Chapter 2

Dear Traveler,

We finally landed on Europa. Before we got off the ship, they gave us official BrayTech snowsuits to put on whenever we go outside. The suits are super chunky and hard to walk in, but Papa says there's an extra-thick lining on the inside to protect against the bad ions bouncing down from space nearby. Plus it helps keep us warm. Did you know that at night, it can get as cold as 140 Kelvin?

I wonder why Clovis Bray chose to build Eventide here, when you're over there terraforming Io? Even if you're not finished, it's probably way nicer…

Still, I'm glad we're here. Seeing Papa again made me so happy I almost cried. (I didn't though.) Once, on the way here, I forgot what his face looked like. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't see it in my mind. It was awful.

He's grown a beard, so he looks different now. I like it, but Dad said he feels like he's kissing a polar bear. Papa said Dad'll grow a beard too once he discovers how much warmer his face will be. "Soon you'll have two polar bears for parents, Micah!"

For now, I've got a penguin. A plushie, not a real one. I'm too old for plushies, but Papa told me it's from Clovis Bray. "A souvenir for your soon-to-be arctic adventures!" Plus it came with this mini version of an ion-shield snowsuit, like the one I have to wear.

It actually looks pretty cool, so I think I'm going to keep it.

Do you know about polar bears and penguins? Back before you came, they lived on Earth's two poles that had climates a lot like Europa's. But our technology was so inefficient, it was poisoning Earth's air and killing off whole species of animals and plants. Like the opposite of terraforming.

I'm gonna name this penguin Mihaylova after the scientist-aeronaut on Ares One. Do you remember meeting her and Hardy and Qiao? Can you see their faces in your mind?

That was a long time ago, way before I was born, but you've been around so long, human years must feel like a minute to you. If that's true, then expect to see me (except grown up with a beard) on Io one second after you get this.

I'm still not sure how I'm gonna send my letters to you yet. Maybe they'll let me use a Warsat. I know those are really for high-level threats and stuff, but how many of those can there be? This is a Golden Age.

Your friend,