Caught in the Dragon Cove

Chapter One:

Ten-Years Later

Date: December 25, 1987

Place: The United States Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, USA

World: Planet Earth

The young, fresh, extremely ambitious Special Agent enjoyed working closely with his new partner, and newfound idol, the now forty-one year old Special Agent David Conifurr, in Arlington, Virginia. All of their Operations were highly sensitive and Top-secret, even to the entire staff and anyone else who entered the massive, seven-story, over three-and-a-half-million square feet of office space that made up the United States Pentagon.

Although he couldn’t see it, except for lunch breaks, and of course, coming and going, being located directly across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., was just another bonus. Not to mention all the other various Memorials and Landmarks in the vicinity, he had decided Arlington was a magnificent place to live and work.

He’d moved here only a few months ago from Missoula, Montana, which he missed almost like a phantom limb. Montana was spectacular in its own right. It was one of the most peaceful places he’d ever been to. And, when he’d said there were significant differences between the two places, he had meant to say that there was no comparison, whatsoever.

Bounding into the shared office-space situated and cut off from the rest of the employees, buried in the storage areas in the bowels of the second-sub-level-story of the mammoth building, he loved it even though there were no windows or visible links to the outside world.

Although he didn’t like to admit it, everyone had been extraordinarily warm, welcoming, and plenty helpful when he had needed it at first. Navigating the beast-of-a-building was a nightmare in the beginning, but not so much now.

This specific day, he was practically vibrating with excitement. He was the newest, youngest employee in the O.W.O. Unit, or the Outer Worldly Operations Unit, and he reveled in the newness of it all. Being so green, he still had much to learn.

So far, he’d figured out that somehow, this division of the C.I.A. could communicate with their namesake: Outer Worldly Operations, also known as Dimensions and Realms apart from the only one widely known to humankind: Planet Earth.

They would receive Intel with just enough time to get a Special Agent or Agents into the Realm in whichever Dimension that was having problems. Said Agents, all of whom were highly trained, and extremely sharp at many tactical skills—along with other skill-sets which would blow one’s mind—would have a set amount of time to locate, and then fix the problem.

Once their assignment was complete, whatever it was that had enabled them to ‘go there’ was the same way they ‘got back’ here. Weird stuff, to be sure, but he didn’t work in that particular department. So, he figured, all in time. As long as he could hold on to this great job, he’d stay and all the while, he’d continue to learn.

Today, however, he had a wholly different reason for being so overly-ecstatic. He had news to deliver; incredible news, in fact, for his new partner and friend, Mr., or rather, Special Agent David Conifurr.

I like the sound of that for me, too. Special Agent Fred Travett. He sighed.

He would always be grateful, and he had no idea just how true his pensive thoughts would one day prove.

He’d been told of some of Agent Conifurr’s beginnings here, at the O.W.O. Unit, and how tragic things had been for him and his wife. All they had ever wanted, prayed night and day for, was to have a child of their own. They weren’t even greedy, they only wanted one. More would have been an enormous blessing, but all they had ever wanted, needed so desperately, was simply one-small healthy, happy bundle-of-joy to love, to call their own. Which they’d never had.

Though one would expect the couple to be somber, sullen, or possibly even rude, it just wasn’t their way. All anyone ever said about the pair was accomplished and honorable things; they donated time and money to all causes related to babies and children.

And they had always made sure some their coworkers, along with a few of their Church members, even many of their own neighbors never went without anything. They preferred anonymity for as many of their generous acts of kindness as possible, and obviously, they’d been seen doing volunteer works, but the monetary side was hush-hush.

Everyone said the couple had never wanted any credit; they simply wanted others to be happy. And, since they didn’t exactly have a whole brood of their own to raise and care for, they had the time, and even some extra funds to help cover some of the financial needs. But, it was never enough since there seemed to be no end to their giving—their true joy—to all of those in real need.

Mrs. Conifurr also held fundraisers, working in conjunction with their Church and other meaningful organizations to ensure the necessary funding to cover all of what they did. And they did a lot, she spent most of her time doing for, and taking care of others. She apparently lived for just that. They undoubtedly would have been the best parents ever.

Fred had never been so humbled than he was upon learning those things about his new partner and the man’s wife. And, he was not surprised to hear that Mr. Conifurr worshiped and loved Mrs. Conifurr more than anything, anywhere.

He could be tough and gruff. Born and bred on the mean-streets of New York City, the man really was threatening, even had the accent to back it up. He could be terribly intimidating, but Fred mostly just saw ‘him,’ the extraordinary man underneath it all, and how deeply he seemed to care for others, just like his wife did.

This was the key reason Fred was flying so high on this particular, fine Monday morning. Even if it was below zero outside, and the power kept going out, and the generators kept leaping back and forth from life to off, life to off.

East Coast winters were brutal, and they were right in the middle of a nasty, classic December ice-storm. He thought Montana had insufferable winters, and they did, but still… this was downright frigid. In any case, Fred almost couldn’t contain the joy flowing fast and free through his veins, warming him from the inside out.

This’ll be the best Christmas gift he’d ever have the pleasure to deliver. Even if it wasn’t from him, he was just so thrilled, elated even, to be delivering this specific, perfect gift to the most deserving couple he’d ever had the blessed honor of meeting.

Suddenly, he became nervous, his heart thudded heavily inside his chest, blood rushed loudly in his ears. “What if we’re all being presumptuous? Oh, Lord! What if it’s too late? They might think so. I hope not, but they are in their mid-forties,” he worried quietly out loud.

After a few deep, cleansing breaths, and more of the inner pep-talk, he was at Agent Conifurr’s office door. Breathe, it’s fine. They’ll be ecstatic, this is what they’ve always wanted—isn’t it? he tried to bolster himself.

Before he could square his shoulders and knock, the door swung open and Agent Conifurr ran right into Fred, practically knocking him over. “Whoa, there. Where’s the fire? You okay, Sir? I’m sorry, I-I was just gonna knock,” Fred rushed out in one breath.

“You’re fine, I’m fine. So, what did ya need, Kid?” Fred smiled. Only Agent Conifurr standing in his office-doorway as composed as he pleased, could get away with calling him ‘Kid,’ he thought, amused.

Okay Fred, you can do this, he told himself, a little more pep-talk. “Good, okay, um…” Gah! Just do it, you big Nancy-ass! Big breath… Ah, okay, I can do this.

Mr. Conifurr, clearing his throat, brought Fred out of his head, and he realized he was standing there gawking at the man he so respected, sweating and blushing like a damn fool! A damn female fool, at that! Shaking his head, sneaking in a quick, you’re a jackass-loser, to himself, he finally piped up and found his balls. “Yeah, sorry ‘bout that. Guess I didn’t get much sleep. Anyway, is the Misses still here? We, er, I have news that’ll affect you both, and it’d be best if I could tell you. Together, that is,” he finished. A relieved breath gushed from his lungs.

That wasn’t so hard, Nancy-ass, he reprimanded himself a moment longer.

“Yeah, sure, Son. What’s on your mind? Come on in, please have a seat.” He gestured to a chair for Fred to use, next to the lovely and beautiful Mrs. Conifurr.

He nodded as he politely brushed past her to claim the empty seat, asking, “How are you today, Mrs. Conifurr? Beautiful day, isn’t it?” What? Ugh! It’s not a beautiful day, it’s miserable outside! Damn fool! He sighed.

“Yes, Fred, I am well. Thank you.” Offering him a smile, he was grateful she didn’t remark about the “beautiful day” he’d just assured her existed. Fred let it go, and sat down just as Agent Conifurr claimed his seat across from them behind his large, too-organized desk.

“All right, Son, ya got us here, ya got our attention. What’s on your mind?” the older man asked, as the couple smiled pleasantly and expectantly at him.

You can do it, they’ll be the happiest they’ve ever been, they’ll have to be. He cleared his throat, wiped his still sweating brow on the back of his shirt sleeve, and smiled the best he could.

“Yes, and I thank you both for your time, I know how busy you both always are. Um, we have a, um… well, ya see, we have something. For you. A situation happened, and now we have it for you. If ya want it?” he finished, sweating even more while awaiting their reply. When did it get so hot in here? He couldn’t stop sweating!

Obviously, they’d have to at least think about it. Maybe even take a little time and talk it over. As the thought hit him, he shot to his feet knocking his now-vacant chair over backwards, and he heard it hit the floor. Ugh! You’re a damn klutz now, too? He huffed, frustrated.

“Got it. Sorry, just, this is a lot to take in. I get it if you’ll need some time, a talk, or whichever. I’ll give you more time. Just get back to me once you’ve decided, and we’ll take it from there.” He blushed. Again.

Busy trying to say the right things, keeping his brow wiped, and trying to get the fallen chair back into its original spot, he hadn’t noticed the expressions on their faces. They were glancing back and forth from each other to him, eyes full of concern and confusion.

He wrinkled his brow, not sure of what the problem was. Before he could ask, Agent Conifurr spoke. “Ah, why don’t ya sit back down a minute, ya don’t look so good. And while you’re at it, ya mind explainin’ what you’re ramblin’ about? What exactly would you like us to think and speak about? You’re not makin’ much sense, Son. Ya okay?” Agent Conifurr questioned, concern clear in his observing gaze.

Suddenly, the problem dawned on him. I’ve never been more humiliated in my life! Fred chastised himself. And by myself, even, what a jackass! You left out the whole thing! The actual ‘surprise-gift’ part! Shaking his head at his own ineptness, he didn’t think it was possible to get any redder in the face as he felt the heat radiating from his skin.

Lord, please strike me down now, I’m such a loser! he pleaded. If the floor would only open up and swallow him whole, he’d be grateful!

Alas, he was wrong. He could, and he did get redder when Mrs. Conifurr got up from her seat and leaned over to press her bare-inner forearm against his forehead. Her beautiful face was tight and serious, brows wrinkled in deep concern. He felt like a child. A dumb, clumsy, didn’t-know-squat child.

Could this get any more embarrassing? he asked himself. Well, sure, of course it could and it most likely would. Just give me a minute, I’m sure I can one-up myself a few more times. He took a few deep breaths and tried to fix the disaster he’d just created. And, of all people to do it to and in front of? It’s okay, just fix it. He sighed.

“I’m fine, really. Thank you, Mrs. Conifurr, just tired and obviously my brain’s not working properly. Really, I’m okay.” He offered a kind smile, as she returned her own.

“Well, Son, what’s goin’ on? Ya need somethin’?” Agent Conifurr politely pressed, still eyeing him with too much knowledge behind that gaze. Fred felt a shudder go through him. As great a man as Agent Conifurr was, he truly never wanted to be on the man’s unpleasant side. Ever.

“Yeah, okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to jumble things up. I’ve just been so excited I guess I lost my head for a minute. Of course, you want to know what I’m rambling about.” He gave them both a sheepish, half-smile before continuing, “What I meant to say, was… is, um. Well, there’s a situation, and from it came something I think the two of you would be very interested in. To keep, I mean.” As he fumbled for the right words, he realized that seeing is believing. Besides, he was almost positive there would be no way they could say no once they saw and touched the surprise. He smiled again, feeling a little more confident.

He stood and gestured toward the office door, “Would you both mind coming with me? Then you can see for yourself. I think it’ll make your decision much easier this way, too.” The couple glanced at each other, then up at Fred, confusion written all over their faces, but he also picked up on their curiosity.

That’s all I needed. His smile widened.

The area utilized by the O.W.O. Unit was large, and even though it should have, it didn’t even make a dent on their level. There were also other back rooms where who-knew-what went on. Luckily for him, today Fred knew what was going on in one room, and he knew it was all good. As he led Agent and Mrs. Conifurr down the corridor and across a space taken up by row after row of metal shelving, he couldn’t help but smile. This is just too perfect! he agreed with himself.

Coming to another corridor lined with rooms, each door stood about twenty-five feet apart from the next, Fred lightly knocked a definite code-knock on the door marked ‘TOP-SECRET: HIGHEST CLEARANCE ONLY,’ in bold red-letters. Even Agent Conifurr raised a questioning brow at Fred as he simply looked on waiting for the door to be opened from the other side.

Only moments later, though it felt like much longer to Fred, the door quietly, slowly opened to reveal a small, dark-haired woman wearing a black skirt-suit, big glasses, and her hair pulled back in a severe bun. Recognizing Fred at once, the small slip of a woman stood back to allow him and the couple to enter the room. Afterward, she re-closed and re-locked the door.

“Dana.” Fred politely inclined his chin to her. She was so tiny, he couldn’t believe she’d made it through the physical training and landed herself a job here.

Filing those random thoughts away, he focused on why they were all here, gathered in the hard-edged, cold-feeling room. He glanced over his shoulder by the back wall to make sure nothing had changed, and sure enough, there it was. He smiled again.

“Mrs. Conifurr, Agent Conifurr, if you would please, could you come over here and take a look at this and tell us what you think?” He wanted to jump out of his skin by now, the excitement was too much! He had a strong feeling they’d say yes, he felt it in his bones. Please, let them say yes, this is what is best for all of them—let them say yes, he silently prayed.

The moment Mrs. Conifurr’s eyes found the small baby bassinet, her entire body stiffened just before she shot across the room to close the gap between them. She peeked tentatively down into the bassinet, and then leaned over to get a better look-see. “Oh my, It’s a baby. A newborn baby. What… I-I…” Mrs. Conifurr whispered, pressing the back of her right hand to her lips to stifle a small sob, as her left hand instinctively gravitated down to rest upon the newborn’s back.

Agent Conifurr shot a strange look at Fred, which he mistook for anger. Fred swallowed the lump in his throat that formed while he watched Mrs. Conifurr’s initial reaction to the baby.

What have we done? What have I done? I thought they’d be thrilled for sure, and want this. He hung his head in shame, feeling utterly defeated.

A sharp, strong clap on the back made him stumble forward two steps. His eyes snapped up and Agent Conifurr was still standing where he had been, but now he wore an almost silly grin on his face.

What the hell? Fred puzzled. I thought he was upset? This must be the most confusing day of my life.

“Son, ya mind tellin’ us what this is all about? The wife’s gettin’ herself worked up, and I think I know why. But I’d like to hear the words before this goes too far. Ya understand?” Agent Conifurr smirked, seemingly sure of his own thoughts.

Jackpot! Fred almost said out loud.

“Yes, Sir. I believe it is just what you’re thinking. You remember the file I was going over last week, the ones about the Agent who came back from the Amethyst Faerie Dragon Dimension, dead?” Agent Conifurr nodded. “Yeah, well, when he reappeared to wherever it was where he usually made the transition, they found this little one strapped to his chest. Thank God he landed on his back, but yeah, she appeared with him.”

“She? A baby girl? How…?” Agent Conifurr shook his head now, as if he could make sense of it quicker, but confusion flitted across his features again. Not so much in a bad way, but he was clearly confused. Who wouldn’t be? This was a bit much, even for the O.W.O. Unit.

Fred needed to figure out something to say that would calm the couple. They appeared highly emotional already. He could hear the quiet cries from Mrs. Conifurr, and see it in Agent Conifurr’s expression; they needed confirmation.

“Yes, Agent and Mrs. Conifurr, congratulations, it’s a baby girl! Merry Christmas!” Fred beamed a bright smile. “For all intents and purposes, she appears to be healthy and normal. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any outward-signs of any other type of ‘being,’ or anything. The Lab’s been monitoring her since she arrived, almost two-weeks ago. They didn’t find anything that would lead anyone to believe she wasn’t human, but only time will tell.” He shrugged a shoulder.

Agent Conifurr had made his way over to stand next to his wife, who was now holding and gently rocking the baby girl in her loving arms. It had to be the most tender, intimate thing Fred had ever eye-witnessed. He actually felt his eyes welling up with tears. Coughing into his hand, he quickly turned away, giving the couple a small measure of privacy while flicking away the silly tears falling from his own eyes. Man, you really are a Nancy-ass today, aren’t you? he scolded himself. Though, he couldn’t stop the smile from forming on his lips at the thought.

This was quite a day. He would have never guessed he’d get to be a part of something like this; bringing a family together, a new life with older lives. It was all the couple had ever wanted, and here it was. Finally. Literally, in their hands.

It was so quiet, he almost didn’t catch Mrs. Conifurr’s words when she spoke. “She’s so beautiful, David. So… so perfect. Is this real? Are they truly wanting us to take her in?” her voice quivered as she spoke, yet strengthened with each word.

This was perfect, and they would be the best parents for this orphaned, newborn baby girl. Life just didn’t get much better than this.

Fred almost forgot the instructions that had come with the baby. Not many, and it took the Lab all this time to decipher them, but they appeared to be necessary. He didn’t like this part, but it was a must. He cleared his throat.

“Ah, okay, first things first: Yes, this is real, and yes, she needs a home. Everyone thought you two were the best choice for obvious and more personal reasons.” The couple turned and gave him their full attention.

“And?” Agent Conifurr hedged.

“Yes, and, just because she hasn’t exhibited any behaviors or traits of another ‘being,’ doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Also, you’ll need to watch her diet carefully. She seems to tolerate regular baby formula fine for now. She also shows signs of extreme intelligence, and is an exceptionally fast learner. That’s probably an understatement, but there you have it. You’ll obviously need to watch her like a hawk at all times, even more so than a human baby. If she’s as smart and fast as they claim, who knows what she could be capable of?” He raised a brow.

The visibly thrilled couple nodded in unison as if they knew what he meant; their new baby girl would be a surprise-a-minute.

“On the instructions, they also found what they think is her name. Of course, it’s up to you, but as the Lab said it all seemed pretty important. It said her name was Iax Sarvias Eluhyax. Oh, I almost forgot, she appears to be—give or take a couple—about fourteen-days old.”

Fred expected a response, at least a strange expression, anything, but the only thing the couple seemed to be interested in at all was the newborn baby girl. Mrs. Conifurr continued to rock her gently, while her husband stood at her side, watching both of them with unshed tears of his own, and an elated, relieved expression on his face.

Yes. This is just what we’d hoped for, and exactly what they deserve. Now they can be a family, maybe stop spending so much time on everyone else, and start making their own family traditions and just be together. Perfect, Fred admitted to himself.

He sensed a propitious outcome for all. Happiness, and finally, all the love, laughter, and joy they so deserved. Then he heard Agent Conifurr’s announcement, his voice strong and proud. “Yep, her name is Iax Sarvias Eluhyax Conifurr. What ya think, sweetheart?” He gazed lovingly into his wife’s own tear-filled eyes, belying the large smile spreading across her beautiful, glowing face.

“I think it’s perfect, honey, absolutely perfect.” Peering back at the baby in her arms, bright green-eyes wide open to take in everything her gaze could touch on, the baby’s new mama asked, “What do you think, Iax [Eye-Axe] Sarvias [Sar-vee-us] Eluhyax [Aye-Lou-Axe] Conifurr? Do you like that, my precious?” she sounded out the unique name.

Iax, the tiny baby, then reached out to grab onto her new mama’s finger, then smiled the sweetest baby smile any of them had ever seen.

After a few moments of whispering, Mrs. and Agent Conifurr turned to face Fred, wide smiles filling their exuberant faces. “I think we’ll be callin’ her Iax Sarel Conifurr.  We’ll use ‘Sar’ and ‘El’ from the other two names. It’s unique, but not so strange that anyone, includin’ her, would have issues with it. The whole of those full names would raise too many questions, bein’ so uncommon and all. Her birth certificate will have the full names, of course, but she won’t need to see it for a long time. So until then, we’ll just say Sarel is a combination of a relative of mine, and one of the wife’s. What do ya think, Son?”

It was a heady feeling to be asked his opinion on such a matter. This was their baby now, and Fred had only been working here a short time. He was honored. “I believe you’re right. Sarel sounds pretty normal. And, if you think about it, people combine family names all the time. Besides, it’s not totally a lie; the Lab believes those were her birthparents’ names. So yes, I think it’s a perfect combination.”

There can be no doubt that this baby, the unique Iax Sarvias Eluhyax Conifurr, was and always will be remarkable. World, you’d better watch out, remarkable doesn’t even come close to covering this one. Not only that, but she’ll be a true force to be reckoned with, Fred qualified, feeling like he was floating on cloud-nine. He’d never been psychic or anything, but he had the strongest, strangest feeling about this baby girl; she would surpass any and everyone’s expectations and then some.

He smiled, watching the overjoyed couple cooing and gently touching the baby girl’s face, her golden hair, and of course, all ten of her perfect little fingers and toes.

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**

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