Ayano stepped forward with Yuichi finished. "Guess I'll try to make sense of mine." Of all of them, she had the least amount of clarity and did not work in obvious ways. "I refer to it as bad luck power or manipulation, as you seem fond of that word."

"That's rather situational." It did not make a lot of sense to Chiharu just as she began. She knew that the woman had some sort of power that changed the direction of objects, but luck based really did not explain things in a way that fit. "There's more to it than that though."

"Yeah, it's not very useful, but when it is needed it's powerful."

"Ayano saved us more than once with her luck power. It's the real thing."

"Not doubting that, but there's more to it than that though. If it was just luck based, you wouldn't have the sort of control over it like you do."

"Honestly I can't control it. That's the problem and why it's not useful. But it is, like you said, situational." She thought back to the moment where they captured Chiharu. Things were supposed to have played out completely differently. She saw Yuki dying and that could not be allowed.

Ayano half turned away as the rest did not really know this part. "I call it bad luck because that's what my whole life has been. Even my birth was a mistake, just shitty luck. So I guess it makes sense that I get a shitty power."

More started coming out than she expected from Ayano. They were all still quite the mystery and small pieces of their personalities and histories came out through interactions and behavior, but not enough to make a picture. This was the first time she started to understand one of them.

"I'm able to change bad luck into good luck. But only when it's related to someone dying."

"Is that true, Ayano?" Kenta asked, he placed his hand on her shoulder. Unlike, Chiharu, they were a little more aware of how her powers worked, but even that was unknown to him. "You never said anything. I don't need to bear that alone."

'That certainly fills in the questions I had about her. It makes a lot more sense now, though that's an extremely specific requirement.' Chiharu thought about what Ayano said and what she knew about powers. Having a condition for the activation of the power was a rare case. She had seen it with some of her men needing either a tool or item as a means of channeling or activating the power, but such a specific condition as to involve death seemed too narrow.

The knowing that each time it activates a death would have happened definitely seemed like something more than a teenager should carry with them. Seeing the troubled expression, Chiharu stepped forward to Ayano. "It's like I said to the others. Your power will evolve. There's more to it than just what you see right now. I recommend focusing on creating safe scenarios for you to experiment in to find your conditions, I don't believe it is so narrowed to only be someone dying."

"But it only has ever worked in that situation."

"Do you believe that you have a worthless power?"

"Yes, of course it is! It's a shitty pointless ability that doesn't let me do what I want!"

"What do you want to do?"

"Protect my family!"

"Have you not already been doing that then with it? You've saved them from numerous deaths already. I can't imagine a more valuable power than saving a life."

Ayano stared blankly at Chiharu as though she got hit with a sledgehammer in the chest. Her focus on the inability to do more had blinded her in a way she never noticed. Bad luck and a shit life remained her only constant. It felt natural to her. "I...never thought of it like that…"

"I think you have a lot to think about. Our power comes from within us and is tied to our mental image and state. It responds to needs and strong emotions. Shackle yourself and you shackle your power. I think you've got a lot left in you."

Chapter 616 - Nothing Wasted

It took more than a few minutes for things to calm down after everything that came out. Though it gave Nao more confidence to talk when it came for her to step forward. The perceptions that they had of Chiharu changed quite a bit from the first time, even if the pain remained. "I can tell when people are around." A vague answer that clearly did not explain how it actually functioned.

"How do you detect people? Is it in your mind? Through a device? Do you have to do something or activate something?" Like the others, Chiharu had figured out as much about Nao's power, but the specific remained undefined and it was possible the girl had no clue, something that she planned for just as much as her withholding.

"I sense something, I guess. It's just something that is instinctual for me. It's nothing in my mind, I don't think, though I can picture it if I know the area well enough."

'So it's that way...I guess she'll have a lot of work…' Of the four Nao and a little bit Ayano had the most unique results from the tests. So from that she hoped some of that translated into their powers. They remained poorly defined and their curious properties would continue to elude Chiharu. "There's clearly something that you're detecting. Though yours is not something you can test alone, so you may call on me if your friends are busy. You'll need to do a lot of tests to understand what it is you're sensing before you can start to refine that further."


Chiharu clapped her hands to close out the introductions. "Now that you have a plan, it's now on you to improve and focus on your powers. You'll still be expected to do all of your physical training in addition to your power training. But it will be on you to guide yourself. I can't tell you how or what to do to improve your powers, only offer suggestions. So it'll be on you to see your goals and reach them."

Training continued with new direction and furor. Gaining a clearer understanding of their powers, Chiharu began to form a plan in her mind. They had as she already knew useful abilities and the unknowns became even more valuable. She could see them being a strong team. 'They just need to learn how to use their powers better and fight smarter. Not sure how long it'll take, but this will help in my mission.'

Afternoon bled into evening, she returned after managing her daily affairs with her men and keeping Tamotsu from getting suspicious of her activities. Though she worried how long she could keep it going given that she had to work with them more closely. Eventually, something would slip, someone would get curious. She just needed it to last long enough.

At the end, she was the leader, what she did on her own time was none of their business, no matter how overprotective they could be. She just did not want to deal with more headaches than she already found on her lap. But a new headache arrived for her as she stepped into the gym. Her phone went off vibrating silently as they all looked over at her.

Retrieving her phone from within her clothes, she looked down to see a message came in from her info broker. She did not expect to hear back from him so soon on her request. Which troubled her a little about what it could mean. The message itself was terse and unclear.

'Come at your earliest convenience.'

Her brow pinched reading the message. 'Is this how he works? I don't even know if what he has to tell me is useful. I guess managing information is his thing…' The network was secure as far as she knew. It would be less trouble to just send her what he learned.

Kenta approached Chiharu while she was lost in thought with the others looking around at a distance. "Trouble?" A bit of eagerness shone in his eyes. Only a week and already he sought the next challenge.

She glanced up from her phone, seeing him and reading his expression quickly. Slipping the phone back, she saw the others slowly starting to approach, curious what happened to actually produce an emotion from her, even if it was small. "Most likely of some type."

"Something with the UN?"

'Your excitement is bleeding out, Kenta…' He really was bad at doing anything subtly. There was a bit of charm to that, a trait that she had seen and found comforting from someone else. "I'll be finding out."

"You don't know?"

"I have my network of informants out gathering intel for me constantly. They only reply when they find something, but I'm concerned with many things, the UN isn't the only problem we face."

"If it is them, you'll take us with you, right? That's the whole point of all of this."

He started stepping closer letting his emotions control his body more. "Calm down, Kenta, if this is something that requires the team, I'll let you all know." Frustration and disappointment immediately washed over his poor poker face. "I'm not about to send you into something that's a waste of your talents or something that will get you killed."

"But you can't know everything will be safe beforehand," reminded Ayano.

"Yes, but suicide is not the way I operate. Success has to be possible. But you're getting worked up over an unknown. Keep at your training and head back home. Even if it is a mission, it won't be tonight." It did not fully temper their eagerness, but they seemed to understand, which was enough for her. They returned to the spots where they were working on their powers. 'I didn't expect that sort of reaction from them. That sort of eagerness is more likely to get them killed than help me. They're not ready…'

Only a week had passed, there was not going to be a mission that she felt comfortable taking them on. But it was more surprising that they seemed to be less hesitant around her. She found it unlikely that they forgot or forgave her, but perhaps they were moving on. She really could not be certain. They had motivations outside of her, which seemed to be enough drive.

Once things calmed down, Chiharu left the gym and sank into her void. Safely in her world, she clenched her fists. "I shouldn't have even said a word to them. I'm the leader, I deal with this on my own. They follow orders. Damn it...I still have a long way to go. I shouldn't be lowering my guard."

A few minutes to herself, Chiharu collected her emotions and composed herself for the journey. She needed some answers to what his poorly timed message meant. What could he not send over the phone? Or was this just the way he operated? She barely knew a thing about him.

Moving out, Chiharu snuck around the city to reach the bar by the time night fell fully. Through the bouncer and into the interior proper, she saw it had about as much traffic as previous visits. Though the broker was occupied at the moment. He gave her an acknowledging glance before returning to his customer.

She sat down at the end of the bar away from whomever it was that needed something. Everyone kept to themselves having business that did not involve anyone. And at least for now, she did not recognize any faces, even if they all might be in the same business. In time, that would change, she foresaw that reality.

Leaning on the counter, she thought about the kids and planned out future training. 'I still need to give them real combat training, strategy lessons, it's like I'm making a school…' She sighed internally at what she got herself into now. 'I can't really complain as this is of my own making.'

Thirty minutes of mental scheduling, the shadow of the broker fell over her. He slid over the drink, one she assumed was juice. "You came quicker than I expected."

"You weren't clear, so I came."

"Yeah, powers make things weird and my business relies on things staying secure."

"Going analog then."

"Troubling as that might be for you, when I explain things you'll understand my caution."

That already set a more ominous tone that Chiharu planned. She did not know who these thieves were, but if they had the broker sweating, she really worried what they all got themselves into at this point. 'I'm more certain now that this is definitely too soon for them. Another solo job…' Chiharu did not like where things headed. She grabbed them so that solo jobs were not required, but it was too soon.

Staring down at the drink questioning what he gave her, she mentally prepared for whatever it was that he learned. "What you got?"

"Have you heard the name Kami no Kodotachi?"

To be continued...