The LipGloss Mastermind

"Rainy Day Recessions"

"...And now for the report that's taking Nomai by storm. The victim from yesterday's Team Rocket attack is still in critical condition, but his doctors believe that he should recover in a few days. In other news, our police force has been shifting through the town non-stop in hopes to find clues as to where those vicious Rocket agents have gone. Despite the rain, our police chief believes his men will find them before they get too far. Be on alert and keep a watchful eye on your children and pokémon. If you see anything suspicious, please dial our hotline..."


Allison swore as she paced around the small room above the Asahi Café. Tony clicked the TV off and glared at her.

"I thought you said you took care of him!"
"I did! He was out cold!"
"Then how come he's still alive?"
"I don't know!"

Allison stopped and thoughtfully looked at Tony, who was standing near the window, looking out at the pouring rain. "No, I do know. Damn it!" She continued her pace around the room, glaring angrily at the dull blue carpet. "It was those kids! They must have left the movie early or something. Didn't they know that after the credits there was a full 15 minutes of behind-the-scene extras?"

"Really?" Brett asked surprised. "How 'bout that. I was wondering how they did that one part--"

"BRETT!" Tony and Allison shouted. Brett instantly raised his hands in front of him in surrender. "Right. Sorry! Angry mode."

Allison stormed up to the bed where Brett sat and growled at him. "Aren't you in the least bit worried?" Brett looked up at her and slowly shook his head, as if she had asked some absurd question.

"No, not really. I mean, what's the big deal? So the punk survived your evil mascara--"
"Whatever. Point is, WE have his pokémon and as soon as the police and storm lighten up, WE can make our getaway."
"But the Executives said..."

"The Executives said to send a message. And that message has been sent, whether the guy died or not. All we can do now is escape without a hitch and report back to them." Tony said, looking back out into the rain.

Allison sighed and sat next to Brett, leaning her head on his shoulder.
"What's the point? This town is so small, those police freaks will find us by noon." Brett wrapped his arm around her.

"Aw, come on. They can't catch us that quickly. Besides, there are plenty of young, happening people like ourselves in this town with names like ours. And, those police freaks will be looking for two greasy guys and a blonde chick. We're practically home free!"

Brett encouraged, pulling at Allison's blonde wig, letting a few black strands fall around her face. Allison smiled and looked at the pile of pokéballs sprawled out in front of Brett.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. The police are searching this side of town right now, but by this afternoon they should be over on the other side. That's when we'll make our escape."

"Alright then, sounds like a plan. Now if you don't mind, I have to wash this gallon of oil out of my hair. Ugh." Brett rolled off the side of the bed and walked towards the bathroom, but then stopped and looked at the door.

"Someone coming?" Allison whispered. Tony turned around and looked at Brett, but he stood still watching the door. Five seconds later someone knocked on the door. Three light taps followed by two more. Brett glanced at Allison and Tony before tentatively walking to the door and opening it about an inch wide.

"S'alright. Only me."

Brett opened the door wider and in came the Café's bartender.
"Sheesh, Matt, you gave us quite a scare." Allison said, standing up. Matt looked at her and grinned, but soon after catching a warning glance from Brett, he quickly moved on to business.

"Yeah, sorry 'bout that. I brought some more ice for Tony. Here man, hope it helps." Matt tossed the bag of ice to Tony, who caught it with his good hand and placed it over his other one.

"So, what's going on down there?" Allison asked.
"Well, the police left 10 minutes ago. They've been asking me all these questions like when y'all came in, if I heard y'all mentioning anything suspicious, stuff like that."
"What'd you say?" Tony asked, stepping closer to the small group.
"Nothin' much. Said you guys came in a short while before the kids did, and were pretty quiet. Although, I did say you mentioned something about Claire's house near the theater."

"Who's Claire?" Brett asked.
"My ex-girlfriend. She lives near the theater on the other side of town. Bein' a real bitch to me, so I thought I'd spread the joy her way." Matt smirked at this, but the Rockets remained emotionless.
"Do you think you convinced the cops to look elsewhere?" Allison asked in a serious tone of voice.
"Yeah, I'd say so. There's still a couple officers in this area, but I don't think they'll stay much longer if you guys keep under the radar."
"Alright. Thanks Matt, we owe you."

{ * * * }

Ash and Misty were sitting on a bench outside of Brock's room in the hospital. Togepi and Pikachu sat between them, Togepi asleep and Pikachu hanging over the edge, gazing aimlessly at the floor. They had to wait until the doctors were done with their check-up before they could see Brock.

"How long has it been already?" Misty sighed as she leaned her head back against the wall. "We've been waiting here all morning, it seems."

Ash shrugged silently and folded his arms against his chest. "At least we don't have to answer any more questions. Those police officers were making me feel like such an idiot."
"Yeah. How were we suppose to know that Allison was really a Team Rocket member?"

Misty suddenly fell silent after saying that, almost as if she felt guilty for not speaking her suspicions about Allison sooner. After a few minutes of awkward silence Ash spoke up, watching Pikachu as he drifted to sleep.

"Do you think he'll be okay?"

Misty didn't answer right away. She glanced up at the clock on the wall directly across from where they sat. They had entered the hospital almost five hours ago.

"I hope so."

Fifteen more minutes of silence ensued before the majority of doctors in Brock's room walked out into the hall. Upon seeing them Misty and Ash jumped up, startling Pikachu so much that he fell off the bench.

"Doctor Katro, how is Brock? Will he be all right? Can we see him?" Misty asked worriedly. The doctor that Misty spoke to glanced at the other doctors before looking at her and nodding.

"He needs a lot of rest, but I suppose you two can visit him for a short while. Seeing familiar faces might help him recover faster, but don't stay too long. He needs to gain his strength back."

With that the group of doctors walked down the hall and went their separate ways. Ash and Misty gathered their pokémon into their arms and quietly entered Brock's room.

It was somewhat dark inside his room, only two lamps provided most of the light, one by the door and the other on a table next to Brock's bed. Brock had a tube half-filled with golden liquid going into the under-side of his wrist, and a few patches with wires stuck to his neck and chest. The only sound in the room came from the heart monitor, which gave off a steady beeping.

As Ash and Misty neared the bed, it appeared that Brock was sleeping. When they reached his bedside though, Brock slowly tilted his head towards them and tried to smile.

"Hi guys."

Misty blinked back the tears and smiled back. "Hi there. How are you feeling?"

"I've been better, but I also could've been a lot worse. The doctors told me what happened; how close I was to... Well, you know. You two saved my life."

"Anytime, Brock. I just wish we got there sooner." Ash sighed.
"Yeah. We shouldn't have left to see that movie." Misty sighed too, looking to the side.

"But it was a trap. Even if you didn't see the movie, Al.." Brock struggled to say the name, but his mouth formed a hateful frown and refused to open, so he skipped over it. "She would have found some other way to get us away from you."

"What?!" Ash and Misty exclaimed, looking at Brock.

"Everything...was set-up. From the pokemon battle yesterday to the scene in the café, to even the fight with Tony."
"Wait, what fight with Tony?"

Brock told his friends about the events that happened after Ash and Misty left for the movie, but left out the part where he and Allison made out, frankly because that's his business not theirs. After he repeated what Allison told him before she left, Misty and Ash were stunned.

"I-I can't believe this. Everything was...? Ugh, and we walked right into it." Misty said, holding Togepi tighter.
"We won't let them get away with this. We have to find them." Ash said turning toward Misty, who nodded.
"Brock, try to get some rest. We'll go and see what we can find out."

{ * * * }

When Ash and Misty left the hospital, the rain was still coming down abundantly and there were two police officers on every corner that regarded them with suspicion as they walked by. The streets were slightly flooded so when a car drove by they had to jump back so the splash wouldn't spray them. Not that it really mattered though, without an umbrella they were already soaked from the rain.

Huddling under a low overhang in front of a food store a few blocks west of the hospital, they contemplated on what they should do.

"Maybe we should talk to Nurse Joy, she might know something about Allison and them. If everything was a setup, then they must have been in this town for a while. And after that battle we had, they would need their pokémon to be healed just as much as ours." Misty suggested.

"But what about that bartender guy from the café? Remember the milkshakes? Kinda strange how the only milkshake flavor he had in stock was the one Brock was allergic to."

"Yeah... Like they were testing a theory or something. So maybe he's in on it?"

"Pii ka?"

Ash and Misty paused and looked down at Pikachu, who was sniffing the dry ground curiously.

"What is it Pikachu?" Ash said, bending down next to the yellow rodent. He looked up at him and then sniffed the ground again.

"Pii pika pi kaa chu."

"Was Allison here, Pikachu? Did you catch her scent? Or one of the guys with her?" Ash asked. Pikachu nodded.

Ash stood up and faced Misty. In silent agreement they both nodded and entered the food shop. The freezing air conditioning that greeted them made Misty sneeze at once, which gathered the attention of the elderly cashier, the only person in the store.

"Hello there, can I help you with anything?" He rasped.

"Yeah, hopefully." Ash said as they made their way over to the counter. "We were wondering if someone we knew shopped here recently. She may have been with her two friends, both guys."

"She was a bit taller than me, and had blonde hair to her shoulders. Her two friends were a bit taller than she was, I think, and they both had dark hair. Oh, and they were a couple years older than us." Misty added.

The cashier looked at them thoughtfully, but slowly shook his head. "I'm sorry, but I don't think... oh wait, are you talking about those Rockets that were on the news?"

Ash and Misty nodded eagerly. "Were they here? Please, we need to know!"

The old man scrutinized their expressions for a few moments. He sighed heavily and reached below the counter, bringing out a small iron box. He set it on the counter and looked at the two kids before him.

"I didn't want to say anything because my poor shop hasn't been doing well these past few years, and the last thing I need is bad publicity. If the locals find out that those terrible Rockets shop here, it'll surely put me out of business. So I'll tell you want you want to know as long as you promise that what's said here, stays here. Got that?"

Ash and Misty nodded their heads solemnly. The old man continued.

"Those Rockets started showing up in my shop a few weeks ago. They'd buy some food and whatnot, but they always asked a question before they left. Said they were tourists, so it explained why they kept asking about the town, like where the movie theater was or how far it was from the Pokémon Center."

Ash and Misty exchanged glances at that remark and the cashier noticed it.

"You two... you're the friends of that poor guy that got caught up with those Rockets, aren't you? The guy that got put in the hospital because of them."

"That's why we need you to tell us everything you know about Allison so we can find her. Please, you've got to help us. For our friend." Ash pleaded with wet eyes.

The old man nodded and looked down at the box. Ash and Misty followed his gaze.

"The last time they visited was a few days ago. I had my suspicions about them, but when one of the guys dropped this, that's when I knew they were Rockets. It makes perfect sense though; and it explains the small red "R" that was on the sleeves of all their shirts."

"That's right... didn't Tony have one on his sleeve from the café?" Misty asked, looking at Ash.

"Yeah, he did. I'm so use to seeing the "R" on the front of their shirts like with Jessie and James, I didn't even notice it." Ash shook his head. "Ugh, so stupid! But... what did he drop? What's in the box?"

The old man slowly opened it and turned it around so Ash and Misty could see inside.
"I believe this will help you find them."

{ * * * }

It was growing late into the rainy afternoon and Allison, Tony, and Brett were still trapped in the room above the Asahi Café with police officers still patrolling the area. Allison took a quick glance out the main window just in time to see a cop looking up at a window not far from hers. She closed the curtains and walked up to her teammates, who were playing poker on the floor, using Pringles for betting.

"I'll see your four Originals and raise you two BBQs."
"Oh really? Well I'll see your two BBQs and raise you three Sour Cream and Onions." Brett said, grinning.
"Ha! You're so bluffing. No way you can back up three Sour Cream and Onions."

"Guys!" Allison shouted, "Get serious! We should have been long gone by now. Aren't you worried about the cops finding us? They're way too close!"

Brett sighed and pulled her down to the floor next to him. "Ally, you have GOT to relax. The cops are still here because the crime scene is down the street. They'll let up eventually so 'till then we've just gotta wait them out." He gave her an encouraging smile. "Now come on, join the game. I'll even share my chips with you. I'm filthy rich, y'know."

Brett grinned as he layed down his hand; a royal flush. Tony cursed under his breath as Brett claimed his crunchy jackpot.

"If only it were real, B." Allison sighed as he split his winnings with her. He looked up at her sadly but then quickly grinned. "Hey, one day, right?" She looked back at him and returned his grin. "Damn straight. Now you boys better watch your chips 'cause I'm one with Lady Luck." She said as she shuffled the cards and dealt them.

Down stairs in a small room behind the pantry, Matt sat anxiously watching a small television. Because of all the police officers and Rocket fears, his café was as empty as a ghost town. Figuring that he'd get no further customers that day, he closed the restaurant and retreated to his small workroom where he's been waiting for the opportune moment. And finally, after almost a full day of watching the same news be reported hour after hour, what he's been waiting for has finally come.

A reward for any information that concerned the Rockets, and an even bigger reward for leading the police to where the Rockets were hiding. Matt wore a toothy grin as he watched the reward's numbers dance across the screen. He glanced at the phone on his desk, but then weighed his options. He was the only person who knew exactly where they were hiding, so if he waited a while, the reward money would increase. But if he waited too long, the Rockets might escape and he'd get no reward at all.

Matt glanced from the tv to the phone and chewed one of his fingernails thoughtfully. Somewhere deep inside, he felt guilt for wanting to betray his friends. He's known them for a while now, and they even helped land him his current job. Although... Tony did say they owed him...

Matt took one final look at the reward money that was still being displayed on the screen and stood up, smirking at his plan. "Two birds with one stone..." He mumbled as he walked out of the room.

Allison wasn't joking when she said she was one with Lady Luck -- she had won every game since she joined, although she pretended not to notice when Brett stole one of her chips so he could keep playing. Tony was about to accuse her of stacking the deck when someone lightly knocked on the door. All three of them stopped cold and watched the door, then stood up when the door was knocked two more times.

Tony opened the door and in came Matt, smiling.

"Hey man, what's going on? Are the cops back?" Tony asked.
"Nah, but uh, they're givin' a reward now. A pretty big one..." Matt said, watching their expressions.

Tony was the first to react, narrowing his eyes at the bartender. "Don't you even THINK about cashing us in. What about all those times we helped you?"
"I know, I know. But you guys owe me for giving you a place to crash, remember? You owe me." He said looking in Allison's direction. She took a half step back and glared at him.
"You bastard, do you seriously think you can get away with blackmailing us? Whatever is in that sick mind of yours, forget it. 'Cause it ain't gonna happen."

Matt smirked at her response like he was expecting it, and pulled out a cell phone from his pocket.

"You see, I've got that reward hotline on my speed dial. So, if you don't comply, y'all can kiss your freedom goodbye." He moved his thumb over one of the buttons and looked back up at her.

"You know what, I think we've overstayed our welcome." Brett said. Matt turned to face him but was met with a fist crashing into his nose. He fell backwards onto the floor and scrambled for his phone, but Brett ripped it out of his hand and punched him a few more times until he stopped struggling.

Standing up, he straightened his shirt and nodded at Allison and Tony. "Let's get the hell out of here."

Grabbing their stuff they walked out the door as Matt helplessly watched them, although Allison returned a few moments later to kick him in the side and grab the Pringles and cards that were still on the floor.

{ * * * }

A single pokéball sat on the small desk beside his bed. In the dim lamplight the round edges glowed and twinkled as if calling out to him, begging to be opened. Brock tried to ignore the metallic ball's plea, but he often found himself just staring at it, slowly realizing that it contained the only pokémon he had left, despite how much he tried to deny it. On more than one occasion he had picked it up and almost opened it, but then would shake his head and set it back down on the desk. If he opened it, he would know which one was left and which ones were gone. But as long as he didn't open it, it could still be any of them so in a sense it was like all of them were still there.

...But he'd have to open it eventually. Brock glanced at the pokéball again, his hand twitching slightly. He swept his eyes back to the door on the other side of the room, but they slowly returned to the ball, the button on the front staring at him like an unblinking eye.

"Fine, fine." He thought, surrendering to the pokéball's will. He picked it up and aimed it at the floor next to his bed. "Come on out..." He said as glowing red energy erupted from the ball and formed into a solid shape. "Hi there." Brock said, smiling sadly.

~{ * * * }~

Click here to go to part four.

Written by Jade Smith
January 2004