It was a standard late-night game of Deadzone 2, a copied sort of remake of the original. A guy had hacked his rep to unattainable levels and was completely invincible thanks to a health hack

One of my encounters with another Phantom. Names blotted out for security purposes.

, so I was pretty pissed about that, but my friend helped calm me down. My gun had fifteen bullets left in it, and my friend didn't want to die defending me, so we split up and agreed to both meet back up at the snow lodge.

'22, STANAG, a grenade?!' I thought to myself. Not a single clip of ammo for my AKM, and I was already about a thousand studs away from the snow lodge. As I delved into my frustration, the sound of footsteps alerted me to a presence. I quickly pressed Z on my keyboard, making my character duck down and lie on the floor.

"So, we kill the next person we find, right?" I saw a player speak as he walked torwards me, my quick reflexes allowing me to move my character under a nearby car. The second player, who I presumed the first was talking to, said nothing, or at least I couldn't see if he did say something. As they passed by, I did catch the name of the second player through a quick hovering of my mouse.

'Mobster' it read. Recognizing the name from the leaderboard, I quickly correlated that this was the man with hacked reputation. He has killed me earlier, and now he was taking a path torwards the snow lodge. I rushed out from under the car and ran into a full-on sprint torwards the prison, which was only about three hundred studs away. Thank god they didn't turn around, because if they did, I would have been shot right then and there.

As I entered the prison, it was a paradise. AKM ammo laying around on tables, a fully functional Katana sitting in a prison cell, and even a clip of ammo for my grenade launcher I kept in my storage bank back at the Safezone.  As I indulged and filled my ALICE Pack with everything I could find, I swore I saw a man running around a corner.

Now that I had ammo, I was confident and was either going to shoot this man dead or offer him supplies, depending on his reaction. The strange thing is, though, when I followed him around the corner, he was gone. Just a wall, sitting there. I was deeply freaked out by this point, and turned my character around to leave the prison.

I was greeted by a barage of gunfire as I chose to turn around, with the mobster man from earlier chatting "FIRE" again and again. My character was dead within the first second of firing. I was so frustrated at this point I didn't even bother resetting my character, instead raging and letting my body sit there as I watched through my corpse's eyes.

What really caught my attention, though, was a man peaking his head through the wall I mentioned earlier. He was wearing a green hood, and hadn't phased through the wall enough to see his rank or name. 'Damn exploiters' I thought to myself, but as the two bandits began looting my corpse, the hooded exploiter took an interest in me.

I was deeply scared at this point, telling the looting bandits to turn around, as someone was there. They accused me of trying to scare them, and began calling me a 'noob'. Those poor suckers didn't even see the hooded exploiter phase through the wall, carrying a SPAZ-12 right to their faces. They reacted quickly with 'WTFS' and 'OMGS' as they noticed the hooded man and attempted to gun him down, but nothing seemed to damage him.

The hooded man, however, could damage even the invincible exploiter. The exploiter reset relatively quickly and quit the game, but the other player did not, and took notice of the key features of this man as I began to. First, he wore both a hood and a ghillie, wielding a Rucksack on his back instead of an ALICE Pack, making his character almost completely green. Second, where his name should be, there was nothing there. Instead, his rank was the only thing visible, and it was listed only as 'the Phantom'.

As soon as he had entered, he had left. He left my stuff alone, oddly enough, only taking the bandits and their stuff. The non-exploiting bandit had reset by now, and the Phantom phased through a wall. I reset, got back to the prison, and got my old stuff. I was in total amazement right now, I had never heard of anything like this.

I returned to the Safezone, greeting my apparently patient and waiting friend. He told me the exploiter bandits had caught to the snow lodge before I did, killing him and stealing his stuff before speaking of taking a trip to the prison. I told him all about how I saw them going to the snow lodge in the distance, how I was looting the prison, and especially about the Phantom.

I looked around on the forums, and questioned high-rep Deadzone players. With the information I've gathered, I finally came up with an explanation for the Phantom. The Phantom was a failed NPC attempt before the original Deadzone was cancelled. As the first attempt at an NPC in the game, he had incorporated every persona into him; Mobster, Hero, Civilian, Villain, Bandit, Deputy, and Sherrif. As the game was abandoned and copied and remade by so many other players, they all kept the original source code that made the game work.

This source-code carried the script and model for the Phantom, and the Phantom somehow grew sapience. With every persona incorporated into him, he had a full set of emotions and feelings. I don't know why he saved me, maybe compassion, maybe greed, but I now know there are far more Phantoms than the one I encountered.

Every Deadzone copy in existance carries him. I've hunted him down before for answers, sometimes he's killed me, sometmies he's made messages out of items or corpses telling me to get away. I never encountered the Phantom that saved me again, but I know he's out there somewhere, waiting...