Kafka on the Battlestar

The frakked up thing about his lives, Kafka thought, was that he had too many of them. That meant much more difficulty in answering the great existential questions. For the Colonials, it was easy. Their short, brutish existence, now with the added threat of extinction, proved that the meaning of life to them was mere survival. Anyone who believed otherwise lied among the radioactive skeletons on the former Twelve Colonies. Cylons had the one God, true, but its presence and intentions were ever mysterious. Kafka brought his right hand up, staring at the thick red blood sliding down it. Perhaps he would meet God during this download. Stranger things have happened.

Lieutenant Felix Gaeta’s almond milk eyes stared down at him. His hair was short and curly. His face, when he was not in the habit of killing infiltrators, gave an intelligent and reserved look. Not the type of look that would inspire statue-makers, but there was a type of graceful handsomeness there. His olive skin shined with sweat. He breathed heavily and slowly. The gun in his hand dropped to the floor with a clang.

Kafka imagined what was going on in the young man’s mind. A mixture of anxiety and anger, perhaps. Not fear. The immediate danger was over and he had done the deed. Gaeta’s gaze on Kafka’s dying form felt like a burn. That must be hatred and regret. Kafka himself regretted this turn of events. Although their friendship was short-lived, it had made his life so much richer. They had spent nights talking, broaching subjects from music to mortality. It was odd that such a serious military man had such a keen mind for art and philosophy. Alas, One had told him to kill the young lieutenant. A savage and cruel order, but it could not be helped. Kafka’s cover would soon be blown, one of his counterparts had been confirmed to be a Cylon. In the back of his mind, he wondered if the choice to make perfect clones for each model was an intentional design flaw.

Nevertheless, he failed in his task, and here he was, his back to the bulkhead and machine blood staining his dress shirt and chinos. Gaeta made a sound, but Kafka could not tell whether it was in anguish or triumph. The young man often confessed his loneliness to him, a concept that Kafka admittedly had difficulty wrapping his mind around. There were millions of him, who shared their memories whenever any of them downloaded. It was a mystery that would probably never be resolved, as Cylon society on the whole felt little curiosity for the humans. The young man had a nature that piqued Kafka’s interest greatly. Something akin to a soul sparked in those pained eyes. As his vision receded, he hoped that Felix Gaeta would someday find happiness. That brilliant mind was wasted in that simple cage of animal flesh and hormones.

Kafka was not his real name. Before his birth, the original programmers imprinted his mind with the name “Four”, the number for his model line. Like all of his siblings, they had given his neural network a basic set of heuristics, ways of seeing and thinking about the world. They were essentially personalities and each model started with different ones. Ones were generally cynical megalomaniacs. Twos were deluded prophets. Threes were colorless people persons. Fives were idiots. Sixes were sexpots. Correction, more like their minds oriented towards the emotional and sensual. You did not want to unnecessarily anger them, as they could get quite dangerous. Sevens… he could not think about the Sevens. And the Eights, they were the most perplexing. They straddled the line between human and Cylon closely. Too closely, sometimes. Then there were the Fours, his line, curious and analytical-minded. They tended to stay out of the spotlight and assisted the other models in their various projects, which suited Kafka just fine. It always boggled his mind that the Sixes insisted on being the center of attention.

He chose the name Kafka as part of his cover. It was a curious one. It had no origin in any of the Colonial languages. When people on Caprica asked him about it, he told them that his parents picked the name during a high-dose weed session while listening to a piano piece by Dreilide Thrace. The story was partly true. He picked the name while listening to the composer. There was something about the man’s music that drew him in. The minimalist and repetitious style of music fit his machine nature like a glove. It gave him comfort, in a way. It made him feel connected to the universe, to its death and rebirth, and across the span of time. He could not pinpoint from where in the endless repetitions of Thrace’s music he plucked the name Kafka. The name symbolized a work in progress, an incomplete masterpiece, something that endlessly underwent change. Yes, that resonated with Kafka. Like his siblings, he was not fully Cylon, not like the Centurions or the Raiders.

His mind traveled across the void of space to the Resurrection ship. He awoke in the fluid-filled resurrection pod. A Six and an Eight stood by it, naked. They were flawless caricatures of women, but caricatures nonetheless. This was unusual, he thought. Protocol dictated that members of your model line debriefed you. It was not impossible to have other models do it, but it was rare.

Before he could speak, they wordlessly and silently climbed into his pod. Some of the resurrection fluid sloshed onto the floor. The melody of Dreilide Thrace’s Sonata No. 1, his signature piece, filled Kafka’s mind. He could not move as the Six and Eight entwined themselves around him. His heart beat like a drum as their breasts and genitals brushed against his skin. He felt the Six’s breath on his cheek as her lips moved toward his. She kissed him lightly as the Eight guided her into him. He moaned as he penetrated deeper. Her long black hair whipped back and forth as she twisted her hips. He felt the pressure rising within him. Was this too soon to climax? He could not remember. It continued, ready to erupt and-

Kafka woke up. Again, he found himself in a resurrection pod. But this time, there was no Six and an Eight. Rather, a Four sat next to him, taking notes on an octagonal piece of paper. Now this had to be real, he thought.

“Curious,” his doppelganger said. “You appear to have had the first erotic dream in our species’ history.”

“Is that so?” he asked.

“That is so.”

“I wonder what triggered it?”

“We do not know yet. Perhaps the trauma of your death on the Galactica played a part. Regardless, the Sixes believe that this will be the key to our conception project.”

“Of course they would think that.”

“You are to be immediately reassigned to our natal experiments. You should get ready.” His mirror glanced at the resurrection pod and the fluids within. He sniffed in disgust. “And clean up that mess too.”

Well, Kafka thought, perhaps having multiple lives isn’t too bad after all.

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