Capture the Heart
by rkOujirou

Author's note: This story is a continuation based on the Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl anime, starting from after the episode "The Battle Finale of Legend!".

Disclaimer: Pokemon is not my idea and I don't own it or any of the characters, obviously.

Chapter 9

In the very early morning hours of what promised to be the biggest day of her life, Dawn sat down at the small table on the balcony of her hotel room. Following right behind her, Brock shut the balcony door in a gentle manner, hoping not to disturb the still sleeping Ash, Pikachu and Piplup. Dawn had brought a blanket from inside and wrapped it around herself to keep warm, but it did little to ease the discomfort she was feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Pokemon Hunter J's late night visit was a surprise to Dawn, and a pleasant one at that. In hindsight, however, it was also incredibly risky for the two of them to converse in the same room where the boys were sleeping. Brock's insistence that he and Dawn speak mere moments after J had departed left little doubt that Dawn's secret had been uncovered. How much had Brock heard? How much had he been able to figure out? Dawn wasn't eager to learn the answers to those questions, but she was about to do so.

Brock leaned back against the balcony railing, facing Dawn, and folded his arms over his chest. Dawn couldn't bring herself to look at him. She felt like a six-year-old again, like she was about to be scolded for doing something wrong. What must Brock be thinking of her right now, she wondered? Was he disgusted with her? Ashamed to be her friend? Would he tell Ash as soon as he woke up? Would they leave her here and continue their journey through Sinnoh without her?

"I heard everything," Brock finally spoke.

That was not what Dawn wanted to hear. The more Brock knew, the more Dawn's chances of talking her way out of this situation declined. She was fidgeting restlessly beneath her blanket, worried sick about what her friend might say next.

"To be honest, I've had a feeling something might have been going on ever since J helped get our Pokemon back from Team Rocket that one day," Brock stared down at the anxious coordinator. "She did it for you, didn't she?"

Considering that to be a factual statement, and one that she would have little luck denying, Dawn meekly nodded her head in response.

"And those flowers you got after your opening round performance," Brock continued, "...they were from her, weren't they?"

Dawn silently nodded once again.

Although he'd suspected that these things were true for some time, seeing Dawn confirm them was a real stunner for Brock. The aspiring Pokemon breeder reached up and began rubbing his forehead as he processed all of this. "I sort of knew, but still...this is tough to swallow," he admitted. "Dawn, you do realize who Pokemon Hunter J is and what she does, don't you?"

"Of course I do!" Dawn snapped back at him emotionally, her expression troubled as she looked blankly at the balcony floor. "I know it as well as anyone, Brock. That's why this has been so confusing for me. Just now...she was...she was going to kiss me. And I...I really wanted her to, but then I started thinking back to that time when we were trying to save those Shieldon from her. When I remembered seeing her freeze that one poor Shieldon...that's what made me stop her just now. I just couldn't get it out of my head."

Dawn wiped a tear from her eye, a telltale sign that her dilemma was really starting to get to her. "Try to understand, Brock," she pleaded with her friend. "This has been really hard for me. I just...I don't know what I should do."

Brock remained quiet for a moment, both to mull over Dawn's words and to give her a chance to pull herself together. There were any number of questions he would have liked to ask her, but one in particular stood at the forefront of his mind. It was something he needed to know in order to decide how he should handle this whole situation.

"Do you love her?" he asked.

The answer was one that Dawn knew now. She'd gone through all sorts of grief just trying to admit it to herself recently. Admitting it to someone else was an entirely different trial, though. Once she uttered a reply, it couldn't be taken back so easily. It was a true point of no return.

Dawn slowly raised her head and looked Brock in the eye for the first time since their tense conversation began. She didn't know how he would react. She didn't know what effect it might have on her relationship with her friends or her life in general. Even so, there was only one answer for Dawn, and she gave it. Three letters, two simple words.

"I do."

Having gotten the answer he wanted, Brock seemed to be deep in thought as he glanced up at the crescent moon shining high in the night sky. "Love can be a funny thing sometimes," he said.

Dawn was relieved to see that Brock didn't appear to be upset, but she was still concerned about what the future held. "I never wanted you guys to know. I didn't even want to imagine what you'd think of me if you knew," she told Brock. " that you know, what are you going to do?"



Brock shook his head. "Nobody has the right to tell you who you can or can't love, and that includes me," he said to Dawn. "I won't tell Ash or anyone else if you want to keep it a secret."

"You won't? Really?" Dawn's eyes were starting to tear up once more.

"Of course not. I'm your friend, Dawn," Brock told her. "All I'm worried about is your safety. J has a history of being dangerous, you know? If you trust her then that's fine, but I want you to promise me you'll be careful."

The supportive reaction from Brock made Dawn feel awful for expecting worse from him. She should have known better, she thought. Her friends always had her back from the moment they began traveling with one another. Even now, that hadn't changed.

"Thank you so much, Brock," Dawn smiled, drying her eyes again. "You don't need to worry about me. I'll be careful. Promise."

Pushing himself away from the railing, Brock returned his friend's smile. "That's good enough for me," he said. "I'm heading back to bed. You should do the same."

"I will. Goodnight, Brock."

"'Night, Dawn."

Figuring Dawn needed a minute to herself, Brock closed the door behind him after he went back into the room. He could still hardly believe what he'd learned about Dawn and J, but, as he'd said earlier, love was a funny thing.

Out on the balcony, Dawn took a deep breath and snuggled up in her blanket. "I'm really lucky to have such an understanding friend," she thought to herself. "Right now, I need to put all of my focus on the battle with Zoey tomorrow. Once that's over..."

The young girl peered out toward the sky where J and Salamence had flown off to not long ago.

"We'll figure it out, J. I know we will."

Dawn was able to sleep better that night with the knowledge that Brock not only knew about her relationship with J, but also was accepting of it. Unbeknownst to Dawn, however, was the predicament that a certain Pokemon hunter would find herself in mere hours later.

Within the confines of her base, the last remaining safe haven after her ship had been destroyed, Pokemon Hunter J stood surrounded by a team of police officers and Pokemon Rangers. Whether she was calmly thinking of her best plan of action or just stunned by what was taking place, J stayed remarkably still, running her eyes by each and every being around her.

The Rangers and officers numbered 24 in all. Counting their Pokemon, they were 48-strong. Aside from Officer Jenny with her Arcanine, each of 18 other officers had with them either a Growlithe or a Stunky.

The five Pokemon Rangers in the group, including Solana, were using Pokemon that J recognized as pieces of her inventory that had been stored inside the base. They included a Mothim, an Absol, a Tangrowth, a Weavile, and, most notably, a massive Rhyperior that towered behind Solana and had a particularly ferocious glare turned on J. It was the work of the Rangers' Capture Stylers that had brought the Pokemon under their command. The rest of her inventory, J figured, had probably been set free into the wild or taken under police care to see if they had a previous owner.

"This is the end for you, J," Officer Jenny said, grabbing the silver-haired hunter's attention. "I'll ask you to make this easy on yourself and come with us peacefully. I'm sure you can see there is no way out of this."

The other officers were surprised by just how relaxed J appeared under such pressure. Though it may have been a ploy to rile Jenny up, J looked as though she were ignoring the female officer.

"Hey! Did you hear me?" Jenny addressed J again, this time with more vigor.

Still brushing off the female officer, J turned her head and shot an icy look at her crew's imposter recruit, Solana, who was still wearing the uniform the Pokemon hunter had provided her.

If the experienced Pokemon Ranger was intimidated by J, she certainly wasn't showing it. "I'm sure you've already figured out what happened," Solana addressed her. "You got careless in your recruiting process, J. The rest of your crew is already in custody. You've got no one here to help you."

Even when staring down the one responsible for this invasion of her base, J remained quiet. She was giving the collection of Rangers and officers no help in figuring out what was going through her head right now.

J's silence was starting to get to Officer Jenny, who took out a pair of handcuffs that had been attached to her waist. "I'd suggest you listen to me, J, because I'm only going to give you one chance to surrender without getting physical. You have until the count of five to put both hands behind your back, starting now. One..."

With Jenny about to make her move, the others all readied themselves to back her up if J decided to resist.


J still wasn't budging, nor had she made so much as a peep.


Solana, much like everyone else, was anxious to know what J was planning. They all knew what the notorious woman was capable of. Regardless, they were going to apprehend J at the count of five, even if they had to do it the hard way.


"I understand," J finally spoke, "...I'll surrender." Her action was one that both surprised her captors and left them with a great sense of relief. Some even felt strangely disappointed by it.

Even as they watched J place her hands behind her back, it was still hard for the officers and Rangers to believe. Considering who J was, they were expecting much more resistance. Thankfully for them, it seemed as though J was aware of her limitations being outnumbered as heavily as she was.

"That's a wise decision," Jenny commended the Pokemon hunter's choice. "I'm going to cuff your hands. Hold still."

For Solana, this moment felt surreal. They were really capturing Pokemon Hunter J, one of the most wanted criminals in the entire region of Sinnoh, and they were going to do it without even a fight. It had all come together so easily...too easily. Something didn't feel right.

While Jenny approached J with her cuffs in hand, Solana kept a close eye on the dangerous woman. That was when she saw it. Using her left hand, J was tinkering with something just inside the right sleeve of her coat.

"Jenny, grab her!" Solana shouted.

The warning came too late. J yanked an object out of her sleeve and threw it down against the floor. It exploded into a bright flash of light the instant it hit the ground, temporarily blinding everyone nearby.

"It's a flash bomb!" Jenny yelled, she, much like the rest of her officers, trying to shield her eyes with her arms.

The duration of the flash was very short, and thus J knew she couldn't afford to waste even a millisecond if she wanted to give herself a fighting chance. First and foremost, she needed an escape route. That meant making sure she was no longer surrounded.

Well aware that the Rhyperior behind Solana was blocking much of the space on that side of the corridor, J turned to the side captained by Officer Jenny and launched her body into the air with a backflip. The eyes of J were still closed to avoid the effects of the bomb as she soared over the row of officers and Rangers with a grace comparable to a gymnast and safely cleared all of them. J's heels clacked against the hard floor just as the flash began to dissipate, leaving her precious little time to take advantage of the confusion and execute an attack.

Officer Jenny, Solana and the rest of their team hurried to try to open their eyes again. They couldn't open them completely just yet, but they could see well enough to know that J was no longer trapped between their two squads.

"Where is she?" Jenny quickly began looking around.

From Solana's vantage point, she soon picked up on their target now standing on the other side of the female officer. "There! Behind you!" she pointed.

Having grabbed one of her pokeballs before she touched back down on the ground, J now had her Ariados out in front of her. She was going to see how much she could slow down her pursuers.

"Ariados, String Shot!"

A mass of white thread burst out from Ariados' mouth, bearing down upon Officer Jenny and her comrades. The bug-type Pokemon was almost exclusively used by J for the purpose of incapacitating those who would interfere in her crew's jobs. If the targets were unprepared, the move was always an effective tactic. But as J would find out, Jenny had provided the other officers in this mission with some very useful training. The moment the Pokemon hunter commanded Ariados to use its String Shot, the four officers on Jenny's squad that had Growlithe with them retaliated.

"Growlithe, Flamethrower!" the officers all commanded.

The combined flames of the four Growlithe overwhelmed Ariados' String Shot before the threads could subdue them. J knew at that moment that her plan was a failure. With not only greater force, but also a type advantage, the flames burned through the white threads as if they weren't even there and struck Ariados head-on.

"Ariaa!" Ariados cried, being pushed backward from the attacks.

There was no point in keeping Ariados out there any longer. J needed to put it back into its pokeball and retreat.

"Ariados, ret-!"

Before J got the chance to call back her Pokemon, Officer Jenny's Arcanine, surrounded in a red light, bolted out from the scorching flames and slammed into Ariados with a devastating Flare Blitz attack. The impact sent Ariados's body sailing right into its master.

"Ugh!" J groaned. She hit the floor back-first with Ariados landing on top of her. Both of them would roll over the ground a few times before finally coming to a stop.

Gritting her teeth as she tried to shake off the bump, J glanced up to check on the condition of her Pokemon. Ariados lay face-up on its back, unmoving. After the succession of fire-type attacks it had taken, Ariados was no longer in any condition to battle. The grim reality of J's situation now set in. She was already down to two Pokemon without having decreased the enemy numbers at all.

Officer Jenny was brimming with pride at the quick reactions of her fellow officers, but the time for praising them would have to wait. Right now, there was a criminal that needed to be restrained.

"Arcanine, pin J down so she can't escape!" Jenny called out to her partner.

Arcanine did just as it was asked, closing in swiftly on the fallen Pokemon hunter as Jenny and the others did likewise.

Out of desperation, J grabbed another pokeball from her waist and tossed it out in front of her. "Drapion, use Cross Poison!"

Unlike Ariados, Drapion's primary use was to battle other Pokemon, and it was ready to do just that the moment it appeared. With Arcanine shortening the distance between them, Drapion's claws glowed a bright purple color as it prepared to unleash its Cross Poison attack on the fire-type Pokemon.

Now that J had her second Pokemon protecting her, Jenny made an adjustment to her previous order. "Arcanine, use Fire Fang on Drapion!"

Flames began stirring around inside the mouth of Arcanine in preparation for using Fire Fang, an attack that could only be performed from a very short distance. In order for it to land, Arcanine would first have to break through Drapion's Cross Poison attack.

Both Pokemon readied themselves for contact. Once Arcanine was close enough, Drapion swung its claws in a cross pattern in front of its body, delivering its Cross Poison directly into the charging enemy. Arcanine tried to push through it and use Fire Fang, but the force of the attack was simply too much. Drapion knocked Arcanine back with enough power that Arcanine flipped a full 360 degrees in the air before hitting the floor. Arcanine skidded to a halt on its paws, but then fell to three legs as the fourth one had become numb from Drapion's attack.

"Arcanine, are you okay?" Jenny asked as she and the others approached it.

Having created an opening for herself, J wasn't about to let this opportunity pass. She hurried to her feet and picked up both pokeballs she'd used. "Ariados, Drapion, return!" she yelled. J took off running down the corridor even before her Pokemon were back in their respective pokeballs.

"After her!" Officer Jenny ordered the others. Starting to get the feeling back in its leg, Arcanine led the pursuit of J at the front of the group.

The chase was on as J moved toward the north end of the corridor. The path took a sharp left once it reached the end, which she followed without hesitation.

"Come on! We can't lose sight of her!" Solana urged the group.

Once the officers and Rangers reached the turn, they abruptly came to a complete stop. Arcanine and the others at the front of the pack had found that they were now in a complicated spot.

"Hey, what's going on?" Solana pushed ahead from the back for a better view. As she would see, the path ahead was now littered with small, black objects covered in spikes. "What are those things?"

"I don't know...but it's not worth the risk to find out," Jenny said. "Darn that J. She's clever. Everyone, we've trained for this! Head back and use another path. We'll split up and take her down!"

"Right!" the others replied in unison.

While 20 members of the group ran back to continue pursuit of J, Jenny looked toward Solana and two police officers that remained beside her. "Solana, you know what to do."

Solana nodded her head in acknowledgment. "We'll head back to the control center and use the cameras to find her. I'll let you know her location a.s.a.p."

Elsewhere within the base, J was rushing through the halls as fast as she'd ever run. Getting herself out of the earlier predicament and separating herself from her pursuers was a huge victory. The fact that she was in a dire situation hadn't changed though. She knew the time she'd bought herself was very limited.

"Against numbers like that, I'll need to use Drapion and Salamence sparingly. That means I'll have to take some of them down myself," J thought aloud.

The Pokemon hunter continued down a stretch of corridor and then took a sharp right. Getting closer to the hangar area where her ship was once stored, J passed two doors, one on each side of the hall, before finally sliding to a halt in front of a room on her left. A sign to the side of the door read, "WEAPON STORAGE".

J went for the control panel and punched in the 7-digit code to gain access to the room. Normally, a green light would flash to show that access had been granted and the door would then slide open, but such wasn't the case after the code had been entered this time around. Instead, a red light flashed and twice emitted a beeping noise, indicating that the code had not been accepted.

"What?" J scowled at the device. She entered the code again, but the result was the same. Furious, J slammed her fist into the control panel. "Damn! They changed the access codes!"

The next choice J had to make wasn't a difficult one. She needed some extra artillery and salvaging her base was already a lost cause given that the authorities knew where it was. Tearing it up a little now wouldn't matter one bit.

J took out one of the pokeballs she'd used earlier. "Drapion, break this door down!"

The large, physically imposing Pokemon let out a fierce growl as it appeared for the second time and went to work smashing its claws into the steel door. Drapion was relentless. With every strike, the sound of steel bending resonated throughout the corridors. It wasn't a quick process, but the growing dents in the door showed it was working.

Then J began to hear something else over the racket Drapion was making. It was the sound of heavy footsteps drawing closer, followed by voices.

"It's coming from over here!"


"Tch!" the Pokemon hunter spat. She set her sights on the intersection of another corridor with the one she was presently in. It was roughly 15 feet to the right of the storage area's door. "Drapion, that's enough! We have company."

Drapion complied, turning its attention to the impending threat its master was waiting for. Seconds later, the "company" arrived. Three of Jenny's subordinate officers appeared from out of the other corridor. Two of them, one male and one female, each had a Stunky. The other, another male, had a Growlithe. The instant they laid eyes on Pokemon Hunter J, the three went into battle mode.

"Stunky, use Screech!" both of the Stunky users commanded.

J and Drapion cringed as the piercing sound of the Screech attacks assaulted their ears. This unit of officers clearly had a battle strategy in place before their mission had begun. Ready to do its part, Growlithe charged out from behind the Stunky duo and blazed a path for Drapion.

"Growlithe, Take Down!" the third officer called out.

Just as the Screech attacks dissipated, Growlithe slammed the weight of its body head-first into Drapion's face. The larger Pokemon's head reeled back from the impact.

J, knowing Drapion's toughness, jumped at the chance to counter. "Drapion, Poison Fang!"

Growlithe was still hanging in the air from its own attack when Drapion reached out and snatched it in its claws. When Drapion brought its head back down, there was a purple glow to its fangs. The glow traveled down Drapion's lengthy arms and finally to its claws. Growlithe tried to shake itself free, but to no avail. The blast of energy from the Poison Fang attack sent Growlithe tumbling back to the feet of the officers.

By that time, the two Stunky were already on Drapion. They both landed Slash attacks on the torso of J's preoccupied Pokemon, drawing a growl of pain from it.

While the Stunky backed out of range of Drapion's claws, J prepared another command. "Pin Missile! Now!"

"Smoke Screen!" the Stunky users both shouted.

Drapion's claws glowed a bright white color as the corridor filled with black smoke from the two Stunky. That glow then turned into a barrage of pins that shot out from the claws toward the officers' Pokemon. The pins swarmed through the thick smoke. It wasn't clear what was going on, but an impact followed by a pained shriek were soon heard from within the cloud. One Stunky rolled out the other end of the smoke and collapsed by the officers, unable to go on.

Still untouched, the other Stunky appeared from out of the smoke and closed in on Drapion again. Growlithe, injured but not out yet, joined it a moment later.

"Stunky, use Slash!"

"Growlithe, Take Down! One more time!"

Once J saw the Pokemon leap into the air, she knew she had them beat. "Drapion, grab them!"

With impressive precision, the bug-and-dark-type Pokemon wrapped one claw around the speedy Stunky and the other around Growlithe. The size mismatch played into its favor perfectly.

"Now, Cross Poison!" J commanded.

Drapion tossed both of its opponents into the air as if they were rag dolls. Its claws glowing a bright purple as they had against Arcanine earlier, Drapion unleashed its Cross Poison attack. The X-shaped blast caught both Stunky and Growlithe in midair. As the last of the Smoke Screen faded, the two Pokemon crashed to the floor next to the officers. Just like the other Stunky, their battle was over.

Their Pokemon defeated, the three officers returned them to their pokeballs and stared ahead at J and Drapion.

"We can't let her get away," the female officer said.

"I agree," one of the men chimed in. "Let's go!"

The officers brashly charged forth to apprehend J. The Pokemon hunter wasn't about to waste her own energy on them, though. If they were foolish enough to come at her without Pokemon, she was going to teach them a lesson about using proper judgment.

"Drapion, Pin Missile!"

There was no hint of remorse in either J or Drapion as the large Pokemon unleashed a barrage of pins on the overzealous officers. They were struck hard and repeatedly in their arms and legs, each taking at least two hits to the stomach and chest as well. The officers fell to the floor winded and riddled with pain. J considered knocking them out completely, but she would come to the conclusion that it was pointless. With their injuries, they clearly wouldn't be a threat to her any longer.

"Drapion, back to the door! We need to hurry before others arrive!" J commanded.

The assault on the storage room's door resumed. Drapion continually wailed on the steel showing little sign of weariness from its previous battle. The already bent metal began to split. A small hole soon opened up and was promptly targeted by the Pokemon's claws. Once the hole was wide enough, Drapion placed its claws around the edges and began prying the two sides of the door apart. It opened by a few centimeters. Centimeters became inches. And then, with enough coercion, the door's two sides were forced open completely.

"Well done," J put Drapion back into its pokeball and flipped on the lights in the storage area. The time had come for a little scavenging.

Officer Jenny was rushing through the base's corridors with three of her fellow officers at her side when the faint sounds of a battle reached her ears.

"Sounds like one of the other units found her," a male officer said.

"Sure does. I can't tell where it's coming from, though," another of the men replied.

Jenny said nothing. After hearing the noise, she was concentrating deeply to listen and try to figure out which direction she should head.

*beep beep beep beep! beep beep beep beep!*

Jenny blinked as the communicator on her wrist suddenly began going off, snapping her focus. She raised the device up by her mouth. "This is Jenny. Go ahead."

"Jenny, this is Solana," the Pokemon Ranger addressed her from the control center. "We've spotted J. She's in the weapon storage room near the hangar on the far west side of the base."

That was all Jenny needed to hear. "I'm on my way!" she declared. She closed the connection in a hurry.

Inside the control center, Solana and the two officers with her continued monitoring the location where three other officers were now laid out on the floor. Another camera showed J rummaging through weapons in the room she'd just forced her way into.

"Looks like we're in for a fight," Solana sighed in displeasure. Behind her, the Rhyperior she was temporarily using began snarling at the screen with J on it. Maybe J had stolen it from its owner. Maybe it was wild and she'd taken it from its home. Either way, Solana didn't doubt that Rhyperior had a good reason to dislike the woman. She just hoped it would be able to control its temper if a time came when she needed it for battle.

Back near the hangar, the three officers who had already been defeated were still down on the ground when another unit passed by and spotted them.

"Hey! Are you okay?" one of them called out.

The group of six officers, three with Stunky and three with Growlithe, approached their fallen comrades to check on them.

"Talk to me!" one of the male officers tried helping the female officer that J had battled earlier to sit up. "Hey, what happened? Where is J?"

Still grimacing in pain from the Pin Missile attack, the woman raised her arm and shakily pointed toward the entrance to the storage room. "In there...she's in there."

The male officer looked toward the doorway, as did the others in his unit. They could lie in wait and ambush J when she came out if they so chose. They could also go in after her and fight the Pokemon hunter in close quarters. It looked like a quick decision would need to be made...until J beat them to the punch.

The officers were caught unprepared as J flew through the doorway with a white, plastic sphere the size of a volleyball tucked under one arm. Her eyes locked on her targets, J let go of the object and kicked it in the direction of her pursuers. The sphere now had a sizable dent in it.

"Get down!" one of the officers shouted. He didn't know what the plastic ball would do, but it couldn't be anything good.

J planted her feet against the floor and hastily dove back into the storage area for cover. Then it happened. The white sphere exploded into a mess of pink-colored liquid adhesive that covered nearly everything within 12 feet of the blast. The officers that had just arrived and their Pokemon, as well as the others beaten before, were all covered in the tenacious substance.

Try as they might, the unit could not free themselves. They were pinned to the ground with no way of fighting back.

"I...I can't move!" one of them complained. That was when he saw J, unharmed, leave the storage room again and take off running down the hallway. She had with her another one of the liquid adhesive weapons, as well as a large gun of some sort and who knew what else that couldn't be seen. "J! Come back here!"

Naturally, the Pokemon hunter paid him no mind. On her way out, J tossed a tiny ball of clay-like material at a security camera on the upper part of the wall. The substance stuck itself to the camera's metal case and two seconds later sparks began to fall from the monitoring device. The camera had been fried. One less view for someone in the control center to use to their advantage. J had a gray-colored pack tied around her waist that was full of these handy little projectiles.

She kept running straight to the west, taking out one more camera along the way. The black gun she carried, stretching out a good three feet, was something only her subordinates had ever had a need to use. She looked forward to proving she was as good a shot with it as anyone else, even with no prior practice. Up ahead, this corridor came to an end, splitting into a left path and a right path. J took the right path, which curved around in a U-shape that would take her to the western edge of the main part of the base.

A long stretch of the western wall was made up of three feet of stone on the bottom and then glass from that point on up to the ceiling. The glass offered passersby an overhead view of a long stairwell going downward that eventually led one to the massive and now mostly empty vehicle hangar. That location wasn't where J was going, but it let her know she was getting closer. She just hoped that her pursuers wouldn't figure out where exactly she was headed before she got there.

Another camera on the east wall was downed by the excess voltage from one of J's clay-like blobs. Now she was coming up on an area where a corridor from the east intersected with the one she was in. No need to pay it any mind. J's destination lay at the southern end of the base, straight ahead.

But as J started to run through the intersection, something caught her eye. A beam of black and purple circles came shooting directly at her from out of that corridor to the east. It was a Dark Pulse attack, and J knew which Pokemon had used it. The beam didn't hit J head-on, instead passing right in front of her. The problem was that she couldn't stop. Her momentum from running was too great, and thus she ran right into the side of the beam. The force knocked her back a good ten feet and caused her to lose the grip on her weapons.

J hit the ground hard. Her gun landed against the east wall, out of her reach. The other ball of liquid adhesive she'd brought was still flying backward through the air. It had taken a hit from the Dark Pulse attack, and it was about to become a humongous problem. J could see the indentation on the plastic sphere from where she lay on the ground. She tried to scamper forward, as far away from the object as possible. Then the adhesive bomb exploded.

"Damn it!" J cursed in frustration.

The sticky, pink substance plastered itself all over the floors, the walls, the glass overlooking the stairwell, everything. One large blob of it ended up half attached to the floor, half attached to Pokemon Hunter J's right leg. Pulled back by the adhesive, J fell to her hands and knees. Trying to pry herself free was a waste of time and energy. She knew that. She would have to free herself another way, but for the time being, she was stuck.

"Great job, Weavile!" a male voice was heard saying.

From out of the eastern corridor, two Pokemon Rangers in low-ranking Ranger uniforms emerged. Both of them were male and they looked identical aside from the color of their hair. One of them had short, spiky hair in a light lavender color, while the other had the same 'do with forest green hair. With them were Weavile and Absol, two Pokemon that J had captured previously with the intent to sell. Two Pokemon that undoubtedly would like a little revenge.

"Well, it looks like you won't be running off any more," the boy with lavender hair mocked the trapped Pokemon hunter. "I'm sure you'd like to know the names of your soon-to-be captors. We are the only pair of twins currently serving in the Pokemon Rangers. My name is Logan!"

"And my name is Evan!" the green-haired Ranger followed up. "Pokemon Hunter J, we'll be taking you back to Officer Jenny now. After we thoroughly subdue you, of course. Absol, hold her down!"

"Weavile, you too!" Logan ordered his temporary Pokemon.

J reached for the pokeballs at her belt in a hurry. "Drapion, Poison Sting!"

For the third time tonight, Drapion made its presence felt, spraying purple darts from its mouth at the pair of approaching Pokemon. Weavile and Absol were fast, though. Absol went left and Weavile veered right, both of them avoiding Drapion's attack. They continued to close in on J's Pokemon.



"Night Slash!" the two Rangers called out.

The claws of both Weavile and Absol glowed a dark crimson. Both converged on Drapion at the same time, forming a cross pattern as they delivered their Night Slash attacks to its face. Drapion let out an aggravated howl. It was resistant to dark-type attacks, but taking two at the same time from a pair of strong Pokemon still hurt.

J watched the exchange from well behind where Drapion stood. She would have to divide her attention between the battle and her own troubles. No matter what, she needed to free herself from the adhesive. Otherwise it was game over. She whipped a pocket knife out from her belt, next to where she kept her pokeballs. The red fabric covering her right calf was what the adhesive had a hold of. In that case, the solution was simple: cut the fabric off.

Once she came upon the weapon storage room, Officer Jenny was amazed at the scene before her. Nine of her fellow officers, along with six of their Pokemon, were covered in a gooey, pink substance and struggling to free themselves. The work had J's touch, no doubt.

The three officers that Jenny brought with her immediately tried helping the others out of the adhesive. Jenny herself was more concerned about a certain criminal as she ran up to the nearest downed officer, careful to avoid stepping in the pink blob. "Tell me, where is J? Which way did she go?" she questioned him. The look in her eyes was intense.

With the one hand of his that wasn't pinned down by the adhesive, the male officer pointed west down the corridor in response. "She went all the way to the end and then she turned right. She's armed now, so please be careful!"

Jenny couldn't even look at where the officer was pointing because of the wall impeding her vision and the goo blocking her path. She knew what direction to head in, though, and that was good enough for her.

"You three, stay here and help them out of this gunk," Jenny ordered the officers that had come with her. "Arcanine and I are going after J!"

At the western edge of the base, the 2-on-1 battle involving Weavile, Absol, and Drapion raged on. Logan and Evan, the twin Pokemon Rangers, were intent on keeping the pressure on Pokemon Hunter J.

"Weavile, use Icy Wind!"

"Absol, Razor Wind!"

A blast of wind mixed with sparkling blue snow shot out from the mouth of Weavile, while the sickle-shaped growth on the head of Absol glowed a bright white color. Absol flung a crescent of energy from its head toward Drapion, mixing it in with the Icy Wind attack of its partner.

"Drapion, Cross Poison!" J shouted.

Its claws glowing with a purple hue, Drapion fired the X-shaped poison attack at the incoming offensive. All three attacks collided at the midway point between the two forces, the pressure of the impact causing everyone's hair and clothes to shift slightly. The attacks, however, had canceled each other out.

Away from the battle, J was using her pocket knife to rip into her right pant leg. She cut away at the adhesive-affected fabric as fast as she could without accidentally driving the knife into her skin. While it would have been nice, she didn't need her Drapion to defeat Weavile and Absol right now. She only needed it to stall them until she was free.

In a way, J considered herself lucky that these two Pokemon were the ones Drapion was facing. Half of their moves were either dark-type or psychic-type, which Drapion was resistant to or unaffected by respectively. In particular, Absol's Psycho Cut, its most powerful attack, would be useless.

It was time for J to go back on the offensive. "Now, use Pin Missile!"

"Absol, Double Team!" Pokemon Ranger Evan commanded in response.

Starting to glow white, Absol used Double Team to create eight copies of itself. The row of them was long enough that it stretched from one wall of the corridor to the other.

Drapion couldn't focus on just one, else it would likely miss the real Absol completely. It had no choice but to send the Pin Missile attack at all of them, and so it did. The white pins crashed down on the entire row. The copies that had been hit vanished, while the real Absol staggered backward. It had been hit with two of the pins, a painful endeavor, but was in far better shape than if it had taken them all.

And now, just as its attack had ended, Drapion was nearly face-to-face with the speedy Weavile who had taken advantage of Absol's distraction to close the distance.

Pokemon Ranger Logan beamed with confidence at the successful tactics of he and his brother. "Weavile, Fury Swipes!"

Wielding its claws, Weavile slashed away at Drapion's face repeatedly. J's Pokemon let out an agonized groan, but then, out of anger and irritation, grabbed Weavile between both sets of claws and clamped down on it tightly.

"Good work, Drapion," J commended it. Cutting and cutting away at her pant leg like a mad woman, she had halfway freed herself from the sticky, pink goo. "Now, Poison Fang!"

The purple glow forming in Drapion's mouth began to move down its arms toward its claws and the Pokemon trapped in them, but it was taking too long. Absol was already in position to thwart the attack.

"Absol, Night Slash! Hurry!" Evan yelled.

Leaping into the air, Absol ran its crimson claw against the upper part of Drapion's body. It was plenty effective to get the job done. Drapion's claws loosened enough for Weavile to slip free, and the Poison Fang attack dissipated into nothing.

"Good job!" the green-haired Ranger complimented Absol. The two Rangers' Pokemon backed up to a safe distance, out of range of Drapion's dangerous claws.

J, meanwhile, kept slicing away at the red fabric. "Just a little longer..." she thought.

"Looks like your Drapion is wearing down," Logan taunted the Pokemon hunter. Drapion was, in fact, starting to breathe more heavily. Between the earlier encounters with the police and this one with the Rangers, it had used a lot of attacks, not to mention the opposing blows it had been struck with. It was a good sign for the twin Rangers. If they kept it up, Drapion would eventually be out of their way. "Weavile, hit it with Dark Pulse!"

"Drapion, Cross Poison!" J ordered her tiring Pokemon, more of a defensive move than anything. She could see the condition it was in, but it would just have to endure, for both of their sakes.

A ball of purple and black circles formed between the hands of Weavile. Drapion's claws glowed a bright purple once more. Then they unleashed the attacks at one another. The beam of dark-colored circles and the X-shaped blast collided. The resulting plume of smoke compromised the vision of everyone.

"You should just give up now, J," Evan suggested through the smoke. The attitudes of he and his brother were going from confident to outright cocky.

That would change in a hurry.

A deafening bang rocked the windows overlooking the stairwell. Then, out of nowhere, a gigantic, gray net made of some sort of metallic substance flew out from the cloud of smoke. The net swept up Weavile, then Absol, and even the Pokemon Rangers, Logan and Evan, themselves. The force of the net threw them to the ground, but not before wrapping around their backs and binding them all together.

Logan cringed as he hit the ground shoulder-first. "Ouch! What the..."

"...heck is this?" Evan finished his brother's thought. He tried untangling himself from the net, but the material it was made of wasn't making it easy. "Where did it come from?"

As the smoke cleared, the brothers saw exactly where the net had come from. Drapion was hunched forward so that it was practically flat against the ground, and far behind it stood Pokemon Hunter J with the black gun she'd brought resting on her shoulder. Part of her right leg was exposed from a hole in her trousers, but it was a miniscule price to pay for being free from the adhesive that had backfired on her before.

J was all business, calm and composed as she took another round for the net gun from the pack on her waist and loaded it into the barrel. "I appreciate the advice, but I'm afraid giving up just doesn't suit me," she mocked the trapped Pokemon Rangers. "And one more thing..."

Logan, Evan, Weavile and Absol all screamed in pain as the net sent a wave of electric voltage coursing through their bodies. It lasted for five agonizing seconds. By the time it was over, both Rangers and both Pokemon had passed out from the trauma.

"You're not even in my league, brats," J spat at them. "Capture me? Don't make me laugh."

It had taken some of her precious ammunition and much of Drapion's energy, but J had won this battle. Now she took a moment to assess her situation. She'd taken out the camera for this particular area earlier, so nobody in the control center would know where exactly she was right now. And, for the time being, the path to the south was clear. Perhaps this time she could head that way without interruption.

Fumbling with a pokeball she held, J began to stroll toward Drapion. She would put her Pokemon away again until the next sign of trouble, but not before assessing its current condition. "Drapion, how a-"

At that moment, J was cut off as a red blur shot out from the corridor to the east. An Arcanine, using Flare Blitz and aiming right for Drapion. There wasn't any time to react. Even Drapion hadn't seen it coming. Arcanine crashed the full weight of itself right into the large Pokemon's upper body segments. Jarred by the attack, Drapion fell back into the glass on the upper part of the western wall. The glass panel shattered, showering Drapion, the floor and the stairwell on the other side of the wall with fragments of the sharp material.

J couldn't remember the last time she'd seen her Drapion knocked down like that. Arcanine was hurt by the impact of its own move as well, but its foe had clearly taken the worst of it.

"Arcanine, you take care of Drapion!" the voice of Arcanine's owner called out to it.

Of course, J already knew who it was. Only one of her pursuers had an Arcanine with them, after all. Watching the woman run out of the corridor, right past the two Pokemon, and plant herself directly in the Pokemon hunter's path only confirmed the obvious. Officer Jenny, hands balled up into fists in anticipation of a battle, would be J's next obstacle to overcome.

Behind them, Drapion, still shaking off the rough shot it had just taken, willed itself back into an upright position. Despite how much energy it had expended in prior battles, Drapion wanted a piece of Arcanine in the worst way.

"Drapion," J addressed her Pokemon from afar, "...I'll leave Arcanine to you. Do whatever you like."

The Ogre Scorp Pokemon couldn't have been happier to hear that. It unleashed a Poison Sting attack, sending Arcanine into a backpedal down the eastern corridor to avoid the purple darts. Drapion gave chase, and the two soon vanished from the sight of their owners.

Only two conscious beings were left in the battle-stricken corridor: Officer Jenny and Pokemon Hunter J. The face of good and the face of evil. The two women locked eyes, neither budging an inch. There was an incredible tension in the air. They were in their own zone, even tuning out the sounds of their Pokemon battling behind the cover of the eastern wall.

J was the first to move. She discarded her net gun, letting it fall to the floor. To most anyone else, it would appear to have been a foolish act. Not to Jenny, though. She knew why J had done it. She knew what the gun did, and she knew that she was quick enough to dodge the net at this distance. J knew that, too. She knew it all too well.

*beep beep beep beep! beep beep beep beep!*

Jenny's communicator began to sound off again. Not taking her eyes off of J, she slowly raised her wrist up by her mouth and activated the device. "Go ahead."

"Jenny, it's Solana. J has taken out some of the security cameras and we can't locate her," Solana explained the situation. "I was told you went after her toward the hangar. Have you found her?"

The seasoned officer hesitated to reply, still locked in a stare down with J. Then she gave the Pokemon Ranger an answer that made J raise an eyebrow. "No, she isn't here," Jenny responded with a blatant lie. "I think she might be headed back your way. Have the remaining forces gather over there."

"Understood. I'll keep an eye out for her," Solana acknowledged the order.

Officer Jenny switched off her wrist communicator.

Across from her, a knowing smile played on the lips of the notorious Pokemon Hunter J. "My, how the righteous have fallen."

End of Chapter 9