Edited 4/2012. I wrote off my original notes more, playing up Cyborg a bit, as I had wanted to initially.
This hasn't gotten read much, probably because of the title, probably because it's a songfic. I always really liked it, I hope you will too. With Young Justice out, it's nice to look at the origins and the early days of the Titans.
I personally don't really like or dislike songfics; like anything in life it's not the category or group that something belongs to, it's the particular or individual thing that must be judged on its merits. Here's my attempt at it.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans nor do I own the rights to "Lost in the Flood". (Copyright 1973 Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP))
The premise is this: The Teen Titans are newly formed and they have been asked to back up the Jump City police and observe a big and bloody gang battle.
Lost in the Flood
Have you thrown your senses to the war, or did you lose them in the flood?
The Titans, newly formed, were called out to assist during a gang fight. This had already escalated and the policemen of Jump were dispatched in great numbers in their futuristic suits, popping out of the back of armored cars. It had always struck Robin, the leader of the Titans and former protege and partner of the Batman, that the police of Jump all looked like SWAT. It wasn't like that in Gotham. It was almost as if the official lawmen of Jump were a generation ahead of those in Gotham.
Just like the heroes.
But the police and their armored cars of Jump were all Cyborg had ever known.
Vic Stone grew up on the streets of Jump, in a neighborhood that at the moment was a theater of war. Vic Stone was in an accident and was given cybernetic implants, and Vic Stone became Cyborg.
Cyborg was never anti-police, and certainly was never pro-crime, but he didn't always get the best treatment from the police. Call it profiling. Call it prejudice. In the 21st Century there is a man of African decent in the White House but things were different out in the streets.
On that night it was apparently a fight over turf. Cyborg had briefed them. This was his town, his neighborhood. He knew the players. The gangs got along fine and dandy until someone would cross the line. Sell to the wrong junkie, cruise the wrong one-way side street. And on that night, these guys came to play.
"Another Saturday night at the Knife and Gun Club," an officer was overheard saying to dispatch over the radio. "Alert the Trauma Center. There'll be some teaching done at the teaching hospital tonight".
The Teen Titans set up behind the police officers who were staging their intervention to end the violence of the gang war, taking their cues from Robin, falling inline as they had been trained. But all they did was watch the shooting.
As Raven would dryly remark, "Yes, because more shooting will end all the shooting".
Back behind the police and out of the line of fire, things were still quiet enough for the Titans to hear the gang members between gun shots.
And everybody's wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as Gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said, "Hey, gunner man, that's quicksand, that's quicksand, that ain't mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war, or did you lose them in the flood?"
It was then that somebody came in strong and fast on a motorcycle. Late to the party and ready to dance, without a fast enough reaction to hit the brakes in time.
That pure American brother, dull-eyed and empty-faced... He rides head first into a hurricane and disappears into a point
And there's nothin' left but some blood where the body fell, that is, nothin' left that you could sell
Just junk all across the horizon, a real highwayman's farewell
And I said, "Hey kid, you think that's oil? Man, that ain't oil, that's blood"
I wonder what he was thinking when he hit that storm, or was he just lost in the flood?
Robin had been Batman's partner for seven years or so, but nothing prepares you for when people hit pavement. Beast Boy grew up with the Doom Patrol but wasn't exactly hardened. Starfire and Raven took it all in. Each of the young heroines had seen a lot in their youth. And Cyborg, wanting to be the tough big brother tried to keep the human side of his face impassive. He knew better than anyone the miracles that could happen when a body was broken badly, but the man all over the macadam clearly had no hope.
The Titans remained silent, waiting for direction. As comfortable as Robin was as the leader, they were the backup, so he couldn't make a move until the police gave them a sign. The Teen Titans were legit, not vigilantes, and hoped to work for the good of the city, But time ticked away and no one was directing the Titans, so they continued to hang back. Not that the police were doing anything more than just waiting for the best time to strike themselves.
At that point, everyone was just taking it in. And in horrible slow motion, it began.
And now the whiz-bang gang from uptown, they're shootin' up the street
And that cat from the Bronx starts lettin' loose, but he gets blown right off his feet
And some kid comes blastin' 'round the corner, but a cop puts him right away
He lays on the street holding his leg, screaming something in Spanish, still breathing when I walked away
And somebody said, "Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud"
I wonder what the dude was sayin', or was he just lost in the flood?
Hey man, did you see that, those poor cats are sure messed up
I wonder what they were gettin' into, or were they just lost in the flood?
More than one disgusted growl escaped the throats of the Titans. Each had the same thought: would they ever be that callous?
Out of their private reveries, the commander yelled over the bull-horn. "Jump City Police. Sharks and Jets, hold your fire." Sharks and Jets? How original, Raven thought, could that possibly be the real names of the gangs?
No weapons fire for 30 seconds, 60 seconds... just the occasional shout in English or Spanish slang as the groups waited for the next move.
In a classic moment of urban gangland, it could really not be known who ended the brief cease fire. Maybe Superman could have discerned who pulled the trigger first, the soon to be felled gang member or the rookie cop, but it wouldn't matter. Everyone seemed to open fire after that. Raven's shield of black magic deflecting most of the shots but still there were three officers and eight gang members with gun shot wounds when it was all over. All three officers were going to recover due to their full body armor, and three of the eight gang members were either killed instantly or died of their injuries that day. It was nothing short of a blood bath.
And other than Raven's shield, which she was never thanked for by the way, the Teen Titans contributed nothing, and were told to stand down.
"I'm not sure which was worse, man", Cyborg said to no one in particular as they sat stunned on the brand new gray circular sofa in the Ops Center of the newly constructed Titans Tower, "seeing all that or not being able to do anything about it."
"I am unsure Cyborg. Is it a common occurrence on this planet that people ask for assistance when they require it, but do not take advantage of the assistance offered?" Starfire asked.
"It shouldn't be Starfire. I don't know why they asked us to come," Robin replied, feeling as dejected as he had ever felt.
"But the city was victorious and that is good, correct?" Starfire said quietly, looking for some meaning to the horror show.
"That's true but at what cost? All that fighting and injury and death was pointless. Utterly pointless", Raven said, not hiding her disgust.
"All death is pointless, as Raven here would say," Beast Boy said, giving Raven his best smile, "including the death on ani-"
"Grass Stain, don't make this about your veggie ways!" Cyborg yelled.
"If this is going to deteriorate into a tofu versus meat argument Cyborg and Beast Boy, I will transport you to a dimension that each of you will find most disturbing" Raven said as her four red eyes glowed momentarily.
"I'm going to get to review the crime reports and work on a plan to go to the city with so they can use our team properly," Robin said as he exited the room.
"Robin," Starfire asked tentatively, and he paused for a moment and turned toward her, "will the kicking of the butts of criminals be always this... distasteful?"
"We're heroes, Starfire. What happened tonight is part of what we do," Robin said soberly, watching disappointment come to Starfire's face. He knew he disappointed her with that answer and his heart fell. They had just met, but the two Titans were already becoming close friends.
"Let me work for a bit," Robin said after a brief pause and trying to give her a small reassuring smile, and then looked at the rest of the team, "then we'll bounce around some ideas about what else we can do for the city and maybe order some pizza."
"Thank you Robin," Starfire replied.
"Sweet!" Beast Boy responded.
"Whatever, man" Cyborg said.
"What Cyborg said," Raven said without any inflection in her voice.
After Robin was gone, Cyborg shook his head, "I don't get it, man. It's like the carnage doesn't even bother Robin. I don't think I'll ever forget what I saw tonight and I know I won't forget feeling so helpless. I have to wonder about the Boy Wonder..."
"Cyborg, it did bother him, that's why he went back to work. It's helps him feel in control," Raven said.
"It does seem to help him to keep busy," Starfire added softly as she reflected on Robin's behavior.
"Robin's been fighting crime almost as long as I have," Beast Boy said. "He's seen plenty, some of which he'll probably never say anything about. That's how it is with me and some of the things I saw with the Doom Patrol. If you see something that terrible, you have to do something, or you go crazy. Remember all the things the cops were saying? Some of 'em are just callous, but others have to make comments or joke about what they see to keep sane. Robin apparently goes to his office and does research or paperwork or whatnot. I like MegaMonkies or another outstanding video game."
"You know BB, that's a good idea, I'll play," Cyborg replied, "Ladies, what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to meditate and then I will read," Raven said as she phased out of the room to return to her own bedroom.
"And I will spend the time watching my friends," replied Starfire as she took a seat next to Cyborg and Beast Boy.
For the first time as a team, each member had devised a way to deal, hoping to be able to do what they do to remain sane, so they won't get lost in the flood.
Thank you for reading and please review.
Lost in the Flood, written by Bruce Springsteen, copyright 1973
I have loved Lost in the Flood from Bruce Springsteen's debut album Greetings from Asbury Park since I was a Freshman. I always loved the three final songs on Springsteen's first three albums as quite similar; along with Lost in the Flood, there is New York City Serenade on The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle and the very well known Jungleland from Born to Run. Take the time to YouTube the song; it's amazing.
(Also please note that I credited Bruce Springsteen who was the songwriter here. It is important to credit the songwriter or lyricist, if they are different. Not the performer; just as you wouldn't note an actor that spoke the words but those that penned them, the same stands here. It would be different if we could hear the tune; then we'd have to note the performer and the producer - don't forget the producer, some of us make money that way - anyway, that's my songfic minilecture)