Cutscene: Forever Delayed

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One day, Jack Lerner left his hotel room and went for a walk. There is photographic evidence of this. He appears in the backgrounds of photos taken around Sumaru that day, including some that, oddly, seem to take place at the same moment. He's never an intrusive presence: just there, lingering, often looking away into the distance. Later that night, associates -- club owners, hoteliers, one-night stands, e-mail penpals -- get six hundred and sixty-six texts, exactly, to their various mobile phones, all from an unlisted number, all with a strange file attachment that can't be opened. Then nothing.

Persons investigating the disappearance of the British diplomat will puzzle over a piece of evidence kept withheld from the public. There is a traffic camera near the last spot Jack Lerner was ever sighted. The intersection was empty of cars. He walked into the center of it, looked at the camera, and looked away. And then, between one second and the next, he was gone, as if he'd never been there at all, as if he was meant to be somewhere else and finally, finally realized it.

Yukio Fujii, RAID when the mask is on, went to America. It was just supposed to be a few dates -- a sort of cultural exchange between POWER-7 and some American wrestling promotion, to get the fans to come out for exotic puroresu flavor. Then POWER-7 told him that, no, both parties were benefitting from this, so why not milk it a bit more? Yukio was disappointed. He had a degree to pursue in Japan. He had a life, a girl. But he signed a contract, didn't he?

Long distance relationships are nothing without communication, and Yukio, the bull, has never been the best communicator. Skypes and emails grew less frequent. Things just didn't work out, or at least, that's what he'll tell himself. It was just bad luck. Work kept him too busy. The little promotion he went to got less little. His workrate, his athleticism, his intensity... he got popular. All the things that kept him from normalcy as a human made him better as a wrestler. Beloved, even. Champion.

Yukio kept getting more and more accolades, more championship runs, more big wins. He was grateful for his success, but when the promoter suggested that RAID have a woman around, a valet, he said what he'd like is a big woman, muscular like him, maybe blonde. The promoter laughed really hard at that, and Yukio spent the rest of the day lost in his own head. He never gets a girlfriend in America. It never even occurs to him that he might succeed, so he never tries. His sister is never found.

Kaori Teioh went back up north. She lived with her mother for a while. It was difficult for both of them. Her father, who'd left, died, in Sumaru, shot in a car in some kind of a gangland thing. He left them money. Kaori was put into a mental health care facility, the kind of place where she could get therapy, interact in safe zones, walk through the gardens. She sends Katsuya and Mitsuki letters, occasionally. They never make much sense, and it makes them even sadder that she's clearly trying so hard.

Mariko Ohmukai survived the fall from the roof, barely. She was scraped up off the ground and taken to the hospital, where she was arrested on her sickbed. Of course, being so brutally unfit to even get out of bed, let alone face charges, she had to stay there for a spell. And during that time in the hospital, she escaped, and no one's been able to find her.

She didn't escape, though. Mariko was taken. Taken from right out under the police guards' and hospital staff's noses, by the Vietnamese mafia, the men she'd so horribly wronged, the ones who settled their issues with the Russian mob by leaving the Russians' severed heads in the parlor of someone else who ripped them off. Men who called no attention to their work, and left no trace. Men who make teenage girls disappear.

Mariko was sold to a rich man in China, who got her back on drugs to keep her docile, keep her pliant. She does what she's told and she hates every minute of it, except for and especially the bliss that she'd tried to cut out of her life. She has fantasies while she does awful things, visions and dreams that keep her alive, of the man she still thinks she loves coming and finding her and taking her away, away from the prison that her life has become, away from the unlocked jail cell of smack with its immovable door, away from all of it, even though she knows he's not coming, he'll never come, he'll never take her to the desert, to a Spanish beach, laying her down, making love to her, freeing her, whispering in her ear that her sentence is up.

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