- "Shugo... I'm here, and I'm alright. I have no idea where here is but I, I'm alive. So please, help me please?..."
- — Rena —
Footsteps of Collapse (崩壊の足音) is the ninth episode of .hack//Legend of the Twilight.
Late at night Shugo dreams about the mail he recently received from Rena. In it she told him that she was still ok, but was lost and trapped. Her last, desperate plea for help causes him to wake up in a cold sweat. Getting out of bed he walks over to his computer and logs onto The World
Meanwhile Balmung thinks about his recent demotion, chuckling to himself he decides that maybe being a normal player again isn't really a bad thing. In Mac Anu his successor Kamui continues her hunt for illegal players, her assistant Magi appears with a report. While the Cobalt Knights have succeeded in arresting finding numerous illegal players, Shugo has yet to be located. Kamui swears that she'll hunt him down and delete him herself, saying that a player like Shugo has no right to exist in The World.
From a hiding place Mireille and Shugo watch as a group of Knights delete a player in the middle of a street. Mireille tells Shugo that with so many Knights in the Root Town it will be next to impossible for him to move around safely. Digging into her stash of rare items she pulls out two animal costumes and forces Shugo into one. Just as Shugo finishes putting on the costume two Knights arrive, despite the disguise they recognize Shugo and begin pursuing him and Mireille through the streets of Mac Anu. Luckily both Shugo and Mireille manage to escape by ducking into Ouka's hideout. Safely inside they greet Sanjuro and Hotaru who are sitting waiting for them.
Shugo says that even with the mail from Rena, he still has no idea where she is. And even if he did he'd have no way of reaching her without being captured by the Cobalt Knights. Suddenly Reki enters the hideout with an offer of aid.
In the real world, Michi, Katsuyuki, and Daisuke monitor the conditions in The World. Daisuke laments that with the Cobalt Knights everywhere, they can't use any of their powerful hacks to find or delete Shugo. Looking around he notices that Hayato is missing. Katsuyuki tells him that he's testing out a new PC he bought. In a field Hayato looks down at an adventuring party. Smirking he summons a data bug to attack them, but is surprised when a squadron of Cobalt Knights immediately appears and deletes it. Annoyed, he gates out unaware that one of the Knights is tracking his movement. In Mac Anu Magi tells Kamui that they've succeeded in locating one of the hackers, and are planning to track his movements back to his base.
In Ouka's hideout, Reki tells Shugo that after examining the e-mail Rena sent, he has been able to pinpoint her location. She has been sealed away on a server that is still being constructed, and is unaccessible by normal players. He tells Shugo that the people responsible for the problem must be hackers, since they were able to access an inaccessible area without alerting CC Corp. He gives him a key containing Rena's location, but warns him that the hackers are probably there as well. Shugo says that even with the key, if the server is closed off he can't reach it, but Sanjuro tells him that there is a way. By using his Twilight Bracelet Shugo will be able to Gate Hack and access the server.
Outside the game Hayato sends a message to his friends telling them that his location has been compromised. Daisuke begins to panic, but Michi calmly tells him to continue with the plan. Everything has already been taken care of.
Back in Ouka's hideout Hotaru comes up with a plan to get Shugo to the Chaos Gate. Taking the frog costume he was wearing, she gives it to Komiyan III, saying it's a gift from Rena. With the costume on the Cobalt Knights mistake him for Shugo and give chase, with them distracted Ouka and Sanjuro easily overpower the guards at the Chaos Gate. Approaching the gate, Shugo uses his Bracelet to Gate Hack himself and his party to the area Dying Destroyer's Grave.
There Shugo's Party is met by the hackers, who were waiting for the Cobalt Knights to arrive. When Kamui appears she assumes that Shugo is in league with the hackers & declares that she will destroy all of them. The hackers then make modified monsters appear, to which Kamui simply orders her knights to delete them, only for their attacks to have no effect.
When Shugo rushes off to datadrain the monsters Kamui starts fighting him. Shugo tells her that they need to stop the modified monsters, however she responds by telling him that they will defeat the monsters after she deletes Shugo & his friends. When the hackers comment that everything is going exactly as planned, Michi smiles & the monsters vanish. Morti then appears & starts to delete the area after trapping them there then claims everyone will die.
The episode ends with Rena being unable to escape with the others.