DN: yo, everyone, Im splitting my time between Hagakure and this new project, so hopefully you all like this newest crossover, the world of "The World" from the .hack series, and Naruto.

Disclaimer: As usual I do not own any of the source anime games manga etc. that are included in this crossover.

-)::(- Twilight: a new Dawn, or a coming Dusk?

"Take this... Please take this...

The power it holds can bring forth either...

Salvation... or... Destruction,

at the whim of the user" - Aura

Uzumaki Naruto woke, as he had done many time before in the bustling river city of Mac Anu, to the sounds of the morning Protector patrols leaving for their respective fields. As was his usual routine the young man trudged to his small bathroom in his tiny flat to wash up for the day. His sight blurry with sleep, he blearily scrubbed his face trying to remove the strange stains on his cheeks. He stopped as his sight focused on the strange red marks, and then he screamed. Naruto stared at the face in the mirror in fear and shock, on his cheeks, clear and bright, was a wave crest, the mark of the world's elite warriors, the protectors. He tried to make sense of things with little success; he could not recall agreeing to be a protector despite his friend Sasuke's insistence. Had the Teme come in at night and tattoo'd him? Naruto shook his head in dismissal, that wasn't the Teme's style.

"Crap... I need to figure this out before Kakashi gets here..." the blonde boy groaned.

"Hmmn? Figure what out before I get here?" a cool voice called out from the living area beyond the bath's door.

Naruto jumped and slammed himself into the wall in surprise "EEEEH!" he quickly composed himself and took one last look in the mirror before realizing that perhaps it was best to get answers with the help of a veteran protector like Kakashi, after all the man had been trained by Naruto's father, so the boy knew the sliver haired man was at least trustworthy.

With a resigned sigh he stepped out into his main living area and addressed the elder man, "Neh Kakashi-nii, I woke up with these on my face, did Sasuke-teme tattoo me in my sleep?"

Kakashi stared at the wave marks on the boy for several moments before answering. "Naruto, wave crests are not tattoos."

the boy stared at his teacher in confusion, not tattoos? "eh? then how do you explain the red triangles? I know I didn't put them there, Kakashi-nii"

Kakashi frowned, it was a very good question, and one he wasn't all that well qualified to answer. The boy had not undergone the ritual of binding as far as he could recall, and the boy had also stated many times he would much rather pursue a future as the village head, a position that although important, was rarely filled by wave users. Naruto's father Minato had been a notable exception, becoming Mac Anu's leader shortly before the incident with the mysterious monster attacks 15 years ago. Returning his thoughts to the still frantic young boy desperately trying to get answers for the strange marks on his cheeks, he gave what answers he could.

"Well, Naruto, the marks are a physical sign of the connection between a wave user and his wave spirit. So, the best I can guess, is that a wave spirit attached itself to you in your sleep. Before the ritual of binding, that was how a lot of wave users got their powers." Kakashi pulled out his trusty icha-icha novel and stood up "But, that type of thing is rare today, so I think we should see Sarutobi-sama at the wave temple and see if we can't figure out what kind of spirit you have bound to you."

Naruto scratched his cheek in confusion "Hey, Kakashi-nii, when you say bound to me, what does that mean anyway?"

the one-eyed man smiled at Naruto "It would be easier to explain it at the Wave Shrine. So why don't we go there now, ok?"

Naruto seemed to become slightly nervous at the mention of the Wave Shrine, fidgeting with his clothing as he stared at the ground. "Uh... im not allowed back in there after I pranked the priests with a smoke bomb filled offering"

Kakashi gave a sigh and gently placed a hand on Naruto's shoulder, "Trust me Naruto, they will make an exception."

Naruto nodded nervously and followed Kakashi into the streets of Mac Anu. Trying to make small talk, Naruto began to ramble questions to the older man.

"Ne, Kakashi-nii, what was with all the patrols this morning, it was a lot more than the old man normally sends. What gives?"

Kakashi flipped a page in his book before answering, whether as a way to hide gathering his thoughts or from boredom, Naruto could not guess.

"The patrols were a response to increased monster attacks in certain usually safe fields. There are rumors that the eight beasts from fifteen years ago are behind it, so Satutobi-sama has increased the patrols in and out of the city to compensate. Further, the city is invoking a draft, pulling you young people who have so far refused to undergo a binding in to the shrine to take part in the ceremony. From what I heard from Asuma, Kurenai had to take Hinata in for the ritual, even though normally she would be considered too timid for the position." he stopped and looked back at the young blonde who seemed lost in thought from the news, "As you may have guessed, Naruto, I was supposed to bring you here to undergo the binding yourself. I guess its just my luck I'm somehow late even for that, I mean, what are the odds of you gaining a spirit on your own. At any-rate, we are here"

Naruto stared at the stone building in front of them. It was not his first time seeing the wave shrine, but he had never really paid attention to it before now. The structure was unassuming, only a single story tall with a simple oaken door marked with an odd leaf like symbol on it.

"Ne, Kakashi-nii, what symbol is that?"

Kakashi looked at the symbol marked in the door and smiled. "That, Naruto, was the personal glyph of a very powerful warrior from long ago. Since he was from Mac Anu, the city marked the shrine with it."

Naruto nodded and glanced back at his caretaker, "Are you sure we have to go in here?"

Kakashi nodded and guided him inside. "Yes, we do. After all its here that protectors are given the spirits that will aid them in their fights against the creatures of the cursed wave."

Naruto stared wide eyed at the chamber they had entered. All around him the walls glowed with the glyphs of different wave tribes. A barely audible hum throbbed through the room making him feel as if he were in the belly of some beast. He stopped as he felt certain he could hear a voice on the edge of his thoughts, but it was feint and he could not make it out. Then he realized the odd guttural voice on the edge of his thoughts was being answered by a choir of voices coming from the glyphs on the wall.

"Eh? They talk?"

Kakashi gave a nod as he pointed to the shrines many glyphs. "Yes, the glyphs represent the essence of the wave spirits that seek to aid us. you see Naruto, whenever someone becomes a Protector they bind themselves to one of the nature spirits of the world. some of us even go by that spirit's name from time to time. myself for example am sometimes called 'Sanjuro' and as another example Kurenai often goes by 'Mistral'."

he sweeps his hand to the different runes as he continues. "Earth, Wood, Fire, Water, Lightning, and Darkness. a spirit can be from any one of those tribes. and the Wave mark you get is dependent upon the type of spirit that binds to you."

Naruto frowned and pointed to his cheeks were the red wave crests sat "but Sensei... my wave crest doesn't match any of them."

Kakashi frowned, the young son of the late hero of Mac Anu was right of course; the triangular red wave crests were unique, unlike any he had seen in the Wave Shrine. however, he had seen the glyph elsewhere, which was why they were here; to ask elder Sarutobi, why a boy, who had never undergone a binding, possessed the Wave Crest of the Twilight Dragon.

"No, it doesn't... and that's why we came here. If it were a normal wave crest I would have just started training you. But that mark... Its something of a legend, Naruto."

Naruto opened his mouth the respond, but he stopped short as a voice cut through his thoughts.

"Help... please... use it... please... he is coming..."

"Ah! Kakashi-nii! Did you hear that?"

Kakashi looked at the boy in surprise "Hear what?"

Naruto shook his head to clear it, "A voice, it sounded like a girl... she was calling out for help. I couldn't catch all the words. But she said 'he is coming'"

from behind them, the voice of an old man casually enters the conversation, "Hearing voices now are we, Naruto?"

Naruto spun to face the new voice in excitement, "Ah! Ji-san! Don't make fun of me, I really heard it."

Sarutobi Hiruzen smiled at the boy before noticing the red marks on his cheeks and turned to look at Kakashi with a worried expression, "tell me the boy has gotten a tattoo, Kakashi."

the protector shook his head no "Its a wave crest, Sarutobi-sama. He says it appeared this morning. It looks to me like..."

Sarutobi cut Kakashi off, a frown on the old man's face, "Yes, there is no question about it. Its that creature's mark."

Naruto's thoughts drifted as he listened to the two older men talk. But he soon noticed a cold whispering at the edges of his thoughts again, not the girl, but the first voice he had heard, clearer this time, and agitated.

"Boy... can you hear me?"

Naruto blinked and the world around him faded away replaced with a dark empty void and the echoing voice.

"Boy... do you hear me?"

he turned looking for any sign of Kakashi or Sarutobi, but could see nothing in the vast expanse of darkness. He shuddered as a feeling of being watched settled upon him.

"BOY! CAN YOU HEAR ME!"

Naruto recoiled in fear and called back, if only to appease this faceless monster, "I can hear you... who are you?"

"I am your partner... I am your Shadow."

Naruto frowned, so this was the wave spirit, it sounded a lot meaner that what he had heard of from Kakashi, or Sasuke. But, Naruto reasoned, it couldn't hurt him right? So mustering some bravado he challenged the voice in response. "So you are the freeloader that moved into my body last night." the response, was not what he had expected.

"Last night? FOOL! … I have always been your shadow. We are one, you and I ... the Kaitou, and his keeper"

Naruto's stomach lurched as the world spun and his vision cleared to show Sarutobi and Kakashi hovering over him in concern. He realized he was laying on his back in what appeared to be a small office that lay of to the side in the shrine building. He stared at the two for a few moments in confusion before Sarutobi spoke.

"Naruto, are you alright? You've been out for thirteen hours." The elder seemed greatly distressed and it took a few moments for the severity of his statement to sink in to the boy.

"What? Thirteen hours? but I was only speaking to him for a few minutes. At least that's what it seemed like."

Kakashi's eyes widened, "I assume you mean the wave spirit. Did it tell you its name?"

naruto shook his head, "No, but it gave a title... the Kaitou."

Sarutobi frowned and lay a hand on Naruto. "Naruto, its getting late, why don't you go home for the day and you can join your friend Sasuke and Kakashi here on a patrol to learn how to be a protector."

Naruto nodded and walked out, his head swimming from the strange feeling the voice gave him. Like it was a great beast in a cage that could only barely contain its wrath.

Once Naruto had left Kakashi turned to his leader with a look of nervous confusion, "Sarutobi-sama, are you sure its wise to send him out with veteran protectors for his training run? Wouldn't Asuma or Kurenai be better suited for that?"

Sarutobi gazed at the younger man for a while before slowly taking a draw from his pipe, "Kakashi, you may not remember, but during the months leading to Naruto's birth there were several unusual events that occurred in the fields around Dun Loriag. Several of our Guardians were found unconscious with no apparent injuries. further, in the days leading up to Naruto's Birth, at least eight different creatures of unknown origin appeared across the world, ravaging the landscape and destroying our defenses. and then to make matters worse one of those creatures tried to breach the lair of the Twilight Dragon... and awoke the dragon's Guardian."

Kakashi paled and gasped in fear "It woke Cubia?"

the elder took a slow draw on his pipe and nodded, his eyes dark "Yes, and just as the epitaph states, Cubia had no care for sides or right or wrong, once awoken he attacked everything in sight. your Sensei Minato risked his life to use the ritual of binding to do something no one had ever even attempted."

the silver haired jonin stared, the roof of his mouth dry in fear. "you mean he..."

"Aa, he bound Cubia to young Naruto, at first, no wave crest appeared, so we assumed Cubia had been put back to sleep. However, if Cubia has now marked Naruto..." the old man paused.

"Sarutobi-sama?" Kakashi seemed to fidget, unsure what to do.

"Kaitou means Shadow Thief in the old tongue, the fact that Cubia used that to describe itself... Take him to Hulle Granz, Kakashi, we will see what the high priests have to say, perhaps this is the goddess at work" Sarutobi calmly ordered as he emptied his pipe.

Kakashi bowed, "Hai, Sandaime-Sama"

Meanwhile Naruto frowned as he walked back from the temple alone, his Sensei having stayed to discuss what the appearance of the dragon's crest meant with the elder. he had never even wanted to be a protector, and now he apparently had a spirit freeloading in him without so much as a hello. he paused as he saw one of Mac Anu's many training rings was still being used even in the dark evening hours. a young girl, with short cropped hair was panting in exhaustion as she leaned on a giant zweihander, while Kurenai stood near by leaning on a gold wavemaster's staff. curiosity getting the better of him, he crept closer.

"Ok, 'Blackrose', one more time, and try and feel the lightning spirit's energy flowing through you." the black haired girl nodded raising her sword over her head and focusing. Naruto's eyes widened as her smooth hair began to go jagged as if effected by static. the girl swung the sword down in a summersalt as she yelled, "Death Bringer!"

the girls hair now glowed almost white from channeling the energy of her wave spirit as she turned to see a shadowy figure at the edge of the training ring. shouldering the blade she gestured to the observer, who was of course poor Naruto and called out in agitation to him. "Oi! its rude to stare you know!"

Naruto jumped and stepped forward bowing profusely "ah! sorry! its just that you looked so cool!"

the girl stopped short, her hair falling limp and fading back to black with a burst of static as she went wide eyed "Na-naruto kun?" realizing what she had just said to her crush was to much, and Hinata soon blacked out from embarrassment.

"Eh? it was Hinata-chan? Oi! is she ok, Kurenai-sensei?"

Kurenai smiled and shook her head "She'll be alright, she just needs rest. controlling a wave spirit is difficult at first. keep that in mind, ok?"

Naruto nodded and turned to leave his own thought now even more turbulent 'difficult to control... ah man... just my luck.'

deep within him the voice pondered the boy's fate, seemingly knowing what awaited them.

"What will you do, boy, when we face the truth at the cathedral? Who will you side with … The Mother... or the Daughter?"

-)::(- Chapter end

DN: well, there it is, hope you guys like how this is going,

Naruto: "Next time on Tasogare! Stolen lives in the Cathedral of Dreams!"