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Watching the Titans by Chris Dickinson

Watching the Titans by Chris Dickinson

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Published by: twingle93 on Dec 06, 2011
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07/24/2013

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Watching the Titans byChris DickinsonJuly 2th. 1999—nightToday I flew so close to Old Finback's face I could feel his hot breath in the downdraft of the rotor  blade. I've been slowly flying closer to him each day for a fortnight now. and he seems to be quiteaccustomed to my presence. My little 'gyro doesn't seem to bother him at all. It's proven to be the perfect observing tool. Of course, to Finback. I'm about the size of a mosquito, so I'm hardly a threat.But the most exciting thing about the fly-by was that I saw his eyes following me. He was aware of my presence! A gaze both serenely unconcerned and yet terrifying. But his attention was brief. As soon as Imoved away he turned back to the meal in front of him.I am writing this in my shack on Peak S. It is dark, and I have closed the shutters on the window towrite by the light of a kerosene lamp. There is little danger that my small light would excite the Titans, but it's best to be careful. These camouflaged shacks are my lifeline here on the Island. With themdotted across the landscape, each well stocked with supplies, I can rest and relax no matter where I endup after the day's observations. If I do nothing to attract attention to myself, I should be able to keep theshacks intact indefinitely.My sponsors at the Leakey Institute emailed me today. The National Geographic Society have purchased exclusive rights to my pictures, which will meet the cost of the project. After their coverageof the expeditions of Jane Goodall to study wild chimpanzees and Diane Fossey to learn about themountain gorillas, they felt my project was a natural for them. Goodall stopped by to wish me luck  before I left. If I can be as successful as her, I will be well-pleased with myself. But my subjects aremore of a challenge than hers.My family thought I was mad, volunteering for this. But the Titans have fascinated me from the firsttime I saw Old Finback towering over the buildings of Tokyo. I was just a little girl then, watching thenews reports on TV and barely comprehending what I was seeing. It was before the migration channelshad been cut into the city, and the mighty creature was smashing its way through the buildings like achild stomping a sand castle. I remember asking mother if it was enjoying itself, and being told to stop being silly, this was a national disaster. Well of course it was a disaster. Over a thousand people losttheir lives! I knew that. But that didn't make the Titan less interesting.In later years, when the migration channels had been completed, I would rush to the viewing platformsto see the giants pass on their migration to the peak of Ml Fuji. The channels ran like huge concreteculverts through the city, enabling the Titans to go about their business without disrupting the dailylives of the populace. As a clerk in the Bank of Japan, I would see their great heads passing by my building every day, only a few hundred metres away. People began to take them for granted, but I never tired of the sight of their marching silhouettes in the Tokyo smog, surreal against the angular architecture. No two forms were alike, and insects, reptiles, even the occasional mammalian shapemarched between the skyscrapers, like a May Day parade by Hieronymus Bosch.
 
The great Titanologist. Ishiro Tsuburaya, was the first to realise that the creatures always used the same paths to Fuji, and ordered the building of the channels, thus saving countless lives. He also engineeredKaiju Island, luring them here with tempting shipments of radioactive waste, so that they do not roamdestructively between migrations. He was doubtful about my project at first, but I think he's gettingused to the idea of a slightly built girl on an autogyro buzzing around his precious island. In fact, Isuspect he may be getting infatuated, the dirty old man! He's not my only fan either. Since the tabloid press published my photo under the headline "Ekio Shimura, Monster Girl". IVe been deluged withmail. After the first few, I stopped reading them.July 26"Over the Iwo months I've been on the project so far, I have built up a sizable body of observations.Goodall and Fossey gave names to the animals they studied to help get to know them as individuals. Idon't need to do that; mine have already been given names by the press. Old Finback was the first of the Titans to climb out of the sea and menace Japan's cities. The Shell, which resembles a giant turtlewith long horns on its carapace, was the second. Over the years, more have arrived: The Bat. Spikey,and Mister Fluffy were soon named by the populace. The insect-like member of the herd took a littlelonger to get a nickname, until the press settled on Tombo. "dragonfly*.Despite having such varied anatomy, the creatures seem to recognise each other as members of onespecies, and exhibit herd behaviour. Finback is clearly the dominant male, although The Shell tries tousurp him every now and then. Tombo often seems to step in to calm things down when there is aconfrontation. I'm not sure why. All the Titans eat the same thine, enriched uranium or plutonium. Theymight be a useful way of disposing of nuclear waste, but before that can happen governments andinsurance companies need more data on their behaviour. That's where researchers like me come in. I'mnot doing it for financial gain, so it's weird to think that my notes may someday make somemultinational corporation huge amounts of money.August 2ndDamn that Heinz! His blasted "internal probe" got launched today, and promptly caused some trouble, just as I had expected. Heinz is the other PhD student here on the island, but his research is into whatmakes the Titans tick. Their insides, that is. He has designed a probe that he says will be able to survivethe heat, acid and radiation in the stomachs of the beasts. It's like a metre-long lozenge, with sensorsand cameras in a transparent bubble on one end. The idea is to launch it by air cannon into OldFinback's mouth and hope he swallows it. The crazy thing is supposed to take pictures andmeasurements of Finback's insides as it wends through his digestive system, then be expelled with therest of the waste when he takes a dump.Sounds simple, but then Finback notices these humans pointing the cannon in his direction. He's seenartillery before, and he just goes wild when they shoot the probe into his mouth. Soon there's peoplerunning for their lives and the cannon is a flat pretzel of metal at the bottom of a footprint. Thing is.Old Finback decides to go on a rampage, wrecking anything that looks artificial. The ultrasonic sirenswere supposed to keep the Fin and his friends at a distance, but he was so mad he just ignored them.They stopped irritating his ears when he stomped on them. Heinz's little experiment has cost the KaijuIsland authorities about two million dollars in wrecked buildings, including two of my shacks. Ill killHeinz when I see him next! To top it all off. Finback was too agitated for me to make my usual fly-bytoday. I'm trying to study his social interaction with the other Titans, their herd behaviour, not how he
 
stomps things. We know all about that.August 3rdI think my ankle Is broken. Moving it is agony, and I've bound it tightly with my scarf. But I can't domore for it at the moment. I'm trapped!The island authorities had delivered a fresh container of tasty plutonium and The Shell tried to make off with it, directly challenging Old Finback's dominance. There was going to be a battle. The two Titanswere circling one another warily, their warning cries deafening even over the noise of my engine. Itwas time I got lo a safe distance. But before I could go far, The Shell charged and Old Fin dodged tothe side. I flew right into him.I was lucky to survive the crash, but now how am I to get away? No one in their right mind would land a rescue chopper here! I'm sitting high up on his back, aboutlevel with his shoulders. On either side of me, I can see the huge radiator fins that run in four rowsdown his spine, like giant cacti. He was exerting his whole strength in the battle with The Shell, and theradiators glowed with heat from his internal fires. I had to hide in a cleft in his rough hide or I'd have been baked alive! Not to mention irradiated. My radiation badge says the dose isn't dangerous yet, but Ican't stay up here long, that's for sure.My 'gyro is not too badly damaged, but with the control rod of the main rotor snapped, there's no wayto fly it. My only hope is that Old Finback will decide to rest for long enough to let me climb off. Butthat is a slim hope. It will take all day to climb down his back, injured as I am, and he never rests thatlong. And when he is in motion, he's moving too fast to climb down safely. I have to remain up here,where I can maintain a firm grip. There is no way off!August 4thI don't know if anyone will ever find my notebook and camera, but I may as well keep up myobservations. I have been exploring as far as I dare. No one has ever examined the skin of a Titan thisclose before. The pics will be impressive, if anyone ever gets to see them.Close up, Old Finback's skin is like a landscape of jagged rocks. There are large knobbly boulders, anddeep clefts. Water runs down the clefts, forming streams and pools. Here and there, some hardy lichenor algae manages to flourish in this strange environment. Old Finback's skin is not really organic, seenup close. It's more like some kind of mineral. I spot a small piece that seems to have been worn loose,and put it in my knapsack. You never know, I may yet get to take it back to the lab and examine it.The most interesting and disturbing thing I found came when I looked into the deep clefts in the skin.There are objects trapped down there, some pushed far down into the epidermal folds, othersapparently forced beneath the surface at some distant time and only now coming to light as the outer layers slowly weather away. There are stones, of course, but also pieces of metal, some recognisable as parts of cars or appliances, things he has picked up when crashing through buildings or stomping alongfreeways. Most disturbing are the human remains—bleached bones now, shattered and crushed. Howlong have some of them been here, I wonder? I found what looked like a crumpled Samurai helmetnear one. Had Old Finback walked abroad in ancient times?

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