A.D.V. American Vacation Chapter 9

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 9

    The room went silent.  The faint noises of the office outside came through clearly as everyone tried
to respond to that.

    Captain Simms spoke up first.  "I... see.  You two are... engaged?"

    Akane nodded, still blushing.  "Yes... I don't generally like to tell people....  Most people don't
understand."

    Ranma shrugged, trying not to blush herself.  "When people see two girls together...."

    Skalany nodded, coming immediately to the wrong conclusion.  "So you claimed to be engaged to
your brother, because you were embarrassed to admit you were engaged to another girl?"

    Ranma shrugged, red-faced.  < Well, it is something like that, anyways.>

    Skalany nodded again.  "Now that all makes sense.  It is an unusual relationship you two have."

    Akane sighed.  "You have no idea."

    There was several long moments of silence, then Peter Caine brought out a tape recorder and put it
on the table.  "Alright.  Now that that's all settled, why don't you tell us exactly what you saw
yesterday, when that car tried to run you down."

    Johnathon hesitated, then spoke.  "I guess I'll start."  The police listened quietly as Johnathon gave
a slightly edited version of the previous days events.

    Captain Simms questioned him after he had finished.  "Did you see anything strange?  Anything out
of the ordinary, after you heard the shots?"

    Johnathon shook his head honestly.  "I didn't see anything surprising.  The most unusual thing there
that I saw was people carrying guns."  < Its not like me seeing a half cat is unusual.  I see one all the
time, in the mirror.>

    Ranma gave her statement next, following Johnathon's version exactly, insisting that she had seen
nothing out of the ordinary, besides the men with guns.

    Peter questioned her after her statement.  "Did you see your friend Johnathon here leaving?  He
says he ran away before we showed up."

    Ranma nodded.  "Yes, Johnathon-san leave before you come.  Nothing strange about that, yes?
People with guns around."

    Peter nodded in agreement, favoring Johnathon with a shrug.  "No, nothing strange about running
away from guns."  He turned to Ranma. "You didn't run away.  Why?"

    Ranma grinned cockily.  "Akane always say I too headstrong for own good.  Johnathon not as
stubborn."

    Akane rolled her eyes.

    The desk sergeant came to the door and knocked before opening it. "Detective Caine, you father
is here to identify the suspects."

    Captain Simms nodded.  "Start the line up.  We'll do this all at once."

    They all headed for the room where they'd see the line up.  Kwai Chang Caine was coming out
even as they arrived.

    Peter went up to him.  "You identify those men, pop?"

    Caine nodded calmly.  "I have."

    Captain Simms smiled and went over to him as well.  "Master Caine, thank you for saving my life
yesterday."

    Caine shrugged.  "I was not alone."

    Karen Simms nodded, turning back to Ranma.  "Yes, I have Ranma to thank as well.  Ranma, are
you ready to identify those gunmen now?" Ranma nodded and the Captain indicated the door.  "Why
don't we do this one at a time.  Ranma, you can take a look first."

    Skalany opened the door for Ranma and led her in.  "This will just take a minute."

    The door closed behind Ranma, and Johnathon waited patiently for his turn.  Caine approached
him slowly, an unreadable expression on his face.  The Shaolin stopped a few feet away and placed
his right fist in his left palm, bowing slightly to the younger man.  Johnathon imitated Caine a second
later, hastily, slightly surprised.

    Johnathon tried not to sweat as the Shaolin priest stared at him calmly.  < Does he know?  Did he
see me transform?  What is he going to do?>

    Caine spoke softly.  "It is good to see you again, Johnathon."

    Johnathon cleared his throat.  "It's good to see you too, Master Caine.  I hear you and Ranma
helped save Captain Simms."

    Caine's eyebrow rose.  "Did you not help as well?"

    Johnathon coughed.  "Ah, well, with people like Ranma and yourself around, I wasn't really
needed."

    Caine quirked his head to the side.  "Do not downplay your own courage and abilities, lest you
believe yourself less than you are."

    Johnathon nodded slowly.  "Ah...."

    Caine's eyes moved just slightly toward his son and Captain Simms, who were listening intently.
"Ah."  He raised an eyebrow.  "I understand.  We will speak no more of it."

    Peter came up to them, holding a pair of black running shoes.  "I'd like to talk about it a bit more."
He held up the shoes to Johnathon. "Lose something?"

    Johnathon blinked, then slowly took the shoes.  < No use lying here.  They probably can trace
these back to me.>  "Yup.  I lost these yesterday, ran right out of them, in fact.  I didn't really feel like

going back into a gun fight to get them you understand."

    Peter Caine nodded in agreement.  "I don't blame you.  It was pretty hairy yesterday."  He
pointed.  "In those shoes, I mean.  Hairy that is.  Can you guess what we found in them?"

    Johnathon's expression went blank.  "Why don't you tell me, detective."

    Peter's eyes narrowed.  "Alright, why not.  We found cat hairs, black cat hairs in both of your
shoes."

    Johnathon stared silently at the detective for a moment, then nodded.  "That's very good.  I do, in
fact, own a black cat.  I guess that proves the shoes were mine."  He glanced over at Akane.  "I
should say, we own a cat.  It's really all of ours."

    Akane nodded, smiling.  "C-chan is such a cute kitten.  I think I have a picture somewhere."  She
fished around in her purse, coming up with a photo of a black kitten curled up on the Tendo living
room floor with Kasumi (in her human form and asleep).

    Captain Simms and Peter looked at the photo with interest.

    Peter pointed to Kasumi.  "That's your wife, right, Johnathon?"

    Captain Simms smiled softly.  "How cute.  You have a lovely wife. It's an adorable kitten too."

    Johnathon smiled widely.  "Yes, that's Kasumi.  She's very fond of the kitten.  Almost like it's her
child."

    Peter and Captain Simms nodded at that, then their eyes went wide a few seconds later at the
implication.  Johnathon pretended not to notice, confident now that they had no real proof of his
transformation.

    Kwai Chang Caine glanced at the photo and nodded politely.  "A very nice picture.  Professionally
done."

    Akane looked slightly embarrassed.  "My sister Nabiki is really into photography.  Its her hobby."

    The door to the one way mirror room opened up and Ranma came out. "They ready for you,
John-san."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Alright."  He passed Ranma in the doorway and went in.

    Skalany closed the door behind him.  "Alright, all you have to do is identify the four men you saw
out of this line up."  She pointed through the glass to a room on the other side, where 10 men stood
shoulder to shoulder.

    Johnathon stepped up to the one way mirror and looked carefully at the men.  "Number 3, 4, 7,
and... 10.  Those are the guys I saw."

    Skalany nodded, pleased.  "Both Ranma and Caine identified them as well.  With your statements
and the Captains, and all the evidence we've gathered, this case is air tight."

    Johnathon nodded to the detective.  "I'm glad we can help.  If there's nothing else, I have a
honeymoon to get back too."  He went to the door, followed by Skalany, and opened it, stepping
out.  "Captain Simms, detectives, is there anything else?"

    Captain Simms nodded seriously.  "I'm afraid there is.  You were targeted yesterday for a reason.
A notorious gang boss, Lon Phat, was running an illegal gambling ring at the tournament you two won
yesterday.  He lost face, and a lot of money, because of you two, and it's not very likely that he's
given up on revenge."

    Johnathon blinked.  "Alright, what do you suggest we do?"

    Captain Simms didn't hesitate.  "Lon Phat is likely to try again, soon.  I'd suggest you accept police
protection for the next few days."

    Johnathon winced at that.  < A few days?  Our secret will never last that long.  I've been lucky to
keep it from my folks, but these cops already suspect.  Not to mention the fact that they carry guns.  I
have no desire to be shot by some rookie cop that panics.>

    Akane and Ranma exchanged meaningful glances as Johnathon winced and thought.

    Ranma whispered to Akane in Japanese.  "They want to stay with us? For days?  Oh great."

    Akane answered quietly in the same language.  "They just want to help.  Even you can't dodge
bullets."

    Ranma looked thoughtful.  "Oh?  I'm not so sure about that."

    Johnathon sighed.  "Let me talk this over with my friends.  In private."

    Captain Simms hesitated, then nodded.  "You can use the conference room."

    A minute later, Johnathon, Akane and Ranma were alone in the police conference room.

    Ranma turned to Akane and Johnathon, speaking in Japanese.  "So, what do you think?"

    Johnathon shrugged.  "I think we're in trouble."

    Akane rolled her eyes.  "What gave you that idea?"

    Several minutes later, the door opened.

    Ranma waved the Captain, Peter, and Skalany in.  "OK, we work with you.  But on our terms."

    Captain Simms hesitated, then nodded.  "Alright, let's hear what you have in mind."

    Johnathon stepped forward.  "The deal is this.  We help you get Lon Phat, and then we leave.  No
court appearance, no publicity, we're out of it."

    Captain Simms hesitated, then came to a decision.  "If we get evidence to put Lon Phat away, it's a
deal.  On one condition.  The truth.  What happened yesterday, what really happened.  The
TRUTH."

    Ranma locked eyes with the police captain.  The two women stared at each other for several long
moments.  Peter Caine looked at Johnathon, then at the two women locked in a battle of wills.
Ranma gazed into Karen Simms eyes and saw determination there, and a need.  Captain Simms
saw a young woman who was much more than she appeared at first glance.

    Ranma sighed, and turned to Johnathon.  "It's your call, John-san. It's not really a problem for me,
but...."

    Johnathon sighed.  "It seems the only way.  The truth... but not here.  There are too many eyes
here, too many ears.  The truth... has to remain a secret."

    Peter spoke up.  "My fathers apothecary.  If you need to keep a secret, you can trust him."

    Ranma nodded.  "Master Caine?  I think that would be a good idea."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Alright.  Then, there, you three, Caine.  No one else."

    Peter didn't hesitated.  "Captain?"

    Captain Simms nodded.  "I agree.  Lets go."

    Fifteen minutes later they were all at Caine's door.

    An ancient chinese man opened the door for them.  "Enter, enter. We've been expecting you."

    Captain Simms, Akane, and Johnathon all started to ask how they knew they were coming, then
thought better of it.  The wizened old man brought the group into the back room, where Caine was
sitting in meditation.  The Shaolin priest rose to his feet easily and bowed, fist against open palm.
Johnathon, Akane and Ranma returned the bow, while the the three police officers nodded in
response.

    Caine nodded at the ancient.  "This is Lo Si, my mentor, and friend.  We have been hoping you
would come here to us."

    Johnathon sighed.  "I guess one more can't hurt."  He turned to the whole group.  "We're here,
because Captain Simms wanted to know the truth.  Well, first I need all your words, that what I'm
about to show you does not leave this room.  Otherwise, we walk away, and take our chances with
Lon Phat following us back to Japan."

    Lo Si and Caine nodded immediately, Skalany a second later.

    Mary Margaret Skalany's look was serious.  "I can agree to that."

    Captain Simms hesitated a few moments longer, then nodded as well. "I owe you that much, at
least."

    Peter Caine nodded firmly, a second later.  "Alright.  I give my word.  I won't reveal what I see
here."

    "I swear,"  Kwai Chang Caine said with conviction, nodding again. "Your secret I will keep."

    Lo Si spoke up as well.  "I will keep your secret, on my oath."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Very well.  Ranma, do you want to go first, or should I?"

    Ranma shrugged.  "I go first.  One shock at time, I think."  He bowed to Kwai Chang Caine.
"Master Caine, you have pitcher of hot water I can use?  And some cold water?"

    Kwai Chang nodded.  "I do.  I will bring them."

    Akane and Johnathon exchanged surprised glances.  Lo Si just smiled enigmatically.  Caine went
out and came back in several moments later with two kettles.

    Ranma took them and felt the temperature with his wrists.  "A bit too hot."  The red haired girl
carefully poured some water from one kettle into the other.  "There, that just about right."  Ranma
lifted that kettle over her head and poured.  An instant later, Skalany, Captain Simms and Peter Caine
gasped in astonishment.  Ranma had gained just over half a foot in height, appeared quite male, and
his hair had changed to black.  The young man bowed.  "I am Ranma Saotome."  Lo Si just nodded,
while Kwai Chang Caine lifted an eyebrow.

    Peter stammered.  "You... and her... that girl... are the same?"

    Ranma nodded sadly.  "I am.  This my real form.  The body of girl, is the curse."

    Lo Si nodded in understanding.  "The curse of Jusenkyo?"

    Ranma blinked.  "You knew?"

    Lo Si shrugged.  "We... guessed.  The cursed springs of Jusenkyo are legendary, but not widely
known."

    Skalany broke in.  "Curse?  Cursed springs?  I don't understand! How can he... she... change like
that?"

    Akane shrugged, inclining her head at her fiancé.  "You get used to it.  No one seems to know
how, or why the curses work.  They just do, they're curses."

    Ranma proceeded to explain, setting down the kettles.  "The cursed springs of Jusenkyo is valley
filled with pools.  It supposed to be training ground, very dangerous.  There is poles sticking out of
springs, you is supposed to fight on poles, not get knocked off.  In each spring is curse.  Who ever
falls in one takes the body of what drown there.  I fall in spring of drowned girl.  Spring where girl
drowned one thousand five hundred year ago, very tragic story."  He opened up his shirt in front.  "As
can see, hot water change me back to guy.  Cold water makes me girl."  Ranma picked up the kettle
with cold water in it and tipped it over his head, pouring just enough to transform.  An instant later, a
busty red head was shaking out her hair, her breasts bouncing a bit as her head moved.  "You see?"

    Akane growled.  "Ranma, close your shirt!"

    Ranma did so with a shrug.  "So now you know, yes?"

    Skalany, Captain Simms and Peter Caine stared dumbfounded at her.

    The Captain shook her head.  "So that explains 'Ranko' and 'Ranma'."

    Ranma nodded.  "Yes, I go by Ranko when girl sometimes.  Is better than explain curse to
everyone."

    Skalany shook her head as well.  "I... I can't believe I just saw that."

    Kwai Chang nodded slowly at her.  "Believe what you see, Mary Margaret.  It is the truth."

    Skalany shrugged sheepishly.  "Alright, if you say so, Kwai Chang."

    Johnathon walked over and took the cold water kettle.  "Just enough."  He turned to the police
officers.  "Don't overreact, please. This is a curse, but the body changes, not the mind.  It's still me,
right?"

    Captain Simms nodded slowly, Skalany a second later.

    Mary Margaret Skalany spoke quietly.  "You're... you're really...."

    Johnathon sighed, and poured.  Everyone froze in shock or in anticipation of a violent reaction.
For several seconds no one moved.

    Johnathon broke the silence, moving his head slowly.  "I call this form, a half cat form, because that
is what it is."  His voice made shivers run up and down the officers backs, but they didn't speak or
move. Johnathon continued, letting them get used to the throaty, slightly inhuman timber of his voice.
"Over a year ago, I was splashed with a bucket full of water from the spring of drowned cat.  For
quite a while, I changed into a little black house cat whenever I was splashed with cold water.
Eventually, I traveled to China in search of a cure. I ended up in Jusenkyo, and tried jumping into the
spring of drowned man."  He sighed.  "This is the result."  Johnathon shrugged expressively.  "And
that, is the truth."

    Peter Caine blinked.  "OK... I've seen stranger things... I think." He turned to Akane.  "So, do you
change into anything?"

    Akane shook her head.  "No, this is the real me."  She nodded at Ranma.  "And Ranma really is
my fiancé."

    Peter blinked again.  "Oh."

    Captain Simms came up to Johnathon slowly, tentatively she reached toward his face.  "May I?"
She asked with slight trepidation.

    Johnathon nodded.  "Go ahead."  Karen slowly brought her hand up and touched his face, then
gently ran her fingers though his facial fur, up to his ear.  Johnathon's ear twitched in response and the
Captain jerked her hand away.

    "Oh, I'm sorry."  Simms' face reddened slightly in embarrassment and worry.

    Johnathon shook his head quickly.  "Don't worry, I don't bite.  My ears are a bit sensitive, but you
didn't hurt me."

    Captain Simms let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding.  She tilted her head, and
stared at him intently.  Kermit's info from Japan suggested that the 'half cat' in front of her was a
monster, responsible for attacking young women, and scaring people.

    < I was certainly scared.>  Karen Simms frowned slightly.  < I let his appearance frighten me into
making a rash judgment.  I won't make another.  If... he... Johnathon Dwire, is guilty the crimes of
which he is accused, then I'll act.  But without more proof then a few frightened people's words, I
haven't the right.>

    Johnathon appeared nervous as she sized him up.  He glanced at the other two cops.  Skalany was
a bit wide eyed, staring at him intently, while Peter Caine's expression matched his captain's, that of
wary appraisal.  Kwai Chang Caine and Lo Si were calm and collected, waiting patiently.  Finally,
Captain Simms turned away, glancing at Peter and Skalany.

    Then nodding once, the police Captain turned back to Johnathon with a decisive look.  "We have
reports of someone matching your description in Nerima Japan."  She paused momentarily waiting for
a reaction.

    The half cat nodded once.  "Yes...."  He waited as well, for the other shoe to drop.

    Captain Simms continued after several seconds, gauging his reactions as best she could.  "Most of
those reports lacked detail, but one reported that the 'Cat Demon'."  She paused.  "Their term, not
mine. That you, apparently assaulted two young women and a man."

    Johnathon didn't move or speak for several seconds.  "I believe I may know what you're talking
about."  He paused.  "It's not true, but it could have appeared that way to the crowd that gathered."

    Skalany spoke up.  "Do you have any proof that you're innocent?"

    Johnathon Dwire hesitated.  "Yes...."

    Peter Caine jumped in at his hesitation.  "If you do, let us hear it!  What proof do you have?"

    Johnathon looked around him, wrinkling his nose.  "I thought I was innocent until proven guilty."
He glanced hesitantly at Akane, then back at Peter, and sighed.  "I married one of those two
women... that incident was... personally embarrassing.  I'd rather not bring it up again...."

    Skalany glanced at Akane, who was starting to blush slightly, and came to a conclusion.  "You
were the other woman?"

    Akane nodded.  "Johnathon had nothing to do with it, besides being there and getting splashed.
We were on a double date, Ranma, Kasumi, Johnathon and me.  A pervert, Happosai, attacked us."

    Ranma nodded.  "Yes!  He splash me and John-san, and grab Kasumi. Akane grab him and...."
The red head paused, looking embarrassed. "Well, um... Akane got rid of Happosai....  John-san
didn't do nothing."

    Johnathon sighed.  "Akane is a very skilled martial artist.  My assistance wasn't needed."

    Captain Simms, Skalany and Peter glanced at each other, having noted the long pauses by all three
of the Nermities.

    Lo Si had started muttering to himself upon hearing Johnathon's explanation, then he spoke.
"This... Happosai.  Could you describe him?"  Everyone looked at the Ancient.

    "Huh?"  Ranma said intelligently.  "He... um, he real short, and real old, white hair, and thin
whiskers on face.  He pervert, always grab at girls, and steal underwear."

    Lo Si nodded.  "I have heard of this... Happosai.  A Demon, they say, of perversion.  A notorious
panty thief, also, an extremely powerful martial artist.  He is wanted for the theft of many treasures
in China, as well as for his lesser perversions."

    Akane nodded.  "That's him alright.  He's been causing problems for us for almost a year now.  It
was Happosai that attacked me and Kasumi that night.  Johnathon was just in the wrong place at the
wrong time. When that crowd showed up, they spotted Johnathon in his half cat form, and jumped to
conclusions."

    Captain Simms sighed.  "I can understand how that could happen." She turned to Johnathon.  "I'm
sorry I misjudged you.  I should know better by now, than to judge by appearances."

    Johnathon shook his furred head in dismissal.  "Don't worry about it.  Lots of people have made
the same mistake.  You reacted quite calmly, in fact, compared to most of them."

    Akane broke in.  "Now what?  You know the truth, so...."  A scratching noise from the back door
caught everyone's attention.  It sounded like something scrabbling on the glass rapidly.  "What is
that?"

    As a group, everyone started for the back door.  The source of the sound was immediately
obvious.  A black cat was clawing at the back door desperately.  The cat stopped attacking the door
when it saw them, but the look of alarm stayed in it's eyes.  Ranma, Akane and Johnathon all
stopped dead upon seeing it.  Peter continued towards the door, followed by Skalany and Lo Si,
while Captain Simms and Caine noted the three younger person's shock.

    Peter opened the back door, looking down at the black cat.  "What's wrong?"  He asked in a
soothing tone.  The cat ran past him without answering, and went directly for Johnathon.  It leapt into
his arms and he caught the cat automatically.

    "K.. Kitten!"  Johnathon sputtered.  "What are you doing here?" Slightly wild eyed still, Kasumi
shrugged her head toward the door, and hissed.  Johnathon blinked in astonishment.  Kasumi had
never sounded so angry in her life, and she had never, ever, 'hissed' before.  "Something bad?
Outside?"  Kasumi nodded emphatically.  Ranma, Akane and Johnathon exchanged a look.
< Whatever made Kasumi this angry, must be REALLY bad.>

    Skalany looked incredulously at Johnathon.  "You can talk to it?"

    The tall, black furred, half cat shrugged quickly.  "Sort of... something's really wrong outside...."

    Peter reached for his gun.  "I'll check it out."  He took a step toward the door and Kasumi hissed
again loudly, shaking her head wildly from side to side."

    "No!"  Johnathon shouted.  "It's dangerous!"  He looked down at his diminutive wife.  "What...
damn it...."  Peter Caine looked back at the cat and half cat in astonishment.  He opened his mouth to
speak, then closed it, looking pained.

    Peter's whole face twitched and he burst out.  "This cat says it's too dangerous?"  He glanced at his
father, who was looking at the back door with wary anticipation.  Johnathon was staring down at
Kasumi, who was glancing around frantically.  Her eyes stopped on the kettles in the next room and
she pointed firmly at them with one paw.

    Johnathon got the message.  "Alright."  He turned to Lo Si. "Master, where is you bathroom
please?"

    Lo Si blinked once, then pointed calmly.  "Second door on your left.  You can't miss it."

    Peter gaped in shock as Johnathon then rushed off, running into the bathroom and closing the door
behind him.  "What in the hell?"  He frowned in anger and turned back toward the back door.

    Kwai Chang put a hand on his son's shoulder, gently restraining him.  "Patience is always the wisest
course, my son."  Running water could be heard faintly from the bathroom, and everyone stood in
various states of confusion.

    Captain Simms frowned.  "What is he doing?"  She looked sharply at Akane.  "Can he really talk
to that cat?"

    Akane fidgeted.  "In a way... it's slightly difficult to explain...."

    Unsatisfied with that, Captain Simms marched over to the bathroom door, hand raised to knock.
Suddenly a woman's voice came from inside, speaking quickly in Japanese.  It was muffled by the
door, but Ranma and Akane both made out one word in particular.

    The teenagers repeated it to each other, then said it in english for everyone else.  "Assassins!"

    Meanwhile, Captain Simms had yanked open the bathroom door.  "What's going on... in...
there...."  She blushed and closed the door.  "Oh wow."  Peter and Skalany were torn between the
Captain and the two Japanese girls.

    Skalany decided to tackle the more obvious threat.  "Assassins?" She queried dangerously, looking
wide eyed at Ranma and Akane.

    The two teens immediately pointed toward the bathroom.  "That's what..."  Started Akane.

    "We heard."  Finished Ranma in a rush.

    Meanwhile, Peter went over to Captain Simms.  "What's going on? Who's in there?"

    In partial answer, Johnathon Dwire blew out of the bathroom door. "Everyone stay away from the
windows!  There are men with guns outside, here to kill us!"

    Peter Caine blinked, then shoved past him and the Captain, to look into the bathroom.  "What are
you talking about?  Who's in... there...?"  The detective's eyes went wide and he froze momentarily at
the sight of Kasumi Tendo, standing before him, completely naked.

    Kasumi gave off a small scream and covered herself as best as she could.  Peter felt himself being
grabbed and thrown painfully into the opposite wall.  Johnathon released him, glaring menacingly.
Peter went from embarrassed to angry in an instant, but his Captain's glare cooled him down.

    Captain Simms turned to Johnathon, shrugging out of her long duster.  "Here."  She said, handing it
to him.  "That's your wife, Kasumi Tendo, isn't it?"

    Johnathon took the coat and held it out toward the bathroom. "Yes..."  He admitted warily.
Kasumi's arm snaked out to take it and Johnathon looked seriously at the police woman.  "Kasumi
tells me there are men with guns outside, here to kill us.  Me, Ranma, and Kwai Chang Caine,
specifically.

    Simms pulled her gun out of her now obvious shoulder holster.  "I see.  Where are these men?
How many?"

    Kasumi came out of the bathroom, closing the top button of the duster.  "There are six men.  I'm
not sure exactly where.  I tried to get in here to warn you as soon as I could.  One had a large
briefcase with a gun in it.  He was supposed to shoot you... but there were five others with him
carrying...."  Kasumi put her hands apart about a foot, trying to think of the word.  "Carrying...
machine... submachine guns...."

    Karen Simms, Peter, and Johnathon all winced.

    Kasumi looked around worriedly.  "They were going to... cover the doors, I think.  They talked
mostly in chinese, some english.  They are out there right now!"

    Captain Simms nodded to Peter.  "Alright, get everyone away from the windows.  I'll call for
backup.  She glanced toward the rest of the group.  "Skalany, cover the back door...."  She blinked
and looked around.  "Where's Caine?"  There was the sound of a gun going off outside, followed by
the unmistakable rapid discharge of an automatic weapon.

    Peter groaned.  "Where else?"  The young detective headed for the back door at a run, ignoring his
Captain's sudden protest.  Ranma reacted a second later, running after Peter Caine.   Skalany drew
her gun and moved to cover them from the back doorway as multiple shots started going off,
breaking glass and sending Akane, Skalany and Captain Simms to the floor.  Johnathon Dwire hit the
floor an instant later, having taken the time to yank Kasumi down with him.  Lo Si stood calmly in a
corner, out of the line of sight of the doors or windows.

    A few moments later, there was a distinctive shout from outside as Ranma released a  "Moko
Takabishi!"  Immediately afterward, the sound of gunfire from out behind the apothecary shop
stopped.  Skalany took the opportunity to run after her partner, and Johnathon, Akane, and Captain
Simms started getting up.

    Johnathon remained crouched, one hand on Kasumi's back keeping her down.  "Kasumi, you said
they were watching all the doors?"

    Kasumi nodded faintly.  "Yes, Johnathon."

    Captain Simms exchanged a look with Johnathon and they both spoke together.  "The front
door..."

    "Kasumi, stay down."  Johnathon ordered sharply, while Captain Simms started heading quietly for
the shop's front entrance.  He began to follow after the police captain.  "I've got your back."  Karen
Simms simply nodded, not looking back as she continued toward the front.

    Lo Si looked thoughtful.  "Someone should check the side door."

    He proceeded to follow his own advice and Akane ran after him. "Hey!  They have guns!"

    Lo Si nodded slightly.  "You're right.  You go first."

    Akane gritted her teeth.  "Alright, fine."  She slipped by Lo Si and headed for the side door.

    As if on cue, both the front and side doors were kicked open at the same time.  As the front door
flew wide, Captain Simms immediately fired at the black clad assassin there, causing him to dive out
of the doorway.  The side door had had a chain holding it closed, which held momentarily.  Akane
leapt for the door, kicking it with every bit of force she possessed, even as the assassin outside tried
to kick it open himself from the other direction.  Akane's kick turned out to be by far the stronger.
The door flew from it's hinges, crashing into the two men outside with stunning force.  Akane rolled to
her feet, only to find one of the two men conscious, and pointing his submachine gun at her from
under the door.  Her eyes widened as she realized she had no place to dodge.  Before he could fire,
Lo Si appeared behind him and kicked the gun out of his hand.

    Akane blinked incredulously as Lo Si calmly knocked the weaponless gunman out, and stuttered.
"How... how did you... how did you get outside?"

    Lo Si Shrugged and winked.  "Ancient Chinese secret."

    A series of shots were heard from the direction of the front door and Akane turned that way.
"Never mind."  When she glanced back to ask Lo Si for advice on where they should go next, he was
already gone.

    In the front of the apothecary, Captain Simms and Johnathon crouched behind a sturdy table as an
assassin fired blindly into the room from the front door."

    "Cover me."  The half cat whispered between bursts.

    The Captain nodded quickly.  "Right, what are you...?"  In answer, Johnathon bolted around the
table heading toward the door.  She shut up and popped over the table to fire a couple rounds out of
the open doorway, causing the assassin outside to flinch back momentarily. Johnathon reached the
wall next to the doorway and she dropped back behind the table.  A second later the submachine gun
peeked into the doorway again from outside, held sideways by the assassin to fire in without
endangering himself.

    < Just gotta keep them busy here.>  He thought, smiling.  < Until the others get in from the side.>
As he pulled off another random burst he suddenly  felt a sharp pressure as something grabbed his
gun and wrist from the side, and promptly smashed both into the door frame.  The man howled in
pain as his wrist broke and he released the weapon from his nerveless fingers.  Not quite satisfied,
Johnathon kept moving, yanking the assassin inside roughly, incidentally causing him to slam face first
into the door jam.

    Captain Simms had stood back up in response to all the noise and blinked.  A man lay unconscious
in the doorway, and the half cat, Johnathon, was picking up his submachine gun.

    The Captain hesitated.  "Um, do you know how to use that?"

    Johnathon glanced at her, then at the gun.  "Well... probably not as well as you can."  In two quick
steps, he crossed the room and handed the weapon to her.

    Captain Simms took the submachine gun and looked it over quickly, before noticing movement
outside the front door.  "Get down!"  She aimed at the shadow as it came up to the door, hands
raised and waving.

    "Do not shoot!"  Lo Si came in the front door with his hands up. Captain Simms lowered her gun
and Lo Si waved for Akane to follow him, which she did.  "The coast, as they say, is clear."  The old
priest reported, bowing slightly, as Akane came in wearily, careful not to step on the man laying
unconscious in the doorway.

    Captain Simms sighed in relief.  "What about Peter, and his father? Ranma and Skalany went after
them, but...."

    Kwai Chang Caine walked in from the back, escorting Kasumi and followed by Peter, Skalany
and Ranma.  "We are all fine."  The Shaolin said calmly.  "The assassins are unconscious, outside."

    Johnathon went to his wife's side.  "Are you alright, Kasumi?  You look a bit pale?"

    Kasumi did in fact, appear a bit white.  "I'm fine, Johnathon, but I'm worried about the other girls."

    Johnathon blinked.  "The others?  What are you talking about?  How did you end up here
anyway?"

    Kasumi took a deep breath.  "I was kidnapped from your parents house by Mr. Phat.  I'm worried
that the other girls he has kidnapped might be in trouble now."

    Peter Caine came up to her quickly.  "Other girls?  Where are they?"

    Kasumi nodded.  "I should lead you there.  There isn't much time.  I heard that the others were to
be moved tonight!"  She started to explain.  "There were six other girls in the room he put me in.
They were all kidnapped like me.  Mr. Lon Phat was worried that the 'heat' was on, and he was
planning on having us all moved tonight."

    Captain Simms walked up as well.  "You can take us to them?  How did you escape?"

    Kasumi nodded.  "I'll show you the way.  They had a sink with hot and cold water.  One of the
girls promised to cover up my escape for as long as possible, but I don't know how much time we
have."

    Captain Simms nodded back.  "Alright, come with me.  Peter, Margaret...."

    Ranma interrupted.  "I coming too!  I can help!"

    Akane spoke up.  "Me too.  It's the duty of martial artists to protect the frail and weak."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Where Kasumi goes, I go."

    Peter didn't have to look at his father to know what he intended. "Captain, it sounds like we don't
have much time.  We could use the help."

    Karen Simms rolled her eyes.  "Fine, you're all deputized.  Lo Si, can you deal with the men here
until our backup shows to take care of them?"

    The ancient master nodded.  "My pleasure."

    Captain Simms nodded at started walking quickly for the door. "We'll call in support on the way.
Let's move, people!"

    The improvised posse hurried after her, Kasumi giving directions as they piled in Peter Caine's car,
and the Captain's Bronco, to go to the rescue.

                end of part 9
 

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