Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
you can find. I’ll bring back more tonight, I promise. Don’t go out. Don’t make any outgoing calls, or answer any incoming ones. Lock the doors, don’t let anyone in. If a slithering rat named Byerly Vorrutyer shows up, tell him to come back later, I want to talk to him.” He stared at her in urgent entreaty. “You aren’t a prisoner. But be here when I come back—please?”
    Tej gulped.
    His grip tightened; laughter flashed in his eyes. He pressed his lips formally to the backs of her hands, one after the other, in some Barrayaran ethnic gesture of unguessable significance, grinned, and ran. The outer door sighed closed on sudden silence, as if all the air had blown out of the room with him.
    After a frozen moment, she gathered her nerve, went to the balcony door, and eased it aside. Judging from the angle of the light, she would get an excellent view of Komarr’s huge and famous soletta array, key to the on-going terraforming, as it followed the sun across the sky, later. She’d never been able to see it from her own flat.
    She’d been cowering in the shadows for a long, sick time, it seemed in retrospect. Every plan she’d ever been given had come apart in chaos, her old life left in a blood-soaked shambles far behind her. Unrecoverable. Lost.
    No going back .
    Maybe it was time to take a deep breath and make some new plans. All her own.
    She ventured to the railing and peeked down, a dizzying twenty flights. Far below her, a hurrying figure in a green uniform exited the building, wheeled, and strode off.
         

Chapter Three
    Tej and Rish spent their first few minutes alone scouting the exits. The luxurious flat had only the one door, but the corridor had lift tubes at either end, and emergency stairs as well. There was also the balcony, Tej supposed, but to be survivable escape by that route would require either antigrav or rappelling gear, which they did not currently possess. They next explored the interior space for any hidden surveillance equipment or other surprises; there either was none, or it was very subtle. The lock on the outer door was much better than average, and Rish set it with satisfaction, but of course no ordinary door would stop a truly determined and well-equipped invader.
    Rish did find a compact launderizer concealed in the kitchenette, and applied herself to laundering all the dirty clothes they’d hastily packed, perhaps in the hope that their next escape, whatever it turned out to be, could be more orderly. Tej discovered the captain’s sybaritic bathroom, and decided to treat her chill weariness with a long soak.
    The scent of him still lingered in the moist air, strangely pleasant and complex, as if his immune system was calling out to hers: let’s get together and make wonderful new antibodies . She smiled at the silly image, lay back in the spacious tub of hot water, and frankly enjoyed his dash of inadvertently displaced flirtation in the old evolutionary dance, all the better because he couldn’t know how he was observed. It was, she realized after a bit, the first spontaneously sensual moment she’d had since the disastrous fall of her House, all those harried months back. The realization, and the memories it trailed, were enough to destroy the moment again, but it had been nice while it lasted.
    She stirred the water with her toes. Since they’d gone to ground on Komarr, fear and grief had slowly been replaced with the less stomach-churning memory of them, till last night had kicked it all up again. It was not in the least logical that she should feel—relatively—safe in this new refuge. Who was this Ivan Vorpatril, and how had he discovered her, and why ? She floated, her hair waving around her head like a sea-net, and breathed his fading scent again, as if it could supply some hint.
    The water didn’t cool—the tub had a heater—but at length her hands and feet grew rather wrinkly, and she surged up out of the cradling bath and dried off. Dressed again,

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