Welcome to Azumanga Epica! I warn you now, high strangeness ahead!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was beautiful, warm, clear. 'A perfect night for walkin', Osaka thought.
This wasn't totally strange of her to do. In the middle of the night she suddenly felt the burning urge to get up and leave Chiyo-chan's beach house for a walk in the forest.

'Wow, these trees are sorta creepy at night.', she thought although she seemed inexorably drawn deeper into the woods.
Sticks and leaves crunched under her feet, clad only in sandals. Without even needing to think she drew herself through a patch of bushes and between a close copse of trees.
"Hey, would ya look at that...", she spoke into the cool night air as she noticed the polished sphere buried under a small amount of fallen leaves. The sphere was no larger than a softball and absolutely smooth, as if made of crystal. The inside was cloudy, only slightly translucent.
As she laid her fingers upon the ball a myriad of images flashed through her brain. Too fast to comprehend. She pulled back a moment.
"That was weird.", she said.
Yet, she placed her hands back around the sphere and lifted in to eye level. This time though, nothing happened save for a slight tingle at the tips of her fingers.
"Hehe...wait'll everyone sees this.", she said as she made her way back to the house, giggling happily.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Yooomiiii!! WAKE UP!!", Tomo screamed mere centimeteres from her friend's ear.
Yomi woke with a start, nearly tumbling off her bed.
"Dammit, Tomo. What time is it"
"Does it matter!? Chiyo-chan is making breakfast and it sure smells good! So, c'mon!", Tomo said as she yanked Yomi into an upright position.
"Man! Osaka sleeps like a rock!", Tomo leaned over the still-sleeping girl and placed her lips near her ear. She took a deep inhalation of breath, but Yomi stopped the inevitable by wrapping her arm so tightly around Tomo's throat that not even a gurgle came out.
"Let poor Osaka sleep. Now, let's go.", Yomi said as she yanked Tomo bodily downstairs.

"Do you want to go to the beach today, Sakaki-san?", Chiyo asked sweetly whilst still frying a pair of eggs.
"Oh, yes. That would be nice.", Sakaki nodded.
"I want to go to the beach too!", Kaorin had slid up, seemingly out of nowhere, blushing furiously and waving her hand like someone who has lost their mind.
Chiyo simply smiled.
"Everyone's invited"
"That's if everyone finally gets up!", Tomo yelled, having escaped from Yomi's grip.
Chiyo looked at the assembled girls and counted.
'Miss Kurosawa, Sakaki, Kaorin, Tomo, Kagura, Yomi...'
"Are Miss Yukari and Osaka still asleep?", she asked.
"Yea! And...", Tomo began.
"I'm awake. I'm awake.", Osaka mumbled as she plodded down the stairs, her eyes still half closed.
"Hey! What's that ya got there!?", Tomo pointed to the shining globe that Osaka held in her left hand.
"Oh, this?", Osaka sat down at the low table and placed the sphere upon it. Everyone crowded around. Even Chiyo abandoned her cooking to watch the spectacle.

Everyone seemed entranced by just how strange the thing looked. Tomo leaned closer to inspect it.
"What the hell is it?", she asked.
"I dunno. Found it in the woods when I went walkin' last night.", Osaka responded.
"You went for a walk last night?", Chiyo piped in.
"Uh-huh.", Osaka nodded. "I felt tha urge to walk, so I did"
"This thing is really strange. It looks all misty inside.", Miss Kurosawa added.
"Can I...touch it?", Tomo asked.
"I don't know if you should be touching things that Osaka found in the woods.", Yomi interjected.
"It's ok, Yomi. It won't hurt ya.", Osaka said.
"Well, in that case...", Tomo streched her hand and placed her fingertips on the sphere. A moment later she withdrew them in shock.
"It feels all..tingly.", Tomo said gazing at her fingers.
"What the hell are you talking about?", Yomi said seriously.
"I'm being serious. Give it a shot.", Tomo said.
Yomi huffed and touched the globe as well. She also pulled her hand back when she felt the tingle rush through her body.
"Strange"
Everyone took their turn to brush their fingers across the object. Each one feeling the odd effects it had.
"That thing is certainly not normal.", Miss Kurosawa said.
"Maybe we should put it back where it came from.", Sakaki suggested.
"Sakaki-san is right! It could be dangerous!", Kaorin added.

"Whass dangurush?", Yukari slurred as she plodded her way into the room obviously hung over.
"This thing that Osaka found in the woods.", Miss Kurosawa said pointing to the sphere on the table.
"Thish thing?", Yukari asked as she picked up the object.
Everyone looked at her, and she simply stared back, eyes hooded.
"What? Are my boobs popping out? What are ya all looking at?", Yukari asked.
What was enticing everyone was the inside of the sphere. The once stagnant blue mist that seemed to cloud the crystal was now swirling and seeming to take on a life of it's own.
"What...the hell is it doing?", Tomo asked.
The globe began to shine with a radiant blue light.
"S...S...Sakaki-san...I'm scared!", Kaorin took the opportunity to clutch on to Sakaki's sleeve.
The first pulse of blue light filled the room and passed through the walls. "W...What on earth is this thing!?", Yukari held the object at arm's length.
"Drop it, Yukari!", Kagura screamed.
"I...I can't!", Yukari answered, her entire body shaking.
Chiyo had buried her face in Osaka's shoulder and clutched her with the strength of someone two times her size. Osaka, on the other hand, sat transfixed by the ball.
The second pulse of blue light filled the room with a brighter glow.
"Someone go knock it from her hands! Cuz I can't move!", Kagura said.
"I can't move either!", Yomi answered.
"N...neither can I. My feet are stuck!", said Miss Kurosawa.
Yukari let out a terrifying scream as the third blue pulse filled the room with a deep, distant blue shine. Nothing remained.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tomo's eyes cracked open to let in the dreary amount of light that was allowed in through the barred window. She went to stand, but found that she couldn't.
"What the hell?", she thought out loud as she wiggled her arms. The movement was answered by a clattering of chains. She gazed upwards to see that her hands were manacled and chained abover her to the wall, a gray brick wall that formed the back part of a cell. An iron barred door took up the facing wall.
"Hey! Where the hell am I!? Let me out of here!", she screamed, kicking her feet and making a dispicable amount of noise.
No answer. No movement. Nothing.
"Let me out!", she repeated the process.
She waited again. Still nothing.
She hung her head is dismay. 'Where is everybody?' , she thought.
The darkness of the room retreated. The entire room filled with light. In this enhanced light she saw chains. On the end of those chains were hooks. On those hooks were her friends. Hung by their feet like side of beef, each one had their throat slit, their blood oozed onto the stone floor.
Tomo buried her eyes from the sight.
"NO NO NO!!!", she raged kicking her feet, the tears streaming from her tightly shut eyes.
"THIS ISN'T REAL!! IT CAN'T BE REAL!!"

"Tomo, you're a failure.", came a voice.
"Y...Yomi?", Tomo asked as she opened her eyes to see her friend standing in front of her.
"Yes, it's me.", Yomi responded.
"Y..you're alive?", Tomo asked.
The others were still hanging, their blood still coating the floor.
Yomi let her head hang back a bit, exposing a neat slit in her neck that exposed her bloody trachea.
"W...what the hell? Yomi, what happened here?", Tomo asked, practically hyperventilating.
"You couldn't save us, Tomo. You failed again. You always fail.", Yomi said, her voice hissing.
"B..but Yomi. I...don't even know what happened!", it was a rare sight indeed to see Tomo cry.
"You failed to save us! You let all your friends down! Look now! We're all dead!", Yomi motioned to the hanging corpses and began to laugh.
One by one, each hanging body turned it's head and gazed at Tomo with dead eyes. Each one began to laught and taunt the now hysterical girl.
"Tomo you failure"
"You can't do anything right"
"You're a waste Tomo"
"Everyone said you were stupid and they were right"
The laughter erupted and Tomo could do nothing but close her eyes and weep.

"I..I didn't mean to. I love you guys..."

Speaking those words, the laughter stopped.

Tomo opened her eyes once more. Her hands were free and she was able to stand. Nothing but blackness remained. Out of the blackness came the form of Yomi. Tomo cringed a bit, thinking it was another terror about to happen.
"Y...Yomi?", she whispered, terrified.
Yomi nodded in response. Tomo let out a sigh of relief when she saw no slit across her neck.
"Yomi!! I just had the worst thing happen to me!", Tomo ran to her friend and buried her face in the other's ample chest.
"I woke up and I was...", Tomo began her tale.
"I know.", said Yomi.
Yet the voice was not Yomi's. Tomo quickly broke the embrace and looked up to see a far different person. It was a man with wavy golden hair that shined even in the darkness. He wore a robe of the purest white. Yet, his face shone with a benevolent smile and comfortable blue eyes.

"...What the hell!? Where's Yomi!?", Tomo exploded.
"She is fine. Please be calm.", the man said. His voice was definately reassuring.
"Who are you? And, goddammit! Tell me where I am"
The man smiled kindly.
"My name is Samael and you are inside yourself."

"Cut the crap! Where am I, really!", Tomo asked.
"I wouldn't lie.", Samael answered.
"Then what was that freaky thing that just happened? Huh!? Was that real"
"Only if you want it to be.", Samael answered.
"No...I don't want that to happen. Ever...", Tomo shivered at the memory.

"Do you understand, Tomo Takino?", Samael asked.
"Understand what!? That torture you put me through!? I should kick your ass right now"
"Do you understand yourself, Tomo Takino?", Samael repeated.
Tomo just growled in anger and swung her fist hard at Samael. Yet, her fist passed through thin air.
"Are you embarassed about what you experienced? Are you scared?", Samael said from his new place behind her.
"Scared!? I'm never scared!", Tomo growled.
"No, that experience did not scare you. It terrified you. It was the worst fear you have ever felt.", Samael dragged through the words.
Those words caused Tomo to pause. She shook in a combination of anger and fear.
'H..how can he know all this?', Tomo thought.
"I know your worst fear, Tomo Takino. I have exposed you to it. Now, do you understand?", Samael answered her unspoken question.
Tomo nodded. She knew. She feared being a failure. Sure, she goofed off too much. Sure, she wasn't the best student. But for anything and everything, she would never fail her friends. That was what truly made her scared. Her failure. She would succeed. She needed to. For everyone.

"What are you?", Tomo spoke.
"I am a teacher"
With that, Samael faded from view leaving Tomo alone with only the darkness to befriend her.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! More strangeness ahead! (choo-choo!)