A Forest Apart (STA)
On the frontier of Federation space, a Starfleet crew encounters a vessel of unknown origin: a forested geodesic dome. The damaged craft appears to be well over 1,000 years old and foreign to the Milky Way galaxy. It does not respond to hails and no intelligent life readings are detected. When the crew beams aboard, they discover a vast and ancient forest. Yet many of the gold-leafed, silver-barked trees are dead or dying. The crew soon learns that this is not just any forest. The trees are the last of their kind: a sentient species from the Large Magellanic Cloud. They are in desperate need of aid, but helping them puts the crew's values to the test.
Killing the trees are small insectoids called the Jahan !Xu. A sentient species, they exist in hyper-accelerated time, making them invisible. They suffer from a neurodegenerative disease that has nearly wiped out their species. Only the sap of the sentient trees, to which they are addicted, slows its progression.
As the crew investigates how to help both species, the geodesic dome suddenly sets course for Albali Prime. The Class M planet harbors a peaceful, Bronze Age humanoid civilization. The Sentient Trees believe this is the mythical homeland foretold in their ancient tales. Since their distant sun died, they have travelled across galaxies in search of this place. They are not entirely wrong. Many millennia ago, before a biological war devastated the ecosystem, a space-faring civilization thrived on Albali Prime. Two of its astronauts crash-landed on the trees' world. One helped wake the trees to sentience, and the memories of his home world are with them still. On Albali Prime, in an isolated valley, the primitive people also carry a tale that one day trees will grow again.
Before the crew uncovers these connections, they must first grapple with the non-interference doctrine. Are they willing to violate the Prime Directive to save two intelligent species on the edge of extinction? If so, at what cost? The fate of two alien races and the well-being of the Albali, a society still in its infancy, rests in the hands of the crew.