beware all those who enter these gates, revere where thy step. For this is no ordinary place, here there be dragons.
Jolie read the sign, "what a strange thing to have above an animal preserve," she thought, as she pressed the buzzer that announced her arrival. She had received a letter about five weeks ago from a Doctor Sandro Conner, it simply stated that he had heard she was the best zoologist in the field of animal breeding, he wanted her to come visit his preserve to give him her views on his breeding program.
A young woman answered Jolie's buzz, "hi," she said, "I'm Brenda, welcome to Draconia." She stepped back to let Jolie in the gates, "here let me show you where you'll be staying," she began to walk down the hall, "Dr. Conner would like to see you after you rest," she said behind her shoulder as Jolie followed her to a row of bungalows.
After Brenda left, Jolie looked around the room it was decorated with a dragon motif, "this guy certainly likes dragons," she muttered as she unpacked her backpack. She had just finished, when she heard a knock on the door, opening it she saw a handsome man in his thirties, "hello," he said with a slight accent, "I am Dr. Sandro Conner." He grasped Jolie's hand shaking it firmly. "I hope you don't mind that I dropped in suddenly," he said, "but I am very eager to get your views on my breeding program."
They walked through the path in the jungle, "tell me Sandro," Jolie said, "what kind of breeding program are you attempting?"Sandro smiled, "we have been breeding genus Draco"
Jolie stopped suddenly and stared at him. "I must have heard you wrong," she stammered, "did you say genus Draco? As in dragons?"he just smiled, than pushed open the door to the nursery. "See for yourself," he said.
Jolie stepped in a large room, staring in awe, all around her were cages with baby dragons in them, eggs sat in little incubators. "Amazing isn't it?"Sandro whispered in her ear, "all of these were created using the blood and ovaries of a dragon we found frozen in a glacier five years ago."
"Have any of them grown to maturity?" Jolie asked, as she began to walk around the room, staring in the cages. "Three have," Sandro said, "Draco, our only male to survive to adulthood, Duscha our first female, and Melba she is the most recent one to achieve adulthood."
"Why dragons?" Jolie asked later after Sandro had given her a tour of the nursery, Sandro leaned forward, "dragons aren't the evil creatures that history and fable tries to make them out to be." He said vehemently "they were wiped out by people blinded by fear and superstition, I want to give them a second chance." He offered his hand to Jolie, "I will show you my adults and you will understand," he led her out of the nursery and down the path to a huge paddock.
"Morning Doctor," a man in a white lab coat said as he neared them on the path, Sandro stopped, "Jolie this is Dr. David Perry, he is our resident crypto zoologist." Jolie shook hands with the man, mentally shivering, he seemed pleasant enough, but something in his stare unnerved her.
"I was just going to show Jolie the dragons," Sandro said, David held her hand a moment longer than dropped it, "just be careful," he said before moving down the path away from them.
Sandro opened a small gate into the paddock, "these are my dragons," he said proudly, Jolie looked up in awe, a beautiful jewel-colored dragon flew around above them than a ruby colored one joined the first, they looped around each other in what seemed like an ariel ballet dance. Sandro drew close to Jolie, "Duscha and Melba," he said "aren't they beautiful?" Jolie began to answer, than stopped when a huge green dragon landed next to them, it stared at them with huge amber eyes before nuzzling Sandro's arm, he laughed "this big boy is Draco," he said petting him on the head. "Dragons are just like people, there are good and bad ones, a dragon won't hurt you unless you hurt it first." Jolie stared at Draco who regarded her thoughtfully with his amber eyes, "can I touch him?" Draco seemed to understand her words because he stretched his head forward, until she petted him, he made a noised that sounded like a dragon purr, than stretched his wings, soaring up into the air, until he joined the other two dragons.
"Jolie," Sandro began as they walked out of the paddock, "do you think you can show me how I can approve my breeding so more of my dragons survive to adulthood?" He led the way back to the lab, "David is a good crypto zoologist, but he is not a breeding expert like you." He stopped, grasping Jolie's hands, "I need your help," he said urgently, "these dragons need you if they're to survive."
"I'll help you," Jolie said, she looked down at their clasped hands than back to Sandro, he grasped her shoulders drawing her near but was interrupted by the arrival of Brenda, "doctor there's a call for you," she said. Sandro smiled apologetically at Jolie, "why don't you return to your bungalow for now," he said as they walked down the path together to the fork in the road, "I'll see you at dinner." He smiled at her again, than followed Brenda down the path, to the main building.
Jolie began to walk down the path when David suddenly stepped into her way, "excuse me," she said trying to move past him. He grabbed her arm stopping her, "you better be careful," he drawled staring at her intently, "dragons have been known to eat pretty little things like you." Jolie glared at him, "is that a threat?" She demanded wrenching her arm away from him. David smiled ferally, "just a warning," he said before he let her go past him on the path. She shivered as she felt his eyes boring into her back until she entered her bungalow.
Jolie slammed the door to her bungalow, locking it quickly, she wondered if she should tell Sandro about what David had said, than decided not to. He was just a strange man, who derived pleasure from making people uncomfortable. She wasn't going to let him bother her or drive her away. She stretched out on the bed, and slowly fell asleep.
She was standing at the edge of a cliff, wearing a long flowing dress. Dragons soared in the sky as far as the eye could see. She saw in dismay that the dragons were being slowly exterminated, she tried to stop them, tried to say something but she couldn't, all she could do was watch as one by one the dragons were slain. As tears streamed down her face, a voice whispered through her head, "you are the only one who can protect what the dragon creator has wrought, you must save him and the dragons from the one who would destroy it all."
She woke suddenly, she lay there for a moment than realized someone was knocking at her door. She rose, answering the door, Sandro stood there "I was wondering if I could escort you to dinner?" He asked than looked at her in concern, "are you ok? You seem troubled."
Jolie smiled, "it's ok," she said taking the arm he offered, "I just had a weird dream." She closed her bungalow door, walking with Sandro to the dining area.
After dinner Sandro showed Jolie the notes on what they were doing, "we found the body of a female dragon frozen intact," he said showing her pictures, " we took blood and ovary samples from her, than injected them into lizard eggs." He smiled, "it took a few attempts but than we had our first success, which is Draco." He stared intently at Jolie, "what do you think?" He asked, Jolie stood, pacing the room. "Have you tried to take one of Duscha's eggs and mixing it with Draco's sperm?" She asked, "kind of like attempting a test tube baby." Sandro stood up and grasped Jolie's shoulders, "that's a wonderful idea," he said hugging her, she moved her head slightly and their lips met. Sandro moved his hands off her shoulders to cup her head, as he deepened the kiss. They kissed until someone cleared their throat behind them, Sandro and Jolie broke apart quickly, "sorry to interrupt," David said dryly, "but I have some things I need to go over you with." Sandro moved away from Jolie, "of course," he said, "I have time right now," he looked at Jolie, his eyes softening, "I'll see you tomorrow Jolie, we'll try out your idea." She nodded her head, smiling at him, "Dr. Perry," she said cooly before leaving the men to their work.
Jolie rolled over and looked at the clock, it was four in the morning. She got up, dressing quickly, since she couldn't sleep she would go to the lab and look over the notes, to see how it was best to start combining sperm with the egg. She walked down the quiet path toward the lab, when she noticed David walking quickly toward the nursery, she stepped into the shadows so he wouldn't see her, than began to follow him. She quietly opened the door, slipping into the room, David had his back to her, he was taking fertilized eggs, sticking them into a box. Jolie began to back up, she had to find Sandro and tell him what David was doing, her foot caught the edge of an unused cage, sending it crashing down.
David whirled around spotting her, "it seems like you can't take a warning, doesn't it?" He said stalking toward her, "now. I'll have to get rid of you." Jolie turned and ran, just as David grabbed at her, she ran through the doors adjoining the nursery to the lab. Suddenly her foot caught something soft, Sandro's body laid under one of the tables, she screamed as David threw the doors opened causing them to crash against the wall. "I see you," he said laughing, Jolie began to run again, aware of David's pursuit, she pushed open the door, running the only way she could, toward the dragon's paddock, she tried the gate sobbing when she found it locked, than stared up at the service ladder next to it, she heard David crashing down the path as he chased her, than grasped the ladder, hoisting herself up, she climbed quickly, hoping that David hadn't seen her.
Her hopes were quickly dashed as she felt David climbing the ladder after her.
She reached the end of the ladder, it opened up onto a platform where they could feed the dragons, She whirled as David stepped up onto the platform after her, she backed up slowly, he smiled savagely, "this is the end of the line for you I'm afraid," he said as he advanced slowly, "no where for you to go but down."
Jolie screamed as she stepped back onto nothing, she lost her balance and fell, just catching the edge of the platform with her hands, she felt her hands slipping as David stood over her, "please," she begged but he just laughed, "sorry Jolie, but you saw too much." Jolie screamed as her hands slipped off the platform, she begin to plunge to the ground as she closed her eyes, than something caught her, she opened her eyes, and realized that Draco had caught her on his back. He seemed to smile at her as he drifted down until he was laying flat on the ground, she quickly rubbed him on the head, than ran to the paddock entrance, she had to stop David. She ran down the path to the nursery, running in she saw David putting the rest of the eggs into a box than he stopped suddenly, "no," he cried, "you're supposed to be dead." Sandro stepped into Jolie's line of vision, "you didn't hit me hard enough you bastard," he said than punched David in the face, sending him flying into some empty cages, knocking him out.
Sandro looked up at Jolie, limping quickly to take her in his arms, "are you all right?" He asked, looking at the cuts and bruises she sustained falling through the trees. Jolie just buried her face into his shoulder as he helped her out of the lab, to the main building.
The newscaster stood outside the gates with Sandro. "We are here with Doctor Sandro Conner who has successfully taken two living dragons and bred them." She said in the microphone, "Dr. Conner, how does it feel to do what no one else has been able to?" Sandro smiled, "I actually can't take all the credit here," he said, "my wife Dr. Jolie Conner, is the one who came up with the idea to fertilize an egg and sperm together creating a test tube dragon, so to speak."
He put his arm around Jolie, resting his hand on her extended stomach. "We are very proud to have created a preserve for the noble dragon," he continued, "and hope our success with creating Drake means that more dragons are to come." The reporter smiled, "this is Marie Sanchez reporting to you from Draconia the first ever dragon preserve."
Sandro and Jolie, released Drake into the paddock, watching as he flew up in the air, Jolie rested her head on Sandro's shoulder, it had taken them three years, but they had finally succeeded. "Here there be dragons," Jolie whispered, as they watched the four dragons soar together, Sandro smiled, holding her closer.