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Jul 25, 2021 5:58 PM
Maybe he's less dead than he at first appeared
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"Well. Tell me more about the Kawasaki incidents?"

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"Several victims have had their bodies unnaturally warped, all near the same area, but not centrally located in one location that could be contained within a barrier. Which means there's a curse of sufficient strength and intelligence to move around, or a curse user."

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"...warped? Sounds awful. Are we going somewhere to investigate it?"

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"We'll be investigating the previous incidents, which will likely give us clues as to what we're dealing with, but not lead us to where the culprit might be hiding. While we're in the area, we'll wait for another incident to occur that we can investigate, preferably within the hour of its occurrence, which will be much more conclusive."

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"I... see. Well, lead the way, ah... should I just call you Nanami-san?"

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"Yes. And I will call you Itadori-kun."

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"Sounds good."

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It's very narratively convenient, the way another incident occurs very soon. It's also narratively convenient, the way it's raining. The cinema is surrounded by police tape and reporters, and the three high schoolers' bodies, covered in black tarp, are being moved into vans to be taken to wherever it is they're going to be taken for examination.

(To Ieiri Shoko, is where they're going to be taken.)

The black tarps are not enough to hide the hideous malformations of the boys' skulls. In overall volume they more than doubled, but each of them has had unique changes: one's eyes and eyesockets expanded upwards and outwards into two thick antler-like appendages; one's mouth has been enormously vertically distended while the top of his head has been stretched up to nearly three times its normal height; and the third's jaws have been pushed down and forward with a conical dent separating them from the rest of his head.

Inside the room where the showing was held, the row where the kids had been sitting is also blocked off by police tape, but the copious amount of blood they lost has extended to the rows before and after theirs, too, making it somewhat moot.

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It is a grisly scene. Nanami surveys it with cold analytics, and leaves it at that. Feelings don't come into it.

"Did Gojo walk you through sensing cursed energy signatures?"

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"...no, but I think I know how to do it. I did a bit of it on my first official mission a few weeks ago."

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"Then tell me what you see."

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Itadori squints and looks around, then points. "I don't think I... see... them. So much as sense them. Does that make sense?" He points at one of the exits. "It's going that way."

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"It does, but since we don't have a word for sensing cursed energy, we traditionally use 'see' as a loaner. And yes, it is. But first, we must go through this place methodically. Chasing off after trails without thinking is foolish and irresponsible. The cursed energy for the technique originated here." He steps into the bloodstains and motions with his hand to grasp where the concentration of leftover cursed energy is strongest. "Three major concentrations, above the top of the victim's seats. So that means that we're likely working against something that's touch ranged."

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He nods along with Nanami's explanation. "Okay, that makes sense. Not... amazing for my specialty in close combat but good to know in advance."

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"Yes. Best to start channeling cursed energy into a shield now, in case we're ambushed." He gives another glance at the crime scene. "From the distance of the blood splatters, I believe the change was fast. Unclear if there was any kind of incubation time. If there was, I suspect it was subtle until it wasn't, or the victims would have moved. Fled, flailed, fallen out of their seats, the like."

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"Aren't there security cameras in here that could have captured something?"

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"Not the curse itself, but the change caused by it, yes. Good thinking."

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"And there could have been someone else, too, in case it was a curse user and not a curse. ...but you have checked this already, haven't you?"

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"Yes, and I've sent Ijichi to confiscate the footage from the local authorities and isolate the time period in which this occurred. But looking at security footage when curses don't show up in them doesn't seem obvious to some."

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He looks around, then back at the taped-off aisle. "There's a trail leaving here... but not a trail coming here."

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"Mm. Which suggests the effect was either sustained, takes time to taper off, or. Something much worse."

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"We are being led to a trap?"

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"Possibly, yes."

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"Okay." He flexes his fingers and focuses his cursed energy on his skin.

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"First we'll review the footage," says Nanami. "Ten minutes will not be enough for the trail to fade entirely, and it might give us valuable information."

And he turns to lead Tokan off to where Ijichi has a television.

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