Disclaimer: I do NOT own DragonBall Z or ANY of it's characters...however, Atom belongs to me.
That's all she remembered...all that there had been from the time when she'd first gained an awareness of herself.
Darkness and silence...these were her closest and only companions. Ofcourse, she'd been conscious of other lifeforms. For example, she knew that there were others out there...others around who were active and moving while she was not. But back then she hadn't felt like moving...still didn't. She only wanted to go back into that enchanting sleep of the dead...and maybe this time she wouldn't wake up.
And that's when she noticed it.
She wasn't alone.
For the longest time now the only other presences she'd felt were vague and fuzzy...as if they were hundreds of miles away. It hadn't bothered her, and they hadn't been anywhere near where she was. But now...now the feeling of others was so close that it was almost suffocating.
She shifted, curling up into the familiar fetal position she always found herself in. But this time something was wrong.
Instead of the flowy sensual feeling she usually got, her movements felt awkward and clumsy. Jerky. Instead of the warmness she always felt, she now felt cold and exposed. It felt wrong...everything. This place she was in...it just felt cold and wrong.There was a sharp intake of breath, as if someone had gasped.
"Hey! I think she's waking up!," a voice suddenly boomed. Or atleast that's how it sounded to her...loud and painful to her ears.
She winced at the sound.>
"Oh my gosh! I think you're right Krillin!"
More voices. She wished they'd stop talking. The sounds were hurting her ears, and anyway, how was she supposed to get back to sleep with all this noise?
She suddenly felt herself being shaken. A sharp pain erupted through her body, and she cried out.
"KRILLIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HER?!," a high voice screeched.
This was torture. She'd never felt this sort of feeling before, this pain. Before, everything had been dulled, drowsy like. But now she was being pushed...forced into this consciousness by a vengeful hand.
"I only touched her...I didn't do anything!!," the other voice answered at last, sounding worried.
She wouldn't allow herself to be forced into this terrible place. She could feel her mind being pushed, almost to the brink of conscious. She struggled mentally to regain her silent solitude...her darkness. She thought of that warm comforting place she used to be...with no noise...just the quiet hum of machines that lulled her off.
She was there. She was almost back. She could feel the strange awareness slipping... giving way to unconsciousness. Her breathing slowed, and the strange noises she was hearing faded back into a dull silence.
"Oh my god! We're losing her!!!!! Dad!!"
She didn't even wince. The voices didn't hurt her now....they couldn't. All the sounds and noises were blending into each other. She didn't even feel the coldness anymore.
"We can't let her go to sleep!"
She immediately felt hands shaking her, this time more roughly than before. She felt a vague sense of irritation. It wasn't time for her to awaken yet....she wasn't ready...
She wasn't complete.
Suddenly one of the hands shoved something under her nose- and she was jerked back into reality with a shock.
She lay there...where ever 'there' was, gasping for breath amidst the sighs of relief above her head.
"Her body was shutting down," a voice was saying. "...she was going into a coma-like state...a really long hibernation if you will..only she wouldn't have woken up."
She was angry. She didn't care about any of that. She didn't want to wake up....that was the whole point!
Her nose still burned from that substance they'd stuck under it. It'd had had a strong smell to it, whatever it was. Strong enough to bring her back into this awareness atleast.
"Are you ok?," one of the voices asked. It was the higher one.
She didn't answer. Who were these people? And what did they want with her?
"Are you sure she's awake, Bulma? I mean, her eyes are still closed..."
Yes...they were closed...which explained why she couldn't see anything. Still, she didn't want to open her eyes. Opening her eyes would mean that she was fully awake...and she didn't want to be awake yet.
"These androids are dangerous! Mother! Krillin! I can't believe you're doing this!"
Another voice had suddenly joined the conversation. Only this voice was different. It seemed hostile, angry. She felt herself shrinking.
The voice continued.
"No matter how harmless her outward appearance may be, she's still a huge threat that could easily wipe out man-kind!"
Understanding suddenly dawned on her. Was the voice talking about her? Was she really a threat? Now her curiosity got the best of her, and she struggled to open her eyes.
"C'mon bro...you said yourself that things are happening differently here than in your time..right?"
She tried to force her eyes open. She'd never used them before...there had never been a need to open them at all. But now she was desperate to see what was going on. Desperate to see this person who thought she could wipe out the world when she could barely move her limbs.
"Ugh!! You don't understand Krillin!!!!!!!!!!"
Her eyes flew open. Her brief moment of happiness was drowned by a terrible blindness.
Brightness. That's all she saw. Mile after mile of white brightness. Her eyes filled unbidden; a natural reaction to the intensity of the light. She let out a startled cry, and instantly felt hands on her again, shaking, speaking to her, even though she wasn't listening.
"Dim the lights Trunks! Her eyes aren't used to them yet," a voice commanded.
She felt a soft pat on her shoulder, which brought on a fresh onslaught of pain.
"Why don't you try opening your eyes now," the voice suggested gently.
She did, and was surprised to find that it didn't hurt so badly. She squeezed them shut, this time opening them completely.. and met with a pair of hostile ice blue eyes directly in front of her. She stared at those eyes, enthralled for a moment, until the strange blue ones looked away. Then she turned to study her surroundings.
It was a room...a small room, which felt much smaller than the one she'd been in before, but she didn't know how she knew this. The walls were white, like that blinding light she'd been blinded by before...but this white didn't hurt her. This white seemed more soothing, not so bright.
She looked down.
No wonder it'd felt weird, her movements. She wasn't in liquid anymore....she was outside of it. Situated on a cold steel table that reflected everything in the room.
"She looks harmless enough," a voice beside her suddenly commented, and she turned to the voice.
It belonged to a pair of round black eyes. They didn't seem as interesting as the ice blue ones, but considerably nicer. The person's bald head turned a bright pink under her stare.
"Baka!!!! She's not deaf you know! She can hear everything that's going on right now so stop being rude!!!"
This time when she turned, she met with another set of ice blue eyes, identical to the first pair she'd seen. Only these seemed somehow warmer, more friendly than the last. This person had straight blue hair, cropped off abruptly at the edges, and a strangely high voice. A female.
I'm one of those too, she thought to herself.
And yet, she knew she was a different kind of female. Different in what way she didn't know. Apparently the owner of the hostile blue eyes knew though, for he'd not stopped glaring at her since she'd opened her eyes. Perhaps he could tell her.
She suddenly became aware that the blue haired woman was talking to her. She looked over.
"...staying, we'll have to get you a name."
She winced. She still hadn't gotten used to the sound of voices yet.
"Mother, you can't let that creature stay here! She's just a catastrophe waiting to happen!"
Her eyes narrowed in slight understanding as the bald man beside her looked on worriedly.
"C'mon now, Trunks!, " the woman started cheerfully. "You said yourself that her power- level's barely past mine, and she doesn't seem to be very stable at the moment anyway..."
The girl blinked.
"That's precisly WHY her power level is so low...it's BECAUSE she's not stable yet! We interrupted whatever it was that-"
He recieved a look from the woman and instantly shut up. Inside however, he was fuming. He wouldn't let this...this..android deceive his friends. He refused to let this world be affected by those god-forsaken creatures.
Beside her, the bald guy was uncomfortable. She could feel the emotion drip off him like water, and something about this feeling made her feel stronger. She had the vague feeling that she'd met him before...she KNEW him somehow, this short little man.
The name suddenly jumped out at her unexpectedly. That's what this person was called!! She suddenly felt a strange surge of happiness flow through her. She smiled at him, and he turned red again. Over in the corner, hostile-eyes tensed up, and the woman looked on curiously.
"Hi Kuririn!," she remarked happily, although her voice came out curiously hoarse and slow. She coughed.
The man seemed seriously freaked. "H-how'd you know that?"
The hostile eyed boy clinched his fists.
"I told you Krillin! They're MONSTERS! They know EVERYTHING! Things they shouldn't possible know at all!!"
The girl frowned. True, she DID know Kuririn's name for some reason, but she wouldn't go as far as saying she knew EVERYTHING. For instance, she had no idea who he was, and why he was reacting this way towards her.
At that moment however, and before she could give it any more thought, her eyes began to fog up, and suddenly she felt cold. She closed her eyes and drew her knees up to her chest.
Was it happening? Maybe she was going back to sleep. She wasn't sure if she liked this outside world anyway.
"H-Hey...what's wrong with her?," Krillin asked worriedly. The voices were all sounding foggy again. Maybe this time she wouldn't wake up. She heard the alarmed voice of Kuririn above her once more, and then she fell into a deep oblivious sleep.
"So what do you guys think?," The blue haired Bulma asked curiously after the girl had fallen alseep.
Trunks glared. "This was a bad idea! Everything will be ruined! For all we know she could single-handedly be the doom of this world! And what if she's after Goku like the others? We all know how obsessed Gero was on getting revenge!!!"
Bulma nodded her head. "You do have a point...," she remarked slowly. "But she doesn't seem to know anything...if what you and Krillin say is true, then it sounds like you interrupted her development before she gained any full knowledge of us. Although it doesn't explain how she knew Krillin..."
Krillin sighed and cast a glance in the young girl's direction. She looked completely harmless; small and cold in the plain white T-shirt Bulma had hastily thrown on her. It had been his idea to save the young android. They'd found her in Dr. Gero's lab, in the very back, concealed in a hidden room. Apparently she'd been an abandoned project of his, although he couldn't be sure. They'd been in the process of destroying the lab, or what was left of it, when he'd stumbled across her.
He had been standing back, a little awed and disturbed at Trunk's vindictive behavior towards the place. A drastic change from the gentle peace loving boy he'd first seen. And it was then that he'd felt it. An energy...almost familiar, peaking through the walls of the laboratory/cave.
And so he'd investigated, stumbled across a door he hadn't noticed before. He'd walked inside, only to be greeted by complete darkness. And yet, the feeling of familiarity was even stronger than ever.
He'd walked on, his eyes adapting to the darkness of the room, until he saw something. A tank of some sort, illuminated by the strange flouresant glow of a computer. He'd instantly tensed. Was this another one of Gero's deadly creations? He frowned. He'd destroy it, if he had too. Either way, with the way Trunks was blasting, it wouldn't stand a chance anyway.
And then he saw what was in the tank.
Ofcourse, he couldn't see very clearly since it was so dark, but in the dim light, he could make out a profile...a figure.
Looking closer, he discovered it was a girl, suspended in some sort of watery liquid, and curled into the fetal position of a baby in the womb. It surprised him, and he'd gasped in shock. A monster he'd expected to see...but not the body of a woman! A few moments later, Trunks noticed his absence and came to investigate.
"Krillin, what are you-"
He'd gaped. Being a half saiyan, his eyes were sharper than Krillin's human ones. But then his face darkened.
"I don't understand how our timelines can be so different..." he'd murmured almost to himself. "Just how many Androids are there here?"
Krillin gasped. Was this how the blonde #18 had been created?
Still, Trunks had looked haunted at that moment...confused. The appearance of yet ANOTHER android baffled him beyond words.
He'd turned abruptly, looking around the room while Krillin watched on cluelessly.
"Um....Trunks, mind if I ask what you're doing?," he'd finally asked after being unable to figure it out.
Trunks glanced back. "I'm looking for the blue prints of this android...I already found the layout of #17...I'm sure Gero must have designed this one with some sort of special ability.....she seems to have been created in the general way as Cell..."
"Oh.." he understood now - find a weakness, destroy the androids. But he just couldn't help thinking that perhaps things were different here..but with the sudden appearance of Cell, he had no idea.
They'd looked, searching for about ten minutes with no success. Finally Krillin had sighed, laying his hand on the large computer consol. And then the computer spoke.
"'Registration for project A.T.O.M, has been denied.'"
They'd both been startled.
Trunks glanced back over at the test tube girl. "A.T.O.M......atom? Project atom?" He'd narrowed his eyes.
"So I was right....she IS another android!" His face took on that determined look again, and striding over to the tank purposely, he'd held his right hand up against it, preparing to blast it.
"Wait!!," Krillin had shouted, and the boy cast a sideways glance his way. Krillin almost took a step back. When Trunks looked like that, it was almost uncanny how much he resembled Vegeta.
"Trunks," he began, "She really hasn't done anything wrong...I mean, wouldn't it be wrong to destroy something that hasn't done anything?," he reasoned.
Trunks spoke with the authority of experience. "That's precisely WHY we're destroying it...so it'll never get the chance." He wanted Krillin to understand that these monsters WEREN'T human.
Krillin was desperate. Trunks seemed so insistent upon destroying the android for some reason. "Trunks...can't we just take her over to Bulma's?," he reasoned. "I mean...if she was created the same way as Cell, we might find a way to destroy him."
He saw Trunks pause. He'd made a variable point, he knew, and Trunks couldn't argue with that.
He'd agreed, reluctantly. "But the first sign of trouble," he'd warned, "and I won't hesitate in destroying her!"
And here they were, having the same conversation again.
Krillin didn't know WHAT had possessed him to save her...most likely #18...and the fact that she was an android too. But something about this young girl reminded him of someone...yet he couldn't put his finger on it.
"Can I come too?"
Trunks scowled. "You don't even know where I'm going," he pointed out.
"Aw.....but couldn't I just go anyway?" she asked again, this time more insistently. Her large green eyes widened behind her glasses. Trunks turned away, sighing. If she went, he just knew that he'd be stuck with carrying her. He found it odd too that she couldn't fly.
So far infact, she hadn't shown any signs of power, although he guessed it probably had something to do with her interrupted evolution. She looked normal; Nothing about her gave away the fact that she was an android. Infact, he could almost believe she was a normal human being.
She was pretty, even he had to admit, with the exotic coffee colored skin of an egyptian and wild dark curls that danced around her face and shoulders. She was also small, reaching barely past his shoulders, with the body of a matured young woman, which sometimes tended to baffle him in comparison to her innocent face. Ofcourse, this too could be merited to the fact that she hadn't finished fully maturing. The only thing he couldn't understand about her was her eyes, now hidden behind eye glasses. They seemed odd in contrast to her dark complexion, with their strange greeness.
She tapped his arm, bringing him back to the present.
"What, Atty?," he mumbled in irritation. She always brought out the worst in him.
"So can I go?," Atom asked pleadingly. They'd decided to call her that, since Gero had labeled her Project A.T.O.M in his computer.
He groaned in annoyance. He was going to look for his father. After the fight with #18, the saiyan had flown off, and no one had seen or heard from him since. He was sure Vegeta wouldn't be in a good mood, and the added presence of yet another android certainly wouldn't help matters. But then again, he didn't like the idea of leaving her alone here either. He still wasn't completely sure what she was capable of, and he wasn't taking any chances.
He didn't trust her.
"This isn't a joy ride," he stated finally, shooting her an annoyed look. He sighed in exasperation as she flashed a bright smile of triumpth.
Ten minutes later they were sailing high above the Earth and heading for his father's distinct power signal.
"So where're we going?," Atom asked curiously over the roaring of the wind. She reached out an arm in a futile attempt to touch a cloud, throwing him off balance slightly.
"To find my father."
"Oh." She was silent for a moment, deep in thought.
"Which one's your father?," she asked suddenly in his ear.
He stiffened. The way she'd said that made it seem like she knew all of them....all of the Z fighters. He didn't doubt for one minute that she did, but it was still unnerveing none the less.
"Stop asking so many questions!," he growled angrily, "I said you could come, but that doesn't give you permission to talk!"
She stiffened suddenly in his arms at those words, and her whole body seemed to shrink.
She didn't say anything else. She didn't understand why he didn't like her. As far as she knew, she hadn't done anything to him...atleast not that she remembered. He just seemed to harbor an instant dislike towards her for some reason she couldn't understand.
She shifted slightly, causing her glasses to slip on the bridge of her nose. Bulma had made them for her, after discovering how blurred everything seemed through her eyes. She'd only been with Bulma for a few days, but the woman seemed to truely like her. And she certainly adored baby Trunks, though the older Trunks always watched her suspiciously whenever she was near the child. She found it odd that Bulma would name her sons both the same name...she figured it would be very confusing once they got older.
And everyone was tense. At first, she'd just figured it was because of her...but now she knew that there was something else going on, something that had everyone on edge. She'd hear snatches of conversation between Bulma and Trunks which suddenly stopped when she was around. And they seemed to watch her every move, following everything she did as if they were studying her..waiting for an answer to some unasked question she couldn't give.
Just then, she felt an odd sensation spring through her head, and Trunks held his breath. He'd felt it too. It must be his father's ki they were picking up.
Moments later, Trunks dipped smoothly down from the air, landing gracefully to the ground below and setting her firmly to her feet. She looked around. They were in a desserty area, full of rocks and barren mountains. She followed her senses to the solitary figure at the edge of a cliff a few meters away.
"Hey!! Is that your father?," she pointed happily.
He didn't answer, watching the figure closely before taking a few hesitant steps forward. She followed close behind, nearly running into his back when he suddenly stopped abruptly.
"But aren't you going to talk to him?," she asked confusidly.
He seemed to have forgotten she was there, focusing all his attention on that lone figure overlooking the cliff, not even pausing when he sat down. She stood there for a while, dividing her gaze between the two. The man obviously knew they were there...so why wasn't he saying anything? She thought it was rude of him, not even acknowledging his son's presence..especially when he'd seemed so worried about him, too.
"Want me to get his attention?," she asked softly. He scowled.
"Just don't do anything at all," he ordered, the wind blowing his hair.
"But how long are you just gonna sit there? I'm pretty sure he knows you're here."
"Don't be absurd. Ofcourse he does," Trunks replied, irritated.
"Then how come he doesn't answer?," Atom asked cluelessly, and watched his face fall. His whole body...his will seemed to slump, and he didn't answer.
She sat down next to him quietly, not saying a word. She didn't know what to say, really. That familiar weariness set in, and she felt herself being lulled off by the wind and the warm air. She brought her long legs up to her chest and laid her head against them, closing her eyes and trying to decide whether or not she was hungry.
"Atty." She looked up drowsily. "mm?"
"Tell me...," he asked quietly, "why are you always so nice to me?"
She yawned. "Cuz you're my friend," she answered sleepily. He continued to stare intently at his father's small figure. "When did I ever say that?," he asked finally.
"You didn't. But if you weren't...you wouldn't put up with me, right?" She smiled, and he turned to her suddenly.
"You must know how I feel about Androids," he began, "And even though you haven't done anything yet, I'm still onto you!" she frowned.
"You may have everyone else fooled by your innocent act," he continued coldly, "but I know you're just waiting for the right moment to strike and I refuse to let that happen!"
"Is that what you think?," she asked, studying him with those odd green eyes.
He looked away. "It's what I know."
She was silent for a moment. Trunks seemed to think that she had some alterior motive in mind...that she was some evil creature waiting for the right moment strike. She frowned. She really wanted him to trust her, but he just was so intent on thinking she was out to kill. Her bottom lip trembled.
"Trunks," she said looking up, "What can I do to win your trust?"
He didn't answer, his face in profile with eyes staring straight ahead, and for a mement, she thought he was going to ignore her. But then he glanced at her out the corner of his eye.
She only shook her head.