Her breath sat like a jagged rock, trapped between her rib cage and her heart. The frozen lump stubbornly refused to be dislodged, despite the number of times she swallowed or how fast her heart fluttered.

Slowly, she approached the crater of scarred earth, so newly made it still belched smoke and rained soil. Peering over the edge of broken boulders and charred terrain, she could see glimpses of him through the patches of dying flame and heated smoke. His back was bowed in a feral arc, arms and legs twisting in obvious agony. The aura of his wrath crackled weakly, refusing to submit, even as his blood pooled around him, steaming as it cooled. She flinched at the sudden sound of hissing and sucking; his own struggle for air. Unlike her breath, only held hostage within her lungs, his battle for oxygen was against the blistering, bubbling hole in his chest.

A stone was dislodged under her shifting weight and cracked down the edge of the sloping crater. It bounced and flipped through the air as it tumbled. Every ricochet against the hard earth was a thunderous crash in her ears. It came to rest against his side, but as her eyes shifted from the treacherous stone to his face, she gasped in sudden shock. His eyes pierced through the smoke of the crater as well as the fog of her mind, and a stab of fear gripped her.

He held his hand out to her, his fingers splayed as though he could reach her even at this distance. She couldn't move. Somehow, his gaze would not allow her to retreat. His eyes opened a path to penetrate her awareness, and a peculiar sensation brushed against her consciousness. Instinctively, as though her animal brain reared up to protect her, she felt her mind partition and surround the intruding, alien sensation. Without permission or cognition, as if the strange presence triggered a response to discern friend or foe, this new animal part of her plucked at the dark sentience within her mind and unfolded it.

She trembled, and though her eyes burned with ash and dust and tears, she did not cry. Instead, she found herself descending into the crater. Closer to him. He beckoned her because he needed her.

Her face twisted into a frown. No. He saw an opportunity and wished to take it. His decisiveness and utter commitment to carry out his wish is what she had mistaken as need. How she understood this, she didn't know.

She knew also that he could kill her, and would - but only if she lost her value as an opportunity. She stopped moving closer to him only when she was just out of reach.

He tried to lift his head, but fell back as his body convulsed in a spasm. He wreathed in pain, coughing blood and bile. She waited as he gained control of himself and nodded to him when his eyes found hers once again. She was listening.

He signaled for her to come closer with a gesture of his hand. When she leaned over him, he grabbed the collar of her shirt and pulled her so that her face was within inches of his own. She did not have the reflexes to react, and her only response was to widen her eyes. She hadn't even seen him move.

He sputtered and instead of speech, blood, phlegm, and spittle sprayed against her cheek. She cringed but otherwise didn't move. Eyes on his, she could only watch as he took his free hand and brought it to her face. Uncertain, her eyes flicked to his fingers briefly. Tentatively, almost tenderly, he touched the corner of her eye, then dropped his hand to touch the electronic device attached to his own eye, opposite hers.

Her eyebrows pinched in confusion. He repeated the gesture, but this time when his fingers returned to the implement, he attempted to remove it. Understanding his intent, she gently brought her hands to the piece of equipment and removed it from his face.

Nodding he allowed her to take it. Not knowing what to do with it or how to make it work, she brought it to her lap and looked to him simply to see if there was more he wanted of her. When he was certain he had her attention again, he opened his mouth. Guttural, inhuman sounds came out, and it took her a few moments to understand that the sounds were likely words of a language, and not the sounds of an animal. Confusion crumpled her features, but when she tried to move away, he grabbed her wrist until the bones within ground against each other.

Tears that wouldn't come before threatened to spill as pain exploded above and below her wrist. Not wishing to cry out, she clenched her jaw and tried to pull away. He was done speaking, but still he would not release her.

"What do you want?" She wailed. "I have your electric thing, but I don't know what to do with it! If you wanted me to do something with it now, I can't!" Words seized on her lips, her short desperate, rush depleted. She was running out of adrenaline and quickly succumbing to exhaustion. All she wanted was to get away. Why had she come down here, anyway?

A male voice called her name from the rubble somewhere unseen above the rim of the crater. "Bulma! Where are you? I can't see you through all the smoke!"

She turned her head towards the sound. "Here!" She tried to shift her weight, but the alien still clung to her. She was tired and weak, and dimness was filling her vision now as well as her mind. "I'm hereā€¦" she whispered.

When the alien pulled her towards him, she didn't have the strength to resist and collapsed against his chest. She tried to push herself away, but only succeeded in shifting her weight so that her head came to rest just above his sucking lung wound. Her eyes fell to look at her fingers laying across his stomach, still wrapped around the electronic gadget. He wrapped his large hand around hers and lifted it so that the device was in front of her eyes. Again he spoke, his voice thick with mucus and blood. As he did so, he pressed her fingers against the side of the contraption. It came to life and as he spoke, foreign letters appeared and scrolled over the glass of the eyepiece.

She sucked in a breath. Pressing the button again and again, she only stopped when she recognized a pattern of numbers. The dark alien below her, his face ashen, let go of her hand and nodded. Suddenly, he seized as another fit of coughing overtook him. She found the strength to back away but could not look away as he took his last breaths.

Distantly, she noticed hands pulling her up and away. She thought she heard muffled voices, but she couldn't understand what they were saying. All she knew was, even as she was being carried away, she could see nothing but the alien staring back at her with lifeless eyes, promising death and darkness.