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Vorkosigan Wiki

Clement Koudelka (koo-DEHL-kuh), best known as simply Kou to close friends, was a prominent Barrayaran official with close relations to the Vorbarra ruling family and the Vorkosigans.


"Kou, in the moments he forgot to pretend himself an artificial Vor, displayed an amazing and detailed grasp of black-market economics. Or, how had a grocer bought his son the education to gain entry to the fiercely competitive Imperial Military Academy?"
―Kou's black-market skills[src]

Clement was born a grocer's son who might have had black market connections in the Caravanserai. At some point, Clement became ashamed of his father's profession in the Barrayaran militocracy, and joined the Barrayaran Imperial Service when he became of age.

Military career[]

Koudelka was assigned to Captain Aral Vorkosigan's command in the "Leper Colony". It is unknown why he was assigned to the perceived bad posting, although it could have been due to Koudelka's low-born status. Koudelka soon became a favorite of Vorkosigan's. During Radnov's mutiny on Sergyar, Koudelka remained loyal to Vorkosigan, which cost him when a banished Radnov ambushed him on the planet with a nerve disruptor, nearly killing him.

"Nude, Koudelka could pose as a visual aid for a lecture on the structure of the human nervous system, each scar representing a dead nerve excised and replaced with artificial silver threads. Lieutenant Koudelka was not quite used to his new nervous system yet. Speak truth. The surgeons here are ignorant clumsy butchers. The work was certainly not up to Betan standards."
―Cordelia's opinion of Kou's repairs[src]

Koudelka's nervous system was fried, paralyzing him - he survived only because his innermost, autonomic nerve clusters were unaffected. However, he lost all mobility. On Barrayar, his dead nerves were replaced by an artificial nervous system, the work for which was shoddy by Galactic standards.

However, his loyalty paid off when Aral Vorkosigan was elected Regent of Barrayar. Koudelka was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned as Vorkosigan's personal secretary, which allowed him to continue his military career despite his injuries.

During this time, he fell in love with "Drou" Droushnakovi, but was too ashamed of his physical shortcomings to openly court her. Instead, he sublimated his feelings through hostility towards Drou; however, he defended Drou's honor valiantly when she was not present. Another reason he was wary of courting her was the unreliability of his sexual functioning due to nerve damage. He was brutally assaulted alongside Sergeant Bothari after a visit to a brothel in the Caravanserai where he tried to determine if he was able to function normally and ended up wasting a lot of the whore's time. After these initial troubles, he succeeded in courting Drou and they married shortly after the end of the Vordarian Pretendership.

"His brow wrinkled. "Are you any relation to Commodore Clement Koudelka?" A name high on the list of Aral Vorkosigan's senior staff officers. Galen's list, of further assassinations if opportunity had presented."
―Kou, on Mark's short list of important Barrayarans[src]

He rose through the Barrayaran military ranks, reaching Commodore. While a captain, he served on at least occasion as a financial investigator for then-Prime Minister Aral Vorkosigan, squeezing budget numbers from Admiral Hessman's staff.

Family and Later Life[]

Kou remained on Aral Vorkosigan's staff, and received a promotion to Commodore. The Koudelkas and the Vorkosigans remained personally close as well, and Kou became a respected mentor to Miles Vorkosigan. 

Kou and Drou had four daughters: Delia, Martya, Olivia and Kareen. They were among the first middle-class families to adopt uterine replicator technology, and their third and fourth daughters were both replicator births. As the girls reached college ages, the Koudelka family experienced some financial difficulty due to the cost of raising and schooling four daughters. Kou told his friends that he expected his girls to marry military officers, joking that he would "own the senior staff" in his old age. His oldest daughter, Delia, did in fact marry Commodore Duv Galeni (head of ImpSec's Komarran Affairs department); as of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance they had two children. His daughter Olivia became engaged to and later married Count Dono Vorrutyer. Martya became involved with an Escobaran biochemist, Enrique Borgos. His youngest daughter, Kareen, developed a relationship with Lord Mark Vorkosigan; Kou was initially displeased - in all justice Mark was scarcely a prospect any father would welcome - but he later apologized to Mark for having been harder on him than was necessary or desirable.

Personality and traits[]

Koudelka was about 6'4", with attractive features when young. After his injuries, he used a swordstick as a cane to assist in walking. He was hyper-sensitive about his injuries at first, but gradually adjusted. When he was young, Aral Vorkosigan considered him to be "a clean-minded boy".

At some point, it seems that Koudelka had Galactic-standard surgery for his nervous system, as none of the impediments of the original work seem to have affected him anymore, aside from use of a cane. However, this is never addressed in any of the official books, so it remains speculative.

Behind the scenes[]

A possible origin for the name Koudelka is the Czech-French photographer, Josef Koudelka