The Titan Sings (part 1)

By Amalasuntha

Command? Startline: edit: access personal log : 01-236:00 verify? Granted

Begin pattern.

Waiting… … … …

connected to mainframe. Direct hard-copy disk: recording:

They’re doing it again, I can hear them through the walls.

The first time I heard a titan sing was on a scratchy hard copy recording at the seminary, and that was only one individual. The understood pattern now is for them to sing in groups. Deep, rumbling continuous harmonies which don’t include words. Or at least not words in any language that we know.  When the first one began doing it the military advocated dismantling it to find out where the program had gone wrong. They publicly took it offline and privately dissected it. But then again, you already know that. Gee, look at me, giving it with the history lesson. Just to let you know, and anyone listening to this will already, given that my background is on record, I was one of those young angry hippie types who protested with placards, hair dye and piercings. Never figured that a suit and minty breath might just have gotten me a bit further. Mind you, the military was quite set in its ways then, and the Titan Project was in its stumbling infancy. That was before all of this. And way before I knew what I actually was. Probably wouldn’t have beaten me with a ten-foot toilet brush if I hadn’t turned out to be so damned good at what I do. Revenge is sweet. So here I am, just whiling the days away until I get verified clearance to go down to Bay Seventeen. The unofficial home of the Titan Project. I’ve probably already got it, the chances are that I’ve already narked someone important off somewhere and they’re making me wait. In the meantime I listen to the titan-song. They’re an official half mile of plastisteel below me, somewhere in the maze of tunnels and clearance, all it does is make the songs echo.

Recording paused . Continue yes/no?

So. I’m here again. And maybe I’m just making these recordings to pass the time.  I got to sign forms today. Again. On account of they’d ‘lost the originals’. Good job they hadn’t lost my med records. I’m not going through all that again. Cold examination tables and sadistic med staff should only figure in a man’s life annually. Another set of standard tests this afternoon. I mean how many times do they want me to perform? It was cards the first, second and third time, and this time random magazine images. I thought about throwing a couple of buxom naked ladies in with my answers, but I really don’t think that they have a sense of humour. “ I see a woman, she’s smiling, and blonde… yep, collar and cuffs match” Oh yes, that would have gone down well. Maybe that’s part of the military job requirements ‘must have sense of humour removed before accepting post”. Mind you, they had pretty good shielding for med staff. Even the student placements had solid walls. I know it’s strictly against the rules, but I’m going slowly spare cooped up in here. And the titans are still singing on and off. Sometimes it sounds wistful, other times, I don’t know. Mournful maybe? But that opens up a whole line of very human questioning, which perhaps is what I’m the answer to. Took a while for the Project engineers and management to admit that they didn’t know what was going on. Took even longer for them to ask for assistance, then get bodies trained to the standard they wanted. And that equals me. So here we are; twelve years on from that first engineering dissection and still no closer as to why they sing, and what it’s all for. Of course this is all being kept from the public. That unfortunate a few years ago who let slip to the press that the titans had all been given human nicknames is probably now a subordinate skin rug in some officer’s quarters. Wasn’t heard from again. Sidelined into outbuilding maintenance probably. So I can’t fuck this up. No pressure. Really.

Recording paused . Continue yes/no?

Maybe today I’ll get to go down to see them. And maybe the moustachioed Brigadier in Ops Planning will kiss my hand and call me Jesus. What else can I say?  There’s a funny thing, aside from the standard of food here – which is not even remotely hilarious if you ask me – I haven’t dreamt since I spent my first night here. Nope, no dreamland for me. Which for someone with my talents, whose dreams are a constant barometer on accuracy levels and pre-emption, was firstly a blessed relief and then disquieting. Now it’s just plain worrying. I’m actually wanting to dream. Come back, all is forgiven. Figure I should mention it to someone, but these posts are being monitored anyway, so what’s the point? Hello my special someone, hope you’re getting paid well. Ask for a comfier chair, I would. Your butt must be sore from having to sit all day. And you need danger money for your brains eventually dribbling out of your ears for having to monitor people’s thoughts. In their private records, I might add. Ah yes, I know that it’s all supposed to be private, but you and I, we know different eh? Anyway, back to the dreams thing. Not that I can share it with anyone, there’s no-one here like me. The Project was twitchy enough to only want one individual to start with, then oh-so-cautiously, and only if it goes well, maybe two more in another decade or so. When they finally get their clearance. And the results from my work to come have been documented, accounted, scrutinised and chewed through the journals so much that there’s nothing left and the data is finally as tasteless as last night’s over-sized portion of chef’s Happy Dragon Seven Rice Feast.

Recording paused . Continue yes/no?

Well, this is turning out to be more fun than sharing a broken-down lift with twelve guys on high-fibre diets. This morning I had a double dose of ‘repeat after me’ security protocols. I’m getting a mite tired of all this. But maybe that’s what they want: for me to get so chewed off with the whole thing that I call it off, stomp out and take my ball home. At least then the guilt is not theirs and they can cheerfully say ‘well, that didn’t work, lets go back to the dissections’ Not gonna happen. At least the guards aren’t shielded to the same level as the med staff. There’s fun to be had, especially in surface scans. And yes, that might be strictly against the rules, but hey, someone with my focus can’t help picking up a stray thought here and there. ‘Tis fun playing them off against each other, and pretending that you know everything about them at first eye contact. The scared act does wear thin after a while, and they tend to change the guards frequently which doesn’t give you much time to mess with their heads. Hang on, door chime: wonder what that is, it’s not lunch yet. Which button is it to pause this thing?

Sir, your clearance has been verified. Are you ready?

Really? Are you sure? Don’t you need me to sign in blood or anything?

No Sir, they’re ready for you now in Bay Seventeen. Please follow your escorts.

Command? Endline: edit: double encrypting personal log 01-236:00 verify? Granted.

End pattern

Send yes/no?

Comms log 036-22 time 1358 – 1644 extracts

Escort this is Ops do you copy?

Escort Ops: Positive

Ops Escort: Verify?

Escort Ops: We are heading down to bay seventeen, via pre-designated route twenty three A, twenty three, thirteen, down lift two, corridor amber-green, checkpoint, amber bay, down lift Kappa, checkpoint, red corridor, checkpoint, bay seventeen. Verify Charlie eight three Delta Victor

Escort this is Ops: Verified and proceed.

Camera fourteen this is Ops do you copy?

Camera fourteen Ops: Positive

Ops Camera fourteen: Verify?

Camera fourteen Ops: Subject and escorts leaving designated personal quarters heading west down corridor twenty three A, joining main corridor twenty three…

Camera twenty this is Ops do you copy?

Camera twenty Ops: Positive

Ops Camera twenty: Verify?

Camera twenty Ops: Subject and escorts entering lift two. Escorts key verification, lift descending.

Camera lift two do you copy?

Camera lift two Ops: Positive

Ops Camera lift two: Verify?

Camera two Ops: Subject and escorts are in lift transit. Approx time of journey twelve minutes.

Ops Camera two: I can see that. I have no sound on my visual. What’s he doing?

Camera two Ops: Sounds like he’s telling dirty jokes again Sir.

Bay Seventeen comms transcript 036-22 1650 – 1717 extracts, containing Titan 20AF12 upload code

Ops Engineering: Escort and subject in red corridor, are Charles and Daphne online and functional?

Engineering Ops: Confirmed, all the recording equipment is in place and verified as operational. All prelim tests show results within expected parameters.

Ops Engineering: You have clearance to proceed. Stage one contact only.

Engineering Ops: Stage one verified.

Escort Ops: We are cleared through final Checkpoint and entering Bay Seventeen. Standby.

Engineering Ops: Escorts and subject are entering Bay Seventeen. Confirm visual and verify.

Engineering Ops: Visual clearance for escorts verified. Proceed Stage One?

Ops Escort: proceed Stage One: visual contact only. Reaffirm that subject makes no contact save visual.

Ops Engineering: Visual Stage One contact begins now

Titan 20AF12 personal name Charles online; verify location: waiting… … … Base One: seventeen degrees twelve seconds North, fifty six degrees six seconds West. One point three miles below accepted surface level. Bay Seventeen. Proximity individuals: identify? Claire Richards, Master Engineer, verified. Identify? Janis Janokopolis, verified. Identify? Morgan Jones verified… Identify? Evan Williams. Rota group four, current assignment Escort. Verified. Identify? Rebecca Hudson. Rota group four, current assignment Escort. Verified. Identify? Unknown male. Identify? Searching staff database; uplink connection. Waiting… … no match. Unknown: identify?

Ops Engineering: Are you getting all of this on tape?

Engineering Ops: Yes, we’re recording everything that Charles is searching through. He’s searched the staff databases so far, and the simulation internet for a match. Don’t think he’s found one yet, but the big guy seems uncertain as to what to do about it. Hold Ops, he seems to have found a match in an old local newspaper. Standby.

Ops Engineering: I though all of the reference material was cleared out and deleted?

Engineering Ops: They were on the simulation internet that he was linked to, somehow he’s bypassed it and found a connection to the internet actual. Do you require us to abort Stage One?

Ops Engineering: Standby… stay on amber alert, but continue Stage One. Repeat stay on alert, continue Stage One only. You have free authority to abort on your decision.

Command? Startline: edit: access personal log : 01-236:00 verifiy? Granted

Begin pattern.

Waiting… … … …

connected to mainframe. Direct hardcopy disk: recording:

So: I’ve seen one, I’ve actually finally seen one. I got to walk into the fabled Bay Seventeen, admittedly under escort, and got to see one with my own eyes. They’re big. Bigger than I was expecting. Even when you’re stood on the gantries. I mean you get to learn the precise measurements in the seminary, but nothing actually compares to seeing the scale of one. Everyone was holding their breath, watching me and that titan, with it all wired up to the mains and me under armed guard; you could have heard a mouse fart.  Then it slowly bent down, servos and monitoring cables stretching, delicately folding its twelve foot frame to squat and look at me. This apparently was not part of the preordained military master plan, as I was ushered straight out in a flurry of concerned-but-professional escorts. I’m sure it was studying me, but I can’t figure out what for. Who knows what’s going through that processor and motherboard? Actually, if this all goes to their plan, I might.

Recording paused . Continue yes/no?

Last night the Titans sang me to sleep and I dreamed. Unusually it was a confused mess of images; red socks, the abandoned peeling basketball hoop on the garage wall at my fathers house, Patch the dog, who saw me though my unruly teenage years, my first (and only) kiss with Michelle, getting teeth braces fitted when I was twelve. Then a long sequence from the anti-government protest you probably know as the Titan Marches. It’s funny looking at yourself from a few years ago, and knowing that at the time you thought green hair and nose rings were so cutting edge and anti-establishment, and at the same time now knowing that they were far from it. The first time I was tested and became something of a local celebrity. Gee look mom, that local boy done good. Whisked away into the pre paid preparatory seminary, at least my parents didn’t end up splitting tuition fees for College. Somethings nagging: they were forever mentioning that yesterdays exercise in military paranoia was ‘Stage One’ wonder what Stage Two is? For that matter, how many stages are there?

Command? Endline: edit: double encrypting personal log 01-236:00 verify? Granted.

End pattern

Send yes/no?

Read the remainder of this story in The Titan Sings (part 2)


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