A/N: This is my first attempt at Dragonball Z fanfiction, however, I have many, MANY other fanfics out there. This is set after the Buu saga, and half inspired by the amazing Sholio.

This is actually a trial fic. I'm not entirely sure if I like it.. I tend to be better at humor than drama. I also have another plot I'm toying with--so don't be surprised if this fic is abandoned. We'll see. It also depends on what you guys think.

Primal Instinct
Chapter one: Capture and Escape
by Clara

Nighttime found Bulma Briefs cooped up in her lab, as usual.

She was spending more and more time locked away in her lab, inventing and reinventing and basically just staying the hell away from the crazy occupants of the Capsule Corps. living quarters. Working in her lab had always been her escape from the real world and all its stupid drama. Despite that Bulma did have a flair for the dramatic, most of the time she didn't want to be the one who had to deal with it. Unfortunately, life rarely went the way she wanted it to. It seemed like everything that could go wrong this past week did, and since she had all the right answers, everyone decided that everything should be fixed by her.

Sighing, she ran her fingers through her hair with her free hand and quickly pulled it into a neat ponytail. It always amazed Vegeta that she could do that so quickly without getting a strand out of place. Then again, she seemed to amaze Vegeta with all her little quirks about as much as he amazed her.

It was always the little things that one was so accustomed to that shocked the other, despite the many years they had been together. Apparently, toilets weren't the universal things she thought them to be. When Vegeta first came to live at Capsule Corps., he had actually blasted one of the porcelain thrones to the big toilet bowl in the sky. That resulted in their first earthshaking arguments, Bulma wondering what the hell his problem was and Vegeta growling about how she shouldn't expect him to piss in the mouth of a monster. That statement ended the argument fairly quickly, Bulma unable to keep from laughing even though it obviously offended the prince of the Saiyajins. Of course, she explained to him the use of toilets and sewer systems right away, despite the fact that it would have been funny to keep him in the dark. She didn't want him to blow up any more toilets every time he had to go to the bathroom.

Of course, there were things that he did that she also had trouble getting used to that were habitual for him. When rain fell the first time he was there, he immediately went for cover. Faintly confused and concerned by this, Bulma asked him why he seemed to be hiding from the rain, and he had answered that he did not want to be burned. She had to prod at him for a good hour when he wouldn't tell her what he meant. It turned out that the atmosphere on Vegeta-sei would cause the rain to be uncomfortably acidic. He definitely regretted telling her, though, when she spent another couple hours forcing him to tell her how the vegetation and the animal life got by despite the acidic water, and then to explain how they survived without clean water. She found out, quite surprisingly, that something in the soil cancelled out the acidic properties in the water. Not for the first time, Bulma wished Vegeta-sei was still in existence.

So he couldn't get used to toilets and she couldn't get used to his primal fear of rain. Then again he also couldn't get used to the fact that the rain wouldn't burn him. So maybe it was just him and his little quirks that shocked her.

Vegeta would always shock and amaze her, though. He had seen and done more than she could ever even dream of doing, and yet still could not figure out how a microwave worked.

Bulma blinked and wondered if now would be a good time for her to go to sleep. Her mind was jumping from tangent to tangent and generally not making sense anymore. She set down her screwdriver and scrubbed at her eyes. Her digital clock read 2:27.

"Kami," she muttered, then pushed herself to her feet and arched her back. Her joints popped in several different places, and she let out a small sound of appreciation. Tiredly, she jot down a few notes, put away the things that needed to be put away and headed back to Capsule Corps. living quarters.

She didn't make it.

*

"She's gone."

Goku was used to Vegeta bursting in at early hours of the morning for a spar, but this was ridiculous. Both he and Chichi sat up groggily, the female of the two rubbing her eyes with her fists. Despite the fact that his words came out as a low growl, the way Vegeta slammed the door open was loud enough to wake not only everyone in the house but any living creature within a two mile radius.

Goku yawned widely, looking at the clock that was perched on his nightstand. He frowned.

"Vegeta, it's 3:40. I know it's hard when Bulma stomps off after an argument or something, but this is ridiculous!"

"Look, you idiot!" his voice was getting progressively louder and Goku's attention snapped towards the older Saiyajin. There was an unmistakable hint of fear in Vegeta's voice and Vegeta never, ever showed that he was scared. "Look for her bloody ki!"

Goku frowned and didn't move for a long moment, before he slowly turned, using his other senses to look for the weaker ki of Bulma Briefs.

There was none. Absolutely nothing.

He let out a hiss of breath and turned to Vegeta, eyes narrowed with worry. "Where was she last?"

"As far as I know she was working in her lab again," Vegeta grated out, starting to pace. If he still had his tail, it would be bristling and lashing about irritably. As it was, his hair seemed to be a bit more wild then normal.

Chichi was watching him pace back and forth with an unreadable expression on her face. She had been all set up to yell him out of disturbing her must needed rest but before she could he had gone on about her friend's disappearance. Now she was torn between worry about Bulma's safety and annoyance at Vegeta for his rude interruption. She opened her mouth to order him to at least stop pacing, but he did before she could.

"Trunks woke me up because of a stupid dream," Vegeta continued, starting to pace again. Chichi grit her teeth together but kept any and all comments to herself, not wanting to disrupt the Saiyajin's thoughts. There were only three people who could get away with interrupting Vegeta without getting blasted, and unfortunately she was neither of them. "I went to get Bulma to have her deal with it, but.." His voice trailed off to incomprehensible growls, which Chichi could only guess to be his native tongue.

She glanced over at her husband, worrying her lower lip. As far as she could tell, his expression was blank. But she above everyone else (besides, perhaps, Vegeta) knew the feelings that were going through Goku's mind. Anger—that someone had dared to hurt one of his friends. Worry—about Bulma's safety. Fear—that Bulma wouldn't make it out (out where?) alive. Above all, excitement—over the new, promised fight.

She, though, was beginning to feel an overwhelming sense of dread.

Throughout the past years, despite the two women's clashing tempers, Bulma and Chichi had formed a type of friendship probably as unpredictable and yet as close as their husbands' relationship. They were kin in their own ways, the sole mates of the only two full-blooded Saiyajin's left in existence. Because of that, they always sought each other for comfort no matter what the occasion.

However..

However, she couldn't stop the knot of dread that was beginning to form in the pit of her stomach. All Chichi wanted was some peace for once in her life with her husband, and now there was another threat rearing its ugly face towards them. And, of course, whenever danger showed itself, her husband always had to selflessly leap right into the middle of it, caring about nothing but the safety of his friends. Unfortunately, that always meant that he would most likely wind up injured or even dead.

So, as always, she was tempted to order him not to go. This time she held her tongue.

After all, Bulma was at stake. And Vegeta might decapitate her if she even opened her mouth to protest.

"Did you look for her?" Goku was asking.

"Of COURSE I did, you idiot! I even went so far as to fly the world! I couldn't find her ki anywhere."

"Now, Vegeta, don't get all worked up," Goku said calmly, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and standing up. "First of all, where's Trunks?"

"In your brat's room, sleeping."

Chichi frowned and was ignored.

"Okay, good. Second of all.." Goku stopped and scratched his head, looking confused, an expression that was definitely not a stranger to his face. "Second of all.. we.. ah.." He looked back at Vegeta with those wide, childish eyes. "..aren't you supposed to be the one with the foolproof plans?"

Vegeta growled. "That's what I get for having an idiot try and pep talk me. If I had a plan, Kakorrot, do you think I would be here? Oh, wait, excuse me for accusing you of thinking."

"You're excused," Goku said cheerfully.

Chichi dropped her head in her hands and Vegeta rolled his eyes.

"Anyway," Goku continued in all seriousness. "Bulma's smart. If anyone can take care of herself in a hostage situation, it's her."

*

Bulma was in a rut. A rut that was the size of a Saiyajin's appetite.

When she woke up from her unconscious state it was to an incessant beeping by her left ear. She had tried to turn her head to locate the annoying sound but found out the painful way that her neck was tied against something. When she rather thoughtlessly tried to reach up and remove whatever tied her down, she found that her arms were tied down, too. And her lower torso and feet.

Whoever or whatever caught her were taking extra precautions to keep her.

"Of course they would, you idiot," she muttered to herself in disgust. Whatever they tied her to kept her propped in a standing position, and her feet were asleep. "Why would they go through all the trouble of catching you if they didn't intend to keep you?"

Since her neck was tied down, Bulma couldn't see much of the room. However, what she could see was extremely strange. Instead of the standard dome or square shaped structure, the room was like a pyramid and had walls the color of red mud. It was crammed with all sorts of instruments, some looking rather primitive while others looked almost too complicated for even her to understand. Detachedly, she made a mental note to grab at least one of those.. things before she made her escape.

She also came upon the startling realization that there was no way she could be on her home planet anymore. It wasn't because of the harsh, odd red light that was coming from the single window in the room or the odd furnishings, no, it was from the intense gravitational pull she could feel weighing down on her. The intense weight she felt pressing down on her let her know that the gravitational pull was at least five times earth's gravity.

"You're awake."

Bulma's head snapped up and she grimaced as the bonds cut into her skin. She gasped.

Now, Bulma Briefs had seen her fair share of the weird, but the.. man (she assumed) standing in front of her took the cake. He was like no other being that she had seen in her life, seemingly to be a tasteless mixture of human, animal, and robot. He was tall.. possibly standing a good seven feet, but hunched over so far that his shoulder blades stood above his head. Large, fur covered wings that were lined with some type of metal, curved around and over him to make a type of built in umbrella. He had no hair or fur on the top of his head, rather, there were dozens of mismatched horns smattered from around the middle of his forehead on. A few inches under the horns were a pair of eyes that's colors were inverted—there was black where the white was supposed to be and white where the black was supposed to be and no irises to speak of. He was bronze, had muscles that did not quite seem to be where they were supposed to be (or maybe they were supposed to be there, but less pronounced?) and had a fur covered tail that had six huge metal spikes protruding from the end.

He also had no nose or ears and obsidian like fangs protruding where the top, normal human canines should have been.

About then was when Bulma started to feel terrified.

How can I understand him? she wondered in a rather dazed manner. That.. that thing is definitely not human! Despite the fact that I know several different languages, I doubt he would know Japanese or English or whatever else I know..

"My dear," he said, cutting off her internal babble. She watched in fascination as the movement of his lips did not show his teeth or match what he was saying. It was as if she were watching some foreign movie that was cheaply dubbed. With a slight sense of wonder, Bulma realized he was speaking in a language she did not know, but she could understand perfectly. "You have been chosen to be a mate of our ruler."

It took about two seconds for the meaning of those words to sink into her brain, but those two seconds did nothing to prepare the poor alien for the banshee screech that escaped from the small human's mouth.

"WHAT?! I'll have you know you.. you horny idiot, I already have a mate, and he's more than enough for me to handle! How dare you take me out of my home, away from my child to try and force me to marry some sort of.."

The alien took a step back, looking confused and overwhelmed. Well, she supposed facial expressions were universal. Good. "Miss, I am by no means in heat.." he managed over her loud, incessant rant. He sighed, eyelids coming from the bottom up to cover his eyes. "Nor at the moment am I very merry.."

"And furthermore," she continued, ignoring him completely, "who consulted with me?! I will most definitely not become the mate of some.. of some alien!"

She actually shut herself up when she realized the irony of that statement.

"Are you quite through, Miss?" the rather disgruntled alien asked. Bulma nodded almost sheepishly. "You don't have a choice. Our kind contracted a disease several ... ago.."

Bulma blinked in confusion. She knew by watching his lips that he had said something, but it was like his voice just blanked out. She supposed it was because that whatever was translating him did not have a term for the amount of time he said. Unless these creatures had an extremely long life, though, she guessed they became infected with the disease fairly recently.

"..and although we can bear females, they unfortunately are sterile. Therefore, we must take the women from neighboring planets in order to keep our race alive."

"Well, that's all good and well, but why me?" she asked, fidgeting slightly. "I mean, I know I'm gorgeous and all, but.."

The alien gave her a look that clearly stated he thought her anything but pretty, which quickly shut her up and simultaneously pissed her off. "We would have chosen a more suitable mate for our ruler but the three moons are soon to be reaching alignment, signifying when our ruler must conceive. We have been observing you for quite a bit, and although you lack beauty your intelligence is enough to make up for that."

"Lack beauty?!" Bulma repeated in disbelief and rage. If anything, he, whatever he was, was a quick learner. Before she could go off into another fit, he was hurrying towards the door. This gave her the chance to see the wide, unblinking eye on his back that peered out between his wings. The shock of seeing that mingled with her anger left her to only sputter in fury.

"Rest well, Miss," the alien murmured.

Although he acknowledged it, he underestimated her intelligence. Despite the fact he could have easily hidden whatever he was punching into the keypad with his body, he left enough space for her to see everything he pressed. Or perhaps he trusted the things that were tying her to stay firm. Whichever it was she still committed the pattern that he typed out to memory, just in case.

The door closed silently behind him.

Immediately, Bulma strained her arms against the bonds to test their strength. She grimaced when they cut roughly into her skin. Her blood made the material slick and easy to move her arms, but hurt like all hell when the bonds brushed against her new wounds. Gritting her teeth against the pain, she wiggled as far down as the bond around her neck would let her.

Not that that did much.

Bulma growled in frustration and muttered some choice words. She thumped her head against the wall, then did it again since the sharp pain offered a cheap distraction. There were times Bulma wished she was anyone but who she was. Then she wouldn't have to deal with all those senseless abductions!

"Okay," she breathed out, closing her eyes for a moment. "Okay, get a grip, Bulma. What would Vegeta do?" She paused, then let out a laugh that she didn't like the sound of. There was a sound of desperation in it. "Vegeta would break these damn ropes then blow this stupid planet sky high!"

Clamping down on her turbulent emotions after that little laughing break, she felt around for a knot. When she found it, she nearly let out a shout of triumph. It was primitive, one she could easily get out of in an hour or so.

*

By the time Bulma finally worked the knot out, no more light shone in from the only circular window in the room. Even though it wasn't a complicated knot, the aliens had tied it ridiculously tight. She also had to stop when the alien who had been there when she woke up brought in a sheet of metal with purple glop on it. At first, she got the wild idea that that was the leader she was supposed to mate with, but the alien had quelled her fears by assuring her that it was her food. She had told him, quite frankly, that she would rather eat her thumb than that. To her surprise, he patiently walked out. She knew if her hostage talked to her like that, they'd be wearing the food she brought for them.

Well, it wasn't her problem.

It was quiet from there on after that, but Bulma was still extra careful. It took her another two hours before the knot finally gave way and after that she was too shocked to move for a moment. That didn't last long, though, and soon she was free and rubbing her neck in distaste. She hesitated momentarily, then ran over to the nearest, slanted wall and grabbed one of the instruments. Upon brief speculation, it looked as if it were some sort of.. power drill. Not wanting to waste anymore of her precious freedom by useless inspection, Bulma shoved it into her pocket. There would be time for her to examine it later.

The alien had pressed fourteen digits, two on the right, seven in the middle, and five on the left. She searched her mind briefly, then punched in a code.

The door didn't budge.

"You've got to be kidding me," she murmured in disbelief. "Come on, you jackass!" Again, she punched in the code, a little more brutally that time. The door beeped quietly, then swished open. Not bothering to check if there was anyone standing guard, she leapt forward.

It never occurred to her that the beeping that had been annoying her previously had stopped.

The first thing she noticed when she got out of that damned little 'prison' was that the ceilings of the building were high. VERY high. Well, she thought with a self-depreciating snort, of course they're high. Those things were bloody monsters, for crying out loud!

Monsters. Actually, that was a perfect way to describe them. They definitely fit the description of something that would crawl out from under her bed, if not scarier.

But what were 'they', anyway? Bulma knew a bit about the universe.. after all, the father of her son came from a different planet. Even through all her extensive research, she couldn't recall ever encountering a species like the ones that were on the planet. That was to be expected though, since it was impossible to chart every race in the universe. But something was bothering her in the back of her mind. She couldn't straighten out her muddled thoughts, though, so pushed whatever was niggling at the edges of her consciousness even further back, and ran farther down the long, twisting corridor.

There were other things to worry about.

*

Trunks had never seen his father pace. Worrying just wasn't something the proud Saiyajin did.

They had already determined that there was no way his mother could be dead. Vegeta shared a special bond with the human woman and was convinced that if anything happened to her as severe as death, he would know. Every Saiyajin was slightly psychic.

But knowing Bulma wasn't dead didn't soothe the frazzled Saiyajin's nerves in the slightest. Vegeta vaguely reminded Trunks of a worried mother hen, pacing until he wore a path into the ground and occasionally glancing up to check the doors of the lab.

Being under the care of one of the smartest scientists in the world had its benefits. Dr. Briefs, upon learning about Bulma's mysterious disappearance, had locked himself in the lab. Although Trunks wasn't exactly sure what his grandfather was doing in there, he had picked up from a conversation between his father and grandmother that he was either strengthening one of their communication devices or creating a new one. Trunks had later picked up some mumblings about his mother being smart enough try and communicate with them somehow, so they would have to be ready.

Of course, the youngest Briefs was confused. He couldn't figure out why they didn't just try and call her first.

Then again, he also couldn't figure out what happened to his mother. He knew she wasn't dead—his father was convinced she was alive and that was enough proof for him—but it wasn't normal for Bulma to be the one to spontaneously disappear. It was usually Vegeta.

Speaking of which, even Trunks was surprised that Vegeta hadn't flown off long ago to try and recover Bulma all on his own. He wasn't the only one who noticed, though. After Yamcha was informed and came by (much to Vegeta's disgust), the former flame of Bulma voiced Trunks' question rather bravely. The rest, aside from Goku, were keeping a safe distance away from the Saiyajin.

All he got as an answer was a disgusted grunt.

Like everyone else, Trunks was rather surprised that Yamcha didn't end up as a blood smear on the wall. Everyone knew when Vegeta was upset, even the most innocent of questions could set him off. Worry, however, was causing his temper to be even more unpredictable.

Not good.

"Dad..?" Trunks called in a questioning voice as the short man passed by him for the tenth time in one minute. "..Dad, how come you're here?"

Vegeta stopped in mid-step and glared down at Trunks. His lips curled into a sneer, and Trunks flinched back slightly. "Don't be stupid, brat. I'll only know where Bulma is when she calls. I don't have any other fucking choice but to wait."

And everyone knew how Vegeta hated waiting.

Goten was standing a little to Trunks' left, a confused expression gracing his young features. Of course. After all, he was Goku's son. All brawn, no brain.

Trunks frowned at himself. He was being a little to harsh on the Son's behalf—after all, hadn't it been them that saved the world so many times? Just because they weren't the most intelligent beings in the universe didn't give him the right to be so callous. He was too spoiled by the uncanny genius of his mother and the cold, calculating knowledge of his father.

The object of his musings shifted from foot to foot, almost uncomfortably. Trunks knew Goten was getting bored. The kid probably wanted to run off and play, or something. Not that he could blame him though. It was extremely uninteresting to watch a whole bunch of fighters sit around and do nothing.

How weird it was to see all of them back together after so long, and how much weirder it was not to see his mother bustling around them spouting off at the mouth. But there they were, all sitting in the front yard of Capsule Corps. and drinking lemonade. It was almost like a reunion of sorts, but instead of everyone reminiscing and boasting about their past battles, they were talking in low, grim voices about the current events. Piccolo, Gohan, and Kuririn were standing under the shade of a large tree, #18 leaning against the trunk with Marron in her arms. Yamcha, Pu'ar, Oolong, and, surprising, Videl seemed to be discussing just what happened to Bulma. Actually, it was more of Yamcha, Pu'ar and Videl talking, with Oolong gawking at the female human in the group as if she were some sort of amazing new entity. Goten, now a little more ways off, was amusing himself with a butterfly that had lazily drifted right smack in the middle of the motley group.

And then there were Goku and Vegeta. His father had resumed pacing after answering Trunks' question, and now Goku was watching the smaller man with a clearer look of understanding. It was amazing, really, how only Goku and Bulma could really understand Vegeta. Even Trunks, the son of the stoic man, could not even begin to comprehend how the prince's mind worked. And yet Goku, sworn enemy of Vegeta, understood him without even trying.

Trunks looked up into the sky. He was too young to be pondering about such things, so this brief train of surprisingly clear thoughts was quickly derailed. What he really wanted to be doing was getting his mom back.

The sky..

"..What if Mom's out there?"

So caught up in his thoughts was Trunks that he didn't realize he spoke out loud until he noticed everyone was turned towards him with rather perturbed looks on their faces. Vegeta was looking at him especially sharply.

"Well, that would explain things, wouldn't it?" Trunks continued hurriedly, blushing faintly. He loved attention, but not when it was that intense. "I mean, that would be why we couldn't find Mom's ki, right? But she wouldn't leave without telling us.." he stopped to look at his dad, "..right?"

Much to his surprise, Gohan smacked his forehead. Everyone was either looking sheepish or disgruntled, or flat out annoyed.

Why in Kami's name didn't they think of that before? It seemed so simple.

"Well, as much as that clears some things up," Gohan said, joining the group. There was a slightly embarrassed smile on his face, "where does that leave us now? Space is HUGE. We can't exactly go planet hopping or something."

"..so we're back at the beginning," Yamcha growled out, raking his fingers through his hair in despair. Pu'ar cooed at him comfortingly, eyes worried.

"Bulma wouldn't go off to space without telling us, would she?" Kuririn asked quietly, scratching his cheek. "I mean, she would have left a letter or something, right?"

Immediately, Trunks wrapped his arms around himself and Kuririn took a step back. Vegeta was standing frozen, back straight and intense, black eyes fixated on the small man in a burning glare. Kuririn had crossed the line that time, though Trunks doubted he could know that. There was a small, hidden part in Vegeta that nearly no one knew about. That part was terrified, and the only thing that could really frighten Vegeta was the prospect of Bulma willingly leaving him.

"My mate," Vegeta hissed. Kuririn stumbled back another step and #18 straightened. "My mate would never abandon our son.. for the sake of research."

The silent pause in his speech included 'and me', but no one heard it.

Vegeta began to pace again.

*

Instinct had taken control. Bulma lost track on how many turns she had taken a couple of left's back, and was now running silently straight ahead. Twice she had to duck back behind a corner; some creatures that looked remarkably like her captor decided that now was a good time to go on an evening stroll. With gigantic weapon-like things.

Bulma, to say the least, was getting ridiculously frustrated. What good was it to live or work in a labyrinth, for crying out loud? And where in the world where the maps? Muttering a few more choice words, she took an abrupt left..

..and almost fell off the edge of the building.

Bulma shrieked and windmilled her arms. Her left hand smacked the wall closest to her and she compulsively grabbed it, pressing her palm flat against the surface and steadying herself. The shock had frightened her heart into beating convulsively, and her breath was coming out in ragged gasps.

"Well, at least I found the exit," she muttered sarcastically, and looked down. "But how the HELL am I supposed to get out of here?!"

The ground was hidden by the clouds.

Bulma took a small step back, rubbing her temples to try and soothe the agonizing throbbing that suddenly appeared. She slumped against the wall, closing her eyes. Of course their exits would be high in the air.. they had wings, why on earth would they need them on the ground? She wanted to cry. By all means, she should have actually broken down in great, heaving bawls hours ago. But she couldn't bring herself to. There was no one there to protect her while she broke down, and there was no way she was going to let herself die on this Kami forsaken planet because she stupidly let her guard down.

"Think, Bulma. Think, think, think!" Much like Vegeta, she started pacing. Hers was much slower, though, due to her not being used to the gravity and because she was getting rather tired.

Unfortunately, when she worked in her lab she did not wear her capsule belt. There was no need for her to, since all her supplies were right there where she needed it. She did have a couple 'just-in-case' capsules stored in her coat pocket, though, because of the constant interruptions and spontaneous needs to fly off to one place or another. Somehow, though, she had the uncomfortable feeling that the rope she had stored in one capsule wasn't nearly long enough to reach the ground.

There was a scraping sound behind her, and Bulma whirled around in surprise. The same creature that had captured her so many hours ago now towered over her, black eyes malicious. He took a step towards her, his tail dragging against the ground and making that awful screeching sound. It was as if someone was running their nails across a blackboard.

Bulma gasped and stepped back on instinct. The heel of her boot caught on the ledge and suddenly she was airborne, to shocked to even scream.

.:end chapter one:.