Author's note: Late, no excuse. Bad author, bad. But, here I am, and here comes the next chapter. Here we go!
"AH!" Trunks cried in his sleep. 18's eyes shot open. They were sleeping in the truck, and they were, according to Trunks's estimates, just a couple of days away from their destination. 18 put her hand on Trunks's shoulder, and tried to wake him.
"Trunks?" she asked. "Trunks? Wake up." His face had a pained, angry expression on it, one that 18 immediately decided she did not like. "Wake up!"
"AAH!" he exclaimed, bolting awake. The first thing he saw was 18, and he wasn't fully aware of reality yet. He grabbed her shoulder, and for a brief moment, 18 felt fear. However, Trunks came to reality very quickly, and sat up, leaning towards her. He was breathing heavily.
"You're real, right?" he asked. She nodded. To her surprise, he rested his head on her shoulder. "Just... just gimme a minute, ok?" 18 nodded. In an attempt to improve the situation, she tentatively put her arm around him, and put her hand on the back of his head, and patted him comfortingly. Her own actions surprised her somewhat.
After a minute, Trunks pulled away. He closed his eyes and rubbed the sides of his head. 18 looked at him, concerned.
"What was all that?" she asked.
"Bad dream," he answered.
"Same as the other day?" she asked. He nodded. "I don't wanna sound superstitious or anything, but the last time you had a nightmare we had a really crappy day."
"Yeah, we did," he said. "We should get moving."
"Cell," said 19, "it is complete."
"It is?" asked Cell excitedly. "Finally!" He flew over to 19 and took the device.
"You must be careful," cautioned 19. "There are not enough parts left to construct a replacement if something happens to that device."
"I see," said Cell. "That is a concern, then. I can't afford to lose track of them again, and they're being smart enough not to... hang on a second. They are traveling together. That means... maybe..." His mouth twisted into a wicked grin.
"I assume you have a plan," stated 19.
"Yes, yes I do," said Cell. "I'm only going to have one shot at this though, so I'm going to need to get it right the first time." He looked over at 19. "You are absolutely certain we can't make another one of these?"
"Then I suppose your services are no longer required," said Cell. 19's eyes widened. He didn't have time to react as Cell's tail expanded, and he engulfed the android. Cell laughed as the his ally-turned-victim struggled. It wasn't long before he had completely absorbed the android. As he had guessed, taking 19 did not bring him any closer to his perfect form. It had, however, increased his overall power level, something he'd need today for sure.
"I hope he appreciates the fact that he's now part of something much greater than himself," said Cell. "He has brought me one step closer to perfection." He did not give his attack on 19 another thought.
He looked at the tracking device in his hand. There was one thing he needed to try. One sure way to achieve perfection. This time there would be no mistakes, no error, no failure.
He stepped outside and cracked his neck. What he was about to do was a long shot, but he'd been practicing with his powers, and with the additional energy gleamed from 19, it would be possible to do what he wanted.
He focused. He had created clones before, but this would be his greatest creation to date. He poured as much energy as possible into the act, and after several minutes began to feel it working. His tail expanded, and out shot what Cell was sure would be his greatest asset.
"Ah, ah, ah," panted the figure. Cell looked upon him and smiled. The figure stood up and looked back at him, a smile on his face as well. Before Cell stood a perfect replica of Android 17. Perfect except for the green eyes; the same color green as Cell's body.
"Just as planned," said Cell, seeing himself through the new 17's eyes. The mental connection was strong, and Cell could already tell there was absolutely no resistence in the clone. He was 100% loyal.
"What do you wish me to do?" asked 17, his eerie green eyes shining. "As if I need to ask."
"Exactly," said Cell. "I need you to keep Trunks at bay long enough to absorb 18." 17 nodded in understanding.
"There is one problem," said the 17 clone. "Seventeen himself was not a match for Trunks in the state he was when you absorbed him. Even though you have granted me with extra energy, I cannot hope to stand up to him at full power."
"You have a point," said Cell. "Though you aren't taking into account the one with him."
"Yes. Surely she would interfere. Or he may not kill you at all. I noticed what appeared to be some loyalty growing between the two, last I saw them."
"Doubtful," said the faux 17, frowning. "Even if that were the case, there is no guarantee that Trunks would take it easy on me. After all, I am a clone of the man that killed his father, and mentor." Cell nodded. "But surely this isn't your whole plan, master."
"It is not," said Cell. "While I was hoping the idea of fighting you might slow him down, it is quite possible that Trunks will not be affected by it. However, there is one other thing we can do."
"What would that be, master?" Cell grinned.
"Do you know what happens when one of the clones I produce meets its original?" Cell knew that the clone before him shared his knowledge, and knew perfectly well what he was talking about. Cell just enjoyed gloating over his own genius. The false 17 smiled wickedly.
Cell began to concentrate again. What he was about to do was risky, but he did think to take some precautions. With all of the extra energy he had obtained from absorbing 19, he was able to produce two Cell Juniors. The Cell Juniors, he knew, would remain loyal to him no matter what, and so if nothing else he would have reliable backup. The 17 clone would also be loyal, though he would like to retain a mental link with him just to be sure.
"Here we go," said Cell.
"How are we on distance?" asked 18.
"Pretty close," said Trunks. "But I'm a bit worried. What if it really is some kind of omen, and Cell comes to find us today?"
"You really think that could happen?" asked 18.
"I'm saying it's a possibility," said Trunks. "In case it does happen, I think I'd rather stay and fight. I don't need any innocent people getting hurt."
"Aren't we far enough away that that won't happen?"
"You know how our fights can get," said Trunks. "You know it could escalate. I don't want to risk it."
"You have a point." Trunks looked at her, startled. 18 looked back at him. "Look, after that last town... let's just say I don't want to risk some kid..." She trailed off. Trunks nodded, and began to slow the truck down. He looked for a place to hide it. Thankfully, they were still in the desert, and there were plenty of rocky outcrops and caves. He found one to hide the vehicle, and got out to wait, leaning against the side of the cave.
18 came and joined him, also resting against the side of the cave. "So what's the game plan?"
"Same as it's been," said Trunks. "He'll probably have gotten another tracker ready. That's the only way he could find us, you know?"
"You're really convinced he's coming today, aren't you?" Trunks nodded.
"I've got a really strong feeling that he will," answered the half-saiyan.
"Guess I trust you then," said 18. He looked over at her, mystified. She sighed. "Look, I'm just sick of it all, ok? All the running, hiding from this guy, and I'm sick of fighting you too, you know? If you say he's coming today, then I guess he's coming today, and I'd better be ready for him."
"I'd rather you hid," said Trunks. "Now that I know he has Nineteen with him, I should be able to deal with them both."
"Thanks for the concern," said 18, "but I think I'd rather help. I can take Nineteen, or at least distract him while you fight Cell. As long as Nineteen is out of your way, you shouldn't have a problem."
"But then you'll be out in the open, and Cell will be going straight for you," said Trunks.
"Then I guess you'll just have to stop him before he can reach me, won't you?" asked 18. "Besides, he'll be distracted if he's focusing on me, so you should be able to take care of him. And once you get Seventeen out of him..." She grew quiet. It was a subject they hadn't really brought up before.
"... he'll be much weaker after that," said Trunks, "And then he'll be no problem at all." 18 smiled.
"Thanks," she said. Trunks nodded. "I won't forget it."
"I'll do what I can," said Trunks. "A powered down Cell is something I look forward to."
It had been hours, and just as Trunks was beginning to suspect that his dream had been nothing more than that, he felt something. He stood straight up. 18, who had slipped into a state of near sleep, shook her head.
"What is it, what's wrong?" she asked.
"I can sense a whole lot of energy," said Trunks.
"Yeah, but there's more than that," said Trunks. His tone made 18 worry. "I'm sensing multiple power levels, all of them at about Cell's level." 18 blanched.
"And there's one more, one that I can't figure out," said Trunks. "It's like the one Nineteen had, but different."
"What does that mean?" asked 18.
"It means it's half there and half not, but it feels different than the energy Nineteen was giving off," answered Trunks. "Beyond that I have no idea what it could..." he trailed off as he saw a large sparrow flying off in the distance. "That bird."
"What about it?"
"It's connected to Cell somehow, it has to be," said Trunks. "I saw it last time too." There was a determined look on his face. "I'd better go. Don't show yourself too soon, ok?" 18 nodded.
Trunks went out and stood in what was basically a small canyon. He waited for a bit, mentally preparing himself. Three and a half huge power levels, and one of them significantly less than the others. He didn't understand it, but he had to be ready no matter what.
"COME ON OUT CELL!" Trunks shouted finally, fed up with the silence.
"Cell doesn't feel like coming out to play right now," answered a voice from above that was as shocking as it was familiar. Trunks looked up, wide-eyed. A figure descended slowly from the sky.
"Y...you..." Trunks was completely speechless.
"Yes," said the newcomer, landing some yards in front of him. "Me."
He was tall, taller than Trunks. He wore a green shirt with long sleeves, torn jeans, and an orange scarf. His black hair went down past his shoulders, and his emerald eyes were boring into Trunks.
From her hiding place, 18 was absolutely transfixed. It... it couldn't be. It just couldn't.
"Se...Seventeen?" asked Trunks, taking a step back. The man in front of him smiled.
"You recognize me!" he said sarcastically. "I'm so flattered! And it saves on introductions."
"What... what happened to you?" asked Trunks. "How did you get out of Cell?" The diminished power level he had felt suddenly made sense.
"Cell decided to let me out, stretch my legs a bit," smirked 17, "and after that, well... let's just say that I met my better half." He took a step toward Trunks. "Now, I've come to collect my sister. Are you prepared to hand her over, or do I have to beat her location out of you?"
"Take a guess," said Trunks, steeling himself and dropping to a fighting stance. 17's wicked grin grew slightly wider.
"I was really hoping you would say that."
CLIFFHANGER! Sorry, it was this or a super long chapter, and I needed to get this done. Next one will be soon, because I'm really looking forward to this fight. I wish to say now that things from here on out are going to be going exactly as planned, and I do hope you all will come along for the ride.
Edit: Also, oops, I seem to have put the wrong document for this chapter initially. sorry for the confusion!