A/N – Similar to my ongoing Bioshock fanfic (which, I swear, I'm still planning to finish), this is my dream of how, if Hollywood ever came to me, or, better yet, if I ever had the clout to go to Hollywood, exactly I would tell them to make the "Lupin the Third" movie. To prevent anyone else from ruining it.

I'm calling this "The Asimov Project" because, for one thing, I think "Lupin the Third: The Movie" is a lame title for a fanfic. For another, because this is an original plot, although I plan on borrowing heavily from the manga and anime here and there.

You could probably count my favorite characters from anime or manga on two hands, and the five main characters from Lupin III take up one of them. There have been some drastically different portrayals of the characters, from Monkey Punch's original manga to the red jacket series of the anime to Hayao Miyazaki's "The Castle of Cagliostro" to the current series "The Woman Called Fujiko Mine" (which I highly recommend). My versions of Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, et al are a combination of some of my favorite character traits pulled from previous versions of the characters, somewhere between the happy-go-lucky bandits of the anime and the sneering crooks of the manga. One thing I'll be taking from Monkey Punch is a certain edge the characters had: they could be the best of friends one issue and out to kill each other in the next. But they were always cool enough that, one issue later, they'd be paling around again as if nothing had happened (and in Monkey Punch's loose continuity, it might not have.)

With that said, please imagine the lights dimming and the studio logos of your choice fading in and out as the opening notes of "Zenigata's March" play . . .

It was raining in London. Not an unusual occurrence. A puddle had formed on the pavement wide and deep enough to reflect the well-lit Woodcut Manor as clearly as if a naked eye were looking directly at it. Now the puddle was filled with the reflection of the flashing lights on top of a squad of police cars, the sound of their sirens filling the air as they screeched to a noisy halt in front of the mansion.

The inspector stepped out of his car and directly into the puddle. Even the high-collared raincoat and wide-brimmed hat he wore couldn't stop stray rain drops from streaking across his face. But he marched confidently to the door as if he didn't feel them, his eyes steely gray beads of determination above his lantern jaw.

He pounded on the manor door, flanked by constables, and when a hunched over old butler opened it, the inspector barely flashed his badge before pushing him out of his way.

"Koichi Zenigata, Interpol."

He marched into the mansion's main hall, the indignant butler right behind him. The room full of partygoers in formal wear hushed as the inspector barged in.

Keep your back straight, Zenigata reminded himself. He repeated the phrase over and over. He had a bad habit of hunching himself when he was nervous. And right now, he needed to display all the authority he could muster.

Sir Matthew Franklyn Woodcut strode up to the throng of policemen who had invaded his domicile, the crowd parting as he made his way to the center of the room.

"What is the meaning of this?"

The inspector flashed his badge again.

"Inspector Koichi Zenigata. Interpol."

"How does my daughter's twenty-first birthday concern the ICPO? And don't you need a warrant?"

"I have one." Zenigata pulled a piece of paper from the inside pocket of his raincoat. "An arrest warrant. For a known criminal that I believe has crashed your daughter's birthday party."

Sir Matthew's jaw dropped, and he stepped back as Zenigata eyed the party crowd suspiciously.

"A party crasher? Who?"

"Ever heard of Arsene Lupin III?"

Upstairs, the newly twenty-one Hazel Woodcut was caught in the mad embrace of a brute in a bright red sports coat. If only her father and his boring friends knew she'd met the one interesting person at the party, and that they'd snuck off to have a little party of their own.

He was built like a gorilla, the red jacket about two sizes too small for him, and his big hands were groping her tightly enough to leave bruises, his thick lips pushing hard enough to swell up her mouth.

"Lupin the Third?" It was now clear that Inspector Zenigata had Sir Matthew's full attention. "The notorious criminal that's in the news all the time?"

"Unless you know of another Lupin," Zenigata said.

He scanned the crowd again. A silver haired old lady was nearly spilling her flute of champagne, her hand was trembling so hard. Nearby, a bookworm wearing thick Coke bottle glasses and an ugly tweed jacket was whispering nervously to his neighbors, a young couple who were probably the only guests invited by Hazel instead of her father.

"You really think he's here?" someone asked.

"I'm the world's greatest authority on Lupin. I've tracked the little weasel across four continents. And I have it on good authority that he's definitely here tonight."

Upstairs, the rogue in the red jacket pushed Hazel into her bedroom wall, right next to the full-length mirror.

For the first time, Hazel tried pushing him away.

"Be a little more gentle with me."

Instead, the man in the red jacket whipped Hazel around and shoved her into her bed.

Keep your back straight. Don't slouch. Keep your back . . .

"You mean you've actually seen him?"

Zenigata deflated. His hunch was now more obvious than the butlers, and one hand immediately went to the back of his neck to scratch it.

"Well, no." He tried to straighten up a little. "I mean, no one has. Not his real face anyway. Lupin's a master of disguise."

Finally forcing himself to stand up tall again, Zenigata recaptured the room with a point of a finger.

"He could be anyone. He could be . . . you!"

He waived the finger at the silver haired lady, who poured her champagne all over the floor.

"Or you."

A tall, gangly figure with more hair in his handlebar mustache than on the top of his head backed up and nearly tripped over the short, rotund figure behind him.

"Or even you."

The man in the Coke bottle glasses and tweed jacket fainted, two party guests quick to catch him before he hit the ground.

"Get that man out of here," Sir Matthew said, gesturing at the bookworm. The butler helped lead a small group who carried the man away.

Hazel flailed at the gorilla in the red jacket as he climbed on top of her.

"Let me go."

He kissed her again, scraping his stubble against her neck.

"Give me the data," he growled into her ear.

"Please," Hazel said. "Please. I don't know what you're talking about."

"The Asimov Project," the man in the red jacket responded, flipping open a switchblade.

"Lupin's here, all right," Zenigata was saying. "And, rest assured, he's not leaving until he gets exactly what he came for."

The man had Hazel pinned down with one massive hand while the other led the knife, slicing through the top button on her blouse, then the next, revealing the frill of the pink brassiere beneath, and the chain of a necklace that had been tucked beneath.

"Get off me," she said. "Stop!"

The blade sliced through the next button. Every part of Hazel tensed as the knife began to slice through the threads holding the next button in place . . .

Then the blade stopped. It jerked to the side as the big man in the red jacket fell out of the bed. A dart was jutting noticeably off the side of his neck.

From the bed, Hazel could just see the silhouette cast on her wall of a thin man lowering a blow gun, then shaking with a weasely little laugh.

"Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh."

Hazel stood up and edged around to get a look at her rescuer.

He was tossing a pair of thick glasses and a tweed coat to the floor.

"Th-that man," Hazel said, toeing the unconscious figure on her floor. "He's Lupin the Third?"

The man who had taken off the tweed jacket shook his head.

"No. That's not Lupin."

He was taller than he'd looked at first, and slender. Good looking, but definitely not in a Hollywood leading man sort of way. As the man in the red jacket had an ape like appearance, this man did as well, though he looked more like an orangutan than a gorilla. The appearance was aided by a pair of thick sideburns that ran down the man's angular jaw and nearly touched his chin.

"Who is he, then?"

The newcomer bent over the man on the floor.

"I don't know. Just some punk." He took the man's red jacket off. "Pretty good sense of fashion, though."

He slipped into the jacket, which actually fit him much better than the gorilla. He turned to the full length mirror to admire the fact.

"Well, whoever you are," Hazel said, "thank you. If you hadn't come, I don't know what . . ."

She stopped when she noticed the long barrel of the Walther P-38 pointed at her.

"Now, my dear," the man who was now wearing the bright red jacket said, "I'm going to need you to hand over that data on the Asimov Project."

"Of course." Hazel looked from the man with the gun to the man with the dart in his neck. "Your partner?"

"No. He's not my type." He smiled. "You would be, under nicer circumstances."

Hazel almost didn't even feel frightened. His voice was pleasant and polite. He was being as much a gentleman as anyone can be while pointing a gun at you.

He kept the gun trained on her as he circled her, bringing his back closer to the bedroom window. Hazel slowly pivoted, keeping her eyes on the gun.

"You see, there's only one Lupin the Third . . ."

Heavy footsteps thudded up the stairs, and a man in a high-collared raincoat and wide-brimmed fedora burst through the door, followed by several anxious constables and a very pale Sir Matthew Woodcut.

The inspector looked incredulously from the discarded tweed jacket and glasses to the man with the gun.

"You're Lupin?"

"In the flesh!"

The inspector pulled a gun and flashed his badge.

"Inspector Zenigata, Interpol. You're under arrest!"

"Nice to finally meet you, Inspector," Arsene Lupin III said, climbing up on Hazel's windowsill. "Love to stay and chat, but I've got to fly."

With that, Lupin grabbed the exposed chain around Hazel's neck and tugged, the necklace breaking and leaving the pendant in Lupin's fist, a simple flash drive. And then he stretched out his hands and dove backwards . . . into a tree.

The police ran to the window and watched as Lupin fell through the tree, yelping as he managed to crash into every branch on the way down before landing in a thick tangle of bushes.

Outside, policemen surrounded the bushes, pointing guns at the spot they'd seen Lupin land. But they started backing away when they heard a nearby engine rev up.

They ran when a banana yellow sports car burst out of the bushes.

The car sped through the yard and down the front drive, straight through the center of the fleet of police cars. The constables scrambled to get behind the wheels, many of them only managing to crash their squad cars into each other as the yellow car faded further and further into the distance.

Zenigata ran out the front door, firing a few frustrated shots from his pistol into the air. They collided impotently with pavement and trees, far from where the car was.

And Lupin the Third just juggled his newly acquired flash drive with one hand, satisfied in a job well done.

A/N – Up next, Daisuke Jigen . . .