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The Haut are the ruling and highest class aristocracy of the Cetagandan Empire in American writer Lois McMaster Bujold's science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga. They feature heavily in the novel Cetaganda.
The Haut are effectively the ruling upper upper class of Cetaganda. While they do not control the military directly, they control the ghem-Lords that run the army. Their main power is advanced biological weapons that can decimate entire planets. They genetically engineer themselves towards the objective of perfecting humanity.
The male Haut are called Haut Lords. When referring to a Haut lord (or lady) one says, "That is the haut Lord Kety." They can also be known by simpler titles, such as "Haut Pel".
The Cetagandan Empire comprises eight planets, each referred to as a satrapy. Each planet is ruled by a Haut Governor. These positions are rotated by five year terms to prevent the governors from developing a power base. The historic Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar is referred to by Cetegandans as the Ninth Satrapy.
The Haut ladies are completely distinct from the Haut Lords. A select group of them run the haut genome and ensure genetic progress is made for the good of the haut. Less fortunate haut ladies are given as wives to honor successful ghem, usually decorated admirals or generals. This is a great honor for the ghem, as Haut women are genetically augmented to be extremely attractive, and having a haut wife is a great trophy for a ghem lord. But being given in marriage to a ghem lord is seen as a step down for haut women, who lose the privilege of traveling in force bubbles, and are no longer admitted to haut-only areas. From the perspective of the Star Crèche, such genetically planned mixings are a means to control the introduction of successful haut genetic refinements into the general population. They travel around in a force bubble that prevents others from seeing them unless they wish it, which increases their air of mystery.
The Star Crèche contains all haut genetic material. The Empress of Cetaganda is responsible for it, causing her, and the other haut women who run it, to wield enormous power among the haut. Haut, who all have 47 chromosomes (with the extra chromosome being used to include the new genes introduced by the Star Crèche, do not reproduce on their own but are given genetically engineered haut fetuses in uterine replicators who will become their children, solely at the discretion of the Star Crèche. Contracts are reached to determine which bloodlines (called "constellations" by the haut) cross and in what ways. The haut ladies who are the genetic engineers of the Star Crèche decide upon new traits they would like to include in each wave of fetuses, so that each generation may be an improvement, or at least a distinct change, from the last. New traits are first tested on the "ba", an asexual, genderless servant caste made up of people genetically very similar to the haut, except for their asexuality, lack of gender, possible visual markers (such as lack of hair), and genes to ensure obedience and discretion. Control of reproduction is another way that the Haut leaders on Cetaganda control the Satraps, the other haut and, by extension, the entire empire.
This is the female counterpart to the Satrap Governors, though their appointments are lifelong instead of 5 years at a time. Their titles are the "Consort" of their planet, instead of to the governor. They are charged with facilitating contracts for the creation of the haut children for their planets, acting as intermediaries between the haut lords and the Empress, and supervision of the yearly shipment of haut children who are created at the Celestial garden on Cetaganda, and sent to each planetary satrap.