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“Rock, Paper, Scissors! …

Me: Haha I win so that means I get to be Red.

DJ: Somehow I know you cheated but whatever, that is your color anyway so why not be the character?

That’s how it started, one of the best Pokémon rivalries in the world… or at least between me and my best friend DJ. Let me give a brief explanation on what I am talking about first. I was, and still am, a big Pokénerd once I learned what a Pokémon was. Unfortunately, back in those times you got picked on by the “popular kids” in school if you even mentioned liking Pokémon. So I pretty much was an outcast in Elementary school until I met DJ (out of respect for the deceased I will not be telling his real name, just the initials). He and I were enemies at first, particularly because we both had the same first name, just spelled differently, but quickly became friends/rivals based off something we found common interest in: Pokémon. During recess one day, while I was off away from the other kids playing my version of Pokémon Red on my Gameboy, DJ walked over holding his own Gameboy.

In it was Pokémon Blue. The two of us came to an agreement:

restart

Our games and go about playing through as Red and Blue. The rules to our agreement were simple. Seeing that Red was supposed to be the ultimate trainer so-to-speak, he should have all 3 starters on his roster and a Pikachu as well (back then we figured that Ash was the TV version of Red and since his first Pokémon was a Pikachu, Red needed one too). To achieve this, the person playing as Blue had to trade over the other two starters that weren’t chosen by Red. The final two Pokémon were to be that person’s choice.

The person who was Blue needed to literally play as Blue through their game and mimic his team from the beginning of the game to the championship battle at the Indigo Plateau. Though we would be playing different versions of the game, we HAD to have all of our Pokémon at the same level the in-game Blue’s Pokémon were at for the final battle or a few levels lower if it was unavoidable (the strategy guide was a great assistant in telling what Pokémon were needed for Blue at the end). With the rules set, it came down to the final thing of choosing who would be Red and who would be Blue. And that’s where you came in so let’s continue.

It was a long and hard road to follow, but we both managed to stay within the confines of our agreement. My team consisted of Venasaur (my first choice), Charizard, Blastoise, Pikachu, Snorelax and Lapras (I later found out ironically this was actually Red’s team in the future games). DJ’s team was Charizard (his opposite of my starter), Pidgeot, Alakazam, Rhydon, Gyarados, and Exeggutor. Completing both of our games somehow sparked up a nice hype among our fellow classmates, families, a few others in the community. We gained a reputation as the top Pokémon fans and trainers in our town. Our teachers and parents even went as far as calling me “Red” and DJ “Blue.”

We managed to train our Pokémon to LVL100 and used said Pokémon in the new games that came out. Little did I know though, when one of us obtained Pokémon Emerald, things would take a turn for the worse for both of us. DJ had his copy of Emerald before I did due to me being on punishment for a while (messing up in school but that’s not important), so he had a nice little lead on me. Part of that due to the fact, DJ hadn’t been seen at school for a week and a half. I would call his cell, no answer. I sent over a dozen text messages, no answer. Finally I decided to go to his house after school since I knew my mom wouldn’t let me because I was still grounded. Making it to his block, I saw what appeared to be a moving van in his driveway.

Me: What the hell!?!

I thought out loud to myself before running over and noticing the movers putting DJ’s bed and desk onto the truck. I ran into the house, furious that my supposed “best friend” couldn’t muster up the gall to tell me he was moving but boasted to me when he got Emerald before me. DJ wasn’t in sight. Instead, his mother seemed to be sealing a few more boxes in the kitchen. I walked over to her and was slightly scared by her face. She was pale, as if she had seen a ghost. Her whole demeanor was as if she were sadness incarnate.

Me: Mrs. J, are you alright? Where’s DJ?

Mrs. J: …

I watched as a tear ran down the side of her face. Something was up. Just then DJ’s dad came into the kitchen, he looked both depressed and angry but he spoke.

Mr. J: Oh… Hey Red.

Me: Mr. J what’s going on?

Mr. J: I’m sorry you have to find out like this Red. But, DJ is no longer with us. He committed suicide 3 days ago…

I could do nothing but stand there with a horrified expression on my face, frozen. Apparently DJ had gotten the flu the week before, thus the reason for him not being at school, but the reason for his death didn’t make sense to me. He’d apparently hung himself in his closet while his mom and dad were at work.

I balled up my fist and ran out of their home, never coming back. The next week was the funeral and half of our class along with a few neighbors showed up. It was a very emotional event for all of us especially for DJ’s mom and dad. During the burial, DJ’s dad came to me with his hands in his pockets.

Mr. J: Red, you and DJ have been best friends since you boys started playing that “Pokémans” game. So I think you should have these. He more than likely would have wanted this anyway.

He pulled his hands out of his pockets and passed me DJ’s Gameboy Advance with each one of his Pokémon games including Pokémon Emerald. It was bittersweet, I finally had Emerald and in the worst way possible, but I accepted and went back home with my mom so that I could gather my thoughts a bit. The days that followed were a bit depressing. I would go to school and be constantly bugged by people checking on me and asking questions to me about DJ.

The biggest thing that pissed me off was one of the assholes of the school coming up to me and saying, “How does it feel to lose your rival? Stop looking so… Blue, Pokébitch.” Needless to say I got suspended from school for 5 days for fighting. I got in trouble but luckily my parents understood where my anger had come from. I couldn’t talk to my girlfriend for a few days nor go outside so I was stuck indoors.

I sat in my room looking up at the ceiling for a bit then thought about DJ’s Pokémon games. Rather than go and play Pokémon Blue, I decided to see how Emerald was since I hadn’t played it yet. I grabbed DJ’s GBA and went to playing. After I pressed Start at the title screen, Blue’s saved file, obviously named “Blue,” came up. That’s when things got weird. I tried selecting the file but rather than the game starting this message came up:

(???) Are you serious?

The message was followed by the Yes or No options normally seen in the game itself. I sat there for a moment looking lost because obviously something wasn’t right. I selected “Yes” and was met with another message:

(???) Good luck… You’ll need it.

That was eerie to say the least, so I turned the game off and on to try again. This time everything went now they normally should have been. The game loaded up and it looked like DJ had gotten to the Pokémon League. He last saved at the Pokémon center that contained both the area for Nurse Joy to heal your Pokémon and one area to get items before you go to battle the Elite Four and the champion. I checked his Pokémon party and it was his team from Pokémon Blue version though for some reason, each one of his Pokémon’s sprites had a sad expression on their faces.

Now I knew something was truly wrong. The only time you saw a Pokémon with a sad expression on its face was in Pokémon Yellow when Pikachu was low on HP or had a status effect on it. Each one of them was at full health so why were they looking so sad. I figured maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me since I was still grieving over DJ’s death so I went on to face the Elite Four.

It was a bit unfair since Blue’s team was already at level 100 but if Blue was going to use his team originally, then I wasn’t going to change that. I took out each one of the Elite Four members with ease and finally made it to Champion Wallace. This battle was different than the previous four and brought more worry to me. Instead of Wallace congratulating me on making it through the Pokémon League, his sprite seemed to be staring angrily at me. The chat box then appeared.

Wallace: Some friend you are. Forcing another’s Pokémon to do your bidding for you, you sicken me. As I told you before, you’re going to need luck to escape your judgment. PREPARE YOURSELF!

I dropped the game to the floor and stared at it for a bit. Was the game actually talking to me? That’s impossible. But I was a bit confused to say the least. Part of me wanted to turn the game off and leave it alone, but the other half said to press on and see what would happen next. I picked the Gameboy back up and pressed A so I could proceed with the battle. He started the battle with a Tentacruel and I sent out Alakazam. Somehow Wallace’s level 55 Tentacruel went before my level 100 Pokémon and poisoned me using Toxic. When my turn came up and I tried to fight, the text box popped up again and said a message that sent a chill up my spine.

Alakazam: You are not Blue…

The text box disappeared and Alakazam’s HP had suddenly dropped to half. On the next turn, Tentacruel used Ice Beam and it did a minor amount of damage to me. I tried to go to the items menu and use a Full Restore, but as soon as I selected it the text box popped up again.

“That won’t do you any good.”

The screen went back to the battle scene and Alakazam’s HP dropped completely to zero. I didn’t know what to think at this point so I sent out Exeggutor next. As soon as it came out, Wallace switched out his Tentacruel for Milotic and once again the same thing occurred. I tried fighting and the text box popped up again with the same message from before.

Exeggutor: You are not Blue…

Milotic used Ice Beam and knocked out Exeggutor in one hit. This continued on throughout the entire battle; anyone of the Pokémon that I sent out wouldn’t attack and would continue to say that I wasn’t Blue. Each one of my Pokémon had fainted and I was down to the last one, DJ’s Charizard. When I sent him out I nearly threw up at what I saw. Charizard’s sprite looked like it had been a decaying corpse of its former self. The wings looked as though its flesh had been peeling, one of its eyes had been hanging from its socket, different spots on its body had shown organs and bones and its lower jaw looked to have been torn off completely. Another chat box appeared shortly after Wallace sent out his Wailord.

Wallace: You poor creature. I will send you to be with your RIGHTFUL trainer. May you rest in peace.

Wailord had the first move just like the each one of Wallace’s other Pokémon and it used Blizzard, the attack missed. I tried to attack as well and sure enough the text box popped up, but this time it had a new message.

Charizard: R-Red… return… Blue…

The moment I saw “Red” pop up on the screen I turned the game off completely. A tear ran down the side of my face as I sat on my bed confused at what was going on. What the hell was this and why was it happening. I didn’t turn the game back on for the rest of the day. Two days had passed and I had secluded myself from the rest of the world outside of my bedroom. I only exited my room to eat and use the bathroom. The whole time I kept thinking back to the message from Charizard before I turned the game off, “Red return Blue.” What did it mean? I couldn’t give the game back to DJ obviously because he was dead. Then I thought about it and decided to turn the game on once more. I made it to the select screen where you choose to continue with the already saved file or start a new game and went to continue. The text box appeared.

(???) Back for more I see. I won’t let you escape this time. Come back and let’s finish this tough guy. (Yes or No)

Figuring it was Wallace; I selected yes and ended up where I began last time, in the Pokémon League lobby. I checked my Pokémon party and it was the same; all level 100, full health, and all with sad faces. I exited that screen and decided to check my trainer card, I’m glad I did too. My character’s face had the most sadistic look that made me feel cold inside. His eyes were so bloodshot; you would think he was possessed by a demon. I came back to being able to control my sprite and performed no action. It finally occurred to me what was wrong and why each one of the Pokémon wouldn’t follow a command, who or whatever this thing was that had DJ’s Pokémon was not DJ. To test out my theory I decided to leave the Pokémon League and try a wild encounter to see what would happen. As soon as I stepped out of the League another text box appeared.

Blue: How dare you try to hold me from my destiny? I ORDER YOU TO GO BACK AND FINISH WHAT WE STARTED BOY! I’m sorry… This is supposed to be your journey with your Pokémon. Let’s just go back in and defeat the Elite Four.

By now I was both creeped out as well as slightly pissed. Was this… thing… what led to DJ killing himself? Either way, something needed to be done. I made Pidgeot fly me to one of the early on towns you start off the journey in and wandered the grass until I found a low level Zigzagoon. Alakazam was first up on the team and sure enough when I tried to choose “fight” I was met with the text box telling me I wasn’t Blue. I got attacked by the wild Zigzagoon and it did little to no damage to Alakazam. I then switched Alakazam out for Charizard, hoping that it did not look as it did before. Unfortunately it still had its horrific form. When I selected fight, I waited for the text box to pop up again so that I could see what I may have missed from turning the game off so fast before.

Charizard: R-Red… return… Blue… protect…

Blue: You won’t listen to me still? Alright you mutant lizard enjoy your punishment and let this be a lesson to the rest of this crappy team while you slowly die in the other world.

“Trainer Blue used Slash”

At that moment, the animation for the move Slash had been shown on Charizard and its HP dropped down to red while my speakers let out a weak roar as if Charizard were in pain. I still hear that roar to this day. The wild Zigzagoon had fled, as some of the Pokémon from the early games did in the Safari Zone, and Charizard remained on the screen for a few moments. Another text box appeared.

Charizard: Please… Red…

Pixelated blood began leaking from Charizard’s eye socket and the screen returned to the over world. From what I could gather, somehow the trainer sprite figured I was DJ playing the game and somehow the Pokémon on DJ’s team knew that it was me. This obviously was neither a glitch nor a hack, DJ and I vowed never to mess with hacked games or even use Gameshark, so it had to be something more. Either way, I knew what I had to do. I made Pidgeot fly me to the nearest Pokémon Center and walked inside. I healed my party and headed upstairs in the center to the area where you trade as well as battle friends.

I put the game down and grabbed hold of DJ’s Pokémon Blue Version game as well as my Gameboy, put it in and started playing. DJ’s file was perfectly fine; he was saved in Saffron City and had all of his badges. The only thing was his entire team consisted of Caterpie, most likely how he was able to trade his Pokémon to the other games. I walked his sprite to the Pokémon center and headed for the trade area as well. I got the link cable that I had then connected it to both my Gameboy and DJ’s Gameboy Advance.

I made Blue walk inside and wait while I grabbed the GBA. Looking at the screen, another text box had popped up.

Blue: Why am I here? I already have strong Pokémon. You’d better not double cross me. You must not want to get over your sickness.

Me: Shut up. I’m ending this.

I was talking to the game as if it could hear me, yeah by this point I had gone off the deep end, but that didn’t matter to me, I was more concerned with fixing this. I made the evil Blue walk into the trade station and went on to trading all 6 of the Caterpie with all 6 or Blue’s team. When it came down to Charizard being the last remaining Pokémon, the text screen popped up again.

Blue: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? YOU WANTED TO BE THE BEST SO LET ME HELP YOU! WHAT ABOUT OUR GOAL? OUR DESTINY? GIVE ME BACK MY POKEMON YOU FOOL! THEY’LL TAKE ME IF YOU DON’T!

Even though that made me both curious and a little scared I went on with the trade. Once it was done, the GBA screen became filled with static and suddenly cut to black. The trainer sprite appeared in the middle of the screen and underneath it was the text box.

Blue: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt them, it won’t happen again. Please let’s start over.

The Yes or No options popped up again and I quickly selected no.

Blue: Fine then, I’ll just take them back. You know you can’t resist the thought of beating this with your team… Red will always be better than you and you’ll continue to die as you are now. I’ll ask you once more to restart this my friend, and I promise I’ll cure you with my power. Just as I have been talking to you this whole time. I apologize for all the negative words during our journey. Forgive me?

The options came up and the same selection was made. The handheld game itself began shaking and getting hotter within my hands so I dropped it to the floor. I looked down at the screen and the shaking suddenly stopped. The trainer sprite was surrounded by all 4 members of the Elite Four as well as Champion Wallace and Champion Steven. At that moment the sprites for Milotic and Metagross appeared next to Steven and Wallace. The text box came up again.

Milotic used Ice Beam

At that moment the animation for Ice Beam played out and struck the trainer. Out of the speakers came a distorted scream that went on for about 30 seconds before becoming completely silent. The trainer sprite looked like it was frozen in a block of ice. I could not help but smile slightly in watching this ordeal go down.

Metagross used Meteor Mash

The Metagross sprite looked as if it were using Tackle and collided with the frozen trainer, causing him to shatter into nothing. Each one of the trainers turned and looked as if they were looking up at the screen while I looked down at them. The text box popped up once more.

Pokémon League: Thank you.

Suddenly the game cut off completely. I unplugged the link cable from my Gameboy and quickly exited the trade area and opened up my menu. I checked the Pokémon party through each one of their statuses so that I could actually see them since the party sprites were a bit sucky in the old games. Each Pokémon looked perfectly fine, including Charizard. Another tear ran down my cheek, but this time it was a tear of joy. It felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I saved Blue’s game and turned off my Gameboy before going back to sleep.

It had been a while since I picked up my Pokémon games and played them, my first time was early this morning. I had a Nintendo DS and decided to play my copy of Pokémon Pearl. I started my game and went to the Pokémart to get more Pokéballs when I saw that the person who normally gives you your mystery gift items when you get them inside. I wasn’t expecting anything since to my knowledge nothing had been released, but I talked to the delivery guy anyway.

He gave me the item “Important Mail.” I’ve never heard of that so that made seeing what it was all the more exciting.

I went to my inventory, opened the “Important Mail,” and nearly dropped my DS from what it said.

Blue: Hey Red, its DJ. Long time no see, well you haven’t seen me but I’ve been over you this whole time. Look, I just wanted to say I’m sorry for my emotions over a game as well as my cancer lead me to taking my own life. It was dumb on my part and I hope you can forgive me. Also thank you for saving my Pokémon from that… thing… Take good care of them my friend. Goodbye.

I broke down right here and cried almost as hard as I did ad DJ’s funeral. There was too many questions going through my head that I knew wouldn’t have answers to. The big thing being this ordeal of DJ having cancer; was that the reason his parents seemed so distant in telling me? And what the hell was with that crazy trainer from Emerald? All these things I don’t know and probably won’t.

DJ’s Pokémon Blue Version is still sitting with the rest of my Pokémon games, un-tampered with since that day. I still have Emerald version, also untouched since that day, just in case. For now, I have to finish looking for my Trainer Red hat so I can leave. Going to pay my best friend and rival a visit.

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