In his apartment, Lovartis lounged on his comfortable Plide sofa, his eyes fixed on his high-definition big-screen TV. A trashy Ether action show was on, one detailing the adventures of some scantily-clad adventurer in the Great Western Forest. Lovartis settled further into the sofa, a bottle of beer gently cradled in the hand not holding the TV's remote control. He was settled in a Zen state, only half-watching the show and allowing his very tired mind to rest. It had been a long week of hard work and Lovartis was ready for a break.

In the hallway of the condominium, a tall man in a dark suit was quietly walking toward Lovartis's door. His sleek black shoes made no noise. The wide, elegantly-designed and well-lit hallway was empty; no one knew of the man's passing.

Lovartis, also unaware that someone was approaching his condo, raised the beer to his mouth and took a swig of it. It was Dragonback, a very good beer from the New K named for its original method of conveyance to New Washington. Nowadays Lovartis assumed they used aircraft, but the flavor of the beer did not suffer, nor did its exhorbitant price reduce significantly. That was all right; Lovartis had a few creds to spare on such creature comforts.

The measured steps of the man in the black suit slowed as he neared Lovartis's condo. He stopped and turned toward the door, mirrorshade-covered eyes staring down the room number. 106. The stranger took a moment to adjust his tie, then let his hands drop to his sides. There was a brief pause.

"Iyesu!" Lovartis shouted, starting violently. His expensive beer spilled on his t-shirt and the remote control clattered to the floor. Lovartis tried to spring up from the couch, but he stepped on the remote and his foot slid away from him, sending him tumbling to the floor. He clambered up as quickly as he could manage and stumbled clumsily to his study, a messy room filled with computer screens and paper files.

The man outside stood impassively, his expression unchanged from what it had been as he approached the condo.

Lovartis pawed through a messy pile of envelopes, eventually coming to a wide one with a return address reading "New Washington Federal Bureau of Paranormal Regulation." It had been opened but the contents had been stuffed back inside, presumably unchanged.

"I've got it!" Lovartis shouted, smiling nervously. "I've got it! I'll have it in today."

The man outside didn't move. Inside the condo, Lovartis fell silent as though listening to something.

"What?" He said, after a time. Then, "How much?" He paused, then his face fell. "Fine," he said after a time.

The man at the door turned and walked away from the condominium. A tiny smile touched his face.

Inside, Lovartis extracted the contents of the envelope and trudged wearily to his desk. "Five hundred cred in fees for being one week late?" he lamented. "Friggin' Feds."

Lovartis opened the form on his desk. The top of it read Form TEL27-005, then the line below: 2237 Telepath Registration. Lovartis sat in his chair and bent to fill out the form.

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This vignette by Dog.