The other Time Machine has been discovered and Cell has appeared coming from yet another era. The monster has started his carnage! How will our heroes and (still secretly female) Trunks deal with the situation as well as the Cyborgs still on the hunt for a bedridden Son Goku?
Gen, unrequited loves and bonds, 13+, this arc covers from Cell's appearance to the end of the Cell games (with some changes). Part 2/5 (art made by crimerhyme.tumblr.com, commissioned for this fic)
The Monster. Kami felt and saw him, and promptly realized how severe the situation would be if he didn’t do what needed to be done, regardless of his sense of self, his responsibilities as guardian outclassed his individuality. Rejoining Piccolo meant a stronger warrior to defend the blue pearl would be born, and that he could live with. Or die for, actually. Piccolo would remain Piccolo, infused with the wisdom of his parent’s other half. The power flowing within him overwhelmed the now complete Namekian, and he knew it would be more than enough to fight the Cyborgs on equal footing, if not best them. As for the new threat, Kami’s impressions doubted, but he would have to test.
And so, Piccolo descended to the lower world to Gingertown to investigate, unable to feel the power spike his ‘former other half’ had seen. The monster suppressed its ki. The Namekian cursed and searched the ghost town, alert to any life forms he could sense and for clues. Clothes everywhere, no trace of bodies, but obvious signs of struggles (broken storefronts, cars that stopped abruptly…). Whenever he felt life forms, they promptly vanished before Piccolo could get there. The town was being cleaned right under his nose, as clusters of earthlings vanished from his senses. That was until he heard screams on another street, where the TV crews had arrived. By the time he rushed, all were gone; victims and culprit. The cat and mouse game was getting on Piccolo’s nerves, he knew the Monster was aware of his presence and was looking for him. It was infuriating. And then he felt another energy approach, an energy he’d learnt to recognize. Trunks. Piccolo flew off to meet the teenager a little away from the town, hoping the monster hadn’t sensed him too already. He had a plan.
As soon as the radio started giving the reports about Gingertown, Trunks’ mind raced to the giant cicada-creature, geography linking the two events, and she dropped everything to rush to the location. The only thing she grabbed was her sword, which she had forgotten was broken. By the time she was out of the window, it was already clipped on her back, over her denim, as she’d done at every instance of Cyborg activity reported on the radio. Muscle memory, at this point. She was conditioned to react to such alarms, and locking her computer, or warning someone she was leaving didn’t even cross her mind. At home, her mother and her would be almost always in the same room, so her darting off would be sufficient warning. Only when Piccolo came on her path did she consciously remember this wasn’t her world, and this wasn’t Cyborg activity. She looked expectant, and something felt different about the Namekian.
“Piccolo..-san?” She remembered what Krillin said a few days prior about why Piccolo was on the Lookout, but still doubt persisted. 'Is that really Piccolo?'
“The creature is in the city and most if not all earthlings are gone. I’ll draw it out. Suppress your ki and hide between the buildings.”
“I will not hide,” Trunks growled out her words, she didn’t like the idea at all, and still had some pride in her fighting ability. It brought back too many memories from Gohan’s tutelage and her own failures, even if he’d been right in his orders. She was stronger now.
“No. I need you to be on standby and ready to strike, Trunks.” He punctuated his words with the other’s name, hoping for obedience and attention, which he got the moment that the teenager understood this was a plan. “It’s intelligent, and it’s been avoiding me. I’ll be bait until we know exactly what’s going on, then we kill it.”
“What is my signal?”
In lieu of a worded answer, Piccolo reached into Trunks’ mind, letting her hear his voice from within. ‘Strike’.
“Do not intervene until you hear that. Got it?”
Trunks visibly tensed at the intrusion, her pupils contracted, her fists clenched, doing her best to repress the immediate panic at the possibility of someone reading her mind and finding out about her act. She gave the Namekian a look full of sudden distrust and hostility, instead of actually hearing what he told her. Piccolo was smart enough to know the reason behind the sudden tension.
“I am not touching your mental fortress nor your secrets, kid, it’s just to communicate. Again, whatever happens, do not intervene until you hear the signal. Understood?”
The halfling wasn’t truly reassured, but she put her worries aside to focus on the threat they were after, and she confirmed she heard him.
They separated and flew into the city, Trunks doing a remarkable job at hiding within the city landscape, as she’d done so many times in her own world. Her own versions were destroyed and sometimes reduced to rubble, and not just empty, but the techniques and use of terrain were useful nonetheless. Repressing ki was just another step in controlling her breathing and calming down her heart; she swore the Cyborgs could smell panic, even if they couldn’t sense ki. Piccolo walked in the streets in the open, until the monster finally appeared, dragging its latest ‘meal’.
This felt all too familiar, but the enemy was different, and it came from a future version of Trunks’ world, even if it wasn’t exactly her world. Despite feeling this was her responsibility, Piccolo had ordered her to a role and she obeyed. She stayed put, circling swiftly behind the intact buildings, mindful of the wind that could betray her presence should her odor reach the monster and Piccolo. Piccolo stopped walking at some point, and that’s how she understood the monster had shown itself. Trunks didn’t flinch at the sudden ki drop of the person the monster killed in front of the Namekian, she’d been used to so many dying around her when trying to save as many as she could, and now the town was devoid of life. She hoped the wind would carry whatever Piccolo was saying to her, but it didn’t, broken by the terrain. She repositioned in hopes of actually being able to see, but since she wasn’t sure about the range of vision of whatever the monster was, she opted for indirect vision, using a broken piece of glass as a mirror, angling it down so it wouldn’t reflect the sunlight and betray her position.
Waiting in fear, in a desolate city where life had been all but wiped out, sword on her back, relying on someone else confronting a monster, all those repeated events whispered darkened failures to her mind. She ignored them, reminding herself Piccolo knew what he was doing, trusting him, as Gohan had trusted him. She’d have to believe in him, and she had a mission, it wasn't just 'hiding'. She saw glimpses of green and movement on the glass she held down to see.
The sudden ki increase alerted her and she tensed, crouching and ready to jump in, ignoring the town’s houses and infrastructures crumbling under the pressure. That ki felt like Freeza’s, Cold’s, Piccolo’s, Goku’s, Vegeta’s, and everyone else’s. She had another look through the glass. How the fuck? What am I even feeling? And it was strong, too. The creature was showing off, and it was probably as strong in raw power as her, ignoring all other factors. Piccolo-san and I should be able to take it down, she told herself, hoping it would be true. Then again, the whole planet probably felt that, so she was confident everyone else was on their way.
Then Piccolo’s ki soared. She tasted the power and her blood boiled at the prospect of testing herself against him. Trunks had to focus back on the actual threat rather than the excitement of a good fight, and waited, as poor Gingertown started to look more like the cities she knew. She only heard ‘I am not Piccolo’ from Piccolo as he’d raised his voice enough for the wind to carry the words over to her, before the two began fighting.
With the monster focused on the fight, the time traveler allowed herself to move positions and find a way to have a direct look at what was going on. They traded blows, and the occasional pause made Trunks realize the two were talking. The monster was green, huge, slim, had an immense tail with a stinger at its end, black spots, and wings. It was clear that it came out of the moult Gohan had found, but it was taller than she expected as it walked on its two back legs like a humanoid. Piccolo was probing for information between blows, and she could guess he was holding back for that very reason, using flawed techniques and leaving himself open to easy hits.
Then the monster made an attack Trunks only knew from stories: the kamehameha. It was a distraction, forcing Piccolo to fly up and out of the way, and the creature jumped on Piccolo’s back, cracking his bones and holding him in place. Its tail moved around to sting Piccolo, but it only got his arm, and with a back head bump, the Namekian freed himself. Trunks bit her tongue and forced herself to not intervene, she had faith in the Namekian, the mentor of her mentor, she was certain he was much stronger than she was now, and yet he acted weakened, with an arm now incapacitated, thin and wrinkly. To get the monster to talk.
She started hearing what was going on, but not through her ears. Piccolo opened the communication to her mind and relayed.
‘-name is Cell. I am a bio-android created by Dr Gero’s computer. Long ago, he started to collect genetic material from warriors, to create me. It collected data from all Tenkaichi participants, as well as Son Goku, Vegeta, Nappa and yourself when you fought on Earth, as well as King Cold and Freeza when they were killed by Son Goku three years ago.’
‘Hold on, I killed Freeza, not Son-san... in this universe’ Trunks thought. That confirmed that this creature came from a world like hers, where Goku killed them, not her.
‘How did you collect those cells? There wasn’t anyone.’
‘Oh but the same method he used to spy on you to create my lovely siblings.. the spy robots, sending data to the computer to create me… But I won’t be perfected for another twenty years.’
Trunks saw Cell point at something near it and Piccolo blasted in that direction.
‘Oh it’s too late, the data has already been sent…’
‘There was no computer in Gero’s lab.’
‘Please, a mad scientist? The servers and this version of me are in the sublab, of course.’
She heard Piccolo’s inner voice: ‘We need to destroy that lab. ’ and while she didn’t know where it was, she knew the others knew as Krillin mentioned knowing the coordinates when he had asked whether traveling back in time to go there would be worhtwhile. She nodded to herself, agreeing with the idea Piccolo shared with her.
‘Why here? Why now?’
‘In order to achieve my perfect form, I need more than just life essence. Two important bodies were missing in my era, probably destroyed by Vegeta’s son by the time I matured. C-17 and C-18 are the missing parts to my perfection.’
‘That’s why you used a Time Machine to arrive here..’
‘I’m surprised you know about that… Yes, how nice of Trunks to have.. lent it to me.’ A sinister laugh echoed. ‘and now I’ll absorb you, Piccolo, then them, and I will become the most powerful being imaginable!’
‘What’s your goal then?’
‘Being the strongest is a goal in and out of itself, or perhaps it’s just the stupid Saiyan genes... And without Son Goku to get in my way, my dreams of perfection are just a matter of time!’
Trunks felt a shiver down her spine, she swallowed the blood drawn by her own bite and readied herself. So indeed, that twenty year old version of her died trying to prevent this. On the bright side, that version of her also succeeded in destroying the Cyborgs of that future, and Cell didn't seem to think Goku had survived the heart Virus, unlike in the universe it came from, cementing the similarities between 787 and 784's worlds. And on the 'is it a good thing or a bad thing?' side, that universe's dead Trunks was seemingly male.
She didn’t hear the rest of the conversation, Piccolo cut off the transfer. The teenager saw as he reached to his maimed arm and ripped it off, then regrew a new one. She winced in second-hand pain: the nerves of steel! Some more words were exchanged, and Trunks tensed; she guessed that was all the information they needed. Then Piccolo gave the command: ‘Strike!’. Trunks didn’t think twice, and on command, she let the rage take over to summon the golden flames while she charged, ready to avenge.. well, herself.
Cell was caught by surprise, but the computer's vast knowledge of fighting techniques that were programmed into him kicked in, giving him the fighting sense and awareness of all the fights the robot-spies had collected. The bio-android held off and fought against the two with difficulty (Piccolo shouldn’t have been this strong! and how come Trunks is here?).
It wouldn't end well for the creature and Cell knew it, and sensing many other kis approaching, kis belonging to people that should have been dead by now according to history, the monster needed to retreat in hopes of accomplishing perfection. So Cell used yet another technique from the repertoire: the Taiyo-ken, and fled the scene with haste, its life-force dropping while the two warriors dealt with their sudden blindness.
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