After concluding her journey with Ash and Brock, Dawn returns home and has to decide which of her Pokémon to take with her on her journey to become a Top Coordinator. The morning after, Johanna goes to Dawn's bed and tries to wake her up, only to find that Dawn had already woken up. Johanna goes outside to check if Dawn is there, and sees that Dawn is practicing with Cyndaquil. Cyndaquil uses a Swift and Flame Wheel combination which impresses Johanna. Piplup tells Cyndaquil that he does a better job, and they start fighting each other. Dawn had to step in and break it up. Johanna suggests to Dawn that have a practice Contest Battle. Glameow and Umbreon begin the battle by doing a Swift and Shadow Ball combination, while Piplup and Cyndaquil respond with a Swift and Bubble Beam combination. Johanna is very impressed by their combination. Glameow uses Fake Out on Piplup to make him flinch. Johanna lets Dawn know that she is impressed by their combinations that they worked hard on. Cyndaquil and Piplup show off a new Contest move that they have been working on. Piplup uses Whirlpool while Cyndaquil uses Flame Wheel which create a cool shiny rotating ball effect. The move does not work properly when they try to open it up to create a sparkling effect, and the Pokémon fall to the ground. Piplup and Cyndaquil blame each other and once again begin fighting, leading Dawn and Johanna to decide to call the battle off.
Dawn explains to her mother that they have been practicing hard, but now feels she should start another journey. Johanna tells Dawn that, although she will obviously miss her daughter, it was probably a good idea to start travelling and learning on the road again. Dawn tells her mother that she has already decided on her next destination: the Hoenn region, the birthplace of Pokémon Contests, as well as the home region of Contest Master Wallace. However Dawn is torn over another important issue; although she had originally decided to begin a fresh start in Hoenn and take only Piplup, she feels through training with her other Pokémon that she still needs to bring out their full strength, so doesn't know who to take and who to leave with Professor Rowan. Izzy and Cara arrive and ask Dawn how she has been doing since it had been a long time since they've seen each other. They both hand Dawn some vegetables to take with her on her journey.
Back at home, Dawn notices that her bag is moving and Cyndaquil pops out indicating that it wants to go with Dawn on her journey. Dawn admits to her mom that she is still undecided, and her mom suggests that she go see Professor Rowan and ask him for advice. On her way to the Pokémon lab, Cyndaquil and Piplup continue fighting and Dawn tells them that they must stop. Meanwhile, at the lab Professor Rowan and his assistants are doing a health check on a Shuckle, Starly, Kricketot, Shinx, Budew, and Cherubi. All of the Pokémon pass the health checks. Dawn arrives and asks Professor Rowan for advice about who to take with her on her journey to the Hoenn region. Professor Rowan tells her that there is a young lady that is having trouble making a decision of her own with which starter Pokémon to choose.
Meanwhile, in another part of the lab, Shinko is writing down notes about each of the three starter Pokémon. All three starter Pokémon are flattered by her comments. Chimchar attacks Piplup with Ember and Piplup fights back with Bubble Beam which misses and breaks a window. Piplup and Chimchar both escape through the window, Turtwig stays in the room, and Shinko freaks out about the situation. Everyone hears her screams and rushes inside to see what the problem is. Shinko explains what happened, and Dawn calms her down and says she will go find the Pokémon. Shinko asks Dawn if she could go with her so she could take down notes and Dawn says yes. While trying to find Piplup and Chimchar, Shinko tells Dawn that she is a big fan of hers and has seen her Contests. Dawn gives her some tips about how to approach Pokémon that ran away and are scared. Dawn and Shinko see Chimchar in the trees, and before they can go after it, the other Piplup jumps in front of them and attacks Chimchar. Piplup and Chimchar run off and by the time Dawn and Shinko reach them, they see that they are caught in a web spun by an Ariados. Dawn scans the Ariados with her Pokédex. Cyndaquil uses Flame Wheel to break the spider web and set them free. Piplup gets a bump on its head from the fall and looks displeased about it instead of grateful for being rescued.
More Ariados appear in a large group on a large spider web connecting with the trees. Ariados begin attacking everyone with Poison Sting. Dawn brings out her Buneary, Togekiss, Pachirisu, and Mamoswine to attack the Ariados together. After all of their attacks hit, the Ariados are knocked down to the ground. Everyone thinks that they are out of danger but all of a sudden a Psychic stops them in their tracks. They notice that there is a Shiny Ariados hiding in the trees that is using the attack. The other Ariados use String Shot to tie everybody up. The Ariados move in but Cyndaquil breaks its threads and evolves into Quilava. Dawn scans Quilava with her Pokédex. The Shiny Ariados hits Quilava with its Psychic and Quilava is barely able to move. Quilava uses Swift to break everyone's threads but the Shiny Ariados again ties it up with String Shot. Quilava uses Eruption to break through the threads and attack all of the Ariados, sending them flying. Professor Rowan arrives to make sure everybody is okay and they head back to the lab.
At the lab, Shinko tells Dawn and Professor Rowan that she has decided to study the starter Pokémon some more before making her decision on which Pokémon to choose. Dawn tells Professor Rowan that she has decided to bring all of her Pokémon with her on her journey to the Hoenn region to allow her to bring out their full power and form stronger bonds with all of them. Dawn boards a boat and waves good-bye to everyone as she heads off to the Hoenn region and new adventures.