Yeah another story! This one will be six chapters long, and somewhat humorus. Happy reading!


Chapter 1—Reaction

The criteria for life gives a set of goals that an object or thing must reach in order to be classified as alive—scientifically anyway. The first of these six goals is reaction. A creature must react to the changes in its environment—such as summer changing to winter, the creature must react to the dramatic changes in weather and sudden decline in food. A good example of this is a bug and a rock.

The rock, no matter what happens, will always sit there, unmoving and unresponsive to its environment. The rock could care less if it was snowed on or rained on by the sky. It will sit and do nothing else except maybe erode. The bug however is very different. It will move around and most certainly feel the change in weather from summer to winter. A simple reaction to this change in season would be for the bug to climb under the rock to protect itself—so in conclusion, a reaction must be given to change for the organism to be classified as alive.

These thoughts roved around in Maddie's mind as she watched the two ghosts above the RV battling it out—no doubt over territory or some such thing. One of the two ghosts was the well known Phantom; the teenage ghost seemed set on avoiding her lately. Not that he hadn't done this before, but lately, he was more reclusive than usual. He would normally make an appearance or two in town if it was quiet, but she wasn't even aware of him then.

She had stopped hunting Phantom in her normal fashion as of late. The ghost just couldn't be confronted face-to-face like any other ghost, and this was what sparked Maddie's curiosity. No, she wanted to study this ghost first. He was so different from the others and it caused her sleepless nights as to why he was so different—a deviant from his kind as she classified him in her mind.

With her studying, she would find out new things about this ghost, and then capture him for experiments. Who knows, perhaps she was staring at a new breed of ghost without even fully knowing it.

The random ghost that Phantom was fighting had fled, but Phantom wasn't pursuing. She wondered why this was, but she wouldn't be able to get her answers since he wouldn't talk to her. Phantom looked at the area around him, doing a 360 in the air. Maddie hoped he didn't notice the RV—sure it was cloaked, but somehow, Phantom always knew they were there in the bushes when they tried this trick before.

He didn't seem to notice the vehicle now because he took off, a little slowly in her mind. Not wanting to lose him, she got out of the RV and cloaked herself, running after the low-flying ghost.

Subject seems unaware of my presence, she cataloged in her mind. Also seems careless of others seeing him. He is flying very low, maybe thirty feet off of the ground. This might suggest that he is hurt and is retreating to his lair to patch himself up.

Phantom kept flying low and slow for a while, just shooting in a straight line. It didn't seem he had a set destination, making Maddie wonder even more just what he really was.

He suddenly stopped and turned to face her. Startled, Maddie put on her brakes, stopping just in time before she hit Phantom in the face with her own.

"You can uncloak yourself," Phantom said, narrowing his eyes at her, but it didn't seem to be in hate, it seemed that he was trying to see her.

Maddie knew the game was up, so she did as he said. When she came into view, Phantom cocked his head, as if puzzled over something.

"No weapons," he asked, his voice confused and a little wary. "I don't get it, what's the catch?"

"No catch," Maddie said, putting her hands up. "I only wanted to get your attention."

Phantom chuckled wryly, "Well, after following me for a week, you sure caught it. Now, what are you going to do with it? Gut it and cook it like you would a fish?"

"No," Maddie said seriously, even though she wanted to smack him for using that tone with her. "I wanted to talk with you. I've been observing you for quite some time and I was wondering if you would let me—"

"Shoot me and let you dissect me?" Phantom finished snidely. "Look, whatever the offer is, I ain't buying it lady. I don't work with hunters—the only thing they want is to kill me, so no thanks."

"But that's just it," Maddie said quickly before he could fly away and leave her there. "I've been going over it in my mind, and I know you're different from others of your kind. I don't know how, but you just are. I want to know why—I want to observe you for the criteria of life—to see if you fit on the spectrum."

Phantom paused, looking worried at first but then just really confused and—did she excitement in his eyes? Why would a ghost be excited about working side-by-side with a ghost hunter? Was he planning a trap for her? No, that didn't fit the profile that Maddie pitted him against. Phantom might be powerful, but he sure made a show of hurting ghosts and not people. After looking over some of the fights she recorded, it was apparent that Phantom fought ghosts and pretty much avoided people in general if he could, even if he was blockaded by paparazzi or crazed fans, his reaction was non-violent. He would try to flee from a human situation, a ghost situation however seemed to spark something in him and he fought, seeming to be a ghost hunter in his own unusual way.

Was it perhaps over territory? Were the other ghosts flying in Phantom's space and this didn't bode well with the ghost? What made the other ghosts hate Phantom so much? Why was Phantom so content living here than in the Ghost Zone where the ghosts belonged?

So many questions popped into Maddie's head as she stood there, staring at Phantom's green eyes as he stared back at her violet ones.

"So what does that entail?" Phantom asked, breaking their eye contact abruptly by looking over into the bushes.

"What does what entail?" Maddie asked, having lost her train of thought.

"This criteria-study-thing you want to do on me," Phantom said. "Does it involve needles and sharp, teary, pointy objects?"

"Oh no," Maddie shook her head. "No, I just study you in your environment, and I might want to talk with you about a few things later. The last test does involve a sample, but I would think with all of the plasma you leave around it wouldn't be a big deal."

"The ecto-plasma dissolves pretty when exposed to the air and sunlight," Phantom said, shoving his hands in his pockets. "You might need a sample directly from the source."

"Would you be willing to do that?" Maddie asked.

"We'll see," Phantom looked at her again. "I'll let you watch me and what not, but you got to stop when I say you stop, and you can't follow me everywhere. If I want to lose you, I will lose you."

"But you'll let me do my study?"

"So long as I don't get blasted in the butt again," Phantom muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

"Oh thank you Phantom," Maddie could have hugged him if he wasn't a floating ball of subconscious, or maybe he wasn't—it would depend on the results. "Can you meet me at my house tomorrow say around seven?"

"In the morning?" it sounded like a whine. "Yeah sure, whatever."

When Maddie walked into her kitchen the next morning, she gasped and staggered backward a little to see Phantom, reclining in one of the table chairs, feet propped up on the table and chewing a piece of gum without much thought as he raised an eye brow at her reaction.

"Scare you?" he asked, cheek bulging slightly as he pushed the gum away from his tongue so he could talk coherently.

"You're early," she said, eyes wide from her shock as she glanced at the clock on the stove.

"No ghosts to fight," he shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. "I didn't want to be late so I took the chance to be early to a meeting for once. That and I wanted to be sure everyone else was gone. Call me paranoid, but I was wondering if this was a cleverly disguised trap."

"Oh no," Maddie shook her head. "Jack's away at his mother's house for a while and my children are away for the summer. It's just me and you Phantom, no one else."

Phantom didn't nod or anything, but he went back to chewing his gum and looking around the kitchen, as if admiring it, but he didn't seem interested in it at all.

"Um, let me shower and get dressed," Maddie said, looking down at her sleep wear. "I'll be ten minutes."

"I don't have to be anywhere," Phantom said as she ran back up the stairs to get ready for the day.

The ghost hadn't moved when she came back down into the kitchen. The only thing different was the bubble that had just popped and covered his nose when she came down. He stuffed it back into his mouth and watched her walk around and grab something for her breakfast. Surprisingly, he put his feet on the floor when she came over to set her bowl down and poured the milk over her cereal.

"So, how is this going to work?" he asked after he gave her a chance to eat a little of her meal.

"Well, I had an idea that maybe you're different from other ghosts. I couldn't think of many ways to prove this, but doing the Criteria for Life tests on you should verify if my theory is correct," Maddie said, taking another bite when she was done.

"Why don't you just ask me if I am different? Doesn't that mean you just need a yes or no answer?" the ghost asked, looking confused.

"No, I have to know why you're different, otherwise my theory is wasted on other people who would benefit by listening to it.

"You still didn't really answer my question."

"I guess not. Well, there are six different criteria for life. All we have to do is put you in situations where living life forms will react according to the laws of life. If you react in at least some way similar, then that's one step closer for you to be classified as alive."

"But ghosts are dead—as in non-living. Why waste this hunk malarkey on me?"

"Because, I have a gut feeling about you. Ghosts shouldn't follow the laws of life at all, but if you even react to a few of them in a positive way, that means you are different by many measures."

"So it's like a test—if I get most right, I'm classified as alive?"

"No; unfortunately, in the science world, you have to follow all six laws to be classified as alive."

"So, if I even fail one, I'm not classified as a living, breathing, feeling thing?"

"Well, I'm not sure about the breathing and feeling part, but living no."

Phantom looked massively disappointed. His face fell, as if hoping to be classified as something he obviously was not. Maddie wondered about that, but she didn't question him. She had worked hard to get him here, and she wasn't about to mess up and lose him—and her opportunity to study this odd specimen. A sort of resolve hardened Phantom's face and he looked directly at her with a cocky smile.

"I'll pass," he said a little cheekily. "So what's the first test?"

"There will be six, one for each law," Maddie explained, pushing her empty bowl to the side. "The first one is reaction. Every life for must react to the changes in its environment in order to survive."

"Well, how are you going to do that?" Phantom asked, looking perplexed. "It's not like you can change the seasons or wreak mayhem in the streets without being arrested."

"That's not really what I had in mind."

"This is so stupid," Phantom grunted as he flew over the town, the RV just under him with Maddie at the wheel.

"Seen any ghosts yet Phantom?" Maddie asked him over the Fenton Phones, checking her tracking equipment.

"No," he said rather clipped over the com. "I normally try to stay out of trouble! Why would I go looking for it! The things I do to not get shot at—"

He gasped sharply and Maddie stopped the RV as she saw him pause in the air.

"There's a ghost around," he said, his voice low and quiet.

"My scanners don't show anything," Maddie said, lightly tapping the radar screen. "The only ghost I'm picking up is you."

"It's down, at the mall," Phantom said, flying to the right and heading down a one-way street—the wrong way.

"Oh," Maddie exclaimed, moving the RV forward so she could take a different route to the mall.

She put the vehicle to a halt in the parking lot, just seeing Phantom phase into the walls from her view point. She put a gun in her belt and headed inside, contacting Phantom on the Phones.

"Did you find it?" she asked, though in her mind, she was sure she already had her proof that Phantom reacted to his environment.

He had seemed to change suddenly. He had been a normal grumpy teen until that gasp, than he became serious and started to seek out the trouble. That was a reaction—that was her proof. She was about to tell Phantom to quit, that she had what she wanted, but she heard the ghost sigh in annoyance over the com.

"Not you," he whined tiredly.

"I am the Box Ghost!" someone else shouted on Phantom's side of the Phones. "You shall not—"

There was a short burst of static and then Phantom was by her side, wearing the same annoyed expression that he had left the house with.

"Are we done?" he asked raising a brow at her.

"Yes, we are," Maddie said, a little lost for words—she never knew he could fly so fast.

"So, do I pass?" this time his expression was one of question and expectance.

"Actually yes, you do," she said, surprising herself at her words. "You seem to react instinctively when other ghosts invade the town. You then go to the source to fix it. A little vague I'll admit, but more then I was hoping for."

"And it's only noon," Phantom said, looking at a watch that she didn't notice he kept on his wrist. "Well, see ya tomorrow."

He saluted and flew off without another word from her.

When she got home, Maddie wrote down everything that had happened and all of her observances. Phantom did seem to have a tie to the town, and the fact that he had reacted in a violent way towards another ghost was making her think that territory was a factor in his haunting style after all. She was really looking forward to the next test tomorrow—Adaption.