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Jon's Birthday

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Everyone cheered as they finished singing "happy birthday". Drinks were clinked together, smiles were exchanged, and party poppers covered the Secret Lab office with streamers and confetti. Over the livestream numerous on-lookers from around the world sent love-hearts and smiley-faced emoji that drifted across the screen.

"You know it's not actually my birthday," said Jon, who had been dressed in a festive paper hat and had an array of spirits and well-wishing cards in front of him.

Jon said this line every year at his "birthday" celebrations. Paris knew that as a manufactured biological construct sent back in time by the hyperintelligence that controlled the future, Jon didn't really have any birthday that made sense on this timeline, but Paris still insisted on celebrating the day Jon appeared through the time-warp to co-found a games lab in the small town of Hobart, Australia. Besides, Jon seemed to enjoy the experience, and it wasn't incompatible with his primary function to ensure that present-day events unfolded as they should.

"Who wants to play board games?" cried Ducky, who had nipped out to the storage area and returned with a towering stack of boxes. McJones helped clear the table so the boxes could be laid out on top of it. "Ooooh! Bedtime Space Nazi Settlers of Caprica!" he exclaimed. "When did you get that? I hear it's fantastic!"

"I'll trade dilithium for sleep!" said Jon. "Anyone want dilithium for sleep?"

Paris glanced around to see everyone concentrating on the board. He flashed his own cards to the camera that was handling the livestream, knowing the others weren't watching, and even if they were they'd avert their gaze rather than ruin the fun of the game.

"PARIS IS SPYLON HITLER!!!" came back the messages on the livestream. All the other players smiled and laughed when they saw this. Whenever Paris shared his cards with the rest of the world they always accused him of being the most ludicrous of secret roles, regardless of what was actually in his hand.

"I'll take that trade," said Paris, whose turn it was next. "That lets me build a ship at my spacedock."

"Oooh," said Ducky, excited the game had moved into the interstellar phase. "Do you have a favourite planet?"

"Well," said Paris, a sparkle in his eye, and a crooked grin across his face, "I am quite fond of Mars."