Disclaimer: Dragonball Z is the property of Akira Toriyama. This story was written for fun, not profit.

Author's Note: This is an Alternate Universe story. It follows the canon timeline until a few years after Pan and Bra's birth, and then it heads for left field. What does that mean? It means that while I may use a few elements from GT, GT didn't happen. So there. Nyah. ^_^

Second Chance
Prologue: In Fire

Spring 783

Marron was twelve years old.

She was not a quiet child, but she was an observant one, and she had long ago learned that sometimes watching and listening were more important than speaking. So she watched her mother buy a black dress and a hat with a small veil to cover her face, and she listened when her father explained patiently that she must show respect and not fidget. Eventually he stopped explaining, because Marron had heard it so many times that repeating it again made no difference. She knew all about funerals. There were too many that spring.

She watched the caskets and the mourners, but more than that, she watched the helpless grief and rage. No one knew who had created the strange firebombs, which had proven themselves capable of killing Saiyans at close range. No one knew if there was a rhyme or a reason behind the attacks. No one knew who or what rendered the Dragon Balls all but useless and sealed the mortal realm from Ano'yo, so that not even Uranai Baba dared travel from one plane to the next.

Marron watched, and because she was observant, she saw what others didn't want to see. As every old standby failed them, her parents and their friends resorted to more and more normal, mundane ways to cope. Without their ability to defy death, they were just very powerful normal people. They argued and wept. Friendships fractured and families splintered, because they didn't understand. They didn't know what to do.

But Marron did.

That was why she asked her parents to train her -- not because she wanted to be a fighter, but because she wanted to know what it was like to live in both worlds. Even after the Deadly Spring ended and the firebombs vanished, she was determined not to be helpless like the adults had been. She would learn to live in both worlds, and she would be good at it. No one would ever catch her off guard.

Someone with that kind of motivation can go far. For all her faults, Marron had motivation to spare.

She went far. Others didn't.

And it began.