- Titan (Dune)
The Titans are a group of fictional characters in the Legends of Dune series of novels, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and set in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. The twenty Titans were instigators who took over the Old Empire, became cyborgs and ruled for a century before succumbing to the machines led by the artificial intelligence Omnius.
After a millennium, both the machines and the remaining Titans perished during the Butlerian Jihad. The remaining Titans who feature in the trilogy are Agamemnon, Ajax, Barbarossa, Dante, Hecate, Juno and Xerxes. Of the remaining thirteen Titans, only Tlaloc, Alexander and Tamerlane are explicitly named.
A small band of dissident humans born a thousand years before Serena Butler, these twenty individuals had grown disgusted with the decadence of their society, and humanity as a whole. With thinking machines to handle even the most mundane tasks, mankind had grown fat and lazy, and those who would become the Titans saw in this the chance for change — the machines were an invasion army already deployed and in place. The Titans adopted the names of prominent figures in history and, utilizing the programming talents of Barbarossa, they directed the machines to rise up and seize humanity and installed themselves as dictators for life. Eventually the group separated to each rule their own worlds in the galaxy, utilizing the thinking machines that had originally brought them to power as the means to control entire planets.
After their leader, Tlaloc, was killed in a freak accident about ten years into their reign, the Titans came to the realization that not only were their human bodies fragile but their lifespans were limited; thus, they soon sought new ways in which to continue their rule. Juno was the one to discover a way to achieve this after speaking with the Cogitor Eklo, a disembodied brain in a canister with a perpetually living and aware consciousness. Agamemnon was the first to attempt this transition into what would be called cymeks; through the use of specialized interfaces, his brain in the canister was installed inside a large walking machine body from which he might continue his rule indefinitely. These fearsome, weaponized bodies would make the Titans virtually unstoppable. Having pushed to the very farthest limits of artificial intelligence, their machines ran their empire for them almost completely, allowing the Titans leave to enjoy all the luxuries they desired (the nature of which are left to the reader's imagination, although it is revealed that the Titans were able to have some type of sexual activity, at least with other cymeks).
Their rule carried on in this form for a century and was known as the Time of the Titans. A handful of human worlds on the fringes of known space remained independent, and several hrethgir (slave) rebellions erupted, with Alexander and Tamerlane slain by the rebels, but neither of these threats proved fatal to the Titans' continued rule.
The Time of the Titans would instead come to an end through the same chain of events that had catapulted them into power. Xerxes gave his attendant AI program far too much autonomy (so that Xerxes might work even less), repeating the very same mistake that the Titans had despised in their fellow humans. The result was nearly instantaneous; the machines rose up again, this time against Xerxes, and under the control of this first fully functional artificial intelligence. Humanity itself had been sufficiently cowed under the rule of the Titans, and so were spared the brunt of this second machine revolution. Taking the name Omnius for itself, this new AI consciousness overtook the network of all interconnected thinking machines in an instant. It then spread itself outwards, assuming control instantly as it reached each new world before any alarm could be raised, overthrowing the ruling Titans world by world. Fortunately for the Titans, Barbarossa had possessed the foresight to ensure that the machines were incapable of directly harming their now-former rulers, and thus their continued existence was guaranteed.
For over 900 years the Titans lived in perpetual servitude to Omnius, slowly going insane, knowing that their every move was observed everywhere they went except the very darkest reaches of space — the only place where they might plot to overthrow Omnius. Their cruelty in the treatment of humans was unspeakable, both toward the enemies of the Evermind and to those who had already been conquered. In special purpose-built cymek bodies, the Titans were an immensely powerful force on the battlefield and charged at the front of Omnius' thinking machine armies in clashes with the last remaining free human worlds. When not engaged in battle, they commissioned the design and construction of hundreds of colossal monuments to themselves throughout the Synchronized Worlds, using the humans as slave laborers.
Through the use of preserved reproductive material (frozen sperm) and selective breeding with slave women, the Titan Agamemnon was able to produce offspring; however, his contempt for humans and his incredibly high standards often led to the destruction of said offspring. One of these, Vorian Atreides, 13th son of Agamemnon, survived to become instrumental in the eventual overthrow of the thinking machines, and also responsible for the death of his father.
Agamemnon, the head general of the Titans, was born Andrew Skouros on Earth, around 1200 B.G. during the Old Empire. The claimed descendant of the House of Atreus and therefore the mythological Agamemnon, he was seduced by the words of the visionary Tlaloc and became his somewhat more realistic partner. During and after the revolt, Agamemnon served as the Titans' general and overall commander of their armies. When Tlaloc died in an accident a decade after assuming power, Agamemnon was the sole leader of the Titans and ruler of all humanity until his overthrow by Omnius a century later. For the next 900 years, Agamemnon plotted to one day retake his empire from the robot evermind. He had had samples of his semen preserved before becoming a cymek, and used them on slave women to try to sire a worthy heir. After killing twelve of his "unworthy" sons he had Vorian, who Agamemnon thought had the necessary traits to become his heir. Agamemnon pretended to side with the Evermind Omnius, although aspiring one day to take over mankind and the machines.
After Vorian joined the Army of the Jihad, Agamemnon decided along with the remaining Titans to rebel against Omnius. When Agamemnon was holed up on Hessra in 88 B.G., Vorian tricked Agamemnon into trusting him and then pushed him over the ledge of a window to his death.
Agamemnon's wife/lover in both human and cymek form was the Titan Juno.
During the Time of Titans and even before, Ajax was considered the most brutal and ruthless of the 20 Titans, the co-conspirator who brought sheer muscle and bloody-mindedness to their group. He was described by his mate, the Titan Hecate, as a bully who deserved his eventual fate. Ajax's brutality was most notably seen in the hrethgir uprisings on Walgis XI, where he spent many decades destroying the entire human population afterwards.
Ajax's lover before the Time of Titans was Hecate, who also underwent the cymek conversion surgery. Later, realizing his brutal, thuggish nature, Hecate abandoned Ajax and the other Titans.
Ajax eventually met his end at the hands of Iblis Ginjo, soon to become Grand Patriarch. The robot Erasmus, as part of a challenge with the Omnius Evermind on Earth to prove that no human could ever be trusted wholly, had dispatched secret messages to selected slave bosses around the planet, suggesting there was an organized movement against the thinking machines. Iblis believed there was a greater human resistance, and so planned the eventual hrethgir (derogatory term for humans) revolt on Earth. The catalyst came with the murder of Manion, son of Serena Butler and Xavier Harkonnen. Seeing the terrible death of baby Manion, and the distraught Serena daring to attack Erasmus with her bare hands, the humans rose up, and Iblis put his plans into motion.
Concealed behind a large frieze depicting the Titans' conquests (ordered built by Ajax himself), Iblis and his loyal slave crews had concealed old-fashioned rockets and other explosive weapons. When Ajax learned of the revolt, he immediately went to work attempting to stamp out the resistance. Iblis fired his concealed rockets, disabling one of the Titan's legs, immobilizing him. Ajax was felled, and swamped by slaves. Despite the slaves being killed in droves, Ajax's brain preservation canister was eventually smashed, and his ancient brain mashed into pulp.
Barbarossa, born as Wilhelm Jayther, was largely responsible for the creation of the Omnius program which eventually took control away from the Titans. He was reputedly a programming genius, and was very meticulous. This helped the Titans after Omnius had taken control, as Barbarossa had the foresight to program Omnius to be incapable of directly killing a Titan. Omnius did, however, frequently challenge the Titans to fight dangerous gladiatorial duels for the chance of reward; this had the possibility of ending in their deaths, but never did.
Barbarossa perished during the liberation of Giedi Prime when he along with his neo-cymeks were obliterated by a mental shock wave unleashed by a Rossak Sorceress named Heoma.
Not as aggressive or power-hungry as his compatriots, Dante was a skilled bureaucrat and strategist. After the Titans first seized power, only the impartial Dante enjoyed sufficient trust from the other Titans to arbitrate the division of the spoils, and continued to serve as the Titans' level-headed planner long after Omnius enslaved his former masters. Dante the mild bureaucrat outlived the warriors and schemers who made up the rest of the Titan fraternity, and for a brief period was the sole remaining Titan after the deaths of Agamemnon and Juno, though he too perished at the hands of Vorian Atreides and Quentin Butler.
Hecate was the Titan Ajax's lover, before the revolt that swept them into power. Swayed by Tlaloc's dreams and visions of a better future for humanity, she too underwent the cymek conversion process with her mate. Eventually, having seen the brutality and bloodthirsty nature of Ajax, she realized that she had outgrown the Titans, and left, resigning her worlds and titles, not to be seen again for a thousand years.
Eventually, when the Butlerian Jihad was at its fullest, Hecate returned in a specially-designed, asteroid-shaped ship. She met with her former lover's killer, Grand Patriarch Iblis Ginjo, and pledged her support to the Jihad in fighting her former associates and the computer evermind, Omnius. The Grand Patriarch convinced Hecate to keep her involvement a secret from the League of Nobles at large, as a cymek's help would bring the Jihad and its fanatical following (and Ginjo's power base), crashing down around them.
Hecate performed notable strides forward on behalf of the Jihad, delivering a nuclear warhead deep into the Synchronized Worlds on Bela Tegeuse, wiping out the evermind incarnation there. She also assisted in the retaking of Xerxes' homeworld, Ix. Unfortunately, the League was too enamored with bickering and petty issues, and could not prioritize, meaning these opportunities were blithely wasted. General Agamemnon and the remaining Titans set up Bela Tegeuse as the seat for their new empire having rebelled against Omnius.
Hecate eventually met her end in a tragic misunderstanding. The businessman Aurelius Venport and Supreme Sorceress Zufa Cenva (his mother-in-law and former lover), were traveling back to the shipyards of Kolhar, where Norma Cenva was creating the very first spacefolding vessels. They had just finished negotiating a deal with priestess Serena Butler on Salusa Secundus that would eventually see the Spacing Guild claiming all rights to a universe-wide monopoly of space travel.
They were ambushed by the neo-cymek Beowulf and his legion, who had learned of the Holtzmann engines from their spy, Yorek Thurr. They wished to obtain it for Agamemnon's empire. Just as it looked as though Aurelius and Zufa would have to obliterate the ship, Hecate's asteroid ship arrived, destroying the cymeks and severely damaging Beowulf.
As Hecate attempted to enter Venport's ship, Aurelius and Zufa merely saw a Titan — an enemy — as Ginjo's pact with Hecate was still a closely guarded secret. Hecate entered, announcing herself "I am the Titan Hecate ..." This was all Zufa Cenva needed to hear; she unleashed the full fury of her telepathic powers, disintegrating Hecate's brain, her own, and that of Aurelius.
To compound this tragedy, Hecate's unguided asteroid ship then fell into the ocean of the planet Ginaz and created a catastrophic tsunami, killing many of the mercenaries inhabiting the planet, including the legendary warrior Jool Noret.
Juno was born Julianna Parhi; she first met her lover Agamemnon on a complex virtual network through tactical simulations and wargames. Julianna saw the thinking machines as an invasion army already in place. During her talks with Cogitor Eklo, she saw the possibility of living as a disembodied brain, not for introspection, but for action. Agamemnon agreed immediately and was the first to undergo the cymek process. Juno watched the surgery in joy, and a week later Agamemnon returned the favor by watching her surgery.
Tlaloc was a young visionary, originally from the planet Tlulaxa. He abhorred the hedonistic, dull lives that humanity had created for itself and was determined to rescue his species from stagnation. His ideas and principles attracted young Andrew Skouros, Julianna Parhi and Wilhelm Jayther, amongst others. The group spoke and dreamed on network chats, using their screen names, Agamemnon, Juno, Barbarossa. Eventually Barbarossa was able to reprogram the Old Empire's thinking machines to rise up and conquer their masters. Tlaloc was described by his co-conspirator Agamemnon as being somewhat naive and unaware of the practical repercussions of some of his plans, but the Titan general managed to keep him from making any serious mistakes. The two ruled the Old Empire for a decade until an accident slew Tlaloc. Ironically, Agamemnon's and later Omnius' leadership led to much the same stagnation for the conquered humans that Tlaloc had been so determined to erase. It would fall to the free worlds that had defied Tlaloc in life to liberate humanity a millennium after his death.
As a human, Xerxes had come from an incredibly wealthy family of the Old Empire, and so was the main financier of the Titans' initial uprising. The Prince of Rodale IX (later to be known as Ix), Xerxes eventually strangled his father, making himself sole heir to the family fortune (and his only reason for being part of the Titans' conspiracy in the first place). Xerxes was relatively incompetent compared to the other Titans, and was often barely tolerated, particularly by Agamemnon.
In the Time of the Titans, Xerxes was the last of his kind to undergo conversion into a cymek. He was responsible for the eventual downfall of their hundred year regime, allowing his computerized attendant too much control over the systems of his decadent palace. The attendant, which came to call itself Omnius, took over the Titans' empire as a direct result of Xerxes' action.
Xerxes served as a regent and general in service of Omnius' Synchronized empire. In space combat he utilized a massive robotic body that resembled an enormous and heavily armed spacegoing bird of prey. He eventually met his downfall when, during the brutal torture of Norma Cenva, he inadvertently awakened her latent psychic abilities. She then obliterated his brain and those of several of his lesser cymeks with a powerful psychic shockwave.
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