"Admiral Naismith! Sir!"
Miles turns around. Miles quirks an eyebrow up at the tall young man in the grey-and-white uniform, waving frantically and dashing toward him through the crowded tube station. "Huh?"
"Sir, where have you been?" the soldier hisses as he pulls up.
He lets realization dawn on his face. "Oh, hell," he says, drawing the man aside into a low-traffic hallway off the main concourse and fixing him with an intense stare. "I need to know everything that's happened since I left. Immediately."
"Sir!" he agrees, awed. "It's been chaos, sir. We realized you were missing two jumps away from Earth, you and one of the Triumph's drop shuttles. The Ariel went back along the whole route - no sign of you. Captain Thorne only just caught up with the rest of the fleet. Sir, what did you do with the shuttle?"
"I - left orders to cover for my disappearance," he says, his mind racing. "Something must have come up... Who else is missing?"
"No one, sir. Well, unless you count the casualties from that last scuffle with the Cetagandans..."
"Who did we lose?" he asks seriously.
"I don't have the names with me, sir, I'm sorry."
He shakes his head. "Never mind. I'll get it sorted. What's the status of the fleet?"
"It's, uh, a bit of a mess," the soldier says sheepishly. "We could barely get a loan big enough to cover repairs - I don't think they even replaced the lost shuttles. I heard someone saying they might not be able to make pay next week."
"Shuttles? What, did you lose more than one?"
"No - the one you, um, vanished with, and then the two we lost at Dagoola."
"Oh, of course," he says, the last detail clicking into place. "Right. I was... trying to do something about that, actually. It's turned out to be a thornier problem than I expected. And no one was supposed to notice I was missing."
"I'm afraid it's a bit late for that, sir."
"I'm sorry for worrying everyone," he says, quirking a wry smile. "Everything's under control, or it will be soon. Now, listen: you never saw me here, you have no more idea of what happened to me than anybody else. Got it?"
"Yes, sir!" he says, straightening slightly in an attitude that suggests a salute without actually going so far as to produce one.
"Good man." He grins that brilliant Miles grin. "See you soon."
The soldier spins on his heel and strides off, remembering ten feet away that he's supposed to still be worried about his commander's disappearance and adjusting the bounce in his step appropriately. And... Miles... steps into a public lavatory to spend a minute hyperventilating. No longer than a minute. He has to take advantage of this. There isn't an option to do otherwise. Whether or not Miles Vorkosigan still exists - and vanishing into the aether with an entire combat drop shuttle between stops along a jump route strongly suggests he does not - it's a race against the clock now, either to slip into the gap before news of the disappearance spreads past the fleet, or to get in with them and through them back to Barrayar before Miles resurfaces from wherever the hell he took that shuttle.
He rushes home, stopping only to do a little basic research at a public comconsole. So the person he needs to be is Admiral Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Free Mercenaries. Not much of a secret identity, Miles. Maybe he should spin a tale that Naismith is a clone. Ha ha.