It was a dirty planet. Young but unorganized. Its inhabitants would not be civilized for centuries and not respectable neighbors for centuries more after that. Eventually though they would become the most respected species in existence. The Ambassador knew this because he was one of them.

The Secretary made his office in this space-time point because of just this juxtaposition. Any arrival had to observe the planet in its ancient state. The Guardians of Alenda should never forget their heritage.

It didn’t hurt that it was an unfixed point in time. In fact, the Ambassador might have visited before on this very day and not remember it. The conditions were such that nothing future visitors could do would cause any permanent effect on any significant events. Butterflies flapped their wings in vain here. The outside winds were too strong.

The Ambassador landed his ship, ‘The Verity’ just outside the rough wooden shack the Secretary called an office. He went inside and once again saw the rough interior. The Secretary easily could have constructed a modern technological space that any natives would have been shielded from seeing. Instead, he lived, dressed, and the Ambassador was reminded pointedly, smelled, in period-appropriate conditions.

“Ah, Ambassador, please come in. Have a seat. Apologies as usual for the lack of comforts, but— well you know the reasons.”

The Ambassador had heard the reasons. The Secretary wanted as little pollution of the planet as possible. Not for worries of effecting the timeline, but just for the ecological sensitivities of it. He also liked to feel the discomfort of his visitors.

“I’ve asked you here because it’s time for you to take a very difficult journey, the end of which I can’t even see.”

This was not the usual opener.

“The Progons and the Sensaurians are on the move. Both in different eras, but the effects are spread out over a vast amount of space.”

“You think we would have noticed that before,” the Ambassador ventured.

The Secrteary nodded. “A few of us have. Certainly. But only in the corners. It’s like that old adage about our home planet. If an alien landed blindfolded in the Jerendran Desert and took off his blindfold, he’d think he landed on a desert planet. Ladn in a forest and think he’d landed on a forest planet etc. We travel all through space and time, but we still only see a corner of it.”

“So what’s this issue then?” the Ambassador felt a little impatient with the Secretary sometimes.

“A war. The greatest war we know ever existed. A secret war meant to end the Guardians protection of the universe and change every unfixed point. A war only you can prevent or end. I’m sorry.”

The Ambassador bowed his head. His annoyance and mirth all fled.

“What do I do?”

“You start with a mission of piece. First to the Progons. Then to the Sensaurians. There is a possibility you can rearrange their motivations in such a way to limit the war to a more conventional size and save the universe.”

“And if I fail? Do I fail?”

“Even I don’t know if you do. It’s that obscured. But if you do, you’ll have another option. You’ll learn it in time.”

The Ambassador got up to leave.

“Oh one more thing,” the Secretary said. “Two more actually. One, hold on to the Verity tightly. You’re a pilot at heart. Don’t forget that.”

The Ambassador nodded. “And the other?”

Don’t trust the Vice-Counsel’s plan. That’s all I can say. All I need say, I think. Good luck, Ambassador X.”

Luck. It was a word the Secretary never used. It was frightening that he did so now.