** The Enemy Within **, chapter 1

by Lilian.

lilian413@yahoo.com
***************

Keep in mind:

'Ginzuishou'--- Silver Crystal.

'Great Sleep'--- After the battle with the Black Moon
Clan, the Earth was put into deep sleep thanks to Usagi
and the Crystal. For more fanon info on that matter,
read Meara's excellent 'Full Circle' chronicles.

****************
I knew I'd never die in the battlefield. How could I,
being (only second to Usagi) the Senshi everyone
protects? New enemy arrives and wham,
Haruka/Mako/Mina/pick-your-favorite-Senshi stands in
front of me like a dog looking after its owner. I guess I
should be flattered, but sometimes it gets downright
annoying.

Be it because without me the Senshi would lack a
tactical advisor, or maybe because the enemies can see
that my attacks cannot do them harm (being of the
defensive type), I do tend to get blasted around a
lot. Either way, whenever I begin scanning a new
enemy, I lose track of everything else around me--- I
*know* that without my words of advice the Senshi
would attack endlessly until by chance they found the
monster's weak spot.

I do not mind being the 'weak link'. Fighting has
never been in my nature, and I never expected it to
be. I prefer to be on the sidelines, analyzing,
learning--- and if push comes to shove, I know I can
hold my own against most of the enemy lines.

But fighting was never my way of going down. It's
rather easy to picture Haruka and the rest of the
girls giving their lives taking the brunt of an
attack... me, well, I always thought I'd react a
second too late or perhaps not react at all.
Casualties of war, if you will.

And so, here I am, about to become a casualty in a war
we never expected, to a being we never expected to
fight. A war against one of our own--- the Ginzuishou.

I'm dying. I know it. I can feel my life force leaving
me, slowly--- with each passing second I get a little
weaker, my vision a little blurrier... and there's
nothing I can do to stop it. With every minute that
passes by, I grow dimmer and dimmer, until I'm just
not going to wake up.

It's funny, you know. I always thought we would live
forever (three times dead and three times reborn
pretty much screws the 'third one's the charm' theory.
Even my scientist mind cannot grasp the logic of our
many reincarnations and rebirths...) but it seems my
definition of 'eternal' is different than the
Crystal's. Yes, believe it or not, all of this is the
Silver Crystal's fault. But that doesn't matter now.
I'm dying, and that's all I can say. I'm not blaming
anyone for my misfortune, just myself.

Let me rephrase that.

I'm not blaming anyone for this situation--- there is
no one to blame. No one but fate, perhaps... humanity
always longs for something to place the guilt on. That
way, the weight of guilt becomes lighter.
Spreading the weight on many shoulders makes the
burden easier to bear.

*I* was the one who caused this illness, through my
own choice. It was my duty, my life's purpose to
protect Usagi from any harm, (Although even if I
hadn't been born a Senshi, I have a nagging feeling in
the back of my head that tells me I, all of us,
would've ended up protecting her either way) and that
is what I did.

How could I let her die like that? Not after what I
discovered.

I saw my opportunity and I seized it--- not questions
asked, no doubts.

Okay, so that's not entirely true.

I *did* doubt. Who wouldn't when faced with death? Who
wouldn't wish in their heart of hearts to avoid death
at any cost, even after living as long as I have? It's
a natural thing for mankind to do-- fear death. And I
do too, as much as I know about the afterlife thanks
to my Senshi duty. Every living thing fears death,
simply because it opposes them in every way possible.
Death ends life, and this is one case where opposites
do not attract.

Or maybe they do-- humanity has always been drawn to
death. Painting, sculptures, writing and songs... they
have all grasped the idea of death and toyed with it,
trying to explain what cannot be explained.

Maybe there's a scientist in all of us who demands
answers, who wants to know why death exists... after
all, couldn't everyone live forever?

But I digress.

I can hear them muffled and hazy around me, as if they
were talking through a curtain and I was listening to
a walkman--- I can barely pick up what they're saying,
and it's getting worse by the minute.

I need to talk to them--- I need to make them
understand!

I've listened to them scream, cry and beg in denial---
I can't talk and it hurts to even think. But I need to
let them know--- they're considering the idea of
destroying the Crystal! That would mean all of this
would've been for nothing! The Ginzuishou must go on,
I don't matter!

"Minna...".

My voice is so low none of them hear it. They don't
know. They haven't seen what I have, they don't know
what's coming--- you can't defeat what can't be
destroyed. You just can't win a battle against the
Crystal.

Our enemies learned that lesson the hard way. So did
I. I smile weakly at the irony of it. One of the
Senshi, defeated and vanquished just like any other
villain we faced in the past.

What happened? You may be asking yourself. Well, first
let me introduce myself. I am Princess Ami of Mercury,
Chosen Keeper of the Wisdom and Strength of the
Messenger, Soldier of Ice and Water, and Bishoujo
Senshi Sailor Mercury. Now that you know who I am, let
me tell you the story of my suffering... perhaps in
doing so, I will alleviate the pain of those that are
to come, and spare the grief to whomever may be
reading this---
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
::Year 3007, Crystal Tokyo, Neo Silver Millennium::

{It can't be. It just can't be}.

Ami's small and trembling hands held a manuscript
before her wide eyes.

She had read the words several times now, and still,
they horrified her every time she read them again.

The writing was old, as old as the ancient Silver
Millennium. Her beautiful face was a mask of terror;
her eyes were wide in amazement, her features were
stiff in fear. No other threat had ever made her feel
such terror.

What she held in her hands was the end of the Neo
Silver Millennium. What she was staring at was the
future, what would happen just a few weeks later, when
the Crystal would unleash its true power. Wasn't there
a way to stop this? Wasn't there something she could
do?

Feeling strangely calm, she closed her eyes, and
breathed deeply.

{Remember, Ami, remember. There's always a way out.
Always. There's always a chance... there's always
hope. Everything's not lost... not yet. You can find a
way to stop this catastrophe. Now, focus. Think of
this as a new medical discovery.)

She slowly opened her eyes, and they concentrated on
the paper in front of her. Line by line, she kept
reading... the fateful prophecy of destruction--- the
end of Serenity.

She had had her difficulties translating it in the
first place; no one remembered the dialect it used,
and the metaphors and it used so many hyperboles that
she had a hard time separating reality from fiction.

But what she came up with froze her blood and stopped
her heart.

It talked about a danger coming from within. From
within a circle of Warriors so tightly held together,
that no evil could ever defeat them. Only something
held inside their circle could destroy them, and that
something was the Silver Crystal.

It rambled for paragraphs to no end about how the
Jewel the circle held would consume the Light (the
capital letter was stressed several times). The
Feasting, it was called. It wasn't very hard to
realize the Light was Usagi, and the Jewel, the
Ginzuishou. I mean, how many almighty indestructible
gems can there be, right?

It spoke about Princesses being crowned, and children
being born. About darkness falling over a perfect
Kingdom, and warriors fighting and failing. About a
Royal family which was born and reborn, and the mark
of a crescent moon as their symbol.

Her eyes skimmed over lines and lines of sorrow and
horror, of death and destruction, reading the last few
lines one more time.

'Darkness is drawn to light. Death is drawn to life.
The End will come from Within, silent and deadly and
unstoppable'.

As she finished reading, her hands began trembling
again.

{No...}

But it was going to happen. The prophecy said nothing
about dates and specific time periods, but Ami knew---
for centuries, she had examined the Ginzuishou and she
knew when it changed. For the past few weeks, it had
been slowly but steadily losing it's glow.

When told about this, the Senshi had blamed it on the
times of peace, on lack of use if you will--- she had
been tempted to believe it too, but her logical mind
refused to accept facts without proof.

Who knew how long it would be before the Crystal would
consume Usagi? For almost a century, they had faced no
enemies, fought no battles--- had they really thought
the days of War were over?

Ami sighed and rubbed her temples, realizing just how
silly that whole theory was. In the last battle
against Chaos, the entity had revealed something that
they had suspected for a long time: as long as the
Ginzuishou existed, enemies would come for it. It was
the natural flow of things, the most basic law of
Physics--- for every reaction, there's an equal but
opposite reaction.

With all-too-powerful good, there's bound to be
all-too-powerful-evil.

The entire Universe worked based on Balance, and the
time of that balance to tilt into one direction was
coming near. That didn't mean it helped her deal one
little bit.

What the manuscripts said was so preposterous she
still couldn't believe it. The
Silver Crystal, the glimmering stone that had saved
their lives countless of times before; the symbol of
Serenity's power... was it really going to kill its
own owner? The prophecy said it would drain her life
away, pretty much in the same way Queen Serenity of
the Old Millennium had died. But there would be no
monumental battle, no Apocalypse to be thwarted--- it
would simply happen, and unleash a sequence of events
that would end life as they knew it.

The scrolls never mentioned Evil. They simply said it
was the course of events, the turning of the Great
Wheel, they called it. Go figure what the Ancients
meant with such metaphors, but they got their point
across. One day, the Crystal would wake up and decide
it had been owned by the same person long enough. And
that would be the day Usagi would die.

Desperation was starting to get her. And that was when
her communicator beeped.

She jumped on her chair, startled by its sound. She
had completely forgotten about it on the last days...
so worried she had been by her discoveries.

She picked it up and looked at it. She didn't need to
look at the screen to know who the caller was--- their
link allowed her to feel what Zoisite was feeling, and
well, lately she had had to shut him off, the doubt
and loneliness creeping into her heart too much for
her to bear, much less unconsciously passing it on to
her beloved.

The last thing she wanted right now was for one of her
close friends to find out about this--- she had hardly
had the time to come to terms with it herself. Maybe,
if she had enough time she would be able to avert the
Armageddon hovering dangerously close to home.

That was her job as a Senshi--- and her duty to the
one person who had not feared her intelligence and had
simply accepted her for herself, breaking the vicious
cycle of mockery and awe that had surrounded her life
back in the late days of the XXth century.

Taking a deep breath and collecting her thoughts as
best as she could, she pressed the small button to
open the connection and sent a prayer to whoever was
listening that she would be able to deceive her
two-lifetime soul mate.

"Hi, sweetie."

Zoisite's voice had changed over the years--- gone was
the teenage quality, replaced by wisdom and knowledge
gained after years upon years of compiling data and
doing research. But no matter how much they changed
(she was hardly the shy, mousy girl Usagi had
befriended back in high school) there was one thing
that remained the same: the love they had for one
another.

They had met under stressful circumstances, back in
the Old Silver Millennium. He had saved her from a
lecherous Prince and helped her discover herself in
the process. She had killed him when the Dark Kingdom
had purged the Moon, only to die a few hours later
defending her Princess. They had been reborn in
twentieth century Tokyo, where they had re-met, but
not before his evil clone had tormented them long and
hard, playing with their phantom memories and bringing
sadness upon the Senshi circle.

Those times were long gone, and they were still
together.

They challenged each other every day, their agile
minds working at full speed trying to catch up with
the newest inventions and discoveries--- they both
loved science to death, and perhaps it was this love
that helped to keep their own kindled, whereas other
relationships withered and died under the pressure of
eternal life.

And now, for the first time since she could remember,
she was going to lie to him. She *had* to, otherwise
he might take this burden upon his own shoulders and
do something stupid like try and keep *her* away from
it--- that was the one thing Ami found annoying about
him: the fact that no matter how powerful she got, no
matter how self-secure she became, Zoisite would
always see her as a sobbing Princess escaping the
clutches of a lusty Prince.

He suffered from the Knight in Shinning Armor
Syndrome. But then again, all the Generals did, with
Endymion being the textbook case from which it all
stemmed from.

"Hi, love".

Her heart reached out to him as she noticed the slight
darkening of his eyes--- signs that she had grown to
recognize as his Worry Face. And even if Zoisite's
voice remained nonchalant, Ami could read him better
than she could herself. She had aroused questions in
him... his mind was as quick as her own, and she could
count with her right hand the number of times she had
actually managed to slip something by Zoisite.

"What are you doing up this late? I've told you not to
do this. It can't be good
for your health."

And even if she knew he was on to her, she thanked him
silently for not pressing the issue. Ami knew that
Zoisite knew, and Zoisite knew Ami knew he knew--- a
ghost of a smile danced across Ami's lips as she
realized that being around Minako had messed with her
grammar much more than she would let anyone know.

"I know."

{Please, Zoi, let it *go*!}

"You seem a little tired. Have you been sleeping well
lately?"

No such luck. To ask him to let matters rest
undisturbed would be like asking Haruka to stop
worrying over Usagi. Simply impossible. And it didn't
matter that said girl had grown into one of the most
powerful (if not *the* most powerful) women on the
Milky Way. It was simply in their genes...

"No."

This time, the storm gathering behind Zoisite's pupils
brewed to a climax, and even the most clue-less of
people wouldn't have had any trouble noticing that he
was onto Ami. And still, the blue-haired Senshi kept
her guards up.

"You sure you're all right?"

Ami took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing
heart and trembling hands. One wrong word out of her
mouth and Zoisite would teleport to where she was,
ruining her chances of ever finding out a solution for
the prophecy that she kept clasped in her fingers.

She just thanked the fact that she had never taught
Zoisite how to read the ancient dialects... I mean,
what would've been the use of that? Nobody used them
anymore. She herself was able to read them only
because after the Great Sleep their past lives'
memories had returned, allowing her access to the
knowledge that had been dead and buried for over a
thousand years.

Thank God her former self had been as studious as she
was.

"Yes, Zoi, I'm fine. I'm just excited about some new
scrolls I found. You know how I can get!"

Sadly, Zoisite knew *exactly* how Ami could get when
something new landed on her awaiting hands. Obsessed
pretty much described it, with a tad bit of glee. As
much as he loved his wife, Zoisite *knew* that she
threw self-preservation to the wind when it came to
the pursue of knowledge... Ami rarely got sick (might
have to do with her affinity with ice. How could she
ever get a cold when she spent half the time throwing
around ice-based attacks in nothing but a mini-skirt
and boots?), but when she did, it was usually because
of lack of sleep due to continuous researching.

That led to a feeling of failure and impatience for
not being able to continue her work, which led her to
midnight escapades from bed to try and get some work
done, which of course, led to her condition
worsening---- it was a cycle, up until Zoisite
threatened to tie her down and keep her away from her
books for good if she did not stop.

Funny how the doctor within her was always overpowered
by the scientist.

"Need any help? Things are pretty slow here, and we
could use some time alone..."

He let the end of his sentence hang, knowing full well
that Ami would get the meaning of it. His heart melted
when he saw her blushing slightly--- even after a
lifetime of being together, the timid Ami surfaced
sometimes, especially when matters of the bedroom
where concerned. Besides, he liked making her blush--
it was a good look on her.

In the back of his mind, a distant memory stirred. He
had fallen for Princess Mercury because of that same
blush, by a waterfall on the Northern Side of the Moon
Gardens, while she tended to his wounds.

He was brought back to the present as she answered.

"No! Don't worry about it. I'll be done soon--- I
might even get home sooner than I expected to."

Although surprised by the passion behind her declining
of his offer, Zoisite did not press her further. In
time, Ami would tell him what was wrong. He could
wait.

"Okay then. I love you."

The way Ami's eyes shone at those three small words
was enough to dispel any and all suspicions from
Zoisite's mind. This was the woman he loved (had loved
and would love until his dying day), and he trusted
her implicitly.

Besides, what could be so wrong to have her keeping
secrets from him?

Famous last words.

"I love you too, Zoi. I'll see you soon."

Blowing him a kiss, Ami broke the connection.

And wondered if she hadn't made the worst mistake of
her life by shutting him off.
Alone inside the library, her heart wept silently,
feeling that she was distancing herself from the one
man able to help her.

But she couldn't tell him. Not until she knew more.

She *knew* that fear led to irrational actions, and
she had been witness to how said irrational behavior
had gotten them into messes they had barely made it
out of--- Mamoru had pushed Usagi away afraid his love
for her would kill her. Usagi had pushed the *Senshi*
away after Mamoru had died at the hands of Galaxia,
afraid to remember what had actually happened that day
at the airport, and had almost gotten eaten by Chaos'
darkness. It had been out of Ami's own fear of
loneliness that Fish Eye's illusion had taken such a
hold of her, almost sending her into Death Sleep
because of it.

And the list went on and on.

Knowledge was power, and he who knows it all will rule
it all.

She had read that somewhere and even if the second
part of the sentence made her break into a grin (Usagi
barely knew green from blue when she had first become
Queen. Although not the case now, there had been some
times in which Ami had wondered if Usagi's pure heart
would be enough to rule an entire Kingdom. In the end,
it had been *more* than enough), it had stuck with
her. And she knew the first three words to be so
painfully true that it hurt to remember them
sometimes.

Because if knowledge is power, with power comes
responsibility--- and she had been holding the weight
of the Universe on her tiny shoulders ever since she
had read those scrolls.

She thought about burning them and casting a Memory
Spell on herself to forget. And then realized her
foolishness. Just because nobody knew about it
wouldn't keep it from happening. The fact that she had
discovered the prophecy meant that she was supposed to
do something about it. And do something she would.

Even if it killed her in the process.
**********************
Hour after hour, Ami sat amidst endless rows of
ancient books and old manuscripts, her eyes scanning
through the words quickly, reading prophecy after
prophecy, trying to come up with something.

So far, she had found three different versions of how
the Silver Millennium came to be, two rusty scrolls
recounting the beauty and bravery of Serenity I and
one recipe for Duck a' la Saturn.

{I must be missing something. There must be a way to
stop this}.

That had become her motto lately--- she *was* going to
find something. But with every book she closed, with
every page she turned and still remained blank as to
what to do, her resolve diminished.

To her despair there was no indication of anyway to
prevent it. The Feasting would occur, and she was
running out of options. Telling Usagi seemed even
outrageous now--- she would surely do something
drastic like destroying the Crystal, and with that,
her life. Mamoru wasn't an option either, seeing as he
always lost his head when it came to anything that
endangered his wife's welfare.

Maybe Setsuna could help--- but Ami decided against
it.

The Senshi of Time probably knew about it anyway, and
was already tearing her hair out for not being able to
do anything. Although sometimes the rules could be
bent, Time could not be broken. And Setsuna had helped
her a lot already, starting from that first time back
in the Moon Kingdom, where she had given a scared
Princess some confidence in herself, pushing her into
a whirlwind of events that almost destroyed her.

Almost.

That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger,
went the saying. And how true it could be! Ami had
changed after her encounter with Ren... she became a
woman, found her soul mate and gained the true
heirloom of the Mercury Princess... and all because a
certain green haired Senshi had a soft spot for her,
and had moved Heaven and Hell to help her in what
little ways she could.

No, she would not go to Setsuna with this. The rest of
the Senshi wouldn't be of much help either. What could
they say that she hadn't already thought about?

She knew she was being arrogant, and maybe even a
little selfish--- but she was sure that there was a
powerful reason as to why she had found the scrolls in
the first place (timeless palimpsests did *not* just
fall out of their hiding places just when a genius
Queen was walking past that particular shelf), and she
even suspected Setsuna had something to do with it:
the mysterious woman's touch was evident in the amount
of 'coincidences' that had lead to her discovery.

Maybe Setsuna couldn't do anything about it, but who
could blame her for trying?

She thanked and feared the vote of trust given to her.
Ami knew the older woman trusted her, and she was
eternally grateful for it--- but hadn't Setsuna
overestimated her? Hadn't she overrated her
intelligence, simply assuming the blue haired Queen
could somehow solve this?

Ami sighed and took a deep breath.

She was losing it and she knew it. The doctor in her
recognized the first signs of shock crawling under her
skin, and she couldn't let herself snap. Not now.
Rubbing her temples and closing her eyes, she pressed
the heel of her hands against her closed eyelids,
trying to sort the mess in her mind.

What could she possibly do? She didn't have a clue.

As she rested her back on the chair, feeling drained
and tired, her eyes scanned the library. Maybe taking
her mind off of it would help--- a breath of fresh air
would clear her head.

She rose from her sitting place and walked down to the
window, pushing it open with nimble fingers. As the
crisp breeze of Mercury brushed against her cheeks,
she sat on the windowsill, letting her light blue
dress hang lightly on the outside.

What to do, what to do? Her fingers tapped a soft
rhythm against the stone of the castle, absently
humming words she no longer remembered. Drawing out
her mini computer, she began typing absently, letting
her subconscious speak to her through Emotional
Writing.

A few minutes went by as she stared taciturnly at the
Sun. It was enormous, and the one thing keeping it
from burning the Mercurian Cities to the ground was
the Magical Dome covering most of the planet. She had
had to rebuild her home planet from scratch, as in the
battle against the Dark Kingdom it had been completely
and utterly destroyed.

The Dome had been the first thing she had rebuilt,
allowing life to grow on Mercurian soil for the first
time in thousands of years.

Her planet... Mercury.

Although she had never spent more than a few days on
the planet (past life not counting), it still felt
familiar--- as a forgotten household she had returned
to after years of being away.

A soft 'beep' coming from her computer awoke her. As
her eyes landed on the screen sitting on her lap, she
wondered just what buttons had she been pushing--- her
mini computer had been scanning the library, it
seemed.

Her tired eyes skimmed over the screen lazily, making
calculations almost absently... until something caught
her eyes. What was this?

She pressed another button on her computer, and waited
impatiently for the information to pop up. The
Castle's blueprints... why were they even here? She
had thought that after an entire millennia of owning
the little thing, she and her computer shared all the
secrets buried in its hard drive. Apparently she was
mistaken, as click after click showed her the Castle
as it was originally built, back in the old days when
the Solar System was still deep into chaos and wars
ran rampage through the now peaceful Kingdoms.

She read about how a Covenant of the most powerful
Magicians of the time hid the precious knowledge of
the Book of Truth, afraid of it falling in the wrong
hands. She read about how Mercury was the safest place
to hide it in, being so close to the Sun and such a
small planet no one would think to keep the Forbidden
Knowledge in the otherwise unimportant
almost-asteroid.

Her eyes widened as she kept reading, realizing for
the first time how intelligence and wisdom ran in her
family for generation after generation--- she read how
Queen Elondra the First vowed to keep the knowledge
safe to the expense of her own life and her own eyes
watered as she read of the Ruler's untimely demise
defending the Book she had promised to protect.

And she dropped the computer when she read the last
line.

'Look behind the last shelf, Ami.'

Heart racing and breath quickening, Ami bent and
picked the small computer from its spot on the floor.
She had certainly read wrong--- her computer, as
powerful as it was, was not sentient. Why would it be
talking to her, then?

Her left eyebrow rose a few notches when her eyes
landed on the blackened screen. Uh? Her computer never
crashed! Powered both by Moon Magic and her own power,
it solved equations of unthinkable difficulty with
ease... her mini computer just *didn't* crash!

Pressing every conceivable key combination on her
keyboard, she tried in vain to bring the blue prints
and old documents back. The computer remained blank
until she rebooted it, and then the records vanished.
She had no way of knowing what file she had been
reading, and much less if they had even existed in the
first place.

She knew hackers could not hack into her computer---
it protected itself. That meant the file had been on
her hard drive--- but since when?

Frustrated, she closed the small computer and put it
beside her. She eyed it for long minutes, half
expecting it to open itself and reload the file if she
wished it hard enough. As expected, nothing on the
like happened and she was left with stinging eyes and
a headache.

Great. Just great. Here she was, being contacted by
some superior entity and she reacted like a
high-school girl, shrieking and throwing said
connection to the floor. It was in times like these
that she questioned her own intelligence. Closing her
eyes and inhaling deeply, she sorted out the jumble of
thoughts inside her mind--- or at least tried to.

And that's when her tired eyes landed on the last
bookshelf.

More out of curiosity than belief, she stood up from
her spot by the window and walked up to the last row
of shelves, in the back of the humongous library she
had grown to call a second home. She stopped a few
feet short from the last shelf before turning on her
heel and going the other way.

She stopped after a few steps and cast a backwards
glance at the beckoning piles of books.

{Oh, please Ami! You're not seriously thinking this?}

She swayed, hesitant, on the marble floor. To go or
not to go---

{For heaven's sake, Ami! You're actually considering
trusting a cryptic message on your computer screen?}

That did it. She had always prided herself of her
analytical mind--- and said analytical mind was
telling her she needed sleep and nourishment, not
crazy midnight hunting in the dusty old library.

Putting her foot down, Ami purposefully strode *away*
from the bookshelves, picking up her computer and
notes in the process. She was going to bed, and she
was going to sleep and the Feasting and every other
apocalyptic prophecy were waiting till tomorrow.

As she closed the library door behind her, she
couldn't help but feel anxious about something. When
the loud, creaking doors closed, the bolts falling
back into place had such a finality to them, she
shivered unconsciously.

Bed and dinner it was, then. Or was it bed and
breakfast? She still had trouble discerning night from
day in the quick Mercurian circadian cycle... thoughts
of ancient prophecies and murderous crystals fled into
her subconscious as she forced herself not to think
about them--- after all, she always got her best ideas
when she slept.
*************
TBC...