"The Tree Huggers (Part 1)"

Author: Captain Evans & Lieutenant Commander Tyran
Date: December 19, 2384
Location: Pirate Planet

As the *Pendragon* descended through the cloud cover, a vast jungle appeared before them, although a lot of it seemed to have been cut down, and in places it was being burned.

"Such a pity," muttered Tricia, who was at the helm.

"No time to worry about that," ordered Ryan. "Just set us down."

"Aye sir."

The *Pendragon* found a clearing and softly touched down. The airlock slid open, and immediately Tyran and O'Neil were on either side of the outer door, phaser rifles poised.

"All clear!" called O'Neil.

The rest of the crew filed out of the small ship and into the small clearing.

"Gregholt, Andres, you stay with the *Pendragon*", ordered Ryan. "Tyran, Kira, take your team that way, through the deeply forested area."

"We'll take the cliffside. Remember, Radio silence!" added Pike.

The crew, now with their orders, headed off on their respective routes. It wasn't long before everyone was feeling the heat. Even under the dense jungle canopy, the heat certainly got through. Tyran wiped the sweat from his brow. He climbed over a large log and put out a hand for Tricia. She took it and he helped pull her over. Kira, Hancock and Karissa followed.

The crew were finding it increasingly more difficult to progress, the underbrush was getting thicker, and they found it hard to see through the trees.

"What was that?" asked Karissa suddenly.

"What was what? I didn't hear anything!" answered Will.



"I don't hear anything either," replied Kira. "Let's keep going."

"Damn! This is impossible!" protested Tyran. "We can't get any further this way."

"Hold on a moment," said Kira, stepping up alongside Tyran. He focused for a minute with a wrinkled brow and then shot out a beam of energy from his hand. He was careful to only manage to clear the trees and not to make too much noise as to draw attention to them.

"Better?" he asked.

"Yeah, it's...." Suddenly, Tyran felt a sharp pain in his shoulder and everything blacked out.

"How far left?" asked Pike.

"A couple of hundred metres to the top," replied Benton after a quick glance at his tricorder.

"Everyone holding up okay back there?" asked Pike. He was answered with a chorus of 'yes's'. He smiled and plodded on behind Benton.

Tyran's eyes slowly opened, through a deep haze he could make out someone bound to a tree a couple of metres away from him. It looked like Doctor Hancock. He shifted his head around and saw the rest of the away team also bound to trees. Then he saw what seemed like little monkeys running out of the bushes. One of them came up to Tyran, and looked him in the eye. It shouted something then another one came up with a large club and beat Tyran over the head with it.

Ryan, who had taken up the rear of the party, finally got to the top of the cliff and joined the others as they sat, looking out over the vast valley of trees beyond them. They could see many partings in the forest, with fires in. Terrorist camps they assumed, but as they looked further, a large building could be seen in the middle of the forest.

"It's a match of the structure found in the Gamma Quadrant," informed Benton.

"Then we've finally found what we're looking for," smiled Ryan.

"And we can kick those Kelvan butts back to whatever galaxy they came from!" added O'Neil.

Evans and Pike smiled. "Let's rendezvous with the others."

After a half an hour of walking through dense forest, the five men came to the rendezvous point. "Where are they?" asked Talsmin.

"I'm not picking them up on my tricorder," said Benton, sounding a bit worried.

"You think they may have run into the pirates?" asked Ryan quietly to Pike.

"I don't know. I hope not," he answered. "We'll wait here for an hour. If they aren't here then, then we go on without them."

Tyran opened his eyes again, this time, he was looking straight at the ground. *Odd,* he thought. But it was when he realized that he was rotating that he quickly regained his senses. He was on a spit over a burning fire. He looked around frantically, noticing at first just hundreds of monkey men, shouting and howling and dancing around the fire. As the rotation brought him round to the other side, he noticed the other crew, on spits too.

"Kira!" he yelled, but he was still out cold. "Kira, wake up!" he shouted again.

"T.. Tyran... what.. what's...," McMillan began to say. She screamed as she realized what was going on.

"Kira!" shouted Tyran again. "Kira, you've got to wake up!"

"Time to go," said Pike, getting up off the large buttress root he was sitting on.

"We've got to wait, Admiral!" protested Ryan.

"We cannot wait any longer, Captain."

"Karissa is out there still, sir!"

"Ryan, I can understand your feelings. But this is not the time to be worrying about her. Kira would not let anything happen to her, I doubt anything could when he's around."

"You can't know that! Kira is *not* invincible."

"Captain, this mission is worth more than Karissa!"

"How dare you!"

"Captain, I don't like it, but she knew the risks, as did you. If we fail here, today, then the Galaxy is lost!"

"I'm going back for her," said Ryan, picking up his rifle and heading back into the trees. Talsmin and O'Neil quickly grabbed him and pulled him to the ground.

"Captain, we've got to go on," said O'Neil. "Don't let your love blind you."

"It's times like this I'm glad I don't have your petty emotions," said Benton to Pike as he picked up his rifle and backpack and began walking off into the forest. Pike followed him. O'Neil and Talsmin pulled up the Captain; they collected their gear and followed Pike and Benton.

"KIRA!" yelled Tyran again. The monkey men had begun chanting more fiercely and prodding Doctor Hancock with sticks. "KIRA!"

Kira slowly opened his eyes.

"'Bout time, Kira. Can you get us out of this?"

Kira groggily looked around and took in the situation. "Yeah, yeah, I can manage it." He closed his eyes, and a shield of energy went up around them, separating the crew from the monkey men. Any monkeys who decided to test the shield were sent flying and squealing into the trees. Another Kira then materialized in front of them and began untying them. When all were down and awake, they finally took the time to look at what was surrounding them. Hundreds of the three foot high little monkey men were surrounding them, chanting and thrusting their spears into the air.

"We have to leave, who knows how long we've been here!" said Will, a sense of urgency in his voice.

"Enough of this," said Kira. His hand glowed blue and then he fired an energy blast through his shield. The monkeys squealed and flung down their spears and all scurried for the nearest tree.

Kira fired another energy ball sending more monkeys fleeing in panic.

"Wait... stop!" said Karissa. "Look at them." All the monkeys were grasping on to the trees now as if hugging them. A few had plucked up the courage to head over to a tree that Kira had just knocked down and were kneeling around it and howling.

"Look," said Tricia pointing into the trees. "There are houses up there! They must live in the trees."

"And when you shot them down before, Kira, you must have made them pretty pissed!" added Hancock.

"Fine mess you've got us into here, Commander," said Tyran, trying to be as lighthearted as he could under the circumstances.

"So how are we going to get out of here?" asked Tricia. "I don't think it's right that we should blast our way out and destroy their homes.

"Let me try something," suggested Karissa.

"What?" asked Kira.

"Let me out of the shield."

"Not a chance."

"Just do it!"

Kira sighed and created a small doorway for Karissa to leave through. She cautiously walked toward the nearest monkey. She took her phaser and fired it into the air. The monkey startled, dived behind the rock for cover, as did many others. When they peered back over the top. Karissa gently set the phaser down on the ground in front of her.

"What are you doing?!" asked Tyran.

"If they built homes, then they have intelligence," she said. "I'm going to try and communicate with them."

The monkeys came out from their rocks and surrounded the phaser, poking at it with their spears. Karissa giggled and reached into her backpack. She pulled out a pack of her emergency rations and peeled off the wrapper. She broke off a piece and gave it to the monkey. The monkey watched as she broke off a piece for herself and ate it. The monkey followed and ate his piece.

Kira decided to let the shield down. Tyran, McMillan and Hancock walked up and joined Karissa by laying down their weapons on the ground too. Kira tried to follow, but the monkeys surrounded him and wouldn't let him pass.

"There's some kind of markings on these trees," stated McMillan.

"Here too," added Hancock. "It looks like the cave paintings that cavemen painted on walls back on Earth."

"Look at this tree," said McMillan, calling the rest of them over. "Look, this looks like a humanoid, and he's clearly throwing a tree into some kind of furnace."

"My guess would be a matter converter," said Tyran.

"Right, and look here in the second carving. The same humanoid, with a spear through his chest, being held onto by a smaller humanoid."

"Looks like our monkey friends like the pirates about as much as we do!" smiled Hancock.

"Are you all thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Tyran with a devilish grin.