The four Sableye hissed softly as they walked across a stone path, their diamond-like eyes scanning everything carefully as they searched for Grovyle. Their clawed feet clicked softly as they walked across the stone, the stone showing the path that led to the innermost part of the forest. The stone spread out into a circular shape at the end of the path, marking the location of the deepest part of the forest.

One of the Sableye looked to his right at the leader and asked, "Do you think Grovyle got out of the forest already?"

The leader replied, "Not likely. His scent and that other scent went this way. If Grovyle and whoever he's with came this deep into the forest, there's no chance they could've gotten away just yet."

One of the other Sableye came up along the leader's right and suggested, "What if they used an Orb to get out?"

The leader thought for a moment before saying, "Possible, but with as dark as this forest is, we should've been able to see them use it, even from a distance. They're here somewhere, and we're not leaving until we know Grovyle is gone. Now spread out and search!" At his command, the Sableye dispersed, the leader continuing forward while the other three moved off to the sides.

As he approached two trees along the sides of the path, the leader spotted something moving past them and quickly said, "Hold it right there!"

Moving closer, the Sableye recognized the moving object as a human, the human that Grovyle had seemingly befriended. The human was down on his knees between two stones that stood in front of a small pond, looking down at the water as he moved his hands through it, his shirt sleeves rolled up past his elbows. His backpack and shoes were off to the right (though the Sableye couldn't see them since they were behind one of the stones), and he wasn't wearing his jacket or any socks. The human looked back over his right shoulder as the Sableye came closer and said, "Oh, hello, uh, Sableye. I, uh, didn't hear you coming." He looked back at the pond in front of him.

The leader Sableye quickly hopped up on the stone to the human's right and looked at him carefully. Looking at the human carefully, he smirked, "You're that human that was brought to Master Dusknoir and escaped! That was some time ago…" He then leaned closer and demanded, "Where's Grovyle?!"

The human was a bit surprised that the Sableye recognized him, but part of him had a feeling Dusknoir wouldn't forget him easily. He shook his head, "I don't know. We went our separate ways after that whole chase thing. I haven't seen him since."

The Sableye raised an eye at the human's response and then glanced down at the water and the way the human's hands were close to the surface, the human following his gaze. The Sableye sniffed the air for a moment before pointing down at the water with his right claw, "What's in there?"

The human lifted a white sock up out of the water with his right hand and held it up in front of the Sableye, "Laundry. This is where I come to do it." He smirked slightly as the Sableye recoiled, gasping and placing his claws over his nose area while the human threw the sock atop the stone on his left.

The Sableye hopped down from the stone, still holding his breath as he walked away and muttered, "You humans are gross." He didn't get far when he heard the sound of coughing and sputtering and whirled around to look at the human, the boy quickly pushing something under the water in front of him and looking back over his shoulder at the Sableye, grinning nervously.

The Sableye leader eyed him suspiciously for a moment before one of the other Sableye called behind him, "Ah, we can't find any trace of Grovyle or whoever he was moving with. What do we do now?"

The leader glanced back at him and the other two Sableye for a second before looking back at the human. He then walked over to the stone next to the human and hopped up on it again, looking at the boy's face intently. After a moment, he said, "I'll tell you what, human. I see no reason for Master Dusknoir to know about our little encounter here, so I'll keep quiet about it… for now. But you'd better not step out of line, or your 'laundry' won't be the only thing hanging out to dry." Snickering a bit, he jumped down from the stone and walked back towards his fellow Sableye, saying, "Let's go. We're leaving." Although confused, the other Sableye followed his lead, beginning to make their way out of the forest. As they quickly went back the way they came, the leader thought, "Master Dusknoir will definitely want to hear about this…"

Back in the clearing, the human remained still until he was certain that the Sableye had left, at which point his hands went beneath the water, grabbing something and pulling it up. The object was revealed to be Grovyle, the Wood Gecko Pokémon coughing and sputtering almost as soon as he was above the surface of the water. The human patted him on the back to help him get the water out and said, "They're gone."

Grovyle coughed one last time before looking up at the boy, "Well, that's a relief. I honestly didn't think that would work." He gladly took the human's hand to help him up, the water dripping down onto the grass as he stood up. He then looked up at him, "Thanks." He noticed the faraway look in the human's eyes after a moment and shook him gently, "Hey! Are you all right?"

The human stirred at his shaking, "Huh? What? Oh! Sorry, Grovyle. I, uh, thought I saw something just now."

Grovyle looked confused, "What kind of something?"

The human shook his head, "I don't know. It wasn't clear, but I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before." He raised his left hand to his forehead, "Something similar happened when we started running from those Sableye too, but if felt stronger this time…"

Grovyle looked at him worriedly, "Are you feeling okay?"

The human looked back at him, "I think so…" He reached down into the water and pulled out his jacket and his other sock, shaking them both and twisting them to help get the water out of them. Giving a sigh, he shook his sock before sitting down, starting to pull the sock on before looking at Grovyle and saying, "This sure turned out to be an interesting trip. But I think the Sableye are gone now, so it should be safe to leave."

Grovyle glanced at the stone next to him and grabbed the sock off of it in his left claw, looking down at it for a moment before handing it to the human, who gratefully took it from him. While watching him, Grovyle asked, "What have you been doing since we last saw each other?"

The human looked surprised, stopping in the middle of pulling on his sock. He stammered while slowly resuming what he was doing, "I… I, um…" He trailed off, looking away.

After a moment, Grovyle placed his right claw on the boy's left arm and said, "Listen… If you're uncomfortable about answering me, you don't have to. I just… I was worried about you after you left. It's a relief to me that you're all right." They both sat in silence for a moment, the human realizing he was also relieved to see Grovyle again.

The moment was ruined when a voice called, "Grovyle?! Grovyle! Where are you, buddy?!" Grovyle shot up and turned to look towards where the voice came from while the human stayed on the ground, grabbing his shoes and slipping them on, tying them as fast as he could. After a few moments, a familiar Sandslash appeared, dashing towards them. "Oh, there you are! Thank goodness!" Karnak exclaimed.

Grovyle sighed, relaxing slightly as he grunted, "Karnak. What are you doing here?"

Karnak answered, "We were starting to get worried about you, so I decided to look for you myself. Celebi wanted to come too, but I told her to stay safe. Good thing too; I saw some Sableye go running through the forest earlier. That made me even more worried that something had happened to you." After he finished speaking, the human stood up straight, guessing that it was safe to reveal himself, and began to put his jacket on. Karnak instantly noticed and asked, "What's this? You find another human, Grovyle?"

While glancing back at the boy, the wood gecko replied, "No, this is the same one we escaped with. He just has some new clothes."

Karnak nodded, "Ah, right. Humans don't always wear the same clothes." He waved at the boy, "Hey!"

The human waved back awkwardly, "Uh… hi, uh, Karnak."

Karnak nodded, "I'm glad you're both okay." He then relaxed a bit before turning to Grovyle and asking, "So did you manage to find some food, Grovyle? It's grub time, man!"

Grovyle rubbed the back of his head as he replied, "Actually, those Sableye you saw were probably the same ones that attacked me. They made me drop what I collected and I had to run because they wouldn't give up. I can't remember where I dropped the food…"

Karnak looked disappointed until the human spoke up, "Actually, I've got some extra food in my backpack. If you guys want some, I can share it with you."

Grovyle turned to him, "Are you sure?"

The human nodded, "Yeah. I was actually collecting food myself when you bumped into me, but I should have plenty extra."

Karnak spoke, "If you say so, kid. But, uh, if you don't mind, could we go discuss this somewhere else?" He glanced around as he added, "There's something weird about this part of the forest…"

Grovyle looked back at him, "I can feel something too, Karnak. But where should we go? I don't want to leave him alone again, but I don't want Drake seeing him and getting upset again either." The human flinched slightly at that, remembering the anger the Gabite had directed towards him.

Karnak replied, "I get what you're saying, Grovyle, but I don't think we should leave him behind either, especially if the Sableye start taking an interest in him, and if we don't get back soon, they're going to come looking for us and find out anyway." He shook his head, "Let's just hope whatever Bug Pokémon crawled between Drake's scales gets out soon."

Grovyle considered his words before turning to the human and saying, "Come on. Let's get out of here. Just stay close to me and Karnak, especially when we meet up with the others." The human nodded after a moment and grabbed his backpack, slipping his arms through the straps. He and Grovyle then walked over to Karnak, the Sandslash leading the way back and keeping an eye open for any Sableye stragglers.


Piplup and Chimchar walked across light brown grass, coming to a stop in front of two stone slabs that had fissures running through them. Taking a moment to look up at the sky full of gray clouds above them and then down at the Wonder Map, Chimchar rolled the map back up and put it in the Treasure Bag, turning to Piplup and saying, "This must be the Amp Plains."

Piplup looked at him and nodded, "Yeah." Looking back at the stones in front of them that marked the entrance, he said, "I don't think I've ever been too fond of bullies. I can't believe something like this could happen to Marill and Azurill."

Chimchar nodded, furrowing his brow, "I know. Threatening little kids like those brothers really stinks." Putting on a determined look, he said, "We have to get their Water Float back, Piplup!" The former human nodded and followed behind Chimchar, looking up towards the clouds as he remembered what brought them to this place.

Flashback

Following the Wigglytuff Guild's morning words of encouragement, the apprentices all dispersed to take care of their tasks for the day. Before Piplup and Chimchar could pick a job off of either the Outlaw Notice Board or Job Bulletin Board, they were called by Loudred, who told them they had visitors waiting for them at the front of the guild. Curious, both Chimchar and Piplup climbed the ladders to the guild entrance, wondering who it could be.

Once they got outside, the two young explorers found out it was Marill and Azurill! "Chimchar, Piplup! Hi there!" Azurill exclaimed.

Chimchar smiled, "Oh! Hi there, Marill and Azurill! Are you two the visitors Loudred mentioned?"

Marill nodded, "Yep! We wanted to ask Team Poképals for help."

Piplup asked, "What kind of help?"

Azurill explained, "We need your help finding a Water Float."

Chimchar asked, "Water Float? Isn't that what you two were looking for earlier?"

Marill nodded, "Yep! Someone said one was lying on the beach. We went there looking for it!" He frowned, "But we didn't find it. Instead, we found this." He brought his bouncy tail around to his front, a piece of paper draped over the end of it. It slid off a second later, landing on the ground.

Chimchar and Piplup looked down at it, Chimchar saying, "This scrap of paper? It looks like there's writing on it." He walked over to it and picked it up with his left hand, holding it in front of him. "Let's see… 'The Water Float from the beach is now in our possession. Just try to take it from us! We'll wait in the deepest part of the Amp Plains. But knowing how weak and puny you are, I bet you can't even reach us! Chaw-haw-haw! Can't handle it? Go cry to your big-shot friends! Chaw-haw-haw!'"

Piplup gasped, "What the - ?!"

Chimchar exclaimed, "Hey! This note! It's a… It's a ransom note, isn't it?!"

Piplup looked at Marill and Azurill, "You guys didn't try to go to this Amp Plains place, did you?!"

Chimchar looked at them as well and added, "It sounds like a trap!"

Marill replied, "But the Water Float is very important to us. We really want to get it back. But I can't take Azurill to such a dangerous place."

Azurill looked at Marill as he said, "I said I would go too!"

Marill looked back at him, "It's too much for you. I don't want you getting into any scary scrapes." He then looked back at Piplup and Chimchar and said, "I went to Amp Plains by myself. But many Electric-type Pokémon live there! I'm no match for them." He whimpered, "I tried going many times. But I get knocked out right away… I just c-c-can't stand how weak I am…"

Chimchar perked up, "No problem! I know what to do! We'll go get the Water Float back for you."

Azurill gasped, "Really?!"

Marill added, "You will?!"

Chimchar nodded, "Yeah!" He looked at Piplup, "Right, Piplup?"

Piplup still wasn't used to being put on the spot, but he managed to answer, "Uh, yeah." He looked at Marill and Azurill, "We'll get your Water Float back, so… no more tears!"

Marill exclaimed, "Okay! W-We're sorry to bother you about this. Thank you!"

Chimchar replied, "Don't worry. We'll get it back for you. It's a promise!" He then turned to Piplup and said, "Let's go, Piplup! We're off to Amp Plains!" Piplup nodded in response.

End flashback

Piplup was pulled out of his reminiscing by Chimchar yelling, "Piplup, look out!" The blue penguin faced forward, only to get hit by a Thundershock attack! After being electrocuted and exclaiming in shock, the attack ended and Piplup saw Chimchar attacking the Pokémon that launched the attack: an Elekid. Chimchar attacked the Electric Pokémon with Fury Swipes, managing to scratch it several times before it responded with a Quick Attack. The attack knocked Chimchar back, but he shook most of the damage off thanks to his Defense Scarf. He then used a Flame Wheel attack to send it flying away from the duo.

Chimchar looked at Piplup and asked, "Piplup, are you okay?"

Piplup nodded, "Y-Yeah. What about you, Chimchar?" The Chimp Pokémon nodded, prompting the former human to say, "Sorry about that. I should've been paying attention…"

Chimchar replied, "Don't worry, it's all right. Come on, let's keep going!" Piplup nodded and they started moving again, heading further into Amp Plains.

A short while later, back at Treasure Town

"Ah, I see! That's what happened to your Water Float! What a mean thing to do! So, Team Poképals are on their way there now, yes?" the green Kecleon brother was saying to Marill and Azurill.

Azurill nodded, "Yep!"

Marill added, "They said they would go get it for us!"

The purple Kecleon said, "Good for you! You can rest easy then!"

Marill nodded, "Yep, that's true! They once saved Azurill too. We're so grateful for their help!"

Suddenly, they all heard a voice coming from the direction of the Wigglytuff Guild, "Good day to you all. Is something the matter?" Marill, Azurill, and the Kecleon Brothers turned to see Dusknoir floating towards them, Marill moving to Azurill's side as he got closer.

The green Kecleon said, "Hello, Dusknoir, sir! We're talking about Marill's lost item. Do you remember? We discussed the very same thing here not long ago."

Dusknoir nodded, "Of course. I believe you're referring to the Water Float?" I seem to recall that you heard it was on the beach."

The green Kecleon spoke, "Exactly! Exactly! But now there is more to the story…" Both he and his brother then proceeded to explain what had happened to the Gripper Pokémon.

"I see. That is terrible indeed. It's hard to imagine why anyone would do something so wretched. It must take some pathetic thugs to stoop so low," Dusknoir commented after the Kecleon Brothers were finished speaking.

The green Kecleon angrily nodded, "I couldn't agree more! To be so mean-spirited to children! And to children as young as these brothers! It's utterly unforgivable!"

Dusknoir questioned, "One more thing… Where has Team Poképals gone?"

Marill said, "They went to Amp Plains."

For a moment, Dusknoir looked shocked by that bit of information before turning to Marill and asking, "Pardon? Did you say Amp Plains?" Marill nodded, causing Dusknoir to look off to the side and muttered, "But in Amp Plains, at this time of year… It's the season for…" His eye widened, "No! This is serious! Team Poképals is in grave danger!" This exclamation shocked Marill, Azurill, and the Kecleon Brothers, but before any of them could ask why, Dusknoir said, "I must leave for Amp Plains immediately!" He then turned and floated away at what could be considered a running speed.

"What?! Wait!" the green Kecleon shouted after the Gripper Pokémon, but if Dusknoir heard him he didn't stop.

Soon, near the farthest reaches of the Amp Plains

Chimchar and Piplup were resting for a minute in a secluded, safe part of the plains, taking the chance to recover from all the Pokémon they had encountered. Chimchar didn't appear to be doing too badly, but Piplup, being a Water-type, looked to be the more ravaged of the two. He had a few more scratches and black spots than Chimchar, but his expression, while a bit exhausted, showed that he wasn't ready to give up just yet.

After a few moments, Chimchar looked over at Piplup and asked, "Hey Piplup, you feel okay?"

The Penguin Pokémon nodded, "Yeah." He stood up, "Come on, let's keep going."

Chimchar nodded and stood up, "Okay. We must be pretty deep by now. Let's go cautiously." The duo turned and continued on their way, continuing on through the Amp Plains while keeping an eye out for any sign of the Water Float or whoever had left that note.

As Team Poképals continued onward, somewhere further back, a familiar Riolu and Oshawott were traveling along the same path that Piplup and Chimchar had been on. The Riolu was leading the pair, keeping his eyes peeled for anything of interest. He looked down at the two job requests in his left paw and thought about a plan for completing them both. "So we have a Jumpluff worried about her twin sister who's lost somewhere around here, and a Pikachu that desperately wants to get his paws on a Thunder Stone." He held his right paw close to his mouth, concerned about his next move. "It's going to be hard to try and spot a Thunder Stone while I've got Xaomora with me. Any other HBM and I'd be able to focus on looking for that stone, but she's too inexperienced. I keep on thinking that if I look away from her for too long, she's going to be in danger."

The Riolu sighed as he looked towards the clouds drifting above, "Seriously, why am I so worried about her? Sure, she's a Water-type in an area full of Electric-type Pokémon, but she can redirect any attacks they throw at her right back at them. She's more than capable of…" His thoughts were cut off as something seemingly tugged at his Aura, causing him to stop suddenly.

Xaomora didn't notice Mike's sudden stop and bumped into his backside. She let out a soft cry and backed up a bit. Rubbing her nose a little bit, she looked up at the Riolu and noticed he was standing very still; if it weren't for the fact that his locks were shaking, he could've passed for a statue. "Mike?" she ventured.

The Riolu held his right arm up slightly, "Wait…" He had his eyes closed, focusing and reaching out with his Aura. Suddenly, his eyes opened and he said, "Someone's coming this way!" He looked over to his right and spotted a rock that was big enough for both of them to hide behind. "Quick, hide!" he instructed before dashing over to the rock, the Oshawott following his lead. They both hid behind the rock, pressing their backs up against it and peering out slightly, trying to spot whoever was coming.

They soon caught a glimpse of a large, mostly black Pokémon flying past, moving fast and seemingly looking for someone or something. After it left their sight, the two were silent for a moment before the Oshawott asked, "Is that who you saw? What kind of Pokémon was that?"

Mike looked back at her, his eyes darting to the new black ribbon she had around her neck with the HBM logo printed on it as well as the new Treasure Bag she was carrying, which was the same color as the shell on her torso, and said, "Yeah, I think so. It looked like a Dusknoir. Might've been the same one Carl mentioned running into back on Mt. Horn, I don't know. If so, I wonder what he's doing here, and why he was in such a hurry." He looked back in the direction the Dusknoir had gone and thought for a moment. Eventually he said, "Xaomora."

The Oshawott looked back up at him and asked, "What is it, Mike?"

Mike grabbed the Jumpluff's request with his right paw and turned back to the Oshawott, holding it out to her. "You finish this job and get back to camp. The Pokémon you're looking for shouldn't be far. I'll investigate what that Dusknoir is doing here and finish the other job while I'm at it. Clear?"

Xaomora eagerly snatched the request out of Mike's paw and saluted him, saying "Yes sir!" and running out from behind the rock, heading off to perform her assigned task. Mike stepped out and watched her until she left his sight. Once she was gone, he stepped out onto the path and looked in the direction the Dusknoir had gone. "Carl said that there was something weird about the Dusknoir that he, Bidoof, and Team Poképals ran into. Was he hiding something, or was he just one of those eccentric types? Either way, it's weird to see a Dusknoir in a place like this. I'd better see what he's up to… without him knowing I'm here."

He started running in the direction the Dusknoir had been going, his eyes closed as he used his Aura to see far ahead of him and determine the safe distance from his target.

Soon…

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled as Piplup and Chimchar approached a clearing at what was likely the farthest reaches of the Amp Plains. As they stepped between the rocks into the clearing, another flash of lightning was seen, startling the young explorers. "Whoa! The storms seem really intense at this part of the Amp Plains! It almost looks like lightning could strike here at any second!" Chimchar exclaimed.

As he looked around, Piplup nodded, "Yeah. There aren't a lot of tall objects here that could attract it all. I wonder how much further… huh?" While he was looking around, he spotted something lying in front of the rock wall across from them. It looked like a simple ring with a blue jewel in an indentation on top of it. "Hey, is that it? Is that the Water Float?" he asked while pointing at it.

Chimchar looked and said, "I think so, Piplup. Let's take a closer look." They started to walk forward, but suddenly the whole clearing became a lot darker! "Ah! What's going on?!" Chimchar cried.

An unknown voice demanded, "Why did you come here?! This is our territory!"

Piplup gasped, "Huh?! Who's that?!"

Chimchar pointed at a nearby rock that was taller than the two of them, "Quick, let's get behind that rock, Piplup!" They ran over to the rock and stood behind it, pressing up against it.

There was a brief flash of lightning before the mystery voice spoke, "Hee hee hee. So you think you can hide back there? That's actually kind of cute. All right; we'd actually be grateful if you kept doing that."

Piplup and Chimchar could still hear the voice after that, but it sounded like it was speaking in whispers. "What's going on? What does that mean?" Chimchar quietly wondered.

"Maybe… whoever it is, they're trying to sneak up on us!" Piplup realized.

Chimchar gasped, "What?! So then, if we stay here…" He leapt out from behind the rock, Piplup doing the same a second later, "Who are you?! Show yourself!"

The voice answered, "Ha ha ha! My name is Manectric! And I am the leader of these Electrike!" A sudden flash of lightning forced Chimchar and Piplup to shield their eyes. When they opened them, they found themselves in the middle of a circle, surrounded by Electrike! And standing a short distance away, directly in front of the explorers, was the leader, Manectric! As another bolt of lightning flashed, Manectric said, "Now, prepare to fight!"

A moment later, all the Electrike released a Howl and then leapt up, aiming for Team Poképals. "Look out, Piplup!" Chimchar cried as he dashed to the left, Piplup running to the right towards the rock. While the former human ducked behind the rock to avoid two of the Electrike that came after him with Quick Attack, Chimchar had to fend off one that tried to use Tackle on him with Fury Swipes, the Lightning Pokémon landing on its side after having its face scratched multiple times. A second one quickly followed with a Quick Attack, however, and managed to pin him to the ground, though Chimchar managed to get it off of him with a Flamethrower before it could use another attack.

As Chimchar started to sit up, he heard Manectric growl, "You shouldn't have done that!" He looked to his left to see the Discharge Pokémon dashing towards him, yellow sparks beginning to surround his body. Chimchar yelped and quickly leapt up, surrounding himself in flames as he readied a Flame Wheel. He then shot towards Manectric, meeting the larger Pokémon's Spark attack head-on. The two Pokémon collided, the electricity from Manectric's Spark moving to surround Chimchar's Flame Wheel as they pushed against each other. Manectric's attack soon overpowered Chimchar's, however, and the ball of flames was broken through, Chimchar letting out a yell as he was shocked and knocked back, landing near the rocks surrounding the clearing.

During this, Piplup was using the large rock to try to ward off the five Electrike that were attacking him with slight success. He was able to keep the ones that got around to him at bay with Pound and Hydro Pump attacks, but they weren't giving up easily. When he saw Manectric's attack connect with Chimchar, he gasped and used a Fury Attack to get through the Electrike and ran towards Chimchar as Manectric and the other three Electrike began to close in on him. The Pokémon prepared to get him while he was picking himself up, but Piplup managed to catch Manectric by surprise with a Hydro Pump from the side and broke up the surprised Electrike with another Fury Attack.

Chimchar smiled at Piplup as the former human ran over to him, "Thanks, Piplup!"

Piplup ran to Chimchar's side, the fire monkey currently on his hands and knees, and asked, "Are you okay, Chimchar?"

Chimchar stood up and said, "Uh-huh." They both then heard growling and turned to see Manectric and the Electrike getting up. Manectric lunged at them with a Bite attack, Piplup and Chimchar dashing away together to avoid his fangs, heading for the other side of the Amp Clearing. The Electrike tried to block their way, but they managed to get around them when they tried to attack them. Once they were clear, Chimchar and Piplup stopped and turned around to face the tribe, Chimchar looking at Piplup and saying, "Let's see if we can take care of the Electrike first!" Piplup nodded in agreement.

They turned to look back at the Electrike, all of the Lightning Pokémon coming at them and forcing them to move away from each other again. This time, though, the two Poképals went on the offensive, Piplup using Hydro Pump and Chimchar using Flamethrower on the Electrike that came after them, sending all of them into the rocky wall on the sides of the Water Float. Both Piplup and Chimchar then moved so they were standing side by side again.

They didn't get a chance to catch their breaths, though, before Manectric appeared in front of Piplup and sent him flying back with a sudden Spark attack. Chimchar gasped at this and, as the Discharge Pokémon turned to look at him, he unleashed a Flamethrower at him. Manectric managed to jump to the side and avoid it, but before he could attack again, Chimchar released a Fire Spin from his mouth, catching the Discharge Pokémon up in the fiery vortex. Manectric growled at the feeling of the fire wrapping around him, struggling to break free.

While he was struggling, Piplup sat up and saw Chimchar's attack. He also noticed that, inside the Fire Spin, Manectric seemed to be trying to charge up electricity, seemingly readying another Spark attack. Hoping he could stop Manectric's attack, Piplup quickly stood up and leapt up, his body glowing bluish-white as he raised his arms and beak into the air. He then opened his beak and created a huge whirlpool above himself, using his arms to throw it towards Manectric as the Fire Spin was beginning to run out.

As the Whirlpool passed over the Fire Spin, both Piplup and Chimchar noticed how the fire lifted up off the ground and wrapped around the swirling vortex briefly before it dissipated, Manectric now caught up in the second vortex. The Whirlpool hovered in place for several seconds before it broke apart, Manectric being thrown down and landing hard in the middle of the clearing.

Temporarily forgetting about the situation they were in, Piplup and Chimchar both started thinking about what they had seen Chimchar's Fire Spin do before it stopped, wondering if they could combine the two moves next time for a more powerful attack. They didn't get to wonder long, though, as the Electrike gathered around Manectric as the tribe leader pressed his feet against the ground and raised himself up, electricity beginning to spark around his body again as Piplup moved to Chimchar's side. Manectric let out a growl and demanded, "You… you dare?!"

Chimchar and Piplup gasped, the latter exclaiming, "W-Wait a second! We didn't come here to make claims on your territory! Really!"

Manectric just growled, "Enough! Take this!" He focused the electricity going around him to a single point directly in front of his face, forming a sphere of electricity. He then lunged forward and shot it as a beam towards Team Poképals! Both Piplup and Chimchar shielded themselves, bracing for the hit…

"Stop!"

Chimchar and Piplup opened their eyes and looked up a second later to see Dusknoir floating in front of them, Manectric and his tribe seemingly stunned at his sudden appearance. "Stop this instant! Their words are sincere! They trespass, but they don't intend to make claims on your territory!" the Gripper Pokémon exclaimed.

"D-Dusknoir!" Chimchar gasped.

Manectric and the Electrike backed up a bit, Manectric saying, "You! Who are you?!"

Dusknoir explained, "I am the explorer Dusknoir! Manectric! You have every right to be angry! Especially in light of what your tribe has suffered on these grounds… Your hostility toward any that trespass here is natural! This place is your haven! A place where you find solace! I understand that completely! On behalf of these unwitting trespassers, I offer the sincerest apology! They entered here unbidden, but did so without malice! They mean no harm! We will leave you in peace once our errand is complete! Please, believe me, Manectric!"

Manectric looked at Dusknoir carefully, as if deeply considering his words. "Hmm… You seem to know much about us, Dusknoir. You make the claim… that they mean no harm…" he said after a moment. Nearly a second passed before he continued, "So be it! I choose to believe your words, Dusknoir. I will allow you some time; I expect you to be gone by our return." He turned around and faced the Electrike; after a moment, he said, "Come." He then made a powerful leap up towards the rocks he was facing, leaving the Amp Clearing. The Electrike quickly followed after him.

After they were gone, Chimchar let out a sigh before saying, "Thank you, Dusknoir, sir! You saved us!"

Dusknoir turned around as Piplup added, "Yeah, thanks. But… who were they?"

Dusknoir explained, "A group of Manectric and Electrike. They are a nomadic tribe that always stays on the move. They roam in constant search of places that are hospitable to them. And Amp Plains is often lashed by thunderstorms this time of year. They find it to their liking, so they dwell in Amp Plains this time of year." He then shook his head, "But tragically, they were once attacked by enemies here without warning… And I understand that they suffered terrible injuries." He looked at Team Poképals, "Ever since, Manectric's group has been very sensitive about trespassers here. So if anyone trespassed upon these grounds, well… they would strike first, for fear of being stricken! Somehow, at some point… That became a law among Manectric's group."

Chimchar nodded, "I get it now. That's why they were so intent on attacking and wouldn't listen to us." He then remembered something and said, "Oh! I forgot something! The Water Float was right behind Manectric earlier…" He and Piplup moved around Dusknoir, the Gripper Pokémon following behind them as they walked towards the other side of the clearing. They found the ring in the exact same spot where they had spotted it earlier. "Yeah, it's here! This is it!" Chimchar exclaimed.

Piplup looked back at Dusknoir and asked, "Dusknoir, is it really the…?"

Dusknoir nodded, "There's no mistaking it. Without a doubt, this is a Water Float."

Chimchar cheered, "Yeah, we did it! Let's return it to Marill and his little brother right away!"

While Chimchar picked up the ring, Piplup commented, "I wonder how it got here, though. I mean, seeing as it was on the beach before."

Dusknoir said, "I would imagine it was put here deliberately. Whoever did this knew you would eventually get to this spot. The fact that Manectric protects its territory is well known… Someone expected a confrontation between you and Manectric… You were set up." He then whirled around and demanded, "Wasn't that your intention… you sneaking scoundrels?!"

Chimchar looked back at him, "Huh?"

Dusknoir said, "It's about time that you came out of hiding and showed yourselves!"

A moment of silence passed before a familiar voice laughed, "Chaw-haw-haw! So you knew all along! No point in hiding, then!" At those words, a familiar trio of Pokémon walked out from behind the large rock: a Skuntank, a Zubat, and a Koffing.

Piplup gasped, "What?! Team Skull?!" The three Pokémon just laughed in response.

Chimchar growled, "So you guys did it! But why?"

Koffing smirked, "Whoa-ho-ho! We were going to wait for you to get stomped by Manectric… Then we were going to step in and mop up afterward!"

Zubat chuckled, "Heh-heh! But we didn't count on that guy meddling!"

Dusknoir floated forward, "Shall we settle this?"

Skuntank chuckled, "Chaw-haw! Sure, if it was just Team Poképals. You can bet that we'd rough 'em up good! But against the world-famous Dusknoir…? That's a different story!" As Dusknoir floated closer, Skuntank said, "Let's skedaddle, boys!" Koffing and Zubat nodded in agreement, and all three of them took off as fast as they could go!

Chimchar groaned, "Ugh, those guys are thugs!"

Dusknoir commented, "They're certainly quick when it comes to… skedaddling. I'm afraid our effort would be wasted if we were to give chase now." He turned back to Chimchar and Piplup, the two Pokémon looking up at him as he said, "I think we should deliver the Water Float to the young brothers." Piplup and Chimchar nodded, Dusknoir allowing them to walk past him and floating behind them as they left the Amp Clearing.

Before they left the clearing entirely, Dusknoir stiffened up and quickly turned to look at the large rock that Team Skull had been hiding behind. Chimchar noticed after a moment and turned to look back at him, Piplup stopping when he asked, "Dusknoir, sir? Is something wrong?"

The Gripper Pokémon continued glaring at the rock as he said, "I thought I sensed something just now…" After a few seconds, he relaxed and turned back to Team Poképals, saying, "Perhaps it was nothing. Let's carry on." Piplup and Chimchar turned and continued walking at his words, but even as he followed after them, Dusknoir's eye shifted in the direction of the rock one last time before leaving the clearing.

A few seconds later, a familiar Riolu that had been pressed up and hiding against the side of the rock relaxed, letting out a sigh and breathing normally now that he was in no danger of being caught. "Almost gave myself away… I forgot that, even though my Aura is different from most Riolu, it can still be sensed by others," Mike muttered. He glanced down at his left paw, which clutched two green-colored stones that each had a lightning bolt pattern on them. "I got lucky, finding these two Thunder Stones while tracking Dusknoir. I'm done here; I'd better finish up this request quickly," he said.

Soon, in front of the Kecleon Brothers' Shopping Wares

"Oh, wow! We got our Water Float back!" Azurill exclaimed. He, along with Marill, turned to Team Poképals and said, "Yay! Thank you! Really!"

Marill sniffled, "You saved Azurill way back, and now this! I don't know how we could ever thank you! But really… thank you!"

Chimchar smiled, "Come on! It's okay! If you want to thank anyone, thank the great Dusknoir! Dusknoir saved us too, after all!"

Marill and Azurill turned to the Gripper Pokémon, the former saying, "Thank you very much!"

Azurill nodded, "Thank you, Dusknoir, sir!"

Dusknoir waved his hand, "No trouble at all. I'm very happy for you. It's wonderful that your Water Float has come back to you."

The green Kecleon spoke up, "I must say! It is so like the great Dusknoir to be so modest! And I must say that Team Poképals has also been superb! After all, the team has again completed a difficult job!"

The purple Kecleon nodded, "Indeed! When rescuing Azurill, they were so fast at pinpointing the child's whereabouts! And so fast at reaching our young friend too!"

Piplup rubbed the side of his head as he murmured, "It would be great… if that was really how it happened… But I actually saw it happen in a vision."

Dusknoir heard this and hesitantly asked, "Excuse me? Did you say a vision? What do you mean by that?"

Chimchar looked up at him and said, "Oh yeah! Maybe the great Dusknoir will know what it all means! You see, Piplup occasionally gets strange dizzy spells when touching someone or something. And then he sees or hears events that happened in the past or just about to happen in the future!"

Dusknoir looked shocked, "What?! Well, that's… that's… the Dimensional Scream!"

Piplup and Chimchar were surprised by this. "He knows what it is?!" Piplup thought to himself.

"Whoa! Dusknoir, sir, you really know something about this?! Can you tell us more?!" Chimchar asked.

"I… yes, I can. But perhaps it would be best if you started from the beginning," Dusknoir answered.

Chimchar turned to Piplup and asked, "Is it okay to tell him, Piplup?"

The former human thought for a few seconds before nodding, "Sure."

Chimchar turned back to Dusknoir and asked, "Dusknoir, sir, could you please follow us?" Dusknoir nodded and followed them onto the bridge over the stream, the Kecleon Brothers, Marill, and Azurill watching them leave, curious as to what was going on.

After crossing the bridge, the three Pokémon walked out of Treasure Town and headed down to the beach, Chimchar explaining the circumstances of his and Piplup's meeting all the while. As they were heading down the stairs to the beach, a familiar Riolu appeared at the top of the stairs leading up to the guild and spotted them, specifically Dusknoir. Tucking a Thunder Stone into his bag, Mike ran down the steps and followed them, making sure to run carefully so as not to make a sound. When they got down to the beach, he leapt off the main path onto some small rocks sticking out of the water and hid behind the larger rocks closest to the three Pokémon so he could listen in.

Dusknoir hovered over the spot where Chimchar had found Piplup, the two Poképals standing behind him as he looked down at the sand. After a moment, he spoke, "I see… So you found your friend unconscious right here."

Chimchar nodded, "Yes, right here exactly."

Dusknoir turned around to look at Piplup, "Then you regained consciousness. But you lost your memory."

Piplup nodded sadly, "Right. I don't remember much of anything…"

Chimchar spoke, "But he did remember one thing: he remembered being a human before!"

Dusknoir's eye widened, "I beg your pardon?! A human?!" He looked at Piplup for a moment and then back at Chimchar, saying, "But he looks like any other Piplup I've ever seen!"

Chimchar sighed, "That's true… I guess this is beyond even the great Dusknoir's understanding."

Piplup spoke, "But I know I used to be a human! It's the only thing I know for sure! Somehow, I've forgotten everything else and turned into a Pokémon!"

Dusknoir looked down at Piplup carefully. "A human… with the Dimensional Scream ability…" he murmured. He thought to himself, "That attitude… and that personality…" His stare subtly intensified, "Are you…? Can it be…?"

Chimchar spoke up, "Um, Dusknoir, sir? Is something wrong?"

Dusknoir came out of his thoughts and turned back to Chimchar. He cast a subtle sidelong glance at Piplup before looking at Chimchar and saying, "…No, it's nothing. Just mere speculation about our friend, I'm afraid."

Piplup tilted his head to the side in confusion. "What was that just now? Why was he looking at me like that? And… was he hiding a smile just now? Or did I imagine that…?" he wondered.

Dusknoir spoke, bringing the former human out of his thoughts, "I'm sincerely sorry I can't do more to help you… However… I do know about the ability that Piplup possesses."

Chimchar gasped, "Really?! What is it?!"

Dusknoir explained, "The ability to see the future or the past by touching something… That ability is known as the Dimensional Scream."

Piplup asked, "Dimensional… Scream?"

Dusknoir nodded, "How such an ability is learned, I do not know. But sounds and images slice across the boundaries of time, breaching objects and reaching into Pokémon… To manifest as visions… And that is all I know about the extraordinary ability."

Chimchar murmured, "Wow… So Piplup has an ability as special as the Dimensional Scream…"

Dusknoir spoke, "Well, perhaps this is why we became friends. To help unravel the secret of why Piplup lost his memory and became a Pokémon! I offer you my full cooperation!"

Chimchar asked, "You will?!"

Dusknoir nodded, "Yes. To be perfectly candid… I can't stand knowing that there's something I don't know! Quite honestly, that is the full truth of it! Ha-ha-ha! Hoo-hoo-ha!"

Chimchar laughed, "It's thrilling to know that we have your help, Dusknoir, sir!" He turned to Piplup and asked, "Isn't this great, Piplup?"

Piplup stared back at him for a moment and was about to answer when he thought he saw something move across the water. "Huh?" he asked as he peered around Chimchar, seeing a shadow move across the water a moment later. Looking up, he saw the source. "Hey! Look at all the Pelipper!" he said, Chimchar and Dusknoir turning to look as well.

"There appears to be a lot more in the air than usual," Chimchar noted a second later.

"Could something be the matter?" Dusknoir wondered.

They all heard a familiar voice call, "Hey!" The three of them turned to see Bidoof running towards them. The Plump Mouse Pokémon came to a stop in front of Team Poképals, panting.

"Hello, Bidoof!" Chimchar greeted.

Bidoof panted, "I f-finally… f-found you all…"

Piplup asked, "What's the big hurry? You're all out of breath!"

Bidoof explained, "The call has been put out! All the apprentices are to report to the guild immediately!"

Chimchar exclaimed, "Uh-oh! Something is up!"

Dusknoir spoke, "I will go with you!"

Bidoof turned and ran, saying, "Hurry, everyone!" The three of them then took off across the beach, heading for the Wigglytuff Guild.

Once they were gone, Mike came out from behind the rocks he'd been hiding behind, looking at the path and seeing Team Poképals, Bidoof, and Dusknoir moving away in the distance. He thought to himself, "Carl called it right about Dusknoir. I've seen and heard enough to know when someone is hiding something. That being overly friendly, that suave charm he's oozing…" He glared, "I don't know what he's actually hiding, but there's something he's not telling them."


Whew. I'm glad to have this one done. Personally, I feel that this is my best Pokémon fanfic overall. I'm not saying I dislike my other Pokémon stories; I just think this one is the best in terms of quality.

I'm not really sure what to say right now, so I'll just list off the main things I thought of when writing this chapter.

In case you were wondering, the place where human!Piplup and Grovyle end up is where the Time Gear is located in Treeshroud Forest in the past. That's why Piplup was stunned for a moment in the last chapter and when he was helping Grovyle out of the water here: he was experiencing the Dimensional Scream for the first time.

I admit I kind of burned out while I was writing the battle with the Manectric and Electrike tribe. The main thing I wanted to do during the battle was to have Piplup and Chimchar first start to come up with the Whirlpool-Fire Spin-Energy Ball combo that Team Poképals used against Dusknoir and the Sableye in the "Explorers of Sky" special.

At the end, Mike's final line was originally "I don't know what he's actually hiding, but he's guilty as hell." I ended up changing it because, thinking about it again, it seemed kind of vague. It probably isn't, but it felt that way when I replayed him saying it in my head.

Not sure there's much else worth mentioning. I'm glad to be back, though!

Mike Victor, Karnak, and Xaomora belong to RandomPerson422.