In a gypsy camp, on a dusty byway on a frontier planet at the edge of explored space, two figures faced each other across a table in a candlelit tent.
The fortuneteller turned over a card and smiled. "The Fool. This card symbolizes new beginnings; an open mind, eager to learn."
Her patron smiled back. "Oh, aye. That I have. What else d'ye see?" He leaned in closer.
She turned up another card. "Death." She looked across at him. "Don't worry. The death isn't a literal one. It means an ending of some kind--a phase of life, but not usually life itself."
"Oh, I'm not worried." His hand rose into view; it held a small pistol, aimed at her heart. "But you should be."
"What--I don't understand." She started to rise from the table, but a small shake of his head warned her to stillness.
He waved his free hand at the tent around them. "It's a good cover, Maewen, but it's nae good enough. When someone defrauds the Federation, there comes a point at which it makes no sense to keep up the hunt. But when ye embarrass Servalan herself, well . . ."
He shrugged and pulled the trigger. The gun made no more noise than the turn of a card. Maewen slumped in her chair, a dark stain already spreading across her chest.
"Never threaten when the situation calls for action," Jarriere chided the dead woman. "Not that screaming would have helped ye." He reached for the blood-spattered cards, a souvenir to take back to his mistress. "Ye were a fool, Maewen, and now ye're dead. You should have listened to the cards. Sometimes they mean what they say."
He tucked the cards and gun into his jacket, and slipped away into the night.