Being in M&S, and showing my mother the aforementioned Barrayaran coat produced a moment of what I must once again apologise for calling 'inspiration', the fortunately brief results of which follow.
The Prisoner of Vorbarr Sultana
Count Vorkosigan had had an exhausting week. What with his father's death and funeral, the inevitable ImpSec investigation, and a planet-full of counts calling to express their condolences, not to mention a few off-worlders keen to check that the old man was really dead, it had been a trying time for his nerves. Mark consoled himself with the belief that even Miles must have found it so, and he wouldn't have been responsible for assassinating the old count and having to impersonate the new. Just about every man on the planet with a Vor in front of his name had been eager to meet the new count, even if only to confirm that they intended to keep up old enmities. Finally it looked like he might manage an hour on his own, and though he would much rather have had a drink and gone to bed, Mark sat down at the comconsole to look into a few of the more interesting rumous that had emerged during the day. No rest for the wicked. He was deep into an ImpSec report formerly for Aral's eyes only when he heard the delicate cough on the far side of the room.
The first thing that Mark noticed about the man were his eyes, bright blue, glittering with spirit, and deathly cold. The second was the plasma arc in his right hand. The third was that his left hand held Mark's own weapon. Oh dear. In the circumstances, the question "What the hell are you doing here?" seemed redundant. Mark asked it anyway.
The man smiled, his upper lip curling to render it a sneer. "I've come to pay my respects to the new Count Vorkosigan, of course. You are Count Vorkosigan - even to me. If killing the previous count and his heir presented an insurmountable obstacle to taking up the title, this wouldn't be Barrayar. Besides, I believe that you and I have a mutual interest."
Play for time, thought Mark, learn who he is, then kill him. Somehow. From the other side of that plasma weapon.
"You're talking nonsense", he said flatly.
"If I am, why haven't your armsmen killed me already?"
"I take after my father - I like to execute my enemies myself."
The blond brows rose a little. "You really aren't Miles. Don't worry. I don't intend to tell anyone." The man caught a wheeled chair with one finger, pulled it towards him and sat down, folding one ankle nonchalantly over the other knee. The plasma arc remained steady throughout. He looked at it. "I appreciate it may be a little difficult for you to trust me on the other end of this, but you must understand that I need to look after myself. I thought of recording this conversation, but it seemed a little too risky for me. You might choose not to believe that, of course."
Mark gritted his teeth. "What do you want?"
"Only to serve you, my lord count," he smiled, a flash of white teeth and mocking eyes. "I know you are Miles' clone. I know the Komarrans made you, and I know that you are aiming for the Imperium. I also know that you can't do it all on your own." He stood, laid the plasma arc carefully at his feet, and bowed deeply and exquisitely so that Mark saw the pale skin at the nape of his neck below the curling hair. He straightened and laughed merrily."You see? You do need me. Otherwise you should have killed me then." He kicked Mark's plasma arc skimming to him across the floor.
"Permit me to introduce myself. I am Rupert Vorhentzau, and I am at your service."