A.D.V. American Vacation Chapter 10

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. And the Kung Fu characters aren't mine either.

                   A Different Viewpoint: American Vacation pt 10

    Kasumi sat in the front of Peter Caine's black sports car as he rapidly drove through the city to the old abandoned warehouse that was the site of Lon Phat's kidnapping operation.  She had already given the Detective the address of the warehouse, and there was little more she could do till they arrived. She found herself remembering how her day had started, and wondering how she could have ended up racing to the rescue with the police.

    Johnathon's voice broke her out of her reverie, as he leaned over the back seat to talk to her.  "Kasumi, you never said.  How in the world did you find us at Master Caine's place?"

    Peter Caine glanced over at him and noted that Johnathon was still quite... furry.  "Dwire, get down.  You're still in your half cat form. What if someone sees you?"

    Johnathon sighed and slipped back crouching down once more out of sight.  "Sorry about this."  He glanced up at Mary Margaret Skalany, who's legs he was scrunched up against in his effort to remain out of sight.

    The attractive female detective, who was sharing the cramped back seat with him shrugged.  "Don't worry about it.  This sort of thing seems to happen to me a lot."  She winked to let him know she wasn't serious.  "Just watch those claws around my stockings, OK?"

    Kasumi went back to her thoughts, grateful for the interruption that kept her from having to answer her husband's question.  It had been a very unnerving day, and it wasn't over yet.  It had started ordinarily enough, for Kasumi at least.  Her thoughts flashed back to the beginning, when things had started to go wrong.

*******************************************

    With Johnathon, Ranma and Akane gone to San Francisco, Kasumi had gone out shopping with her in-laws, Paul and Clara, for the fixings for a supper she had offered to prepare that evening.  The shopping trip took a little longer than expected.  The Dwires had ended up dropping Kasumi off in front of their house with a key and her groceries.  They were running late for a meeting with their parish council, which they were members of, and drove off with a wave.

    Kasumi hummed cheerfully as she walked up to the Dwire's front door, imagining the dinner she would cook.  She put the groceries down and opened the door, and held it open with her knee as she picked up the groceries and entered, never noticing the little white Volkswagen Rabbit parked across the street behind her.

    As Kasumi entered the house she was swarmed by two small white dogs.  They yapped and leapt up on her in an energetic and mildly alarming fashion as she tried to remember their names while balancing the groceries and closing the door with her foot.

    "Oh, Chip and... Block?"  Kasumi frowned slightly to herself as that last name didn't quite seem right. She shrugged, as it certainly fit him.  "Down please... would you get down?"  They responded to their names happily and Kasumi tentatively reached down to pet the taller one, holding two bags with one arm as she did so.  "You are a good dog, Chip.  You are a good doggy.  You too Block."  Kasumi crossed her eyes as she moved into the house, getting a firm grip on the bags with her
free hand.  < Was that his name?>  Kasumi crossed through the living room into the kitchen so she could put the groceries down when something occurred to her.  "How did you two get inside?"  She asked the excited dogs.  "I thought you were both outside?"

    The dogs became even more excited as the strange but pleasant smelling woman entered the kitchen.  < Food!>  They both thought in unison, and started to beg.

    Years before, when Johnathon had been Ranma and Akane's age, he had taught the two dogs how to stand on their hind legs.  This was their favorite trick, because it almost always got them attention.  Either they would get a treat, or someone would pick them up, or pet them.  Of course, standing on their hind legs was much easier if they could hold on to something while doing it, so both dogs ended up more often than not grabbing onto people's knees for balance.

    With two bags of groceries in her arms, and a pair of dogs bumping into her knees, Kasumi fought for balance, quickly putting the groceries down on the kitchen table so she could deal with the two animals.  In her haste, Kasumi knocked a tall clear plastic bottle off the table. Kasumi grabbed for it frantically, not wanting to make a mess in her in-laws home, which turned out to be a mistake.  The bottled water had been three fourths full, and the cap was off.  Kasumi managed to snag it just as it hit the ground, but also jarred it enough to send a fountain of water into her face and blouse.

    Whenever someone asked how much water is necessary to change a Jusenkyo cursed person, Kasumi was later known to say.  "Whatever happened to be available."  As Kasumi felt the curse activate, shrinking her instantly, those words came to mind.

    The dogs jumped back as Kasumi's clothing hit the floor at their feet and barked in surprise.

    Kasumi quivered under the pile.  < Oh my.  Whatever shall I do?  I can't hide here till they find me.  Perhaps I can reach the kitchen sink?>  She squirmed out of the dress, only to by greeted by low growls and two quivering dogs.  Kasumi hesitated.    < Perhaps I shouldn't provoke them.>  That thought proved a moot point as the suddenly much larger animals barked loudly, and charged her.  Kasumi dodged to the right, and scrambled out of the dogs' way.  Chip and his heavier companion turned to follow, and she raced out into the family room. With two dogs in hot pursuit, Kasumi
leapt over the sofa.  Chip followed her easily, and 'Block' made a loud thump as he attempted to follow, jumping head first into the back of the large piece of furniture, halfway up.

    Kasumi raced into the living room, narrowly evading Chip as he tried to corner her next to the fireplace, and raced out again, barely dodging 'Block', who seemed completely unfazed by his earlier midair collision. Kasumi made a sharp right again, and headed down the hall.  Three of the four doors were closed, the bathroom door, however, was open a crack, whips of steam beckoning from it like an angelic vision.

    Kasumi felt a sudden hope.  < Oh wonderful!  They left the furo full!>  She was able to slip inside barely ahead of the dogs, who slammed into the door, opening it fully.  As Kasumi dodged the door,
leaping onto the edge of the bath, she remembered.  < Wait, they don't have a furo here.  Only a tub.  Oh no....>  Kasumi looked away from the dogs for an instant, and noted that the tub was occupied by a tall man who seemed to be asleep, a washcloth over his eyes. < Johnathon?>  All this was in a blink, however, as Chip crashed into her from the side, knocking her into the bath.  Kasumi found herself scrambling for footing on a large bare chest for an instant before slipping fully under the warm water.

    Michael shot up in shock, his arms reflexively pushing up to throw his attacker back.  "AAAHHHGH!  What in the world....?"   The washcloth had fallen into the water as he sat up, and Michael blinked owlishly at the impossible sight before him.  He and Kasumi both froze in shared
shock as their situation came to their full attention.  "You?  What? Why?"  Michael asked in complete confusion, before realizing just what he was grabbing with his hands.

    Kasumi realized almost simultaneously where her own hands had ended up and blushed even brighter red.  "Um, ah...."

    Michael slowly pulled away.  "Oh... ahh...."

    Kasumi moved her hands as well, trying not to panic.  < This is Johnathon's twin!  What can I do?  Johnathon doesn't want his family to know about the curse, but what else can explain this?>   As Kasumi tried to puzzle out how she could explain to Michael what she was doing in the tub with him, Michael reached out and grabbed Kasumi firmly by the shoulders.  Kasumi's blushed deepened.       < Oh no!  He thinks I'm here to seduce him!>  Kasumi closed her eyes and turned her face
slightly away. < What can I possibly do?>  To her surprise she found herself quickly moved to the side as he jumped out of the tub.  Kasumi blinked in astonishment as she watched him rush to the bathroom door and close it. Kasumi noticed even as he did so that the dogs were gone, and Clara and Paul had just turned into the hall from the outside door.

    Through the door, Kasumi could hear Paul Dwire speaking to his wife.  "I'll go get my presentation, and we can get back out in just a minute."

    Inside the bathroom, Michael grabbed a towel and quickly dried himself, facing away from Kasumi.  "Where are your clothes?"  He whispered fiercely.

    Kasumi blinked.  "My clothes?  Oh my... they are... in the kitchen."

    Michael shot her an incredulous look, which turned into a fierce blush as he turned away.  He handed her the towel and started to gather up his own clothes from the floor.

    "Kasumi?  Michael?  Are you here?"  Clara called from out in the hall.

    Michael groaned softly, then swiftly glanced at Kasumi.  "You answer."  He whispered to her, and started pulling on his clothes frantically.

    Kasumi thought hard.  < Answer?  Me?  How?  How am I going to explain this to Johnathon's parents?  What will they think of me?"  A knock came at the door, and Michael motioned anxiously at Kasumi to speak.  She sighed.  "Oh my.  It's me Dwire-san!  I'm... soaking, in the tub."  Kasumi glanced at Michael uncertainly.  He nodded, then listened at the door as he finished pulling on his pants.

    From outside, Clara spoke up.  "Have you seen Michael?  His car is outside."

    Kasumi looked at Michael, who was shaking his head vigorously from side to side.  "Um...."  Kasumi hesitated before doing something she truly detested.  "No."  Kasumi lied, the words painful in her ears.  "I have not seen him."

    Clara answered easily.  "Alright then, I'll leave you too your soak.  We just forgot some papers for the meeting.  We'll be going in a minute or two."  Kasumi could hear her walk away, and Michael went back to speedily dressing.  Before Kasumi could think of anything else to say, Michael came back to the tub, towering over her.

    Kasumi cowered back, wondering what he was planing to do with her, and closed her eyes.  A creak from overhead caused her to open them again and she noticed him forcing the bathroom window open.

    Michael kept his eyes on the window.  "I'll go out this way."  He whispered.

    "Are you sure?"  Kasumi whispered back.  "It looks a little small." She paused to make sure the towel covered her properly.

    Michael nodded.  "I can do it."  He stood on the rim of the tub and slipped his arms through.  Kasumi scooted out of his way as he wiggled his way forward until he could get his head and shoulders out.  Michael wormed his way forward head first, until he was dangling halfway out.
"OK, this is going to hurt."  He slid out the rest of the way and Kasumi heard him land with a thump, and the sound of metal and plaster breaking.

    Kasumi quickly stood and tried to look out the window, but it was too high for her to see him.  "Are you alright?"  She whispered to her husband's twin as loud as she dared.

    A groan answered her, then after a long pause Michael's voice drifted in.  "Yeah....  I'll sneak in the front.  You hang in there."

    Kasumi barely could hear him grunt as he vaulted the fence.  < Oh my, oh my, oh my....>  She tried to figure out what she could tell him, but nothing came to mind, except....  < I'll have to tell Johnathon what happened.  Oh dear.>  She faintly heard the front door of the house opening.  The dogs could be heard, running to the front door with anxious whimpers.  Kasumi heard Michael's voice, quieting the frightened animals as he came inside.  Several long moments passed as Kasumi waited in suspense.  < What is he going to do?  What am I going to do?>

    Kasumi heard Clara's voice faintly as she strained her ears to hear.  "Michael?  Where were you?  What are you doing with that?"

    Michael coughed nervously.  "Ah, I'm... taking these to the quest room.  They were in the dryer."

    Kasumi blinked.  < My clothes?>

    "Is Kasumi here?"  Michael asked loudly.

    Clara answered clearly.  "Yes, she's in the bathroom."  Kasumi noted a curious tone to her words.

    Michael spoke up again, obviously coming down the hall.  "Kasumi?  I found your clothes... in the dryer.  I'll put them in your room, alright?"

    Kasumi blinked a few times before answering.  "Ah... thank you, Michael-san.  That is fine."  She sank back into the bath with a sigh. < That was too close.  I can't believe what just happened....>  Kasumi blushed, remembering.  < Oh my!  Whatever am I going to tell him?>  She tossed ideas around in her head until she heard Clara and Paul leaving a minute later, then got out of the tub.  Kasumi cautiously peered outside, covering up with the towel, and noted the coast was clear.  She
slipped into the guest room and got dressed, then ventured forth to find Michael.  The only ones present when she went to look, however, were the dogs, who kept away from her in fright.

    Kasumi sighed and opened the back door to let the dogs outside.  She had to step back for them to exit, which they did gratefully.  Kasumi closed the door outside without locking it, and sat down heavily on the couch.  Her head spun with images of her husband's twin brother, of Johnathon's angry face, of the elder Dwires, looking at her with disapproval.  Kasumi pictured her sister's reaction, or her father's, and winced slightly.

    Kasumi sighed.  "Perhaps Ranma might have some advice.  If anyone could understand this, it would be him."  The dogs started barking loudly outside, and Kasumi went to the door to see what was wrong.  A large man wearing black, with a mask over his face, met her at the door, and opened it before she could think to throw the lock.  Kasumi backed away from the door as he and two others similarly clad came swiftly into the house.  "Oh my.  You're here to kidnap me, aren't you?"

    The first man blinked, then nodded as his companions moved to flank her.  "Bright girl.  Don't fight, and you won't get hurt."

    Kasumi took in the situation quickly, and calmly reached a decision.  "Oh my no.  I'm no fighter.  I'll come peacefully."  She raised her hands.  "I surrender."  The two men to either side of her took her arms firmly and led her toward the back door.

    Their apparent leader nodded.  "A very smart idea."  He looked to the men holding her.  "Be gentle, now.  We don't want to damage the merchandise."

    As they led her out of the house, Kasumi came with them willingly. < If I don't struggle now, I may get them to drop their guard later. All I need is a moment alone and some cold water.>  Kasumi cooperated as they brought her to a plain blue van and put her in the back, blindfolding her.

    One man started to tie her hands with rope when the man who had originally spoke to her stopped him.  "No need for that.  She's not going to try anything.  Are you, sweetheart?"

    Kasumi shook her head slowly and calmly, maintaining her composure. "I won't try to escape."     < Not yet.>  She told herself firmly, for once not flinching the slightest at lying.  She felt the van start to move and minutes passed in silence.

    The voice of her kidnapper surprised her slightly as she felt the van accelerating, presumably onto a highway.  "You're a cool one.   Not one complaint.  Why is that?"

    Kasumi hesitated before answering.  "I don't want to make your job any more difficult for you.  It must be hard, having to kidnap people for a living."

    The man laughed.  "Hard, huh?"  He chuckled again.  "What might you know about it, miss?"

    Kasumi hesitated again.  "Well, it must be frightening, hiding from the police.  I'd think some people would get terribly upset with you."

    Muted laughter filled the back of the van as the other men chuckled at that.  "We don't let it worry us, miss."  The leader finally answered as the laugher died down.  "It's a job.  We just try to do it
professionally."

    Kasumi nodded.  "You do seem very professional.  Have you been doing this long?"

    The man sniffed thoughtfully.  "Long enough, although this has been my most pleasant job so far."

    Kasumi smiled pleasantly in the direction of his voice.  "That's good.  It's important to be happy in one's work."  She sniffed the air softly.  "Are you married, Mr. kidnapper?"

    She could hear the man choke in astonishment.  "What... what makes you ask that?"

    Kasumi sniffed again.  "Your cologne.  It smells like something a wife would buy her husband.  It's quite nice."

    There was silence for several moments before he spoke again.  "It was a birthday present from her.  She says she likes the scent."

    Kasumi nodded.  "She sounds like a thoughtful person.  I hope you two are getting along alright."

    The man coughed.  "We're fine...."

    Kasumi noted the uneasiness in his voice.  "You seem a bit troubled.  Why don't you tell me about it.  Maybe I can help?"

        ********************************************

    Around an hour later, Kasumi felt the van come to a stop.  "Take good care of Miss Tendo now."  The lead kidnapper instructed his two henchmen.

    Kasumi felt herself being gently pulled to her feet and helped out of the van.  "I'm sure Mr. Left and Mr. Right will take good care of me, Kidnapper-san."

    The large man blinked in confusion and tried to figure out why he was smiling and waving good bye.  The Tendo girl couldn't see him anyway....

    Before long, Kasumi was gently pushed into a room and heard the door close behind her.  She could hear the sound of several people breathing, but since no one had said anything, Kasumi reached up to remove her blindfold.  Kasumi blinked as she took in the room she had been left in.  Several bunk beds lined the walls and several women sat or stood near them, looking at her with various expressions ranging from curiosity to sadness.

    "Hello."  Kasumi began hesitantly.  "I'm Kasumi Tendo.  Were all of you kidnapped too?"

    One woman, a long haired blond girl around her height, and wearing a short red dress, spoke up.  "Yes.  I'm Dora Lane.  Most of us have been here for a week.  You're the latest here."  She looked wistfully at the door.  "I'm pretty sure they're going to move us tonight.  I overheard some of them
talking about it."

    Kasumi blinked.  "Tonight?  That's not very long.  I suppose I really should get started."  She looked around, spotting a single sink and toilet against one wall.  The room was relatively full, there were beds for eight, and there were six women besides herself in the room, mostly in relatively skimpy clothing.  Two women were in their underwear, and Kasumi noted with dismay that their arms and legs were bruised.  "Oh my!"  Kasumi exclaimed.  "What happened to you two?"

    The two women looked away without speaking, and Dora answered for them softly.  "They didn't 'behave' properly for our hosts.  We learned early on that if we don't do whatever they say, they punish us.  They can't hurt us too bad, because they want to sell us, but there's a lot they can do that won't... damage the merchandise...."  Dora looked disgusted.  "You're lucky, they don't usually leave us with as much clothing as you've got. They say it's so we don't try to hang ourselves, as you can see we don't have any sheets for the beds... but I think they just like to see us half naked."

    Kasumi frowned in growing anger.  "That isn't right.  If Johnathon was here, he'd...."  She sighed.  "Only he's not."  Kasumi looked up with forced cheerfulness.  "I had just better get this over with as
quickly as possible then."

    Dora looked confused.  "What are you talking about?  That's the second time you've said you've got something to do."

    Kasumi started over to the sink.  "May I use your sink?  I need some cold water.  Then I can go for help."

    Dora blinked.  "Cold water?  What good is that going to do?  How do you plan to get out of here?"

    Kasumi reached the sink, and looked around the room once carefully. "I will be happy to show you in a few moments, but I'm going to need a little bit of help to do this."

    Dora blinked.  "Help?  What can we do from in here?"

    Kasumi chewed on her lip.  "Well, do you think you can get someone to open up that door for a few seconds?  I can sneak out and go for help then.  If I hurry I might be able to bring the police here before you are moved tonight."

    Dora looked dubious.  "Why is getting the door open going to help? They'd just stop you if you tried to run.  They've all got guns, and there's nowhere to run too."

    Kasumi smiled slightly.  "I think I can manage.  Now, I suppose we should come up with a way to make them miss the fact that I'm missing for a while...."  She looked around until she found a girl with long black hair.  Kasumi walked over to her.  "Excuse me, but would you mind putting on my clothes?  If this is going to work, They shouldn't know I'm missing until it's too late."

    The girl looked at her in bewilderment.  "You want me too what?  Are you crazy?"

    Dora walked up to them.  "Wait, Michele, I think I'm starting to see...."  She turned to Kasumi.  "You say you can get out if we can get them to open the door for a bit?  Are you a cop or something?"

    Kasumi shook her head.  "No, I really was kidnapped, but I can get out of here.  If they find out I'm gone, however, they might do something about it, like move you before I can bring help."  < I sound just like James Bond!  Johnathon would be so proud!>

    Dora hesitated.  "OK, why not?  We've got nothing to loose. Michele, change clothes with her.  You're a little short, but lying on the bunk in the corner, they won't be able to notice.  Since it's Kasumi here that they just brought in, they'll notice if she's missing, but they just might not miss you for awhile."

    Michele looked dubious.  "But how is she going to get away?"  She turned to Kasumi.  "Are you some sort of ninja or something?"

    Kasumi blushed.  "Not quite, but I can do something almost as useful... you'll see."  She started unbuttoning her blouse.  "Actually, Michele, I won't be needing your clothing.  You should hide you clothes somewhere while you're wearing mine."

    Dora looked incredulously at Kasumi.  "Don't tell me you're going to try and escape naked?  Unless you're planning on seducing the guards. It won't work."
 
     Kasumi took off her blouse and handed it too Michele, trying not to blush at Dora's statement.  "Oh my!  No, I'm not planning on... seducing anyone....  It's slightly difficult to explain.  You'll just have to trust me."

    Dora wrinkled her brow as Kasumi continued to disrobe.  "Well, this had better be good, or I'm going to feel pretty silly trusting you."

    Michele glared at Dora.  "You're going to look silly?  I'm the one changing clothes with her!"  She pointed at Kasumi, who was stepping out of her skirt.  "Not to mention what's going to happen to her if she tries running past the guards naked.  They'll love that!"

    Kasumi blushed brighter.  "Please be patient.  I promise, I do have a way out of here."  She looked to Dora.  "Can you get them to open the door for a few seconds?"

    Dora shrugged.  "They'll bring us lunch soon.  They probably won't come in, unless the big boss wants some 'recreation'.  They generally just open the door and push the food in."

    Kasumi nodded.  "That will do...  I hope.  I'll have to wait right by the door.  If you can, try to hide my being gone for as long as you can.  I will bring help."  Kasumi finished undressing and handed Michele her underwear.  She kept herself from blushing.  < We're all girls here.  Nothing is wrong with that.>  Most of the girls watched her curiously as Kasumi walked back to the sink and turned on the cold water.

    Dora came up behind her.  "What are you going to do, Kasumi?"

    Kasumi looked back at her, catching her eyes.  "I know this is going to be difficult to believe, but I can turn into a cat when I am splashed with cold water.  I'll turn into a cat, and sneak out when they open the door."

    One of the women on the bunks groaned.  "Oh great, a wacko!"

    Dora looked into Kasumi's eyes, trying to see the insanity that had to be hidden there.  "Kasumi... that's... impossible.  You're talking magic."

    Kasumi nodded slowly, keeping her eyes on Dora's.  "I know.  You'll see it yourself in a moment.  Now please, do not shout, or reveal my secret.  All our lives may depend on it."

    Dora hesitated.  "I... I won't tell, Kasumi."  < No one would believe it anyway.  I certainly don't.>

    Kasumi smiled.  "Thank you, Dora."  She looked back at the other women.  "Now please, remain calm, or our guards may discover what's going on."  She turned back to the sink, and splashed herself with the small slowly growing pool of water there.  Instantly she shrunk, becoming a small black cat, and falling lightly to the floor under the sink.  There was a long moment of stunned shock as everyone registered what happened.  Suddenly, one of the women screamed hysterically.

    Dora's eyes went wide, and she turned away from staring at the cat and toward the woman screaming.  "Be quiet!"  She strode quickly over to the woman, who kept screaming.  "Shut up!  Do you want to get out of here or not?"  The woman screamed again and Dora slapped her, hard. That
caused her to go silent, and Dora glanced quickly over at Michele. "Quick!  Get dressed!  If they heard that, and come in here...." Michele came out of her stupefied trance and quickly began to strip off her own clothing.  Dora shook her head.  "Forget that.  Just put on her clothes on over!  And hurry!"  Michele nodded and started pulling on Kasumi's blouse hurriedly.  Dora looked anxiously at the door, and noticed that the little black cat that had been Kasumi had moved over to the side of the
door, facing it and looking tense, ready to go.

    Slowly Dora Lane approached the cat, still not believing her eyes. "Kasumi?  Is that really you?"  She lowered her voice as she approached the door.  "Are you really a cat?"  Kasumi looked up at her and nodded. Dora shook her head incredulously.  "I can't believe this is happening. How can you be a cat?  Are you... what are you?"  Kasumi shrugged helplessly, unable to answer.  Dora stared at her, then wrinkled her nose.  "You can't talk, huh?"  Kasumi shook her head.  "OK, a talking cat would be a bit much to believe I suppose."  Kasumi's nose twitched violently at that, and she looked like she was laughing, making tiny little cat noises that she controlled with an effort.

    Dora giggled.  "I guess that would be kind of funny to you....  How do you do that, become a cat, I mean?"  She paused.  "Oh yeah, you can't talk."  Dora looked up at the door.  "It looks like the guards aren't coming in.  Lunch will be in around a half hour, although it varies a bit."  She nodded firmly.  "You should stay ready."  Kasumi nodded back, a serious look in her eyes.  Dora sat down next to her, putting her head into her hands.  "Hmm... I bet you could get away, the guards won't be
expecting a cat to come out... still, they'll want to know where you came from, and they might search the room.  I think... you need a distraction to get out without being seen.  If you're really quiet, and the guards are focused on something in the room, they might not notice you."  She paused in thought.

    One of the two girls in her underwear came up to them, peering down at Kasumi intently.  "She really did turn into a cat."  Kasumi looked up at the girl, who had short brown hair, and was around Akane's size, if not as muscular.  The girl looked back bemusedly.  "I'll help, with the distraction, that is."  She turned to Dora.  "If that girl can turn into a cat, I can believe that we can be rescued.  I'll help.  What's your plan?"

    Dora grimaced.  "I've got an idea, but...."

    The girl nodded, fingering a bruise on her forearms.  "But it's not going to be pleasant?  What can happen to me that's worse than what I've gone through already?  Tell me."

    Dora shrugged.  "Well, it's pretty simple, actually, you see, what we do is...."

        ***************************

    When the guard opened the cell door to deliver lunch to the kidnapped girls, he found himself spellbound by the sight he saw there. Just past the open door, Dora, and the short haired brunette were locked in a tight embrace, kissing each other passionately, and running their hands over each other.  Even as he pushed the door slightly wider, they started feverishly pulling each others clothing off, as if too wrapped up in their passion to notice the door.  The guard was so spellbound, he missed the small black cat slipping out silently past his feet.

    Kasumi did not pause to discover what would happen next, but raced around the corner and out of sight, heading for the entrance to the garage.  Kasumi spotted the van that she had been brought in, and half a dozen men in black, loading weapons near it, as if about to go into battle.  Kasumi came to a halt, and looked for a place to hide. She ended up slipping underneath the van and listening to the men discuss their plans.

    One man, placing a long gun barrel into a black suitcase, was speaking.  "... so we go to the Shaolin's apothecary.  I'll get on the roof across the street, and hit anyone that moves inside.  You guys are supposed to hit the doors and get them to come out so I can get them. We've got to be sure they're all dead.  The man Johnathon Dwire, the little red head, and the Shaolin.  We got word from our guy that they're supposed to be headed for the Shaolin's place now, so we'll hit them there after they arrive.  Everybody got it?"

    Kasumi was frozen in shock.  < Johnathon, and Ranma?  They're going to kill them!  I've got to warn them, except these men are about to drive there, I can't beat them to someplace I've never been!  What can I do?>  Kasumi thought furiously as the men finished getting ready and piled into the large van.  < I've got to get on board that van somehow. But how? Even as small as I am now, they're sure to notice me if I get in with them.  What in heavens name can I do?>  The van's doors closed and the garage's door opened.  Kasumi crouched low as the van slowly pulled out of the garage, then raced after it.  < I've got to do something!  But what can I do?  I'm no hero!>

    The van slowly picked up speed until as it reached the street and started down it.  Kasumi was slowly loosing ground despite her best efforts until the van stopped at the first street corner to turn right. There was a tall wooden fence lining that section of road, and desperately, Kasumi leapt up on it and began running along it's top until she was parallel to the vehicle.  It was almost ten feet away, and it's roof was at the same height as the fence, and Kasumi, without thinking twice about the impossibility of it, jumped as far as she could, landing just barely on the edge of the roof.  She grabbed on to the bar on top with her paws and teeth to hold on, and slowly pulled herself fully onto the roof.  She nearly fell off when the van made another turn, just barely managing to keep her grip.  Kasumi hung on desperately, more in fear now than determination.

    After what seemed like an eternity of fear, the van came to a halt in a deserted alley and it's doors opened.  Kasumi watched as the men pointed to the building they were about to assault, and quietly made last minute plans.  Her determination came back in a wave, and Kasumi jumped quietly from the top of the van, and raced for the apothecary....

        *******************************

    Peter Caine pulled his black sports car to a halt a few dozen yards short of the warehouse Kasumi had told him about.  "Is that the place?" He pointed to the warehouse, glancing at the attractive, long haired Japanese woman wearing his captain's duster.

    Kasumi blinked, coming out of her reverie, and nodded.  "Yes.  I think, perhaps that I should lead you in.  I can take you right to the other girls."

    Peter shook his head firmly.  "No way.  You'd just get in the way. No offense."

    Kasumi shook her head.  "None taken, but I can help.  I know where the guards are, and I can warn you of anyone coming...."

    Johnathon Dwire sighed.  "Kasumi, I don't want you to go into any danger."

    Kasumi flushed, for once wanting strongly to yell at her husband. "Johnathon-san."  Kasumi's voice was quiet.  "If you say it, I will stay behind.  You, however, will be in great danger, and I can help.  I will not be in any danger, unless someone in there would bother wasting a bullet on a harmless little cat...."

    Johnathon looked at Kasumi for several very long seconds.  < She would stay, if I told her too... but... I... I can't... I won't be Kasumi's lord.  She's my wife.  I don't want her in danger, but....>  He
lowered his head.  "You're right... you could help, but... I'd rather die than see you hurt, Kasumi.  Must you do this?"

    Kasumi nodded, with a faint, sad smile.  "I must, my love.  If you go into danger, and I can help, but I don't... my soul would be the price I pay.  I must help you, if I can."

    Peter listened to the couple talk silently.  "If either one of you gets hurt, it'll be my badge, but... we don't have any more time to argue.  Let's go."

    Johnathon dug into his backpack and got out a thermos of water. "Here you go Kasumi.  I'll change you when we get out of the car."

    Skalany shook her head in disbelief and opened her own door.  "This has got to be the weirdest rescue operation I've ever heard of." Everyone else opened their own doors and got out.  They were immediately joined by Captain Simms, Ranma, Akane, and Kwai Chang Caine, who had been in the car following them.

    Ranma spoke up.  "OK, so what's the plan?"

                       End of Chapter 10
 

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