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Dynasty of the Butchers
recorded by Nick Sakva
Recently the new publishing house "Whole Galaxy" started the publication of the documentary-adventure serial dedicated to the latest political events of the Galaxy. The serial was entitled after its first novel, the "Shards of Hope". At the upmost the novels are written in the genre of heroic tragedy - nowadays a fairly rare one. With the main characters either defeated or even perished, the readers are still not left with perpetual despair: the heroes' defeat or even death prevents far more terrible occurances. They rise up against the Evil, their selflessness makes us believe in the final triumph over the Evil, even though it temporarily prevails.
The novels are combined in the serial mainly due to one (common) personage embodying this very Evil - Aral Vorkosigan, The Butcher of Komarr.
Aral Vorkosigan gained his ominous sobriquet in the massacre of Solstis, but he could have earned it even without this event. His bloody steps could be retraced back to his childhood. It was he - at that time only eleven, who stroke the first blow to the dethroned Emperor Yury when the latter was - verbally bestially - lacerated by the usurper Ezar Vorbarr's gang. In his youth Aral Vorkosigan slaughtered first his wife's several admirers, after which he shot her as well. But already then was The Butcher very skillful in lumping the blame on the others, fully profiting by his high position in the Barrayar society steeped in caste and feudal prejudices. His wife's death was declared a suicide, those of her admirers - the outcome of a duel.
At a later time, having commanded the execution of the resigned political elite of Kommar, he also declared responsible for this dead the political officer, who intended to report his overstepped arbitrariness. Prior to blaming this officer The Butcher finished him off with his own hands. Preparing the invasion to Escobar, Aral Vorkosigan met Cordelia Naismith, the unscrupulous and insidious betan lady-criminal. She was imprisoned by Barrayars, turned round by them later and then entrusted with some espionage mission. After the Barrayars failed to keep their invasion plans (to Escobar) secret, they feigned Neismith's escape, thus having planted their spy into the Beta Astronomical Servey. During the invasion of Barrayars to Escobar Naismith "surrendered" herself to Barrayarans again and informed the Butcher about the supply to Escobar of the new secret betan weapons - plasma mirrors. But instead of reporting to the Supreme Command Unit of the Barrayar's Fleet, Vorkosigan concealed this information. The Barrayar's Fleet advanced to a self-murdering attack which turned to be the last one for lots of Barrayars, for the entire Supreme Command Unit, and for the Crown Prince - the elimination of the latter being the main goal of The Butcher. During this The Butcher had kept himself in the far rear.
Now, only the overaged Emperor and the baby-son of the perished Crown Prince stayed as hindrance still between The Butcher and the imperial power.
In the meantime Cordelia Naismith headed to Beta, entrusted again with espionage assignments for Barrayar. However, this time the whole arrangement flopped. The betan psychologist Mehta unmasked the spy. Nevertheless, she managed to vanish and to escape later to Barrayar. Criminal nature, unscrupulousness and the shared "mystery" of the Crown Prince's death drew them, Vorkosigan and Neysmith together - and Cordelia became Lady Vorkosigan.
Skillfully intriguing at court, Vorkosigan made the dying Emperor to appoint him Regent. His very first year of Regency The Butcher commemorated with the atrocious execution of a boy (some Count's son charged with unintended homicide of his friend).
Even the Barrayars themselves - being used to any cruelty - were horrified
by this execution.
Count Vordarian, the faithful admirer of the Princess Kareen (the mother of the Infant-Emperor Gregor) tried to save his beloved lady and her son from the Butcher-Regent. He stirred up rebellion, took hold of the Capital and won lots of Barrayars over to his side. But the subversive group, headed by Cordelia Naismith personally, crept into the Palace, shot the Princess, decapitated the Count and set the Palace on fire in the attempt to cover up their traces. Thus the Vorkosigans had again a convenient mute pawn to blame for the Princess's death - Count Vordarian this time. Following this the Vorkosigans became official custodians of the Infant-Emperor. All power in the Barrayar Imperium was now concentrated in The Butcher's hands.
But even with all this absolute power The Butcher could not escape his destiny: his son Miles was born as deformed mutant. According to cruel Barrayar traditions no mutants had right to live, so all misshapen new-borns had to be killed by their mothers immediately after birth. But for Vorkosigan the traditions of his Mother-Planet played no role - same as all other common human values.
The entire Medical Academy was assigned to his son's therapeutical treatment, although in vain - the latter stayed a crooked pygmy for ever. The vorkosigans cloned Miles hoping to graft their son's brain into the clone's body - but the two of them turned to be as like as two pears with the clone having absolutely same deformities as Miles.
It's hard to say whether the Regent planned to physically eliminate the young Emperor or to bring him up as a weak-willed marionette. It might be that the physical elimination did not come to pass due to the rebellion on Komarr which took place in Vorkosigan's fourth year of regency and which he brutally supressed. Anyway, Gregor attained his majority and ascended the throne. Vorkosigan turned from Regent to Prime-Minister, still keeping all power in his hands.
Nevertheless, the young Emperor managed not to turn the puppet of Vorkosigan. So The Butcher started to spin a new web of intrigues. He assigned his crooked son, Miles Vorkosigan to recruite a mercenary space flotilla, planning to use it later for usurpation of power. Count Vordroszda unveiled the plot, but the Vorkosigans again managed to whitewash themselves and to blame the others.
But after this flop it was definitely necessary to yank Vorkosigan-junior our of sight. After a crash-training course he was appointed meteorologist of the Training Center. Here as well the tenacious and wayward pygmy stayed true to his cantancerous nature, enkindling national conflicts and provocing a mutiny of soldiers belonging to the Greek minority of Barrayar.
As usual, the Vorkosigans managed to find a suitable scapegoat - this time it had to be the Director of the Training Center, Colonel Metzov, who was disgracefully dismissed afterwards.
But already the storm-clouds were gathering over the Vorkosigans. The young Emperor used to stand on the Butcher's way more and more often, lumping his ambitious schemes. Still Vorkosigan did not see a chance to openly eliminate him. He span a sophisticated versatile intrigue, aiming both to bring Barrayars into the Hegen Hab and to finally finish off the Emperor - leaving his own hands clean of course. Apparently, he planned to feign the Emperor's kidnapping and murder by Aslund - the action which then would have been retaliated by the Barrayar's Fleet. Vorkosigan-junior had to perform effective guidance of this operation, in Hegen Hab.
This next venture of the Butcher was only a half-success. The Emperor was rescued thanks to Colonel Metzov (who - after the dismissal from the Barrayar's Army - entered the mercenary "Randall's Rangers" fleet). The Colonel recognized the Emperor and released him from the hands of "as-if-Aslund's" hierlings (who actially were those of Vorkosigans).
Staying with Randal's Rangers, the young Emperor got acquainted to their Commander, the charming lady Cavilo. Promptly the magnetic force of love brought the young people together. But Vorkosigan-junior managed to deceive and capture the loving couple. He went so far as to threat the Emperor with arms in front of his own troops. Not to risk the Emperor's life Cavilo had to surrender. So the Emperor found himself in Vorkosigan's hands again. This new offence however had many witnesses, thus giving the Vorkosigans an undesired transparency which would not let them kill the Emperor - even exercising their usual "finding-the-enemy" trick.
Nevertheless, the Barrayar's mercenary fleet exercised its way over the Hegen Hab. A desperate attempt of the Cetagandians to hinder them was repulsed - all the more because the Barrayar's regular Forces arrived "just in time". During this action Vorkosigan-junior showed himself a meritorious successor of his father, having ruthlessly murdered Colonel Metzov and those mercenary officers who refused to turn Barrayar's "blood-hounds". The Vorkosigan-junior's clone was then appointed Commander of the headless fleet.
This fleet, named "Dendarian" after the Vorkosigans' patrimony, acted for years as the Center of espionage, sabotage and terrorism in the Galaxy. Its score counted the support of Felician dictatorship in the war on Tau Verde, several offensive acts against the biological laboratories of the Bharaputra and Ryoval Houses on Jackson Whole, sabotages on Earth against emigrants from Komarr, espionage activity on the Kline Station. The Dendarians also kindled the flame of the civil war on Marilac: they recruited an army of antisocial elements and religious fanatics on Dagoola and transferred them to Marilac.
But after all, the Vorkosigan's plan to take the young Emperor in hand didn't come true. He was forced to leave the Prime-Minister post and to go in "exile", crowned with the title of Vice-Roy of Sergyar.
Black clouds gathered over the head of his heir as well. The Head of the Imperial Security Agency, Simon Illian, tried to rid himself of compromising links to the Butcher. He therefore discharged Vorkosigan-junior from office. The latter however, being worth his father, returned a new intrigue for this move: the result was the dismissal of two Heads of the Security Agency, one after another. Allegre, loyal to Vorkosigans, headed the agency at last. Vorkosigan-junior polished his arrangement, rewarding himself with the position of Imperial Auditor.
His first auditory assignment was the investigation of an accident of the Komarr's reflector. The least of his fervour was dedicated to technical aspects of the accident, the most of it he threw to a search of political background. Parallel, he enjoyed himself in a love affair with Ekaterin Vorsuasson, the wife of the Project Manager, who headed terraforming of the Seriphose Sector. Availing himself of the death of some Vorsuasson's subordinates in that accident, the Auditor Vorkosigan pounced the entire might of the State Security upon this harmless Komarr's company. This resulted in a mysterious disappearance of ALL employees of the Heat Emission Usage Department and in the death of Vorsuasson himself - also of a very enigmatic nature. The offficially announced cause was some malfunction of a breathing apparatus. After it Vorkosigan forced Ekaterin Vorsuasson to merry him.
Such is the canvas of real occurances which served as the background for this new documentary-adventury serial.
Short content of the first novels of the serial
"Shards of Hope"
Admiral Vorkosigan prepares grounds for perfidious invasion to Escobar. Political Officer Radnov fully realizes the criminal nature of this enterprise and tries to prevent it, risking his own life. On this path he is ready to face his death, but still manages to avert the invasion surprise.
Mehta, psychologist of the Betan Astronomical Survey, tries to mend the psychics of Cordelia Neismith, who just escaped from the Barrayar's captivity. Instead of more or less normal shock after-effects she unexpectedly runs across traces of a deep mental influence caused by the Barrayars to the woman's psychics.
The love-story of Count Vordarian and Princess Kareen. Trying to rescue his beloved lady and her son from the insidious Regent, Vordarian rises up a rebellion. The loving couple perishes in the fire of this battle, but the son of the Princess survives.
"The Mountains of Moral"
A terrible mutant is born in Barrayar's periphery, whose existence threatens the whole planet. Mara Mattulic, a mountaineer woman faithful to her ancestors' behests, bars the road of the monster. The mutation is stopped, but the Count-Mutant Miles Vorkosigan condemns Mattulic to death.
"The Detective's Apprentice"
Participating at the state funeral of the Cetagandian Empress, Vorkosigan-junior hatches a plot aiming to collapse the Cetagandian Empire. The young artist Yenaro fathoms the perfidious designs of the Barrayars and unveils the criminal project.
Vorkosigan-junior and his clone design an intrigue against Galeni, the Head of the Security of the Barrayar's Embassy on Earth. Resulting from it, Galeni is accused of complicity with his father, the known antagonist of the Barrayar's tyranny. To save his son, Galeni-senior surrenders to the Vorkosigans and finds his death in their hands.
"Lilly of Jackson"
The Vorkosigans seek to enslave the Jackson Whole, the stronghold of liberty in the galaxy. Their rascal-hirelings make a gangsterous raid to the planet elite school and take them innocent kids hostage. Almost all children fall into sinister clutches of the Barrayar's ImpSec but for one girl - the baroness Bharaputra's next of kin who manages to escape. To locate the courageous girl the Vorkosigans send one of their clones to the house of Bharaputra. Parallel to that the second Vorkosigan's clone is assigned with the task to creep in the baron Rioval's estate, to assassinate him and to seize power in his domain...
Simon Illyan, the head of the imperial IA, in his old age tries to whitewash his name and to repudiate all criminal deeds of the Vorkosigans. He unmasks the doublicity of Miles Vorkosigan, the leader of the cosmic pirates, lures him to Barrayar and dismisses him disgracefully. Striving to come back to his former power, Miles Vorkosigan contemplates a new offense: he poisons Illyan with a psychogenic venom and the latter looses his mind. The new head of ImpSec, the upright patriot Garoshe, establishes Vorkosigan's guilt and demands his prosecution. To distract suspicion from himself, blaming at the same time an innocent person, Vorkosigan employs Galeni, the unscrupulous collaborator from Komarr who cooperates with the Barrayar's IA since long ago. Galeni surreptitiously places some forged pieces of evidence in Garoshe's office...
The Vorkosigan's clone kidnaps Enrique Borgos, a biologist from Escobar. In a secret lab of Vorkosigan's residence Borgos develops a new biological weapon - a deleterious beetle, capable to devour any kind of plantation. To destroy the eerie plan, Escobar's agent Gustioz heads to Barrayar. He manages to turn this biological weapon against its creators. The horrible beetle with the Vorkosigan's emblem on its wings starts his sinister procession in Barrayar.