Velona was, in simple words, straight up not having a good time. She was blindfolded in an unfamiliar place. Sure she could map the area around her easily enough, but she felt the need to constantly extend her senses farther than she was used to and it was starting to make her head feel fuzzy.
And there was no way she was taking off the blindfold when she was constantly under this much stress.
She stood before the tree she'd slept under before and sighed. She really didn't want to do that again. She needed a proper bed or else she'd probably wake up in pain again.
She decided it was time she made use of one of the many buildings. She didn't like the idea of using a building filled with the ashes of its former inhabitants, but... well she'd dealt with worse, honestly. Then again, that was why she hated the idea so much.
It was in one of those buildings that she stumbled across the missing Majin girl.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I-" She began to speak before she heard the pink being's soft snoring. She had just collapsed against a nearby wall, not even on a bed or anything. Velona let out a sigh. It was just as well. She was mentally and emotionally drained and had no desire to talk to another person she hardly knew.
. . . but. . . she couldn't bring herself to leave the strange being propped up against a cold wall. She seemed content enough, but it still bothered her. She looked around the nearby rooms and determined it was indeed someone's living quarters. Was being the operative word there. At the very least, whoever had owned it must have been elsewhere when they'd been turned to ash, as the space was clean... ish.
She deposited the smaller majin onto a couch and covered her with a spare blanket. The squishy little thing slept like a rock throughout it all. Again, that was fine with her. It left her to quietly walk into the bedroom and collapse onto the bed.
A mistake for, while being much softer than a tree, the action still jostled her injured ribs. She sucked in a breath between clenched teeth and slowly let it back out. Pain or not, she was tired and this had been the right choice. She could already feel sleep clawing at her.... . . . . . . . .
Velona felt herself waking up, but nothing felt right. This wasn't her bed. She felt on edge, though couldn't place why. She extended her senses and discovered she was in the main room of her home. It was strange, but not unheard of for her to have fallen asleep away from her bed.
It was her first movement that brought everything rushing back. The pain and soreness she felt dredged up her memories of the prior day's events. The memories were more crippling than any ache or pain. As grief overwhelmed her, the world seen through her senses distorted into meaningless noise.
Trapped as she was in her own mind, it was impossible to say how long she was stuck there. It was only when one when her anguished tossing and turning turn particularly fitful and left her deposited onto the floor did she begin to snap out of it. She remembered that she wasn't quite alone.
There was a reason she'd not slept in her own bed.
Navigating by touch, she made her to her room. Inside she could hear the faint sound of shallow breaths being taken.
Shortly after she'd found him, Roman had collapsed. Her role in the fighting had felt so meaningless by that point that in the end she couldn't bear to leave him there. She'd dragged him back and left him in her bed to recover. He hadn't reacted to her entering the room, so he must have still been asleep.
She slid to the floor in the corner, wrapping her arms around her knees, resigning herself to wait. And wait.
As the coolness of night came around again with no change. Hunger gnawed at her, but she couldn't find the strength to move. Despite sitting there, nearly motionless as the hours had crawled by, she felt more and more exhausted, begging for sleep whenever it would come in hopes that it might take her somewhere else for a while.
The next time she stirred it wasn't a random occurrence. She heard what could only have been Roman stirring. It was beginning to warm up again, so she knew another day had come.
"Where... am I?" she heard him murmur.
"U-umm-" At her voice, she heard a startled gasp come from him and heard him scrambling to move.
"Y-you..." She cringed as he took notice of her. "Why am I here? Did you...?"
"Yes..." she admitted in a timid whisper.
"Why?!" She heard his feet hit the floor. She reached for the wall to steady herself, trying to stand, but- "Don't!" he shouted at her. "Just... stay out of my way!" She heard him come closer... then pass by her, until she couldn't hear his steps any longer. She tried to extend her senses, but it was all jumbled nonsense. Her heart hammering away in her chest seemed to scramble any information before she could try to decipher it.
However, before long it became clear enough that he was gone.
Now she truly was alone.
. . .
Finally she grew hungry enough that she could resist the need no longer. Eating seemed to calm her just a little, enough that she was able to begin sensing the world around her again, if only a little. She noticed that things weren't quite perfectly in order, so that became her next goal. Then, with nothing left to do, she tried to sleep again.
It became her routine, however barren and simple it was. Sleep, eat, clean. Sleep, eat, clean. It kept her from thinking too much. She wasn't even really certain how much time was passing. Sometimes she'd take note of the shifting of temperatures, but that was all.
It was strange. For her everything had changed, and yet she'd expected... more. Had they actually won, then? But if they'd won, why hadn't she heard anything? Surely someone would have come by by now. Had they lost? If so, why were things as calm as they were? Nothing felt real anymore.
Such things were the last thing she wanted to worry about, but already things had become so routine and empty that her mind had begun to wander.
Coincidentally, perhaps, it was around then that answers arrived.
She heard the door open first. Startled, she quickly shuffled toward it until she was close enough to tell who it was.
"Velona..." he said, his voice holding no warmth.
"R-Roman..." She swallowed dryly. "Wh-wh-"
"Your stupid rebellion got Freeza's attention." It took a few moments for it to fully register, but even she knew that name. A trembling began in her body. "I don't know what they expected. Even if they'd won, this was going to be the final result."
"I-I-" Velona couldn't find her voice.
"Do you really have nothing to say?" Roman sounded disappointed. Frustrated.
"What... now?" she finally asked.
"Nothing. There's nothing anyone can do. I'm sure he's going to punish you all." Punish. What kind of punishment? She'd heard of him, she knew he was bad, but how bad exactly? How did he punish people? She considered what the crime had been; how many people had been involved.
It all seemed to add up to one answer: more people would die.
"I guess that's it, then." Roman scoffed and turned away from her, but he didn't leave. He made it to the door, but stopped, just standing there.
"Roman?" she asked in a small voice. If he walked away again, it would be for the last time, wouldn't it? She'd be alone, perhaps for the rest of her soon to be very short life. Part of her wanted to beg, but she didn't know what for. How could she, though? She was one of those who'd earned their punishment.
"Why did you bring me here?" He asked again, louder.
". . ." Her mouth opened, but the words didn't come right away. She had to take a breath and try again. She didn't really know the answer, not in a way that she could put into words, but her current thoughts at least gave her an answer, "I didn't want to be alone..."
He spun around, his fist hitting the wall, "THEN WHY-!?!?" He stopped, letting out an angry growl. "Hmph, it doesn't matter. You still owe me."
"I-. . . what?"
"You want to survive this? Then work for it. Find three others and bring them to me. I can at least make use of you before Freeza exterminates you all," he spat.
Her jaw just hung open, now completely lost. Things were taking a number of sudden turns.
"Ugh, just head towards the saiyan territory from here. I'll find you first. Or... well I suppose if I don't it won't really matter anymore. You have until tonight." With that, he turned and left her there. She stood there, shaking and mind racing, but with one little thought racing more frantically than the rest.
She had a goal now. She could find her way to him again.
. . .
"Hello," she spoke in a subdued voice, her throat totally dry.
"Oh, um, Velona wasn't it?" The older member of her race responded. "I suppose your parents didn't make it. I'm sorry."
"Yes. It's fine." It wasn't. "That's not why I'm here." She spoke so robotically. She'd spent an hour rehearsing her idea in her head, but nothing came out right. "Freeza's mad, errr, I mean..." She shook her head. "M-my parents had a plan in case things failed. You have a child right? I'm helping get children to a safe hiding place."
The older woman recoiled slightly in shock, "F-Freeza?"
". . . we've, uhh, heard the saiyans speaking of him. He's likely coming here."
"I-I see. Yes, please, take her her to safety. Wh-what should the rest of us do?"
"I don't know. Anything else was... beyond me."
"I-it's OK, child. We'll figure that out ourselves I suppose."
That was how she'd ended up with the first terrified child following her. She knew the other girl, but not well. She'd spent so much time with Roman that she hadn't gotten to know the neighboring children all that well. Ironically, it might have been that fact that would save... some of them.
Not even a handful, really.
"Hello, I'm sorry to bother you, but there's no time..." The next time went a little smoother, and another girl a little younger than her was following her. She was pretty sure she was supposed to have a brother.
Oh, but he'd been older. Like herself.
There was no time for such thoughts. One more family, then.
"Hello, I'm sorry to bother you, but there's no time." She spoke more hurriedly, the words coming more naturally now. She already had the first two shuffling nervously behind her, lending more weight to her words. "The attack failed, so I'm helping to hide the children."
"But we were told the saiyans weren't retaliating..."
"They're waiting. There's reason to believe Freeza himself is coming."
She could practically feel the fear.
"Oh no. Th-then hurry!" Soon enough twins were added to their group, finally adding a boy to their number. They were all younger than her, which was no surprise. Their age had ensured they wouldn't be involved.
She was nervous, though. Roman had said three. She'd known the first two families well enough, thinking she would get her three from them. The third had thrown her off and now she had an extra. But what could she do, drive one of them off? Shoot them in the leg? No, she'd just frighten all of them and she'd be alone again.
She'd just have to hope Roman wasn't too strict.
"Wh-where are we going?" one asked as they followed her. No doubt they knew where the saiyan territory was. They'd all been told to stay far away for years, but now she was dragging them into it. "Don't we need to get more people?"
"No. Just you is good for now," Velona kept her answer vague.
"Is this the way to the hiding spot?"
"We'll be safe, just keep following me." She wasn't sure even she believed that, but what was the alternative? She didn't actually know of a good hiding place. What was she to do? Drag them into the forests? They'd all die within a week out there.
It was so strange that at this point the sight of Roman could bring her any sort of relief. She was tired, though. She'd just added her own people to the list of those she'd lied to. She was effectively kidnapping their children and hoping it was for the better. What if this was just Roman getting a head start on their punishment?
Either way, at least now perhaps things were back out of her hands. Every action she took made her feel dirty. Maybe if she let Roman take over the lead it would be... easier.
"I said three." But it was too soon to get her hopes up. He immediately said what she feared he would.
"They're twins. It's just one-"
"I. Said. Three."
"V-Velona, what's going on?" another of the children asked, said twins now clinging to each other in terror.
"Pick one." Roman glared.
"Wh-what?" Velona took a step back in shock.
"To get rid of. Or should I do it?" He lifted a hand, aimed at the group.
"Velona, what's happening?! Velona-"
"Be quiet!" Velona suddenly snapped. She couldn't think. They whimpered, but ceased their cries for the moment. "I-I can't-"
"Fine then. That one's too small." Roman honed in on the younger of the twins.
"No!" Velona stepped inbetween them. "Forget it then! I'll just stay!"
"Not an option. I said you owe me."
Velona could hardly stand it all. He'd become so cold. Only days ago he'd been her best friend, but now he was like a different person. Now he was just like how she'd been told the saiyans were. She'd thought he was different. No, he had been. Because of her.
It was all because of her.
"J-just hurt me instead! I can't take this anymore!" Velona begged. The guilt was too much.
'R-run! Hurry!' She heard the children behind her whisper.
"W-wait!" Velona turned, but they'd already started to run off. A moment later and she lost track of them, and of everything. An explosion rocked her and she was left trembling in place. Her senses shut off even before she could think about it. She didn't want to know. She just wanted to stand there in the dark and in ignorance.
Roman growled, "Keep them under control and hurry up!" he barked. Then she heard it, the whimpering of the other children. Slowly she extended her senses and found them all huddled together on their knees, a crater blown into the ground nearby. A warning shot.
"J-just follow me. We don't have a choice anymore," she told them weakly. She wasn't sure what had changed his mind, but she wasn't about to question it.
They left the main part of her home city behind, and then passed through the ruins of the initial conflict of the invasion. After that they were fully in the saiyan territory. She followed as close to Roman as she dared, making sure the rest of the children were close behind her.
Soon they were led to an open area where the saiyans kept their ships. The ships were old; big, bulky, oblong spacecraft that could hold dozens of individuals.
"Oi, kid! Whatcha got there!?" a gruff voice called out. Velona and the other children froze up immediately.
Roman shrugged, "Call them pets."
"HA! You're a twisted little brat, ain'tcha! Well let me take a look-"
"No. Just stay out of my way."
"Look kid, I was second in command before your father kicked it-"
"He's dead, yes. That leaves me." Roman didn't budge.
The man let out a guffaw and then jabbed Roman with his finger, "Listen up. That monarchy crap is for Planet Vegeta. Out here we follow a chain of command." He then pushed by Roman and grabbed Velona's face, jerking her head around. "Eh, a little scrawny, but I guess I can see why you'd want to keep her around. Not sure what you plan to do with the rest of 'em though. Can they even w- HEY!"
Roman's hand suddenly clamped down on the older saiyan's wrist, "I said go away," Roman hissed. CRUNCH! The armored bracer around the saiyan's wrist began to crack under Roman's grip. "And last I knew, saiyan's follow the strongest. If you were weaker than my father, then you're weaker than me." He continued to squeeze and twist until the older saiyan fell to a knee, putting them eye-to-eye. "If I take your arm, will you even be good enough for second in command?"
"Who is in command now?"
"Y-you are..." the man choked out, and finally Roman let go.
"Good, then-" Roman turned his head and froze.
"I-i-it's him..." The older saiyan swallowed hard, now clutching his crushed wrist. "F-Freeza."
"Get them onto the ship," Roman ordered, gesturing to Velona and the children. They didn't get far. The being known as Freeza hovered over to them, sitting in some sort of flying throne.
"Which one of you monkeys is in charge here? No one can seem to give me proper directions and it's grating on my nerves," Freeza spoke. His voice was distinguished, but not what Velona would have considered threatening. Nothing about him was truly threatening, but the tone had shifted drastically the second he'd arrived.
"I am," Roman spoke up.
"That's amusing, but I'm not in a joking mood. Try again, and serious answers only." A weight seemed to settle over the area and finally Velona began to get a sense of why the being was so feared.
"My father was our leader, but he fell in battle. That leaves me."
Freeza sighed, "Ah, that's right. You beasts do follow a monarchy, don't you? Hmm." He pressed a button on the device adorning the side of his face. It let out a few beeps before Freeza smirked, "I see. And even the strength to back up your claim. You monkeys are such amusing creatures. A child taking the reigns and the rest of you can't even tell him no!" Freeza cackled. "Fine then. It hardly matters to me anyway. Your story tells me enough I suppose. Just get the rest of your ilk back into their ships and off the planet. That should make you happy, shouldn't it? I've heard you monkeys hate being cooped up too long."
"As you wish."
"O-of course, Lord Freeza. Right away, Lord Freeza." The older saiyan added frantically.
"Well, I see which one of you knows respect... and which one of you actually has a spine. Now if only you brutes could combine the two." Freeza frowned and turned his floating throne around, hovering off.
"Idiot! Are you trying to get us killed!? You didn't even bow!"
"Just get on the ship..." Roman grumbled.
. . .
Velona had never been in space before. It was a strange feeling. Or, rather, she didn't feel much at all. The ship's artificial gravity made it so she hardly even noticed a difference as they passed out of the atmosphere. A slight rumble here and there and then silence. She couldn't even see her planet. She didn't bother extending her senses anymore. She just sat against a bulkhead trying to ignore everything. . . . . . .. . .
Everything was foreign now anyway. And it smelled funny.
"Ha! Let the show begin!" A voice called out.
"Woo! Fireworks! About time! Bye bye, you scrawny, pale fuckers!"
Velona stood with her knees trembling. She found her way to one of the ships viewports and, with a deep breath, pulled her blindfold down from her eyes. First she saw her planet. It spun lazily amongst the stars like a pretty marble. Then she saw other ships hovering nearby, but one was different. It was a circle, and from it came a beam of light, like a shining, golden needle, extending out toward her planet.
She lost track of it for a moment as it pierced through the atmosphere, but then... another light bloomed. A bright, burning light on the surface of the planet. It grew... and grew... and then tendrils, no, cracks, spiderwebbed out from it, crawling across the surface. Then, faster and faster, the light spread. A fiery nova began to wash over the surface of the whole planet.
Her pretty marble was burning.
It was... an incomprehensible sight. She had no frame of reference for what it all really meant or how she should feel. She just knew... she could never go back now. She felt a tear begin to fall down her cheek even as she failed to fully make sense of what she was seeing.
Then she was shoved roughly to the floor, no longer able to see what was happening. She looked up to see Roman, his arms crossed, staring out the window, his face lit up by the fiery lights outside.
"Don't look if you're going to get so upset over it..." he muttered, keeping his gaze forward.
And that was the last she saw of her home.
Velona slowly sat up. It was strange how now being awake seemed to be the real reprieve for her. Sleep had just become a necessary evil. She wandered back out into the sitting room and saw the majin laying where she'd left her.
"I wonder... are you sleeping as soundly as you seem to be?" she murmured to herself. She then sighed and began looking around. Did these buildings have running water? She really didn't want to have to bathe in a pond outside. She found a kitchen of sorts and it seemed functional.
She righted some nearby upended furniture and sat down with a glass of water. If the sink worked, presumably the bath would as well.
She lifted the glass to her lips only for a shockwave to rock the building and spill the water over her. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. They were probably just training, right?
". . . I'll worry about it if it happens again." She took a sip of what remained. Everything was awful, but what else was new?