When The Hail Came
In 2014, Mars was changed, and with it, Earth changed too. Nothing will ever be the same. This is the story of a little boy who grows up to be a man in his father's footsteps, and then goes on to be a super-man.
TWELVE YEARS AGO
Something blew up Mars. The sky looks really dangerous. Daddy says don't be scared. He says nothing should be worried about.
I'm scared. I hope he's right.
by Malcolm Griffin Jr., 9
ELEVEN YEARS AGO
I've been in the storm cellar for three days. A whole bunch of rocks fell out of the sky, and daddy got hurt. He told me I should keep writing in my diary. Every time something big like this happens, he says.
Mom and dad let me watch the news, and on the news they're calling the rocks the Hail of Mars. Daddy said it's not so bad. He said nobody will ever walk on Mars now, but at least we can hold a piece of it in our hands.
Mom says he isn't taking it seriously.
by Malcolm Griffin Jr., 10
NINE YEARS AGO
I found a letter from dad in my room.
Keep writing, he wrote. In your journal, you can write to me and I'll always hear you.
One week from now, it'll be the anniversary of his death. I should have been writing in my journal.
I miss you, dad.
The Hail of Mars has come twice since you died. The leftovers of Mars have drifted into orbit around Earth now. It's all we learn in school. It's called The Martian Lunar Belt. I think you'd like learning about it, dad.
-Mal Griffin Jr., 12
EIGHT YEARS AGO
It's going to be a while before I can write to you again. The President said the last falling of the Hail was the worst one yet, and now they're buying our houses so we can afford to move.
Mom thinks she can get work in Australia.
One of her sisters moved there last year.
I don't want to leave you. So I'm leaving the journal with you.
I want to keep writing, but I feel like you won't hear me across the ocean. I'll come back. I promise.
-Mal Griffin Jr., 13
FOUR YEARS AGO
We're back in Colorado. We're back with you. They say on TV that the Hail made the land strong again somehow.
Australia was different. It was very different to Colorado. I think I'll write you a letter about it. A real letter.
I won't leave again, I promise.
-Mal Griffin Jr., 17
THREE YEARS AGO
I have a girlfriend. Her name is Steph. I think you'd like her.
I got a job working for her dad. He has the contract to build a new city in the midwest. After the Hail, so many cities have been reduced to ghost towns.
I can't tell if that's an honour or an insult to your memory.
Mom says you probably would have loved a city called New Mars.
I'm looking forward to the future. But, to tell the truth, it's the past I miss. When the night sky wasn't red like blood, and when you were there to tell me that everything would be okay.
-Mal Griffin Jr., 18
TWO YEARS AGO
Steph and I have had some troubles lately. Her dad nearly fired me. But now he understands that we love each other. And now it's time for me to tell you.
It's time for us to tell you.
I'm writing this entry with Steph, because now she's a part of our family, dad. She's pregnant.
-Malcolm and Stephanie Griffin, 19 & 22
ONE YEAR AGO
We brought the twins with us today. Its your birthday, actually. We sat in the park near our old house. It's not a park anymore, actually. Our old house isn't a house anymore. In the last Hail, our home was destroyed.
But I still knew where the park was, and we sat there with cake. The twins, and mom, and Steph, and I.
We named our little boy after you. A new Malcolm Griffin Jr. And we named our little girl after Steph's grandmother, May. Mal and May Griffin.
New Mars is coming along well. What was once a brilliant new town is slowly expanding into a new metropolis. The kids are going to grow up well there. I'll see you next year, dad.
-Malcolm and Stephanie Griffin, 20 & 23
Your son is missing. The world is dangerous. I looked back through his old entries in this journal to you. Twelve years ago, he wrote that the sky looked dangerous.
Now, every day that passes, the sky feels more dangerous than ever.
We know who to blame for the destruction of Mars now, at least.
Something came down, and it brought with it a violent Hail like none that came before.
Mal was changed in that Hail. Thousands of people were. We were in the yard, and we watched a rocket ship crash down onto Earth, and then Mal just... floated away.
If he comes back down to the ground, I thought he might come here.
If you're reading this, Mal... the twins miss you. And I miss you.
Stop saving everyone else, and come save me. Please.
-Stephanie Griffin, 24
On the news, they call you a hero, and a saviour, and they call you the first metahuman.
I just want the twins to see you and call you daddy.
I want to know that we don't have to fear alien invasion, or civil war, or death when I go into a bank.
Just come home.
It looks like they finally decided on a name for you. The Hailing Hero.
You wrote once that you weren't sure if New Mars was an honour or an insult to your father's memory. But so many people have died from the Hail.
Did they tell you that it would sound good? The Hailing Hero? The hero who calls America home? But you don't have a home.
Not without us.
The twins are nearly four years old. May asked me where daddy was. I couldn't lie to her.
I'm not going to write in this book any more. I'm not going to tend your father's grave any more.
It's time for me to cut ties from you. Your mom died. You probably know that already, but I didn't see you at the funeral.
Don't you need a family more than you need fame?
I still love you. I miss you every day.
I feel sometimes that my life is getting out of control.
When I came back down after the Vyrtaxi crashed, I was taken in by a government body. I was kept in some kind of prison for a week as they tried to figure out what made me what I am.
I don't expect you to ever read this. But if you do, I want you to know that I've done all this for my family, and not for fame. I don't want you to be unsafe, and you would be if I had a home.
Soon, though, I'll be coming home. If I get into office in November, it'll be a few more years.
If I don't get into office, I'll hang up my cape. I promise.
-Malcolm Griffin Jr.
We put a metahuman on the ISS last week. You probably saw her on the news. Danielle Tancredi. She said, 'I see how big the Earth is now. I'm realising we can't save you all.'
I feel that way every day, Steph.
When the Vyrtaxi crashed, and I felt myself float into the air, I went higher than anyone else has ever gone. I saw the Earth for its size. It may have seemed to you like it was easy for me to say goodbye.
It was the hardest decision I've ever made. I miss the twins like crazy. Its only two more years until I'm up for re-election. But my name won't be on that ballot. It's coming close to being time for me to come home.
-Malcolm Griffin Jr.
Dear Mal, and May,
Daddy is ready to come home now. Please tell me you're reading these messages.
Please tell me there's a place at your table.
-Malcolm Griffin Jr., 29
I'm not letting you into our lives. I don't even know why I came back to see this notebook.
I don't want you coming near my children.
It's not your home.
I won't be coming home. Something came into our solar system.
You should take the twins and run, Steph. The Vyrtaxi are coming, and they aren't the same as The One Who Lives Among Us. They're the same Vyrtaxi who destroyed Mars.
It's the Vyrtaxi who made me what I am.
And now it's time for me to unmake them.
The Vyrtaxi invaded Earth.
The One Who Walks Among Us, and Hailing Hero were the first to die in their cosmic onslaught.
The rest of Earth's heroes came together to face their deaths. The Vyrtaxi may or may not have succeeded in their onslaught.
As a campaign setting, the heroes should begin their street level career at Year Two.
Their city level career should begin at Year Four.
Their country level career should begin at Year Six.
Their planet level career should begin at Year Eight.
The Vyrtax should invade at the beginning of Year Ten. The players should then be given a street level career as Vyrtax heroes. They should advance through the stages, then be given the opportunity of whether to play as Vyrtax heroes or metahuman heroes for the invasion.
They can then follow on with those heroes and journey across the cosmos as heroes of Earth or Vyrtax.
The powers metahumans have are gained by exposure to Vyrtaxi elements in conjunction with Terran and Martian atmospheres.
With the destruction of Mars, and the Hail of Mars falling regularly, the atmosphere of Earth has changed. This new atmosphere is brought about largely because of the destruction of the Vyrtaxi ship which crashed into Mars. Many of the elements which make up Vyrtax were what allowed Earth to be reinvigorated, and for some humans to become metahumans.
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? Responses (9)
Very nicely done. Nice hints and heartstring tugs throughout. Very economical wording. Not a revolutionary approach, but good, fun read regardless.
Nicely done, I liked the format and was surprised (in a good way) when the letters switched perspective to steph. This is a good read and nice way of communicating information. You don't quite pull off the changing tones of a maturing mind in such away that you could write this without the ages beneath the letters. Still a fun intro for an RPG game.
Wow. You know ax, I didn't realize that I agree until I read your comment. It's true, the voice *doesn't* quite mature, does it? Still, I love this Spartan journal approach.
I couldn't bring myself to write the way a child would. I wanted to, to give it that feel of authenticity. But I couldn't. I would have suffered too greatly if I wrote things weird. So that bit of criticism is deserved.
Thank you both for the praise, though. I'm really glad it's working out well.
Upside of keeping the tone earnest and consistent through out is it suggests that the hero maintained his innocence through out and thus he is still that scared 9 year old boy when he gets pulled off towards the aliens. Who was it said that the key to sci-fi was to present a situation in which the youngest of men believe they could go as they are now and save the universe? That sci-fi has to provide a reality in which the pimply face round bellied boys felt like they could transcend all without the painful and compromising process of actually becoming a man.
...That sounds amazing. If you find that quote, I would love you forever.
I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said. Very good. I likey.
This is a cool apocalyptic setting and can be approached in many many ways. I love how it is executed in a journal tell all but in the end I was hoping for an explanation on the Mars incident, who are Vyrtax and why they want to destroy the entire planet. It says one of their ships fell to Mars and that is what destroyed it but how big was their ship to do that and why were they there to begin with.
I realize that this information is not really part of what the sub is about but I would like to know more about the who, the why, and the how come. Otherwise this is a great way to begin a Supers campaign and the setting seems feasible to have normal citizens turn into heroes or villains.
You know, that really should be in the context, and I don't know why it wasn't...