Crimson Hand
A Xenocide Production

AN: Greetings, True Believers. I came across an interesting idea over at The FanFiction Forum (go to Hawk's profile and click his homepage button) that was too good to pass up. I'm sure that lots of readers have grown tired of the utterly ridiculous crossovers around here. Excepting fics like The Legend of Uzumaki Naruto, the rest of them are, to be perfectly frank, crap. So, I decided to do a little test run on a Marvel/Naruto crossover. EditAs promised, since I got near to 20 reviews on the first chapter, I decided to add another one, just to see who would bite. I hope that this story catches on. It has potential, methinks.

Enjoy and review…………please?

Summary: More often than not, a hero's most epic battle is the one you never see. It's the battle that goes on within him or herself. Not all of these battles are won. But neither are they all lost.

Disclaimer: I own neither Marvel nor Naruto. I would sell my first born child to any who give me either one. Any takers?

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Chapter One: The Storm That Is To Come

There are……stars.

Billions upon billions of tiny pinpricks of cosmic light twinkled solemnly in the inky darkness of space.

He drifted aimlessly in the void, gazing idly at passing suns and moons.

It seemed that the cold vacuum of space was all he had ever known, though that couldn't be right. Flashes of faces, people he seemed to know yet did not, images of places he had never been to but were somehow familiar. Names, voices, laughter. He struggled to latch on to these half-formed memories, to grasp them before they could slip through his fingers like so much stardust. But it was futile. They scattered like so many petals on the wind.

Petals.

A flash of deep pink, and dark jade floated across his consciousness. Once again familiar, and yet not.

So he floated, watching the stately dance of the cosmos as it paraded across the heavens. He would most likely have done so until the death of the very last star.

But……there was a voice. And it roused him from his contemplation of the universe.

"I have called you here for a purpose." A voice, devoid of all emotion, and that hinted of things grander than the brightest sun of the universe and of things far darker than the deepest pits of Hell.

He looked, and suddenly before him was a shrouded Spectre, cloaked in green with arms folded across a silvery chest. Green balefire glowed ominously from his eyes in the depths of the hood.

"A purpose?" He started, seemingly surprised that he could talk. He looked down, and marveled to see a body, pale white in the light of distant stars. His hands drifted upwards, confirming the contours of his face, and of the strange parallel markings that marred his otherwise smooth cheeks. He existed. And he had a purpose.

"I am the Spectre, and my purpose is to exist as the embodiment of the Wrath of God. I pass judgment on the wicked, and dispense justice as it is so deserved." The balefire from beneath the hood flickered slightly. "I have need of you, and the foul presence that taints your soul."

Something crimson flickered on the edge of the boy's vision, and he shuddered at the feel of it before it subsided.

"You remember. And so does he. That is good."

"Remember what?" The boy struggled to remember. But now, the holes in his memory seethed with crimson, and he gasped when a Great Eye flickered into view. It was there for a mere instant, yet it sent chills wracking down the length of his spine. "But I don't remember! Everything's only half there!"

"That is to be expected. The dead have no need for the memories they once held in life. You are no different, though your memories are not quite altogether gone, for I held your soul back from the Seat of Judgment."

Thoughts spun wildly in the boy's head. That he was dead held no meaning for him. It felt as if he always had been so. But the crimson taint on the edge of his mind and the Heavenly Being that was scrutinizing him impassively left his composure a little more than slightly shaken.

"What do you need my help for? I'm just a nobody! I'm not important at all…" He trailed off into silence.

"That is for me to judge. No life is unimportant in the eyes of God, child. However, your importance to me only entails the task I must complete."

The boy opened his mouth to protest, only to quail from an icy glare from the Spectre.

"I called you here for a purpose, a purpose that only you can fulfill."

The cloaked figure raised his hand, and they were speeding through the stars, traveling billions of miles per second. Through nova clouds, particle storms, between suns, and under moons, they raced. The boy could only gape in awe, not daring to blink lest he miss one bit of it. They finally stopped before a world, one very similar to his own, though the boy could not know that. It was one of many worlds, one of many universes.

The Spectre pointed at the blue planet. "This is Earth, boy. But it is not the only one, nor is it the central one. This universe is but a drop in the ocean, just as yours is but a grain of sand in the desert."

The boy paled, and swayed slightly on his feet. To his credit, he did not faint, as many hundreds before him had done when they learned that their reality was not the only one.

"Normally, my counterpart, the being known as the Living Tribunal, would be overseeing this part of the universes, but it has disappeared, gone as if it had never existed." The being's arms folded across his chest once more. "Such a thing could not and should not have happened. Yet it has. God is greatly disturbed. The Balance has been thrown into disarray, and it has fallen to me to tend to both of our respective flocks. I have been tasked to seek out the perpetrator and punish him, also attempting to restore the Tribunal to its rightful place."

The boy swallowed, his throat dry and his heart racing. "W-what does this have to do with me? What can I possibly do?"

The Spectre's face tightened. "I may be the Hand of God, but I am not omnipotent, nor can I be in every place at once. The disappearance of the Tribunal has left many a universe in turmoil, and it is all I can do to hold them together. And so, I came to the conclusion that I needed Hands of my own, ones that could aid me in my search for the Tribunal and aid me in restoring the Balance. I chose you, boy, because I was…how do you say?...scraping the bottom of the barrel."

The boy managed to look vaguely insulted, though the influx of information was hard enough to process without adding insult to injury.

"There is something…odd…about this world, boy. Something that has not yet made itself known to me, which is troubling all in of itself. But I can spare no time for this world. There are others there who are capable of combating this threat, enough so that I can afford to send in a Hand to be my eyes and ears. For all of your faults, and the stain that mars your soul, you are strong enough to seek out this force, this presence that troubles me so."

Words came tumbling forth from the boy's mouth, who had stood frozen in thought as the Wrath of God spoke. "Wait a minute! Don't I have any choice in this!? What if I was perfectly happy dead? What if I don't want to be a Hand, or do what you say?"

"God values freewill, child. I am forbidden from forcing you to carry out my wishes. However…" The Spectre seemed to loom in the boy's vision, growing to such great proportions that he could have held the Earth in one hand and the moon in the other. "…do you really believe that when you stand before the Judgment of God, he will not see the presence that you harbor within you?"

Crimson flickered.

"Can you truly bring yourself to believe that he will be benevolent with a creature that has caused the suffering and deaths of many? I would not. For no matter how pure you may be, the taint ruins you for all the splendor that Heaven has to offer."

The boy did not want to believe it. God was supposed to love all of his children, right? Surely such a loving God would differentiate between a mortal soul and whatever he housed within him?

"The Lord will not allow the taint to sully his other children. As much as it would wrench his heart to do so, he would deny you entrance."

A tear streaked down the boy's face. The Spectre looked on coldly.

"But…if the taint were to be cleansed, you would be welcomed with open arms and smiles. If you will do this for me, I will swear on the Almighty Father and the Gates of Heaven themselves that I will cleanse your soul before your Judgment."

It took only a moment for the boy to decide. Though he had no memories, and could not remember the thing that dwelled inside of him, he accepted the Spectre's offer. Some feeling, some whisper deep in his heart, told him that this would make things right, and make them as they should have been, so very long ago.

"I will be your Hand."

The cloaked being merely nodded once. "I accept your offer of fealty. I give unto you a part of myself, so that you may right the Balance and always know the healing light of God." He flung open his arms, and green flames licked at the boy's form, engulfing him completely. "Go, Uzumaki Naruto. Go forth into this world with my blessing, and may the Hand of God shelter you from the Storm that is To Come!"

And Uzumaki Naruto, for that indeed was his name, he discovered as his vision was filled with flames, vanished in a great flash of light.


Before you ask, yes the italics are on purpose. And secondly, lend me your thoughts and opinions. I eagerly await them.