- "The huge rippling shadow struck out of nowhere, at incredible speed... Miles first saw the fangs as they bit and tore and buried themselves in the rat's tissues. They were functional fangs, not just decorative, set in a protruding jaw, with long lips and a wide mouth; yet the total effect was lupine rather than simian. A flat nose, ridged, powerful brows, high cheekbones. Hair a dark matted mess. And yes, fully eight feet tall, a rangy, tense-muscled body."
Taura was a genetically-altered human produced on Jackson's Whole as part of a failed super-soldier project. There were ten prototypes created; by the time she was sixteen years old, she was the only survivor. Her creators did not give her a name; rather, they addressed her as Nine.
Miles Vorkosigan met her on Jackson's Whole when she was sixteen; he gave her the name Taura and persuaded her to join the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet; he also became her friend and sometimes lover. In the Fleet, she attained the rank of Sergeant, in charge of Green Squad.
The committee in charge of designing her and her creche-mates did a great deal of experimenting with animal genes in creating their idea of a super-soldier -- she was extremely strong, had good endurance, was capable of moving extremely quickly, had a very high pain threshold, and could see well into the infrared and slightly into the ultraviolet. She was also slightly more than eight feet tall, with functional fangs. As a result, she could terrify people simply by smiling widely at them. To keep such a high-powered body going required quite a bit more food than the average person; she typically ate about three times as much as an unmodified person per day.
Taura attended Miles' wedding to Ekaterin on Barrayar, where she was instrumental in discovering an elaborate plot to strike at Miles on his wedding day. Due to her actions, she was asked to stand as Second for Ekaterin in her wedding circle, and struck up a relationship with Armsman Roic. Lady Alys Vorpatril aided her with her wardrobe, to stunning effect:
- "A stunning vision in hunter green stepped through behind her. Oh, it was still Taura, certainly, but ... the skin that had been sallow and dull against the pink was now revealed as a glowing ivory. The green jacket fit very trimly about the waist. Above, her pale shoulders and long neck seemed to bloom from a white linen collar; below, the jacket skirt skimmed out briefly around the upper hips. A narrow skirt continued the long green fall to her firm calves. Wide linen cuffs decorated with subtle white braid made her hands look, if not small, well-proportioned. The pink nail polish was gone, replaced by a dark mahogany shade. The heavy braid hanging down her back had been transformed into a mysteriously knotted arrangement, clinging close to her head and set off with a green ... hat? feather? anyway, a neat little accent tilted to the other side. The odd shape of her face seemed suddenly artistic and sophisticated rather than distorted."
- ―Winterfair Gifts[src]
Due to her metabolism, Taura aged very rapidly, and she died at the age of thirty.
Miles and Ekaterin named their third daughter Taura in her honor.
Behind the scenes
- The character of Taura and events of "Labyrinth" were inspired by the song "King Henry and the Grisly Ghost" by Steeleye Span, in the album Below the Salt As relayed here.
- The meaning of her name: "Taura is Miles's notion of the feminine form of Taurus, for the Minotaur found at the heart of the Labyrinth." (see goodreads answer)