"Waiting in the Wings" (忍びよるセル Shinobiyoru Seru, lit. "Cell Sneaks Up") is the one hundred seventy fourth chapter of Dragon Ball Z and the three hundred sixty-eighth overall chapter in the Dragon Ball manga.
The cover of the chapter features Piccolo and Android 17 facing each other with Android 18 and Android 16 watching the battle in the foreground, and a large Cell in his imperfect form in the background.
Piccolo and Android 17 continue their desperate struggle, with both of them almost tied in terms of power. Unfortunately for Piccolo, Android 17 has the advantage by having an infinite energy flow, thus, he cannot feel fatigue. Piccolo and Android 17 descend back to the ground after fighting in the air for a long period of time. Android 17 lands near Android 16 and Android 18, and praises Piccolo for his surprising newfound strength. Android 17 though, still maintaining his egotistical attitude, informs Piccolo he is still far superior, and that Piccolo's newfound strength will still not be enough to totally decimate the Androids. Android 17 now orders Piccolo to tell of Goku's location, something the Androids have wanted to know due to their programming by the late Dr. Gero, who wanted revenge on Goku for destroying the Red Ribbon Army and his career. Piccolo, calm and collected, smirks menacingly, telling Android 17 that it will take more than petty threats and a beating to squeeze the information out of him. Not feeling sorry for his opponent, Android 17 promises he will not give Piccolo any mercy, and will now fight seriously. Android 17 lands right next to the concentrating Piccolo, who is now preparing a clever tactic. As Android 17 and Piccolo stare at each other, not flinching or slightly moving, Android 17 manages to land a strike on Piccolo's face, which was far too fast for Piccolo to even attempt to dodge.
Piccolo quickly recovers and tries to make a comeback, attempting to strike 17 in the face also. However, Android 17 ducks and dodges swiftly and calmly, then managing to land a devastating stomach punch, which causes Piccolo to fall slowly in pain. Android 17 speeds Piccolo's falling by elbowing him in the back, knocking him fast first into the dust and grass of the island. Now recovering once again, Piccolo dodges a quick kick from Android 17, backflipping away from 17. Piccolo cracks his stiff neck, not showing any visible signs of weakening or slowing down, and compliments Android 17 on his amazing speed, but that his punches are quite lacking in force. 17, surprised Piccolo as managed to withstand so many attacks, replies that Piccolo is far too confident for his own benefit, and that he will soon learn not to mock an obviously stronger opponent. Android 17 makes a running dash towards Piccolo, his eyes cold and menacing, as he prepares another fatal strike. Piccolo raises his right arm in preparation and attempts a karate chop on Android 17's neck, however, the Android is still too fast for Piccolo to hit, and 17 manages to dodge the attack and flip behind Piccolo, kneeing him directly in his skull. Piccolo retaliates by kicking Android 17 directly in his face. Android 17 makes an even quicker comeback by punching Piccolo as he recovers, but Piccolo once again strikes back by head-butting his foe, making the android fly back many feet, destroying the ground nearby. Android 18 still looks on in surprise and intrigue, amazed and confused as to how Piccolo has gained so much strength in such little time, as Piccolo could not even stand against the Androids in their first encounter. Piccolo and Android 17 continue to dish out more attacks and block them, with neither of them seeming to either give in or tire.
Nearby, Cell continues to fly at high speeds, searching for Android 17 and 18 so he can absorb and consume them, in order to reach his perfect state, an unbeatable monster. Cell notices that Piccolo's ki is at high levels and moving around very quickly, meaning he must be fighting some powerful opponent. As Cell cannot feel another source of energy in the same location, Cell figures out it must be one of the androids, as the Androids do not have a Ki Sense that is trackable. Cell now laughs with menace and excitement, now rushing to finally attain his dream and desire, his perfect form. At the Kame House, Tien Shinhan and Krillin also feel Piccolo's energy spiking, and wish they were more powerful so they could help their ally, but Master Roshi insists there is nothing that either of them could do, and that they'd only be a distraction, and therefor, a disadvantage for Piccolo. Tien now senses Cell's ki, and begins to feel absolute dread and worry, knowing how strong the beast is, and that Piccolo will not stand much of a chance with both Cell and 17 to deal with. Chi-Chi runs outside the house to inform Krillin that Bulma is on the phone and wishes to speak to him urgently about a major discovery about the Androids design. Bulma tells Krillin she has found a weakness both Android 17 and Android 18 each have, an emergency off switch, something Dr. Gero built and once planned to use in case either of the Androids stood out of line or tried to betray their creator. Bulma informs Krillin she has a new remote device to shut down the Androids ready, and Krillin urgently orders Bulma to fly over and give it to him now, so he can assist Piccolo in the battle. Tien now begins to feel a slight glimpse of hope, and says Cell will be much less a threat if the two things that he needs to complete his evolution are destroyed. Krillin however, feels doubt and slight sadness that he will have to destroy Android 18, as he has developed an infatuation for Android 18 when she kissed his cheek after she and Android 17 defeated the Dragon Team on the Mountain Road.
Meanwhile, still waiting on The Lookout for Vegeta and Future Trunks to emerge from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Gohan and Goku now notice Cell's energy rushing towards Piccolo's. Goku now loses his patience with Vegeta, and knows Vegeta should have achieve a new state of the Super Saiyan form by now. Gohan begins to feel woe for his mentor Piccolo, as Cell gets closer and closer to him.
Piccolo and Android 17 continue to brawl, with Android 17 now at the slight advantage. Piccolo, now getting frustrated his energy is being wasted on useless melee attacks, decides to fire a power Explosive Demon Wave to finally disintegrate Android 17. The powerful Android dodges the attack just barely, and now also he starts to lose patience. Piccolo now begins to breathe heavily in tiredness, which makes Android 17 grin sadistically, reminding Piccolo that he has infinite flowing energy coursing through him. Piccolo however, pays no attention to the Android, as he suddenly feels a powerful energy source; Cell has finally arrived, and looks down upon Piccolo and the androids with glee, preparing to finally achieve his perfect state and become the most powerful entity the universe will ever know.
- Android 17
- Android 16
- Android 18
- Master Roshi
- Tien Shinhan
- Dr. Brief
- Mr. Popo