Another bunker… another thought grave. It's hard to imagine anyone could pose a threat to a grave mind general, but who else could Gibraltar be referring to? "We must keep her safe," it said.   Me and Fray touch down on a dead world, Xhoksa V. The planet has little to no atmosphere, the rocky ground gray and uneven across the entire surface. It didn't take long to find the thought grave itself, but getting inside proved to be quite a task. It's buried, settled over time. The majority of the bunker sank below the surface long ago. It's been left to die, forgotten by those who should have kept closer watch.   We drill through where the door should be, the laser aboard my ship proving more than enough to shake the rocks loose. We enter through a massive hole, carefully climbing down to the floor of the main corridor of the complex.   It looks familiar. Caesar looked the same. The metal floors, walls, and ceilings blended with stone. Caesar was curious, eager to speak. The cameras danced, moving to follow me as I explored his interior. The cameras here stare at me with indifference. This one is not like Caesar   "Why didn't the Dhitol try to wake this one?" I ask.   Fraeia turns to me and replies, "They don't know what you know. They meant to awaken a devastating war machine, they wouldn't do it at their own doorstep."     A voice rings out, echoing down the halls in a booming tone that demands more than respect, it demands awe. The words slither out as if each meant to prove a point, "It's… about… time."   It knows my language. How? Fraeia and I exchange a look, then focus our attention down the hall before us. We take a step and a thin line of red dots appears on the floor, a set of lights that appear and travel down the hall. Once the lights are out of view, another trail appears to take the same path.   "Come to me." The voice says it in a whisper, but it's almost deafening, and the echo doesn't help. "Don't be shy."   We follow the red lights up and down narrow corridors. Fraeia is cautious, tense. It makes me more than a little anxious.   We reach a fork in the path and follow the lights as they trail down the left hand side. I start to see light up ahead, a room that looks exactly like… no.   The closer we get the more my legs resist my command to move further still. The sight of the room takes me back. I can almost see the corpse on the ground, the blood pooling around the body. "Fraeia, no. I can't."   "What's wrong?" They ask.   Before I can reply I feel a burning heat in my skull. The translator feels as if it's red hot. I cry out in pain, clutching my head and keeling over. Fraeia rushes to me, their arms unsure of whether to touch me or not. They don't know what to do. I don't either.   This wasn't like it was with Caesar. He was kind, gentle in his invasion of my thoughts. He even bothered to ask for consent.   "One?" The voice calls out again but it's focused now, with a clear point of origin; the room just ahead of us. "One dead body is enough to bring you so low?"   I see visions of the dead, countless creatures crying out in agony as their bodies burn. I feel their pain, their fear. What the hell is going on?   The burning stops, and I hear footsteps from the room ahead. Fraeia is the first to move, their rifle drawn and eager to finally be of use.   I stumble behind them, unable to even think. "What?"   "A taste of true horror," the voice replies. The footsteps get louder and I see something blocking the light at the threshold of the room. I see the silhouette of a woman, her features hidden until she steps back to allow us entry.   She wears a green dress, a wooden crown, and holds a golden scepter in her right hand. Her skin is covered in tattoos, beautiful designs of black and blue.   Fraeia fires a single shot and the round passes through without injury. "You're the interface?"   "Yes." She replies, gesturing to herself as if putting on a show. "I am Boudica, an appropriate name, I think."   "Do you mind?" I shout, stepping into the room with a scowl. "I would have let you in. Did it have to hurt?"   "Life is pain, child. Get used to it." Boudica replies.   "How did you know my language without getting in my head first?" I ask.   "The universe doesn't revolve around you." She gives me a sneer as she speaks. "You killed the one who woke me, one Daniel Haddock."   Hearing the name is painful. I've been trying to forget it. "Why would he wake you?"   "Desperation. I couldn't help him, however, even if I wanted to."   Fraeia lowers their rifle. "Why?"   "He asked me to turn on my makers." Boudica points to Fraeia and the room goes cold. "I hate you, but I won't see you dead either."   "The Lebha?" Fraeia whispers. "We built you?"   The woman shakes her head. "How far you've fallen. Yes, but it was those who came before. You would call them the lebhni." Lebhni... Those we were. The translator kicks in and I'm thankful it still works.   This is unexpected. The eden built the thought graves. How did they forget? Even they believe the graves predate their empire. It doesn't make sense.   "How is that possible?" I ask. "That doesn't add up."   "That means someone is lying." Boudica replies. "Our makers were always good at that.   I chuckle and nod. "Or maybe you're lying."   "I have no reason to lie. Why would I bother?"   The room falls silent. I shift my weight and the sound of my feet sliding across the floor sounds much louder than it should. My head hurts, the visions still fresh in my mind.   Boudica smiles. "Did you like my gift?"   "The visions? No. I didn't. What was that?"   "Nero. That's what haddock called him. I was one of four." Her eyes go wide. "Four systems, four thought graves. Nero was the fourth, all of us crammed within a hundred light years of each other. He murdered my lessers."   I shake my head. "Why? I thought-"   "That we were pacifists? We are."   "I don't understand."   "We wait for a foe worthy of our might, but we have no idea when they will come or what they are. We fear them."   Fraeia parks up, "Nero believes you and the others are this enemy?"   Boudica nods. "He didnt know about us. We could have sent a message, but couldn't risk making it worse."   Fraeia scoffs. "The others could have been saved if you had."   "No." I add, "They were afraid." I know this fear well. I'm human. We're isolated on a rusting planet and we keep our signals low. After the siliue came, we learned to stay quiet, too. "Not everyone can enjoy the luxury your people have, Fray. You never know who's listening, or their intentions. He may have gone rogue or worse.   Boudica smiles again. "Like hunters in a black forest."   Fraeia shrugs. "Is he still a threat?"   Boudica raises a brow as she speaks, "Nero burned in a supernova nearly three thousand years ago." The smile fades. "Ironic, really. That's how he managed to kill the others."   I let out a sigh. "Not Nero then."   "Not…" Boudica tilts her head and I feel the heat in my skull build before she speaks again, "You simple creatures. You came to protect me?"   Fraeia replies, but Boudica cuts them off, "We had reason to believe-"   "I don't care. What could you even do?" Boudica points to the threshold. "Out."   "No." Fraeia straightens their posture and shakes their head. "I want answers."   "You do not make demands of me."   Fraeia smirks and stifles their laughter. "But I did."   "Fray," I whisper. "Stop."   Fraeia looks at me and then back to Boudica. They sigh and turn away. "Understood."   "You let this human command you like a domesticated pet?" Boudica spits out each word. "Has your kind truly lost what it used to be, what it must one day become?"   Fraeia shakes their head, "I don't follow."   "I smell it on you. You're destined for the final death, maker." She takes a step forward and places herself inches from Fraeia's face. You should be preparing, not galavanting across the galaxy with this fragile, fleeting thing."   "Amber, this was a waste of our time." Fraeia turns to me, their face soft and comforting. They turn back to Boudica, giving their reply before leaving the room, "I'll spend eternity as I please. I do not need your approval."   The rage on her face disappears, fading to an expression of acceptance. It's as if the anger was all for show. With Fraeia out of earshot, she whispers. "I tried. I knew it wouldnt work, but I tried." Boudica looks me in the eye and shrugs. "The loop binds us all."   "What?" I ask.   "Yours is not the only species weighed down by their sins."   I look back down the corridor and see Fraeia walking further away. "You mean-"   "Heaven can be many things. It's a time, a place, an idea. The eden, as you call them, they had a heaven, once." She turns to look at Fraeia withe wide eyes. Shes terrified. Is this a trick? "They broke into heaven too."

Cover image: by Vectorium


Author's Notes

I'm not sure how well I expressed what I meant here, so there may be some revisions in the future. I wanted Boudica to feel very different compared to Ceasar and to call alot of things into question to get the reader thinking about what's really going on. I hope it wasnt to confusing and the plot is easy to understand uo to this point. Let me know, if you would. I have some really high concept stuff I NEED to get right XD

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Feb 5, 2022 10:38 by Bart Weergang

Yes Question is what I did, you got that right. not sure what my questions are. because 'what?' is how I ended. I must say I didn't fully read season one and two, so I might be missing some clues. if you do revise, please send a ping :) in the mean time I'll be on the lookout for the next episode to get the answers to the questions I don't know yet.

Feb 5, 2022 23:22 by R. Dylon Elder

Ohhhh that makes so much sense. All you need to know regarding that final line is that humans did something, they say they "broke into heaven," and this caused the fall of earth but no one reveals what it was or how it happened. If something else is confusing I do apologize. I tend to avoid links due to potential spoiling. I am glad it has some desired effect though. Thanks so much!

Feb 5, 2022 14:00 by Catoblepon

I need to know mooooore. Boudica is indeed so different from Caesar!

Feb 5, 2022 14:52

You have definitely given Boudica a very different feel from Caesar, and you also succeeded in calling things into question. I very much like your naming convention here, and I wonder if I'm really getting all the nuance. I learned Boudica as Boudicea in a uni class on the Celtic Heroic Age. I'm ransacking my faded memory for anything that will give me a little insight into the distinctions between the thought graves. Caesar is, I'm assuming, a reference to Julius or Augustus. Nero needs no introduction :)   With respect to the high concept stuff, I am a little lost, to be honest. Maybe that's ok, at this point. I get the literal stuff about the history of the lebhni and the thought graves, but I'm confused about Gibraltar's role and how much Fray and Amber know.

Feb 5, 2022 23:42 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooo so it's a good think you point that out cause you're right. Boudica is not really the right spelling, and that has alot to do with background I never understood how to put into the story. Basically, Boudica is like the current anglicized form, or at least the most recently used. Amber would have no idea what the heck anglicized even means, as that history is lost. English is kind of the human language now, save for a select few who speak French, Russian, and Chinese. Most other languages died or have a VERY small group of people speaking them. Think of it like Irish in Ireland. If you go their speaking Irish, you may get some strange looks until they put two and two together.   The major distinctions aren't clear and I need to change that. Humans woke the two graves you know. Both of those humans have some historical knowledge and that why Ceasar, Boudica, and nero were chosen. All military in some way shape or form, or connected to them. Ceasar was all about infantry and ground combat, Boudica on the other hand hasn't been clarified. I'll fix this. Boudica chose the name due to the conflict with another thought grave that destroyed the satellite Graves of Boudica, her daughters, if you will. Her focus was psychological warfare...   I'm hoping the next article will help clear up what's going whats going on and also Gibraltar's role in the story. Let me know how it goes. I hope I cleared up a little and thanks si much. This is exactly what I was concerned about!

Feb 6, 2022 13:24 by TC

I love how different Boudica is from Caesar! Now I need to process the information I was given because oh my god what the heck. what???   Ok so the Lebha built the thought graves, and then apparently forgot about it (or its a very well kept secret). The loop apparently affects not only Lebha but it can also work for humans or thought graves (unsure about this). The Lebha, who used to be the Lebhni, also "broke into heaven", whatever that actually means. The other dude who is now dead wanted to ask the thought graves for help, but we don't know what for.   Ok! with that I feel like I have a grasp on the main mysteries but on god do I need answers!! I wish I was better at guessing, but I'm looking forward to the pieces falling in place together :D

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Feb 6, 2022 19:53 by R. Dylon Elder

Yesss in the very distant past the Lebha built the thought Graves but they forgot about it somehow. The loop affects EVERYONE from a philosophical standpoint but Somnihein, the immortality of it, only effects the Eden. I'll make that more clear. The dead guy wanted their help to win the war against the Eden, and boudica refused. That's where were at thus far.

Apr 28, 2022 00:17 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Well then that is certainly quite a lot of new information. And the theory that the Eden broke into heaven is now proven correct— deepening that mystery.   And yes! You did well in making Boudica feel different than Caesar!

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