Lore:Your Friend, Micah Abram

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Your Friend, Micah Abram is a Lore book added with Beyond Light. It contains letters sent to the Traveler during the Golden Age by Micah Abram, who would later become the Exo Micah-10[1]. Entries are unlocked by finding penguin plushies on Europa and returning them to the spare room of the communication's center in Charon's Crossing. When Beyond Light launched, only one penguin was findable, with subsequent penguins being discoverable every following week.

LETTER 1[edit]

Dear Traveler,

My name is Micah. I am ten years old and a human. You probably knew that second part, but my Papa says there were probably lots of different intelligent species where you come from, so I wanted to be specific.

Where are you from, by the way? I'm from Mars. But right now, me and my Dad are on our way to join my Papa at a brand-new colony on Europa! Papa is the lead quantum engineer at BrayTech, which basically means he builds super-cool computers. He's so good at it, he gets to work with the Clovis Bray on all the top-secret stuff. He even designed some of Rasputin's hardware!

I hope he shows me what he's working on. He used to do that, back on Mars. "It'll be a good learning opportunity for you," he'd say, "But only if you promise not to tell anyone." And I never have. Even though my friends back home bugged me about Papa's work all the time.

My old home, I mean. Soon Europa will be my home, and you'll be my new next-door neighbor over on Io! I wish we could pass by you on the way so I could see you up close, but Eventide (that's the colony) needs supplies and Dad is supposed to start working right away.

He's a psychologist. I don't really get what he'd even do for BrayTech. All he does is ask people how they're feeling over and over again. Maybe they need him to train a Warmind like Dr. Ana Bray did. Only instead of language, he'll teach it how to analyze its dreams.

Dad always teases Papa that a human brain is a lot harder to work with than a hard drive. Maybe Papa got him on one of his projects to finally prove him wrong.

What do you have: a hard drive or a brain? Are you an AI like Rasputin? Have you ever talked to him?

Sorry if these questions are nosy. Dad says I'm super curious and that's okay, I just need to learn when to stop asking questions. Which is pretty unfair since he gets to ask me stuff all the time. Like right now, he asked what I'm writing. So I better encrypt this real quick and go.

I'll write more later.

Your friend,

Micah

LETTER 2[edit]

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,

Micah

LETTER 3[edit]

Dear Traveler,

We've been here a week now, and so far, Eventide is pretty boring. Because of the snow and the danger from bad ions in the air, almost the whole colony is packed into this one underground building. The only people that get to go outside without special permission are the maintenance people and the Exos.

Oh, right! I can't believe I didn't talk about the Exos! They did it, Clovis Bray and Papa and all the BrayTech scientists made real walking, talking, human-shaped AIs!

I even got to see one when Papa was giving us a tour of the colony! It looked so cool and shiny. It even had these awesome glow-lights for eyes! I wanted to talk to it, but Dad said I couldn't be trusted not to ask too many questions, so he went over on his own. Papa told me that's why Dad is here: to talk to the Exos and analyze their "human-ness."

He also said he thinks I can be trusted, especially when it comes to keeping my excitement to myself. Some people are scared of the Exos. Which I don't get. How can anyone be anything but amazed by them?

Papa laughed when I asked him that. "You're like me. Always seeking out the new and interesting. We forget to fear what we don't know."

But he didn't laugh long before he got serious. "Sometimes that can get us into trouble. That's why we have people like Dad to balance us out."

That's when Dad came back, looking kinda worried. He wouldn't tell us anything because of "doctor-patient confidentiality." Which is annoying. That's what he always says! Except this time it doesn't make sense because they're not real patients.

Before I could point that out, Papa asked if I wanted to peek inside the factory. Which, of course, I did. So we went around to the loading bay to look. I couldn't see much, but it was still cool.

This is all supposed to be secret, but I think it's okay if I tell you. You're the reason we can do all this, after all.

Your friend,

Micah

LETTER 4[edit]

Dear Traveler,

I can't believe we've only been here a month so far. It's boring being inside all the time!

Every day is the same. Dad wakes me up and makes breakfast––then leaves to join Papa at the Exo factory. Luckily, I have Mihaylova the Penguin to keep me company while I walk aaaaalll the way to the other side of the building for school.

It's not a school, really. Classroom is more like it. There's only 50 of us kids, so they shoved us all in one room with two teachers, which is how I found out that everyone got a penguin plushie. I feel dumb thinking I was the only one, but also, it's kinda dumb of Clovis Bray to assume babies and big kids would want the same toy. Some of the older kids threw theirs in the recycling chute, but I managed to rescue one. I think I'll call this one Calumet. That's the aeronaut you didn't get to meet because she died on the way to Mars.

That's the one thing that scares me. Not the Exos or anything else I don't understand. Dying right before a new discovery. Doing all the work to lead up to something new… then bam! Some stupid accident wipes me and the rest of my 290 years out.

I read that before the Golden Age, people only lived to 100 years old if they were lucky. And by then, they'd be so sick, they couldn't get out of bed!

Good thing you came along.

I wonder how long the Exos are going to live. Probably forever, right? As long as they keep on top of caring for them… but I guess eventually, their hard drives would get erased by cosmic rays. Papa says that doesn't happen for thousands of years. Plenty of time for backups.

Last night, I dreamed I was an Exo. I was standing in the center of a frozen lake in the middle of the night, with no snowsuit, and I didn't feel cold at all. The sky above was completely black, except for one bright moon in the distance. Just as I was looking up, wondering what to do next… Dad woke me up.

At first I was mad, but he reminded me that dreams are messages from deep inside our minds. Until we figure out the message, the dream repeats. So, hopefully, I'll get to finish it tonight.

Your friend,

Micah

LETTER 5[edit]

Dear Traveler,

Today was definitely more interesting than it's ever been here in Eventide. At school, we took a trip outside to learn about Europa's climate. That's what our teachers said anyway. I bet they were just as sick of being stuck inside as we were.

While we put our ion-shield snowsuits on, the teachers lectured us about staying in sight with a buddy. But of course, when we got outside, everyone went running in a bunch of directions. That's when I decided I'd learn more useful stuff over at the Exo factory with Papa and Dad. I didn't break the rules. The factory was in sight, plus I had two buddies: Mihaylova and Calumet.

I knew I couldn't go in the front door without a badge. So I went around the side to the loading bay where there were two Exos unloading a bunch of crates. They looked like they were almost done, so I hid under the dock to wait for them to leave.

Instead, I heard one of them sit down. "I'm taking a break. Need to or not, this is when we used to have lunch. I refuse to work through lunch."

And the other one said, "I miss lunch. I miss getting hungry."

Then the first one replied with this weird tone, "Hmm… so you would say… you're hungry for hunger?" Which made them laugh for a long time.

When they finally stopped, the second Exo said, "What do you tell that shrink, by the way? You tell him about the whisper?"

That's when I wanted to leave. I didn't like them making fun of Dad. Plus, the way they talked about food and dreams… it made me feel sick. So sick that I guess I made a noise because then I heard, "What was that?!"

So I ran.

I heard shouts behind me, footsteps catching up, a bang and a sizzle right over my head. Then two cold hard claws snatched me up. That's when I looked straight into its glowing blue eyes.

LETTER 6[edit]

Sorry I didn't finish my letter last night. I had to stop for family dinner. Dad's been really strict about that lately. The other night, I thought his brain was gonna melt out of his ears because Papa was late.

Anyway, the Exos caught me quick and one of them lifted me up so we were eye to eye and…

I get why people are scared now. I mean, I was more scared of getting in trouble than anything else. But looking into those eyes was…

Spooky. Almost like being somewhere so dark you can't see your hands in front of your face, though you can feel they're there.

I couldn't look away, even as I heard the other one asking what they should do with me. If it'd be easier if I just went missing.

Then all of a sudden, its eyes went dark, and I fell to the ground. A second later, it collapsed in a sparking metal heap next to me.

I must've started running again. The next thing I remember was coming back to the empty classroom, holding Mihaylova and Calumet, and looking at the penguins that got left behind. Some of them were lying on the floor!

For some reason, that made me mad. Maybe I'm too old for plushies, but at least I take care of mine. So I picked out the ones that looked lonely and ran home across the building to hide them under my bed. Then I went back outside to find my class, just as the teachers were counting everyone up.

No one had even noticed I was gone.

Which means they don't know who took the penguins either. So now I have nine penguins: Mihaylova, Calumet, Hardy, Qiao, Clovis, Willa, Alton, Elsie, and Ana.

Your friend,

Micah

LETTER 7[edit]

Dear Traveler,

It's been so long since I talked to you, I had to reread my last letter to remember what I wrote. We've been here almost three months now. Everyone is tired. Especially Dad. He's been so busy with his "patients" that he even called off family dinners.

I make my own breakfast now. Though sometimes I wake up so late, I skip it. Remember that dream I told you about? I still haven't figured out the message and I've been having it every single night.

It always starts the same. I'm an Exo, standing in the middle of a frozen lake under a black sky and a white moon.

For some reason, I start jumping. Up and down. Over and over. Each time, I go a little higher and land a little harder. Sometimes I worry the ice might break, but then I hear a whisper. Saying I'll be okay even if it does. "I won't let you die before the interesting part."

As I jump, the whisper goes, "Higher, higher!"

Or maybe it says, "Closer, closer!"

Maybe it's both. Last night, I went so high, I almost left the atmosphere. From there, I could see that the moon was you, hovering above Io. I reached up to break away from gravity and fly to you, but then a different voice yelled, "You're acting so selfish!"

Which is when I woke up and heard Dad and Papa fighting…

LETTER 8[edit]

I woke up from my jumping dream to hear Papa yelling, "You're so selfish!" and then Dad telling him to keep his voice down. Even whispering, I could still hear Dad say he wasn't selfish. The project was just too dangerous. "Not to mention useless! If Clovis wants stable and functioning soldiers, he shouldn't put them through trauma in the first place!"

Papa said that the point wasn't to avoid trauma, but to prepare for it. That we should be able to protect ourselves without relying on you, Traveler. That something more powerful could come along, or you could turn on us.

Which made me feel sick again. Papa's always told me about how much you've given us, how we should return the favor by learning and exploring and stretching the Golden Age for thousands of more years. But now he was saying…

"Skip the ethics lecture and tell me: if you knew humanity could be wiped out in the next 50 years, wouldn't you try anything and everything to save us? To save our child?"

It got quiet then. For so long that I almost went back to bed when I heard Papa again: "This DER stuff is hard, but I think the humanisms you suggested are the solution. In fact, I'll bet my life on it."

Dad said that's what he was worried about. "I love you, but forget about being safe in 50 years. Micah needs to be safe here and now." He said some of the colonists were going home with the next supply ship. He hoped Papa would join us.

Papa started crying then. I got back into bed and piled all my penguins on my head to block it out. It didn't really work because then I started crying, too.

What's going to happen?

Micah

LETTER 9[edit]

Dear Traveler,

This will be my last message to you. Maybe you won't see any of these messages anyway. Even if I knew how to now, I'm not sure I'd send them.

I'm not sure about a lot right now.

The next day was pretty normal. Papa made breakfast and walked me to school, which he's never done before. I think he was worried I heard their fight, because he said he was sorry for working so much. Then he asked if I liked it here. I didn't really know what to say, so I said yes, but I missed Mars. I think that still made him sad, because he said he was sorry again and said he'd spend less time at work.

Dad's been working even more. At first, I thought that meant he'd changed his mind about leaving. But now I haven't seen him for a whole week and my stomach won't stop hurting.

What has stopped is the dream. Two nights ago, I finally broke away from Europa's gravity. As I floated to you, the whisper followed: "Are you sure you know what you think you know?"

I woke up before I got close to you. And last night, I didn't dream at all, which must mean I figured out the message. But all I have are these words stuck in my head.

Are you sure you know what you think you know?

This morning, Papa told me Dad's been sleeping at the factory because he's so busy, but soon he'll get a break. "And then we'll spend the whole day together as a family."

I'm not sure, but I think he's lying.

Tomorrow, the supply ship leaves for Mars and I want to go. So I've packed my bag and once Papa goes to sleep, I'm going to put on my snowsuit and go out to find Dad. I don't care if I run into a whole army of Exos.

Maybe I'll take Mihaylova out of my bag and carry her. For extra support. That's probably dumb, but…

I don't really know what else to do.

Goodbye,

Micah

References[edit]