Family Matters (Cell)

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Family Matters (Cell)
Date of Cutscene: 14 May 2015
Location: Red Ribbon Regiment Outpost
Synopsis: Android Seventeen awakens in a laboratory, loomed over by an unfamiliar redhead.
Cast of Characters: Cell (Dropped)

Consciousness.

His eyes flickered open on an unfamiliar ceiling. It was white, and sterile, and lacking in anything that could be called details. Brilliant, fluorescent lights flooded down on him, bringing back unpleasant memories of an old man with white hair and a white mustache looming over him with a scalpel. He shivered, and tried to sit up, and look around, but a cold and heavy hand pressed against his chest. The feeling of the scalpel cutting into his flesh leaped into his mind again, and along with it, the old man's voice: "There, there, Lapis, Lazuli. It will all be over, soon. You'll be better soon. You'll be so much better soon."

"NO!" Android Seventeen roared, struggling against the hand.

"Counterargument: yes," came a strangely soothing robotic voice. The ice-cold - metal-cold? - hand rose and fell gently, patting him on the stomach, "Smalltalk module loaded. You have been under a great deal of duress. You have had a troublesome day. You are emotionally fragile. Please relax and rest, GR-0 Model Seventeen."

Seventeen shook his head, trying to clear the uncomfortable ringing sensation and the hideous old man's face from his mind. Sensors whirred into focus, clicking together one by one as Seventeen's processes came back up to speed. There were...why was it taking so long? What was wrong with him? Diagnostic systems. He needed to start running them, now. His fingers rose to his face, pressing against his forehead, as his eyes slipped over towards the owner of the metal hand.

It was vast. No, that wasn't the right word - it was huge, but not vast. Vast was bigger than huge, and this guy was just...huge. He was the kind of guy you saw in wrestling, or down on a dude ranch somewhere, a big guy with big muscles who exuded manliness just by standing around and being big and buff. His arms were practically the size of Seventeen's head. No wonder he'd been able to hold Seventeen down so easily - no, wait. That didn't make sense. But what had he said? About being a GR-0 Model? Nobody but the Red Ribbon Androids said that kinda thing. Plus, he was really familiar...hadn't he been somewhere with him? And that Kakarot dude? No, his memories were too jumbled right now. He just shook his head.

"You're like me, huh," Seventeen said, his voice flat and dull, "Did the old man screw with you, too? Did he take your life for some fucked-up experiment? Or were you a lucky volunteer?"

"Negative: I am not like you." The massive, weighty hand on Seventeen's chest lifted, allowing him to sit up. Seventeen rubbed his forehead again. His diagnostics indicated several scars that hadn't been there before. What? Why were those there? And there wasn't rhyme or reason to them, either - arms, legs, chest, head, they were just all over the place, like someone had been poking around at his innards, trying to figure out how he worked. Another shot of cold dread raced through him.

"Is he still here?" The black-haired cyborg demanded, his hand reaching for his big counterpart's neck. His bright blue eyes widened as he started into the face of the unfamiliar Artificial Human, and his voice dropped to a whisper. "Is he still alive? Did he come back for us?"

Click. Whirrrrr.

The lights went out, bathing the room in darkness for no more than an instant. Then, a screen flicked on, replacing the bright and fluorescent surgery lights with flickering brilliance. Slow-paced, jazzy saxophone music swelled to fill every inch of the operating space. And on the screen-

Android Seventeen's functions nearly crashed.

On the screen was everything he had ever feared. The nightmare. The predator. The monster in green. The demon bug made to eat him and his sister to satisfy Gero's insane god complex. The so-called ultimate life form. Android Twenty-One. Commander Green.

Cell.

Seventeen reflexively inched backwards along the table. It was just a screen - but what it meant, what it SAID to him, was so much more terrifying than a screen could ever be. It said that he was in Cell's custody. The memories came flooding back to him as he stared at the creature that was, in many ways, the exemplar of all his fears combined - memories of Android Sixteen, of the Red Ribbon Regiment's actions against Kakarot, of Vegeta, of...of all kinds of things. Ki started gathering in his hand.

Cell held up a hand and uncrossed his legs in the fine black leather chair. "Please," he buzzed, "Don't get up on my account. And relax. You're our guest."

"The hell I am!" Seventeen snapped, "I know what you are! I know what you're gonna do to me! I'm not interested in being in some freaky bug-guy's pantry with my fucked-up ro-bro playing warden! Let me go right now I torch this whole fucking base!"

"Well, that's great," Cell admitted, reaching down next to him. He uncorked a bottle of wine and poured it slowly into a glass that just...manifested on screen, "I mean, it might cost me a bit, but all the staff's been evacuated except Sixteen, and believe me when I say I'm confident in his ability not to die to you two. Besides. Don't you want to hear what I want from you?"

"No!" Seventeen snapped, trying to get to his feet. But he was weak in the knees. Had Cell done something to him? Some kind of program, or-

"You should lie down," Cell offered, a note of...concern?...creeping into his voice, "I need you to lie down, Seventeen."

"So you can come eat me? I don't think so!" The ki gathering in Seventeen's hand was almost ready. Any minute now, and he'd blast the whole place open.

"Seventeen." Cell set the wine down on the desk in front of him and leaned forward. "I'm not going to lie to you. Looking at you makes me so hungry it's frankly terrifying. You and our sister make me lose control when I see you. It's programmed into me. It's part of me. It's coded right down into my DNA. I want to be Perfect so bad that even the sight of you has my mouth watering, or it would if my mouth could water, or was a mouth."

"I knew it!"

"And that's why I'm not anywhere near you."

That completely derailed Seventeen. He stared at the screen, then glanced wildly at Sixteen for confirmation. The big red-haired android simply bobbed his head and offered an "affirmative". Seventeen's gaze trailed back to Cell's.

"So...why'd you kidnap us, then? If you're not gonna eat us."

Cell leaned back in his chair again, steepling his slender green fingers. "Well, on the practical side, I needed to study you. Gero did something to you two that made you compatible with my evolution process. I don't know what it is, but we've done some exploratory surgery - through Sixteen, I was never within a mile of you once transport was done - and some diagnostic scans, and I'm hoping to get the output soon."

"So what's the other side?" Seventeen crossed his arms, dispersing the ki blast. He could afford to listen before he blew the place up. He had time, if Cell wasn't anywhere near them. He could be lying, but...well, what did he have to gain from lying? He could've eaten them already.

Cell's face twisted in what might've been a frown if he had lips to frown with. "You're family."

Seventeen could feel his jaw trying to fall off.

Shoddy workmanship.

He worked it for a moment, glancing over at Eighteen. She was starting to stir. "...seriously?"

"Very seriously," came Cell's buzzing reply, "Serious as a heart attack. Serious as Vegeta's attitude problem."

"Affirmative," Sixteen confirmed, "Serious levels are at one hundred percent."

Both Cell and Seventeen went silent, staring at the big red machine-man for a moment. Cell broke the silence first with a gentle, scraping cough. "Anyway. I'm a businessman, Seventeen. I communicate in deals. So I'm gonna give you the deal of a lifetime right now. You can take door number one, door number two, or door number three."

"Is this some kind of game to you? I thought you said this was serious."

"I always try to inject a little levity into the situation," came the reply.

"...alright. What's behind Door Number One?"

Cell held up a finger, resting his chin on his other arm, his elbow against the desk. "Door Number One is the easy one. You leave. You never come back. You never get revenge on the old man for reals, you never get to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes, you take the pill and wake up, reference, reference, you get out."

"That one."

"Not so fast," Cell countered, "Door Number Two and Three are still closed."

"OK. Door Number Two."

"Door Number Two is the one where I eat you."

"Hard pass." Seventeen frowned, "I don't think you're a very good salesman there, little bro."

Cell's compound eyes widened, with (probably) mock insult. "I am an *excellent* salesman. I've saved the best for last."

Seventeen groaned and hopped off the table, shaking Eighteen awake. "I want to leave. We're taking Door Number One. Don't try to stop us."

"Wouldn't dream of it. But while you're waking her up, I'm gonna tell you about Door Number Three."

"Fine, whatever," Seventeen waved his hand, "We've got shit to do."

"Door Number Three is that you come work for me killing people who need to die, with a paycheck full of digits longer than your arm, self-indulgent violence of the highest order, a command position in the Red Ribbon Regiment, and my personal guarantee that I will never be anywhere near you until my back-up plan's gone through and you're safe from my all-consuming hunger."

Seventeen paused. He turned to the screen, hand on his hip. "You seriously think I believe you'd trust us like that?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Cell inquired, his voice like honey - and the bees who make it.

"Uh, hello? Have you met us? Do you know how long we've been waiting to screw Vegeta over?" Seventeen rolled his shoulders as Eighteen stood, recoiled, and backed away from the screen. He put his hand on his sister's shoulder. She was trembling. He didn't blame her. "It's cool. He's not anywhere near us. And he's making us a job offer, or something."

"Why, yes, as a matter of fact. I had Sixteen poke around in your code. You haven't been under his programming for a long time, have you?" Cell's voice beamed with what might be pride. "You've been playing a very long game, and I admire that. I happen to be a master of it myself. Runs in the family."

"He poked around in our brains?" Eighteen demanded, outrage passing fear as her finger leveled at the big red-haired giant. Cell threw up his hands on-screen.

"Woah, woah, calm down. He did it to make sure there weren't any traces of Vegeta's slapdash bullshit in there. We installed a new version of GR-0 - we're calling it RRR at the moment. It's for the new-model Androids, once I finish designing them. A self-replicating defensive virus that'll attack any incoming malicious code and tear it to bits. Sixteen developed it after that *debacle* with the Rantadroids. We needed something firmer than GR-0, something we could use to actually defend ourselves from that angle of attack in case somebody tried it on Sixteen. Or you. But," Cell steepled his fingers, "There's no mind control component. No directives. No orders. It's my gift to you. Make up for all the Christmases we never got together."

"...." Seventeen looked away from the screen. "So you just...kidnapped us and set us free, and you're making us a job offer that we don't have to take, and you won't kill us if we decide to bail?"

"I will not," Cell confirmed, "I may phone you and ask you to help me with my grand and gloriously insane master plan, should your diagnostic readouts and surgery results not prove to be enough, but I highly doubt it. Sixteen and I are very good at deciphering Gero's bullshit. But, if you decide not to take my offer, no strings attached. You can walk out of here free and clear."

"And..." Eighteen leaned forward, "And if we do take your offer..."

"You get to be rich, powerful, respected, feared, and extremely, hilariously violent. And you'll be working with our eldest brother, Android Sixteen, with whom you have already become acquainted, in order to protect you from me. You'll take special cases and deal with special problems, and you will get to kill people who you'll not only enjoy killing, but - and this is the best bit - people'll thank you and pay you for killing them. Take it from me," Cell added, waving at his desk, "It's the best life you could ask for."

Seventeen frowned.

"Can we have some time to think about it?"

"Sure you can," Cell waved his hand again, "Take a few days. Enjoy the base. If you don't want in, keep the base. Another little gift. When you've made your decision, you just tell Sixteen, and he'll let me know." The screen blinked off, the lights whirred back on, and the fluorescent harshness resurged.

Seventeen looked over at his sister. She was already standing and stretching. "So what do you think, sis? Do we take the big bug up on his offer?"

Eighteen shrugged. "Dunno. It sounds pretty nice. But can we trust him?"

"Can *he* trust *us*?"

"Well..." Eighteen glanced over at Sixteen. Seventeen followed her gaze. He strolled over to the big Android and rapped him on the chest with a broad grin. He was starting to feel more like himself already. More like himself than he'd been able to feel in years.

"Hey, big guy. How do *you* like working for the Cockroach Kid?"

Sixteen thought about it.

"He is my brother," came Sixteen's reply, "And I enjoy his company and his presence."

Seventeen blinked. Eighteen did the same. They looked at each other for a long moment, then turned back to Sixteen. Seventeen crossed his arms. "And if we work with you...we'll be your family, too, huh?"

"Negative."

"What?"

"You are already our family. You will simply be joining the family business."

"And the family business is murder, right?" Eighteen pressed, hands on her hips. She leaned forward and grinned. "'cause, gotta tell ya, big brother...we're really good at murder."

"Affirmative. That is the family business."

Seventeen grinned. He knew where she was going with this.

"Yanno what? I think we're in."

"Wait," Eighteen held up a hand, "I don't have to wear a *uniform*, do I?"