"I'm looking for someone named Dende."
"Dende? What do you want with him Earth-man?"
"I need his help."
The old Namek considered this. "Why should we help you?"
"My name is Trunks. I believe you know my parents, Bulma and Vegita."
"Vegita?!" The Namek all but shrieked. "Bulma married Vegita?!"
"Yes," the young half-Saiyan said. "I was born shortly before he died."
The Namek stopped laughing. "Ah, I see. I'm sorry for your loss."
"Thank you. May I speak to Dende now?"
"Of course, this way."
The Namek took the young man to the village. Nameks of all ages and sizes began to crowd around them. For some it was the first time they had seen an Earth man, for others it was a grim reminder of what their people had endured.
"My people," the Namek called out. "This is Trunks, son of Bulma!"
The crowd rumbled in respect.
"And Vegita."
Giggles from the crowd.
"He has come to seek Dende."
A teenaged Namek, slightly taller than Trunks, moved through the gathering. The people parted as he walked to the front of the crowd.
"I'm Dende, how may I help you?"
"I need you to come to Earth and become our Guardian. I know you've been studying, and I know you can make Dragonballs. We need them on Earth, desperately."
"I don't understand, how could you know what I've..."
"Please, let me explain," Trunks said. "A little over three years after the Nameks left Earth two androids came to life and killed the Earth Special Forces. The only survivor was Gohan and they killed him thirteen years later. I went back in time and helped another world fight against the Androids before they could kill anyone. I became stronger and when I returned to my world I was able to defeat the Androids that plagued my Earth. Now I need the Dragonballs to wish Gohan, and everyone else the androids killed, back."
Trunks realized that Dende was staring at him in horror. He hoped it was because of the severity of the Androids actions and not his own. Trunks had no choice but to continue.
"Back on the other Earth Picollo fused with Kame, their guardian, to become stronger and combat the Androids. When that happened the Dragonballs disappeared. Goku traveled to Planet Namek and recruited Dende to be the Earth's new Guardian. He created new Dragonballs and they were able to use them to wish back everyone that had been killed by the Androids. That's how I know you've been studying to become a guardian, that's how I know you can make Dragonballs. Please, will you come back with me to Earth?"
Dende smiled. "I can sense that you are a good person. I will help you."

"These are Dragonballs?" Trunks asked. He held one up, it didn't look like much. He had been surprised when Dende was able to not only revive the magical spheres but call them to him. It seemed as though the additional years of training Dende received in this universe had been most useful.
"Yes, you simply gather them all in one place and call upon the dragon, like this. Eternal Dragon, I summon you to grant me my wish!"
The sky turned black and lightning filled the sky. Around them the impressive light show that accompanied the splendor of the summoning became an all encompassing environment. A beam of light shot out from the assembled spheres of gold and pierced the dark sky. Within the beam the immortal dragon materialized.
Trunks was impressed by the sight of the dragon. It was larger than anything he had ever seen, and the presence of the serpent like creature of legend was overwhelming.
"Reflect upon your desires, for I shall grant three wishes that are within my power," a majestic voice boomed from the heavens.
"I wish for you to resurrect Gohan!" Trunks declared.
"So be it!"
A blinding light flooded the platform of the Guardian's flying fortress. Trunks had to avert his eyes. There was movement within the light, faint shadows dancing back and forth.
When the light faded Gohan stood in front of them, smiling.
"Gohan?" Dende asked. "Is it really you?"
"Dende!" Gohan said cheerfully. "Long time no see. Man you've grown."
"You too," Dende said, slapping his friend on the back. "What happened to your arm."
"Long story. I'll tell you later when things are more relaxed. Trunks!"
"Gohan," Trunks said. There was so much he wanted to say, but it could wait for later. Trunks walked up to his teacher and placed his hands on the older man's shoulders. "I did it. I stopped the androids."
"I watched what you did from the other dimension. I'm impressed."
"Thank you Gohan."
"No thank..."
"Trunks?! Trunks?!" a voice called out as though from nowhere.
Trunks took out his radio and brought it to his lips. "What is it, Mom?"
"We've just gotten reports that Android 18 has been spotted flying over four different continents."
"Android 18? Are the reports confirmed?"
"Most of them. It looks like she escaped death."
"It's okay mom, we can take care of her."
"I got the Dragonballs, mom. Gohan's back."
"Gohan?" Bulma asked. Trunks wasn't sure, but he thought she was crying. "I...I... That's wonderful. But we can catch up later. First you have to take care of that android."
"Gotcha. Trunks out." Trunks smiled and turned to Gohan.
"You ready? It looks like this time we're the hunters."
Gohan smiled. "Ready."
The two Saiyans ran off the platform and flew away, searching for their prey.
"Excuse me," the Dragon said to Dende. "You've still got two more wishes."
"Ah, well I think we should start with..."
"Giving me an escape plan."
Dende turned. There floating at the end of the platform was a blonde haired woman in tattered clothing. Her eyes were hard, as though they had never seen a day of true happiness. Yet despite her pain she had an aura of aloofness about her.
"Wh-who are you?" Dende asked frightened.
The woman smirked, an action that did not inspire confidence in the new Guardian.
"Call me Eighteen," she said.
"Eighteen? Android 18?"
"If you wish. But better yet, let me wish. Dragon can you grant any wish?!"
"Yes," the dragon's voice boomed.
"Then I wish to escape the champions of this world."
"So be it."

Android 18 found herself floating in the air. She recognized the geography below her, but that hardly mattered. She had to see if the dragon had truly granted her wish. She flew off in the direction of the nearest city.
When she got in view she was stunned. The city was a gleaming mass of productivity. People walked freely in the streets without fear. Buildings rose into the sky. The streets were free of rubble. Wherever the Dragon had sent her it was a place free of fear and destruction. It had never seen the touch of the twin terrors, Androids 17 and 18.
Oh what fun she could have.
Where to attack first? The possibilities were endless.
Then she saw it and the possibilities narrowed.
A large dome in the middle of the city with the huge logo of Capsule Corp. emblazoned on the side. Capsule Corporation, that meant the rebels. That kid who so easily killed Android 17 and had Android 18 on the brink of death. How could such a place be here, on this new world?
How? She and Android 17 had destroyed it. People had tried to stop them, that fat guy with the sword and the one armed boy. The boy had been able to rescue some of the people, but the fat guy had been torn apart. She could still remember the glee she took in blasting him to oblivion. The satisfaction of grinding the last brick of the Champions' headquarters into dust.
It had to be her first target. She flew over the city until she was right above the fortress and let loose an energy blast. She smiled. That should get their attention.

Bulma was watching cartoons with Trunks when she felt the house shake violently. Fearing the worst Bulma picked her son up and held him close to her chest.
"Mom? What's going on?"
"I don't know," Bulma said worried. "Let's hope it's just an Earthquake."
"I think that was an energy blast."
"Don't say that!" Bulma shouted. She knew he was probably right. She had been exposed to enough explosions to know what they felt like. Still she had to hope for the best.
Vegita crashed through the wall and looked at them. He had an angry, hungry look in his eye. She knew that look, it was the same one he gave to Goku all the time. It was the look meaning he wanted nothing more than to beat someone into a pulp and prove to them that he was the greatest warrior of all time. Anyone who disagreed had to be punished.
"That was an attack. You two stay here! I'll take care of this."
She watched her husband crash through another wall so that he could get outside. It was expensive to have him in the house, but sometimes she really appreciated him. At times like this it was good to know Vegita would protect them.

Android 18 watched as a figure exploded out of the domed fortress. He landed on the front lawn and immediately looked up. Android 18 recognized him as one of the Earth Special Forces, the angry man with the black hair. He had been so arrogant that the Androids had taken remarkably great fun in killing him.

Now here he was again. Wherever the Dragon had sent her he had provided her with some playmates. She would get to kill them all over again. She needed to find the boy though, kill him before he became too strong. But this one, the name Vegita rang somewhere in her memory, he was nothing.
Even so, she could use the practice.
He looked up and seemed to recognize her.
"Agh! The tin can! I knew it! You may have had everyone else fooled, but not me. So, you finally decided to show your true colors. So be it. I've been waiting for the moment when I could fight you again. Prepare to die."
"Are you just going to stand there or are you going to attack?" Android 18 asked, bored of his words.
"Fine. Take this! Big Bang!"
Vegita flicked his wrist and released a concentrated blast of energy at her.
Android 18 smiled. She let the blast fly towards her, raised her palms, and absorbed the energy. She felt it flow through her, strengthening her. Her power began to grow. She felt invincible.
"Now it's my turn," she said with a mischievous smile. "I hope you're ready to..."
Vegita wasn't there. Surely he couldn't have just disappeared. Where had he gotten to? It took her a couple seconds to absorb the energy blast, but surely he couldn't have gone far in such a limited amount of time.
She was struck from behind with a blow so powerful that it sent her hurtling into the pavement below. When she struck the ground a large crater was formed from the impact.
She tried to get up. It was hard, the wind had been knocked out of her.
Who had hit her? She had never been hit so hard before, not even by the blonde haired kid. No one human could hit that hard. She had enough energy left to flip herself over.
In the sky Vegita, his hair now blonde, grinned down at her.
"Pathetic," he said. "Here I've gotten more powerful and you've stayed weak. All that time playing mommy must have rotted your skills. I'll tell you what, I'll give you a chance to attack me. Go ahead."
Angered Android 18 stood up. No one struck her and lived. No one! Especially not some second rate defender of Earth she had already killed. She leapt up and charged her energy into a blast strong enough to level a city. She accelerated toward the arrogant bastard and let loose her furry, throwing the blast at him with...
Vegita slammed his fist into her midsection. Unable to concentrate and control the energy blast, Android 18 was forced to let it go, particles charging around her.
"You said I could attack," she protested weakly.
"I lied," Vegita said with scorn. "Don't tell me you've become stupid as well."
He disappeared in a blur of motion. Unable to move Android 18 was forced to fall as around her the energy she once controlled decided to explode.
Her body was thrown to the front lawn of the Brief's residence. She didn't move. Her eyes were closed, signaling her defeat.
Vegita walked up to her and placed his boot onto her throat.
"You're not even a challenge anymore," he said disappointedly. He pressed down with his foot, ready to end the Android's life.
"Stop!" Bulma yelled from the front door.
Vegita spun. "Damn it woman! Don't interfere."
"You just can't kill her."
"Like hell I can't. She attacked my home, her death is my choice."
"But... But what about Krillin? He deserves to know what happened. She's his wife."
"He's probably dead."
"We can't be sure. Maybe she's under someone's control. Maybe he can reason with her. We've got to keep her alive, we owe Krillin that much."
"We don't owe that shrimp anything."
"Shut up! Until we know what's going on you don't touch a hair on her head. Now help me get her into the lab so we can restrain her."
"You're taking her into our home?! Are you insane woman?! What if she tries to kill us again?!"
"Then you'll just have to stop her. That shouldn't be a problem for a strong Saiyan Warrior should it?"

Eighteen was awoken by a young bundle of energy landing next to her. Marron looked down at her mother and smiled.
"Shh, we don't want to wake daddy," Eighteen whispered.
Marron covered her mouth with both hands. Eighteen smiled and sat up.
"What do you want?"
"Breakfast," Marron whispered. "I'm hungry."
"Breakfast, huh? What should we make?"
Marron broke out in a smile that covered almost half her face. "Pancakes."
"Race you to the kitchen."
Marron giggled. She jumped off the bed and ran downstairs. In no particular rush, Eighteen took her time climbing out of bed and stretching some of the cricks out of her neck. She took a moment to look at her sleeping husband and shook her head. Ever since Marron had been born he tried to sleep in on Saturdays. Eighteen was pretty sure that he was actually up and just didn't want to cook breakfast, but so far she hadn't been able to catch him in anything.
"Krillin," she whispered. There was no reaction.
"Krillin," she said a little louder. Still no reaction.
"Krillin!" she shouted. Nothing. He had to be faking his deep sleep, had to be. One day she would leave Marron at a friend's house overnight on Friday and make sure. It would have to wait though, these days Eighteen was loath to spend a night away from Marron. At three the cute little blonde imp was still Eighteen's precious miracle of love.
When Eighteen finally made it downstairs Marron was sitting at the only table on the first level of the house, bouncing on the couch.
"I won mommy!" Marron declared proudly, her blonde pigtails flailing about wildly.
"Yes you did," Eighteen conceded. Faking forgetfulness she looked at the cupboards in the kitchen. "Now what was I going to make for breakfast?"
"Pancakes," Marron reminded her.
"Oh yes. I wonder if any good little girls want to help me."
"Me! Me!" Marron cried.
"Okay, you get the eggs and I'll get the pancake mix."
"Yay!" Marron shouted, running towards the refrigerator.
"No running in the kitchen," Eighteen reminded her daughter sternly.
Marron slowed down to a walk. Before long Marron was happily stirring the pancake batter as Eighteen heated up the griddle. When Marron stopped having fun stirring Eighteen took the batter and poured the pancakes. She told Marron to go watch cartoons while she did, not wanting Marron to learn how use the stove just yet.
In the short pauses when she could just let the pancakes sit, Eighteen contemplated how much things had changed over the past three years. Not just the superficial things like Krillin finally letting his hair grow out. (Okay, he only did that because she insisted during one of her less than graceful hormonal imbalances during pregnancy, but she had to admit, he looked good.) Who in their right mind would have guessed that Eighteen's daughter would end up more innocent and cheery than Goten?
Eighteen sighed. Krillin had changed her. Before she met him the mere sight of an annoyingly cute little girl would have inspired nothing more in her than a desire for target practice. Now her life revolved around her family. She suspected that without them she was nothing, and she was okay with that. (Actually she suspected that without them she was a cold blooded killing machine, but dwelling on that caused too many painful memories. Sometimes she woke up screaming and Krillin had to sooth her until she could go back to sleep.)
Parts of the old her were still there. The sarcasm for one, a preference for violence before rational thought, she had a hard time sympathizing with people if she didn't know them, and the chronically stupid still annoyed her. There was a reason she preferred to stay aloof when dealing with others. Krillin said that was pretty standard fare for humans, so she didn't give it much thought.
But she was also a loving mother and wife. Sometimes she hardly believed it herself. Her, Eighteen, making an effort to be nice. Of course she didn't always succeed. Too often some pent up anger or annoyance revealed itself, but she tried hard not to show Marron that side of her.
When Marron was finally settled and eating her pancakes, Eighteen began to clean up the kitchen. The phone rang. Eighteen dropped the pot she had been prepared to scrub in the sink.
"I've got it," she called out. If she didn't announce it little Marron would have ran to the phone and regaled the person on the other end with a long story about something completely pointless before ever asking who it was.
The phone rang, and again. And again.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Eighteen said, the slightest hint of annoyance creeping into her voice. When she finally got to the phone it had probably rung a dozen times. They needed to get an answering machine.
"What is it?"
"Yes." That was weird, the person on the other end sounded positively astonished that Eighteen was picking up the phone. Everyone who knew her knew she was married to Krillin.
"It's Bulma. Is that really you?"
"Really? This isn't a recording."
"It's me, what's so strange about that?"
"Uh, I think maybe you and Krillin better come over. Now!"
"Can it wait?"
"Not really, no. This is really important. Really important."
"I just don't think..."
"Eighteen, we caught another android."
Eighteen let the phone sit next to her ear. Another android? How was that possible. She and her brother killed Dr. Gero, he couldn't have made another android.
"What kind is it?" she finally got out.
"Uh, it's a lot like you actually."
Oh no. Damn that Gero! It wasn't enough that he made her and her brother's lives hell he had to do it to someone else as well. This was important. Really important.
She went upstairs and opened the door to Master Roshi's room. He was snoozing away, apparently having fallen asleep while looking at an underwear catalog. Since his futon was on the floor she poked him with her foot. When that resulted in nothing she kicked him.
"I didn't mean to touch you there," he muttered as he awoke. He rubbed his eyes. "Oh Eighteen, it's you. What's going on?"
"I need you to watch Marron. Something important's come up."
"Sure, no problem, me and the little one'll have fun playing together."
That taken care of she walked to the room she shared with Krillin and picked him up. She didn't have time to wake him now. If he woke up on the flight over there, fine, otherwise she would wake him when they got to the Brief's residence.
She went downstairs where Marron was still working on her pancakes. Little Marron giggled when she saw her mother carrying her father in her arms.
"Marron, me and daddy have to go somewhere. Mister Roshi is going to take care of you today, so do what Turtle says."
"Okay Mommy! Bye!"
Then it was out the door and to the beach. Turtle was crawling from the sea, almost as if he was being scheduled by her mind.
"Turtle, Roshi's watching Marron so keep an eye on them will you?"
"Okay Eighteen," Turtle said.
Eighteen took off into the air.
"I'm just sayin' you coulda woken me up," Krillin complained, rubbing the back of his head.
"We didn't have time."
"Yeah, you say that now, but do you know what it's like to wake up with the wind in your face at 300 miles per hour?"
"We weren't going that fast. Don't be a wussy."
"I mean a new android is important and all, but you could have woken me up."
"I'll make it up to you later. Just shut up about it."
"I'm just sayin'," Krillin grumbled.
Bulma stopped at the doors to the lab. "Are you two sure you're ready for this?"
Android 18's heart raced. "Yes."
Krillin shrugged. "No time like the present, I guess."
"Okay." Bulma swung the doors open to reveal Vegita standing cautiously over a figure tied to a chair in the middle of the room.
"Oh sweet Mary, there's two of her," Krillin exclaimed, jumping back. Then he thought about it and smiled. "There's two of her."
Eighteen was speechless. There, the new android, it was her.
"Wha.. How?" Krillin asked.
"Actually, I was hoping you could tell me," said Bulma. "She just showed up out of nowhere and tried to blow up the house."
"She attacked you?"
"Yeah. We assumed Eighteen had gone bad again until she picked up the phone."
"You have any idea honey?" Krillin asked his wife. She seemed more shocked than any of them.
"Kill it," she said.
"Kill it. It's evil."
"Honey, don't you think you're being a bit hasty."
"No, we have to kill it."
"Are you sure?" Bulma asked.
"You heard her, woman. She said to kill it." Vegita begin to power up an energy blast.
"Vegita, would you be patient! I'd like to know where she came from before we just decide to kill her."
"You're insane woman! It tried to kill us!"
"And it didn't get very far, did it. We don't have anything to worry about. Aren't you at all curious about how an exact double of Eighteen got here?"
"There are differences," Krillin said.
"You're kidding. I don't see anything," Bulma said, surprised.
"They're subtle, but you can see them. This 18 looks the same as Eighteen did when we first met. Mine has aged a little."
Eighteen turned from her examination of the double. "Gee thanks."
"What? I like you a little older. It's sexy."
"Why don't you ever say nice thing like that to me?" Bulma asked her husband.
"Oh please, next you'll want me to write you poetry. I'm a Saiyan warrior, not a tree hugger."
"It wouldn't hurt you to let up once in a while."
"A true warrior doesn't let up!"
"They don't pay attention either," 18 said.
Everyone turned to see the formerly tied up Android 18 standing behind Vegita. She had her hand on Vegita's neck.
"Now be a good boy and stand still while I absorb all your energy."
"Oh god, she's got energy absorbers too?" Krillin moaned. "What is she, the upgrade?"
"Vegita?" Bulma asked, worried.
"Damn it woman, quit sniveling," Vegita said through gritted teeth. Summoning up his strength he broke free of the Android's grip and hurled himself forward to his wife's feet.
"I'll be fine, just give me a second to regain my strength."
"That was refreshing," the Android smirked. "Now let's see who else wants to play. Hmmm, the bald shrimp's grown some hair and... What the hell?"
Eighteen and her counterpart locked stares, each looking at the other in nothing less than utter shock.
Eighteen wanted to scream. This was her, this was who she would have become if it hadn't been for Krillin. This was the her that had never known love, never known unconditional acceptance, never known what it felt like to hold a beautiful little girl in her arms and hear her say "Mommy". This was the woman she had nightmares about.
"Oh look, it's me," the Android said. "Tell me, what happened in this world? Why didn't you kill all the obstacles so you could enjoy yourself?"
"Cell." Eighteen had never thought about it. If it hadn't been for Cell then she would have eventually killed Krillin. She couldn't believe she actually owed something to that monster.
"Cell. He came from the future. He absorbed me and Seventeen. The others saved us."
"And for that you didn't kill them. You're too sentimental. Imagine the fun you could have had if you had only done this."
The Android released an energy blast aimed at Krillin. Eighteen tried to jump in front of it but Krillin pushed her out of the way. He released his own energy blast and blocked the Android's.
"Krillin!" Eighteen screamed.
"It's okay honey. It'll take more than one shot from an Android to do me in."
The Android was staring at Krillin as though he had just pulled a rabbit from thin air. "What the hell is going on here? You shouldn't have been strong enough to stop that?!"
"Lady, you might look like my wife, but you sure aren't as smart as her."
"Wife? I don't know how you managed that, but let me do her a favor."
The Android 18 shot forward, flying towards Krillin faster than even he could dodge. She tackled him and took him through the wall.
"Krillin!" Eighteen shouted and flew after them.

They had ended up in the desert. The desert of all places. Nothing but sand as far as the eye could see.
Krillin was having troubles. The hard part wasn't the strength of Android 18, she wasn't much stronger than his wife, but that he couldn't let her hands touch him or she would drain his energy. So instead of just fighting he had to split his concentration between the fight and where her hands were at all times.
Still, Krillin was more than holding his own. He blocked every blow she tried to land on him. He countered all of her energy attacks. And every now and then he could get into his head that this wasn't his wife and throw a punch or kick of his own. He didn't dare try to use one of his own energy attacks against her for fear that she would absorb it and become stronger.
After a flurry of punches and kicks, none of which connected, Android 18 disengaged.
"This doesn't make sense, you shouldn't be this strong," Android 18 screamed in frustration.
"Lady, you really didn't do your homework. Meanwhile I'm betting I know a lot about you."
"You wish little man."
"You were born in Dr. Gero's lab and the first thing you and your brother did was kill your creator. You've got a feeling that you had a life before that, but thanks to the good doctor you can't remember any of it. I'm betting the first thing you did when you got out was meet up with a decimated special forces unit. Only one of them escaped. For the next thirteen years you terrorized the world, killing everyone you came across. Then one day a purple haired kid, someone you hunted for a long time, appeared in front of you, turned his hair blonde and served your asses on a plate."
"How the hell do you know that?" Android 18 demanded.
"Like I said, I know all about you. Including..."
He moved quickly, and he hoped to Android 18 it was just a blur. She didn't turn, so he knew he had tricked her. He stopped behind her and slowly traced his finger down the line on her back that only he knew about.
"What do you think you're doing... Oh myyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" she moaned in pleasure.
"Yup, same sensitive spot," Krillin grinned. "Almost identical. Almost."
As Android 18 was recovering he slammed his fist into her side. She grabbed her ribs and groaned in pain.
Krillin threw a kick but she caught it.
"You can't hurt me," Android 18 hissed. "I killed you already."
Krillin gasped as he felt his energy draining from his body. He was getting weaker and weaker and...
"Get your hands off my husband!"
The Android 18 turned, surprised by the sudden scream and was tackled from the side by Eighteen. The evil double's hands were torn from Krillin by the sheer force of the blow, sending both Androids hurtling to the ground.
"Why are you doing this?" Android 18 demanded. "I'm freeing us of this baggage you call a husband. Then we can go and punish the humans for what they've done to us."
"Never," Eighteen spat. "You think you're nothing but a machine. So you go around attacking the humans because you hate them for being alive. You think they're your enemies, so you take them out before they can hurt you."
"What's wrong with that?" Android 18 asked as she struggled to stand up.
"Because you're wrong. You're human." Eighteen, slightly weaker than Android 18, was having a harder time of standing up. She was managing though.
"You can love, you can be loved, you can bear a child. A beautiful child that loves you unconditionally just as you love her."
"Don't be stupid, no one loves us."
"Krillin does."
"He just wants something from you. Or he's afraid of you."
"No, he loves me."
"How can you believe that."
"My heart tells me."
"Your heart," Android 18 laughed. She reached forward and tore off Eighteen's shirt. Android 18 stabbed Eighteen's naked chest with her finger. "There's no heart there. Only a machine made by Dr. Gero."
Eighteen took Android 18's hand and placed it over her heart. "Feel that."
Android 18 held her breath as she felt the steady heartbeat beneath her palm. It was warm. "What is that?" she asked, fascinated.
"My heart. It beats for Krillin and my daughter Marron. They are my love."
Android 18 took her palm away. "They are what make you weak. They're going to hurt you like you've never been hurt."
"They would never hurt me."
"Yes they will. If you love them like you say, they're going to make you hurt more than anyone else ever could."
"How could they do that?"
"They will die."
Eighteen froze.
"They will age when you won't. They will die when you won't. Your love makes you vulnerable and one day they're going to hurt you more than anyone else."
It was true, Eighteen realized. She was immortal, mechanical. Krillin and Marron would grow old and feeble, they would die and she would always be the same. No matter how much love they gave her, one day they would be gone, and she would be all alone.
"That's why you've got to hurt them first," Android 18 whispered to her.
Eighteen shook her head, trying to clear away the cobwebs caused by Android 18's words. No, they may leave her one day, but today, here, now, they were with her. They loved her. She loved them.
"I'll kill Krillin and then your daughter," Android 18 said.
Eighteen tackled Android 18 to the ground. "Like hell you will."
Eighteen, fueled by a need to protect her family and the rage of knowing that she had failed them, even if it had been for a moment, wailed away on her counterpart with a series of hard punches. Any connection the two might have shared was inconsequential when stacked against the love Eighteen felt for her husband and daughter.
Android 18 wasn't going to have any of that. She wrapped her hands around Eighteen's arms and began to drain her energy. Eighteen cried out in pain as Android 18 pushed her counterpart to one side.
Eighteen was saved when an energy blast hit Android 18 from behind, sending her flying into the desert sand. Eighteen looked up and smiled with relief.
Krillin stood some twenty feet away, partially recovered from his own draining. He raised his hand over his hands and created a disc of light.
"Destructo disc!" he shouted and hurled the disc at Android 18.
The evil android laughed and raised her palms out to absorb the energy. The disc split into four smaller discs and attacked her from all sides. Unable to position the energy absorbers in her palms correctly, Android 18 was forced to take the entire brunt of the attack.
She fell to the ground, severely weakened.
"Finish her!" Eighteen screamed.
Krillin took the stance to create another disc.
Android 18 looked up and shrieked. She ran towards Eighteen. Krillin hesitated, not wanting to accidentally hit his wife with his attack. Android 18 smiled and tore off her own shirt.
Krillin almost lost his concentration at the sight, but in a testament to his skills he was able to create another Destructo Disc.
Android 18 leapt onto Eighteen and tried to latch on with her energy absorbers. The short fight sent up a cloud of sand that momentarily blocked Krillin's vision of the two women. When everything had settled the two topless androids were standing apart by a distance of six feet, more than enough room for Krillin to fire the disc.
"Get her Krillin!" Eighteen shouted.
"No! Get her!"
Eighteen blanched. What was Android 18 doing? Then she saw Krillin looking back and forth between the two identical androids, a lost expression plastered on his features. No wonder Android 18 had torn off her shirt, now that the two of them were both topless there was no way to tell them apart. Krillin couldn't attack them both, and he couldn't risk hitting his own wife.
"She's the evil one," Android 18 called.
"No, she is!" Eighteen countered.
"I love you Krillin!"
"Krillin, don't listen to her!"
"Don't listen to her!"
"I'm the one that loves you."
"She's lying she hates you. She hates our daughter. She wants to kill her."
Krillin was looking impassively between the two, as though he were trying to figure out the truth.
"She'll kill our daughter! You can't let her live!"
"Krillin, please! Why don't you recognize me?"
"You've got to kill us both! It's the only way to guarantee Marron will be safe! Just tell her that I loved her!"
Eighteen stared at Android 18. What the hell was she trying to pull? She saw something register in Krillin's eyes.
"No Krillin!" Eighteen shouted. "It's a trick."
Krillin let fly the destructo disc straight at Eighteen.
"Krillin!" Eighteen screamed, falling to her knees. She shut her eyes and waited for the end. It wasn't fair! Krillin, Marron, they'd both be at the mercy of Android 18.
She heard something being sliced and then four explosions.
When Eighteen finally opened her eyes she saw Krillin smiling at her. She turned towards Android 18. The evil duplicate was staring at her arms. Her hands were gone, sliced off at the wrists by the destructo discs.
"Almost identical," Krillin said grimly.
Eighteen got up and ran to her husband. She picked him up and held him in a strong embrace. "How did you know?" she asked.
"I told you before, you look older. I don't know why, but you're aging. She isn't."
She was aging? Eighteen felt the smoothness of her face. She didn't feel any wrinkles, but Krillin wouldn't lie to her. She was aging, just like Krillin, just like Marron. They wouldn't leave her alone. She would grow old with Krillin and then meet him again in the next dimension.
Krillin noticed her crying. "Are you okay honey?"
"I'm fine," she sniffed. Eighteen put Krillin down and wiped away the tears in her eyes.
"So what do we do about your evil twin?" Krillin asked, motioning to the catatonic Android 18.
"Kill her," Eighteen said.
"Are you sure?"
"If we don't she'll go after Marron."
Krillin sighed. "It's a shame to destroy such beauty. But if you say so."
A Kamehameha solved the problem. Where Android 18 once stood there was only a crater.
"Let's go home," Eighteen said, spent. "I want to see my baby."
"Okay," Krillin said as they both began to float.
Eighteen noticed he was staring at her exposed breasts. "Give me your shirt."
Krillin smirked. "Why? I think that look is quite stunning on you."
"Just for that you cook dinner."


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