BACK TO ARKADIA, BUT . . . INTRODUCTION The following is a continuation of the storyline presented in the June issue of the EntropiaTimes magazine (Cyrene – Secrets and Covert Operations, beginning on page 10), and documents MS9's return from Cyrene to Arkadia, as well as her transition into what will ultimately become her mission. And thus, the story continues … (see additional info at end of article) HOME SWEET HOME – or is it? The trip home from Planet Cyrene was anything but peaceful. Watching the usual space corridor traffic through the window of the Senator's spacecraft should have been a natural occurrence, but it wasn't. I couldn't help but wonder if we were somehow being monitored. I didn't want to feel that paranoia was setting in, but after what I had encountered on Cyrene, I wasn't about to let my guard down. While I felt some relief that I was now out of harm's way and safe from any further encounters by the Imperium, the Sons of Remus, and potential exposure to Will Winter's mind control drink, my thoughts left me exhausted. They raced like a spider weaving a web going nowhere, yet served an ultimate purpose. However, just what that purpose would be was yet to be determined. I made a commitment to the Senator and Zorra Winters to support their cause, and while I was filled with urgency to move forward, I also felt paralyzed and apprehensive toward becoming further involved. While the unknown has its level of excitement and adrenaline rush for me, I had to give my next move some serious consideration and just where I go from here. "MindStar," the pilot came over the intercom, "we will be landing on Arkadia in about 15 minutes." Yes, home again, where everything is familiar, but I have a deep sense that my life as I've known it is about to take a drastic turn as a result of my most recent commitments. So many thoughts in a maze of dead-ends because of unanswered questions, but perhaps after getting some rest I will be able to sort things out more clearly. The Arkadian moons were breathtaking, and illuminated the path during my walk across the bridge from Celeste Harbour to the twin apartment towers on Celeste Harbour Island. The night air was always refreshing, and I was feeling more relaxed after a couple of deep breaths, but then I saw a shadowy figure and a silhouette across the concrete from the light cast by the lamp posts between the buildings. Perhaps it was just someone enjoying the night air as I was, and normally I wouldn't be so startled, but I find myself in a constant state of alertness after leaving Cyrene. I continued to walk casually, making every effort to hide the bit of fear that took hold of me. As I walked past the stranger in the shadows I was half tempted to nod and say good evening, but I froze in that thought and kept walking, hoping that I was just over-reacting. "MindStar," a female voice called out, "I have a package for you." I stopped dead in my tracks, even though my first inclination was to run into my apartment building as fast as my feet would carry me. However, what if this was somehow related to what's happening on Cyrene, and something that would benefit my mission to help the cause going forward. I had to risk it. "Who are you," I asked as I moved cautiously toward the figure in the shadows, "and what's in the package?" I held tightly to my travel bag in case this was an attempt at robbery, but as I got closer, I could see the package in the hands of the female dressed in black who made no move toward me or the suitcase. "Who I am is not important," she said, "I'm just the delivery person, and I don't know what's in the package, only that it was urgent to get it delivered to you upon your return from Cyrene." This person obviously knew who I was, that I was on Cyrene, and also when I was returning, but it didn't seem that I was going to find out anything further until I opened the package. She raised her arm and handed over a large, well-sealed envelope that felt a little weighty, and as I carefully accepted the package she fled away and over the bridge into the city proper without saying another word. There was no question in my mind that this package would need to be scanned prior to opening. Again, perhaps a bit of paranoia setting in, but I wasn't about to set all caution aside and jeopardize a mission I hadn't even started. After checking to make sure that apartment security hadn't been breached, I entered and secured the alarm system, except for the motion detectors. After setting my travel bag down I did a quick visual of the apartment. All seemed in place as I left it, and as I walked to the study, I couldn't imagine what was inside the package, or why it was so urgent to get it delivered to me. After sitting down at my desk and turning the lamp on, I carefully looked over the package for any kind of clue, but there was no name, no return address, no nothing. As I reached into the lower left drawer for the scanner, it crossed my mind that whoever wanted this package delivered to me, also didn't want to be known by anyone outside of the recipient. I passed the scanner across the package, but nothing out of the ordinary popped up that would be cause for alarm. It was time to find out what was so urgent. A POTENTIAL NEW DIRECTION I opened the envelope carefully, and as I pulled out the contents, I immediately recognized the seal of the Intergalactic Space Mission Agency (ISMA) located on the East Coast of the US on Earth. I had dealings with them in the past as a result of my writing and reporting, but I couldn't imagine what was so urgent that they needed to contact me in such a secretive manner. The cover letter was written by a high-ranking official at the headquarters office of ISMA, and as I began to read the message, I felt my eyes widen and my jaw drop. "Dear MindStar, We received communication from Senator Calvin Neff on Cyrene of your most recent visit, as well as what has been revealed thus far. Immediately after you left his home, he contacted us with this information and expressed a grave concern, not only for the future of Cyrene, but also for the safety of the other planets in the evolving Entropia Universe. The Senator felt it would be more expeditious to contact you through us than directly since our communication channels are more secure, and the travel distance much shorter. Senator Neff expressed his gratitude for the work you attempted to do during your visit, and shared the revealing news about the Imperium Leader Will Winters and his quest to control the inhabitants of Cyrene. It appears that there are far greater implications than at first suspected, and the Senator has now solicited our help with specific requests that invite your continued involvement." Still uncertain as to where this was leading, I no longer felt mental exhaustion, but somewhat exhilarated at the prospect of continued work with the Senator, but how the ISMA fits into this was a mystery. As I continued reading the message, it all became clear to me. "Based on the Senator's information and request MindStar, we are ready to propose an offer, but it would require you to return to Earth and work specifically from our location. You would be an independent contractor, yet have full use of our facilities and flight services, which would be at your disposal in order to accommodate your future missions." Was I reading that right? Opportunities like this just don't happen every day, and to be sponsored by the ISMA? Then, it suddenly dawned on me – this would also mean a lifestyle change, and I would need to dissolve my work relationship with the EntropiaPlanets Media Center. I suddenly felt saddened but I would have to deal with this later. Right now, I was anxious to learn more. "Should you accept this offer MindStar, there are many more details to work out, but I can give you the important aspects of what this would entail. The Senator requested to work with you exclusively, and would make everything available on his end to facilitate your needs as it pertained to your further interaction with Cyrene. He is interested in additional covert operations to gain intel that would support efforts being put forth by himself, as well as the Acacia Rebirth Corps (ARC) headed up by Zorra Winters, the now estranged and presumed dead wife of the Imperium Leader Will Winters. There was also mention of Vida at the Cyrene Skylabs, but the Senator can fill you in on those details later. You would be given a small suite of offices in a secure location, along with the option of hand-picking your own staff, with the addition of a communications center that would allow you direct, encrypted contact with the Senator. Even though your primary work will be exclusive to Cyrene, it will also encompass soliciting and engaging the services of individuals and fighting factions throughout the universe to assist with the cause on Cyrene. The Senator can fill you in on far more detail later, but we first need to establish that you are willing to make this change and take on a more official role in the discovery and fight for Cyrene. I know I don't need to tell you how confidential this information is, and that it should be kept in a most secure location if not destroyed. If you choose to move forward, then we can discuss the final steps to facilitate your transfer back to Earth at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, I have enclosed documents from the Senator that further expand on potential future missions back to Cyrene, as well as blueprints for your proposed suite of offices and communications center should you accept this offer. Sincere regards, Winslow Anderson, Commander ISMA – Eastern (US) Mission Control" As I leaned back in my chair, there was no question in my mind that I had a lot to consider. First and foremost was whether I was willing to give up my current life as I've known it to work exclusively with the Senator and Cyrene. It would mean no open and engaging activities on other planets as in the past, and taking on a more official role that would focus on the history and evolution of Cyrene. If there's one thing I can say with certainty, the Senator for as long as I have known him has been an honest and honorable man, and always fighting for the good of mankind. His efforts while a Senator on Earth were well-respected, with commendations that highlighted his successful endeavors. I have no doubt that his work on Cyrene will continue to be intensely approached with a battle well fought, and after my most recent visit with him, how could I refuse this opportunity. Of course I was going to accept, and my more immediate mission was responding to Commander Anderson and then getting everything in order to make the move back to Earth. My Media Manager at the EntropiaPlanets Media Center isn't going to be happy about this, but perhaps we can eventually work together in some other capacity after I have settled in and acclimated myself to what I'm sure won't be a normal routine. However, everything must be kept confidential at this point. As I moved to the next document in the package, I discovered that the weightiness of the envelope was a small telecommunication device that Commander Anderson forwarded for direct communication with his office at ISMA. I was instructed to contact him once I made my decision in order to discuss further details of the relocation should I accept the proposed offer. Let's see, I believe Earth time right now would put the Commander out of his office, so I will wait until morning to make contact and give him my decision. I need a good night's sleep, but not certain I was able to shut down my racing thoughts and excitement. I headed to the kitchen to brew up a strong cup of chamomile tea with hope that it would do the trick, but I knew I was only steps away from packing up my belongings and shuttling back to Earth, so I may be in for a long night. DAY OF DEPARTURE After contacting Commander Anderson, everything was set in motion for the transition, with my belongings sent ahead to be set up in my new apartment located on the ISMA compound. Security is of utmost importance, and it was felt that it would be best to maintain a residence within the compound, rather than in a more public area. However, I was absolutely free to come and go as I pleased, and not restricted in my interactions with a more public environment. Recruiting competent staff is going to be a priority in an effort to get future missions under way, but I've known many dedicated Entropians over the years who would serve our needs quite well – it's just a matter of sorting out the details. Being able to trust those operating from other planets is crucial, so the selection process may take a while. It's all for a good cause, with potential benefit outweighing the risk. Parting is such sweet sorrow, but hey – I was off to start another chapter of my life that would not only give me a distinctive purpose, but also comes with the potential of furthering my literary career as well. Part of the Senator's request is that I help to document the history and evolution of Cyrene, along with others involved in this endeavor. The documenting and writing would be as needed, but what an opportunity it is to be a part of the unfolding existence, challenges and victories of a newly discovered planet, and being published in the annals of Cyrene lore – or whatever it is they have established that houses this documentation. As I stood looking at my empty apartment and the spectacular view of my little corner of Celeste Harbour, I was going to miss it, along with the boat rides that fostered many thought-provoking moments that often turned into major decisions. As I walked out the door, I engaged the re-code option that gave possession back to the building owner. I had already spoken with him about the move, and everything was put in order. As I walked toward the shuttle launch pad which was close by, I passed several Arkadians who had heard of the news and wished me well. The extent of my departure was not made public, but just that I was heading back to Earth to continue my work as a writer. The community was incredibly special, and I would certainly miss the friendships I had formed, which made this decision even more difficult. However, sometimes moving forward in life requires sacrifice in order to accomplish a mission. As I approached the shuttle launch pad, I noticed my Media Manager and her husband standing there, and immediately the emotions swelled up. Lykke and Peter are my absolute best friends in this universe, and I will miss them tremendously, but we have also agreed to keep in touch. They have offered their resources as well if ever needed, and while I can't reveal the details of my new involvement, perhaps their services will come in handy one day. As we engaged in small talk I was given notice that my shuttle would soon be leaving and it was time to board. After final hugs and wiping back the tears, I headed to the launch pad. I just couldn't look back, as it was difficult enough as it was, but moved forward and boarded the shuttle after showing my pass. Settling into my seat I noticed that there were many others leaving to return to Earth, and couldn't help but wonder why they were giving up space for perhaps a more mundane existence. As we left Arkadia's atmosphere and entered the space corridor, it became apparent that we were being escorted by a Quad-Wing fleet of fighters from the Arkadia Star Fleet due to known pirates, and until we could achieve warp speed. Since my belongings were shipped ahead, I can only hope that they arrived safely without incident, but I couldn't think of that right now. I was tired from very little rest, as I had anticipated would happen, and I wanted to take advantage of this trip to catch a snooze. TRANSITION ALMOST COMPLETEIT'S TIME TO SORT OUT THE DETAILS AND GET BUSY ================================================== As a side-note to the community: The ongoing MS9/Cyrene missions with Senator Neff is considered fan fiction, but future content will definitely be revealing more true Cyrene storyline. This current article delivers MS9's transition to a central location where she is able to work directly with Senator Neff and away from other planetary interference, as well as gain support from the ISMA that will provide many of the resources needed to facilitate the covert operations. I can't say how frequent these offerings will be, but there is much to look forward to with regard to learning more about Cyrene and its history. Ed Robles 3rd (Cyrene Creative Director - and all around head honcho) will be developing the storyline arcs for me to follow, and his graphics staff will be supporting the storylines with artwork and any other visually-stimulating offerings to support the efforts. Since he's neck-deep in getting Cyrene ready for launch, it may be a bit of a slow progression, but we wanted to at least give you something that will lead up to the continued MS9/Senator adventures. When Ed posted in my "Final EU State of Mind" thread at EP, he said he had a few thoughts, as well as questions, and would be sending me an email. We connected on Skype and had a wonderful discussion, and as a result, I can only say that you should stay tuned to EP for more Cyrene information, as well as exclusive content given only to EntropiaPlanets. As far as the MS9 avatar is concerned – the decision stands as made, and she will not be played. I have a couple of loose ends to tidy up, but that shouldn't take me too long once I can get to it. At this point in time, MS9's involvement is strictly from a writing perspective and nothing more, and exclusively Cyrene-based. I hope you enjoy the ongoing series as often as we can get to it, and I'm definitely looking forward to revealing more of the Cyrene storyline and its colorful characters. I appreciate the generous support that the majority of this community has given me over the years with my writing and other activities, it means a lot, so thank you. I'm still in the shadows and keeping up on things until I have something more to reveal. Enjoy your universe! A special thanks goes to Lykke for the graphics!