Disclaimer: The author doesn't own Dragonball Z. This story was written for fun, not profit. Please don't sue.

Prologue: Road Less Traveled

"I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

-- Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

May 756

He was a strong man. More than that, he was a desperate one. He was being hunted by the Royal Home Guard, the personal army of the Emperor of Earth. Normally this wouldn't have been cause for concern, but he had killed a Home Guard captain -- and if they were good for anything, the Guard excelled at taking care of its own. So it was with unusual diligence that his pursuers closed in on him, and it was with particular desperation that he snatched up a likely hostage in a nameless farming settlement.

He could have grabbed a different person. He would have, if another innocent civilian had been closer -- if, indeed, the girl hadn't tripped over a loose paving brick and stumbled into his path. But his hand closed on a black-haired teenager in a blue gi, and the course of galactic history changed forever.

The course of the fugitive's life changed, too. For one thing, it became considerably shorter.

When Sergeant Lynn Merrick led his men into the settlement minutes later, he found himself confronted with a strange sight. The fugitive was crumpled in the dirt and the teenager was standing over him, breathing hard. There was blood on his face and on her knuckles, but she hadn't killed him.

While his men dragged the fugitive back to face his execution, Merrick watched the girl who would become his commander -- who would, in fact, become the living legend of the Home Guard and the unlikely queen of a dying race.

Her name was Chichi Mau. She was fifteen, and she was looking for a boy she hadn't seen in years. She wanted to marry him.

And Merrick did something few Home Guards would have bothered to do in that day and age. He looked at the girl with her thick Chinese accent and her strangely proud bearing. He looked at the blood on her hands. Then he met her eyes and offered her a chance to see the world. He asked her to join the Guard.

She hesitated, torn between two paths. But she was a king's daughter, proud of her heritage and as stubborn as any general, and at that moment the love of battle ran strong in her.

Sometimes Fate leaves two paths open. In another universe -- one where a teenager and a sergeant never crossed paths -- the girl became a wife, a mother, and a homemaker. Her battles were for the well-being of her husband and her sons. In that universe there was no blood on her hands, no sword at a tyrant's throat, no voyages across space and no desperate last stands on alien worlds.

In that universe, Chichi Mau married Goku Son. In that universe, she went right.

The girl in the gi looked Merrick in the eye. And after a moment's hesitation, she went left.