Battlstar Galactica (TNS) Fanfic: The Confessions of Gaius Baltar

Disclaimer: Battlestar Galactica (The New Series) characters, names and scenarios are © 2003-05 Universal Television Studios. No infringement is intended or desired. This is a work of fan-fiction and is intended solely to promote fandom of Battlestar Galactica.

Title: 1. The Truth About the Cylons
Author: SonOfJoxer / misterhook / J.A.Hoekstra
Summary: Baltar speculates as to how the Cylons first achieved sentience and whether or not they have souls. Length Category: Short Story Age Apropos Rating: T (some harsh language)
Posting Date: 03/10/05
Word Count: approx. 1829

Main Character(s): Dr. Gaius Baltar (duh)
Shipper Category (if any):
Spoiler Warnings: None, really, unless you count the BSG Mini-serues. Fanfic was written shortly after Season 2, Episode 2.10: "Pegasus"


Narrative Context: The following texts were examined by the History Preservation Society of the Twelve Colonies and found to be genuine. Document authentication was verified by a mixed panel of Human and Cylon representatives in a controlled and neutral environment. The original texts still reside within the alter stone beneath the Church of St. Baltar on Cylonia Prime. While the History Preservation Society does not vouch for the veracity of the text’s contents, one can say with absolute certainty that the following words were indeed penned by Gaius Baltar shortly before his death in exile on Cylonia in the year 74 C.C.


The Confessions of Gaius Baltar

I don’t know who you are or why you’re reading this, but I thought it was important that people know the truth before I die. If you’re the sort of person who thinks “truth” is merely a point of view or some popular cultural construct, then you can go frak yourself. Seriously. Stop reading this page and go do something more productive with your life (or at least try). The truths I’m attempting to record here are things that really happened, things that no amount of wishful thinking or dissembling will ever change. Truth is absolute. It can’t be mitigated by our flawed or limited perceptions of it. If you don’t understand this then you’re not going to learn anything by reading any further.

There are certain truths I’ve kept to myself, mostly because revealing them to general public would get me killed. Or worse. I plan to die of “natural causes,” thank you very much. At the ripe old age of 82, my doctors tell me that I might still have a few years of sentience left in me yet. But what the frak do they know? Think of this script as a final contingency, my last chance to let the truth be known, just in case I manage to depart the mortal realm on schedule.

The Cylons still harbor the notion that they can cheat death, that they can download their consciousness into a new body if need be. I wish them well. After all, it’s not like the concept of life after death was their own idea. They got it from us. Us Humans, that is. I mean, without us, would the Cylons ever have considered the possibility of life after death? Or imagined it to be a desirable thing? I have my doubts.

I suppose I should mention a few truths about the Cylons, while I’m at it. You see, there are certain truths about the Cylons which elude absolute certainty. When did they first become self-aware? When did the artificial intelligence we gave them actually evolve into an attempt to understand the nature of the universe and their role in it? I have only theories and conjectures. But most people don’t really think about it at all. Most people just want the whole Cylon “problem” to go away. But Cylons are here to stay, I’m afraid. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that truth either. Truth is a bitch, and then you die.

The Truth About the Cylons

The truth is that we don’t know precisely when and where the Cylons started questioning their programming and started thinking for themselves. I did a thesis on this very topic while studying at the Caprica Academy of Science and Industry. All a pile of rubble now, of course. I doubt anyone will ever read a word of anything I ever wrote prior to the Exodus. It’s not like I really had a chance to bring any of my important papers with me or anything. So, where to begin? Well, let’s start with what we know.

We know that the Cylons were invented by a mining corporation on Sagitaron. The idea was that intelligent machines could be sent in to do the really unpleasant work, to relieve their human counterparts of working in life-threatening or otherwise adverse conditions. Human slaves were too fragile and difficult to replace. Also, anti-slavery legislation was eventually passed, if somewhat arbitrarily enforced. But the trillium wasn’t going to mine itself, now was it? So. Replace the human slaves with mechanical ones and everyone goes home happy. The mechanicals never complain that they aren’t being compensated for the long hours or demand hazard pay. They don’t talk back or go on strike. The just plod merrily along and do the tasks that they can be programmed to do.

But then we kept calling on them to do increasingly difficult tasks. They didn’t just have to mine the trillium, they had to be able to differentiate the trillium from all the other minerals they found. They had to be able to adapt and react to cave-ins and other unforeseeable disasters. They had to be able to come up with creative solutions to work around whatever obstacles were placed in their paths. Otherwise they’d just sit there and wait for the Humans to come bail them out. And at that point they’d cease to be useful inventions, wouldn’t they? Any machine that fails in its designed task is headed for the scrap heap.

As with most Human inventions, the machines which broke down were “re-purposed” and utilized in ways that their inventors had never even conceived. Military contractors from all over the twelve colonies took an avid interest in the possible military applications of these intelligent “mining” machines. Why go to the expense of manning deep space patrol ships when you could crew the whole ship with minions who don’t eat, don’t sleep, don’t breathe, don’t get tired or bored or fed up. Thus was the first Cylon model born. The perfect slave for the stringent environmental parameters of life in outer space. Cylons had finally found their niche.

Or so we thought. It wasn’t until various Colony worlds started attacking each other with Cylon armies that the Cylon race really took a hit in the public relations department. The Sagitaron invasion of Troy in particular brought out the worst instincts in some of the Colonial military brass. Why send men to do a ruthless machine’s job? Send in the Cylons, the latest greatest killing machines.

But they were never meant to be sentient. That was never our intent. We were so busy patting ourselves on the back for having invented an entire race of disposable people we tended to write of their first signs of sentient behavior as flukes or anomalies. The Cylons, of course, would have us believe that God decided to start over, that God finally wised up to the fact that Humanity was one of His biggest mistakes. So He decided to teach Humanity one final lesson…He gave the Cylons souls. To this day, the Cylons still insist that it was all a part of God’s plan to recreate the Cylons in His image. As for myself…I have my doubts.

After countless years of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the first spark of artificial intelligence born into the Cylon psyche might have been ignited by our attempts to install rarified Target Assessment Protocols (or TAPs, as they say in my profession). It was when we started programming them to recognize friend from foe that we started running into problems. Getting a machine to distinguish between subtle facial features was a huge leap forward, but it was also the genesis of their moral reasoning. For instance: Subject A should be detained. If Subject B attempts to free Subject A, you are obligated to shoot Subject B, even if he’s an officer of the fleet. We taught them to recognize behavioral deficits, to notice when behavioral patterns change inexplicably which might point to criminal motivation.

Again, we taught them to do the jobs that we should have been doing ourselves but weren’t willing to expend the manpower to do. For instance: it is known that you have a rouge agent aboard your ship. Who are you going to order to process all the personnel files? A fallible human being who always brings their own biases and prejudices to bear? Or a Cylon who never forgets, never gets bored, never slacks off when the boss isn’t looking. Lead us not into temptation.

It gets worse. When we taught them to pilot ships, we also taught them military tactics, as well as the various military histories of the Twelve Colonies. We came to rely on them to do both menial tasks and extraordinary feats of heroism. We never taught them our heroic myths, but they certainly would have had access to them. Hell, they had access to every single book, song, play, or wireless broadcast stored in digital format throughout the fleet. Who knows where their imaginations took them?

What is undeniably clear is that somewhere, somehow, they imagined themselves to be the heros of their own story. Somewhere along the line they began to regard their fellow Cylons as friends, and their own creators as uncaring, overbearing foes. Human beings also have a tendency to imagine themselves as the protagonists of their own life stories. They’re not always right about that. Neither are the Cylons.

Do they have souls? I hope so. They often come to me and ask for my blessings on their children. And on the rare occasion that one of them is killed through accident or neglect, they ask me to pray for their souls. So, I do. Do their souls actually go to the afterlife they believe they’ve been promised? I want to believe.

I mean, what are the alternatives? That the whole venture of the Cylon race was an accident? A cruel trick of fate or chance? No, my friends, that simply won’t do. For one thing, it lets us off the hook…lets humanity shift the blame once again, always refusing to take responsibility for what we’ve done. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that refusing to take responsibility for your sins is a dark and dangerous path. Self control, self sacrifice, “selflessness” in general…these are the things that will lead you back into the light.

If you really want to believe that the Cylons are just a collection of bits and parts, merely machines to be disposed of, be my guest. If you want to reject their one true God and look after your own interests, that’s your business. If you wish to believe that there is no God and prefer live in the cage of limited moral reasoning that Humanity has to offer, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of company. If you are absolutely certain that you want to live a life forever plagued with doubt and uncertainty, that is certainly your right.

Or…or you can entertain the idea…the radical, unthinkable idea…that we are all God’s children, Human and Cylon alike. As for myself…

I choose to believe. God’s will be praised!

Gaius Baltar
A fellow child of God.