It began so fast that neither of them had any time to react.
Hearing Sixteen's loud cry, they looked up just in time to see the Android hurl Cell into the hard, rocky ground. They waited in wide eyed anticipation as a heavy silence enveloped the island.
He's actually doing it... Atom thought to herself, as they watched the mechanical android unlatch his wrists. He was still for a moment, staring intently down into the hole as if listening. Finally his brow furrowed, and he aimed his now handless arms down at the hole.
A bright yellow light soon consumed the crevice, but the android didn't stop there. He increased his power, and soon the island ground itself was cracking open, being torn apart by stray blasts as they entered the hole and resurfaced in various other places.
Maybe he CAN do this...maybe he can actually defeat Cell..
Seventeen jumped out of the way as a stray blast erupted from behind him, and Eighteen gasped uneasily, leaping back a distance. Atom fell to the ground in fearful shock as various craters around her began erupting.
After a while, Sixteen ceased his fire, and in turn, the erupting halted as well. The island was now full of various pot holes the stray energy had created, except that now they were full of smoke. All eyes remained on android #16 as he caught his breath, staring solomnly into the hole in which he'd thrown Cell.
"He did it..." Seventeen murmured a few feet away from her. His eyes were wide with disbelief. "He actually defeated Cell.." His hands balled into fists and he looked almost angry.
Eighteen, however, didn't respond immediatly, instead watching the silent Sixteen with new and unrenowned awe. Finally she stepped forward a little, the shock still heavily apparant in her eyes.
"Sixteen..." she breathed softly. At the sound of her voice, the giant android turned towards them sharply.
"Why are you still here?!," he demanded in a loud monotone. "I told you to leave this place!"
A cold wind had begun to blow, spreading smoke and sand across the island. Atom looked about uneasily.
Eighteen laughed, hands on her hips. The awe was now gone completely from her eyes and she smirked confindently.
"Hey. You squashed the bug. What is there to be afraid of now?"
Sixteen glared. "That attack was not enough to finish Cell! It is imperative that you leave this place immediately! You too Seventeen! Don't give Cell the chance to absorb you!"
Seventeen only continued to stare at him a moment, still shocked by the silent android's strength, before the familiar smirk returned to his face.
"Don't worry," he exclaimed confidantly, clinching his fists, "I think you've taken the wind out of that freak's sail. You're obviously stronger than he is..and with us at you're side," he paused to spit, "no one can even touch our little gang.."
Atom glanced over to Eighteen, who seemed slightly amused, but nonetheless agreeable to what her brother was saying. But..then, if Cell was dead, why was Sixteen still acting so worried?
"S-seventeen," she began shakily, and he turned, giving her that seductive smirk of his again. "Ofcourse, you'll be coming along as well. I would never think of leaving you behind, little nymph.."
"Ofcourse," Eighteen remarked dryly, but he only laughed.
"I'm telling you Sixteen, you are truly state of the art! I'll admit I was a little scared there for a second, but now..." he gave a short laugh. "Now I know..we'll have the whole world as our playground..just the four of us...doing anything we want.."
And then it happened. That feeling..that feeling of indescribable strength shot through her head almost painfully, and she knew... Even before Tien, who was situated above them all on the cliff, and who was the first who actually SEE Cell, cried out, she knew.
He wasn't dead.
"SEEVEENTEEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!!," she shrieked, but she couldn't move, frozen with fear at the sight of this creature.
Eighteen cried out in shock, and Sixteen grimaced. Seventeen himself looked confused for a moment at their cries, but suddenly Tien yelled out.
"Seventeen! Lookout! He's behind you!" The android turned swiftly, but not swiftly enough. Cell's dry cackle erupted from his throat.
"You should have listened to your friends!!," he exclaimed gleefully. And then, his now gaping tail slammed down on the beautiful android.
Atom screamed. She could see his legs...Seventeen's jean clad legs with those boyish sneakers he wore, dangling helplessly from Cell's tail. She stood shakily to her feet, almost falling back down in her fearful shock. She couldn't let it happen...She couldn't let Seventeen fall victim to Cell...
She raced forward, intent on reaching Cell and doing something. What, she didn't know. All she knew was that she had to get him out of there. She had to save him. Sixteen was also rushing at Cell, but from the other direction. Before she reached her goal, she felt herself being lifted swiftly into the air, a large arm looped tightly around her waist.
NO! She had to get to Seventeen! She had to save him before it was to late! She pulled against her capture, kicked at him, beat viciously on his chest as hard as her little fists could. But Tien held on, his grip on her only tightening.
"Stop!!," she sobbed desperately. "Let go!!! I have to get to him!!!!!" But the triclops didn't seem to be paying any attention. His eyes were fixed fearfully on the creature below. Risking a small peek, Atom's eyes shot down; just in time to see the bump that was Seventeen disappear from the creatures tail and into it's back.
She sobbed, burying her face into Tiens hard chest. Within seconds, the front of his shirt was almost completely soaked, but neither noticed.
"I-It's horrible..." Tien exclaimed in a strained voice. The air was suddenly filled with the terrifying sound of Cell's voice; and in it traces of Seventeen's own soft voice could be heard. She covered her ears, trying to drown out the hideous sound.
He was changing. She could feel it. She could feel his power..his very BEING increasing, evolving. The wind picked up, tossing her hair ruthlessly about, and the sky darkened as if by storm. A bright yellow light had enveloped Cell, and Tien covered his eyes.
Suddenly, Sixteen turned and sped quickly to Eighteen, who was watching the events in shocked curiousity.
"Eighteen, come on! We must not allow Cell to absorb you too!," he turned to Tien and Atom at the top of the cliff. "You two had better leave as well!" Tien immediately stiffened, unconsciously tightening his grip on the girl.
"I should have stopped him when I had the chance..." he whispered hoarsely to himself, staring down in horror at the now newly evolved Cell. Atom looked down. He was now completely changed. Different. No longer did he resemble a lizard so much...and his wings were gone. His tail, however, was still there and longer than ever. It was the first thing, infact, that she noticed.
He seemed to stand there for a moment, relishing his victory, as if getting a feel for his new body. Suddenly his eyes cut over to Eighteen, and a slow smile spread across his face.
With a cry, Sixteen grabbed the blonde android by the hand and ran, literally dragging her behind him. Cell only laughed, seeming genuinely amused by their attempts to flee. Kneeling, he very calmly shot after the duo, so fast infact that neither Tien nor Atom could even see a blur of him.
Tien stiffened, his breath catching in his throat. The evil android easily shot past the fleeing pair and before they even saw him, was already in front of them.
They watched, puzzled as Cell shot them a smirk and turned, leaning over to the edge of the water to view his reflection. Tien made a muffled noise in his throat and Atom just stared wide eyed. Was he actually admiring himself? But in the next instance he quickly made up for his vainess. Sixteen had made a daring attack on Cell, slamming his fist into the creatures face.
Cell only frowned. The punch hadn't even fazed him! Infact, it only seemed to annoy him, because in the next instant, quick as lightening, he shot a blast directly at Sixteen's head, blowing half of the androids face away.
Eighteen shouted out in shock, turning towards the fallen android.
Tien shook his head. "Great..," he muttered, "It looks like I'll have to get my feet wet afterall.." Atom was silent, too choked to say anything at all. This Cell was unbelievably powerful..even more-so than his previous form. And now...now he was...
Tien suddenly straightened as if he'd come to some decision. He set her down firmly and moved away. Her legs didn't seem to work however, and she fell shakily to the ground.
"T-Tien-san?" She questioned nervously, only he didn't appear to hear her. He walked to the edge of the cliff and without looking back, and in a voice that merited no questions, exclaimed, "Stay here."
And then he took off into the sky. She clinched her fist. What was he planning? What could he do? He was now levitated directly over Cell's head, who glanced up at the man, irritated.
"What does that no-count think he's doing.." he commented mildy, not really caring at all, yet still annoyed by the interuption none-the-less.
"I'm taking you out!," Tien replied bravely. Atom watched as Tien clasped his hands together, forming what looked to be a triangle. He seemed to be concentrateing intensly, and suddenly yelled out the attacks name.
The earth shook as a pale yellow light shot down from his hands and straight for the lizardous Cell.
"What the...." Cell looked on in suspicion and then confused shock as the beam came right for him, his shadow dancing around him, one, two....three full times.
And then he was hurled into the ground.
The earth below him was completely shattered, and Cell was thrown, once again, into the earth.
Tien didn't let up. Like Sixteen, he kept at it, hurling attack after attack as the three androids watched in fasination.
"Tien..." Atom breathed in awe. He couldn't possibly beat Cell with just this attack...it wasn't even hurting him! Only pushing him further and further into the earth and making the now square shaped hole even bigger. What was he trying to accomplish?? And Cell..
She shivered. She could feel his dark energy, his rage pushing against Tien's attack, a deathly powerful force.
And then Tien stopped. He was breathing hard, catching his breath. He suddenly turned sharply, glaring down into the eyes of the blonde Eighteen.
His eyes went wide.
"WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?!," he shouted furiously. Eighteen stared up at him in frozen shock for a moment before turning and racing to a battered Sixteen. Tien shook his head, then suddenly snapped back to attention as he felt Cell's approaching energy. Atom cringed. She could feel him returning..charging towards Tien with impossible speed.
"TRI BEAM!!" The man cried again, and suddenly she understood.
Tien wasn't trying to defeat Cell; he was only trying to hold him off until Eighteen got away! But then..why wasn't she leaving?
Get away, Eighteen.., Atom willed silently. But she herself was too afraid to move. She didn't want Cell to see her again. Didn't want to feel that energy.. It was maddening, so much pure power. It made her feel as if she were losing control..as if she were drowning into herself.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
She was being a chicken. If Trunks saw her now, he'd be ashamed...not that he would actually care in the first place. But what could she do? She didn't have any powers at all. She didn't even know how to fly.
Eighteen was finally leaving, lifting slowly in the air, with Sixteen's large arm thrown securely across her narrow shoulders. She glanced over at Atom, giving the girl a slight nod before continuing steadily into the air. Atom only stared blankly back with large tear filled eyes.
At the sight of Eighteen's deminishing figure, Cell increased his resistance, almost throwing Tien off guard. But the tri-clops was ready for this, and he in turn increased his attack, tearing the earth even more with it's force.
Oh no you don't..., he thought.
"TRI BEAM!! HYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!"
Cell, who had almost creeped out of his earthly prison, found himself being hurled even further back, like a demon being vanquished into the depths of hell.
"STOP THAT!!" He screamed furiously.
Tien glared. "So you can go absorb that android? I don't think so."
Atom crawled to the edge of the cliff and carefully peered over. Even from this distance she could see that Tien was struggling to stay afloat in the air. However, he valently kept his hands in their triangular position, watching Cell's figure intently.
He looks exhausted.., she thought vaguely to herself. And yet he kept at it, relentless, pushing Cell further and further down until she saw no sign of the creature. Then, without warning, he suddenly stopped.
And with a moan, Tenshinhan fell weakly to the ground below.
She gasped, gripped at the rocky dirt beneath her fingers. Tien couldn't be hurt! She didn't want to be alone. She didn't know what to do! But he wasn't moving, lying on his stomach and gasping in deep, choked, breaths. She searched the skies, hoping to see Krillin, Goku...anyone who could help.
But there was no one; Only herself, an exhausted Tien, and a no doubt furious android who had yet to appear from the hole.
She was afraid now..even more so than before, especially now that SHE was the only one left. She who had no previous fighting experience whatsoever. But she couldn't just leave Tien down there! She had to get to him somehow...had to get away before Cell saw..
She drew in a whispy breath, calling the Nimbus and rising shakily to her feet. Within seconds, the sulfur-colored cloud wizzed sharply to her side, the familiar putt puttering a welcome sound to her ears. She clumsily climbed atop it, hands and knees flat upon it's soft, cool, surface and made her way carefully down to Tien's unmoving figure.
Midway there, however, she stopped.
She could feel him. Could feel his anger..no, his fury at losing the android. It sent sharp jolts of pain through her body. She squeezed her eyes shut, clutching at her now throbbing head. Why was he having this effect on her? She opened her eyes almost dizzily, just in time to see Cell float slowly from the hole.
She gasped, her whole body going still, petrified. Would he see her? Did he know she was there? At the moment he was staring off into the distance, in the general direction the two androids had more or less flown. He frowned, cursing under his breath and sending a distastful glare at Tien's still form.
She stiffened apprehensively. Was he going to try anything? She suddenly felt a wild flood of hope. Maybe..maybe he'd leave...go search for the android or something. He obviously had no clue as to where they'd gone, or even which specific direction they'd flown. It would take him a while, if ever, to find them. In the meantime she could get to Tien.
But all hope soon drained away as his glare deepened and he turned, slowly levitateing over to Tien's body.
He was now almost directly below her, nearly to Tien. And she had no doubt in her mind what he'd do to him once he reached the man. She hugged at herself nervously. She had do something..she couldn't just sit here stupidly.
But she was frozen with fear at the sheer feel of his power.
Surely he knew she was there....he HAD too! But then..she wasn't really in his line of vision at the moment...and... She paused. That red-headed android..what was he called? Sixteen. He'd mentioned once that he hadn't been able to sense a ki from her...and she certainly hadn't been able to feel anything from the other Androids. So maybe...maybe Cell couldn't sense her either!
Driven by this new knowlege, she stood, rising shakily on the little cloud and positioning her hands in the triangular form she'd seen Tien do. She hesitated, peering through her fingers and waiting for Cell to align within the center of them.
Almost there.. she thought biting her lip. If he looked up, it could all be over. But he didn't look up, continuing deftly towards the fallen Z senshi. Atom snapped to attention.
"TRI BEAM!!!," she cried, straining for something to come out.
But nothing happened, and now Cell was staring up at her with a surprised expression. She ignored the urge to run, instead focusing again on the attack.
She was an android too..so she had to have SOME sort of ability......right?
She tried again.
This time Cell laughed. He'd ceased his advance on Tien for the time being, now gazing up at Atom with unconcealed amusment and mild curiosity.
"What are you trying to do there, girl?," he asked mockingly. His now blue eyes held a suspiciously familiar glint to them. She ignored him, attempted again to focus, though finding it nearly impossible now that he was so close.
"Tr...Tri-" She could barely get the words out now, and her eyes began to tear with frustration and fear. Why couldn't she do it? Tien and Sixteen had made it seem so easy..and now here she was, unable to even keep her hands from shaking.
She closed her eyes in a vain attempt to calm herself. And when she opened them, found herself staring straight into the eyes of Android Seventeen.
Or atleast, they used to be Seventeen's eyes, except that now they were on Cell. She screamed, falling back onto the cloud with wide eyes. When had he gotten up here?!
The android studied her scrutinizingly for a moment.
"You aren't familiar," he commented almost to himself. Atom held her breath, afraid to move. She couldn't help but notice the way his tail swished absently behind him.
"Leave her alone!!," a voice suddenly cried. They both looked down to see a barely conscious Tien struggling on the ground below.
Cell only laughed. "Puny man! Shut your mouth!" And he aimed a large, ki-filled hand pointedly at Tien's broken body.
She didn't know what possessed her to do what she did next. She didn't even know how she knew how to do it. But in the next instant her right leg shot out sharply, catching him dead in the face. Caught offguard, Cell stumbled back several feet into the air before finally regaining his balance.
"Insolent girl!," he roared. And he shot at her with unfanthomable speed, backhanding her off the Nimbus and sending her sprawling dizzily towards the ground below. Before she hit, however, he'd caught her roughly with his tail and brought her bruised face almost level with his own. He glared down at her, a mixture of mild amusement, slight curiosity and outright irritation present on his face. Atom squeezed her eyes shut, noticing that the stinger of his tail was aimed dangerously close to her head.
"S-stop.." Tien attempted again to rise to his feet, but couldn't even seem to move his arms. His body was totally spent from his previous output of ki.
Cell ignored Tien, staring closely at the girl before him. She was obviously an android, that much was clear. But she didn't seem or even act like one. Right now her eyes were squeezed fearfully shut, hands clutched against his tail. He brought her closer, his tail tightening even more around her. Stupid girl. How dare she attack him?
At that moment, her eyes suddenly flew open and she let out a choked gasp. From this close, his eyes looked even more like Seventeen's. No. They were Seventeen's eyes. Those same sky blue eyes with that mischevious, mysterious glint. Only now they held something more; a slight darkness that hetheroforth had not been there.
Is this what will happen to Eighteen's eyes if he absorbs her?
She shook the horrible image from her mind. She didn't want to think of Eighteen being absorbed. Didn't want to think of the beautiful blonde sharing the same fate as her unfortunate brother. How terribly helpless Seventeen must have felt at the moment of his demise.
She stiffled back a sob.
As if sensing her thoughts, Cell gave an amused laugh.
"It is their destiny, girl," he exclaimed almost sensuously in her ear. "They were made to be a part of me...to become one with me. They can't escape their fate. It is impossible!" and he laughed again, only this time softer than before. And as abruptly as it had begun, he suddenly stopped, studying her thoughtfully for a moment with those stolen eyes. Eyes which now seemed to narrow slightly at her, as if suddenly coming to some unspoken realization. His tail seemed to loosen it's tight grip on her face ever so slightly, causing a few curly strands of hair to blow free.
She tensed visibly at the sudden relaxation of his tail. Was he letting her go? Her green eyes watched him suspiciously, bracing unconsciously for the undoubtedly enevitable hit.
It never came.
And she was completely unprepared for what happened next. Too surprised even to utter a scream.
She felt his tail unwind itself smoothly from around her, saw with confusion as his expression changed from one of amusement to an unreadable frown. And then she was falling, without even time to suck any more oxygen into her lungs. Falling rapidly through the air, her eyes still staring with wide eyed shock at his seemingly deminishing form.
She fell firmly and with a thud directly onto her back, knocking all the wind out of her. She couldn't move, couldn't think. Her mind zipped blank and she felt herself plunging back into that comfortable void in which she'd came. Vaguely, she was aware of a thin voice in the back of her mind screaming at her to get up..to do something before it was too late, but the voice soon died away. She was caught between two worlds, between consciousness and unconsciousness. Every sense she'd ever had, every sensation she'd ever felt up till now had shut itself off, buried deep into the recesses of her mind. She realized wearily how tired she was; how cold. And in that moment, Cell's now decending figure became a sudden blur. The brightness of the sun faded, and even the crashing of the waves around her seemed to cease.
There was nothing. Nothing but that familiar darkness in which she was so used too...the darkness in which she welcomed..in which she craved..
But suddenly, shockingly, the light came back, brighter than ever, and she felt herself being slapped roughly on the cheeks. She coughed, and her body began unwillingly drawing in oxygen again. She felt herself being held gently, one arm thrown under her knees and the other on her back. Her head was being cradled gently against a strong, wide chest.
She opened her eyes dazedly to see two troubled eyes gazing down at her with concern.
Abruptly, she closed them again, only to be shaken with such force that her teeth rattled. This sudden realization brought back all the feeling in her body, and she was suddenly aware of the numbing pain in her limbs.
"Atom! Are you alright?," Goku asked urgently. She opened her eyes, blinking rapidly and trying to sort out his blurred form.
"Goku," she exclaimed, but her voice didn't seem to work. She just wanted to sleep. To settle into that comfortable empty void again.. And where had Goku come from, anyway? He was now staring up at Cell with a hateful glare.
Cell laughed. "Goku!," he exclaimed in almost delighted surprise. Goku only glared in repsonse.
"You must be Cell," he stated dryly, still holding a dazed Atom. She cast a weak glance at the Android, who gave a sneering smirk.
"And you must be Goku," he replied mockingly. "I've been wanting to meet you." Goku stiffened slightly, his glare deepening.
"Shame on you!," he denounced angrily. "What kind of person are you that takes pleasure from hurting people?," he paused, his body shaking with rage. And then his ki seemed to rise slightly, and he stared up at Cell unfaulteringly.
"I'll make you pay for what you did!" He closed his eyes and looked down, as if thinking. And then, almost to himself, he continued, "But first..I need more time to train before going up against you." At this, Cell laughed loudly.
"That's it?!," he cried in mock disbelief, "Here I was wondering what it would be like to face the legendary Goku..and all you have to say is, 'See you tommorrow?'." He laughed again, throughly amused. But Goku didn't reply. His attention, infact, seemed to be focused on something else entirely. He suddenly jerked sharply to the left, making Atom's head spin painfully.
"Piccolo!," he cried in surprise. "I can feel you..you're still alive out there! I'm coming!" Atom blinked. Piccolo? Piccolo was alive? But how could he have survived Cell? It seemed impossible! And in her weakened state, Atom couldn't sense anything. But Goku seemed so sure of himself...
He kneeled down, still carefully holding Atom and touched Tien lightly on his back.
"Don't worry, Tien, you'll be alright," he soothed in his gentle way.
What's he doing?, she wondered, and she could feel vaguely that Cell was wondering the same thing.
And then they vanished.
Or atleast, that's what it seemed like to a puzzled Cell who watched from the air. He searched the landscape, confused for a few seconds until finally locating them a few kilometers away.
"Nice trick..," he mused quietly to himself, "but they didn't get far." Goku, however, didn't seem at all concerned about Cell at that moment.
"Do you think you can stand?," he asked Atom gently. She gave a slight nod and he set her down gently to her feet. She stood shakily for a few moments trying to clear her head, the world seemeing to spin around her, but Goku had already turned away, reaching down to pull up the unconscious body of Piccolo, who'd somehow managed to make his way to the bank.
He really IS alive, she thought happily, and she could feel Cell's own irritated shock as well, as Goku hoisted Piccolo securely over his shoulder. "Don't worry guys, I'll get you both some Senzu beans!," he promised hurriedly. He reached down for Tiens arm and instucted Atom to stay close.
High above them, Cell scowled. Apparently Goku had made up his mind that he wouldn't be fighting today. Well, he'd just have to change that! He lowered slightly in the air, holding Goku's eye steadily.
"No," he whispered darkly, "we fight now." And then he charged at them.
Atom let out a fearful scream, leaping back and causing Goku to nearly drop Piccolo. He kept his balance however, steadying them both and gave Cell a last intent glare before the four disappeared, and Cell found himself hitting at empty air.
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