Chapter 3, A Job Well Done.
I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me, kill me or have me put up with another ICQ Loser.
"Ouch!" was all the great pet detective could say as he limped back toward the door of his hotel room. He paused for a moment, staring at the thin slot that was just above the doorknob. He kept gawking at the door as he assessed his situation. Both of his arms were covered in bandages, as was his right leg and most of his head. Somewhere in his shirt pocket was his credit card shaped room key, and without it, he was trapped in the hall. He wiggled his fingers out of his makeshift cast in an attempt to have them protrude enough insert his fingertips into the pocket to grab the key. He jumped up and down, trying to jolt the card up a tiny bit so he could snatch it. A female hotel guest slowly walked by, as the detective stopped his impression of a Mexican Jumping Bean and he leaned against the doorway and smiled back at her. The woman increased her stride to get away from this strange man, quickly. Ace waved at the woman. "Thanks for all your help."
He stuck his tongue out to see if he could lick the card out of his shirt pocket. That didn't work, so he bowed forward with great speed hoping that centrifugal force would be enough to fling the card out. Again, his efforts were met with dismal failure.
Somewhere in another part of the hotel, much to Ace's dismay laid his army of minions. Since the hotel had a no-pet policy unless the guest was willing to pay a substantial deposit, they had to keep out of sight.
Alone, hungry and in desperate need of scratching an itch on his butt that was just beyond his reach, the detective did what anyone would do in his situation. He screamed at the top of his lungs. "ROOM SERVICE!"
Down the hall, a voice replied, "Shut up!"
He defiantly shouted back at the insolent hotel employee, or at least he thought the man was an employee. These people all looked the same to him. "That's no way to treat a paying guest!" Angrily, he slammed his back against the wall with enough force to knock a nearby painting off of its hook. He squirmed as he tried to scratch the itch that was bothering him, but only succeeded in looking like a Macarena dancer on high-grade crack.
Ace sighed as he tried to figure out how he was going to get into his hotel room. "Man, I can't get a break. Why does this always happen to me?" He leaned back onto his door, only for it to easily open. He lost his balance and tumbled backwards into his room.
He blinked his eyes and just when he was about to sit up, a chunk of monkey poo bounced off the side of his head. He turned his head to face an angry simian. "Hey, cut it out!"
A set of paper dolls, made out of one of his Hawaiian shirts was deposited on his face.
"That had better not be my favorite shirt!" He sat up, visibly angry. "If you keep it up, I'll feed you to that gorilla girl."
The monkey's eyes bugged out and he instantly jumped out the window.
"Don't think I won't!" He got up and slammed the door, only for it to bounce off the doorframe and pop out. It landed on top of the detective with a loud thud. A Jedi Squirrel turned off his light saber and scurried away from the melted hinges.
In seconds, the Ninja Raccoons swarmed all over the pet detective and worked their art in healing while a dozen squirrels with hammers, nails and a mean looking nail gun went to work on repairing the door. The sounds of assorted drilling, sawing and hammering from the squirrels filled the room while the raccoons performed their magic on Ace. In a flash, all the animals stood back to marvel at their handiwork. The door was pristine. The walls were immaculate. Ace Ventura was clean, bandage free and wearing a different loud Hawaiian Shirt and brown cotton pants.
Ace was not pleased. "Ahem." He coughed.
A Ninja Raccoon grappled down a rope tied to the ceiling and stopped just above Ace. A pair of sunglasses was gingerly placed atop the detective's head.
Ace was pleased. "That's better. Now, any news?"
Another Ninja Raccoon appeared, made chattering sounds and waved a photo in the air. He snatched the photo and his eyes bugged out. "It's payday, boys!" Something was familiar about the area around the panda in the picture and the detective scratched his head while feeling a sense of déjà vu. He chalked up the feeling to not eating enough cheese and asked the raccoon, "can you lead me to him?"
A nod of approval was returned.
"Then, we'll sally forth and reclaim our bounty! Victory is mine!"
A door slam announced the arrival of the youngest Tendo sister. "Of all the nerve!" Akane stormed in. Her school uniform was soiled and her pet pig was nestled safely within her arm.
Kasumi peeked out of the kitchen and shook her head in disapproval. "What happened? I hope you weren't fighting."
"He happened!" Akane slammed her school bag onto the dining room table. "That idiot! I thought I saw the last of him!"
Kasumi took a step back to give her sister some room. "Whom are you referring to? Prince Kirin?"
"It wasn't that boy from Jr. High who told you mayonnaise and white paste were the same thing was it?" Kasumi pondered incredulously.
"NO! And it was his fault for suggesting it." She crossed her arms in a huff. "He was only in the emergency ward for the afternoon. Besides, the guy I ran into was that moron Azusa hired to steal P-Chan. He tried to steal him again and threw me into a pit." Akane grinned. "But I took care of him."
Ranko came out of the kitchen, anticipation in her eyes. "Him? The guy with the elephant?"
Kasumi blinked. "Are you referring to Lychee, or... Uh... What was his name again?"
Nabiki answered dryly. "Ace Ventura, he's been in the news lately." She looked directly at Mr. Panda. "But I thought he was after a giant panda."
"A-Ace? That American? The one who..." Ranko gritted her teeth and the spatula she was holding shattered from her iron grip. "When I find that guy I'll show him a thing or two!" Leaving a dust cloud behind vaguely in the shape of the red-haired girl, Ranko dashed upstairs.
Nodoka hurriedly came out of the kitchen, calling out after her favorite Tendo. "Ranko! You still haven't finished cooking the dumplings!" She turned to Akane with a smile, "would you like to finish the dumplings? It's easy."
Akane's mood brightened instantly, and Nabiki's mood darkened with identical speed. "Can I?" Akane dropped P-Chan and rushed into the kitchen, and a moment later, the sound of utensils clattering on the floor was heard.
Nodoka returned to the kitchen. "No, Akane, you don't use that to turn them over."
Nabiki sighed. "There go the dumplings."
Kasumi smiled, "I'll make some more."
"Thanks, Sis. Oh, I almost forgot. I have a visitor coming later tonight. So if he stops by, have him wait out front until I see him."
Kasumi raised an eyebrow. "I'll be happy to do that." Another crash came from the kitchen. "Please excuse me, I'm needed."
Nodoka's voice once again came from the kitchen, "Akane, that's baking soda."
Soun's brow was visibly covered in sweat. "So, Saotome, do you have money for take out tonight?"
Mr. Panda held up a sign. "The Master took everything."
Mr. Tendo sighed. "I knew it was too good to last. At least the taxes and bills were paid."
The panda nodded in agreement.
Soun stared out into the backyard. "I wonder where the Master is now?"
"Not far enough for my taste," read the panda's sign.
The elder Tendo saw something out of the corner of his eye. There, on the back wall, something was crawling. He stood to take a good look but whatever it was, it vanished. "Did you see that?"
"I could have sworn I saw something. I believe we should check it out."
The panda flipped his sign over. "What if it's the Master?"
Soun sat down and pushed a shogi piece on the board. "Your move, Saotome."
Ranko came back downstairs. She wore a red silk Chinese sleeveless shirt with yellow clasps, black cotton drawstring pants, black leather bracers and punched her fists together. "I'm ready for him."
Soun looked up from his game. The panda took this opportunity to knock a few shogi pieces off the board. "Who are you expecting?"
"That Ventura guy. I owe him a rematch."
Ranko's mother came out of the kitchen, covered in flour. "Ranko? I need you in here, and why are you dressed like that?" She produced an apron and tossed it at the small girl. "I need you here, right now."
Holding the apron like it was radioactive, she whined back. "But, I can't wear this. I gotta do somethin' first."
"Okay!" She put on the apron. "I'm comin'. Geez, what's so..." She took one look at the kitchen and knew why. "Oh, my."
"You're on stove duty." Mrs. Saotome nudged Ranko over to the stove that was covered with steaming pots and a pan with sizzling dumplings. In the background, Akane was sweeping up the remains of several dishes off of the floor. Everywhere, there were globs of dough and foodstuffs clinging to the walls and ceiling. How they got there, Ranko dared not ask.
"Is the coast clear?" asked an insane pet detective to his Ninja Raccoon minion. The creature made clicking sounds and pantomimed a martial arts pose. "Hmm, that could be a problem. Anyone have yarn?"
A ball of yarn bounced of Ace's head. "Great. Anyone have a Big Mac?"
A Macintosh computer smashed into the detective's torso, knocking the man down. After recovering, he brushed himself off. "That's not what I meant." A gorilla beat his chest then sulked.
"Okay, our target is just beyond this wall. Everyone knows what to do?"
The animals shrugged.
"Good answer." Ace clambered up the wall and got stuck just before reaching the top. "A little help here?" With a mighty heave, the gorilla shoved the detective up and over the wall, right into the koi pond.
Kasumi chimed. "We have visitors."
Nabiki sighed. "Doesn't anyone use the front gate, anymore? We do have a doorbell, you know."
Ranko looked up from the stove and instantly recognized her foe. "That's him." She was about to jump out the window when common sense changed her mind. Smiling, she asked, "Kasumi, can you take care of this please?"
Kasumi knew what was really happening. "Of course, Ranko, but hurry back."
Akane waved. "Don't worry, I'll take care of things."
Nodoka and Kasumi exchanged worried glances.
Ranko ran outside before Nodoka could stop her. "Hey, jerk. Whatcha' doin' here? I'm ready for you."
Ace's confidence shrank just a little. "Oh, crud. It's you again. Don't you worry. I'm not here for Charlotte."
Ranko blinked and lowered her arms. "Charlotte? You can have the freeloader."
"I can? Did you hear that, boys? Go get Charlotte!" Coming over the wall were hundreds of small animals, rats, mice, squirrels, Japanese raccoon dogs, American raccoons in ninja garb, small dogs and of course, cats.
Ranko shivered in fright but held her ground. "C-c-cats."
Coming around the corner of the house, after spending the last few minutes trying to get back in, P-Chan walked slowly then bugged his eyes out at the wall of creatures who took notice of him and were making a beeline straight at him. "Bwee!" He turned around and ran right into a wall. Bouncing off, he flew into the air and landed right on Ranko's head.
Ranko was too terrified to do anything but mutter, "get off of me, you... you..." The pair were dog piled by over one hundred animals.
"Remember, boys, she's only good to me alive." He pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number.
On the line came Azusa Shiratori, the true owner of Charlotte the pig. "Mr. Detective-san, you found my Charlotte?"
"Yes, I did. She's at the Tendo Dojo. You can come and get her, and don't forget to bring my fee!"
"YAY!" The other end clicked off.
Ace waltzed up to the fallen girl and plucked the unconscious piglet lying next to her. "It's getting easier every time. Here, hold this for a minute." He tossed the pig to his friend the gorilla. "If she wakes up, use this." He handed him a bottle of chloroform. "And don't drink it this time!"
The gorilla sulked again.
"Now, you." Ace pointed a finger at the panda that was hiding behind a couch inside the house. "It's time to go home."
Nabiki sat up. This was bad for her plans.
Mr. Panda shook his head, no. He pulled out a sign. "You've got the wrong panda."
Nodoka came out, standing tall. "Mr. Panda is already home. He belongs to Ranko." She looked around. "Where is she?"
In the middle of the yard, there was a small pile of cats, just laying about covering up something.
"Not according to the zoo." Ace pulled out an official looking document. "I have here a copy of the bill of sale. Bon-Bon there is property of the Utena Zoo and I've come to take her home, you panda-napper."
Nodoka reached out and took the document. Reading it carefully, she found a disturbing clause. "It was sold by... What on Earth? For how much?"
Nabiki teleported next to Nodoka and read the amount printed on the receipt. "That would pay for all of our college tuitions!" She turned around and angrily glared at her father. "You knew, didn't you?"
It was Soun's turn to hide behind the couch. "I knew nothing until recently." He turned to look at the panda. "And I didn't know that much money was involved."
The panda held up a sign. "So I didn't put the decimal point in the right place. I'm a panda, not an accountant."
Nabiki stormed up to the panda. "Where's the money?"
Mr. Panda shrank back. "The Master has it!"
Soun nodded in agreement and terror, "Yes, he's telling the truth. The Master took it."
Nabiki crossed her arms in disgust. "That explains the outfits he got for Ranma this morning."
"Ranma?" Nodoka appeared next to Nabiki. "He was here this morning?"
Should she, or shouldn't she? That was the question going through Nabiki's mind. Ranma still owed her thirty five hundred yen, but there was enough chaos right now. She didn't need to add to it, yet. "I'm sorry Mrs. Saotome, I meant to say Ranko."
Nabiki felt bad as Nodoka's joyous smile changed into her usual forced happiness. "Oh, I'm sorry for interrupting you."
"I'm on the clock, people." Ace pointed to his broken watch. "Bon-Bon, are you coming quietly?"
"Sir," Nodoka asked in a no-nonsense tone, "I'm sure we can come to some sort of an arrangement. You see, my husband didn't own that panda. It belongs to my niece."
"According to the zoo, he belongs to them. So hand him over and no one gets hurt." For emphasis, two-dozen squirrels wearing Imperial Storm trooper uniforms held up what looked like blasters and aimed them at the Tendos. "Be careful, they've got itchy trigger fingers."
Nodoka bowed in respect. "You don't need to resort to violence. Let us discuss this over tea."
"I'm more of a coffee drinker, myself, but I do have a job to do. Come on, Bon-Bon, come to daddy!" Ace whistled and his legions of critters formed ranks behind him, except for the cats, which stood guard over the sleeping Ranko.
From the other side of the house, a knock came from the front door. Kasumi took the moment to excuse herself to answer it. She met with the man and bowed. "Oh, she's been expecting you. Wait here."
The man nodded and stood waiting. Kasumi rushed back to the living room. "Nabiki, your guest is here."
Nabiki slapped her forehead with her open palm. "Damn, he's early." She was about to come up with some sort of an excuse for him to come back later when the man burst into the room, holding bouquets of flowers in each arm.
"I cannot allow my darlings to wait when I am already here. Come Akane Tendo! Come Pig Tailed One! I've arrived to receive your loving embrace!"
Nabiki sighed in relief. "Sis, that's not who I was waiting for."
Kasumi replied. "He isn't? I thought you were dating him."
Nabiki rolled her eyes. "One date doesn't make us a couple."
Tatewaki Kuno smiled as he rushed into the kitchen and grabbed Akane in an amorous hold. "My fondest Akane, no need to fear, for I am here to comfort you!"
Akane struggled but she couldn't fight him off and finish cooking the dumplings at the same time. Or perhaps she could? She slammed the hot skillet into Kuno's face, hurling him into a wall. She skillfully caught the flying dumplings back in the pan and placed the sizzling meal back on the stove. Furious, Kuno pulled out his wooden bokken in defiance. "I doth see that the foul sorcerer still hath you under his spell."
The young Tendo grabbed the tall kendoist and yanked him into the backyard, so she could kick him into next week. Nabiki pointed her thumb towards the kitchen and Kasumi raced inside to see how fast she could undo all the damage Akane had done to the food.
With a swift kick, Kuno went flying into the sky. After she watched Kuno fade from view, Akane looked down and saw that a gorilla had her pet pig. She focused her anger at Ace. "You give me back my P-Chan, RIGHT NOW!"
"It's the gorilla girl!" Ace bent down and flapped his arms like a bird. "Come my pretties... Fly... Ugh..." He fell backwards as someone grabbed his leg and violently shoved him backwards.
"Ain't gunna work a second time." Ranko stood up from the pile of cats; no worse for wear. "Now, you're mine."
"Oh?" Ace confidently replied. "I see my kitties weren't enough to contain you."
"I've been training. I let myself go into the Neko-Ken last time. But now..." She grabbed the detective by the collar. "I'm just going to kick you back to America."
"But I got what you want."
Ranko blinked. "Huh?"
"I've got a jar of it, right here." He reached into his shirt.
"You... You've got Nannichuan? Water from the Spring of Drowned Man?"
"Better! I've got a jar of catnip!" He opened the jar and sprayed powdered catnip all over the girl. Ranko coughed and wheezed from the foul odor and fell backward.
Akane had seen enough. "Give back my P-Chan or..."
"Oh, no, not her!"
Azusa Shiratori roller-skated in from nowhere and snatched the little pig from a very surprised gorilla. "And you can be my Jean Claude!" The gorilla didn't have time to react as Azusa tied a pink bow in his hair and used more ribbon to tie up the simian so he couldn't move. "YAY! My little Charlotte has a play date with Jean Claude!"
Akane pointed a finger at Azusa. "This is all your fault!"
The skater stuck her tongue out at Akane. "No, it's not! You took away my Charlotte!"
Ace opened his hand expectantly. "My fee?"
"Oh, yeah, here you go." Azusa tossed a gold coin at Ace, who quickly examined it with a monocle, then pocketed it.
"Pleasure doing business with you."
"My Charlotte! My Charlotte! I'm going to give you a bath, then we can play dollies, then we can play with Jean Claude, isn't that so... So..." Azusa's attention shifted faster than a five year old with severe attention deficit disorder. "Oscar! So that's where you've been hiding!"
Ace stood back. "Oscar?"
Akane scratched her head. "Oscar?"
Nodoka looked around. "Who's Oscar?"
Ranko stood up, after coughing out the last of the catnip from her lungs. She pointed into the house. "He's Oscar."
Everyone looked at the panda cringing behind the couch. "My name is Mr. Panda."
Azusa jumped in glee. "It's Mr. Oscar Panda!"
The pet detective whistled a familiar American tune. "Wouldn't you like to be an Oscar Panda too?" WHAM! A violently thrown sign bounced off of his head that read, "don't you sing THAT again!"
Nodoka shrugged. "I didn't know his name was Oscar Panda, but it makes sense. I think."
Ace looked at the panda, then at Azusa, then back at the panda again, then finally at Azusa. "He's your panda?"
She skated over to the panda and quickly tied him up in blue ribbon. "Of course silly! Oscar plays with me all the time! See, he likes it when we play. He and Jean Claude are going to be best friends!"
Ace read the paperwork he got from the zoo. "I'm confused."
Nabiki sat back and quietly muttered. "I'm not."
"Then, what? Who? Gaahh!" Ace pounded his head with the paper trying to unscramble his brain and only succeeded in messing up his perfect hair, which inexplicably, moved back into place. Ace was not pleased. Then, a light bulb turned on and he gleefully stated. "So, since I found Oscar for you, I need to collect my fee."
"I already paid you!" Azusa bounced angrily.
"That was for Charlotte. I need my fee for Oscar."
Azusa pointed to the cowering panda. "Oscar? But he isn't lost. He's right there."
"That's because I found him."
"I found him!"
Ace shouted back. "I found him!"
Azusa slammed a stone statue on Ace's head, "I found him! He's mine! MINE! MINE!"
Ranko watched the pummeling with satisfaction then got angry and yelled, "I was supposed to take him down!"
Akane didn't know who to feel sorry for, Ace, who was rapidly becoming a pancake, or the stone statue since it did belong to her family and Azusa might be doing damage to it. "I think she's got it under control."
Ding Dong! The doorbell chimed.
Nabiki groaned, "I hope it's not him!" She rushed to the front door, away from the shouts and pummeling and gave a practiced smile. Opening the door, she confirmed her fears.
A burly Japanese man was standing outside the doorway. "Good evening, I'm Mr. Koji Utada of the Ueno Zoo. I'm here to see a Miss Nabiki Tendo."
Nabiki grinned, "I'll be right with you." She slammed the door shut and braced her body flat against it to keep it from reopening. "This is not good. I gotta think fast."
In the backyard, Azusa was stomping on Ace's back while shouting "MINE! MINE! MINE!"
Ace spoke a word between each stomp. "A... little... help... here?"
The Storm trooper Squirrels unlocked their weapons; they aimed at the target, and fired. With the same precision as the Storm troopers in the Star Wars films, tiny pebbles were launched in all directions striking everyone only because every single thing in the yard was under attack. Kasumi, who was safely in the kitchen, clapped her hands. "How cute!"
Ranko raised her arms to defend herself from the barrage of tiny rocks. "Yeah, right."
Nodoka stepped back to avoid being hit by the discharge from the squirrels' weapons and retreated to the safety of the kitchen. Kasumi watched in fascination as the pebbles bounced harmlessly off of the kitchen window.
Akane angrily marched toward the closest squirrel and gave it a swift kick, sending it flying into the air, only for it to be caught by a passing chipmunk on a speeder bike.
The rest of the squirrels stopped their firing. They glanced at each other for a second, and then they all charged at the young Tendo. Akane barely had time to scream before dozens of squirrels covered her and knocked her to the ground.
"Akane!" Ranko shouted and ran to her aid.
Ace groaned out a single word with each impact on his back, "Don't... make... the... squirrels... go... nuts..."
Azusa continued, "MINE! MINE! MINE!"
Soun gave his friend an accusatory glare. "You said that this was a foolproof plan."
The panda replied with a wooden sign, "I underestimated the power of fools."
Ranko yanked squirrel after squirrel off of Akane until all that remained was the creature in her hands. "A-a-cat!!"
The cat screamed, "RRWWOOORW", which meant in lol cat language, "u odor r catnip!!" Wanting more, the cat leapt from the girl's grip and latched onto her face.
With that, Ranko spun about, and ran around the yard in total panic, "caaaaat!"
To which the cat replied, "MMMeeeooowww!", which meant, "u has flavor!"
Seeing their leader was in trouble, the Chipmunk Commanders activated their comlinks and gave new orders to their troops. In moments, the squirrels regrouped and formed two ranks and took flanking positions. Seconds later, they fired in unison at Azusa. "Ow! Stop that! Bad fuzz balls! Bad!"
The squirrels fired again, this time they knocked the skater off of Ace and she and her pet piggy fell into the koi pond.
Ace moaned. "Good work, guys. Get Bon-Bon, and it's double walnuts for you."
Instantly, a net was cast over Mr. Panda, further immobilizing him. They encircled the bear and a few formed a defensive line and trained their weapons at Soun.
Despite all the ribbon and netting, Mr. Panda produced another sign. "Do something Tendo!"
Soun answered. "My hands are tied, Saotome." In fact, they were, and the squirrels were busy tying up his feet as well.
Ace stood up and gallantly commanded his troops. "Second wave!"
A plethora of Ninja Raccoons came running in to assault the house when they were all bowled over by a terrified red-haired girl screaming, "C-c-cat!!"
Ace shrugged. "Third wave!"
Three Imperial Chipmunks on speeder bikes swooped in and were almost at the rear entry of the house when Akane sat up from where the squirrels had left her. She screamed and raised her arms in a defensive pose and the three bikes slammed into her, throwing their riders up and over the roof, wrecking the vehicles and knocking the young girl out cold.
Ace was a tad worried. "Fourth wave?"
His monkey sidekick gave Ace the raspberry.
"Aw, man, you're no help. Why do I even keep you around?"
The monkey produced an envelope.
Ace adjusted the collar of his Hawaiian shirt nervously. "Oh, yeah, that."
The monkey smugly made the envelope disappear and gave Ace another raspberry.
Undaunted, Ace commanded, "Qui-Gon Pecan! You're up."
A squirrel in a Jedi robe came out of the shadows and produced a green glowing light saber. He made a pose, and then performed an intricate kata with his weapon. Once he was done, he was about to charge when a running girl covered in cats flattened him. "AAAAAAHHHHH!"
Ace sighed. "Sixth wave?"
The few animals that remained shook their heads, no.
With a scream of "C-c-aaaat!" Ranko slammed into the back wall of the compound and fell backwards. A moment later, she bounced up and went, "Meow!"
Ace wondered. "What is it with this country and cat girls?"
A mew came from the red haired girl and she hopped up and stood on all fours. She playfully batted the cats away from her, took a step forward and fell over rolling on the ground. The catnip's full effect took over and she wiggled around in glee.
"I guess I won't be needing this." He tossed the yarn ball away.
Ranko popped up and pounced on the yarn and purred.
Nodoka gawked at the sight before her. "Ranko! That's no way for a lady to behave!"
"Now with that over with, it's time to collect my bounty. Troops!"
The Storm trooper Squirrels appeared around Ace. Most had their helmets and uniforms off and all of them had guilty looks on their faces.
"Let's take Bon-Bon home." He marched into the house, past an objecting Nodoka and stopped right where the panda was. "Where is he?"
The squirrels shrugged.
"What do you mean, you don't know? You were watching him!"
The squirrels and chipmunks whistled and looked around the room randomly.
"Hey! What did you do?" He looked at the crime scene. Shells, bags, pits and seed casings littered the area. "You sellouts! Who bribed you?"
They quickly looked around for a scapegoat and pointed at a small man who just entered the back room. "Woo hoo! What a haul!" He paused and studied the intruder before him with a cautious eye. "Who are you?"
"Who are you?" asked a perplexed pet detective in reply.
"I'm Happosai, the founding Grandmaster of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts. Who the heck are you?" He filled the room with a battle aura that looked like a demonic version of the tiny pervert.
"I'm Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, and you can call me a cab!"
Happosai dropped his battle aura in response. "You're smarter than you look. You can call one yourself. The phone is right on the credenza. Now, I'm busy." Happosai bounced out the entryway and into the back yard followed by a loud shout of, "Sweeto!"
"Oh, crud." Ace sighed. "It's back to the drawing board." He glared at his legions that were busy munching on assorted nuts, fruits and flakes. "Ahem."
They filled a bowl with shelled peanuts and the detective hungrily shoved his face in it and ate heartily.
"In all my days..." Nodoka shook her head in disgust. "I've never seen anyone with table manners such as yours."
Ace looked up from his bowl and licked away the peanut crumbs from his lips. "Yeah, great isn't it?" He proceeded to continue munching on the peanuts by slurping them up out of the bowl.
"Americans! They're barbarians!" Nodoka stormed out toward the back only to find her favorite niece in a very unflattering situation. She gasped in shock. There, sat Ranko, dressed in a tiger striped leotard, cat ears, tail, furry paw shaped mittens and surrounded by cats. Happosai tossed away an empty box and smiled in approval.
"You disgusting little pervert! What have you done to her?"
Happosai gave an evil laugh that brought a chill down Nodoka's back. "Nothing, except make her look more fitting for her friends."
Producing her katana, she unsheathed it and pointed it at the tiny man. "What you did to her is not becoming of a proper young lady. You deserve to be punished."
On cue, Ranko stopped licking her paw and pounced on the little pervert. In seconds, a dust cloud appeared and screams of pain emerged that were loud enough to be heard clear across town.
In a truck, driving toward the Ueno Zoo, Nabiki heard that sound and smiled.
Ace and his minions paused in their feast at the sound of a vicious catfight and the sight of a woman holding a Japanese sword. "That's our cue to leave! Boys?" Leaving empty bowls in their wake, he and his army disappeared out the front door and into the night.
Kasumi came out of the kitchen with a rat wearing a chef's hat on her shoulder. "I would never have thought of that. It really does bring out the flavor. Come back and visit us soon." The rodent nodded and scurried off after his friends.
"Ranko! Stop that this instant!" Nodoka spoke with authority and sheathed her sword. "If I was your mother, I'd have to send you to your room without supper."
Ranko stopped and sat cross-legged in front of Nodoka, holding a thoroughly beaten Happosai in her mouth. She gingerly placed the pervert on the ground and nudged him with her nose in her mother's direction. As the little man flipped over, a billfold fell out. Nodoka recognized just what it was. She snatched it and slipped it into her kimono. "I'll see to it that this is returned to its rightful owners, thief."
Soun crawled out of his hiding place from under the couch. "Oh, Mrs. Saotome, thank you for finding that."
"This is yours?" asked the elder in surprise. She opened the billfold and a bill of sale fell out. She picked it up before Soun could take it from her. "According to this, it belongs to my husband."
"He entrusted it to me."
Mrs. Saotome glanced down at the unconscious evil man. "And I see that his trust may have been a bit misguided. Since this money belongs to my husband, it therefore falls onto me to ensure its safety until such time as he returns with my son. There is of course one little matter remaining."
Ranko purred happily.
"Ranko, that panda was yours, and my husband had no right to sell him, unless... Did you ask my husband to sell your panda to the zoo?"
The cat girl happily purred and nuzzled her paw, nodding her head as she did so.
"I see. So, by all rights, this money is yours. I'll deposit it in a bank note for you, where it will remain until you reach age of majority."
Akane slowly sat up. "What happened? Ranm..." She saw Mrs. Saotome nearby and her currently female fiancée. She held out a piece of straw and waved it at the smiling cat girl. "Ranko. Here, kitty kitty." Ranko hopped into Akane's lap and fell fast asleep.
With Ranko safely recovering, Akane looked around and saw the damage in the backyard. Hearing her father cry, she asked, "Dad?"
Soun stood weeping over the lost money, pausing only to answer his daughter. "Yes?"
"What just happened?"
Soun bawled his eyes out even more. "I don't know."
A pig's squeal followed by a shout of pain from Ranko blasted into Akane's ears. The red head leapt into the sky. "AAAHHH!"
Akane's wayward pig jumped from Ranko's rear where he had just bitten it and landed in her lap. "What? Oh! P-Chan! What did that Azusa do to you?"
Azusa staggered out of the koi pond, soaking wet. "WWWAAAHHH! My dress!" Shedding tears, she jumped up and down in fury. "My dress! My dress! My dress!" She stopped for a moment and saw a new shiny object. "Jean Claude!"
The gorilla was still tied up in a pink ribbon, hopelessly immobile and dismayed that Ace had left him behind.
"YAY! You're coming home with me Jean Claude!" Her pig forgotten, she spun around at high speed to shake off all the water and flung out another ribbon which ensnared the ape. The girl roller-skated down the walkway, into the street with a panicked ape dragging behind.
Kasumi came out of the kitchen, holding a plate of dumplings. "Dinner's ready."
Ranko came back down to Earth with a splash, right in the center of the koi pond. She popped her head out of the water and brushed a koi from her shoulder. "Did I get him?"
Akane replied sarcastically. "Yeah, you got him alright."
Ranko raised her arms in triumph. "YEAH! Ranma Saotome never loses!"
Nodoka popped out into the backyard. "Ranma? He's here?"
Akane sat at the table and fed P-Chan a dumpling. "You've got some explaining to do, Ranko."
Ranko tapped her fingers together as she figured out her next move, "Secret technique! Fast Break!" She darted off.
Nodoka wondered. "How did she learn that technique? My husband used it all the time."
"Are you sure these measures are necessary? They're just pandas." Mr. Utada scratched his head as he was reading the plans laid before him.
Nabiki nodded her head and pointed to a diagram of steel netting that would completely enclose the panda pen. "Trust me. He's a master of escape. If you don't do this, he'll be back at my place by morning."
"But, the cost?"
Mr. Ito interrupted. "As curator, I have to make sure there are no more escape attempts. This panda is crucial to our breeding program. Mr. Utada, as Chief of Security, make this happen. I don't want Bon Bon to vanish again."
Bowing in respect, Mr. Utada replied. "As you wish, Sir." He took the plans, rolled them up and went off to make the arraignments.
"Now, Sir, as per my agreement." The middle Tendo held out her hand expectantly.
The curator pulled out a pay envelope. "Before I give you this, how did you manage to restrain Bon-Bon? I mean, Blue ribbon?"
"It got the job done, didn't it? He's safe at home and he isn't going anywhere right now. Once you put up those barriers, he'll stay put."
"How do you know so much about this panda, Miss Tendo?"
Nabiki smirked. "I just know how to take care of pets."
Outside, a truck backed up to the panda den and stopped just short of the gate that would lead inside. On the truck was a steel cage containing a very sad looking panda bear. He held up a sign that read, "I'm not a panda. I'm a human being!"
A zookeeper walked up to the cage, holding an armload of bamboo shoots. "It's dinner time. Aw, look. Isn't that cute? It's almost like he's trying to talk to us."
Another zookeeper agreed. "Yeah, too bad it's all that circus training they gave him, isn't that right?"
The first laughed. "Yes indeed. It's a good thing we got him. Ain't that right Lin-Lin? We got your boyfriend back."
Safely behind the steel bars of the gate to the pen, Lin-Lin bared her teeth and growled.
Mr. Panda turned his sign over. "I'll prove it to you! Get me hot water!"
"He wants hot water? Didn't she say he'd ask for that?"
The second zookeeper tossed his bamboo into Lin-Lin's pen via a food chute and quickly slammed the tiny door shut as a paw with sharp claws tried to come out. "Yeah, but you know the new rules. All water given to the pandas must be cold. Seems like Bon-Bon's got a problem with hot water. That's why he took off."
"Hot water? Oh, well. It just leaves more for us to use to wash the truck with. Ha ha ha!!" The two men laughed in unison.
Lin-Lin stared at Bon-Bon with hateful eyes.
Mr. Panda squirmed. "This isn't worth the money!"
"I'd disagree." Nabiki Tendo walked up to the cage with a cat like grin on her face. "Now my sister can go to college and get a medical degree. As for me, my way is all planned out, and Akane, well, she's got Ranma." She let out a chuckle on the last few words. "And you? You and Lin-Lin make a great couple."
Shaking the bars and finding that they wouldn't budge, Mr. Panda assumed the Crouch of the Wild Tiger, begging for mercy.
"Wrong technique, Mr. Panda, shouldn't you be doing Carp on a Cutting Board instead? Bye-bye!"
Mr. Panda's sign read, "I'm so doomed."
It was dawn on the savanna. A lone figure climbed up pride rock, carrying the most precious thing in the whole kingdom. Slowly, gently, he ascended, holding the heir to the kingdom in his hands. Below, hundreds of animals, large and small, stood at attention waiting for that magic moment. Just as the figure reached the top, the music rang to a crescendo; the light shown brightly and he presented the cub for all to see.
To the cheer of the audience, all the animals at once, bowed down to their new prince and Ace was pleased.
The loudspeakers came on. "Thank you for attending our show today. We'll be performing again at 3 and 6."
Ace turned to the angry baboon that was upstaged by a bigger baboon. "Next time, you hold him. He stinks."
The cub made a relieved smile as he wet himself and Ace at the same time.
"Now he really stinks."
Please review my story. It makes me feel oh so happy and prevents me from writing another Ace Ventura story ever again.