12 Hours Before the End

12 Hours Before the End

“This isn’t goodbye.” Domerin couldn’t blame his daughter for her skeptical expression. She had taken one look at him when he said Hello, Sunshine, and her face had turned ashen pale. Her demand to know what was happening was a reasonable one, but the answer was complex and he had never been good with words, let alone in long form. “But it is different than every other time I’ve stepped onto a battlefield.”

“Different how?” Robin’s tone was sharp, perhaps to indicate she didn’t want him sugarcoating the situation. Not that he had ever spared her any of life’s hard blows.

“You know what’s happening out there, you’re as deep in the mine field as I am. Something like seven planets under attack, all of them core systems. And for all we know there could be more armies, more ships, more hidden weapon caches. If the Immortals believe they have a way to put a stop to all this, then-“

“Do they? Believe that, I mean. Daddy, we don’t know them that well.”

“Yet we trusted them to bring my arm back to me. We trusted them enough to take them to my home world twice on nothing but their word. I’ve met a lot of bad people in my time, Robin, I don’t think the majority of the Immortals members fall into that category.”

“There’s that Eddie guy though…” Robin stuck out her tongue, her face twisting with distaste.

Amusement brushed Domerin’s lips for a moment. “He’s not bad just because you don’t like him.”

Robin lifted her chin and made a soft, dignified sound.

“They believe it’s a better answer than throwing resources at a war we don’t understand and might not have a hope of winning. And I think there’s merit to their theory. After all, the tree spoke to them. Again.”

He still couldn’t quite believe the tree had spoken the first time. He hadn’t expected the expedition into the roots to yield more than some insects and soil samples. He still couldn’t quite believe it had spoken through the leader of the Immortals when he set his hands on the roots. Nor could he believe it had spoken through him. It was disconcerting, to say the least, when his body started moving and talking of its own accord, while he watched from some silent location in the back of his mind.

“So it did react?” Robin sounded eager for a moment instead of concerned.

“Not on the station. But when we descended to the temple, it spoke through me. It said something about a land of death, a different set of rules and a test that only the righteous can pass. It seemed to understand what they were asking about in a way I’m not sure the rest of us do. And I think… I think it left something with me. Or maybe part of it is still in there. I don’t know. It’s so hard to describe what happened.”

“And that’s why you think you have to go.” It wasn’t a question.

He nodded. “When we came back, I looked at their notes and noticed something. When Eddie read the words out loud, it triggered the information. It came to me like a memory of something that happened a long time ago. If the tree left more of those triggers in my head, the Immortals might need them to finish whatever task awaits them on the other side of that portal. Maybe I can help them through the test. I don’t know.

“All I know for sure is that if I can help them, I should. I’m involved in this now and it seems wrong to walk away.”

He could see her emotions at war in her eyes. She wanted to protest, wanted to find some reason he should stay. He’d seen this look on her face before, seen her silently argue with herself over whether or not she should ask him to skip one battle in favor of a safer one. Had seen her question whether to suggest an easier job over a dangerous one that offered greater value toward their efforts. It was the difference between understanding what his work meant to him, what it meant to the people he helped, and using her influence over him to ask him to change. She had never done the latter, and he had confidence today would not mark a change.

“It’s big,” Robin said softly after several minutes of silence. “Almost too big to understand. But I think you’re right. You’re involved. You should go.”

“It’s possible that we won’t be able to find a way back, even if we succeed. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.” He said it with such a clinical detachment, it would have been easy to believe he felt nothing when he considered the possibility of never seeing his daughter again. In truth, a hurricane swirled inside his chest. Its lightning lit a fire in his blood that threatened to boil his sanity away. But he had been fighting physical agony a long time. It gave him an advantage against forces like this.

“Rilan is prepared to take my place. We’ve always had fallbacks in case the worst were to happen. But if I don’t come back, that leadership will be only in name. The company and its assets will go to you. If you want them.”

Robin swallowed hard. “I’m not sure I’m ready to have this conversation.”

“It’s better than what happened with your mom, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to have to start considering ranks against that moment.”

Domerin drew a deep breath. “Look, the point of this call was to see you, to talk to you, because I don’t know when that will happen again. It’s not goodbye.” At least, he hoped it wasn’t. “If the worst does happen, I’ve left messages for the appropriate people. There’s one for Crescent. And there’s one for you, Sunshine, but it didn’t feel like enough.

“I just want you to know that if things work out between you and Daniel, you have my blessing.”


“No, I mean it. I want you to be happy together. Run off and do crazy stuff. Have a pack of kids if it’s what you want to do. Just enjoy it.”


“And if it doesn’t work out, somehow, for whatever reason, then you’ll find someone worthy of you who can live up to whatever expectations he didn’t. And then you’ll do all that same stuff I just told you to do with Danny-boy.”

“Daddy! I don’t want you talking like this if it isn’t supposed to be goodbye.”

“I just wanted to make sure I said everything important. I just wanted to make sure you know how much I love you. How glad I am that we met. We had a lot of good years together. The best years in my life, Sunshine. Looking back, there are times I’m not sure I would have made it through if it hadn’t been for you setting me straight, or waiting for me to get home. I’m not sure I’ve ever been very good at saying it, so I wanted you to know.”

Robin sniffled and scrubbed at her eyes. “You don’t have to say it, Daddy. I know. I always have.”

It wasn’t quite enough to quell the hurricane, but it left him with a deep sense of relief. If nothing else, he wouldn’t have to carry regret across the threshold.

Robin sniffled again, then narrowed her eyes. “But you’d better actually come back.” She jabbed her finger at the view screen. “Because if you don’t, I swear I’m going to find some way to go through that portal and drag you back here, and if you died while you were there, I’ll kill you!”

Our game group GM actually gave us this writing prompt. At the end of a session, our characters were about to embark on a journey into the unknown. We decided they had 12 hours before they would make the crossing and our GM asked us to write what each character used that time for. This is how Domerin spent it. Next week I’ll post the version for Ves.

Please check out what my writing partner did with this one as well!

And if you’d like to participate, please leave a link to your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week!

3 Replies to “12 Hours Before the End”

  1. Is this part of a larger story? It feels too dense to be a stand-alone, especially since you seem to have created an entire universe for this! Why can’t Sunshine be leader if she is inheriting everything else? Is she too young?

    1. It is part of a larger story (though not so much a written one). We meet with a group of people (over skype) to basically play dungeons and dragons in space once a month. I’ve been a part of the group for about two years now. We had sort of come to the end of a major storyline that had been building for some time and our GM said ‘hey, why don’t we all write a thing about what’s going on with our characters since we have to pause and wait until the next session to find out what happens.’

      I realize that might make it slightly awkward since there’s very little context in this piece of writing ^^;; but all of the other Domerin stories that take place in space are tangentially related to this one. (Off the top of my head the ‘Character takes care of a sick friend’ and ‘Why do you keep pretending?’ are big ones.)

      I probably should have clarified this a bit better, but the reason Robin (aka ‘Sunshine’) can’t lead the company right now is that she doesn’t have the knowledge/training. But she could easily get it from Rilan, Domerin’s second in command, if she wanted it. He’s basically saying ‘if I don’t come back, the company is yours if you want it’ in a round-about way. I confess, I don’t actually edit these since they’re just practice, so it’s a tad ineloquent. I appreciate that you took the time to read and ask about it! :D

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