Chapter Four

When Atom opened her eyes, she was greeted by a bright blue sky. The sun was shining brightly, and a slight breeze rippled against her face.

It was hard to believe that she'd faced certain death just moments before.

Atom squeezed her eyes shut, sticking close to Goku, who was currently preoccupied in setting Piccolo carefully to the ground. Nearby, a startled Gohan kneeled down, his young face screwed with worry.

"Piccolo-san!!!!," he cried, and looked up at his father who shook his head.

"He'll be alright," Goku soothed, "they both will. But they need a sensu bean!"

And the next few minutes were a daze for her. Goku disappeared yet again, only to reappear seconds later, pushing something into first Piccolo and then Tien's mouth. She realed back in speechless shock as the two now conscious warriers began to rise.

"What's going on?!," she squeaked nervously. What had just happened? One minute Piccolo and Tien were nearly dead, and the next they were as good as new...Piccolo even wore his usual grim frown.

She suddenly felt large hands upon her shoulders, and jumping nervously she attempted to pull away. But the hands wouldn't let go. They held her there, gently, and something small and warm was pushed into her mouth. She sputtered.

"Chew it," Goku exclaimed gently. So she bit down on the object, wondering about it's taste which reminded her somewhat of an almond. And then, a few seconds after she'd swallowed it, she began to feel strange. Her head didn't spin anymore, and her eyes could focus without being blurred. She felt....better. Even better than she had before, actually.

"What is this?," she asked curiously, not really expecting an answer from anyone.

"A sensu bean," Goku replied, now turning his attention towards Tien and Piccolo. She followed suit and tuned into the conversation.

"It was an honorable move," Piccolo was saying to Tien, "But it wasn't enough. None of us have the power right now to defeat Cell, not even YOU Goku. Especially in his current stage." Upon hearing this, she glared. She didn't like the way he was talking. Did he have to sound so melodramatic? He was talking as if they didn't have a chance and shouldn't bother even trying at all!

"Cell's not invinsible!," she cried without thinking, and Piccolo's frowning gaze shot to her own. His was intense, as if reading something in her face, until he finally spoke. "You know nothing about Cell," was all he said, and then he turned to Goku.

"Who is she?," Piccolo demanded and Tien scowled over at her.

"You almost got yourself absorbed, you stupid kid!," he ranted face flushed with anger. "What were you thinking!? Cell was going to absorb you!!!!" At this, Piccolo's ears perked up.

Atom frowned. She couldn't be absorbed...she was made differently from Seventeen and Eighteen...wasn't she?? She didn't even know anything ABOUT any of this. She backed away a bit, running into Goku, who laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Aw c'mon guys," he began, "listen..she saved Tien, so what's the big deal? Nothing happened."

Piccolo growled. "It's just like you to think like that..," he accused sharply, "Your foolish emotions will get us all KILLED. If she's another Android, how do we know she wasn't created to be absorbed like those other two?? For all we know, she may be a PART of his evolution."

Her eyes widened at the thought. Could what he be saying be true? Was she created to become a part of Cell? She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to prevent the now forming tears from escaping. It couldn't be true. She wasn't anything LIKE Cell. Or...maybe that was what Trunks was talking about. Maybe THAT was why he didn't trust her.

Gohan shook his head, "But Mr. Piccolo, Atom isn't bad..she wouldn't hurt us!," he defended earnestly. He didn't like to see both his mentor and new friend at odds with each other.

Piccolo sighed. "It's not a matter of being good or bad, Gohan," he explained, "But if your friend here was created to merge with Cell, then she's a very easy target. For all we know, he may only need TWO androids to reach his final state. If that being the case, then this girl would most certainly be the easiest for him to catch." He crossed his arms and looked away while a heavy silence enveloped the group.

Atom gazed out over the sky. It almost made sense, what Piccolo was saying. Even now she could vaguely sense his presence, even though he was miles away from them. Cell. He was searching. For the android no doubt, she thought suspiciously. Or maybe now he was searching for HER. The thought gave her chills.

At that moment, the heavy silence was gratefully interrupted. "Trunks and Vegeta are coming out!," a deep voice suddenly exclaimed, and the five of them turned to see a winded PoPo-san rushing towards them.

"I heard strange noises from out the chamber," he continued as the group hurried towards the Chamber doors.

Atom held her breath anxiously. Trunks was coming out. She would finally get to see him again. But then, why did she have such a feeling of dread? As if he were coming out to meet his doom? Beside her, Gohan gasped, and Piccolo visibly stiffened. She wondered for a moment at their reactions until she too felt it. Power. Trunks' and Vegeta's. She felt it, for brief second before it died down again. It had more than doubled, that power, though she couldn't tell whether the spark had been from Trunks or Vegeta. The doors slowly opened, bright rays emitting from the room. And then he walked out.

His cloths were torn, almost ragged at the edges, as if he'd been through some horrific ordeal. And his was longer now, in a loose ponytail and flowing like a waterfall past his shoulders. He looked...bigger in general, as if he'd grown a few inches or so while in the room. His muscles were more developed, she could tell even through his cloths. And his eyes. His eyes had changed. They looked...colder, wiser; more determined.. as if he'd come to some difficult realization. Those ice cold eyes raked over her now, locking onto her and cutting abruptly to her face.

She looked away, instead focusing her attention on the figure behind him.


He didn't look any different at all. Infact, he actually looked even MORE like himself, if that were possible. His cloths too were torn and ripped, his face holding that familiar frown she'd come to recognize so well, though she didn't know HOW. He didn't even look her way, completly ignoring her, his gaze settling on Goku's briefly before gazing off into the distance to feel out Cell.

Trunks was the first to speak. "Thanks for waiting for us guys. Did we miss anything?" Atom glanced up in surprise. Even his voice sounded different. Steadier..lower. She figeted nervously, causing Piccolo to raise an eyebrow. But Goku didn't notice, flashing one of his huge smiles. "It's good to have you back!," he exclaimed. His face became grave. "Things have gotten alot worse since you've been gone."

Atom glanced sharply into the sky. She'd felt something just then. A quick jolt, something running through her, as if trying to feel her out. Crossing her arms, she frowned and concentrated on the marble floor below. Beside her Gohan gasped, for the first time noticing Trunks' appearance. "Hey Trunks, you've changed!," he exclaimed excitedly. "I'll say!," Goku agreed. "You look like you're in great shape!"

Trunks blushed, looking away.

"I've never seen someone last a whole day in the Chamber," Mr. PoPo remarked. Trunks looked up, seeming serious again. "We probably could have come out a lot sooner," he revealed with a certain pride, "but father wasn't willing to leave until he was sure he'd done all he could. He insisted on training for the full year, even though it really only took him a couple of months to trans-"

"That's quite enough!," Vegeta growled suddenly. "Our training is NOT to be discussed. EVER!"

Trunks sighed, frowning. "I guess you'll just have to wait and see for yourselves then," he remarked appologetically. Vegeta snorted, his eyes settling once again on his rival.

"So," Goku remarked with an uncharacteristic smirk, "it worked out for you...I guess." Vegeta gave a short laugh. "Maybe," he replied staring steadily back. "There's no need for you to go in there Kakorrot," he continued in his usual arrogant way. "I'm more than quailified to beat Cell now as I am!" And he shot Goku his famous smirk.

Tien and Piccolo weren't amused.

"Y-you arrogant-" Tien didn't get a chance to finish however, as Piccolo interrupted him. "If you think you have a chance at defeating Cell, then go right ahead," he stated coolly. "I don't konw how powerful you think you are, but you're underestimating him."

Tien glared. "While you were in that chamber, Cell swallowed up an android and transformed!" he clinched his fist. "So don't try and tell us you can handle it! You don't know the half of it!!!."

Atom frowned. Cell's strength had greatly increased thanks to Seventeen's power. She didn't think that Vegeta was taking this seriously enough. She glanced over at Trunks, who hadn't spoken since Vegeta's outburst and found him observing her silently with a blank expression. She stared back, unwavering, until Vegeta suddenly let out a laugh.

"Clearly trying to defeat Cell has taken it's toll on you!," he announced matter-of-factly. "That's why I'm offering to take care of him myself." The group stood in shocked silence upon his revelation, with Piccolo and Tien seething, while Atom and Gohan looked on uneasily. Finally Goku spoke.

"Vegeta," he started calmly as if speaking to a child, "I really think that you should listen to them. I mean, you'd have to more than triple your strength to even have a chance at-" he was cut off by the sound of Vegeta laughing again. And then his eyes widened. For the moment the two stared off at each other, with Goku and the other's finally catching a glimse of the Prince's tightly concealed power. He had gotten considerably more powerful, there was no doubting that. But did he have enough power to defeat Cell?

They were all startled back into reality as a loud sound invaded their ears. Turning, Atom followed Goku, Gohan, Tien, and Piccolo as they ran forward towards the commotion.

What they found was an awe struck Bulma, descending carefully from a yellow aircraft. In her arms she held baby Trunks, who eyed his unfamiliar surroundings with the suspiciuos precauriousy of a child.

"Wow..I've never been up here before," Bulma announced looking around. She turned to the surprised group with a smile. "Hey there! I brought some things for all of you." Gohan ran forward, reaching out a hand to greet baby Trunks, who giggled happily upon seeing the little boy again. Bulma smiled, turning towards the group. At the sight of Atom, her eyes grew wide. "So there you are! How did you get all the way up here?" Atom didn't get the chance to answer however, because suddenly Bulma let out an alarmed screech, startling the baby.

"Oh my gosh!! What happened to you?! Look at your cloths!!!" They were torn and dusty; the light pink tank top now clinging wrinkledly to her skin. A dark bruise was forming on her face, and her hair was tousled. Thankfully however, Bulma's gaze shot suddenly to the figure behind her. She gasped, rushing forward and peering closely into a startled Mirai Trunks' face.

"Trunks! Oh my God! What happened to you??," she cried, concern heavy in her voice. "I mean, you are Trunks, right?" Trunks blushed, glancing down. "Uh..yea," he answered shyly. Bulma seemed not to notice, or either completely ignored his discomfort, reaching out a hand to tug at his hair in a gester of motherly concern.

"Oh've grown! And look at your hair! Is that a wig?," She gave a sharp tug causing the teen to wince slightly in pain.

"No! It's real!!" She stared in disbelief at his head. Trunks smiled. "I spent a year in the hyperbolic time chamber," he explained. "but outside only a day had passed. That's why I've grown a little." Bulma nodded in understanding.

"Father and I trained together," Trunks went on, and Bulma peeked behind him finally noticing a scowling Vegeta.

"Oh. You haven't changed at all!," she noted looking surprised, and Vegeta grunted.

"Why didn't your hair grow?" Asked Bulma curiously. Vegeta growled crossing his arms in irritation. "For your information," he stated angrily, "A pure blooded Saiya-jin's hair does not change from the moment that he is born!" Both Bulma and Goku let out a noise of understanding. Bulma glanced over at Goku, eyeing his hair.

"I guess that's why you've never needed a haircut," she pointed out with a frown. Goku laughed, putting a hand behind his neck. "Hey yeah!," he agreed sheepishly. "But I wish I could do something about these split ends!" He laughed cheerfully at his joke.

"Try shampoo," Bulma advised seriously while Atom tugged at one of her own brown curls. "I could use a good shampoo right now," she admitted, thinking ruefully of all the dust that must be in her hair. Bulma smiled.

"Don't worry, kiddo! I'll give you one as soon as we get back." Atom smiled. "Thank you Bulma! I-" but their small talk was abruptly put to an end by Vegeta's sudden low growl.

"Listen!," he raged angrily, "I don't have time to listen to those idiot's stupid hair problems! But I sure wouldn't mind knowing why the hell you're here!" He glared impatiently waiting for an answer. Bulma flipped her hair giving an exaggerated sigh.

"I just thought you guys might need a little something," she huffed with a glare at the prince. "And maybe if you're nice Vegeta, you can have one too."

Watching curiuosly, Atom discovered that Bulma had brought Saiyan armored suits. Each one looked exactly like the one Vegeta had been wearing, only newer and without holes. The four Saiyans immediately began stripping and putting them on, but Piccolo and Tien refused to wear theirs.

"I refuse to wear the same suit as Vegeta" Tien remarked bitterly and Vegeta laughed. He seemed to be in even higher spirits now that he had new armor. Seperating from the group, she stood at the edge of the lookout, peering down. Cell was somewhere out there. No doubt using Seventeen's energy to help him along the way. She felt burning tears in her eyes.

Why do I care? she wondered curiously. I didn't even KNOW the guy very well..

But he was still an android, a voice inside her head reminded her. Just like YOU. He'd been nice to her..treating her like his equal instead of just a bother. He'd wanted her to join them; to be a part of their group. "'You're one of us'", he'd said, and a sudden realization struck her.

I should be with Eighteen right now. Instead she was here, doing absolutly nothing except getting in the way. Well, not any more! With her mind made up, she prepared to leave right then and there. But just then, Vegeta suddenly rocketed past her, blasting off into the sky and nearly scaring her out of her wits.

"I'll follow him," Trunks was saying. He was now donned completely in Saiya-jin armor. Without his his jacket and baggy pants, he looked even more like Vegeta, if that were possible.

"Hey! Wait a minute Trunks," Goku kneeled down, drawing an object from his discarded gi on the ground. "I saved these for you and Vegeta." And he opened his hand to reveal two small sensu beans. Trunks smiled, tucking the beans into his collar. "Thank you, Goku." he said turning to go.

"At the first sign of trouble, you two get yourselves out of there," Goku continued gravely. Trunks nodded. Behind him, Bulma spoke.

"I want you to take care of yourself Trunks...and watch over Vegeta too." Trunks gave his mother a comforting smile before again turning towards the cliff. Briefly, his eyes locked with Atom's before he launched into the air taking after Vegeta.

They're going after Cell. Atom realized. And Cell was currently after Android Eighteen. If she followed Trunks and Vegeta, no doubt she'd find Eighteen as well. Without a word, and not wanting to attract the attention of the others, she silently leapt from the lookout, at the same time calling for the Flying Nimbus cloud, and made her way after Trunks.


He didn't know what to think.

It hadn't gone the way he'd expected..the way he'd secretly hoped. He'd gone in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber with his father, the father he'd never known, never met until now, thinking that perhaps they'd get to know each other. They could train together, and he could forget that terrible future from which he came.

But it didn't happen that way.

His father had wanted nothing to do with him, immediately distancing himself from Trunks the moment they entered the Chamber. "I train alone," he'd said, not even bothering to turn around. It'd hurt; he'd had to spend the entire time, with a father he desperatly wanted to know...a father that was so close he could reach out and touch him.

And yet he couldn't.

Trunks clenched his fists. He should have known..should have realized that Vegeta's pride wouldn't allow him to be so open so soon. And then when he'd come out...she hadn't said anything to him either.

Stupid android, he thought angrily. After being in the Chamber for a whole year and not being able to communicate with anyone, he was almost looking forward to the bubbly young android's chatter, although he hated to admit it. He had even been slightly pleased to find that she was there waiting for him, just like she'd promised. But then he noticed it. Something was wrong. She didn't have that ridiculous grin she always wore, and her eyes. Her eyes that always seemed to sparkle with happiness were now strangely dim.

He frowned. What could have happened? He'd taken it to mean that she finally realized that he wanted nothing to do with her, that he didn't want or need her friendship. She'd stared at him a moment with an odd expression, as if she didn't know him. Then she'd abruptly looked away, seeming to go into herself.

He glared. Why should he care? It wasn't his fault she was an android! It wasn't his fault that her kind had totally destroyed his future! He felt his powerlevel raise slightly and hurriedly pushed it back down. He couldn't let Vegeta feel it yet. He couldn't le-

"Huh?" He'd heard something. Some weird sound like an old car or- He gasped out loud as the yellow Nimbus appeared suddenly next to him. And riding atop the cloud was Atom.

"W-What are you doing?!," he demanded, a little put out at the sight of her flying.

She didn't answer at first, didn't even look over at him. And then without making eye contact, she spoke. "You're following Vegeta, right?" He glared. What did she care, anyway?

"You shouldn't be here," he began. "It's dangerous. Do you know what we're planning to do?" She nodded, staring straight ahead and replied steadily, "You're going after Cell."

Trunks frowned. He didn't like this. She didn't seem bothered by this at all. She'd said it so coldly. His eyes narrowed, for the first time noticing her tattered clothing and dusty appearance. Something had definately happened while he was away. But what?

He sped up a little, blinking in surprise when the Cloud actually matched his speed. He shook a strand of hair from his eye suddenly getting a thought. What if she was trying to help Cell? Try to somehow distract Vegeta from fighting him? He growled. "Listen," he began sharply, "I'm warning you! If you try anything funny to help Cell-"

"How dare you!," she bit out furiously, and he almost stopped in the air. "I would never try to help such an evil monster you jerk! How could you even think that?!" And with a sudden burst of speed she darted ahead following Vegeta's distinct power signal.

Trunks just stared, mouth agap. In the short time he'd known her, she'd never said anything like that to him..never showed any signs of aggression, even when he probably deserved it. He suddenly felt bad. Maybe he shouldn't have jumped to conclusions like that, but what could she expect? The only androids he'd ever known were evil destructive creatures, which so far Atom had shown no sign of being.

Maybe I was wrong..

But he didn't want to jump to conclusions just yet. He'd watch her a bit a little nicer. Maybe act like her friend for a while just to see what she'd do. If she was truly a threat, she'd show her true colors soon enough.

With this thought present, he sped forward, intent on catching up.

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