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Imperial Security Headquarters in Vorbarr Sultana served as the main headquarters of Barrayaran Imperial Security. building was designed during Mad Emperor Yuri's reign by the mad architect, Dono Vorrutyer.

"The Imperial Security Headquarters building stood windowless, foursquare against the light, a vast utilitarian concrete block with enormous gates and doors certainly designed to diminish any human supplicant fool enough to approach it."
―Mark Vorkosigan's first impression of ImpSec[src]

Famous for being the ugliest building in the city, it was blockish, six floor building (plus several subbasements) with deliberately oversized front steps. People who had real business in the building generally went around the front entrance and entered from the side instead.[1] Tourists from the backcountry made a habit of driving by just to look at it. There were stylized granite monsters carved in low relief on the door lintel; these came to be called "pressed gargoyles."[2] This building had few or no windows (it was sometimes claimed that there were none, but while Miles Vorkosigan was living and working in the building, he did successfully locate one[3]). It was further described as being "well designed" by a paranoid, with air and water filtration suitable for space ships. Walls and floors were steel-reinforced, with real thought put into blast containment. Each room had a biolab grade filtration system, and a central room filtered and flash-cooked returning air in order to destroy any poison gases or microbes. The heat generated by this process was used to distill the drinking water.[4] The level that had the Chief of ImpSec's office could only be reached by going up two different lift tubes and then down another.[2] The sub-sub-basement used to have a prison block for political prisoners, both in Yuri's time and Ezar's. Illyan had them converted to Evidence Storage shortly after he spent a month in them during the events of The Warrior's Apprentice.[5] The Evidence Rooms included a Cold Room, a Biologicals Room, at least four Weapons Rooms, and a Poisons Room.[6]

Nicknames for the building included "Paranoia Central" and "Cockroach Central," the latter name being used even by the people who worked there.[7] Simon Illyan (who ran the place) said he would sell the building for a Betan dollar, if only he could find a Betan with a dollar and no taste, and if only the Council of Counts would build him a new building, which they wouldn't. According to Alys Vorpatril, Simon used to keep a holo of the Investigatif Federale building on Escobar (a tall glass building) on the wall of his inner office, the way some men would keep pinups.[7]

After the building was undermined (literally) by means of a prototype mycoborer, an accident involving a backed-up storm drain turned the soil under the building to mud, causing ImpSec HQ to sink some four stories straight down into the ground. Evacuated via the roof, the building was stripped, cleared of classified and valuable materials, and sold off to a private investor, who was able to bargain down the price by accepting liability. Finding a way to re-raise the building back to its original height and position, he converted it into a themed resort, complete with museum, hotel, restaurant, and nightclub. The resort opened about a year after the accident. The replacement ImpSec headquarters building was located on a different site.[8]


Both (current and formal) Imperial Security chiefs had been fascinated by engineering model of building sinking[9]

Notes and references[]

  1. Mirror Dance chapter 18
  2. 2.0 2.1 Memory chapter 4
  3. The Vor Game chapter 7
  4. Memory chapter 22
  5. Memory chapter 26
  6. Memory chapter 23
  7. 7.0 7.1 Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 15
  8. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance Epilogue
  9. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 24