A.D.V. American Vacation Chapter 6

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 6

    In San Francisco, on the wharf, Ranma was being slowly bored to death, going from shop to shop on Pier 39.  After half an hour, Ranma suddenly spotted something interesting and wandered over to investigate.

    The pig tailed martial artist came back with a grin on his face. "Hey, Johnathon."  He pulled the taller man aside, while Kasumi and Akane browsed through yet another selection of souvenir tee-shirts.  "Is there any way we can get to Chinatown in the next hour or so?"

    Johnathon blinked.  "I suppose... why?"

    Ranma grinned, nodding his head back at the herb shop he had run over to a minute before.  "I just saw a sign that says there's a martial arts tournament in Chinatown today!"  He whispered loudly.

    Ranma pointed at the sign he had seen and Johnathon checked it out. "This is in Chinese.  How did you read it?"

    Ranma shrugged.  "I recognized the characters for 'martial arts tournament' and they have the time and place in english down at the bottom, see?"

    Johnathon blinked.  "Oh, naturally you'd recognize it if it has 'martial arts' in it."

    Ranma grinned and nodded.  "Yup!  So, can you show me how to get there?"

    Johnathon hesitated.  "What about Akane, Kasumi, and my folks?  I'm pretty sure my folks won't be interested, and Akane and Kasumi are having a good time shopping.  As for this martial arts tournament, it sounds kind of suspicious to me."

    Ranma shrugged again.  "Nah, pop and me hit a few in China while we were passing through.  It's no big deal."

    Johnathon looked dubious.  "That's not such a wonderful recommendation, considering all the other nice places you ended up visiting in China."

    Ranma frowned, then shrugged again.  "Come on.  All this shopping is driving me crazy!"

    Clara walked over to them then, smiling pleasantly.  They had been talking in Japanese, and switched to English as she approached.

    "Hey mom."  Johnathon smiled fondly down at his diminutive parent.

    "How's it going, Mrs. Dwire?"  Ranma silently crossed his fingers.  < Did I say that right?>

    Clara continued to smile.  "We're having a nice time, but I think you might be a bit bored, Ranma?  All this shopping isn't your thing, is it?"

    Ranma shrugged noncommittally.  "Well...."

    Clara nodded.  "That's OK.  Johnathon, why don't you take Ranma someplace more interesting?  We can meet up later at the Aquarium, or the restaurant?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Yeah, John-san.  Let's go.  We come back for dinner, yes?"  He continued in Japanese.  "The aquarium sounds too much like school work to me, anyway."

    Johnathon sighed.  "Well, if it's OK with the girls."

    It was, Akane waved them off.  "Go ahead, Ranma, just don't start any trouble, OK?

    Kasumi smiled pleasantly as always.  "Have fun you two."

    Johnathon hovered worriedly next to her for several moments.  "Are you sure you'll be alright, I mean, what if...."

    Kasumi patted his arm.  "Don't worry, husband.  Akane is perfectly capable of protecting me.  We'll be fine.  I'm looking forward to a nice talk with your parents."

    Johnathon sighed and surrendered.  "Alright, Ranma, lets go.  It's been a while since I was in Chinatown, but I can probably get us there if we leave now."

    Ranma grinned.  "Alright!  Come on, this is gonna be great!"

        *************************

    Half an hour later, in a packed warehouse in Chinatown, a young police detective by the name of Peter Caine, spotted an older man, one he was somehow not surprised to see, signing up for the tournament.

    Peter walked over and pulled him aside quickly.  "Pop!"  He whispered urgently.  "What are you doing here?  We're about to run a sting on the illegal gambling ring here.  Why are you here, anyway? It's not like you to enter a tournament.

    The older man, in his fifties, but still vigorous, shrugged with a slight smile.  "I sensed... I am needed...."

    Peter sighed, trying not to roll his eyes.  < I know pop really can sense that kind of stuff... but sometimes I wonder if he's not just baby sitting me.>  "We've got things covered, pop.  Skalany is over there hanging off the arm of one of our perps.  Kermit is posing as a big gambler, the captain's back in the crowd... we've got a guy on each door.  I'm in the tournament.  It's going to be textbook.

    Kwai Chang Caine, Shaolin priest, looked pointedly at the sign in table.  "Perhaps you should write a new textbook...."

    Peter glanced over and spotted what his father had.  A short red headed girl in a red Chinese sleeveless shirt, bracers and black pants was next in line.  She looked to be sixteen or so, perhaps younger, and was getting more than her fair share of looks.  A tall man in a black turtleneck and pants hovered over her almost protectively, glancing around at the crowd with a definite proprietary look, which was all that was keeping half a dozen men from hitting on the red head.

    Johnathon kept up the act of menacing boyfriend, and muttered quietly to Ranma.  "We really should have stopped somewhere for hot water."

    Ranma shrugged, the movement causing half a dozen men to take deep breaths in awe.  "We'd have missed signing in.  I'm still going to win this thing, even as a girl."

    Johnathon sighed and went back to warning away would be paramours. "Whatever you say, Ranma."

    Across the room, Peter Caine swore under his breath and started for the sign in table.  "What's a girl like that doing entering the tournament?  She'll get hurt."  A hand on his shoulder stopped him.

    Kwai Chang Caine caught his son's attention and shook his head.  "I would not worry, about that one."  Peter looked about to protest and Caine smiled enigmatically.  "She is not the one in danger today."

    Peter hesitated, then stopped, frowning angrily at his father. "You'd better be right about this, pop."

    Ranma had reached the sign in table and was arguing with the profiteer.  "What you mean I no can fight?"  Ranma's English was a notch better than Shampoo's Japanese, most of the time.

    The man at the table obviously found her sing song accent and poor speech as cute as most men in Japan found Shampoo's.  "You don't want to go and get that pretty face damaged, do you honey?"

    Ranma's eyes narrowed and she was around the table in a flash and lifting the man out of his chair effortlessly before anyone even saw her move.  "You is trying to imply something?"  Despite her fierce demeanor, Ranma's voice still sounded cute, but the man had been thoroughly intimidated, never-the-less.

    He pointed shakily at the table.  "No... umm... sign right here...."

    Ranma set the man down and smiled pleasantly at him.  "Now, that not so hard, yes?"  She promptly signed and moved aside so Johnathon could do the same.

    As they walked away from the table, Johnathon voiced his concern. "Are you sure this is legit, Ranma?  They didn't even want to see if I had any insurance."

    Back in the crowd, Kermit Griffin chuckled.  "You go girl."

    Captain Karen Simms glared at the ex-mercenary, telling herself she wasn't jealous of the young slut/girl that was currently engaging Kermit's attention.  "How can you approve?  She's much too young to be here.  Her boyfriend is not all that much older."

    Kermit turned back to the Captain, his face calm and serious, his customary smirk and superior attitude always seemed to desert him when talking to Captain Simms.  "Why not?  When I was her age, I'd already killed a man.  She can handle herself.  As for her boyfriend, he's a bit older than he looks, mid to late twenties I'd say, and he's not her boyfriend."

    Simms blinked and looked down at the pair, who had just finished signing in and was moving off to one side to get seats near the central mat.  "Why do you say that?  He seems awfully protective, and there's no way they're related."

    Kermit smiled and nodded.  "True, but she doesn't know it.  Notice how his guard drops whenever she looks at him?  Red over there had no idea that her friend is keeping all the other guys away."

    Karen Simms blinked again, and took a long look.  Kermit took the opportunity to glare at a couple nearby men who were looking interestedly in the Captain's direction.  When Karen Simms glanced back at Kermit, he was back to calmly scanning the crowd.

    "I believe you're right, Kermit, although I'm still concerned about a girl that young being here."  Simms paused.  "Have you spotted our man yet?"

    Kermit shook his head slightly.  "Lon Phat hasn't shown his slimy carcass yet.  He'll show for the final match, that's where the big betting will happen."

    The Captain nodded.  "Then we'll nab him.  Stay sharp."

    Kermit's eyebrow's quirked.  "Don't I always?"

    The tournament got started, three separate rings holding matches at once.  Kermit kept his eye on the rings, appraising the fighters and the fight schedule.

    Kermit nodded to himself.  "They're putting all the stronger fighters against each other to wear them down, and putting the weaker ones against their ringer... no, ringers.  There's two guys, one will be taking a fall near the end, the other's set up to win."  He snorted. "With Caine in the ring, things aren't going to go as planned."

    Kermit watched carefully as one of the two 'ringers' he had picked out, got into the center ring with the short red haired girl.  "See? They've picked the girl out as an easy mark.  That ape must be almost three times her mass."  Kermit's eyes widened very slightly under his ever present sunglasses as the large muscular man started losing badly, from the start of the match.

    The girl was dodging or blocking everything he threw effortlessly, and was striking back with stunning force.  In under a minute, the man dropped for the third and final time.  Captain Simms was staring in shock at the girl, who was standing triumphantly, her hands above her head victoriously.  She wasn't the only one staring.  Half the audience was in a similar state of shock, then they started to cheer as the red head strode from the ring.

    Kermit's sharp eyes caught one of Lon Phat's men slipping quickly toward the back rooms.  "Well, well.  Looks like Lon Phat's starting to have a bad day."

    Ranma came up to Johnathon, as confident grin on her face.  "Ha, no problem.  He wasn't half bad, though, gave me a bit of a work out."

    Johnathon rubbed his shoulder where he had taken a heavy hit during his bout.  "I had a pretty good match too, although your guy looked quite a bit tougher than mine."

    Ranma shrugged.  "You probably could have taken him.  It'd have been real close, though."

    Johnathon looked thoughtful.  "Maybe... I really have gotten a whole lot better since I started training with Akane and you."

    They both turned to watch the current match, one that had started just as Ranma's had, but was dragging on into the third minute.

    Ranma noted the two martial artist's styles.  "The kick boxer's good too, that's the little guy.  The guy around your size is doing Shaolin Kung fu.  He'd have won already but he's not focused."

    Peter blocked another series of kicks, taking one in the stomach. "Umph...."  < Gotta focus... but what happened to that girl?  She was fighting that huge guy in the center.  She must have lost quickly.  I hope she wasn't hurt too bad.>  Peter grimaced at his own inattention and absorbed another hit.     < Arrgh!  Gotta finish this.  Concentrate on your own fight first!>  Peter ignored the slight impulse to look around for the red head and concentrated on his opponent fully.  < I can take this guy.  I just have to time it... Now!>  Peter sidestepped another series of kicks and moved in with a powerful palm strike, stunning his opponent long enough for Peter to connect with a reverse spin kick, knocking him clear of the ring.  The bell rang and the judge announced his win, as Peter rapidly scanned the crowd.

    Young detective Caine spotted his father, who looked slightly amused, and rolled his eyes. < Yeah, focus, focus, I know Pop.>  He looked further to the left and spotted the girl talking animatedly with her boyfriend.  She looked completely unscathed.  Peter blinked and looked quickly around for her large opponent.  His eyes widened as he saw the huge man getting helped out of the arena toward the back rooms. < She won?  Remind me not to doubt Pop the next time he tells me something.>  Peter exited the ring, watching as his father went to enter, to fight in his first match.  Dismissing the outcome as forgone, Peter glanced around, finding each of his friends in the crowd.  As he glanced at her, Captain Simms scratched her right ear.

    Peter looked away, careful not to reveal his thoughts on his face. < We're still on hold till Lon Phat shows.  That bruiser was one of his guys.  I wonder what the slimy bastard is thinking right now?>

        **********************

    Lon Phat roared in anger, smashing a heavily ringed fist into his fighter's face.  "You let a little girl beat you?"

    The huge man cowered before his employer.  "She was like a tiger, Boss!  I've never seen anyone so fast in my life!"

    Lon Phat's eyes narrowed, he looked to the bookie that had helped the large fighter into his office.  "Is this true?  Is this girl as skilled as he says?"

    The bookie shrugged noncommittally.  "She's good.  Your boy here couldn't lay a finger on her.  Crowd likes her too.  If she makes it to the final round the betting will be heavy."

    Lon Phat frowned.  "Could she win?  Can she beat Kang?"

    The bookie shrugged.  "No telling.  Kang's better than this guy, but this girl... she's a lot more than she looks."

    Lon Phat's eyes narrowed further.  "Another ringer, perhaps?  One of my rivals setting me up?  We'll see.  Put her against the toughest opponents, wear her down.  If she does too well, get rid of her.  Start a fight in the crowd, take a half dozen of the boys and 'escort' her out."

    The bookie nodded.  "Right, boss."  He started for the door, which opened before he reached it.

    "Hey boss!"  A weasel faced man slipped in, looking worried.  "We got a problem.  There's this Shaolin Priest that got into the tournament.  Some guy named Caine.  Bruno recognized him and he says...."

    Lon Phat interrupted.  "Kwai Chang Caine?"

    The weasel faced man nodded uncertainly.  "Um... yeah, that's the guy."

    Lon Phat put a hand to his brow.  "Alright, you..."  He pointed to his bookie.  "Find out who else is here, and make sure the girl gets to fight Caine.  Maybe both problems will solve each other."  He pointed to the weasel faced man.   "You, go get a bunch of guys and be ready to take out the girl, or Caine, whoever is left afterward.  Make it look like an accident."  He pointed to the large martial artist.  "And you... get me an aspirin.  I feel a headache coming on."

        ****************************

    Johnathon came out of the ring with a slight grin.

    Ranma patted him heartily on the back.  "Nice work, John-san.  You were all over that guy!"

    Johnathon shrugged.  "I had reach on him, and speed.  I'm not likely to stay lucky for long."

    Ranma shrugged back.  "Eventually you'll either lose, or get to face me, and lose, but hey, you could come in third or fourth place!"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Yeah, maybe, if I'm lucky.  There are some really tough guys out there."

    Ranma sniffed thoughtfully.  "Only two or three on your level... although there's that old Shaolin master... he's really good."

    Johnathon looked around.  "Who?"

    Ranma heard her name being called.  "I'll point him out later, I'm up."  She strode quickly up to the ring and vaulted up.  Her opponent entered more slowly, eying her warily.

    Peter Caine eyed the tiny red head he was about to fight and sighed.  < Why me?>

    Kermit nearly started chuckling out loud at the sight of Peter's face.  "This is going to be good."  He announced, then chuckled anyway. "I wish I had a video camera."

    Captain Simms turned from watching the back rooms.  "Hmm?  What's going on?"  She looked into the center ring and winced as Peter went down from a devastating series of attacks.  "Ouch....  That little red head is beating up detective Caine?"  She smiled, trying not to chuckle herself.  "Poor Peter, he's never going to live this one down."

    Peter Caine staggered to his feet, shoving aside any remaining thought of going easy on this miniature whirlwind he was fighting. "That's it, no more kid gloves."

    Ranma snorted.  "It about time.  I starting to get bored."

    As the fight continued, Johnathon noticed a non threatening older man with long gray hair step up next to him.  The tall english teacher didn't take much note, as he was busy watching the fight.  He winced as Ranma knocked the man fighting him on his rear end once more.

    The older man turned to him.  "Your friend is quite skilled."

    Johnathon glanced at the man, then blinked.  "Yeah, Ranma's really good... aren't you in the tournament?  I saw you sign in, right?"

    Kwai Chang Caine nodded slightly.  "I am."

    Johnathon's left eyebrow went up.  "You're the Shaolin master, right?  Ranma mentioned you."

    Caine nodded slightly again.  "That is true."

    Johnathon held out his hand.  "Hi, I'm Johnathon Dwire.  Ranma there is my instructor in martial arts.  The guy he's... she's fighting... Ranma said he was Shaolin too?"

    Caine nodded with a slight smile.  "My son."

    Johnathon turned back to the fight.  "Your son's good too.  Real good.  Looks like he's finnaly gotten past the fact that he's fighting a five foot tall girl."

    Caine's smiled slightly wider as he also turned to watch.  "Your friend, Ranma, is teaching my son a valuable lesson."

    Johnathon nodded slightly.  "Yeah, don't judge by appearances.  Your son is giving Ranma some trouble.  Ranma is probably thrilled to have a challenge."

    Caine winced slightly as Peter flew bodily out of the ring, tumbling into the ground stunned after after a particularly powerful kick had blown through his defenses.  The judge quickly awarded the match to Ranma, who saluted the crowd, and headed for her fallen opponent.

    Ranma reached down and easily pulled him to his feet.  "Nice fight. You not half bad."

    Peter scratched the back of his head while working a few kinks out of his neck.  "Thanks... you're better than me though."

    Ranma shrugged.  "I training for whole life.  You got... much potential.  You use chi blast near finish?  It weak, but almost work if I no see coming."

    Peter worked his way through that sentence, and blinked.  "You mean I got it off?  I thought I messed it up somehow.  You were right in it's path... weren't you?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Yes, I was in path.  I see coming and block, yes?"

    Peter blinked again.  "Oh."  He started thinking quickly.  < I've got to stick around for the last fight, and I'd bet this girl will be there.  Lon Phat will probably try something.  I'd better stay close.> He flashed his best smile.  "Looks like I'm done today, but I'd bet you've got a shot at winning."

    Ranma shrugged, eyes narrowing.  "I guess...."  She started to turn away.  "Well, see you."

    Peter blinked once more, then hurried to follow her.  "So, you mind if I stay around and watch?  I bet I could pick up a lot just watching you."

    Ranma shrugged, not looking at him.  "Suit self."  < Great, another love sick martial artist.  I should start a collection.>

    Peter followed the petite red head around to a tallish man talking with his father.  Ranma went right over to the man, who was dressed entirely in black, which helped conceal his slender build.
 
    Peter frowned.  < Boyfriend?  That's probably why she got cold all of a sudden.>

    Ranma turned to Peter's father after exchanging a nod with the tall man and gave a short bow.  "I see you in ring."  Ranma said politely. "You is very good, master...?"

    "I am called, Caine."  The Shaolin priest answered simply.  "You also have much skill, as my son has discovered."

    Ranma glanced back at Peter, then nodded.  "I should have figure you two is rela... related.  Did you teach son art?"

    Caine nodded again.  "I have had something to do with that."  He nodded at Johnathon.  "Your student has been telling me something about you as well.  You run a dojo in Japan?  A great accomplishment for one so young."

    Ranma shrugged.  "Martial arts is whole life.  Not see self doing anything else."

    Peter Caine glanced at the tall man in black.  < Her student, huh? They don't seem to act like they're more than just friends.>  He shook his head.  < No time for that, gotta stay focused on the job.>  He glanced toward Ranma again.  < Besides, she's just a kid, even if she is cute.>

    A few more matches followed, from above, Kermit watched as the numbers thinned out.

    He shook his head as he described the situation to Captain Simms. "All the rookies have been weeded out now.  Lon Phat's ringer, that's Kang, by the way, he has to fight one of the tougher remaining fighters.  I'd be willing to bet that they'll have Caine fight that girl at the same time.  They've got to get rid of both of them though, and I don't see how they're going to manage it.  Kang can't win against either Caine or that red head."

    Captain Simms looked interested.  "Is that girl really that good?"

    Kermit smiled and nodded.  "Oh yeah."

    As Kermit had predicted, Caine and Ranma were called up to fight each other, while Kang was matched with Johnathon.  The third ring held the last two remaining fighters.  The combatants circled each other, appraising each other's strengths.

    Kang sneered at his slender opponent.  < This one has no true discipline.  He uses moves from half a dozen schools.  He is nothing more than a brawler with speed and luck.  If I stick to the forms, I will defeat him.>

    Johnathon appraised Kang as well.  < This guy is a bit shorter than me, but he also has fifty pounds of muscle on me.  He's slower, but stronger.  He's also around a dan ranked Tae Kwon Do master.  I'd better draw him out, see how things go.>

    They began, Kang attacking primarily, while Johnathon fought defensively, trying to figure out a way to win.  Kang went from move to move with grace and speed, each leading into the next.  It was a magnificent display, one that threatened to break through Johnathon's defenses quickly and finish the fight.

    Johnathon defended desperately, loosing confidence.  < How can I beat this guy?  His moves are perfect!>  Suddenly it hit him.  < Perfect, but predictable, like Tatewaki Kuno.>  Johnathon's mind flashed to a conversation he had had with Ranma.

    Ranma had been using a bokken to demonstrate Kuno's typical attack routine, and was explaining the way to counter it.  "Follow the moves, find the pattern, then exploit it's weaknesses."

    Johnathon dodged a quick snap kick, then his mind cleared.   < He'll try a crane kick next, exploit it!>  Even as Kang jumped up, lashing out at Johnathon's head, the tall slender man dropped, beginning a sweep kick to Kang's rear leg.  Kang fell rather heavily and Johnathon got to his feet first, beginning a crane kick of his own even as Kang stood. The kick caught the burly martial artist off guard and knocked him to the edge ot the ring.  Johnathon didn't slow, taking one quick step and crashing a powerful thrust kick into Kang's upper torso, lifting him up and throwing him back, causing the larger man to land a good ten feet from the ring.

    The judge blinked in astonishment, then awarded the match to Johnathon hastily.  A small portion of the crowd cheered, but the majority was focused on the match between Ranma and Kwai Chang Caine.

    A certain weasely faced lieutenant of Lon Phat had his men ready for the finish of the fight between the red head and the Shaolin.  Which ever one won he was prepared to eliminate from the competition before they could face Kang.  The method Lon Phat had left to him, and the weasel faced man smirked to himself in anticipation of it's execution.

    One of his men tapped him on the shoulder.  "Umm, was Kang supposed to lose that match?"

    Weasel face looked around.  "What are you talking about?  Of course he.... wasn't...."  Spotting the marital artist in question getting up off the concrete floor ten feet from the ring, the weasel faced man groaned.  "He lost?  Oh great, the boss is going not going to be happy."  He thought rapidly.  "There's no way we can fix this up now. We don't have anyone left in the tournament now.  Come on, the plan's off. We have to talk to the boss."

    Kermit noted that Kang had been defeated with faint surprise.  The fight between Ranma and Caine had nearly everyone else's attention, but one of Lon Phat's men was assuredly already informing the big boss of the failure of his plans.

    "Well, that's it."  Kermit noted wryly.  "All hell's about to break loose."  He got Captain Simms attention, whispering.  "Captain, Lon Phat's ringer just lost to Red's boyfriend.  Lon Phat's not going to be happy."

    Captain Simms looked.  "Well, that's it then, the sting's a bust. Lon Phat won't come out now."

    Kermit mused.  "Actually, I believe he will show himself.  He's just lost face, he can't let things go at that.  He'll have to retaliate. Probably at Red and her boyfriend in black."

    The Captain nodded thoughtfully.  "Do you think he'll try something?"

    Kermit nodded back.  "Oh yeah.  The question is not if he'll try something, but when.  All we have to do is be there when he makes his move."

    Captain Simms nodded.  "Alright, in that case we should change things a bit.  We'll get Detective Caine to keep an eye on those two while the rest of us keep an eye on Peter."

    Kermit smirked.  "He'll just hate staying close to her...."

    Down in the center ring, Ranma and Kwai Chang Caine were just starting to accelerate things.  The match up to that point had been remarkably even.  For the first full minute, not a single solid blow had landed on either side.  Ranma's superior speed was matched by Caine's incredible grace and skill.  Ranma could throw two punches to every one of Caine's, but the Shaolin Master's blocks and evasions were so simple, minimal, that he was able to keep up.  Neither fighter changed the battle into a contest of strength.  It was too important to both of them to win with skill and elegance, not force and violence.  This match was something special for them both.

    For Caine, it was a true challenge of skill and experience vs.. youth and speed.  The fiery red head had achieved heights of skill Caine had never seen in one so young.  It was pure joy to him, watching her grow in ability before his eyes.  To Ranma, it was also a true challenge.  This old man had skill beyond anyone the young martial artist had ever seen, save perhaps Cologne and Happosai.  At this point Cologne would be pulling out huge flashy chi attacks in order to win. Happosai would be fueling his own chi off of Ranma's 'attributes'.  But Caine fought her as an equal, matching her, surpassing her again and again, but always in such a way that would encourage Ranma to new heights of skill.

    Peter Caine watched in awe as his father began to use moves he had never seen before, the two combatants at times seemed to blur, so rapid became their dance. Kwai Chang Caine nearly always used the most basic, simplest moves for any situation.  It was rare indeed that he would put on such an exhibition as this.  It was rarer still that any opponent would match him, even surpass him, for anywhere near this length of time.  Caine took a light hit, then another, barely deflecting them as Ranma's speed once again increased.

    Kwai Chang had realized at least thirty seconds before that he would loose the match, as they were fighting it, but he did not regret it.  < Ranma has managed to learn, even as we fought.  She adapted to me with incredible speed.  I might have been able to win earlier, had I not been so caught up in our contest of skill, but it was better thus.>  Caine felt his own consciousness expanding, his body reacting with new heights of skill.  < Yes, I have never been so challenged.  I too, have grown this day.>

    Caine consciously avoided using his chi abilities to aid him, determined to push his purely physical abilities to a new peak.  Twenty seconds after Caine reached as far as his body could go, Ranma once again made a slight improvement, slightly simplifying her movements to increase their speed.  She landed a solid kick to the center of Caine's chest, driving the Shaolin to the edge of the ring.  Ranma paused where she was, to allow Caine to recover.

    Caine simply straightened, placed his right fist in his left palm, and bowed.  "Thank you for the excellent match."

    Ranma tilted her head slightly, then imitated Caine's bow.  "It was an honor, master."

    The judge came to a quick decision and raised his left hand towards Ranma.  "The winner!"  He announced loudly.  The crowd, silent, nearly breathless in awe, suddenly broke into wild applause.  Up in the crowd, Detective Mary Margaret Skalany, slipped up to Kermit and Captain Simms.  The Detective was dressed rather scandalously, having been just playing the part of girlfriend to one of Lon Phat's goons.

    "Captain."  Skalany hissed quietly.  "My 'date' has just gotten called in to see Lon Phat.  From what I could determine, he wasn't the only one.  Something big is going down, soon."

    Captain Simms nodded.  "Our best guess is that Phat is going to try something to save face.  Probably he'll go after the red headed girl and the tall man in black with her."

    Skalany glanced down at the individuals mentioned.  "Yeah, I follow, those big bruisers they beat were Lon Phat's guys, right?  His scam is blown, so he'll go after them for some pay back."

    Kermit nodded.  "Oh yeah.  Although I don't think things are going to go as he plans."

    The Captain glanced at Skalany.  "Tell Detective Caine to stay close to those two, he seems to have started on that path already.  The rest of us will keep back and maintain an unobtrusive surveillance until Phat makes his move."

    Skalany nodded.  "Right, Captain."  She slipped away, heading for Peter Caine.

    By the time Ranma and Kwai Chang Caine exited the ring, Johnathon and the winner of the other match had been called up to fight for the right to go for first place.  In truth, it was for second place, and both combatants knew it.  The winner of their bout would face Ranma, and it was pretty obvious that she could beat either one of them.
 
    Ranma and Kwai Chang chatted casually while watching the fight. Ranma was curious about Caine's training at the Shaolin temple, and Caine humored her curiosity while asking the occasional question about her own training experiences.

    Skalany slipped up to Peter, informing him of the change of plans, then slipped away again.  Peter made an effort to join the conversation, and his father included him easily, sharing anecdotes about Peter's time at the temple as well.

    Peter Caine usually was very casual with women.  More often than not, they were the ones pursuing him.  Ranma, however, seemed less than interested, and Peter didn't press the issue, deciding to use Ranma's interest in his father as his excuse to 'stay close' to her.  They watched Johnathon's match, occasionally commenting on the combatant's styles.

    Peter evaluated the man he would soon be protecting and was mildly impressed.  < He's fast.  Not as fast as Ranma, but he'd give pop a run for the money in the speed department.  He's not quite as controlled, but his defenses are good.  I think I could take him, but it wouldn't be easy.>  Johnathon finished off his opponent with a powerful series of kicks, and the judge awarded him the match.

    As the tall man gave his opponent a hand up, Ranma nodded to Caine. "I'll go give my student another lesson, and we'll be back in a minute."

    Caine nodded.  "I will observe your technique."

    Ranma vaulted into the ring as Johnathon's opponent left it.  The ring judge announced the final match.  The betting was extremely light. Despite Johnathon's much greater height and reach, only a few believe he had a chance of victory against the petite red head.  He lasted for sixty four seconds, giving a breathtaking performance before going down, but the outcome had never really been in doubt.

    The judge awarded Ranma the win, and a second man came up with the cash prize.  Ranma accepted it and did a victory wave for the crowd. Johnathon got to his feet and bowed to her, and they both exited the ring.

    Johnathon looked faintly surprised.  "A cash prize?  No trophy? This wasn't anything like my last tournament."

    Ranma grinned.  "Oh sure, I've done this before.  What would I do with a couple dozen trophy's anyway?  Pop would've just sold them all by now."

    As Ranma and Johnathon were coming back over to them, Peter whispered to his father.  "Pop, Lon Phat, the guy we were planning to sting today, he's probably going to hit those two.  I've got to stay close to them somehow."

    Kwai Chang Caine nodded, considering.  "I will try."

    As Ranma approached, Caine looked speculatively from her to Peter. < Peter appears to find Ranma attractive, and her skills would add much to Peter's own, perhaps.....>  He paused.  < Well, it would be an excuse for Peter so 'stay close' but....>  Caine shook his head with a grin.  < No, it is not my place to match make for my son.  It is, after all, the '90's'>

    Ranma walked up to them with a grin and a bounce in her step, and Caine rapidly tried to come up with something else.  "Ah, Ranma, my congratulations on your victory.  May I inquire as to your plans for the rest of the afternoon?"

    Ranma hesitated.  "We, uh... Have to be going back.  My... fiancee, and John-san's wife will be waiting."

    Caine hesitated as well, then spoke.  "I would like, to continue our conversation.  Might we join you?"

    Ranma hesitated again, then turned to Johnathon.  "What you think, John-san?"  Johnathon raised an eyebrow and pointedly glanced down at Ranma's breasts.  Ranma blinked, then realized.  < I'm a girl now, and Johnathon's parents don't know about the curse.  I've got to change back first.>  She sighed.

    Peter Caine had followed Johnathon's look and was forced to tear his eyes away, wondering what that had been about.

    Johnathon turned to Caine and shrugged regretfully.  "I'm afraid we have reservations at Scoma's  It's my honeymoon, and Kasumi's with my folks right now.  Perhaps we'll see you later."

    Peter jumped in quickly, feeling disaster in the works.  "That's a great restaurant, but they're never full this time of year.  Pops and I could change and join you.  When are your reservations?  We could show you around Chinatown until you have to go."

    Ranma coughed.  "I sorry, but we really has to go now."

    Caine nodded politely.  "We will not keep you.  Good fortune on your honeymoon."  Ranma and Johnathon nodded.

    Johnathon glanced at Ranma.  "We'll let's go.  It was nice to meet you, master Caine."

    Ranma grinned.  "Yeah, it was a blast.  If you're ever in Nerima Japan, look us up."  The two younger martial artist turned and left.

    Peter ground his teeth impotently.  "Arrgh.  We've go to go after them, pop!  Lon Phat's not going to just let them walk away!"

    Caine inclined his head toward the door.  "Then we will follow."  He smiled.  "I believe this is your 'gig'"

    Peter gave his father a wry look.  "Right, I'm the cop."

    Peter Caine headed for the door, on the way signaling for Kermit, Skalany, and the others to meet him outside.  He got to the door several steps behind Ranma and Johnathon, who had been mobbed by several dozen new fans. (Mostly interested in the red haired girl.)  Peter waited for them to get out and followed after.  His father faded into the crowd halfway through, but Peter didn't worry, knowing the Shaolin priest probably had his own way of 'following' Lon Phat's soon to be victims.

    Peter was surprised to see Kermit and the Captain outside before him.  Ranma and Johnathon walked by his fellow officers without stopping and started down the street.  Peter walked up, keeping an eye on his subjects.

    Kermit smirked.  "What happened to the famous Peter Caine charm?"

    Peter retorted easily.  "She's engaged, not to mention too young for me.  They're headed for the Fisherman's wharf area, any ideas?"

    Captain Simms nodded.  "We shadow them, by the book.  Peter, you go for your car, Kermit and I will take turns in pursuit and keep you informed.  Call the precinct and get us a couple cars on stand by for backup.  We'll keep in touch by radio."  She tapped the mini radio hidden in her collar.  "Now get going."

                               End of Part 6

 

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