I am tired of telling you Vorkosigans this, but it doesn’t matter whether you do something or nothing; whether your father ordered the massacre or not. I can promise you that whatever you do, Komarr is on strike until you are off this planet. This appointment is the greatest insult Emperor Gregor could have given the Komarran people.

MILES VORKOSIGAN: That’s exactly what I told him. He said there was nobody else who could do the job. When Gregor gets that look in his eye, you can’t refuse. I haven’t been able to refuse since I was five, really.

DAVID GALEN: Vorkosigan-

MILES VORKOSIGAN: I think you may not realize how much influence you have on Barrayar, you know. News isn’t suppressed as effectively as it used to be. A number of your… ah, admirers have been trying to travel to Komarr to meet you in person. The Emperor and ImpSec have their hands full dealing with them. My mother is delighted, by the way, and has been telling them so at every opportunity. She wants to come talk to you. I don’t think anybody can stop her if she does.

DAVID GALEN: Vorkosigan. What is the point of this?

MILES VORKOSIGAN: The point is this, Dr. Galen. My Imperial Master has commanded me to negotiate in his Voice the terms on which Komarr shall receive its independence from Barrayaran rule. Shall we begin?




Excerpt from ‘David Galen: his beginnings’, a doctoral thesis submitted to the Helen Vorthys School of Barrayaran History, University of Vorbarr Sultana, by Anna Kosigan, 890 YAI:

Gregor Vorbarra’s fiftieth birthday was marked on Barrayar by the most subdued festivities of his reign, and on Komarr by the most magnificent celebrations on any occasion since the occupation.

In his birthday address, the Emperor declared the independence of Komarr. Even the announcement that the new government would sign a lasting treaty of friendship with Barrayar, granting the Barrayarans total rights over several wormholes and preferential access to all others, could not lift the gloom. Many among the Vor class, the older generation of which remembered Admiral Vorkosigan’s Conquest, took it as a personal loss of honor, and several Counts, for the first time, began expressing open discontent with Emperor Gregor’s reign.

In the years that followed, the rapid rise of free Komarr took the entire Nexus by surprise. A large part of this was due to its unique and quickly patented terraforming program. Developed by Dr. Enrique Borgos and Paul Galen under the patronage of Laisa Galen, the ‘Butter bugs’, nicknamed ‘Freedom bugs’ on Komarr, spread rapidly as bio-terraforming agents.

Five years later, a combination of trade sanctions and economic influence led to a Komarran takeover of House Bharaputra, placing Komarran enterprise on a firm foothold in biogenetics in addition to interstellar trade. At almost the same time, the discovery and development of the Radovas Effect allowed them to challenge Betan supremacy in military technology.

On the other side of the wormhole, the opposite was seen; the great Barrayaran economic growth that had begun during Aral Vorkosigan’s Regency first slowed, then halted. Less well known, but no less important, was the social discontent caused by the large number of Barrayarans who returned to their home planet having become accustomed to the relatively open, casteless and gender-equal society of Komarr.

Dr. David Galen has often been quoted as saying that independence was not an end, but a beginning for Komarr.

It would be equally accurate to say that for the Barrayaran Empire, it was the beginning of the end.




No history book will tell you this. It is strange; even with an empire that was never loved, the moment of parting is accompanied by heartbreak.

- David Galen 



Excerpt from the testimony given by Colonel Lord Anatole Vortala to the Special Inquiry Session of the Council of Counts, 822 YAI:

LORD GUARDIAN: Do you remember your last day on Komarr?

VORTALA: How is this relevant to any of these proceedings?

LORD GUARDIAN: I will remind you once again that you owe respect to this Council.

VORTALA: Fine. Of course I remember. It’s not something anyone could forget. The celebrations were wild – you wouldn’t have imagined that the streets of Solstice could hold so many people - crying, hugging each other, hugging strangers in the streets. There were people standing on top of buildings, people hanging out of buildings, people standing on other people. And not one of them was paying any attention to us. It was as if, overnight, we’d suddenly stopped mattering.

LORD GUARDIAN: Where were you on that day?

VORTALA: I was on the security detail at Solstice. I was waiting outside the Memorial when David Galen came out. He just came and stood there for a minute, not doing anything, just staring out at the crowd and the dome lit in the colors of Komarr. I saluted him – we had to, didn’t we? Head of State of an independent ally and all that. He looked at me, and I could see he was shocked.  

LORD GUARDIAN: And what did he say to you?

VORTALA: In the end he just smiled and thanked me. Then he walked out to deliver his speech. And then Komarr was free.