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I’m just your average 21-year-old She-nerd. I go to work, I come home, and I play my video games to relax. But of all the games I’ve played, my favorite is Pokémon Crystal version. Or at least it was. My original Crystal has long since died, the battery drained over the years while I played the newer games in the series.

As such, a few months ago, I got the itch to play through Johto again. Now, I have Soul Silver, and it’s a wonderful game. It does its Namesake justice, but even so, it just doesn’t hold the sense of nostalgia that Crystal does for me. So I decided to look for a used copy at Amazon (I don’t trust eBay).

Crystal, being such a famous and well-loved game, is usually really expensive these days, even used. Knowing this, the fact that I managed to find one for about $10 should have tipped me off that this game wasn’t what it appeared to be. But as it was, I just figured at worst the battery would be drained. No big deal, while I had thrown away my old cartridge before I’d known this, it’s actually not that hard to replace the battery in the cartridge, and I could easily afford a new one. So I bought the game and casually played Soul Silver to take the edge off while I waited for it to arrive.

About five days later I had it, and was feeling that childlike excitement you always feel when opening a present. Of course I knew what was in this package, but that didn’t lessen it any. There was nothing out of sorts about the cartridge, even the label was still on it, granted it was starting to fade in places from being used so much. I slid it into my old blue SP and flicked the On switch. The game started up normally, same mini-movie with Suicune and the Unown, until it showed the title screen. Pokémon: Dark Crystal Version. Well, that explained why it was so cheap, it was a hack. So much for my nostalgia trip. But I’ve always been a curious person, and I’ve played hacks before, maybe this would be one of the better ones. Might as well make the most of it.

I pressed A to continue to the starting screen. There was no previous file, which was fine with me. I never cared what other people did, and in this game’s case I didn’t want anything about the altered story to be spoiled before I played it myself. I pressed new game. It started with the typical “Are you a boy or girl?” question. I picked girl, and rather than go into Oak’s speech about the world of Pokémon it went straight to asking me my name. I typed in CELEST.

The game started in what appeared to be the grassy area outside of Mt. Silver cave, in front of the Pokémon Center. The typical protagonist sprite wasn’t visible, and there were no other sprites anywhere around. I tried pressing a few buttons and attempted to move, but nothing happened. Suddenly, two sprites walked into frame from the direction of the entrance to the Mt. Silver area and stopped in front of the cave. One was a generic boy sprite, like the ones for the youngsters, except it’s hair was red. The other was the female protagonist sprite. Me, apparently, as a text box popped up.

CELEST: COLE, we shouldn’t be here. It’s too dangerous!

COLE: Don’t be such a baby! Besides, ODAIRU can beat anything.

Cole started to walk toward the cave, and suddenly a generic Pokémon sprite appeared out of the grass behind me and slammed into me, knocking me forward one space. Both my sprite and Cole’s turned to look at it, exclamation marks appearing above our heads. An Ursaring cry sounded and I was drawn into a battle with a level 55 Ursaring.

At this point I assumed control. I had no Pokémon, and when I attempted to run it said “Can’t escape!” My only choice was to fight, and I had only one move, Struggle. I used it, though I had no health bar, and managed to damage the Ursaring slightly. The Ursaring didn’t attack me back, instead my back sprite slid out of frame like it does when you send out a Pokémon. A Feraligatr slid into frame in my place, with the message “ODAIRU wants to fight!” He was male, level 40, and I wasn’t able to command him. The game took over again and had him use crunch, knocking the Ursaring’s health down to three quarters. The Ursaring used Slash, dropping Odairu’s health to one half. Then, instead of Odairu attacking again, the Ursaring used slash a second time, as if it were using a priority move. Odairu’s health dropped to zero, and instead of saying he had fainted it said “ODAIRU has DIED!” I then was able to select RUN and it said I had gotten away safely.

The battle faded out and I was back on the Overworld map. The Ursaring sprite was gone, and in its place was the Rhydon-like sprite used for a Feraligatr in the party screen. It was unmoving, and appeared to be laying on the ground. Cole ran over to the sprite’s side and another text box popped up.

COLE: ODAIRU! ODAIRU NO! WAKE UP! GET UP! PLEASE!

My sprite walked over to his side.

CELEST: He’s gone COLE. There’s nothing we can do. We have to get out of here. The Ursaring might come back.

COLE: NO! I won’t leave him here! He protected us! Protected you! Go get Nurse JOY, She can help him!

At this point two policemen walked into frame and the Joy from the Center came outside. Apparently she had called them. One of the policemen walked up to my sprite, and Joy and the other walked to Cole’s other side. They appeared to be talking to both of us for about a minute, though no text box popped up, and then Joy and the other policeman led Cole away. My Policeman also led me to the edge of the screen, but my sprite stopped just there and turned back to look at the fallen Feraligatr sprite for a moment before turning and walking off screen. The screen stayed focused on the sprite for a moment more, then turned black.

When the loading screen ended, I was in my room and at the top of the screen was a text box with the words “TWO YEARS LATER…” As it disappeared I found I was finally in control. At this point, I was both freaked out and intrigued at how dark this hack was, and that was only the first few minutes. Ready to start playing the game proper, I walked down stairs to see what awaited me there.

The typical scene with my mother started up, but rather than ask about the day and tell me how to use the phone, she simply gave me my Pokégear, told me Prof. Elm was looking for me, and told me to take care. I walked out of the house and checked out some of the other houses in town. Instead of the usual tutorial stuff, many of them asked after my health and how I was holding up. I headed over to Elm’s Lab to get my Pokémon. Instead of starting with the pretense of writing a paper about the bonds of Pokémon and trainer, Elm offered me condolences.

ELM: It’s hard to believe it’s been two years to the day. I wonder how he’s doing? It’s hard to lose a Pokémon, but it must be just as hard for you, losing your best friend. I’m sorry.

He then proceeded into the spiel about Mr. Pokémon and offered me my choice of starter, though less enthusiastically than normal. I chose a Cyndaquil that ended up being female, and named her Fiora. Elm gave me his number and sent me on my way.

The Mystery egg quest proceeded as normal until I got to the point where you fight your rival for the first time. His dialog started out normal enough, but after saying that my Pokémon was a waste on a wimp like me, he said “You don’t deserve that Pokémon. You don’t deserve ANY Pokémon. I’ll show you what I mean!” The battle proceeded from there. I won easily as Fiora was at level 12. Afterward, rather than saying who he was and claiming that he would be the greatest trainer, he said “So you won this time. But how long will that last?” and walked away.

I returned to New Bark Town and went into the lab. The policeman was there as usual and he asked about the Trainer with the stolen Pokémon. But when I cited my Rival’s name as COLE, because from the altered dialog, it was obvious who the red headed rival was supposed to be, the policeman replied “COLE? As in the young man you were with at Mt. Silver two years ago? That’s not possible; He’s locked up in an insane asylum in Kanto. You must be mistaken.” Here, Elm chimed in “CELEST, it’s been a hard day for you, I know, but that boy couldn’t have been COLE. I saw his face. It wasn’t him” The policeman left after assuring us that he would keep a look out for the suspicious individual, and Elm asked after Mr. Pokémon’s discovery.

The game proceeded as normal from there, except where the rival battles were concerned. My rival was indeed named “COLE” from then on. He always said something about me not deserving my Pokémon, and he never had his regular team, his only Pokémon was the Totodile he had stolen. And the most unusual thing about these encounters was that his starter never used any attacks other than scratch or slash. It might have been my imagination, but his face also seemed to become disturbingly demented over time, the eyes getting slightly larger and darker, the confident smirk becoming a manic, twisted smile.

Eventually, I beat the elite four and moved on to defeat the Kanto gym leaders. I always defeat the Kanto gym leaders in their original order, it adds to the nostalgia for me, and so after beating Brock and grabbing the silver wing from the old man in town, I headed to Mount Moon.

Cole walked up the moment I entered as usual.

COLE: So you’re collecting the Kanto gym badges. I know where you’re going. And I know why. But I’m not going to stop you. I want you there. There…There you will finally pay for what you’ve done to me!

And after the battle;

COLE: Again, you’ve won. But it doesn’t matter. This is the last time.

I was nervous now. Normally this was the last battle with your rival in the story, after that you could occasionally battle him at the Pokémon league. Apparently the creator had added one more encounter. An encounter I wasn’t eager to face, having read many Pokémon Creepypastas and knowing these things never end well.

I continued through Kanto, collecting badges. I lingered as long as I could, trying to delay the inevitable, but I knew I’d have to go to Mt. Silver and face him eventually. Steeling myself against the knot of fear in my stomach, I flew to victory road and headed for the entrance to Mt. Silver. The first thing I noticed was there was no music, the epic theme that usually accompanied this area was silent, and my radio wasn’t working either. The area also seemed darker than usual, the colors washed out. I kept moving and finally reached the spot from the beginning of the game.

Cole was standing there, facing a tombstone like the ones from Pokémon tower. It was in the space where Odairu’s sprite had been. The game took control of my character from here as a cut scene started.

COLE: So you came. I was afraid you wouldn’t, but then, you’ve only been known to shirk your duties as a best friend once.

He turned around.

COLE: One mistake. But it was the worst one you could have made. You were so weak. So selfish. You let my very first Pokémon, my best friend after you, die just so you could save your own pitiful life.

He took a step forward.

COLE: It’s unforgivable! ODAIRU! My ODAIRU died protecting you! And when I asked you to get help for him, when I asked you to try to save him, you were still only concerned with your own safety! You told me to run away like you and just leave him laying there! Someone like you doesn’t deserve to have Pokémon. So I’m going to punish you, I’m going to make you pay for taking ODAIRU’s life. But no, I shouldn’t say that I will be the one to punish you. Better that the one who took the hit return the blow. ODAIRU will do it himself, and then he’ll be with me again. Forever…

Wait, what? When he said he was going to punish me, I figured he meant he’d use his new Feraligatr to kill all of my Pokémon like I killed his. But the Feraligatr he had didn’t have a nickname, it wasn’t even named ODAIRU as some sort of replacement. What was he talking about? Another text box popped up.

COLE: The time has come. Time for you to serve your purpose.

A Rhydon-like sprite appeared beside him with a Feraligatr’s cry.

COLE: Now, use your power! BRING HIM BACK TO ME!

There was a garbled screeching sound that nearly made me drop my SP, and a second sprite joined the first one. It was a simple, pixelated brown square. I shuddered. No way! They didn’t exist in the second generation! But I had no doubt that the creator of this game would be able to find a way to bring it here. The square moved in front of the Feraligatr sprite and slammed into it, pushing it onto the space with the tombstone. There was a second piercing screech, and then there was only one sprite. A slightly pixelated Rhydon-like one.

COLE: ODAIRU…Get rid of her.

The Rhydon sprite approached me, and a battle started. The thing that was my opponent was grotesque. Instead of the Crystal sprite, it was the silver version sprite with no eyes, no white markings, and there were patches of glitch pixels all over it. It looked half melted, there were no ridges to it, and its cry was a screechy garbled version of a normal Feraligatr cry. It was level 100 and its name was OD@!?U.

I sent out my Electabuzz, Livewire, and had her use Thunderpunch, taking out a fifth of its health. OD@!?U used Slash, taking her out instantly. “LIVEWIRE has DIED!” One by one I sent out each of my Pokémon, one by one it killed them, until the only one I had left was Fiora. My hands were shaking as I sent her out. She was my strongest Pokémon at level 100; I had taken her to the Viridian Trainer house every day. OD@!?U used Slash, cutting down a quarter of her health. I had her use Earthquake, doing the same to it. At this point it was down to half from all the single hits my Pokémon had managed to score before they died. I carried a faint hope that she would win. I had her use Thunderpunch. Its health fell to a fifth. OD@!?U used Slash. A critical hit. Fiora held on by a sliver. It attacked again. “FIORA has DIED!” My back sprite slid onto screen. RUN. “Can’t escape!” FIGHT. STRUGGLE. OD@!?U used SLASH! CELEST whited out!

The battle screen faded. My sprite lay on the ground. I tried to move, pressing all buttons, but nothing happened. The glitchy Rhydon sprite stood in front of me and Cole walked up to stand beside it.

COLE: Goodbye…My friend. Let’s go ODAIRU.

The garbled Feraligatr cry sounded again, and the two walked off screen.

The screen stayed focused on my sprite for a moment more, then turned black.