Chapter Two

Flying was a rush. She loved the feel of wind on her skin, of being up high in the air and racing through the other misty clouds in the sky..

She loved the Nimbus cloud.

She felt as if she'd been riding it forever. Everything just felt so right. She wasn't afraid, and the prospect of falling through it hadn't even occured to her. She leaned forward, her dark hair billowing behind her.

"Come on, Nimbus! Faster!" She urged. The Nimbus seemed to hesitate for a moment, as if unsure of letting such an inexperienced flyer go at a higher speed. But in a moment they were racing through the clouds at an even faster more exilerating speed than before.

She'd been bored sitting up at Kami's lookout, and Goku and Gohan were clearly preoccupied with their own thoughts. And so without thinking, she'd asked Goku if he would teach her how to fly.

"Fly?," he'd asked, "But...I can't," he said, "the truth is, with Cell to worry about, I really don't have time." He'd looked apologetic at her crest fallen face. But suddenly Gohan spoke.

"But what about the flying Nimbus? She could use it to fly until she learned to fly on her own, right?"

And so they'd called the cloud, delighting in watching her happy face at play. And now here she was, flying out on her own and away from the lookout.

She laughed. It was wonderful, this being unconfined without anyone watching her. She liked this spontaneous feeling she was getting. This was freedom.

"'k Nimbus, lets go see Krillin now!" And she smiled deviously. Scare was more like it. It would probably scare him to death to see her without any supervision...

The Nimbus seemed to laugh with her as it spun around, skidding on the ocean and getting her wet. After a few minutes, a small island came into view, with a group of people crowded outfront. She recognized Krillin instantly, standing off to the side next to a taller three eyed bald man, and another dark haired man. As she came into view, the others gazed at her in shock.

"Krillin!! Hi!!" He gave her a shaky smile, turning red and earning her a glare from a blonde haired woman standing nearby. She hovered over them for a moment, frowning. Now that she wasn't so caught up with the excitement of flying, she could sense strong agitation in the air. Looking around, she found that although she could somehow clearly recognize Krillin, Piccolo, Yamucha, and Tienshinhan, she had no idea who the other three people were.

Piccolo glared. "Is this another one of your friends?," he shot angrily at the three strangers. The raven haired boy laughed. He looked about Trunks' age and wore a red bandana around his neck.

"Sorry to disappoint you," he replied in a soft voice, "but we have no idea who she is." He stared almost curiously at her for a moment, along with his two companions before turning his attention back to Piccolo with a smirk.

"It doesn't matter," he continued, "She can't help you. No one can." His voice was stangely mesmorizing and hypnotic. She decided she liked it.

"Hey...what's going on here?," she blurted suddenly. The group looked up at her again.

"Who is she?," the one called Tienshinhan asked.

"I cannot sense a ki from her," said an odd voice. She glanced down towards the one who had spoken. It was one of the three she didn't recognize; the tall, red-headed one.

"Well that's weird," the raven haired boy remarked absently, gazing up at her with a new and sudden interest. The blonde beside him scowled.

"No it's not. Maybe she's an android like us. Look, who cares?"

"Hey, calm down sis," the boy purred. "It might be nice having another android around other than you two stick-in-the-muds. And she looks like a fun-type of girl, right little nymph?" He smiled almost seductivly up at Atom. The blonde only flipped her hair and turned away while the red-haired giant remained silent.

"Just remember we still have Goku to contend with."

"I haven't forgotten you know." And then he looked up again. "Hey," he called to Atom, "You mind coming down? It's almost annoying having to keep looking up like this."

Suddenly Krillin spoke out in alarm, "No! You just stay right where you are, Atom!! Don't listen to him!!"

The two androids laughed. "Atom is it? Well, with a name like that she has to be one of Gero's creations. I wonder why she isn't a number?," the girl finished. She's really pretty, Atom decided. Beautiful even. Both her and her brother. Atleast she guessed it was her brother. They both looked exactly alike, except for the different hair colors.

Before she could say anything, Piccolo interrupted.

"Listen! I don't know what's going on here, but we have a fight to contend to! I don't have time to waste while you two ramble on about nothing!"

Seventeen sighed exaggeratedly, then laughed. "Very well, Namek man. Lets get this over with." He turned back to Atom with a smirk, "We'll be back, little nymph girl." And then he jumped into the sky with Piccolo, heading towards a neighboring island. The blonde shot Krillin a smile before heading speedily after her brother.

Atom watched them go curiously. "Krillin..who were those people? And where is Piccolo going with them?," she asked. She floated down nearer to him and the others, but remained on the Nimbus. Tien, Yamucha and Master Roshi gaped at her.

"Uh...Krillin..who's the girl?"

Krillin laughed a little. "Well..remember when I was telling you about how Trunks and I destroyed Gero's lab?," he paused while the two nodded. "Well....this is who we found.."

"Is she really an ANDROID?!," Yamucha asked bewildered.

"A different SORT of android," Krillin corrected quickly. He didn't know how they would take this news. And he was sure Atom wouldn't hurt anyone. Tien looked confused while Yamucha was gazing up at the girl with an odd expression.

"Shouldn't you guys be worried about the Androids right now?," a voice asked suddenly. Atom glanced down to see who had spoken. It was a woman. She looked to be around her late twenties, with her black hair done up in a bun. For some reason, this woman seemed very familiar, even though she'd never laid eyes on her before. She glanced at Atom curiously before doing a double take.

"That's right!" Krillin agreed. They could discuss Atom and what she was doing here later. But ChiChi continued.

"Bulma's on the other line. She just placed a collect call-"

"Don't accept the charges!!!!," Yamucha shouted angrily. But ChiChi only glared and went on.

"She said something about having some sort of device that could destroy the androids. She's coming over here to drop it off."

"ACCEPT THE CHARGES!!! ACCEPT!!!," everyone screamed.

Atom watched the events with mild interest. Something was distracting her. She could sense it in the far regions of her mind. A vague presense. Something strange...something powerful...something that felt..confused, baffled even, by her presense. It was trying to discern what it meant, trying to invade her mind-

This is crazy! She had to stop thinking like this. She shook her head and focused on what the group was talking about below her.

"Well what are we supposed to do in the meantime?!," Tien was asking impatiantly. ChiChi rolled her eyes.

"Oh brother. Can't one of you just fly out to meet Bulma? You guys can fly alot faster than her jet, can't you?" The three men gaped.

"Ofcourse ChiChi! You're a genius!," Krillin exclaimed slapping his head. ChiChi sighed. "Well ofcourse. You can solve problems without using your fists you know."

Krillin glared at her sarcasm. "Very funny! Now if you'll excuse me Einstein, I'm going off to meet Bulma!," and without another word or backwards glance, he blasted off. Atom sighed. Just her luck. Now she'd have to track him down again. But then again, she'd get to fly on the Nimbus some more! She eagarly started after him when suddenly a voice cut through her thoughts.

"And just where are YOU going, young lady?" It was the woman, and she was frowning.

"Well I was gonna go with Krillin," she began uncertainly.

"Oh no you aren't! You aren't getting anywhere NEAR this fighting! A battle field is no place for a young girl." The woman deftly crossed her arms.

Suddenly Tien spoke.

"That's it! I can't just sit around doing NOTHING! It's driving me crazy! I may not be much help, but I'll never find out just standing here!!!" And before anyone could stop him, he blasted off towards the now brightly lit island.

"Tien NO!," Master Roshi cried. But it was no use. He sighed, gripping his drink. He couldn't help Tien now. He couldn't do anything for anyone. These young men were more powerful than anything he'd ever imagined and he could never compete with that. He suddenly heard ChiChi gasp.

"What's wrong?," he asked, tensing. ChiChi looked greatly alarmed.

"That girl...where did she go?"

************

Atom flew as fast as she dared to go on the Nimbus without falling off. She'd snuck away while everyones attention was on Tien. And lucky too. She had a feeling if that woman could fly, she'd have drug her back by the ears or something. The woman had been watching her strangely ever since she'd laid eyes on her.

She had decided to follow Tien; mostly because he was the easiest to follow at this point. She was also curious as to how Piccolo was doing. And those androids! Were they the ones that this Cell character was after? She sighed, leaning into the soft coolness that was the Nimbus cloud. But her peaceful calm was suddenly broken when the waters beneath her began to churn. Looking up, she saw that she was nearing the island, as she got closer, she could feel it...

Power.

Pure power..that's the only thing she felt. It invaded her senses, almost causing her to fall of the cloud. She tightened her grip. It was maddening, and in the midst of it, she could sense Piccolo. He was losing it. He was just as scared as she was, she was sure of it. And he was right there IN it.

She hurried on, speeding up. In a moment, Tien's figure came into view, high atop one of the cliffs overlooking the scene. She flew in next to him, finally jumping off the cloud in her anxiousness.

Tien didn't even react. Infact, she doubted if he even realized she was there. His brow was drenched in sweat as he stared intently at the scene before them. She instantly recognized one of the androids. It was the boy, he was sprawled out on the ground, a dazed look on his beautiful face. A few yards away stood Piccolo, and near the edge of the island were the blonde and red-haired androids. She let out a sigh of relief. Her mind had instantly registered on those four, so she hadn't noticed the dark figure standing in the center, amidst everything.

But now she did.

And she realized with a start where all that power was coming from. She realized why everyone was so afraid of this being, why Piccolo was looking so helpless right now..

She didn't need Tien to tell her that this was Cell.

He looked like a cross between a lizard and an insect; complete with wings and a tail. He was composed of various shades of green, and atop his head he wore an odd headdress and jewel that almost resembled that of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. A hideous creature. But what was most striking about him was his aura of power. It seemed...odd. As if it wasn't quite his or something. She let out a small gasp.

Cell was now heading towards Piccolo, who immediately tensed. The creature seemed to be saying something to the Namek, who only glared in response. Just then, the raven haired android rose shakily to his feet. Cell paused, turning slightly towards the boy.

"RUN SEVENTEEN!!," Piccolo shouted in urgence, but suddenly, quicker than Atom could even see, he knocked Piccolo out and sent him flying atleast eight yards.

"P-Piccolo no.. That fiend!," Tien murmured hoarsely. Atom was too shocked to move. They watched in dread as the monstrous creature strided confidenly over, effortlessly lifting Piccolo as if he were a rag dog. He seemed to be saying something to the namek, who, as of now, seemed to be unconscious. But then, before anyone could react, he put his hand to Piccolo's middle, blasting a huge hole through him. Atom screamed as Piccolo's life force snapped in her head.

Cell laughed, and not even turning, tossed the bloody namek into the ocean nearby.

That was it! She'd seen enough!! She wouldn't just stand by and watch this display of treachery. Not thinking, she launched herself full force off the rock in a rage, completely forgetting that she couldn't fly. But before she knew what was happening, two strong arms had grabbed her suddenly around the waist, pulling her back and clamping a hand over her mouth.

"You little idiot!," Tien hissed in her ear, "do you want to get killed!? We can't let him see us yet!!"

She began to wiggle in his arms and he abruptly let her go. "But what about Piccolo?!," she cried tearfully. He only frowned. Why did she care what happened to Piccolo?

"There's nothing we can do. We can't help Piccolo now."

They both missed the amused glance Cell cast in their direction and the small smile that threatened to break free.

He turned his attention back to the task at hand. He'd deal with the two evesdroppers later. Seventeen was now up and in a defensive pose. Tien and Atom watched silently as Cell advanced upon the android, a golden glow beginning to surrounding him. He was smirking, saying something to the boy that neither of them could hear. Suddenly he sped up with incredible speed, and Atom stiffened. He had obviously been playing around before, but now it seemed that he was ready to get serious. She was even more shocked when the dark haired android charged directly for the creature as well. There was a loud explosion of ki as the two forces collided, but soon it became apparant that Cell had the upperhand, and the raven haired android was reduced to nothing but dodging the creature's tail jabs.

This is horrible!, the girl thought. No wonder Trunks was so worried; no wonder everyone was training so hard..

In the moments that followed, Cell proved that he was indeed more powerful than anyone could imagine. He now had seventeen at his complete mercy. The boy was a bloody mess, he was on his back with the spectre of death, in the form of Cell, looming over him, tail aimed and ready to strike. Now that she had a clear view of it, she could see what was so special about that tail of his, and why he kept trying to strike with it. It had what looked to be a huge stinger on the end. Why doesn't the other one help him?! Atom wondered angrily, thinking of the blonde. She was standing a small distance away, watching the fight silently. But then again, she was probably scared too.

Suddenly, his tail swelled in size, opening wide to reveal a gaping black hole. Quicker than Seventeen could react, he had the android halfway inside, and only the androids remaining strength saved him from being completely consumed at that moment.

Atom swallowed nervously. What would happen to the raven headed boy once he was absorbed? What would happen to Cell?

She didn't intend to find out.

She refused to let the boy be killed by Cell. She couldn't stop thinking of how similar he looked in age to Trunks, and that in itself was enough reason to fight, wasn't it? She looked around for the Nimbus cloud, which had all but disappeared. Suddenly she felt something grab her arm in an iron gripe.

"Don't you dare!," Tien exclaimed angrily. "If I have to knock you out, then so be it! You aren't getting anywhere NEAR that creature!" Before she could think of a reply, they spotted the red-haired android stalking confidently towards Cell. Tien grimaced.

"What's he doing?," he wondered aloud. Either he was incredibly strong or just plain crazy. "I hope the big guy has some kind of trick up his sleeve...otherwise he's toast!" Atom didn't answer.

Come on... she willed. You have to save that guy!! The hot island sun beat down on her shoulders and the wind blew softly at her thin cotten tank top. But she didn't notice. All her attention was focused strictly on the fight below. At the moment, the new android seemed to have the upperhand. Cell actually appeared to be having trouble with him. And when the red-haired giant tore off the creatures tail, she almost felt sorry for him. Especially after hearing his howl of pain. And then she began to feel stangely uneasy. Something was wrong..

In the next instant however, Cell had regenerated his tail, his dry cackle reaching Atom and Tiens own ears. He waggled his new growth almost mockingly, hands on his hips.

What's happening? She wondered. What was this feeling she kept getting? She shook her head in an attempt to clear it and focused yet again on the battle below her. The raven headed android was safe for now. He stood a few yards away, watching the brawl with apparent interest and awe.

You're avoiding the inevitable...

She gasped. What was that?! Tien cast her a quick glance before returning his attention to the battle below.

Foolish...they shall never defeat me! Even as I am, I'm STILL the most powerful fighter in this universe!

She clinched her fists, her eyes fixed on Cell. Was that his voice? She glared, studying him closely. At the moment he was silent, seemingly surveying his options with the powerful red-headed android.

Stupid jerk!, she thought to herself. Trunks'll take care of you once he comes out...and I'll make sure you pay for what you did to Piccolo!!!!

His head suddenly jerked sharply up and to the left and his eyes instantly locked with her own. Time seemed to have stopped, and she felt her blood run cold. He couldn't possibly have heard what she said, could he?? She hadn't even said it out LOUD! No, it had to be a coincidence... But there he was, gazing intently into her eyes, a strange smile now playing on his face. She stood frozen fearfully to that spot, unable to move. And in the next instant, he laughed.

It was a loud, sadistic laugh, a laugh which told that he knew something crucial..something that no one else had figured out yet.

"What is he up to...." Tien asked suspicously. The fighting had resumed, and no one seemed to have noticed Cell's attention to her. But she was still uneasy. As she watched the fight however, it became obvious that the red-headed giant still had control of the fight. She looked down. The sibling android twins were still there, looking dazed and confused by the battle before them. Atom felt almost sick.

"T-Tien-san," she questioned shakily, "why are they still here?? Don't they know what Cell's trying to do?"

Tien shook his head. The heck if he knew. He could only hope that their giant android friend had more sense than they did and would succeed in defeating Cell. But atleast they hadn't seen them yet. He let out a breath of relief, which was short lived by Atom's next actions.

Before Tien could stop her, and with a determined look, Atom cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted as loud as she could.

"HEY! YOU GUYS HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!! YOU CAN'T LET THAT MONSTER ABSORB YOU!!! GE-" she was cut off by Tien grabbing both her wrists and shaking her sternly.

"What IS it with you?! Can't you understand the concept of keeping quiet?!" He looked as though he'd have a heart attack. Cell HAD to have heard her! If he didn't already know they were there, that is. He was having a hard enough time keeping his powerlevel surpressed.

"But we can't let Cell absorb them!!!!"

At the sound of her voice however, the two androids had turned towards the cliff. Spotting her, Seventeen gave a weak smirk.

"Little nymph..so I guess you just couldn't stay away, huh?," and he gave a small laugh.

"You have to GO!!!!!," breaking free of Tien, and without thinking, she dove clumbsily off the cliff. It was only after she'd done so that she realized she couldn't fly, and she let out a shocked scream. Seconds later, and right when she should have hit the ground, she was being held by a frowning Seventeen, who studied her curiously.

"Don't you know how to fly?," he mused in his soft voice, staring at her. She grinned sheepishly, and he sighed. "I suppose that's the reason you were flying on that cloud thing."

Standing, Atom straightened her shoulders and smiled. "Thank you! But don't worry. Nimbus would have saved me before I hit the ground anyway," she exclaimed.

"Nimbus?"

She pointed up at a yellow fluffy cloud which had suddenly appeared a few feet away from her. "Isn't he cute?," she gushed happily. Seventeen only stared.

"Get away from her!!!," Tien screamed from the cliff. The girl was going to run him crazy. She never listened to a word he said! But Goku must have taken a liking to her if she had the Nimbus, and for his friend's sake, he wouldn't let anything happen to her.

She suddenly remembered the task at hand. "You two have to leave here, NOW! Cell is-"

"-here to absorb us. Yea, yea, I know. Don't worry. Sixteen has it under control. See? Nothing to worry about." And he gave her that mysterious half-hooded smile again. Eighteen only watched wide-eyed from a distance.

"So where did you come from? What number are you?," he asked nonchalauntly, as if there wasn't a powerful lizard/insectoid being less than a football's field away, and as if he went through things like this everyday.

She shot him a confused look. "Number?"

He frowned again. "Well. Too good to be a number, eh? I guess you really ARE one of the newer models. That's fine...what was it again? Atom. It doesn't matter. I think little nymph suits you better anyway," he leaned closer, inspecting her cloths.

"Though I don't see a Red Ribbon insignia anywhere on you. The old guy was notorious for stamping his work." He shrugged.

"Either way, you're an android, like us." He pointed towards his sister, who'd stepped closer to them, and to the red-headed Sixteen, still fighting Cell.

"That's Eighteen, the big guy over there's called Sixteen, and I'm Seventeen," he finished. "They're not up much for talking. Or FUN for that matter," he shot a look at his sister, who rolled her eyes at his comment.

"Oh please."

Atom shook her head. What was their problem anyway? They were about THIS close to destruction and they didn't seem to care at all. Shaking her head, she grabbed at his arm, attempting to drag him away, but he only laughed, easily staying rooted to the spot.

"C'mon! You and your sister have to leave NOW!" she pleaded.

"Persistant little kid isn't she?," Eighteen commented mildly, causing Seventeen to laugh again.

"I suppose. But she'll be alot more fun to have around than a certain other moody female," he retorted which immediately earned him a glare from the blonde.

"And alot cuter too," he teased, touching the tip of her nose and causing her to blush. Eighteen frowned and flipped her hair.

"If she can't fly, then what sort of power's DOES she have," Eighteen complained. But she gave the girl a half smile.

Atom stared in astonishment up at the two, almost forgetting about Cell for the moment. The way they were treating her...it was as if she truly DID belong with them. They didn't act suspicious or angry..or even annoyed. In truth it was probably because she was an android, but perhaps she really did belong with them. And the way Seventeen was treating her....it was the way she'd longed for Trunks to talk to her.

Maybe I should go with them...maybe Trunks will be happier if I did..

Standing there at that moment with them, she could almost believe that everything would turn out fine.

But in the next instant, things took a frightening dip for the worst.

*************

Chapter Three

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