Most of the men stayed on the transport when it landed on our pad, including Dr James with his tiger. I had given dad the falcons and the eight dragon eggs to sell to Mrs Harris. We headed for the house as it lifted and Momma chuffed. Jade giggled, “I think that was a thank goodness.”

Everyone laughed and then mom was pulling all the girls away while tell us boys to put everything up. She even took the dragons, Momma and the kittens. When we returned to the living area we looked at each other before following the shrieking and laughing to the bathing room.

When I opened the door and we looked in, it was to a scene of total chaos, water was everywhere. Momma was in the tub with the kittens and every dragon we had was wet and splashing. Mom, Alex, Jade, Sandy, Terrie and Emily were soaked and splashing water at each other.

They stopped and looked at us and I closed the door before looking at my brothers and Peter, “I’m not going in there.”

They grinned and we went back to the living area. I started looking at the wreck site using a sat look down. It was a grim reminder of how close death had come. I touched the image where the partial tiger skeleton was. Peter leaned against my shoulder, “your dad told anyone that would listen that you had to be alive because the tiger had been skinned.”

I smiled, “if it could have gotten into the cargo area things might have been different.”

I touched the screen, “this is right behind and above it. We wouldn’t have to cut much and you can see this area between these two trees with three branches we can use.”

He patted my shoulder before leaving and I sighed before heading up to clean Jade’s pelts. When I was done I took a bath and then led Momma, Alex and Jade up to mom’s solarium. We sat on mom’s cushioned bench and I finally looked at the girls, “after we finish we are going south. You two need to finish school and mom can get you into the Davis Academy.”

Alex opened her mouth and I reached for her arm, “Davis was the first tree hugger. He created a huge learning center beside a great lake called Crystal lake. It is also a major tourist site with several hundred large tree homes besides a hotel. Now you two know mom is a trained vet, she normally does a lot of traveling in her flyer. My brothers and I all went to the academy. You girls need to decide what you want to study so get with my mother and talk about it.”

Alex let me finished before speaking, “what about you?”

I smiled, “I’m not just sending you away. I can find work easily... as a guide if nothing else.”

Jade leaned against me, “we won’t be together like this though.”

I hugged her, “I had plans before the accident. I was going to try to create a tree top settlement to the south along the equator.”

The girls sat up and Alex grinned, “I could design the houses and make walkways between them...”

Jade laughed, “covered and protected.”

I hugged them before standing, “that is going to have to wait. First you two finish school.”

I looked at Momma watching the dazzling display the fruit birds were putting on outside, “Time to go Momma.”

This time things were different, dad returned home after we finished hunting for Momma. They wanted more than a single platform at the wreck. They also wanted several pods put in. Dad was a little upset but I had been looking at the site.

I quieted everyone as I walked to the sat map and zoomed in, “we don’t need to cut all the trees around for a larger site. We build the platform like normal but push in under the branches at the sides and back to park the transports.”

I looked at everyone, “we do everything just like we have been doing. After we finish the platform we find the pod sites and bring in the other pods and then build the parking platforms.”

Dad nodded, “now that would be easier.”

I woke in the middle of the night as Momma chuffed, I shifted out from under Jade and slipped out of bed. I leaned over Momma’s nest and hugged her as I followed her look, Princess was looking out too. It was a moment before I saw what they were looking at. I glanced between Momma’s paws before looked out at the two mini leopards stalking a sleeping phoenix on a skinny branch.

I turned and moved quickly, I slipped on pants and grabbed the cast net I had used on the falcons. I ran out and up before silently stalking off the landing platform and onto a narrow side branch. I knelt and watched as the pair ate the bird, I moved further down the branch and waited. It was awhile before the two mini leopards left the remains and started down the branch.

I shifted and they frozen right below me and I tossed the net and swivelled and dropped as they yawled and screamed while fighting it. I landed beside them and pulled the net together before lifting it. They continued to struggle as I tied the open end of the net together and climbed back to the branch above us.

When I walked in the landing pad door the dragons and Momma were waiting. I smiled as I rubbed Momma’s cheek and headed down. If the pair were together they didn’t have eggs even though it was that time of year. Jade and a sleepy Alex met me as I went by the third floor and followed as I continued down.

I went all the way to mother’s exam room and opened a cabinet. I pulled a cage out and then another before moving to the table. I was careful as I dumped one of the mini leopards into the first cage. After I put the second in her cage I used a thick glove and reached into the female’s cage. Of course she bit and tore at me but I was able to feel the eggs inside her.

I smiled as I closed the cage and carefully carried them up to the living area. I set them on the fire pit and sat looking at them, “what am I going to do with you? If I let you go you could be killed. I could give you to Dr James but you and your kittens would end up living your lives in a cage.”

I glanced at Jade as she knelt beside me, “use smoke and let me have them. We can protect them and give the kittens to someone that will take care of them.”

Alex knelt behind me and hugged me, “we could find and make mini leopards into companions like dragons.”

I nodded before standing and going to get fire and spice leaves. I also brought back a couple of the squirrel rats that were left over from before. I knelt beside the fire pit, “it is going to take more to calm and sooth both of them. They already ate so they won’t eat much, just let them eat as little or as much as they want. After they finish put them together and remember to move slowly and try to comfort them.”

Jade nodded and I stacked the leaves before turning the two cages and lighting the leaves. It was a couple of moments before smoke began writhing around the two angry mini leopards. It wasn’t long before they quieted and I put the fire out. I nodded to Jade and she opened the male’s cage and pulled it out before giving it one of the rats.

She set him down and turned to repeat it with his mate. I cleaned up when the two moved together to rub faces. As I was carrying the cages back downstairs Alex and Jade headed up to bed. When I walked into the bedroom it was to see Momma on the bed with Jade and Alex and the pair of mini leopards beside her.

I smiled and crossed to Momma’s bed and the pile of kittens. I laid down and shifted one of the kitten before closing my eyes. I woke to the rumble of thunder and all six kittens trying to snuggle closer. I glanced at the bed and almost laughed when I saw Momma with all the dragons on her with their wings spread.

Jade was completely covered and so were the mini leopards. I pulled the kittens close and caressed them as the storm began. When the rain stopped I got up and stopped to reach under Princess’s wing to pet Momma. As I dressed, the kittens climbed down and then they were following me out.

Mom and dad were in the kitchen when I came in and mom smiled as she scooped the kittens up and put them on the table. Dad shook his head as he finished his coffee and I went to make a cup. When Alex came down it was with Momma and all the dragons except Drake. It was a minute before Jade came down and dad turned as mom gasped.

Behind Jade were the two full grown mini leopards. I smiled and stood to push her to my chair as I went to get her cereal, “I caught them outside my window last night.”

Dad shook his head, “you had to catch them?”

I glanced at him, “with all the dragons around here?”

He sighed and then nodded, “you’re right.”

I nodded to the female Jade had lifted to her lap, “the female has eggs.”

Mom stepped close and slowly reached down to feel, “almost formed.”

I smiled, “would you call and see if you can get the girls into the Davis academy?”

Mom looked at the girls, “that won’t be a problem.”

I looked at dad, “think we can get the beams and first pod finished today?”

Dad nodded, “maybe even the grating for the first platform. The other pods, beams and grating may take longer.”

I had been thinking and looked at Momma laying beside us, “I was thinking of going in with the pod. We can add two more anti gravs and set it on a couple of upper branches until we have the pod site ready. That would also give us a couple more anti gravs to work with while putting the beams together.”

The next three days were long ones. The two mini leopards seemed to blend in well, especially with the kittens. The trip to the wreck was long and broken with stops at each landing platform. We waited out the storm on the last one and left when it stopped. Two hours later I was looking out the back cargo doors as the transport slowed and turned.

We had rehearsed this several times and I turned to grab the front grate of the pod as it was pushed out. I dialed up my anti gravs as Alex brought the pod anti gravs alive from on top of it. Everyone else filed out after it and we began floating down through the torn passage of broken branches the shuttle had created. I turned the pod and glanced up to Alex, “slower.”

The dragons flew around us and down into the trees. I turned the pod again and Alex slowed it until it was hanging in the air. I used the tractor gun to pull it closer to a couple of branches and gestured to Alex. As it settled I listened and watched before nodding for her to shut the anti gravs off.

The kittens and mini leopards had come down in large packs while I carried Princess’s eggs. I opened the door for Momma and she stopped growling to climb out and leap across to another branch. We hung packs and pulled out lasers before starting to work. We were above and a couple of hundred meters behind the shuttle as we started cutting branches.

It only took a few hours before it was done and in that time we ended up killing a pair of lions and several leopards. I called dad as we moved the pod and began putting the beams together. The transport with the grating was waiting at the last platform so we had a couple of hours to finish before it arrived.

We didn’t see any predators while we worked on the beams but I did notice a lot more insects. After the grating arrived it only took an hour to finish. We marked and prepared several pod sites before stopping for the day. Instead of hunting lower I took Alex and Jade higher. I was following the insects mostly.

I still caught several blood falcons and a blue falcon as well as a yellow winged hawk as it went after one of the kittens. Jade’s two mini leopards caught a few rats as the dragons fed Momma. I found what I was looking for and had the girls stay as I went higher and out onto a narrow branch.

In a large collection of leaves and twigs I found dozens of nests. The tiny jeweled beatle hawks flew around me but I managed to catch them with the net and carefully remove the tiny eggs. Jeweled beatle hawks were only two or three inches tall and fed on insects. When I climbed down it was to see Alex and Jade holding several dead rainbow peacocks.

The dragons were looking snug so I knew they had killed them. Our way back was slow because we let the kittens play and stalk. This time I had brought dozens of mom’s collapsible cages so when I reached the pod it was to carefully move animals out of pouches and into cages.

Alex and Jade sat on top of the pod with everyone else and plucked the peacocks as they made a large dinner. I placed all the eggs in a warming pad before joining them. We were eating when dad called, he wasn’t happy. He said they wanted six pods here now and stairs down to the wreck and to the ground.

I looked at everyone and finally shrugged, “we’re here and three extra pods isn’t going to make that much difference. Stairs down to the wreck and the ground is a different story. Tell them we want compensation for that, colony credits for goods.”

I matched grins with the other men as dad snorted, “and when they ask you to guard those that are going to want to go down to the ground?”

I laughed, “tell them we want carbon fiber nets made like those Davis uses.”

Dad laughed and seemed to relax, “now that makes sense.”

As it began to get dark everyone moved into the pod and we set out the nets. The kittens wandered around as Momma lay next to the front grate with Griffin, Hunter and Princess who had a new woven basket with her eggs in a warming pad next to her. Jade’s pair of mini leopards or Mr and Mrs Mini as she called them lay together just above her head.

Alex snuggled against me and whispered that she was horny. I glanced down the pod before pushing my pants down. She grinned and moved her skirt before straddling me. She slowly wiggled and pushed back and down to work my hard cock into her tight pussy. Jade turned onto her side to watch as Alex started rocking slowly.

Her tight pussy began to grasp and squeeze as she shivered and I kissed her. It was a few minutes before she became erratic as her pussy contracted. She kissed me hard and moaned into my mouth as she spasmed. It was a few more minutes before she started to jerk and shake and I was ready. I thrust up and held her as we kissed while I pumped cum into her.

She spasmed and her pussy clenched as I pumped and gushed cum into her. When I stopped cumming Alex sighed and relaxed before lifting her hips and moving half off me. Jade giggled and rubbed her butt and she grinned back at her sister. The kittens returned to cuddle against me after the lights went out.

I woke to a net being tripped and waited for the sound of whatever it had caught. I finally relaxed thinking the animal had escaped. The morning storm was almost mild with just rain and no lightning. I sat beside Momma as she watched with the dragons. I put the harnesses on the kittens when the rain stopped and gave the leashes to Alex.

I was dressed and stepped out with my pistol drawn. I didn’t see anything and the others came out. I went to collect the capture nets and stopped at the one that had been tripped. Almost every year a new animal species is discovered but the two in the net surprised me. I almost thought they were young dwarf dragons but I knew they weren’t because they were light green.

They were the size of a mini leopard, maybe seven or eight kilos. I glanced at Leo when he stopped beside me, “something new?”

I nodded and looked back at the pod, “Alex?”

She climbed the stairs and looked down the branch at me. I smiled, “I need fire and spice leaves as well as one of your peacocks.”

She nodded before disappearing and coming back with what I needed. I put the leaves under the suspended net as the others watched. When the two angry, frightened animals swayed and relaxed I waited and then kicked out the fire. I opened the net and carefully pulled them out and set them on the branch. I looked at Alex, “feed them.”

She looked at me and then at the two mini dragons and grinned before kneeling. They were so like the dwarf dragons that it made us smile at the way they acted. Dr James kept trying to get close but I held him back until the two stopped eating. Alex pet them and caressed them and I finally shook myself and looked around, “okay, we need to begin clearing the three parking sites.”

Men nodded and split up into groups before we moved away. We cut limbs and ended up killing another pair of lions. We had barely finished when the first transport arrived with a pod. This time it landed and we used the anti gravs from the first pod to move it out and down into place. The transport left and several minutes later another landed.

Dad must have worked all night with extra workers to have everything finished. While we finished setting the last pod some of the men started moving beams. By noon we had the frames for all three parking pads. The extra pods held the grating which we put into place, we even had enough extra beams and grating to make walkways down to each pod.

What we didn’t have was stairs and that was going to be our next project. I had been thinking about what had to be done and sat with Jade and Alex, “I need to go down to the wreck and you are not coming.”

They opened their mouths but I held up my hand, “you do not need to see what is down there again.”

Alex hugged Tina and Adam her two mini dragons as Jade pet Mrs Mini. I looked at the girls, “keep Momma and the dragons with you.”

Alex finally nodded and then Jade and I stood, “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

I left them in the first pod and grabbed my pack. Peter and Tiger had let the other men hunt so it was just me. I moved down the tree, going from branch to branch measuring the distance as I went. Fifty meters above the ground I started moving towards the wreck. I moved slowly, checking around me constantly.

The hugely thick branches here were almost like a road with thick side branches giving easy access to other branches. I watched from a tree trunk for several minutes before moving out to the wreck. I carefully circled it, checking the open cargo deck. The wide rip in the cargo area had sticks and leaves blocking it now.

I climbing up to a door and had to force it open before stepping into the hell I had lived through and managed to escape. All the bodies were nothing more than bones and even then many were cracked open. I moved through the shuttle silently as I looked at everything. The open hatch down into the cargo hold drew my eye and I knelt to look and listen.

I frowned at slight sounds before backing away and moving back to the open door. I moved around the shuttle again until I could climb up and look into the open hatch. I moved back and smiled as my mind went over what I had seen. I moved back to the trees and collected leaves and killed four tree rabbits.

I skinned them and cut them up before returning to the wreck. I left everything before slipping in and moving to the open cargo hatch down and slowly closing it. I moved back and collected my things before moving around the wreck. I slowly pushed the pile of fire and spice leaves into the open hatch.

I lit them and waited, I could hear movement now as the smoke began filling the hold and a minute later climbed into the hatch as I covered my mouth and nose with a cloth. There were at least a half dozen small nests with mini dragons sprawled out in and around them. I moved into the smoke filled hold and started checking them before moving crates and putting the fire out.

I pulled all the animals together and opened my full pack. As they started to revive I began to feed and caress them. It was almost like bonding with a young dwarf dragon, they seemed as affectionate. I moved to each nest when they stopped eating and started moving eggs into my pack and the warming pad. They followed and almost whined as I took the eggs.

I knelt and pulled each one to me and let them look into the pack. I finally stood, “come.”

I moved to the open hatch and knelt to look out and carefully check before slipping the pack on and climbing down. They followed as I moved around to the tree and then followed as I moved back the way I had come. When I started climbing they flew ahead to the next highest branch. I had to rest several times before I finally reached the pod.

A transport was sitting on one of the parking pads and almost everyone was gathered on the center platform. I coaxed the tiny dragons after me as I walked towards them. I found dad arguing with a councilman and cleared my throat. Dad turned, “Firehawk.”

He glared at the councilman, “this moron wants someone to take him to the wreck now.”

I smiled and caught one of the tiny dragons as it leaped up. It peered over my shoulder at the pack as I looked at the councilman, “sure. Can you climb up three hundred meters on cord or vine?”

He went from glaring to surprise. I shrugged and gestured to the men around us, “we climb everyday and could do it.”

He reddened, “I don’t think so.”

I looked at dad, “we need a commercial power wench, beams and grating for the floor of a lift box, sides and roof. Going from the first pod we could build a lift down to the wreck level. The path to the wreck is fairly simple and just needs carbon fiber netting on each side with solid tube ribs over the top. About two hundred and thirty meters of netting should work.”

He nodded and the councilman shifted, “but we need to see...”

I pulled the tiny data chip from my thermal glasses and held it out, “it isn’t pretty.”

Dad looked at me with everyone else, “you went to the wreck?”

I hugged the tiny dragon before turning to set it down with the others, “yes.”

I stood and smiled at Alex and Jade who were grinning at the dragons, “there are elephant wolves feeding on the ground below and signs of lions. If they want us to go all the way to the ground it is going to take a major effort. We will need a lot of carbon fiber nets, not just around the edges but up three branch levels at least. We will still need guards but with the nets it would be possible.”

The councilman looked back and forth between dad and I. I turned and started away and he cleared his throat, “wait.”

I turned to look at him and he straightened, “we aren’t going to pay for nets.”

I looked at the other men and shrugged, “then my work is done.”

I started walking and he began to follow as the men began speaking, “wait!”

I sighed and turned, “What now?”

He took a breath, “we need guards.”

I smiled, “sorry, I’m not in the business of dying. You want guards than you do it.”

He opened his mouth before being bumped as Momma padded towards me. He froze with huge eyes and a white face as I knelt and rubbed her face before coaxing all the mini dragons close. Griffin, Hunter and Princess slipped through the men and then the kittens. I shook my head as Jade and Alex came to kneel and reach out to touch the new dragons.

I finally stood and looked at the stunned councilman, “we know the trees and what is in them. If you try it your way more people will die.”

I turned and headed towards the pod, “dad?”

I was kneeling to one side in the pod when he walked in. I was carefully moving the eggs and separating them according to the tiny dragons. He laughed, “the others just told him the same thing you did.”

I nodded and glanced at Jade and Alex, “they won’t need to go to the ground. Those that entered the wreck fed there.”

Dad knelt and reached out to pet a mini dragon, “your mother will like these.”

He stood, “pack up.”

I looked at him and he smiled, “your mother said she got a slot for the girls but they will need to catch the weekly suborbital.”

An hour later we were loaded aboard the transport. The other men had joined us and the councilman complained all the way back, especially at each stop. He finally agreed to provide supplies and my brothers and Peter said they would go back. Dad was right mom was stunned and delighted when she saw the tiny dragons.

I packed with the girls and mom and dad flew us to North Central.
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