Ace Ventura: Suddenly Seeking Panda
An Ace Ventura / Ranma 1/2 Short Story
Copyright 2004-2008, Rebecca Ann Heineman
Takes place sometime late in the Ranma 1/2 timeline for no apparent reason, again.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective characters created by Jack Bernstein, Jim Carrey and Tom Shadyac. Ranma 1/2 and the characters therein are the property of Rumiko Takahashi.
I wrote this because Cory Rose said he was going to force his houseplants to commit seppuku if I didn't write this. Although, I'll continue to harass him in this life and the next if he doesn't finish "Princess of the Moon."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Chapter 1, Back In Japan.
I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me, kill me or sell me to the zoo.
In the center of the Tokyo police department, a fax machine beeped and began to receive a message. The sound of it whirring and clicking was drowned out by the hustle and bustle of officers, detectives and civilians milling about, performing their daily duties. It ejected its freshly printed pages into an overflowing receiving tray, disturbing the previous faxes and a few of the new pages were knocked onto the floor. Detective Hiroshi Oki, a short, slender, and bespeckled Japanese man who looked more at home in a library than in a squad car, noticed the falling pages and pulled up the sheets and flipped through them, quickly scanning the words written. He smiled with anticipation, but frowned after he got to the last page. "Damn, I didn't get my transfer yet."
He took note of where the pages originated from and did a double take. He raised his eyebrows in shock and exclaimed to the annoyance of a passing clerk. "They're sending him!"
A smile formed on his face once he read more of what was said on the pages. He held up the wad of papers in the air and happily danced about, "I've got an answer to our request for assistance!"
No one around paid any attention to him as they all went about their business, playing cards, watching TV or ignoring ringing telephones. He sighed and muttered to himself in a quiet voice. "Doesn't anybody care anymore?"
Hiroshi's superior, Mr. Tanaka, shifted his weight in his high back office chair and took aim at a dart board hanging at a nearby wall. He closed one eye and carefully tossed his dart. It flew for a moment and landed on the nose of a photo of Tatewaki Kuno. He grinned, and then switched his feet around so they wouldn't fall asleep as they rested on the top of his desk. He was about to toss a dart at a photo of Azusa Shiratori when Oki excitedly came into the room. He rolled back and put his feet down with an annoyed look on his face. He was just getting into a good mood because was about to beat his high score and now he had to deal with whatever crackpot idea Hiroshi had this time.
Hiroshi dropped the papers on Tanaka's desk. "They're sending over someone for the Bon-Bon caper."
"Good for you." He answered sarcastically. "That was a crummy case, anyway." Then, he remembered what the case was. He sat up in his chair, curious. "The Bon-Bon job? Really? Who's coming to help?"
"It seems that the Miami Police Department is sending over someone they say is an expert in cases like this one. Here's his resume and recent case list." Hiroshi pushed the fax closer to his boss so he wouldn't have to strain to reach them. Too many donuts and not enough sun made Mr. Tanaka a very large man.
The chubby police commander took the sheets, sorted them in order and began to skim the information present. He saw a picture of a tall, thin, dark haired Caucasian man in a Hawaiian shirt holding his fingers up in a 'V' for victory sign while standing in front of a dolphin tank. He read the caption below the picture. "Ace Ventura cracks the case of the missing Miami Dolphins mascot!" Another picture showed Ace holding a small black piglet with a caption that read, "Pet Detective finds lost Japanese piglet wandering in Miami." Below the picture was a news article about how he sent the pig via FedEx back to Japan to his rightful owner, Miss Azusa Shiratori. That name was familiar to the police, and not for good reasons.
He read about all of the successful cases this American detective had solved concerning lost animals and Tanaka gently nodded his head in approval. He recalled the Charlotte caper and shivered in dread at the memory since it involved that crazy ice skater. However, with this man on the job, the crime was as good as solved, and Chief Tanaka could get back to doing the things that he did best; like creating large amounts of carbon dioxide and being a drain on the Japanese taxpayers. "Hmmm... I see that he's handled Japanese cases before."
He peered up from the pages expectantly. "When will he arrive?"
The short officer pointed to the last sheet on the fax. "The itinerary is right here, although I've got to contact the Miami police department about the error on it."
"Error?" The commander queried as he peeked at the last page to find the error in question. As he looked closer, he accidentally tipped over a paper cup and spilled coffee on the itinerary. In haste, he lifted up the papers away from the drink and pulled out a pink silky cloth from a nearby plastic bag. He used it as a rag to clean off the spilled liquid. The cloth didn't absorb much, so he tossed it in the trash and looked around for a more suitable item to wipe away the drink.
Hiroshi sighed. That panty was the crucial evidence that could have linked the underwear heist to their prime suspect. So much for entrusting evidence to his superior since it meant that it was back to square one on that case again. He shook his head and focused at the task at hand and pointed his finger once again at the itinerary. "Please be careful, that's the original."
He crossed his arms behind his back and stood at attention. Police business did command respect, even if his superior didn't deserve it. "Check the last page so you can see the problem with the travel arrangements."
"Problem? What sort of problem?" He wiped his desk off with a sheet of paper titled 'Nabiki Tendo' and focused on reading the itinerary closely.
"All they have for him is just his flight information, so we'll have to pick him up at the airport. And then there's the matter of the ticket. You see; they have him booked to travel only one way."
"One way?" He asked incredulously. "When's he supposed to be flying back?"
Officer Oki shrugged. "You've got me."
"Well, you'd better hop to it. This is your problem now, so deal with it." He flung the papers back at the detective. "And you'd better get a move on."
Hiroshi was busy catching the papers as they fluttered in the air. "I'm on it."
"Good, because your help arrived yesterday."
Catching the last sheet, the officer nearly dropped them to the floor in surprise. He fumbled around and read the arrival date and time and sure enough, Tanaka was right. "Huh? How can that be? The fax came just a few minutes ago."
Picking up a dart, he moved his arm back and forth to take aim. "Like I said, it's your problem."
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, tall of height, fair of skin, and handsome in a psychotic sort of way, disembarked the aircraft and strutted down the narrow tube into the airline terminal. He wore a set of dark sunglasses, blue jeans, and a loud Hawaiian shirt that Principal Kuno would have approved of and would have wished to become the new official school uniform of Furinkan High. He paused a moment to look at his watch, only to have the cracked dial remind him that it hadn't worked in a week. He strolled up to a nearby window to determine the time by gazing at the sun. Standing next to a wall clock, he looked up into the heavens and declared, "Yes, right on time."
He adjusted his watch to 3:45PM without looking at the clock on the wall that read the exact same time and crossed his arms impatiently. He waited for a moment, and then boldly walked toward the center of the crowded passenger area. Taking in a deep breath of the smoggy Tokyo air, he pronounced. "Ah! It's good to be back in the land of the Rising Sun."
He muttered to himself about the fact that the place was still overrun with foreigners. Turning to a businessman who was walking by, he commanded. "My good man! Please take me to..."
Ace stopped for a moment as he fumbled around with his shirt looking for the address he was given by a bunch of very happy policemen, firemen, Miami Dolphins players and the staff of the Pizza Hut next door to his now boarded up and condemned apartment.
The businessman calmly took a moment for the tall man to say something intelligent. After watching him dance around like an idiot, the gentleman decided it wasn't worth the wait and made a polite bow to this strange American. "Iie, wakarimasen."
He took a step back and proceeded on his way toward the rear of the terminal where his plane was boarding.
The detective held his hand to his chin as he contemplated the last time he ate something that wasn't obtained from the dumpster of a Burger King. It was a long time ago. He then understood what the man was trying to say, maybe. "E. A.? Don't they make video games or something?"
He held his hands to the sides of his mouth to amplify his question to the now rapidly retreating businessman. "Is 'wakari wasis' a new game of theirs?"
Undaunted, he unfolded the scrap of paper he found in his shirt pocket and read the address aloud. "Une... Ue... Uuu... Uno, close enough. Uno Zoo, Tokyo, alrighty then! That's where I must go! Now, where's my ride?"
Ace stood in the crowded passenger terminal with his arms crossed and his sunglasses down, waiting for someone to pick him up and take him to his next mission. The loudspeakers called out an evacuation order in Japanese causing all of the people around to quickly file out of the terminal leaving Ace all alone. Ace wondered why everyone left. He smelled his armpits to see if he had somehow offended someone since he ran out of deodorant a few weeks ago. Since he was still conscious, he judged his armpits to be in acceptable condition. He was pleased.
Ace stood in the empty passenger terminal with his arms crossed and his sunglasses down, waiting for someone to pick him up and take him to his next mission. Visible from the window behind him, on the tarmac below, were several girls in short skirts making stupid speeches and blasting a large menagerie of wild animals with magical attacks. Ace ignored them since they weren't his paying clients and the animals seemed to be winning the fight. He was still pleased.
Ace stood in the crowded passenger terminal with his arms crossed and his sunglasses down, waiting for someone to pick him up and take him to his next mission. Despite the fact that he was standing erect, a soft sound of snoring came from the famous detective as he took a well deserved rest. A man in a suit and tie slowly approached Ace, wondering if there was something wrong with this man. Airline security had been watching him for the last fifteen minutes and he hadn't moved a muscle. He stood before Ace, bowed and asked in English. "Sir? Are you Ace Ventura, the pet detective?"
Ace awoke from his impersonation of a statue, and then rubbed his hands in glee. "Ah yes, my good man. Are you here from the Aooogah Zoo? I'm anxious to crack the case!"
The man made another curt bow. He was the man he had been looking for. "Uh... No, I'm here to inform you that your... Well, we think they're yours..."
Ace was impatient, hungry, tired and worried about the expiration date of his luggage. Besides, he was in dire need of deodorant. "Out with it my good man! I haven't got all day!"
"You were on yesterday's flight from Miami, weren't you?" He asked timidly. "Are you the one with the large beaten steamer trunk?"
"It's not beaten. It's well loved." Ace stood indignant. "Where is my luggage? You didn't send it to Bermuda did you? If you did, may I join my luggage on the next flight? It might get lonely there."
"Well, I regret to inform you that your luggage attacked the baggage handlers and the Sailor Senshi were called in to put down the things that emerged. So, sorry." He bowed down in apology.
"Sailor Sentries? You mean to tell me that you called in the Navy to process my luggage? Why, I'm honored that you'd have your military specially care for my things. Now, please take me, a large French dinner, two tickets to a football game, a large bag of cat litter, and my luggage to my hotel." Ace began to march down the hall with a sense of direction would make Ryoga proud.
"Sir? It's this way." He pointed to the sign marked 'Ground Transportation'.
Ace spun around, catlike, as if he was in search of a litter box, and then marched in the proper direction with an air of aloofness about him. "I was just testing you." He then marched directly into a crowd of people and knocked them over like bowling pins.
Detective Oki now understood why this assignment selection was issued to him by drawing the shortest straw.
A car pulled up in front of the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo and the world's greatest Pet Detective opened the door and slithered out. The vehicle's wheels made a horrible screech as the tires spun rapidly and the car vanished in an instant down the road, across a field and into parts unknown. The passers-by paused in wonderment as to what made the driver want to leave the area in such a hurry. He used this convenient diversion to hide behind trashcans, light poles and innocent bystanders to sneak up on his prey. In moments, he was in striking distance and he pounced on his target.
A little girl cried as she noticed her ice cream cone was now ice cream less. A smug tall man in a Hawaiian shirt walked away, humming an innocent tune and licked his lips enjoying the taste of his recent meal.
As Ace was listening to the gossip that two crows were sharing about a certain shrine maiden, a security guard approached. "You must be the detective from America. I'm here to escort you to the curator."
He shooed him away. "Later, they're just getting to the good part."
The guard looked around. There was no one around but a pair of crows. "Who's getting to the good part?"
"Sir!" The guard spoke in an authoritative tone, scaring away the crows. "The curator is waiting for you."
"Awww, man! They were just about to say who's she got the hots for." Ace frowned, yet duty called. "Very well, my good man. Lead the way."
Raising his eyebrows in curiosity, the guard cautiously led the detective though the zoo. As Ace walked, he made noises to every creature that they saw and this made the guard wonder if Ace either had lost his mind or was actually talking to the animals. Talking to the animals was impossible, wasn't it? He must be crazy, surmised the guard.
Finally, they reached the panda compound, where the head zookeeper was waiting. Standing next to him was the zoo's head security officer. The zookeeper clasped his hands in joy. "Ah, finally you've arrived. This is Mr. Koji Utada, my head of security." Mr. Utada made a bow.
The zookeeper also bowed. "I'm Yoshiro Ito. I've heard many things about you."
Ace replied reflexively. "I didn't do it! I've got an alibi."
"Didn't do what?" Asked Detective Oki, who just arrived and was covered in sweat and panted like he had just run a marathon. "I hope I'm not late."
"Uh..." Ace quickly wiped his lip with his shirtsleeve to ensure there was no incriminating ice cream on his face. "Nothing." He innocently smiled.
Oki just stood there and blinked his eyes once. He bowed at Ace. "I wish to apologize for my associate's behavior. He shouldn't have driven away so quickly."
"Do not worry, it saves me a bundle in cab fare. Besides, if he can't drive on the right side of the road, he shouldn't be driving."
The zookeeper waved his hand in the direction of a large panda habitat. "Well, I take it you've been briefed on the case."
Ace waved his hand dismissively. "No need. I've already gotten the gist of it. It appears that you're down one panda."
Mr. Utada turned to face the pen where the panda was kept. He pointed over to the scene of the crime. "Yes, the panda was..."
Ace interrupted. "He went missing over a week ago between 10PM and 10:30PM on Monday after the zoo had closed. He vanished without a trace, leaving no paw prints behind. No signs of forced entry, and no signs of foul play, so, he wasn't taken." He paused for effect. "He escaped."
The head security guard felt insulted. "What do you mean, escaped? This compound is over five meters deep. It's impossible for a panda bear to climb out. Someone came and took him."
"He wasn't taken, my good man. Nor did he walk out that locked door I see down there, nor did he climb out as you've guessed. He jumped." Ace jumped onto the railing that separated them from a five-meter fall.
"WHAT?" shouted the three men. The head guard placed his hands on the rail and peered into the compound. "That's not possible. Pandas cannot jump higher than a meter, if at all."
Oki had heard about Ace's powers of deduction and was in awe with being in the presence of a master of tracking. "How did you come to this conclusion?"
"Simple, Mr. Okidata. The clues are all around us." He stared at Japanese detective and crossed his eyes. "Clues are everywhere. You just have to know where to look."
The great detective walked along the railing until he reached the border of the habitat. He rubbed his five o'clock shadow in fierce contemplation on tonight's planned meal of macaroni and cheese and stopped for a minute to pick his nose. Once his sinuses were clean, he dramatically posed, and posed again and posed again for a tourist who was snapping photos of his weird antics.
A few choice poses later, Ace smiled. "And for my next trick, I'll show you how a panda goes poof."
He pointed at a short, stubby bush that was directly below the wall. "As you can see, the patterns of broken branches clearly indicate that it was subjected to a large amount of weight, say about, one well fed panda. Then, you may notice the scuff marks along the wall in the same pattern of the wild Chinese Panda when it's out looking for someone to annoy." He spun around and pointed at the far side of the habitat. "And over there..." Ace jumped down, onto the bush, and ran across the distance of the habitat, leaping over a sleeping panda and stopping at a pile of bamboo. "Here is where he had his last meal."
Mr. Utada was livid. He clenched his fists on the railing and shouted out to the detective below. "What the hell are you doing down there? It's dangerous!"
Ace ignored him and kept to his tracking. "Now, it appears that our escapee dined here on five bamboo shoots, two Brussels sprouts and a hamburger." He held up an empty wrapper. "Interesting."
It was Mr. Ito's turn to be annoyed. He confronted his head of security and his face was flushed red with anger. "I told you that we need to keep the guests from feeding the animals. If any of these pandas get sick, it will be your fault."
"It wasn't his fault," shouted the pet policeman. "You see, since when do pandas buy burgers? Hmm, a burger does sound pretty good right now."
"Excuse me?" asked a curious Detective Oki. "Don't you mean to say, a guest bought him a burger?"
"No, he bought the burger after he escaped. Or shall I say, he stole it." Ace took a few steps away from the pile of panda food and got down on all fours. He sniffed the ground. He put his ear to the ground. He patted the ground. He rolled around in the ground. He put his sunglasses on and sunbathed while lying on the ground. "Ah, this is the life."
"Are you sure this man is a detective?" asked Koji.
Hiroshi was beginning to have his doubts. "Uh... yes?" he meekly answered.
From Ace's position of comfort, he took in his surroundings, looking for clues. "Hmm, I wonder." He got up and placed a hand on one end of the area he was lying on, and his other hand on the other end. "Hmm..." He froze as a growl was heard nearby. Slowly, the detective turned around to see a panda bear waking up from its slumber. "Nice, kitty. Nice kitty. Daddy's got something good for you. He produced a piece of wood and held it over his head. "Now, fetch!"
The panda stood there as the stick bounced off its head. Baring its teeth, it charged.
"Bad girl! No bamboo bread for you tonight." He ran around the compound in circles as an angry panda bear tried to make mincemeat out of the detective. Ace jumped, rolled and tickled the bear, which only made it angrier.
Hiroshi watched the spectacle in horror. "Do something!"
"What? That idiot jumped there willingly. I told him it was... Ooof!!" A moist Ace landed on Koji's head, and he held in his hands a few items of trash. He was soaking wet from running through the small bathing pond in the panda compound.
Ace hopped off the stunned head of security and paced for a moment. "Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, you really need to give her some mouthwash. She stinks." He brushed himself off. "She'll never get a husband if you don't do something about her hygiene."
"How did you?" was all Hiroshi could say as he looked down into the habitat and back to Ace and back down again. Below, Lin-Lin, the female panda, was growling and staring up the wall at him with fury in her eyes and a stench that reeked of a dinner that had been left out for a week.
"Self preservation is a powerful force. Now, for the main event, I believe this is why your furry friend decided to go walkabout. I would too if she was my roommate." Ace shook himself, spraying water everywhere and in a moment, he was dry. A large backpack fell from nowhere and a small black pig appeared. Ace looked down at the creature in recognition. "Charlotte?"
"Bweee!!" The piglet ran at high speed down the walkway and out of sight.
"Ah, man. He's worth a hundred bucks every time I send him back home. Maybe next week... Anyways, your panda had an accomplice."
"I knew it." Mr. Utada nodded. "Now we're getting somewhere. How did he get the panda out of there?"
"The panda got out all by himself. However..." Ace marched to the edge of the panda habitat and pointed at the ground. "Here's where a man magically appeared. He had to have carried Bon-Bon out of the zoo. The tracks go that way." He pointed to the west, which wasn't where the main exit was located. "Strange thing though, he must have been very light on his feet. These tracks aren't heavy enough for even the weight of a panda, unless..." He gazed in the direction where to P-Chan had run off. "I wonder."
"Didn't we see someone on the surveillance cameras that night?" Mr. Ito asked his underling.
"Yeah, and he's our prime suspect. But we didn't get a positive ID on him and he didn't have a panda with him. There's no way he could have hidden it in his clothes. If I remember right, he was wearing a martial arts gi."
"A gi? Where's the rest of the word? A g-suit? A g-string? Ewww..." Ace cringed.
Hiroshi had to help inform Ace about a common Japanese subject. "A gi is a uniform worn by students and practitioners of martial arts. A lot of people study that here."
"I see. Was Mr. Gi here the night of the crime? Was he about yea high?" He held his hand at just under one hundred and sixty centimeters. "Was he also portly, muscular, and smelled like bamboo."
"Wait a second." Yoshiro opened the file he had been carrying and turned a few pages. He pulled out a photo and held it to Ace. "Are you describing him?"
Ace did a double take. "Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!"
Mr. Utada crossed his arms in front of his burly chest in suspicion. "How in the world can you know that this is the suspect when you hadn't even dusted that area for prints?"
"Elementary, my dear Watson, which by the way I enjoyed for all of my years in school." Ace held out a white bandanna and a pair of broken glasses. "Now, where can I find, Genma Saotome?"
"You can read Japanese?" Detective Oki was truly impressed. The picture's caption was written in katakana and kanji script.
"Uh... No. It says so on his hat." He turned the cloth over and there in neat feminine writing alongside the same script in Japanese were the words, 'Property of Genma Saotome, if found, please send to Nerima Japan.'
Hiroshi examined the evidence from his place two meters away from Ace. "Where did you find that? We searched the entire compound last week."
"Oh, I have my ways." He produced another piece of cloth. It had telltale bite marks on it. "You really should watch what you feed her. Seat bottoms from someone's pants are bad for her digestion."
"I knew this was too good to be true." Mr. Ito closed his file. "I had a feeling that man was crooked."
Mr. Utada harrumphed in disgust and gave a look of 'I told you so.' "How in world could he not have been a crook? Pandas aren't animals you can get at a pet store."
The curator replied. "The panda was living in Nerima for over a year. It was well known to be a girl's pet. It was either we take possession of it, or the Chinese would demand it repatriated back to China."
"Wasn't he the one who said he imported the panda in the first place?" Detective Oki nodded. "I'm still trying to find out how he got a panda past Customs."
Mr. Utada smacked his fists together. "I can't wait to get my hands on him. That liar!"
"Smuggled or not, it doesn't matter. The panda was turned over to the zoo and Mr. Saotome was compensated. Without any hard evidence, we can't do anything." Hiroshi sighed. "There was nothing on the security camera, no witnesses and he has an alibi. Besides, how in can anyone sneak a panda bear out of a zoo?"
"That's why I'm on the case." Ace smiled. "Of course, I'll have to charge my usual fee." Without waiting for an answer, he strutted off, and then ran into the nearest men's room.
Mr. Ito walked over to the edge of the habitat and looked down toward the other resident. "If he can bring that panda back, it will be worth every yen we pay. If Lin-Lin has a baby, it would be a huge boon to the zoo."
Koji looked down as well. "As much as I hate to admit it, but he's right."
Looking down at the still growling panda, Koji shook his head sadly. "Unless you get her some industrial strength mouthwash, no one's going to mate with her."
Nabiki Tendo was a naturally observant woman. After the arrival of Ranma and his father Genma Saotome the year before, she became even more aware of her surroundings. Her current source of suspicion came from the odd behavior of a certain martial artist and part time panda bear that, for the first time since he had arrived, hadn't asked for money from her father. Either he was getting money from Soun Tendo out of her view, or he had no need of it. Not wanting to assume anything, she looked up from her newspaper and spied said martial artist as an eagle watched its prey. Genma Saotome sat on the back porch next to a shogi board, playing the game with her father, Soun. Nothing was unusual about this, since the two played that game everyday shortly after he got here.
What was unusual was the exceptionally good condition Mr. Saotome's glasses and bandana were. Both looked like they had been recently purchased, and the glasses looked expensive. Nabiki kept her silent vigil, waiting for something to occur or for Genma to slip up and spill the beans on what was really going on. Hopefully, whatever crazy scheme he had wouldn't involve her family and especially her sister, Akane. She mumbled to herself. "Who am I kidding?"
Nabiki turned the page of her newspaper to keep up appearances, and scanned the room, looking for anything else that was out of place. Pervert in the living room, ironing stolen underwear, check, her older sister cooking dinner in the kitchen, check, her younger sister beating up a pole that had a black wig tied in a pigtail, check and finally, her future brother in law landing in the koi pond, check.
Nabiki sighed. Nothing out of place yet, but she had faith. It would only be a short while before something happened. It always did.
Ranma emerged from the koi pond, angry, wet and female. In this form, she had gone by the name of Ranko to elude her mother due to a suicide pact her father had made many years ago. She glared in the direction of the youngest Tendo, Akane, and stormed off into the house. "Stupid tomboy, all I said was you should try feedin' that stuff to P-Chan." She slammed the door to the bathroom as she once again embarked on her never-ending quest for hot water.
Akane punched her target dummy in anger. "Stupid Ranma. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" Each shout came out like a battle cry and she slammed the straw covered pole with all her might. "I make him dinner and this is how he thanks me!" She delivered a kick, which sent the pole flying into the sky. Satisfied that the pole wasn't going to bother her anymore, she rubbed her arm on her forehead to wipe away the sweat. "There, I feel better already."
"Dinner's ready!" Kasumi sang in her happy voice as she came out of the kitchen, holding a pot of miso soup. She placed it in the center of the dinner table as the family gathered around.
"Food!" Ranko jumped onto her place at the dinner table between Akane and her father. She pulled up her chopsticks and glared at her father, ready to defend her food from imminent attack.
"Why haven't you changed back?" Akane asked in an annoyed tone.
"I can change back later. I'm hungry now." Ranko stuffed her mouth with a piece of chicken breast and used her elbow to jab her father's gut. "Back off, Pops!"
"Ungrateful boy! You should share with your father." Genma grabbed a piece of chicken off of Ranko's plate, only to notice that his potato had vanished from his own plate. The two martial artist's chopsticks whizzed in a blur as the two fought over grains of steamed rice.
Nabiki slowly ate her food. She wasn't in a hurry and those two freeloaders knew better than to touch her plate. A light bulb went off in her head as she finally saw what was out of place. She watched Genma and saw a glint of metal under his martial arts gi. It was a thermos. He hadn't been in his panda form for more than a few minutes for the last week, and when Mrs. Saotome came to visit the day before yesterday, he ran off on a training journey instead of pretending to be Mr. Panda. Pieces of the puzzle were beginning to appear, but there had to be more. What could it be?
Happosai put down his bowl and gave a sigh of satisfaction. "Ah, Kasumi, your meal is as exquisite as ever."
"Why thank you, Grandfather Happosai." Kasumi beamed at the compliment. "Would you like some more?" She picked up the ladle out of the bowl of miso soup.
"I'm quite done. Students?"
Instantly, Genma and Soun appeared behind Happosai and answered in unison, "Yes, Master!"
"You two have been slacking off. And you, Popsicle, have something I need to discuss with you." Happosai jumped out the back door, leaving behind two very nervous disciples.
"I wonder what the Master wants this time, Saotome?"
"I don't know Tendo, but whatever it is, it can't be good."
In a flash, the two men bolted out the front door of the house only to find the Master waiting for them. "I see I've got to work on your training boys. You're way too predictable." Shortly, the trio fled into the night.
Ranko gobbled up the rest of her father's meal, then proceeded to finish off her own. "Ah, that's great! Nobody cooks like you do, Kasumi!"
"Thank you Ranma, perhaps you can help me tomorrow. Your mother will be stopping by."
Ranko's expression changed from happiness to sorrow then back to happiness again. "Sure, I can't wait to make something for Mom."
"I'll help too! I wanna try out one of Mom's recipes!" Akane clapped her hands in joy.
Ranko's expression went from happiness to hopelessness in one point five eight microseconds, a new record.
Kasumi, without skipping a beat, smiled at her sister, "Of course you can help."
Akane held her fists in front of her chest in a female symbol of determination. "I'm going to master chicken teriyaki, if it's the last thing I do."
Ranko mumbled. "It might be."
Akane's hammer fell swiftly onto Ranko's head, smashing the poor girl into the floor. "Jerk."
"You just need practice, Akane. But first, I think it's better that your work on your curry."
Nabiki mouthed the words, 'Thank you', soundlessly to her older sister.
Nabiki excused herself and picked up her newspaper and went back to her room. Closing the door, she tossed the paper on her desk and picked up her schoolbag from the top of her bed. No time like the present, she thought as she sat at her desk and did her homework. An hour went by, and after she had finished her book report, and placed her elbows on her desk and thought hard about what was bothering her.
Mr. Saotome had been acting strange for the last month, ever since he got that special delivery letter. It was that same day that that man appeared who claimed a debt and that little escapade cost the family a week when Ranma ended up at that French guy's house for a Martial Arts Dining contest. Yet, the contract was with Soun, not with Mr. Saotome, so what was in that letter? She racked her brain. Genma wasn't that smart, and what was he up to and why wasn't he lying around in his panda form for the last week.
Frustrated, Nabiki picked up an empty soda can and a candy bar wrapper from her desk and tossed them in the wastebasket. She tidied up her desk and was about to toss the newspaper in the trash when another piece of the puzzle stared back at her. "Well. I'll be."
She unfolded the paper and read the article. It was a follow up to a headline story that ran last week and there it was, a clue. But how did this all fit together? With determination worthy of a Tendo, she was going to get to the bottom of it. Carefully taking a pair of scissors, she cut out the article titled, "Bon-Bon still missing, police baffled."
Ace Ventura approached the fifth door on the right. He had been warned this was the place he needed to be, but he couldn't be too careful. His back against the wall, he slowly slid until he got to the nondescript door and pulled out a plastic card. "Here goes everything!"
The Pet Detective deftly inserted the card into the slot on the door, and a light flashed green. The mission was a go. He pulled the lever and swung the door just wide enough from him to slip through. Once inside, he closed the door behind him and crawled on the floor, using only the tips of his fingers and shoes for mobility. Ahead was what he was looking for, a large beaten steamer trunk. In a Darth Vader voice, he bellowed. "I see. We meet again."
The steamer trunk said nothing.
He continued. "When I left you, I was but a learner, now I am the master."
The steamer trunk still said nothing.
"Psst." Ace whispered. "It's your line."
The steamer trunk maintained its silence.
He got up off the ground and crossed his arms. "You're no fun. No nuts for you."
A loud pop heralded the arrival of the squirrel corps as the trunk exploded, filling the room with creatures large and small. Two-dozen furry storm troopers and two commanders lined up in order and raised their paws in salute.
"That's better. Where's Jar Jar?"
A coconut flew from nowhere and smacked Ace in the head. His monkey crawled out of the trunk and jumped on his master's head showing just how much he hated being compared to that character. He yanked at the Pet Detective's hair and wrapped his tail around his neck squeezing it tight.
"Okay! You're Chewbacca! You're Chewie! Gasp!" Thud! Ace fell over backwards. The monkey leapt off of him and landed on the bed.
"Man, where'd you leave your sense of humor?" A wad of poo bounced off of Ace. "C'mon, I said I'm sorry already. I didn't know that girl was going to kidnap you and call you Pauline." Another, much larger piece of monkey poo bounced off Ace's forehead.
"I guess I deserved that. Now, I've got a job for us, so gather 'round." Instantly, he was surrounded by Imperial Squirrels, ninja raccoons, an angry monkey, five hamsters, Underdog, three French hens, two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree. He pulled out a picture of a panda. "This is Bon-Bon." He held several pictures, each one depicted items like cat food, nuts, and bananas, "This is Bon-Bon back at the zoo. Any questions?"
Ace felt a wet spot forming on his pant leg. "Okay, you're Jar Jar again." A toilet flew through the air and smashed the Pet Detective against the wall.
"Fine, you can be Han Solo." Ace passed out.
Please review my story. It makes me feel oh so happy and prevents me from giving Ace Ventura your home phone number.