Teen Titans Fan Fiction ❯ The Real World: Titans Tower ❯ The Seven Strangers ( Chapter 1 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
OOC: DC Comics has over 70 years worth of continuity—backstory affecting all their characters that needs to be adhered to in all future stories. In order to tell ongoing stories without being bogged down by continuity, DC Created the “All Star” line of comics, series based on iconic characters but ignoring continuity. Marvel has a similar concept called the “Ultimate” line.
In this vein, the story you are about to read is, in a sense, “All Star Teen Titans”. It is a re-imagining of the classic “The New Teen Titans” series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez—in a sense, the animated series could be considered the exact same thing. Some things will stay the same—and many things will differ—so as a warning to all readers: don't get caught up in continuity ;)
DISCLAIMER: I did not create most of the characters in this story—though some different takes are all mine. Those honors belong mostly to Marv Wolfman and George Perez, as well as the talented writers who have used the characters in recent years, such as Geoff Johns and the staff of the animated series.
“All Star Teen Titans”
“The Real World: Titans Tower”
Episode One: The Seven Strangers
This is the true story of seven teenaged superheroes, picked to live in a house, fight crime together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when heroes stop being polite, and start being real. The Real World: Titans Tower.
It was simply a bus station in San Francisco, yet those surrounding it hoped it would be the start of something huge—a show of epic proportions. A crew spiraled around the street, cameras both littering the ground and elevating far above the pavement, making sure every possible angle was covered. They needed every single shot they could get to make sure they could meld this show into the masterpiece they needed. If all went well, this would be the reality TV show to end all reality TV shows.
Standing on the sidelines, director Loren Jupiter grinned. Months and months of hard work had gone into bringing his baby to life, and finally he was about to see all his planning come to blissful fruition. No matter how “super” those other shows were, they couldn't top a show with real superheroes.
The chug of a diesel engine snapped the man from his thoughts, and Jupiter knew the time had come. “Places, everybody!” he yelled as he moved backwards, his finger looming over a button that emerged from his sleeve. The airborne cameras panned further towards the sky as those on the ground pulled back, leaving as much space as possible for the new arrivals.
After all, if there was one thing these heroes were known for, it was collateral damage.
“Okay,” Jupiter began, speaking with baited breath. His gloved finger pressed down on the button, and instantly millions of dollars worth of technology blended the crew into their surroundings, invisible to the naked eye.
**ON THE AIR**
A tractor trailer roared down the street, its side decorated in the gaudy colors and pictures of clowns and acrobats. A bright emblem proudly proclaimed that the truck belonged to Haley's Circus, a popular act that had toured everywhere from San Francisco to Gotham with much acclaim. However, nothing had been the same since that fateful night seven years ago when they had lost their star attractions with the snap of just one line.
The back of the truck rolled up with a whirr, and though one might think that the vehicle would be full of equipment or animals—because clowns travel in tiny cars, no?—it was instead filled with almost all the staff of the circus.
“We're gonna miss ya, kid,” the strong man crooned, sadness plainly evident in even his gruff voice. “It just won't be the same without our star attraction.”
“Yeah,” replied a smooth, confident voice. “I was, wasn't I?”
“Of course you were,” a calm, motherly voice replied as the owner's wife took hold of a sixteen year old boy and squeezed him close. “Now give it your best, Dick. Make us proud!”
“Is there any way I couldn't?” the boy replied in that same confident tone as he took flight, leaping from the back of the truck, somersaulting four times through the air and landing elegantly with his cape flapping behind him.
Dick was clad from head to toe in red leather, with black boots and gloves and that odd brief-like segment of clothing that nobody quite knew what to call. He wore a yellow belt lined with various sized pockets, and a yellow `R' rose from a black circle on the right side of his chest. A black collar protected his neck and attached his expansive cape to his body—black on the back and yellow on the interior, the garment sprawled far behind him and ended in jagged scallions.
Black hair stuck out in all directions from his head, no doubt the combined effort of twenty minutes and half a jar of hair gel. A black domino mask covered his eyes, but nothing could cover the cocky grin that he wore with pride. Dick Grayson straightened his back as he resumed proper posture from his landing, and his smile only grew wider.
“Though I dunno…” The circus-folk were confused—Dick wasn't confident? However, a twinkle in the teen's eye told them everything in their world wasn't as amiss as it seemed. “I don't think these guys can take my best!”
Haley's Circus broke into applause, the owner's wife bursting into tears as the doors of the truck slowly rolled shut. However, before they closed, Dick had one more thing to add.
“The Robin is ready to fly!” he announced.
Much later, Robin is sitting in a room, by himself, except for a camera. This is the confessional, where these young heroes will be encouraged to express their innermost feelings and thoughts about the events during their stay on the team.
Robin: “Man, they loved that. Robin. I don't get why. It's a kid's name. The press has been calling me that since my first day on the trapeze—hell, I must've been only five—and it's time to grow up.
“I wanted Nightwing. Now there's a hero's name—but no, the producers said it sounded too much like something Superman would come up with. I don't get that one—I'm no boy scout. And I'm certainly no boy.”
Robin scanned the area, surprised that he was the first one there—and disappointed as well. He had hoped to make a grand entrance, to impress his new housemates from the get-go, but no dice. The only person even on the street was a girl standing beneath the plastic shelter of the bus stop.
Robin: “So it's this cute little blonde, nothing to write home about but at least a six, and I figure, hey, if I can't impress these guys with my entrance, I'll impress them by finding a girl before they even get here!”
“'Sup, sweet thing?” Dick asked, suddenly looming behind the girl creepily. “Ever dated a super hero before?”
The girl gave him a quick scan and wasn't impressed. “Don't super heroes wear tights?”
“Well now,” laughed Dick as he rapidly searched for a reply, “If I wore tights I'd have every girl on the street following me like puppies! With the leather I keep it subdued—but still a bit kinky,” he added as he raised his eyebrows.
Robin: “You can't say they wouldn't! But, if the girl wants tights she should have seen my old circus uniform—short pants and pixie boots would have been an even better view!”
With the roll of her eyes the girl quickly tried so shake the lecherous hero off. “I like girls, not guys,” she lied, going with a tried and true mojo-buster.
“Perfect,” Robin cooed without missing a beat. “You can invite a friend.”
“I believe you mistake arrogance for charm,” accused an unearthly voice. Dick turned to the source, only to find a monstrous black creature looming above him. As quickly as it had appeared it shrank until it was nothing but a black cloak blowing in the wind. A blue and red clasp held shut a hood that projected a bizarre shadow over the wearer's pale face. Both her eyes glowed white.
Robin's fist clenched, as the teen was unsure whether this was a new housemate or an enemy who had yet again beaten his future allies to the punch.
“Yet your fear is real, even though you do an admirable job of hiding it,” the hooded girl continued.
“What—what are you? How—”
“I am Raven,” she said, “and I am an empath. I know what you feel before you even know yourself.”
Raising one eyebrow, Robin mumbled, “Creepy.”
“I know,” she replied. “It does not bother me anymore.”
Raven: “I can feel his ignorance. The boy craves the spotlight. He does not understand what it is like to be feared, to be hated. After all, I did not become this way because I wished to be.”
“Well, I see you guys are getting off on the right foot,” laughed another voice, its entrance accompanied by a far off sonic boom, the shattering of windows, and a fierce wind that nearly blew Robin off his feet. Eerily enough, the floating Raven didn't move.
The girl Dick had been hitting on screamed and ran, now realizing what those guys with the camera had warned her about when they let her wait there for the bus. Meanwhile, as the former circus-star regained his bearings, he saw standing before him a glowing, humanoid figure of yellow, the air shimmering around it.
“So,” Robin smiled, not thrown off this time, “You the next housemate I'm guessing?”
An upturned line of white appeared across the bottom of the creatures face. “Figure that out all on your own?” it asked, clearly with a male's voice. He extended his hand, electricity flaring from his arm. “I'm Wally West, but everybody calls me Speed—when I stop long enough for them to see me, that is.”
A laugh escaped the first teen's mouth even as he reached to return the gesture. “Speed? Like the dru—”
“No, not like the drug,” Speed snapped.
Speed: “And not like the movie with Sandra Bullock either…
“Cause I've gotten that before. I think I punched the guy.”
As Dick shook Wally's hand, he noticed a tingle moving through his body. The new arrival didn't feel human—it was as if he was only a shell. Instantly Speed's forearm seemed to dissolve as Robin was blown backwards, leaving twin trails of fire in his wake.
Sputtering as he pulled himself out of a wall, Robin smiled. “Fancy trick there, druggie.”
Speed: “And I think we have our wannabe tough guy, ugh…though he'll be fun to screw with at least.”
Raven: “Robin's constant posturing is already wearing on my nerves—though Speed's repressed anger is more worrisome. I can feel it, just barely held back, ready to erupt at any moment.”
“Just what the hell are you anyway?” Dick continued as he stared incredulously at the speedster's arm. At the elbow it seemed to trickle into nothing more than a sparking trail of golden, fluctuating energy vaguely shaped like his forearm. “It's like your arm is melting!”
“It is not his arm,” Raven stated, seemingly appearing from nowhere between the two boys—sending a shiver up Dick Grayson's spine. “Speed is shaping energy to appear like his arm—the rest of him is energy compressed into a body-like shell. As far as I can tell he has no corporeal body of his own, yet…” The empath paused as the white energy leaked from her eyes and into the sky like dual trails of smoke.
“…Yet his spirit still exists within the mass of energy.”
Speed: “Creepy. She needs to keep her…whatever…to herself.”
Robin looked confused, though not necessarily by Raven's analysis. “Corporeal? What the…”
Raven: “I would buy the boy a dictionary if I believed he would read a book without pictures.”
“I'm made of the Speed Force,” Wally elaborated, knowing the producers would require him to give an explanation if nothing else. Robin growled in frustration, but Speed continued before the acrobat could even begin to ask what in the world that was. “It is a limitless realm of speed that provides all worlds with their momentum, inertia, speed.
“That Flash guy in the JLA draws his super-speed from the Speed Force, but I am that source. I could run circles around that poser—or leave him so slow that even you could.”
Robin: “Hm, I wonder how many times he's called me arrogant in here already, yet…”
Wiping dust from his shoulder, Robin just snickered. “Sure, I bet you could—that stuff packs a punch though. Almost hurt me.”
“The Speed Force can't `pack a punch',” Wally growled. “It is nothing but speed. I just sent you running into that building.” A snarl escaped his fluctuating energy lips. “Don't make me make you so fast that you go flying off into outer space.”
And not even five minutes into the first episode, two Titans were ready to come to blows. They were knocked back by wings of pure darkness enveloping them, the black appendages growing from Raven's cloak as if it had a life of its own. Robin and Speed were helpless, almost drowning in the seas of inky energy.
“Calm down!” Raven commanded, and in response her two new teammates finally backed off, as if the aggression was almost sucked out of their bodies. With a flap the mysterious girl's cloak again enclosed her body as the darkness dissipated.
Robin: “Okay, bossy chicks are bad enough, but when they have the power to actually MAKE YOU DO WHAT THEY WANT then that REALLY SUCKS!”
“The show has barely started,” she continued with a huff. “At least wait until we're all together before ripping each other apart again—I sense they are near.”
As always the empath was right, and a far off roar filled their ears. “It sounds like a jet,” Wally exclaimed, confused as he looked into the air, “but all I see are two girls, just floating there!”
“Holy s---,” Dick gasped, a smile growing on his face, “it's an invisible plane!”
Speed: “Break out your buzzers, censors, it's gonna be a wild ride!”
With another roar the transparent aircraft soared even more out of sight, leaving a lone figure that fell to the ground with grace and elegance. Her jet-black hair was pulled back in a ponytail, with loose strands falling across her pretty face. She wore black high-heeled boots that nearly rose to her knees—above that were blue tights with a white star on each thigh. A golden eagle adorned the chest of her red tank-top with a plunging neckline—across her waist was a gold band with a stylized `w' in the center and a shining, golden lasso hanging from the belt. Glistening, metallic bracelets covered nearly her entire forearms.
Speed raised a newly formed eyebrow in interest at the new arrival while Robin simply stared at the girl with a lovelorn, puppy-eyed expression—and though her face was perpetually hidden, it was likely that even Raven was impressed.
“So, I'm guessing you're my new team?” The girl ventured cheerfully. “Sorry I'm a little late, but my sister just couldn't say a short goodbye. I'm Donna Troy, but you can call me—”
“WONDER GIRL!” Robin exclaimed as he dashed to Donna's side, taking her delicate hand in his and giving it a light kiss. “World famous younger sister of the equally stunning Wonder Woman, and a protector of downtrodden children everywhere.”
Wally laughed as he witnessed Dick's annoying confidence melt away into fanboyish lust. “I've been a fan of yours since you first started heroing! I have all your posters!”
Robin: “Though they're all a bit sticky.”
Wonder Girl, Speed, and Raven (simultaneously, with the screen split into three equal pieces): “Please don't say that they're sticky!!”
“I'm—I'm flattered,” stammered Wonder Girl, who was used to enamored males but not ones within the hero community—well, perhaps save for one other. “Um, who are you though? I never remember seeing a hero quite like you before—and this is coming from a person who's been to Justice League meetings before!”
Speed: “Great, it's little miss `self-righteous-big-name-super-hero!'”
Raven: “I can sense Speed's feelings, but Wonder Girl is not looking down on us, nor is she thinking too highly of herself. She is simply…confused.”
“That's `cause I'm brand new on the scene,” answered Robin with a smile so large it filled the entire bottom of his face. “Dick Grayson's the name. Maybe you've heard of me? I was the star attraction of Haley's Circus before MTV here hooked me up with the new gear and I got into the crime fighting biz'—you're looking at the only man alive who can perform a quadruple somersault!”
Robin: “Though there used to be three…before the accident…”
“So wait…you've never fought a villain before?” Dick shook his head no, and the color started to fade from Wonder Girl's face. “Not even some jewel thief or a mugger?”
The acrobat shrugged. “Well, there was this nutjob who tried to raid the circus's wardrobe department once that I beat up, but other than that…”
With a slight sob Donna buried her face in her palms.
Wonder Girl: “How could this happen?! I thought this was going to be an all-star teen superhero team! How can all these…novices help me find my parents?!”
Raven: “Okay, now she is being self-righteous…”
“Calm down, gorgeous,” Dick said with a smile as he rested his gloved hand on Donna's shoulder. “I know I'm a lot of man to handle all at once, but we get to live in that nice, shiny new tower together for the next few months! You've got plenty of time to adjust!”
An even louder sob emerged from the wailing Amazon.
“Hey, maybe we'll even be roomies! Bet'cha we'll need a new bed each week!”
Wonder Girl: “Hera, give me strength…I do not know if I can stand Dick Grayson for another minute, let alone months!
“Though at least his name is certainly appropriate.”
Robin: “Great, I made her cry. I hope Wonder Woman doesn't find out or I'm gonna get the s--- beat outta me.”
“Look, just leave me alone, okay?” Donna said, pushing Dick backwards. “This wasn't what I expected and I need a sec, that's all.”
Suddenly new voices entered the fray. “Wow, somebody's crying already!” exclaimed a lanky boy in a full-body, purple and black uniform—though the unusual thing about the boy was his green skin and hair.
“I told ya you should have flown us here,” growled his companion, a large black teenage boy who appeared to be clad in robotic armor—however, his body and the mechanics were actually one. Glinting silver machinery covered most of his chest and legs save for the region at the top of his chest beneath his neck. Much of his biceps were still flesh, however his entire forearms were electronic, teeming to the brink with hidden tricks.
The mechanical man's shoulders glowed neon blue, as did the top half of the left portion of his head. A red, robotic eye was directly beneath that, and the other half of his head was still his original flesh, though shaven bald.
“Why should I fly us here?” the green kid returned, frustrated. “We got free bus passes! Free! Why am I tiring my arms out when we can ride for free?! We even got to watch a movie!”
The half-robot rolled his eyes. “Yeah, `cause we all love direct-to-DVD Disney sequels.” Noticing the group that had already assembled, he extended his hand. “Looks like we're a little late—not my fault, the bus hit a cow.”
“Poor cow!” Wailed the green boy, rocking on the ground in the fetal position.
“Anyway,” continued the frequently interrupted metalman as he extended his arm, “I'm Victor Stone; call me—”
“Can opener?” Robin guessed, returning Victor's handshake. “Or is your codename metalhead? Swiss Army Knife Guy? The Lean, Mean, Fat Reducing—”
Dick Grayson's venture into the naming game was cut off by his hand being crushed. Victor Stone smiled as he released his grip on the acrobat, leaving the boy speechless.
“I was going to say Vic,” continued the half-machine, “but the codename they gave me was Cyborg.”
“Cool name,” grunted Robin, still in pain as he cradled his throbbing hand. “Even better kung-fu grip there. That armor packs a punch.”
A quick wince of pain crossed Cyborg's face before he regained his rational demeanor. “It's not armor. All this tech is a part of me. My Dad was a scientist at Star Labs, specializing in cybernetic limb replacement for the paralyzed. One day there was an accident that left me half dead…and he rebuilt me into…this.
“So now I'm half-human, half-machine.”
Speed: “Is that a complaint? I'd kill for half human.”
However, not all attention was on the cyborg. “Don't I know you?” Asked Donna Troy, moving her focus to the green kid. Realizing he was finally noticed, he leaped to his feet, his scrawny limbs flailing impossibly.
“Of course you know me, W.G.!” he exclaimed. “It's me—Gar Logan!” Wonder Girl's face showed no signs of recognition. “Um…Beast Boy?...From the Doom Patrol?” Still Donna wore only a blank expression, as if her memory fuse had blown.
Beast Boy pulled at his face, his pointy green ears wiggling, as he tried to figure out why she didn't remember him. “I got it!” he exclaimed, pulling something from the tiny white belt around his even tinier waist. “It's the mask!”
Suddenly Garfield Logan's entire appearance changed as he pulled the tiny mask over his head, covering his green face in purple latex with black ears pointing into the air like antennas.
“Oh, I remember you now!” Donna suddenly exclaimed, as if the spark had finally ignited, hugging the boy. “You're that shapeshifter from that freaky group of superheroes!”
Beast Boy: “Well, that's one way to put it I guess. I mean, the DP made no big deals about being freaks, but freaks and freaky is completely different…y'know?”
“Indeed I am!” Gar exclaimed, pushing any negative feelings from Donna's comment to the back of his head. “The amazing Beast Boy—one man zoo—is at your service!”
Leaping into the air, Beast Boy's body shrank and changed shape—by the time he landed on Wonder Girl's shoulder he had become a green squirrel. The young Amazon shrieked and grabbed for the tiny creature, but Gar ran several laps around her neck, evading her grip before scattering to the top of her head.
The squirrel expanded back into Beast Boy, nimbly perched atop Wonder Girl's head. “As long as you don't mind all the animals being green.”
Donna was not amused. “Would you please get off my head?”
With a shrug Gar jumped backwards, pulling his mask off as he landed. “I'm done with the mask though. Always looked stupid to begin with—hey Vic! Cn'you take care of this?”
“Sure thing, Gar,” replied Cyborg. Beast Boy tossed his old mask behind him, and with a clack Victor Stone's mechanical fingers slid back. Flames leapt from a barrel hidden deep within his palm, incinerating the doofy looking mask in one quick strike. Garfield Logan looked pleased, flashing a full smile that displayed a set of fangs.
“You guys sure are all buddy buddy,” Robin observed. “Y'know each other already or something?”
“Well, we met on the bus,” Gar said, shrugging. “Does that count?”
Cyborg: “Really, Gar and me just hit it off. He's a good kid. It's strange though. I'm the one who's kind of less than human, yet I seem more comfortable in my own skin than he does.”
Raven: “They truly are kindred spirits. I believe Cyborg's influence will be good for Beast Boy. In fact, much to my surprise, of all of us gathered here he might just be the most well adjusted one. Maybe he will be good for all of us.
“Or at least those of us who still can be saved.”
“So, weren't there supposed to be seven of us?” Cyborg asked, his one bionic eye taking a digital count of each hero present and also calculating heat signatures—just in case there was an invisible hero hiding his presence somewhere. Alas, there were not—though his radar detected a far off blip moving closer, and doing it fast.
Before anybody could even respond to his question a trail of red landed between the six teenagers, the ground cracking beneath them from the tremendous impact. A bronze skinned beauty rose from the wreckage, her wild red hair flickering behind her head like fire, her eyes eerie pools of deep green. Her clothes left little to the imagination, strips of purple running up her body that covered the essentials but left much of her legs and stomach exposed.
Speed: “And now we've got our girl gone wild! Stereotypes away!”
Beast Boy: “Hubba hubba…”
Robin: “I think I had a dream that started like this once…though without all the guys.”
Cyborg: “This video recorder in my bionic eye is going to come in very handy I think…very handy.”
“Am I late?” she asked, her voice not the husky warrior's tone that was expected, but instead higher pitched, laced with purity and innocence. “I was given this map, but I cannot read English and it was rather useless. I have checked every bus station in the city, and I was beginning to give up hope.”
“Well I'm sure glad you didn't, babe,” smiled Robin as he snuggled close, arm around her shoulders. “You're right on my time.”
The girl looked confused. “You have a different time?” The others restrained their amusement, except for Beast Boy who laughed out loud. “And what do you mean by `babe'? Do you see me as an infant?”
Speed: “Oh god, how is she not a blonde?”
Raven: “Despite appearances, I sense great intelligence and much knowledge within her. Sadly, it is simply information irrelevant to living on Earth.”
“Believe me,” Robin continued, unflustered. “You're no infant.” His grin grew as he drew a line up her arm with his finger. “Though if you were, I might break a few laws…”
The ground beneath Wonder Girl started to crack as she clenched her body so hard that she drove the heels of her boots straight into the asphalt. “Are you going to treat every girl like that?!”
“Probably not,” Raven said. “He's ignored me completely.” It wasn't a complaint, simply her again pointing out a fact.
The mens' heads span towards the empath. “You're a girl?”
“Sexist pigs!” Donna exclaimed, smashing her fists together. “I can't believe I'm stuck with you guys! I'm starting to see why the Amazons abolished all men!”
Her six castmates stared at her, just waiting for the tirade to end. It almost did, until Wonder Girl's eyes again caught glimpse of the new girl, who was paying far more attention to Donna's cries than the perverted teen hanging from her body.
“And how can you let him treat you like that?!” she continued, anger reigniting. “Stand up for yourself!”
The golden-skinned girl calmly moved Robin aside and stepped forward. “Perhaps he is over the top, but the attention is flattering. Would you rather have him lie to us or hide his feelings?”
“No,” Donna admitted. “I just want him not to be such a brainless pervert!”
“Well, there are better ways to do so than yelling,” she countered. “I've found that if we discuss our differences in a calm way almost any problem can be resolved.”
“You go girl!” Gar exclaimed, receiving only silence in return.
Beast Boy: “Yeah, I know it's lame, but I've always wanted to say that.”
Extending her arm, the scantily clad woman smiled and resumed her statement. “However, I do admire your honesty and enthusiasm. My name is Koriand'r…though I believe in your language I would be called `Starfire.'”
Donna returned the alien's handshake hesitantly, embarrassed at the lecture. The others gathered around and began introductions, many having only met half the team. In fact, only Robin had been there for all their arrivals, and now he was instead dividing his time between ogling Starfire and ogling Wonder Girl.
“Welcome, my Titans!” cried a man from the sidelines. Seemingly appearing from nowhere, he paced into the middle of the crowd of seven super powered teenagers. His hair curled wildly from his head—it was obvious that once it was bright red, but the ravages of aging had sent streaks of grey throughout. His clothes looked as if they had been ordered straight from the 1970's—clashing colors checked down his vest and bell bottoms. Thick coke rimmed glasses perched on his nose, so old they had come back into style.
Starfire: “My, everybody on this planet looks so odd…”
Beast Boy: “Dude, it's Austin Powers!”
“Titans?” Dick asked, one eyebrow rising.
“Of course!” The man continued. “I am Loren Jupiter, the director of this show, and you are my Teen Titans!
“Seven teenaged superheroes, picked to live in a house, fight crime together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when heroes stop being polite, and start being real! You are those teenage superheroes, and you are my Teen Titans!”
Cyborg: “I don't see where that was so hard to figure out. I mean, it was all in the contract.”
Raven: “As I said: if it does not have pictures then Robin will not read it.”
“So when do we get to see our new house?!” Beast Boy asked, with enthusiasm so thick it nearly sweated off of him.
Beast Boy: “It's been a long, long time since I've had a nice house to live in…”
Loren Jupiter grinned nervously, sneaking a glance at his gaudy watch. `Where is that idiot?! Damn! I can't have all this dead air!'
“Right now! I've come to personally escort you all!” Mr. Jupiter waved his hand to the side, like a game show beauty introducing a prize—minus the beauty part—and a giant jet shimmered into sight. It was large enough to fit the entire team, shaped like a giant `T'.
Garfield Logan's heart nearly exploded from his chest. “So…sweet…” drooled the green boy.
“Sure beats ridin' the elephants, right circus boy?” Speed called towards Robin, chuckling.
“Sorry druggie,” countered Dick, “but I never rode the elephants. I mean, who'd want to ride you mom?!”
Robin: “Oooh, buuuurn”
Beast Boy: “Crap, I so could have used that.”
Wonder Girl: “Totally. Lame.”
“C'mon Wally,” gestured Jupiter, tapping the boy on the portion of energy that formed his shoulder. “Even you've got to ride the jet. Can't have you running ahead and stealing the show from everybody, can we?”
With his usual disgruntled remarks Wally West shuffled onto the jet, leaving only Mr. Jupiter outside. He snuck one final, annoyed look towards the sky. `I hope he isn't expecting to still get paid.'
Several boosters in the back of the jet roared to life and in a trail of flame the giant T soared towards the seven misfit heroes' new home.
**OFF THE AIR**
“Where are those brats?!” cried out a warbling voice in frustration. A figure soared through the air with reckless speed, weaving through buildings like a sports car though traffic. “I've searched every stinking bus station in this stinking city twenty times now!”
Suddenly he saw rising into the air an unmistakable new landmark. Even he knew what it was—and he would have even if he hadn't already been told, too!
“Well, if I can't find them, I'll just have to go wait for them to come to me!”
**ON THE AIR—TITANS ISLAND, SAN FRANSCISO BAY**
Grass rippled beneath the T-Jet as it landed, boosters slowly powering down and a long ramp extending from the door to the ground. Eight figures emerged from the rocket, and the teens were instantly stunned at the sight of their new home. Even Wally didn't have one derogatory thing to say.
A giant tower rose at least ten stories into the sky, again shaped like a capital letter `T'. The sun reflected off the monument's side, making it glimmer and shine like a thing of true beauty.
“Ouch!” Dick Grayson exclaimed, snapped out of the tower-induced trance as a pain ran up his back. Loren Jupiter pulled a silver device shaped like a hairdryer from Robin's shoulder. “What t'hell are you doing?!”
“Injecting nanobots into your bloodstream,” Jupiter said, pushing the device into Donna's shoulder. He ignored her cry and moved to Beast Boy. “Hundreds of thousands of them—creating within you a camera halo!
“From now on all your actions outside the tower will be recorded by the camera halos emanating around your body—it's too dangerous to have the camera crews follow you into battle!”
The shell of energy Speed had formed cracked as the gun shot into his shoulder. “Yes, Wally, before you even speak I'll let you know that I made a special shot for you in which the nanobots will track your consciousness and remain in whatever section of the Speed Force that it inhabits.”
Robin: “Hey, anybody who can cut down the druggie like that is okay in my book!”
Beast Boy: “Wait, so does this mean these things will be, like, taping us when we pee? Eww!”
“Well,” Mr. Jupiter began as he finished the final shot, “What are you waiting for? The tower is yours! Go! Enjoy yourselves! I'll contact you in the morning with your first mission!”
Garfield looked confused. “What, we just go? Explore this thing for ourselves?”
“Why not?” shrugged Loren Jupiter. “The others have already gone inside.”
With a gasp Beast Boy span and, seeing the other Titans already inside the tower, sprang into the air as a green falcon, diving for an open window.
Meanwhile, Jupiter simply smiled. It seemed he was truly overjoyed for his show to be taking flight, as it were. Then he laughed at his own pun.
The bird landed on the floor within the letter-shaped tower, growing into the changeling's human form. Gar looked both ways down the long hall and a row of seven rooms. “Our bedrooms!” he exclaimed as he dashed in the first open door.
The smell of burning incense wafted up his sensitive nose, and the green boy found himself immersed in a dark room, flickering candles the only decoration. “A little…creepy I guess, but I can get used to it.”
Suddenly even the light of the tiny flames was engulfed by a wave of black that nearly swept Beast Boy off his feet. He shuddered as his body steadily became colder, until white eyes pierced the sheet of darkness and snapped him out of the monotony.
“This is my room,” said an odd voice. The wave of pure black retreated into the robes of Raven, her body still remaining unseen. “Yours is at the end of the hall.”
“Oh,” grumbled Gar as he stumbled out. “Makes sense.” A blast of dark energy sent the door slamming shut behind him.
As he made his way down the hall the others were all entering their rooms as well, where their luggage and personal artifacts had already been sent weeks ago. There was a yellow flash as Speed zoomed into his room, the door closing with enough force to send the wall crumbling.
“Yo Gar, can you give me a hand?!” Beast Boy entered Robin's room, finding the boy struggling to open a suitcase. “I over packed a bit, I guess.”
Beast Boy: “Or, you could just be having trouble opening it. Would that be so embarrassing to admit?”
Both boys gave the clasp a tug and promptly the luggage opened with a bang, sending the two Titans reeling as equipment spewed across the room like a volcano erupting.
Pulling a coil of rope and some handcuffs from atop himself, Garfield stumbled to his feet. “What is all this stuff?”
“MTV sent me all this gear,” Dick said with a smile. “They want me to be like the group's Batman or something.” The teen laughed. “Like that'll happen. That stiff guy is always brooding in the shadows—at least every time I've seen him on TV—and how can you get the girls or the attention in the shadows?”
Robin: “Well, unless the girl is hiding in the shadows, but really, wouldn't that mean she was probably ugly? Ew, no thanks.”
“So, do you need some help picking all of it up?” Gar asked as he noticed the equipment completely obscured the floor.
Robin looked confused. “Pick it up? Why would I want to do that? It's not like I'm going to create any giant organization system or anything.”
As Dick fell backwards into the gear and started to make snow-angels—or perhaps “gear-angels” would be the more appropriate term—Beast Boy left the room with a sigh and moved on towards his.
Suddenly his heart stopped in its tracks as Starfire stepped into the hallway, seductive no matter how she stood.
“Are you guys ready for dinner?” she called, her red hair flickering behind her like a flame. “I was planning on making us all dinner in celebration of our first night together!”
“Oh boy!” Gar exclaimed.
“Gaah!” Gar exclaimed as he spat the food to the ground. Tears welled in the sides of his eyes as he turned back to the steaming pile of orange and purple sludge on my plate. “What is this stuff?!”
“Tamaranian Rorfloosh. Or I believe in your language it would be called…beetle guts.” Beast Boy's already green face turned purple. “On my planet it is a delicacy and reserved only for the most special of occasions.”
With one pitiful motion Garfield Logan pushed his plate away. “I don't think I'm hungry anymore,” he said weakly.
“I think it's delicious!” Robin exclaimed as he shoveled it in with the boisterous appetite only a teenage boy could have. Koriand'r smiled sweetly and piled more onto his plate.
Robin: “Then again, I was so busy watching Star-hottie that I couldn't taste any of the goop anyway.”
As Dick piled on the compliments and Starfire reciprocated with even more goop, Wonder Girl took a small, hesitant bite and instantly regretted it. Still, she trudged on and took another. “Gar,” she whispered, “you're right, it's horrible. But just be nice and don't hurt her feelings. You can stand it, right?”
The boy shuddered. “Not willingly. I'm a vegetarian.” He noticed Cyborg taking a huge bite. “Ah come on, not you too?”
“Grin an' bear it,” he said with a smile.
Cyborg: “Of course, it helps that I turned off my taste-bud circuits after the first bite and sent all the food to a storage device in my stomach so I could dump it later. And Star, if you somehow see this, sorry. But it's nasty.”
Wally West stood behind the table, an angered expression crudely constructed across his unreal face. “Quit whining. At least you can eat at all. I'm just a bunch of living energy—I can't eat! I can't do anything!”
Wonder Girl: “Bitter much?”
Starfire: “The first time I heard that, I felt bad for him. However, by the end of the first day when it was all he was saying…it was pretty hard to care. And that's bad coming from me; I always try to care.”
With a small roar of frustration Speed dissolved completely into energy and zoomed from the room, leaving a smoking trail on the floor.
“Why did he even sign up for this?” Donna asked. Beast Boy, meanwhile, was still too affected by the food to even notice his new teammate snap.
“What do you think of the food, Raven?” he asked the empath, who remained oddly silent at the end of the table.
She looked down at her food, and the tip of her cloak enveloped the mush. In a second the darkness dispersed and the food was gone. “I sent it to an alternate dimension,” she said quickly. “Perhaps it will suit them.”
Beast Boy: “Wish I could do that.”
Garfield Logan's legs were weak as he wandered towards his room for the second time that night, still disgusted by the one bite he'd taken of the…beetle guts. Suddenly he heard a whirring sound and quickly he poked his head into Cyborg's room.
It was white and grey, slick and metallic looking, with computer monitors covering the walls and a slab with wires attached in the center of the room. Eerily enough, it was the teen's bed. However, Gar was concerned with only one thing.
“Are you throwing out all that food?!” he asked loudly as he caught Victor dumping the goop he had supposedly eaten into the trash. “No wonder you could eat it so easily!”
Vic waved his robotic arms, trying to calm the tiny changeling. “Take it easy, little guy.” Quickly he attempted to change the subject. “What are you doing up here anyway? Going to bed this early?”
“Nah,” the boy replied with the wave of his lanky arm, “I was just gonna get my towel and head for the Jacuzzi. Wanna come with?”
“Um,” Cyborg looked down at himself, “I'm not exactly waterproof.”
Beast Boy smiled. “Then just hang out! You know it's where all the action is on these shows!”
Vic didn't look any calmer. “The two of us? At the Jacuzzi? Doesn't that look kind of…”
Cyborg: “Not that I'm some homophobe or anything, but there are just some things you don't do. Man laws, if you will.”
“Please,” Gar dismissed as he grabbed his friend by the arm, “If there's anybody gay on this show, nobody's going to think it's you. You're already the token black guy.”
Rolling his eyes as he reluctantly let himself be pulled from the room, the metal man could only reply with a sarcastic, “Thanks.”
A few minutes later and the two were on the tower roof. A purple and red sunset created a beautiful atmosphere, and the tropical plants surrounding the Jacuzzi only added to it. Both were laughing at some joke, not really paying attention to their surroundings until they heard a voice calling.
“Hey guys! Care to join me?”
Garfield Logan and Victor Stone both looked towards the hot tub, and instantly their jaws hit the floor. Starfire sat in the hot water, a drink in her hand—but nothing on her body. Her ample cleavage seemed to float on the water.
A clicking sound came from Cyborg's head as Beast Boy frantically pulled his camera phone from his side.
Cyborg: “See, I knew this camera in my eye would come in handy.”
Beast Boy: “Man, I'm going to be the king of YouTube once I post this footage!
“Wanna know the best part, though? All you guys can see at home are the big, fuzzy censor blobs. You don't know what you're missing!”
“You bet I do!” the green boy exclaimed as he leapt into the tub, splashing scalding water onto the deck. Even as he spoke to the alien his eyes couldn't move above her chest. “Enjoying yourself?”
“Quite,” Koriand'r said as she leaned back. “The jets are most stimulating.”
Cyborg: “Sometimes I wonder if she's really as naïve as she seems. It's all just too good to be true!”
“A lot of things are tonight,” Gar smiled, his words in that range where they're still a little too blunt but at least more subtle than something Robin would have said.
Though he didn't want to risk ending the peep-show, Cyborg was still curious enough to ask questions. “Why aren't you wearing a bathing suit? I mean, I've seen girls show off on here enough before, but you certainly don't seem to need any attention.”
“What is a bathing suit?” Starfire asked innocently. “Is there something wrong with the way I'm dressed?”
“Certainly not,” Beast Boy was fast to interject. Vic, however, quickly filled her in on a little bit of Earth etiquette.
By the end, the alien was only more confused. “I do not understand. On my planet if we are not wearing our armor we wear nothing at all. Why would I get my garments wet just to hide myself? I am not ashamed of my body.”
Starfire: “So many things do not make sense on this world. Why would I want to hide my body? If anything I thought they'd want to see!”
“Believe me,” began Cyborg, “There's a lot of people who should be ashamed. But, I can see where you're coming from.”
Leaning back, Beast Boy wrapped his arms around the orange-skinned beauty's shoulders. “Don't worry about it. Just dress how you want. That's why we're here, right? To do what we want?”
“Yeah Kyle, I miss you too.”
Wonder Girl lay on her mangled comforter, rolling back and forth as she talked on her tiny cell phone—even as an Amazon warrior she had the newest Razr, in pink of course. On the other end of the line, her boyfriend listened, more a shoulder than anything else. Finally there was an opening.
“What, Kyle? Well, there's this kid who used to be in the Doom Patrol, but I'm not sure how good they were. Didn't they all die like five years ago or something? Anyway, besides that they don't seem that impressive, and there's this one jerk that I don't think has even thrown a punch before.
“Yeah, he's all over me. The first thing he told me was about his sticky posters of me—I swear! This isn't anything like I thought it'd be Kyle. I'm starting to think that maybe the JLA aren't all too old for me after all…”
Donna's door hadn't closed all the way, and taking full advantage of that crack was Dick Grayson, standing with is back to the wall and his ear almost in her room.
It was only after recovering from his foot high jump that Robin noticed Speed floating beside him, not even bothering to fully form a body. “I don't get what you see in a b---- like that. She thinks she's so high above us all.”
Robin frowned and tried to drown the druggie out. “She just needs to see what I can do, and she'll beg on her hands and knees to stay on the same team as me.”
Robin: “And while she's down there…”
“You're no better than her,” Wally growled. “All of you, arrogant, stupid, self-centered…”
“What's wrong with you?!” countered Dick. “Is there anybody you like? Why did you even sign up for this?!”
That last question elicited a small snicker from the speedster. “You'll see…you'll see.” In a flash Speed jetted into his room, not even needing to use a door as he was still made of pure energy.
Speed: “There's only one reason bird-boy, and hopefully I won't have to wait too long for him to show up.”
“Robin! Why are you standing in the middle of the hallway all by yourself? It is some sort of game?”
With a smile Dick Grayson turned to greet the beautiful alien girl, but the second his eyes caught sight of her bare breasts he was on the floor, drool surrounding his body like blood at a crime scene.
Beast Boy: “Wow! I could handle it but he couldn't?! Sweet.”
Starfire: “Humans truly have no idea what they want. For their own safety I think this will be the last time I go topless…”
Koriand'r lifted the boy in her arms and moved towards his room. “I will put him to bed. I imagine he will need the rest to endure the ridicule in the morning?”
“You're catching on,” laughed Cyborg.
“Yeah,” Gar added with a malevolent grin, “I'm not gonna let him live that down!” Suddenly his smile was swept up in a massive yawn. “I'm liking that bed idea too. I'm out of here.”
The three went their separate ways. With an unconscious Robin in her arms, Starfire slowly floated over the coating of equipment and laid the boy in his bed. She left behind a soft smile and the hopes of sweet dreams.
Meanwhile, Raven levitated in the center of her room, cloak and hood still obscuring all features. Her mind was elsewhere, soaring wherever her meditations allowed. She hadn't moved for hours, and wouldn't for hours more. Bedtime meant nothing to her.
Likewise, Speed had no need for rest. Wally West's room was totally empty, simply a cube of four blank walls. As discontented as ever, he barely even remained in the space before he was gone, retreating from the Tower into the Speed Force itself with ease. At least there he had excitement, speed, something besides the constant reminders of all he wasn't.
Victor Stone, on the other hand, was content. He'd made a new friend, started a new adventure, and seen some hot alien boobies. The thought of how freakish he was as he strapped his half-mechanical body down and started inserting wires into himself never even crossed his mind.
Lowering herself into her circular bed, Starfire curled into a tight ball like a cat and instantly fell asleep. Her wild locks lay over her glamorous body, doing a good of a job as any blanket could.
“What?” Donna Troy asked, her phone still gripped tightly in her hands. “Yeah, I guess it is late. Then again, why should I go to bed? Maybe I can sleep through tomorrow with them. Kyle, quit lecturing me…I hate when you're right. I remember we were both novices at one time.
“Fine, I'll give them another chance, `kay? I love you too.”
Finally Beast Boy made it to his room, which was a green as he was, and climbed to the top story of bunk-beds.
“Ah, I love this place already,” he sighed happily as he fell backwards onto his mattress and instantly was asleep.
“Well, somebody has to make breakfast!” squealed Beast Boy. “I'm starving!”
Wonder Girl growled, still bristled by the almost unanimous suggestion that she be the cook. “Why can't you do it? Just because I'm a girl means I'm some great chef?”
Moving to no doubt only add to the sexism, Robin couldn't even say one word before Cyborg grabbed his mouth and pulled the acrobat back. Meanwhile, Starfire—ever a peacekeeper—was going to volunteer to cook herself, but she only found a green octopus latched to her face when she attempted to do so.
Beast Boy: “I can sense when bad cooking is afoot. NO MORE BEETLES!”
Starfire: “They say I am naïve, but Gar has no idea what a tentacled sea-creature on the face suggests where I come from…though it is possible he could guess.”
“You are needlessly wasting your energy on something entirely futile,” Raven chastised. “You will not even remember what you ate in a few hours.”
“Actually,” Dick interjected, “in a few hours I'll still be tasting my breakfast.”
Donna cringed. “Pleasant.”
Suddenly a bright light surged through the spacious room and glass shattered, raining down like jagged, clear hail. The new team stood stunned at the sight before them.
Floating outside the window was a man dressed in an all black outfit with a light bulb emblazoned across his chest. A white cape flapped behind him, matching the white hat on his head—with a brim down the center, like a Mohawk. A long goatee stretched off his chin and formed a sharp point.
“Hello Titans,” he said with a twisted smile. “We haven't the pleasure of meeting, so I'll make it short and sweet. I'm Dr. Light, and I'm here to destroy you all!”
Dr. Light pointed his right hand forward, and a blinding sphere of light came to life in his palm. His lips opened to utter a trademark taunt before he commenced with the death.
Speed: “Dr. Light, light bulb on his costume, bright attacks…oh God I know what he's going to say and it makes me want to grow wrists just so I can slit them.”
Cyborg: “Don't say it man! Gar could do better than that!”
However, Dr. Light couldn't hear the warnings and would have paid them little attention even if he could.
“Lights out, Titans!”
Beast Boy: “Gah, even I could have done better than that!”
Next time on The Real World: Titans Tower: The First Fight!