Crude Fiction: To Hunt a Traitor

The following is a mostly-accurate account of a game of Fantasy Flight Games’ Battlestar Galactica board game. If you haven’t played it yet, you really should.


It’s difficult, when determining the fate of the human race, to keep a check on your emotions. Every glance carries meaning; every nod of the head is a statement of intent. As I looked across the board at James, I knew there was something wrong. And so did he. As another life-threatening crisis was successfully resolved, I ventured a bold assertion.

“I don’t think there is a Cylon. I don’t think we have one yet.” Those words were met with mumbled assent.

Patrick, playing legendary officer William Adama, admiral of the fleet, seemed to agree. “None of the crises have been badly sabotaged, I think we only failed the last one ’cause of bad luck,” he said.

I scanned the faces of the rest of the crew. Especially James. All I needed was a nervous cough, a subtle change in seating position, and I could reveal the enemy agent, the robotic Cylon infiltrator bent on ending all of humanity. But nobody gave anything away, and neither did I.

As President Gaius Baltar, head of state of what remained of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, I carried a heavy burden. Through the legal powers of the Quorum of Twelve, I had the chance to imprison any would-be saboteurs, limiting the damage they could do, all by using one of the “Quorum Cards”. But none of us had any clue who the Cylons could be; or even if there were any. As far as anyone was concerned, there could be sleeper-agents seeded throughout the crew, about to awaken at any time.

I knew that Patrick was Human. As Admiral he was a natural target for my incredibly reliable Cylon Detector, and he had passed the test. I also knew that Josh, to my right, was human; the Quorum had approved further blood tests, and I had selected him due to his role as Lee Adama, commander of Galactica’s air group and our top pilot.

Two known humans, which left three possible identities for the Cylon agent: Alex, Arjun and James. Plus myself, of course, but I knew my own allegiance.

It was a good bet that Alex was working to benefit humanity; he’d made solid decisions throughout the game. Arjun had been suspiciously quiet, giving away very little, but that wasn’t enough to truly doubt him. James, though, had been edgy throughout, casting allegations and accusations with reckless abandon. It could very well appear as though he was trying too hard.

I leaned over to Josh and whispered “I think James is the Cylon.” Josh looked at me with curiosity, which quickly faded to comprehension; he had been having the same suspicions.

gaius

Now it was time for Alex, savouring his role as Saul Tigh, first officer of the Galactica, to take a turn. We had neutralised the attacking Cylon fleet a turn earlier and for now, the coast was clear. I volunteered a suggestion. “Alex, if you give me an ‘Executive Order’, I can use the Quorum of Twelve, see if they can give us anything useful.”

On the opposite side of the table, James’ eyes narrowed for a moment. He was getting nervous. I couldn’t blame him. Alex remained unsure, so I gestured to the empty space surrounding the fleet, the lack of hostile forces, the absence of boarding parties, the abundance of our critical resources. “There’s nothing better to do,” I said, with casual but incredibly shallow confidence.

Alex agreed, and gingerly gave me the order. Now, I was at liberty to act twice in quick succession. I knew what I had to do, for the sake of the human race and its chances of survival. I had to be determined. I’d only get one shot at this.

“Admiral Adama”, I said to Patrick, as I revealed a Quorum card granting me the power to arrest a member of the crew, “I believe you are an undercover Cylon agent, and for that reason I am sending you to the brig.” Patrick’s mouth hung open as I shifted his character’s icon to the Brig area on the board.

With my next breath I addressed Alex. “Alex, you too have shown signs of betrayal and collusion with the Cylon threat.” I let my identity dissolve, flipping a card to reveal my true self: a statuesque blonde female Cylon known as “Caprica Six.” No going back now. “For that reason, Alex, I am putting you in the brig as well.” Saul Tigh found himself in a cell next to his admiral and friend.

Arjun swore aloud as James screamed out “I KNEW IT!” and slammed his hands on the table.

Next to me, Josh was stunned, struggling to keep up with these sudden developments. “What’s… what’s going on!?” he asked, baffled.

“Didn’t you know?” I asked innocently, as Caprica Six put a gun to her chin, ready to be resurrected in the distant safety of the robotic fleet. “James is the Cylon.”

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