|Civilian jump station, Komarr (x-posted from character journal)
||[Aug. 1st, 2007|12:45 pm]
Tamu smiled over her father's note. As if she didn't know the affection that lay behind his gentle chiding about her choice of a new home on Barrayar, so far from Earth. But it was like him to make sure.|
All of her belongings had been whisked away into the baggage system. Her shuttle wouldn't leave for a good while yet, all she had to do was show up at the appointed time. Meanwhile she could keep herself amused by wandering about the station and engaging in her perennial pursuit, people watching. It went far beyond mere hobby or pastime; what was an anthropologist, after all, but an over-educated people-watcher?
She caught the scent of a bakery. They vented their ovens into the corridor so that it filled with the rich smell of spicy Barrayaran bread. Clever! Well, she might as well start sampling the local cuisine. Plus, deep-set instincts would make her appear more innocuous to others if she were eating. You had to know such things if your hobbies involved staring at people. She grinned at herself and went in.
The person behind the counter was a tall youth, with what she'd come to recognize as typically Barrayaran brown eyes and hair, and a distinct resemblace to the stout middle-aged woman who bustled around with bread and cakes and muffins and other delectable items a few steps back in the tiny shop. Neither of them so much as glanced twice at the small woman in her exotic-looking head scarf and long dress. After all, they lived on a space station and saw all kinds.
Tamu gazed at the list of offerings posted above the counter. Ma Babochkin's Barrayar Bakery, the sign proclaimed. Indeed. "Spice bread...a Barrayaran specialty!" That sounded promising. Ooh, and a meat pastie. And some coffee. Everywhere in the Nexus had coffee. It was a human universal. Even the overbred Cetagandans drank it.
She drew a logical conclusion. "Can I get some cinnamon in my coffee?" Yes, she could. She stepped out again with a small sack full of goodies and a steaming cup of universal human food culture. Barrayar had milk cows as well, it turned out.
Tamu settled in on a bench with the best view, nibbled on her prizes, and watched the human variety walk by. There were a few Barrayaran military types, though most of those she assumed would be over on the other station. There were many more Komarran citizens in the loose trousers they favored, and more Barrayarans, some dressed in civilian clothes and a very few in what she recognized as House uniforms. She didn't know enough yet to instantly know which ones were which, but she did recognize a Vorsmythe uniform from when she'd been socializing with the Vorthys' and some of their friends. Vorsmythe, she understood, was an industrialist and it made sense that some of his people would be travelling between Barrayar and Komarr. The presence of one of his Armsmen might mean that Vorsmythe himself or one of his family were here, or it might just mean that he had a pressing need for a very trusted agent. Another man dressed in a House uniform she didn't recognize strode by, looking tense.
This sent her thinking about the peculiar Barrayaran system of neo-feudalism. How did it continue to survive under the pressures of contact with the galactic civilization? And yet, it did. Changing, no doubt, but maintaining its basic structure. Was that inertia, a desire to minimize social chaos (of which the Barrayarans had had plenty in the last hundred and fifty years) or did it offer some intrinsic benefit which made it worth preserving? She hoped to find out, or at least to form a more elaborate theory...