Nya, Chapter 1 took this long to type? Wowzies! But hey, that's how the cookie crumbles or whatever. And thanks to all you people and your wonderful reviews! Thanks for voting, everyone. :) I was shocked to find 7 reviews in one day. But I think that DN is the largest fandom I've ever written (and published on FF) for, except for maybe Lord of the Rings, so I'm not used to so many fangirls at the same time. XD

Anyhoo, on with the chapter! :D

Disclaimer: …L's still dead, isn't he?

!~!~!

Chapter 1 – Separation

Silence followed Matsuda's rhetorical question. Finally, after digging around in his pockets for quite some time, L pulled out several head microphones and began passing them around.

"Lucky for us," he explained, "I expected the unexpected and came prepared. However, I did not predict that so many of us would be here, so I am afraid there's not enough for everyone. Therefore, in the event that we are separated, please make sure that you are with someone who has a headset."

Matsuda's eyes lit up. "So basically, we should use the Buddy System?"

L sighed, placing a headset in the young investigator's outstretched palm. "I don't know why I trust you with this expensive piece of equipment," he mumbled under his breath, "but yes, we are essentially using the 'Buddy System'."

Matsuda slammed the headset onto his skull. "Cool!"

In the end, Mr. Yagami, Light, Near, Matsuda, and L each had a headset.

"I was planning on using the extra two as spares," L said around his thumb, "but we'll want to have as much connection with each other as possible."

Mello let out a low growl.

"Why do you trust Near with a stupid headset and not me, huh?" he shouted, pointing angrily at the emotionless, hair-twirling prodigy. "Is it because I'm second? That's what it is, isn't it? I knew it!"

L blinked. "No," he replied slowly; "I just wanted to spread the headsets out. It has nothing to do with you being second place."

"So I am second place!"

"I never said that."

"Uh, yeah you did!"

L turned his back to the livid blonde as Light began to speak, addressing the entire group.

"Alright everyone," he said, doing his best to sound cheerful, "the door may not work, but there's bound to be another way out of this place, right?"

"Right!" Misa interjected, pounding her fist in the air enthusiastically. "I just know you'll save us, Light-kun! I just know it!"

Light gave her an awkward nod, smiling briefly before turning back to the crowd in front of him. "Now, I know L gave us these microphones – very useful, by the way – but I want us all to stick together, okay?"

Murmurs of agreement rippled around the group, and then a shout from Sayu:

"Hey, where'd the sheep kid and Mr. Anger Management go?"

Everyone whipped around to face the young girl (who was standing near the back of the crowd with her mother and father), and saw Mello marching through the archway that lead down the hall, a less motivated-looking Near padding after him, still twirling a lock of white hair.

"W-wait!" Mr. Yagami shouted, lurching forward, "You aren't supposed to leave the group!"

Light put a hand on his father's shoulder. "Don't follow them," he warned, "we can't afford to break up any more than we have already."

"He's right," L spoke calmly, drawing instant attention to himself; "I've known Mello and Near all my life. They can take care of themselves."

Mr. Yagami stared at the dark, foreboding hallway for a moment longer, before nodding and turning away. The minute his father's back was turned, Light's face contorted into one of blackened malice.

With any luck, those two won't come back at all, He thought grimly. The last thing I need is two more L's on my tail.

!~!~!

"I just know you'll save us, Light," Mello mimicked sardonically, stomping down the dark passage, "I just know it! Yeah, right. Not that pretty boy."

"Light Yagami is smarter than he may appear," Near murmured, twirling a curl of hair while clutching his robot possessively. Mello froze mid-stride, his brow furrowing in aggravation.

"And why'd you have to follow me, you little twit?" He raged, spinning around to face his rival.

"L said that those without headsets had to stay by someone who did." Near replied. "For that reason, when I saw you sneaking off, I decided it'd be in L's best interest to follow you."

Mello clenched his fists at his sides. "So now you're rubbing in the fact that you have a headset and I don't, huh?"

Near stared on and began to play with his action figure. Mello snorted.

"Whatever. I'm gonna go find a way out of here." With that he spun on his heel and continued down the hall. Much to his annoyance, the repetitive shuffling sound of Near attempting to walk resumed, refusing to leave him in peace.

"It would be more productive if we searched for an exit together," the young Indonesian boy reasoned after a moment of silence. Mello turned up his nose.

"Yeah, like I would work with a brat like you."

Another moment of silence, and then, "Stop."

Mello paused reluctantly, watching Near with wary eyes as the boy circled around to the front. "What is it now?"

Near didn't reply, but merely began to unbutton the taller boy's shirt.

"Hey – wha…?" Mello's eyes widened. "What d'you think you're doing, Near?"

Near didn't reply, but instead flipped over one of the shirt sides and reached for the inside pocket. When he pulled back, in his grip he held a second, smaller robot action figure.

"I was hoping it was still there," he murmured, returning to his self-assigned spot in the back. Mello stood still in shock for a moment, before hurriedly re-buttoning his shirt.

"Quit using my clothes to store your stupid toys, Near." He announced loudly, and then stormed off into the darkness, said boy tottering loyally behind him.

!~!~!

"It's been half an hour and they're still not back!" Matsuda moaned worriedly, slumping against the wall. "Where could Cello and Queer possibly be?"

"Mello and Near," L corrected absent-mindedly, staring off into space from his crouching position beside the young detective, "and like I said, they can take care of themselves."

"I know," Matsuda sighed. "But they just kind of… left."

"He has a point," Mr. Yagami agreed grimly; "We have no idea what's out there."

"Except for those weird cloaked guys," Sayu shuddered. "But I didn't like them very much."

!~!~!

The room was pitch black, save a brightly-shining laptop screen placed in the middle of the room. Before the screen stood a cloaked figure, standing stock-still, except for single hand which was outstretched, using a touchpad to move the cursor about the screen.

"Wowzers," the figure mumbled, clicking on a link. "I'm surprised people don't wanna kill Misa yet. Ah, well, to each his own and the lady kissed a cow."

"Hey!" a voice called from somewhere further in the darkness.

"Yeah?" the cloaked figure didn't look up from the laptop.

"The Master wishes to see you."

The figure sighed, reluctantly tearing their gaze away from the addictive lights. "Nya, again?"

"Yes."

"Well, fine. I'll be there in a sec."

After clicking around for a little while longer, the cloaked figure finally shut the laptop and glided out of the room, tripping over the cloak's hem several times in the process. Finally, they arrived in a fairly dark room, lit only by the faint candles placed on pedestals around the edge of the room. The cloaked figure gave a short, Japanese-styled bow before the shadowed throne.

"You wanted to see me, Master?"

"Yes," the deep voice rumbled. "And you know fully well why."

The figure shifted. "Y-yes, I think I do."

"Did you recruit new members for our cause?"

"Yeah… well, I mean, I tried."

The figure let out a small sigh. "Bring them forth."

The cloaked figure bowed again, and, with an elegant sweep of their sleeve, revealed four more figures stepping out of the shadows.

"Here they are, Master," the figure mumbled. Then, nodding to each in turn; "This is Ewon, Emirii, Eipuriru, and Jardè."

Each of the new figures were wearing completely black cloaks, whereas the original (and extremely dorky) cloaked figure was wearing one with a more dead plum tinge to it.

The man on the throne let out a growl. "This is all you could find?"

The dead plum-tinged figure flinched with a tentative nod. "I'm sorry, Master, but this is it…"

"We're willing to help Kuri if it means she'll come out of this alive," the taller figure – Eipuriru – piped up, stepping forward.

"Silence!" The Master roared, but Eipuriru didn't flinch. The Master glared, his anger increasing.

Th-this girl is immune to my powers…? He could hardly believe it to be true. In all his years of ruling, no one had ever been able to resist him. Some were more difficult to break, yes, but all had come to their knees. But this girl wasn't even afraid. Perhaps she… had nothing to fear?

Pushing the preposterous thoughts to the back of his mind, the Master swept another cold gaze over the four new recruits.

"Jardè," he snarled. This figure, the tallest of them all, gave a slow nod in response. The Master smirked.

This one is strong, but I can smell their fear…

"Tell me, Jardè," he said with sugar-coated words, "Boy or girl?"

"Um, I'm a boy."

"And your name – Spanish or Italian?"

"Well, actually," Jardè began with a small sigh, "It sounds more French to me, but I dunno. I think someone just kinda made it up."

The Master gave a slow nod, and then turned to Emirii.

"Eep!" she squeaked out, cowering under her cloak. The Master smirked viciously.

This one's almost as bad as Kurisutiina. Almost, but not quite… Easy enough to break, however.

"Emirii," he instructed, leaning back against his throne. "You and Kurisutiina are close friends, am I correct?"

"Y-yes… Master, you are."

"Excellent. I'm expecting you and her to work together, being my closest and most revered servants."

"Oh, yes!" Emirii's eyes glowed from behind the shadows of her overhanging hood. "I would like that very much!"

The Master nodded. "And Ewon…"

"Yes?"

"Master; call me Master."

The third and final girl sighed. "Yes, Master?"

"You, along with Eipuriru and Jardè, will be going out and doing all the dirty work."

"Hey!" Eipuriru shouted, stepping forward boldly, "That's not fair! I didn't come here to be bossed around by some sucker in a bathrobe."

Kurisutiina winced, but the Master merely laughed – a dark, menacing laugh.

"I never promised anything when recruiting you four. Now, off you go. Not you, Kurisutiina," he added harshly. The girl sighed as her friends exited the room.

"Kurisutiina," he repeated, leaning forward. "What are the current situations of our… guests?"

Kurisutiina bit her lip. "Um, they're all here, and two of them – Mello and Near, I think – went off in search of a hiding place. The rest are still in the main entryway… room… place. Yeah."

The Master stroked his long, pointy white beard, mumbling to himself. Then he stood with a whoosh, causing the smaller girl to stumble back a few paces.

"Our first plan of action will be to separate the rest of them," he declared, gliding down the stairs of the platform on which his throne sat. "Jardè is good with his hands, correct?"

"Y-yeah," Kurisutiina stammered, watching her master with wide eyes.

"Have him create some trapdoors and the such. As for Eipuriru and Ewon, they can help execute the separation process. Go and show Jardè the best places to construct the trapdoors. Oh, and send in the other two. I must give them more elaborate orders."

The girl gave a quick nod and scurried out of the room.

I can't believe I'm actually doing this… she let out a small, gloomy sigh, pulling a picture out from under her cloak. I've been his biggest fan since the moment I saw him, and now he… and now he might die.

!~!~!

Now an hour had passed, according to Light's watch – and Light's watch was always right. After all, if it were even one second off the actual time, then all his plans could be foiled.

"Hey, Light?" The said boy turned his head, looking over at his sister who was huddled at his side. "Do you… do you think we'll ever get out of here?"

He smiled good-naturedly, patting Sayu on the head. "I'm sure we will," he murmured. "Don't worry."

As though on queue, Mrs. Yagami let out an ear-splitting screech as the floor opened up beneath her and she plummeted into darkness.

"Mom!" Sayu shrieked, scrambling to her feet and dashing over to the gaping hole in the floor.

"Sachiko, I'm coming!" Mr. Yagami shouted, speeding past his daughter.

"Mr. Yagami, wait!" L's eyes widened in uncharacteristic panic; "Don't-"

But it was too late. The ex-chief had already leapt through the opening, thus following his wife into the sinister abyss.

Light's eyes flashed and he hurried over to the edge of the gap, peering down. Sayu had now broken down, tears flowing freely down her face as she gasped and sobbed with panic.

"Mom! Dad!" Light shouted urgently. He got no reply.

"Ryuzaki, what do we do?" Matsuda breathed, staring at the scene with horror. L didn't reply, but began chewing on his thumb thoughtfully. Suddenly, a witch-like cackling sounded from above. At the top of the stair stood a figure cloaked all in black.

"You'll get nowhere following them through the trapdoor," when they spoke, the voice was light and bouncy despite the evil words – obviously female.

"What have you done to Mr. and Mrs. Yagami?" Matsuda shouted angrily, stepping forward to get a better look at the enemy. The figure just laughed again and swept away.

Matsuda let out a grunt of annoyance and dashed after them, despite L's urgent calls.

"I'm not letting them get away!" Matsuda explained loudly, careening up the steps. "I'm going to find Chief Yagami and his wife!"

"Ooh! Ooh!" Misa jumped up and down, waving her hand excitedly before following the young man; "Let me come too! I want to help Light-kun's family too!"

L sighed as the two most energetic members of the group disappeared. Light stood slowly, pulling his sister gently to her feet as well.

"So it's just us now, huh?" he murmured, wrapping an arm around Sayu protectively.

L glanced at the trapdoor, and found with mild surprise that it was now shut.

"Yes, I suppose we are."

Light narrowed his eyes. "This was their plan all along – to separate us."

"My thoughts exactly."

Sayu let out a soft whimper, burying her face into her brother's chest.

"I want out," she choked, fisting his shirt. "I don't want to be here anymore."

"We don't really have a choice, I'm afraid," L said; the girl made no sign that she had heard him, but wriggled out of her brothers grip, sliding to the ground, face void of any emotion but shock.

"We need a plan to find the others, quick," Light said, pushing his sister to the back of his mind.

"Yes," L agreed, "and we need to know what these… people plan on gaining through this."

"I suggest we call everyone else up on the communicators," Light pulled his own headset off, staring down at it. "But… you never really explained how these worked."

"Oh, it's quite simple really. The button here-"

The two older men continued to converse, and failed to notice the young and shook-up girl slowly crawling to the spot in the floor where her parents had been swallowed up.

!~!~!

"Sachiko?" Mr. Yagami called urgently, stumbling blindly through the pitch-black passageway. "Sachiko, answer me!"

"Soichiro, i-is that you?" a voice whimpered from somewhere further away. Mr. Yagami's eyes widened and he quickened his pace, almost tripping over the limp arm that was splayed out across his path.

"Sachi…ko?" was all the chief able to utter when he finally found his voice.

A single torch was mounted on the wall, casting a portentous glow across the body of the woman. She looked dizzy and disoriented, and a thin line of blood trickled down the side of her head.

"Sachiko, are you alright?" Mr. Yagami gasped out, kneeling beside his wife and helping her into a sitting position.

"Y-yes, I think so," she mumbled, placing a hand to the mild wound on her head. "It was very dark, and then I tripped…"

Mr. Yagami let out a faint laugh of relief. "I'm glad that's all," he said, pulling his wife into a tight embrace. The woman began to sigh into the hug, but before she had the chance, a tight force constricted around her neck, jerking her backwards. Mr. Yagami gasped when Sachiko disappeared from his grasp. Now she was being pulled up against the wall, arms reaching out and spidery tanned hands laced themselves around the older woman's neck.

"S-Sachiko!" Mr. Yagami called out, reaching for his wife. The hands nimbly moved the woman to the side, and Mr. Yagami saw the source of the intruder. One of the stones of the wall had been pushed out, leaving a gap just large enough for someone to stick their arms out and… well, strangle a person on the other side.

"Let her go, you… you…" despite the circumstances, Mr. Yagami refused to use foul language in front of his wife, and struggled for an equally insulting word as he grabbed the arms, shaking them viciously in an attempt to free Sachiko. To his complete and utter surprise the arms complied, releasing the innocent woman and slithering back into the safety of their base. Mr. Yagami spun around and swept Sachiko up in his arms, ignoring the odd grinding sound of a second stone sealing off the hole.

"Sachiko, are you alright?" Mr. Yagami asked breathlessly.

No reply.

"Sachiko, answer me! Please!" Growing desperate, the former chief shook his wife gently, his grip tightening around her shoulders. Still no reaction; her pale lips were parted slightly, but no breath escaped them. Her eyes were closed gently, and her hair was limp and slightly matted with blood and a few beads of glistening sweat.

No… Mr. Yagami screwed his eyes shut, refusing to believe the truth that sat before him – the dead, limp, and helpless truth.

"Dad? Dad, can you here me?" the voice of his son crackled through the headphones, but Mr. Yagami felt no desire to reply. "Dad, if you can hear me, press the button on the side of the headphones to reply. Dad, can you hear me? Dad?"

The urgent calls continued. Mr. Yagami let out a small sigh and leaned back up against the wall, not caring if the hands returned to strangle him as well.

In fact, he sort of wished for death to come.

At least he'd die with Sachiko at his side.

!~!~!

"Did you hear that?" The Master cackled, tapping his fingers rhythmically against the armrest of his throne. "He wishes for death. So why don't we grant it?"

"Not yet," Kurisutiina stated matter-of-factly, holding her trusty laptop in one hand and tapping around on it with the other. "We have to hear what the people want first." Then, whipping her gaze up as dramatically and un-dorky as possible, declared, "So, who'll it be next? Mr. Yagami, or someone else? Misa would be a good choi-"

"You idiot!" Eipuriru shouted, tackling the girl from the side. "Quit advertising shamelessly!"

Emirii let out a squeak as the laptop went flying from her companion's hand and leapt forward, rescuing the electronic device from certain doom. Ewon watched the whole scene with slight amusement, wondering mildly if she should interfere or just leave them be. Jardè stood a little off to the side from the rest, looking down at his faintly trembling hands as though he just committed murder – which, in fact, he had.

"I- I can't believe I just did that…" He murmured, more to himself than anyone else. However, the Master, being the master that he is, heard him, and clicked lightly with his tongue.

"You'll get used to it," he assured the boy, waving his hand as though he could shoo the problem away. "Now, all of you get back to your rooms. We've got a lot of work to do tomorrow. Not you, Kurisutiina."

Said girl let out a sad little sigh as her friends shuffled away, Eipuriru sending the Master a possessive glare before pulling her friend into a quick good-bye hug.

"See you tomorrow, Kuri." She whispered. Kurisutiina nodded mutely, barely able to return the embrace before her friend was gone.

"Now, my little minion," the Master purred, hopping off his throne and gliding down the stairs, "I've got a lot for you to do."

Kurisutiina groaned. "But it's late!"

"Only ten-thirty. You've stayed up later."

Kurisutiina's shoulders sagged in defeat.

"Show me what to do."

!~!~!

Ta-da! The fruits of my labor! :D Or… lack thereof. Anyhoo, I hope you guys aren't too disappointed. And sorry if I'm focusing a lot on the bad guys, but I feel that their whole situation needs to addressed in order to give the story more depth, or whatever. I suck at action scenes, by the way, if it weren't obvious enough… I just, like, want to make it all as descriptive as possible, but then I run out of words and it ends up looking like chopped-up crap. DX

BUT I DIGRESS.

Please review, and don't forget to vote! :D Thanks for ya'll being so wonderful so early on in the life of this lil' piece of junk! You're da bestest! :3

Luffs ya!

~ Christina Conlon