Capture the Heart
Author's note: This story is an alternate continuation based on the Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl anime, starting from after the episode "The Battle Finale of Legend!". There won't be any story elements exclusive to the games. This was just a random story idea of mine focusing on the characters already introduced in the anime.
Disclaimer: Pokemon is not my idea and I don't own it or any of the characters, obviously.
Inside the walls of a remote Pokemon Center, the exhausted trio of Ash, Brock, and Dawn were peacefully slumbering through the night.
What was supposed to be a normal day of travel on the way to Sunyshore City had turned into a bizarre and danger-filled nightmare as Team Galactic's elaborate plans finally came to fruition. Dialga and Palkia had been summoned, as had the legendary lake guardians Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf. Thankfully, things didn't go in Team Galactic's favor.
At the end of the day, the Sinnoh region was much different from a crime standpoint. Pokemon Hunter J and her crew were presumed dead after the combined Future Sight attacks of Uxie and Mesprit struck their ship, causing it to crash into Lake Valor and explode deep beneath the water's surface. Team Galactic's leader, Cyrus, was no longer a part of this world, having dove into the new world created by Dialga and Palkia. The rest of Team Galactic, whom Cyrus did not want following him to the new world, had been arrested and were now sitting in jail.
While none of the three trainers wished such misfortune on people, they were certainly glad that Sinnoh would be a bit more calm from now on. Well...aside from Team Rocket's constant, fruitless attempts to steal Pikachu and other Pokemon, anyway.
After everything had ended, Cynthia was kind enough to drop the trio off at the nearest Pokemon Center. Their journey to Sunyshore City would resume tomorrow, but for now they were enjoying their well-deserved sleep.
Dawn, who was in the top bunk of one of the beds with Piplup, subconsciously turned onto her side to get more comfortable as she slept, which caused some of her long hair to slide down onto Piplup's beak. The small Pokemon tried to ignore it, but the tickling feeling was too much to bear. Letting out a whopper of a sneeze, Piplup was instantly jarred from its sleep.
"Pip? Pip?" it sat up, its eyes darting around the room in confusion. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Brushing off the abrupt wake-up for now, Piplup let out a yawn and fell back against the mattress. A sudden break in the moonlight flowing in through the window, however, soon caught its attention. Wondering what had caused it, Piplup hopped to its feet and moved to the edge of the bed where it could get a better view of what was going on outside.
There, moving through the sky at a low speed, was the dark silhouette of a large creature. Piplup wasn't sure what it was, but seeing something that large flying around was unusual enough to rouse some concern. Anxious to alert someone to the discovery, it went back over to Dawn and began shaking her arm with its flippers. "Piplup! Piii piplup!"
"Mmm..." Dawn groaned in her sleep, knocking Piplup back with her hand.
"Piplup pip!" the water-type Pokemon fumed. This was going to take some more drastic measures. Readying itself to attack, Piplup used an extremely weak Bubble Beam to pelt its trainer's face with a barrage of water bubbles.
"Mm...h-huh...?" the blue-haired girl sleepily opened her eyes. Sensing the moisture on her face, Dawn sat up and rubbed her hand against her cheek. It was then that she noticed Piplup staring up at her. "Hey, did you just use Bubble Beam on me?" she chided it in a low voice.
"Piiplup! Piplup pip piplup!" her Pokemon frantically gestured toward the window.
"Huh? What is it? Is there something out there?" Dawn whispered, trying not to awaken anyone else as she moved closer to have a look. It didn't take long to pick up on what Piplup was trying to bring to her attention. The large creature's silhouette was still within view, and whatever it was, it didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. "Wow, is that a Pokemon? It's a big one, too..."
Dawn could see the curiosity in her Piplup's eyes as she glanced down at it again. Admittedly, the mystery Pokemon had captured her interest as well. "I'd kind of like to see what it is," she flashed a smile at her Pokemon. "How about we go take a quick look, Piplup?"
"Pip!" Piplup nodded in approval.
"Okay!" Dawn whispered. "Be quiet, though! We don't want to wake up Ash and Brock."
Dressed in her pink pajamas, Dawn carefully climbed down to the floor and put on her boots. As she and Piplup slipped out of the room, there was no indication that either of the boys had woken up. Part one of their escapade was a success.
Once they exited the Pokemon Center, the pair caught sight of the large creature in the sky again. This time, it looked to be descending to the ground.
"Good, this is our chance!" Dawn beamed enthusiastically. "Come on, Piplup! Let's go!"
There was a small stream that ran alongside the road leading away from the Pokemon Center. The unknown creature seemed to have been following the stream's path closely, and Dawn believed that it had landed not too far off the path up ahead. She knew she would have to be cautious, though, which was why she was keeping a close eye out for it. Whatever the Pokemon was, there would be problems if it was in a foul mood and happened to spot them. Playing it safe was the way to go.
"Almost there..." the young coordinator said. She slowed her pace now that they'd gotten close. Piplup followed suit.
The small Pokemon then raised one of its flippers into the air as it noticed something. "Piiip piplup!"
Turning her attention to the sky, Dawn watched as the large Pokemon's silhouette suddenly rose up above the trees once more. Its behavior now changed. Rather than coasting through the air as it had done before, the creature flew off at a much higher speed and vanished out of sight within a matter of seconds.
"Awww," Dawn pouted. "Well, so much for that. Still, I wonder what it was doing over there..."
With the prospect of danger gone along with the unknown Pokemon, Dawn and Piplup continued onward to the spot where the creature had briefly landed.
Both she and Piplup startled by the unexpected sound of someone coughing, Dawn spun around to examine the treeline where she thought the noise had come from. Piplup then began to make a ruckus, tugging on its trainer's pant leg and pointing up ahead. It had spotted something, and Dawn soon did as well. If her eyes weren't deceiving her, there were a pair of legs sticking out from behind one of the trees.
"Hey, someone's over there! And they don't sound too good," Dawn said, sounding concerned. "Let's go see if they need help, Piplup."
Dawn hurried over to check on the condition of the person seated against the base of the tree. "Excuse me, are you oka-"
The girl from Twinleaf Town abruptly stopped speaking mid-sentence. Her words replaced by a loud gasp, she fell back against a nearby tree in shock. Piplup quickly joined her, hiding itself behind her leg in fear. "There's no way..." Dawn thought to herself, her heart threatening to beat right out of her chest. "There's just no way..."
Shining down through the branches and leaves of the trees above, the moonlight reflected off of the seated individual's short, silver hair. It was a woman—one that Dawn and her frightened Pokemon knew all too well. There was no mistaking the red and black outfit that Dawn and the boys were accustomed to seeing her wear. Strangely, though, the high-tech headset that she usually wore was missing. And, more noticeably, the entire left side of her face was covered with dry blood that had seeped down from a nasty laceration on her forehead.
Even the woman's rough condition, however, couldn't temper the icy cold glare she fixed on Dawn and her Piplup as she became aware of their presence. "You..." she recognized the girl, "...you're...one of those kids that likes to get into my business..."
"P-P-P-Pokemon...H-Hunter...J...!" Dawn's voice trembled at the sight of the callous criminal. Her body behaved likewise. J was supposed to have died earlier today. Never mind that she was still in the land of the living, but what in the world was she doing here, of all places? "But...but how? They said your ship crashed into Lake Valor and exploded!"
It shouldn't have come as any surprise that Dawn would get no answer from the woman. "I don't have to explain anything to you," J spat in response, clearly not in the mood to talk. "This is your only warning. Get lost right now or I'll make you wish you'd never come out here."
Hearing J deliver her threat would instill a spark of courage in Piplup. The water-type Pokemon immediately came out from behind Dawn's leg and stood defiantly before the Pokemon hunter with its flippers on its hips. "Piiplup pii piplup pip!"
"Piplup..." Dawn watched as her Pokemon made its stand. It was clear that Piplup didn't appreciate J saying such things to its trainer. Dawn wasn't about to back down either. Pushing herself off of the tree, she stepped up next to Piplup and took a position alongside it. "No! I'm not going anywhere!"
J sneered at the steadfast coordinator and her Pokemon, not at all pleased that they weren't retreating. "Are you suicidal? You should know exactly what I'm capable of, little girl."
"Yes, I do! You're a ruthless Pokemon hunter!" Dawn snapped back at her. "That's exactly why I'm not afraid! If you could have done something, you would have done it as soon as you saw us. But you're hurt, aren't you?"
J didn't so much as flinch at Dawn's analysis.
"In fact," Dawn continued, "...you can't even move. I'm right, aren't I?"
The silver-haired hunter didn't allow herself to show it, but she knew she'd been found out. "Smart girl. She called my bluff," J silently admitted. "Making assumptions like that is dangerous, you know. You might regret it later."
Dawn wasn't buying J's tough talk. "Piplup, go back to the Pokemon Center and get the guys!" she instructed the creature at her feet. "We're going to make sure J gets put in jail where she belongs."
"Pip?" Piplup gave its trainer an unsure look.
"Don't worry, she can't do anything now," Dawn assured her Pokemon. "Hurry, okay?"
With a quick salute, Piplup started running back to the Pokemon Center to retrieve some backup in the form of Ash and Brock.
"And now you're defenseless," J smirked, continuing her attempts to put some fear back into her unwanted visitor.
"I'm a lot more capable than you are right now," Dawn was quick to retort.
"Then why don't you do something?" J pressed the girl. "Why send me to jail when you could kill me and get rid of me for good?"
Dawn was offended at the very idea. "Because I don't enjoy hurting living things like you do!" she emphatically answered.
The light provided by the moon was sufficient enough for Dawn to see that J was having a difficult time keeping her left eye open. The blood that had gotten into it earlier in the day was stinging badly. It certainly wasn't stopping the Pokemon hunter from expressing herself, though.
"You're so naive," J snorted at the reply. "Hurting things wouldn't earn me money. I capture Pokemon and I sell them to willing buyers. Get it straight."
"It's the same thing! You're taking those poor Pokemon by force, and it's wrong!" Dawn cried. The thought of J's cruelty was starting to get to her as tears began forming in her eyes. "Why would you do that?"
"Why would I do it? That's a stupid question," J ridiculed her, again wincing from the painful sensation in her left eye. "It's how I make a living. I enjoy it, and I'm the best there is at it. I don't need some clueless brat telling me that what I do is wrong. Understand?"
Dawn had apparently had enough of this conversation. Wiping away a single tear that had rolled down her cheek, she turned around and walked off in the direction of the nearby stream.
J couldn't have been happier that the nuisance had finally left her alone. She was tired of listening to the girl's attempt to lecture her. "Shouldn't be long now," she thought, casting her gaze up at the sky.
Then, to J's surprise, her ears picked up on something. It was the same sound of footsteps that she'd just heard walking away moments earlier, only now they seemed to be coming closer. More and more pronounced became the sounds of those steps until finally the one making them re-entered J's vision. Dawn, now clutching something in her right hand, stood before the woman quietly. "What?" J snarled, glaring up at her.
Dawn didn't say a word as she knelt down next to the wounded Pokemon hunter. Taking her handkerchief that she'd just soaked in the stream, she began the process of cleaning the dry blood away from the woman's face.
Being the type that analyzes situations a lot, J typically had a good understanding of why people did the things they do. There was always a motive there. In her line of work, that motive often times would turn out to be underhanded. This situation, though...this represented a rare occasion where J had no idea what a particular person was thinking. "Why?" she felt compelled to ask the emotional coordinator.
Sniffling as she gently wiped away the blood below J's eye, Dawn gave the woman a very simple, honest answer. "Because I have a heart," she told her.
J sat quietly now, allowing the girl to assist her without a fuss. She was a smart businesswoman who had an uncanny way with words, but she didn't know what to say at the moment. What could she say? Dawn's actions made no sense to her. "This girl..." J thought, taking a long look at Dawn's face, "...I don't understand..."
Her handkerchief dirtied and starting to become dry, Dawn got back to her feet to go wet it in the stream one more time. "I'm almost do-"
"What's your name?" J interrupted her all of a sudden.
Dawn stopped in her tracks. That was one question she definitely wasn't expecting to hear from the injured Pokemon hunter. It was also one that she wasn't necessarily eager to answer. "Why should I tell you?" she asked.
Irritated by the reply, J turned away from the girl. "Fine. Forget it," she muttered. She was annoyed with herself for even letting the question slip past her lips. Why would she even ask something so pointless?
Though she certainly wasn't obligated to tell J her name, Dawn felt conflicted about not doing so. It was a rude thing to do, after all. Did J deserve an answer? Probably not, but Dawn wanted to be the better person here. "My name...it's Dawn," she said.
J slowly turned her head and stared into the kindhearted girl's eyes. For a moment, the two of them shared a silent look. There was something about this girl. Something...different. Frustrating. Intriguing. What was it about her? "Dawn-"
Before J could speak any further, the large silhouette that Dawn had seen earlier appeared again right above them. It would descend to the ground next to J, landing with such force that it knocked Dawn right off her feet. It was obvious now; the figure in the sky had been J's Salamence all along.
Dawn eased backward for her own safety when Salamence directed a threatening growl her way. "U-uh..." the frightened girl stammered.
"Forget about her," J commanded her Pokemon. "Is the coast clear?"
The winged beast, who'd been out on a scouting mission, nodded its head.
"Good. Let's go," the Pokemon hunter said.
As it had been doing throughout the day, Salamence used its mouth to grab its master by the back of her outfit and drape her over its back. Flying like this when J didn't even have to strength to hold on carried risks, hence the low flight speed that Salamence had exhibited before when Piplup had spotted it.
Dawn had no Pokemon with her to pit against Salamence. Still, she didn't want to let J get away again. Given her injuries, this was the best chance they'd have to put an end to her deplorable work. "H-hey, wait!" she stood up. She wanted desperately to figure out some way to stop them, but there just wasn't enough time to do so.
Before Salamence took to the air, J set her sights on Dawn one last time. "You and your friends had better stay out of my way!" she hissed venomously at the girl.
Close by, Ash and Brock, along with Pikachu and Piplup, were hurrying along the path when they spotted Salamence flying out from the trees with a familiar woman on its back.
"Hey, it's...it's J!" Ash pointed out, shocked that she was still alive.
"Looks like it! Where's Dawn?" Brock asked, looking to Piplup for directions. He was feeling extremely concerned for his friend right now.
The small Pokemon gestured to one of the trees up ahead. Much to their relief, the boys would find Dawn alive and unharmed, albeit not very happy with herself.
"Dawn!" Ash ran up to her. "You okay?"
The young girl shook her head, looking up into the sky with disappointment. "I'm sorry, guys," she apologized. "I couldn't keep her here."
"Don't worry about it. The important thing is that you're okay," Brock assured her.
"Man, I can't believe she escaped that explosion," Ash marveled at the Pokemon hunter's tenacity. "Someone's going to catch her one of these days."
"Yeah," Dawn replied weakly. She looked down at the handkerchief—stained with J's blood—that she still held in her hand. "She can't keep it up forever."
Deep in a forest east of Veilstone City sat a well-hidden and expansive bunker that would be difficult for even the sharpest of eyes to spot. Inside, five uniformed men sat in the bunker's control center. The mood had been tense throughout the day and overnight. Now, with the sun starting to rise on the horizon, everyone was still trying to figure out why they couldn't get in contact with their leader.
"Still no word from them," one of the men fretted.
"There's no way it would be like this unless something really bad happened," another said.
Angered, the tallest of the men in the group shot up from his seat. "That's enough! This is Commander J we're talking about! There's no way she'd get taken out!"
The other crewmen hung their heads solemnly. They didn't want to believe it either. The fact that they couldn't contact the main ship was unprecedented, though. To have not heard anything from them in such a long time led the men to believe that, unpleasant though it was, some grim news was probably headed their way.
*beep beep! beep beep!*
The men all swirled around as the motion sensor on their large control panel began going off.
"H-hey, there's something approaching the entrance..." one of them pointed out.
"Bring up the outside camera on the screen!" another instructed him.
There was a collective gasp in the room as the large monitor displayed the image of J's Salamence carefully landing outside the bunker's entrance with their leader lying on its back.
"It's J! She's alive!" one of the men shouted in exuberance. "Come on! Let's hurry!"
The crew rushed to the entrance and opened the blast doors, eager to check on the renowned Pokemon hunter.
"Commander J! Are you okay?" the tallest one approached her.
Still extremely weak, J tried to crawl off of Salamence, but her body wasn't cooperating with her after the ordeal it had been through. "I can't move. Pick me up!" she ordered the henchman.
"Y-yes, sir!" he obeyed, gently taking her from Salamence's back.
"Umm...where is the ship, sir?" another of the men asked.
"The ship is gone," J told him, words that the men couldn't believe they were hearing. "The ship, the crew, everything."
"No way..." one of them said in disbelief.
"Forget that! There's nothing we can do about it!" J barked at them. "How many men do we have here?"
The group looked around at each other uncomfortably before one answered. "Well...just the five of us, sir."
The silver-haired hunter wasn't happy at all with the information. It didn't come as a great shock to her, though. The majority of her crew always traveled on the main ship when they went out to perform jobs. Only a few stayed behind at the base to take orders from certain clients, manage supplies and ensure that no outsiders discovered the base's location.
"Alright, listen up!" J shouted to get their attention. "We're going to be running a small operation for a while. I won't tolerate any slacking off. Understand?"
"Yes, sir!" the crew responded in unison.
J looked up at the man carrying her. "I need you to treat my wounds, but hold on for a minute," she instructed him, turning her attention to a couple of the other men. "You two! Get in contact with any clients waiting on us to complete jobs and tell them there's going to be a slight delay. With their information networks, I'm sure they'll already know about what happened, but make sure you let them know that we will be performing the jobs they requested soon. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir!" the two quickly answered.
J then turned to the remaining two men. "And you two! I want you to gather every upgrade we've been planning for the ship and put them into a single file!"
"Y-yes, sir!" they responded.
She had lost her ship and most of her crew over the past 24 hours, costing her financial damages that she didn't even want to begin to total. Yet, despite her misfortune, J allowed an optimistic smirk to cross her face. "We're going to be commissioning a new ship."
End of Chapter 1