Creation of Naismith
Miles Naismith Vorkosigan developed an alternate identity as Admiral Naismith, under which he ran the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet (formally the Oseran Mercenaries until Miles took over from Admiral Oser) until the novel Memory. It began as a lie but eventually evolved into a real cover identity. Even this was an improvisation, as Miles found himself facing charges of treason for raising a private army, and had to offer the Dendarii as a "Crown Troop" working in the service of Emperor Gregor to deflect the charges. Necessarily, he had to be Admiral Naismith so that the Dendarii could carry out missions on behalf of Barrayar without the responsibility for those missions being traced back to Barrayar itself. Given the restricted life of a Vor lordling, as well as the prejudice against Miles' mutoid appearance on Barrrayar, and the galaxy-spanning horizons available to Naismith, Miles eventually came to value Naismith's life over the one he was born to.
Who is Naismith supposed to be?
- "I guess Naismith is me with no brakes. No constraints." - Miles Vorkosigan, The Vor Game
Admiral Naismith was quite a formidable personality, able to convince and persuade (or manipulate) most people to see things from his point of view. He was also a good judge of personnel, an essential for a leader. This characteristic made him a very dangerous enemy, as he was willing to take risks that most normal people would avoid. He also improvised brilliantly. Sent into a Cetagandan prison camp to find and extract one important Marilacan guerrilla leader, he managed to convert the mission into a full-scale breakout of most of the prisoners, using nothing more than the force of his personality, a screwball religion espoused by one of the inmates, and some coded comments picked up by his support team, who had infiltrated the Cetagandan garrison to monitor the mission. ("The Borders of Infinity"). The success of this mission, and the ensuing rebellion on Marilac, caused the Cetagandans to put a price on Miles' head.
In theory, Naismith was a Betan by birth and spoke with the distinctive nasal Betan accent which Miles learned from his mother. The typical Barrayaran accent was described as guttural in comparison. The back story that Miles improvised when taking over the Oseran mercenaries had him being part of a larger unit of mercenaries but in time it became apparent that the former Oserans were the whole of the Dendarii Mercenaries. Veterans such as Captains Ky Tung and Bel Thorne eventually realized the deception, but kept the fact that they knew hidden from Miles himself. Officially only Miles, Elena Bothari, her husband Baz Jesek, Arde Mayhew, and Miles' second-in-command and lover Elli Quinn, knew the truth.
Later, Miles developed a cover that he was a clone made by the Cetagandans meant to infiltrate Barrayar by replacing Miles Vorkosigan. This turned out to be ironic, as there was a real clone made for just that purpose, but by Komarrans. When Miles encountered, and made peace with, his clone brother Mark, this allowed Miles to cement his cover by having a Cetagandan officer witness both Miles Vorkosigan and Admiral Naismith in the same place at the same time.
Eventually, the split personality of turning Naismith on and off became a problem for Miles. This was especially true on Earth, when fleeing the Cetagandans required him to report to the Barrayaran embassy as Miles Vorkosigan and take cover there, while still commanding the fleet during a difficult and expensive refit. It was complicated by his developing affair with Elli Quinn, who was adamant that she did not like Lord Vorkosigan at all. It also complicated his dealings with various plots on his life, since he did not always know which were directed at Naismith, and which at Vorkosigan.
Decline and fall
Naismith - and Vorkosigan - suffered a setback during a botched rescue mission on the planet Jackson's Whole when Vorkosigan, trying to rescue his clone brother Mark who had impersonated Naismith for his own purposes, was fatally shot. Fortunately he was able to be cryo-frozen and eventually revived. Meanwhile Mark, despite gorging himself into obesity, had to become Naismith for a time. The chaotic story is described in the novel Mirror Dance.
As a result, Miles Vorkosigan suffered neurological effects resulting in seizures triggered by the buildup of stress-related neurotransmitters, ensuring that he was most likely to have a seizure when he most needed to be lucid. Covering up this, and its adverse consequences on a mission, resulted in Miles, in both personas, being fired from Barrayaran Imperial Security. This precipitated a crisis for Vorkosigan, who felt that Naismith was not just a role to him, but almost a part of him. His mother, Countess Vorkosigan bet her husband Aral Vorkosigan that Miles would choose the little admiral and run off with the Mercenaries.
Miles Vorkosigan mourned the loss of Admiral Naismith for a long time. However Miles' new role as Imperial Auditor gave him the opportunity to use Naismith's talents once more. As Ivan Vorpatril described Vorkosigan's role as Imperial Auditor startlingly reminiscent as his role as Naismith, "full tilt forward, no inhibitions, innocent bystanders scramble for their lives."
Naismith's final "death" may be said to have occurred around the time of Miles' betrothal to Ekaterin Vorsoisson. At that time, during the celebration of Emperor Gregor's wedding, ghem-General Dag Benin passed Miles a message from the Cetagandan Emperor Fletchir Giaja, expressing condolences over Naismith's death. The clear implication was that the Cetagandans had finally realized the truth. Benin also informed Miles that the Emperor would prefer Naismith to remain deceased, to which Miles responded, "I trust his resurrection will not be required."
- The Warrior's Apprentice
- The Vor Game
- "The Borders of Infinity"
- Brothers in Arms
- Mirror Dance