"But why German?" Annette asked quite suddenly at breakfast. "I mean, why did you turn into a U-boat?"

Taylor finished chewing on a bit of bacon before answering. "Considering where we live, how can you be surprised."

"Yes, but why not an American submarine? Like the one you can turn into now; what was her name again, Archerfish? Although I do remember my grandmother telling me about the blackouts during the war because of the U-boats. But still, we're neither German nor Japanese."

"Perhaps that's why. I mean, there was a lot of U-boat activity off the east coast during the war," Taylor pondered, then, with a swirl of light, replaced with a short blonde girl who now appeared to have a little bit of Japanese and European descent.

"However, Yuu is both." Dressed in a dark grey and white bathing suit, she then announced cheerfully, "Submarine Ro-500 reporting as ordered, formerly U-boat U-511, called Yuu!"

Annette laughed a little, running her fingers through her daughter's hair before sitting back with a warm smile and continuing with breakfast.

"What about Yūdachi?"

Taylor tilted her head, lost in thought. "I don't know, maybe because the captives were mostly Japanese. She answered first, although she has several sisters."

"Like your cousin?"

"Oh, U-853*." Taylor smiled sadly, remembering visiting the wreck. "Although, as Ro, I would consider her my sister. We were both Type IXC submarines, after all. Now, Archerfish has a hundred and twenty sisters."

"One hundred and twenty, really?"

"Yep, the Balao class was the largest in the United States Navy," Taylor replied proudly.

"It's bad enough that our grocery expenses have increased; I couldn't imagine feeding that many of you." Anette laughed.

With breakfast put away, she asked, "So, you still have plans on going out this morning?"

"Yes, please."

"All right, although I am still not happy, I am very proud of you for helping those people, but please, please try and keep yourself out of harm's way. Oh, and be back before lunch."

Taylor gave her mother a snappy salute and said, "Aye, Aye, Captain!"

Sixteen-year-old Jenny Aoki yawned as she finished putting the rest of the boxes on the shelf behind her. Her family's grocery store always opened early on the weekends. It had been her older brother's responsibility until recently, and now he opened the store with her father during the week. Not that she could sleep in much longer with school starting a few weeks away.

"Is everything put away," her mother called out.

"Yes, Mom."

"Has Yūdachi -sama come by?"

"No, Baba, not yet," Jenny answered her grandmother, who slipped behind her to sit on a stool and began going through the store's weekly orders.

Her grandmother, her dad's mom, actively helping out at the store had been a pleasant surprise. For the longest time, she remained listless, lost in her own world of grief after losing her husband and home when the island of Kyushu disappeared beneath the waves.

Being six at the time, Jenny only vaguely remembered their house in Kumamoto Prefecture. And after the Endbringer's attack, her dad moved the entire family to Brockton Bay after promises of a position at a Mitsubishi plant being built in the area. But that, along with so many other dreams, never came to fruition.

Recently though, not that anything huge had changed in Brockton Bay, the city pretty much sucked, but her small corner of the world suddenly started to look better. And Jenny was pretty sure that it began at the start of the summer. Now, she couldn't really blame Yūdachi; that would be weird, but besides being funny, her appearance one Saturday morning seemed to have started it.

Grinning like a kid in a candy store, the blonde stocked up on all sorts of snacks, then began asking for things that her mother told her hadn't existed in a long time. For some reason, her baachan was at the store that day, and the two started to reminisce in Japanese about food and all things Sasebo, where her grandmother had grown up.

And almost like clockwork, every Saturday morning right after they opened, Yūdachi would appear to purchase a hoard of snacks for the week. Sometime afterward, she would sit with her baachan and just talk—unfortunately, most of the time in Japanese, which incentivized her to practice. On one occasion, her grandmother even set up some sort of tea ceremony with the other baachans in the neighborhood.

"Hmm, Yūdachi running late. Is the open sign turned on?" Her mother inquired.

"Yes, Mom." Jenny grinned; it seemed everyone was looking forward to the teenager's visit.

It was still morning when the number eighteen bus from John Quincy to 11th Avenue picked up a young Japanese girl south of the docks. Wearing the white summer version of a serafuku or school uniform, the blonde-haired teenager sat near the front of the bus after giving the driver a warm smile and a thank you.

Although her hair coloring and outfit were slightly out of place, the few bus riders didn't comment. This was Brockton Bay, so everyone kept to themselves until the new rider pulled out a worn copy of a book according to its kanji title was called the 'Pillow Book.'

An older woman smiled, then moved over and said something which was missed by the rest of the bus. The young girl replied, and those who understood Japanese could hear them talking about the book and the author, Sei Shonagon's life in 10th-century Japan.

That small discussion pulled in several more riders who began reminiscing about their time in school in Japan and what classes they took. A few others asked the girl about her uniform, commenting on how they used to wear something similar.

By the time Taylor stepped off the bus near a small shopping district, everyone had a smile on their face. The bus riders who sat apart at the start of the journey now congregated together. That feeling would continue to spread throughout the day, and part of the docks felt like a community for the first time in a long while.

Her morning patrol, at least, that's what her mother kept calling them, had been uneventful. Really, she just needed to put her keel into the water. It was purely unintentional that she continued to run into people needing her help.

Ok, perhaps not one percent true. Sure, Taylor's job wasn't to monitor the seaways, but the Coast Guard appreciated the help. The US government had shredded their budget, so the Coasties didn't have the manpower, much less the fuel, to be going out all the time. That also hampered their international and domestic law enforcement duties and ability to run counterdrug patrols.

So it took little to no effort for Taylor to report what ships were on the water, their speed, location, and time of day, and radio that information to the Coast Guard. It was also an excellent way for a submarine to practice her torpedo runs.

Admittedly, some of her mom's other concerns were valid. Although, she wasn't exactly worried about her daughter's safety, especially after Taylor manifested her destroyer rigging. No sane person would want to be on the receiving end of her 12.7 cm naval guns. Instead, her mom wisely pointed out that stopping for snacks as Yūdachi might not be the best of ideas as the PRT knew that name. Still, even though her serafuku-style uniform might have been more popular before the war, showing up as Ro wearing a bathing suit would probably be more problematic, much less Yuu.

And no, she wasn't allowed to go as Taylor, especially with all the rumors floating around PHO about the villain Lung. Since arriving in Brockton Bay late last year and fighting the Protectorate to a standstill, his growing presence had made it unsafe for a girl of any age to go wandering around the docks.

Humming an old Japanese folk song, she pushed aside her long blonde hair to read over her shopping list. This afternoon Taylor planned on putting together a nice lunch as a thank-you to everyone coming over to the condo to help them unpack. The small Asian grocery store she discovered earlier in the summer should hopefully have everything.

"Although I wonder where I can find Zwiebelkuchen, poi," she murmured.

"Hey, Hey," a small voice called out on her shoulder.

Dressed in the Lung's gang Azn Bad Boys' red and green colors, three girls had been following her since she got off the bus. They didn't appear to be particularly confrontational, just somewhat curious. Either way, there was nothing to concern herself for now as there was shopping to do.

Putting the list away, she nodded to the small fairy. "I know; let's ignore them for now."

Greeting several people in the streets who recognized her from her weekly visits, she noted the girls were still following when she entered the store.

"Ohayo, Jenny," Taylor called out.

"Good morning to you too, Yūdachi," the girl replied cheerfully. "Running a little late today."

Noting the time, she set several packs of dried somen noodles in her basket. "Morning exercise took a little more time than usual."

The ringing of the bell announced that her stalkers had just entered the shop. Jenny looked nervous, which didn't bode well, but Taylor continued shopping.

The youngest of the three suddenly appeared next to her. "Hi, err, good morning. We overheard that your name is Yūdachi, right?"

Taylor, who had been looking for Mentsuyu or soup base, nodded. "That's right."

"Cool, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, what do you need?"

With a smile, she pointed to the tallest of the three girls and said, "I'm Keiko, and that's Ana, and the one with the question is Mei."

Mei waved a little and asked, "How do you get your hair so blonde? It never turns out right for me."

Taylor, much to her amusement, found herself in the middle of a hair-dying Q&A. She remembered having a similar discussion with her Aunt Zoe one Halloween when Emma, her best friend at that time, wanted to dye her hair white.

"I knew I needed a better clarifying shampoo," Mei groaned before picking up a bottle of tsuyu dipping sauce on the shelf.

"You should see my sister's hair; it's very pink," Taylor added with thanks, then placed it along with the scallions and ginger that Ana found into her basket.

"That's really cool," Keiko proclaimed while munching on some chocolate-covered Pokey sticks. "We should all dye our hair pink for the Cherry Blossom Festival."

"You know Sakura Matsuri isn't until the spring, right," Ana remarked, looking down at Taylor's shopping list. "I'm surprised your school allows you to dye your hair, Yūdachi. I can guess from your uniform that you don't go to Winslow."

"No, I don't."

"Wish I didn't. The place is a shithole," Keiko whined, then looked embarrassed. "Sorry."

Taylor laughed, waving it away. "Trust me, I heard worse."

"Ana should be in Arcadia; she's brilliant." Mia beamed. "Best grades in our year."

"Yours are pretty good, too; what's sad is that we can't even take decent AP classes at Winslow. Mom looked online for some summer enrollment, but they were too expensive," she lamented, obviously frustrated.

As the four approached the cash register, Taylor asked, "Go take a look at what Brockton College offers when you get a chance. If you don't mind losing your weekends, they are doing an outreach program to the local area high schools. And best of all, it's free."


With a grin, she set down her basket on the counter and reached into the white haversack she had over her shoulder. Pulling out a notebook she left on her captain's desk, she wrote the information down on a page before passing it to Mia.

"It's pretty new, they just put up a web page on the college's website the other day, but you should check it out. Oh, sorry, wrote it in kanji. Is that ok?"

"That's fine, Yūdachi." Passing the sheet to Ana, Mia then asked, "Can you write it in English too?"

"Sure." Taylor chuckled. "Do you also want a copy too, Keiko?"

"Nope," she said proudly. "School gives me hives."

"Is that all, Yūdachi?" Mrs. Akoi interrupted as she continued to ring up the items in the basket. "What about your snacks, Mia?"

"I'll pay for it all," Taylor answered. "They helped me with shopping today."

"That was surreal," Jenny remarked soon after the group exited the store.

Mia and her friends were a year behind her and, since entering Winslow, had been less than friendly. But today, it felt like the last year had never happened. Too bad they couldn't stay, but it was nice that Mia and the others said they would walk Yudachi back to the bus stop.

"What do you have there, Baba?"

The blonde had handed her grandmother a framed photo before leaving. Now she sat on her stool, running her hand over it.

"Come look at your Ojiisan."

"Oh, is that Itsuki? He's so young," her mom gushed with a watery smile. "Very handsome, just like his son."

Jenny frowned in confusion before moving over to take a look. "Why did Yūdachi have a picture of Grandad?"

"Why wouldn't she," her grandmother responded matter-of-factly.

In the photo was a group of Japanese officers dressed in black uniforms sitting on the bow of a ship. Jenny didn't really remember what her grandfather looked like, but picking him out was easy. However, she was having trouble with the kanji to determine the ship's name.

"It's the Shigure," Jenny's mom said as if reading her mind, then asked quietly, "Hiroto said his dad's ship sank?"

"Early in forty-five. Itsuki caught the mumps while on leave, so he was quarantined back in Kure when it happened."

Jenny ran her thumb over the photo, still not understanding why Yūdachi would have such a photo, but perhaps it didn't matter. Although both older women continued to speak with tears in their eyes, she was thankful for her visit.


* U-853 Sunk on 6 May 1945, six miles northeast of Block Island, in position 41.13N, 71.27W, by depth charges from the destroyer escort USS Atherton and the patrol frigate USS Moberly. 55 dead (all hands lost).