Chapter 1: Nightmare

Since his emergence into the world just a few weeks prior, he had found nothing worth any of his consideration. Humanity was nothing more than a few bands of scattered survivors, their numbers dropping by the day (an act he was responsible for). The androids had done their part in fulfilling Dr Gero's grand design admirably. All enemies of the good doctor were dead and the people who had proven themselves worthless to be placed under his boot were being eliminated. The only regret to be had about the course of events was that Goku had perished of natural causes, and not at the hands of any of Gero's creations.

Fate had doomed the planet with the absence of its long time savior, and robbed Gero's spirit of the satisfaction of removing Goku from the world of the living. Still, there was a small degree of pride to be taken in the fact that the Hero had been unable to fight against the thing that killed him. For a warrior to die in bed and not on the battlefield, why, it was the ultimate insult.

Musings on the past were all that Cell had been able to do during his incubation, and the present was lacking in things to draw his mind away from that. His instinctive combat and absorption reflexes were more than adequate when it came to dismantling whatever resistance he encountered. Bullets were totally harmless and explosives offered only slightly more effort to resist, if he didn't just dodge them. Within his genetic matrix lay the knowledge for fighting on a truly epic scale and how to handle blasts which could annihilate far more than any man made bomb could hope to. All that was really left were the ruins of cities and the battle scarred wastelands that resulted from attempts to stop the androids. Nothing Cell would have felt sorry for destroying, had he possessed the emotion.

The only reason Cell did not just evaporate the areas he found humans in was because he needed their energy. By itself, a man's power level only came to 5 on average. A few exceptional individuals even made it past 15. His maximum power level at birth surpassed Frieza's. Yet, when consumed on the large scale, the essence of humanity allowed him to tap into more of his own latent power. That was worth more than the small additive boosts such a thing provided to his strength. With the twins' actions, there weren't enough humans alive for his power level to more than double in a small time span.

Patience was a virtue Cell exercised when it came to his hunt for the androids, not to his hunting of humans. He had come across a community of a few thousand and in less than an hour had reduced that number to zero. Swatting flies like that gave him no satisfaction. Anyone could have done that, and Vegeta and Frieza had exterminated far more in their days within much less time. When it came to that competition, Frieza still held the record for his swift destruction of Planet Vegeta and every Saiyan on it. Of course, Cell's pride persisted in reminding him that he accomplished his depopulation without the aid of ki, and that made his feat more impressive.

Gero's data had been quite clear on the fact that the androids were unable to sense energy, so Cell had no need to worry about them detecting his approach. Gohan and Trunks were the ones he hid his power from. As delicious as their energies would be, he had to adhere to caution when it came to his hunt. He was unsure as to how strong they were individually or together, though they remained no match for the androids. By judgements based on his own strength and the power Frieza had faced from Goku, Cell would lose if either of them possessed that kind of power.

After he had achieved perfection, then he would welcome challengers with open arms.

His reptilian eyes dilated at the thought of his perfect form. Gero had offered no visual clues as to what he could expect from his ultimate form, but it was bound to be glorious to behold. It was truly unfortunate that the super computer had been unable to provide him with the information he desired, but perhaps leaving the mystery preserved would make the final unveiling all the more sweet.

Though he would be lying if he said that delayed gratification was something he appreciated on the quest to his perfect form. The sooner he found 17 and 18, the sooner he could be perfect. The impatience that worked its way through him every day was annoying to deal with, along with all the fears it bred. Ridiculous, baseless fears that they might have been destroyed, or left the planet out of sheer boredom were prime among them. It was little comfort that he had not detected Super Saiyan energy at any point since emerging from his cocoon. He had suspected that Gohan had perished based on what data the computer had been able to glean about the outside world, but Trunks dying as well would throw a spanner in the works when it came to finding the androids. He could not detect their energy, and with no beacon to guide him to them he could be stuck wandering for months in the wrong direction.

Cell bit back the urge to vent his frustrations and simply flicked the empty clothing from the end of his tail. He would not give in to frustration and lose hope so easily. It was his destiny to achieve his perfect form, and fate would make it happen. Even if he had to bring the twins back from death to do so, he would. Such was his resolve.

A sudden surge of energy met his senses, and Cell turned to the direction of the disturbance. A wave of yellow light tore through a row of high rise buildings, followed by glass shattering booms ascending rapidly through the air. And as if to confirm what he already knew, a pillar of golden light rose into the sky. The thing which Frieza had feared, Cell welcomed. As the saying went, where there was smoke there was a fire. And in this world there was only one thing for a Super Saiyan to fight against, and that was an android.

Cell's orange beak split into a smirk as he immediately took off in the direction of the fight, bringing all of his ki to the surface at once. Wasting even a minute on stealth was unthinkable, not when the goal of his life was literally in front of him. He would wait for the fight to conclude and then ambush one of the androids. From there, it was a smooth path to perfection.

"Looks like my search is over." Cell said, a malicious grin worming its way across his face as clear then golden light exploded from his form.

A sonic boom echoed through the air as Cell put on another burst of speed, eager to arrive before his prey could escape his grasp again.