Pilto X left the Secretary’s chambers satisfied they had no idea what really happened with the Sensaurians and therfore would not carry out the reaction the Sensaurians planned, therefore not bring the universe into a secret time war hidden in the nooks and crannies of spacetime to eventually destroy it all.

The feeling of satisfaction lasted exactly 123 steps from the Secretary’s office when he was approached by a smartly-dressed woman in neutral business attire.

“Ambassador?” she asked

“Pilot,” he answered.

“Ah, I see, Pilot X?”

“You have the advantage,” he found himself being courtly.

“I come on behalf of the Alendan Core,” she said avoiding the prompt for her name. She handed him a business card.

The sturdy linen paper was expensive and the actual gold leaf tracery around the edges doubly so. Printed in a sharp black classic typeface were the words “Ancient and Respected order of the Alendan Core,” and an address.

“If you would do us the pleasure of meeting with us tonight, we would like your advice on something. Come at your leisure, but if you arrive hungry, you will be fed.”

Pilot X prepared another courtly response but the woman left before he could stammer it out.

The Alendan Core was the oldest continuous linear society in his civilization. It pre-dated the ability to travel through time. Alendans had confirmed its existence back into pre-industrial times, though it had been called different names in its history. Its members foreswore time travel in order to provide a unique linear perspective on society, which they preserved for the use of whomever might want it.

Otherwise their activities were shrouded in mystery. They rarely reached out to anyone outside their order, and when they did no one spoke about it later.

This was a childhood dream of every adventurous-minded Alendan, to be approached by the Core. Despite his age, Pilot X was a bit giddy. He decided to head straight to their headquarters.

Unlike the order’s activities, the building was no secret. It even had a nice wooden sign on the outside by the door, indicating it was the “Ancient and Respected order of the Alendan Core” that occupied the one story adobe hut. It really was a hut too Perhaps it had been the bulwark of modern architecture when it had been built, 500 years before, but now it looked like a hut.

Pilot X knocked.

The same woman who had brought him the card opened the door and held out her hand.

Pilot X moved to shake it, but she withdrew it quickly still without changing her expression.

“The card.” she stated.

“Oh, I thought I got to keep it.”

She had no reaction so he fished out he card and handed it to her. She took it and moved aside to let him in.

“Should have said I lost it.” He muttered.

“We would have retrieved it,” she said without emotion. “This way.”