- "The glowing screen didn't contain manufacturing data or serial numbers either. Just a stylized scarlet screaming-bird pattern on a silver background. . . . His heart began to lump. What the hell was this doing here...?
'Miles,' said Bel's voice, seeming to come from a long way off, 'if you're going to pass out, put your head down.'
'Between my knees,' choked Miles, 'and kiss my ass good-bye. Bel, do you know what that sigil is?'
'No,' said Bel, in a leery now-what? tone.
'Cetagandan Star Crèche. Not the military ghem-lords, not their cultivated—and I mean that in both senses—masters, the haut lords—not even the Imperial Celestial Garden. Higher still. The Star Crèche is the innermost core of the innermost ring of the whole damned giant genetic engineering project that is the Cetagandan Empire. The haut ladies own gene bank.'"
- ―What is the Star Creche?[src]
The Star Crèche, denoted by a screaming bird insignia, was the most exclusive haut governmental department, in which human genetic experimentation occurred, in what might be called "a giant eugenics project."
The Empress of Cetaganda was responsible for directing the evolution of the Cetagandan race, using the ba for live experimentation and the ghem as a source of wild genes to potentially incorporate. She was also responsible for genetically creating her Imperial son, modifying the combined genes of herself and the reigning Emperor. The first trials generally involved the creation of one or more ba servitors, who were genetic siblings of the Emperor.
The Crèche was also the source of the most deadly and arcane of bioweapons in the galaxy, which even terrified the ghem. There were few rumors of internal use of them; the most public known use of haut biological weapons was displayed during Ker Dubauer's reign of terror in Quaddiespace during its attempt to steal a Crèche's child shipment.
However, Miles revealed that the haut lords who masterminded the invasion of Barrayar had stolen bioweapons from the Crèche and were going to be deployed to wipe out the Barrayaran population when nuclear weapons didn't deter the armed resistance to their occupation. In fact, the mass executions following their return weren't for failing to conquer Barrayar as Barrayarans assumed, but for theft and disobeying the Star Crèche.