A Good Pilot is Hard to Find
by Thomasina

Disclaimer-Voyager and all its characters do not belong to me.

Chapter 2

"Captain Janeway to the Nuloom. I have an answer for you."

"They're responding."

"On screen."

The viewscreen once again displayed Lunai.

"Captain, it's nice to meet you. I am Captain Lunai."

"I gathered as much from Mr. Kim's description of you."

"I trust he told you of my proposition."

"Yes, he did."

"You said you had an answer."

"First I want a few answers."

"Certainly. What do you want to know?"

"First, who are you?"

"I am Lunai."

"No, I mean what species are you?"

"My people are called the Dakians. Our planet Daka is less than a day away from here. A shuttle could easily make it there and continue on to Lodikia reaching it only slightly after Voyager."

"You seem awfully anxious for us to visit your planet."

"I am just an anxious to help you. My race tries to help others whenever we can. When I we discovered that we had something that you needed we wanted to let you know as soon as we could."

"Your race seems to be very similar to the Lodiakains, both in name and looks."

"Mere coincidence. We only look alike because we live in the same region of space."

"How did you know what we needed?"

"We scanned your ship."

"You couldn't have just asked?"

"By scanning your ship we know exactly what you want right away without having to spend time asking questions trying to find out what we have that you need. We call things by different names, so we might not know that one of the things you say you need we have."

"I suppose that does make sense, but next time you want to know something about us just ask."

"Certainly, captain. We didn't mean to offend you."

"It's okay. I have considered your offer and we accept. Two of my people will be ready to go within the hour."

"Very good. I am glad that we will be able to be of service to you."

The viewscreen once again showed the stars and the Nuloom flying alongside them. Janeway stared at the screen deep in thought.

"Penny for your thoughts?" said Chakotay.

"I was just thinking about Lunai he seemed a little. not right."

"What do you think it is?"

"I don't know exactly. Well, for one I don't think he was telling the truth about their similarity to the Lodaikians being merely a coincidence."

"In the same way as the Romulans and the Vulcans they were once the same race?"

"Possibly, but if that's true I wonder why did they split and why he would lie about it?"

"Do you want to contact him and tell him you changed your mind?"

"No, we really could use the dilithium and he genuinely seemed to want to help. Besides, if he posed a threat I'm sure Guntak would have warned us."

"What if Guntak is the one not to be trusted?"

Janeway sighed, "I think for now we are just going to trust that both of them just want to help us. We have no real reason to think otherwise."

"Mr. Paris, what are you doing?"

"I'm recalibrating the medical tricorders like you told me to, doc."

"I think that one is finished. At least it should be by now as long as you've been at it."

"I'm sorry doc, I guess my mind wasn't on it."

"Now, there's a surprise. I would appreciate it if you took you medical duties more seriously."

"I do, doc."

"First you were late, and now you're not concentrating as usual."

"Hey, I do usually concentrate on my work here."

"On occasion, I suppose."

The opening of the sickbay doors interrupted their conversation.

"Hey, Harry. What are you doing here?" asked Tom.

"I came here to get you."

"Oh, no. Mr. Paris' shift has not ended and I need him here," interjected the EMH.

"Sorry, doc, captain's orders. We have an away mission to go on," said Harry.

"Hear that? Can't ignore captain's orders. I guess I have to go," Tom said feigning disappointment as he handed the medical tricorder to the EMH. "I guess you'll just have to finish this up without me."

"Don't worry, Mr. Paris. I'm sure I'll muddle through somehow."

Tom grinned. "See you later, doc."

The EMH sighed, "Yes, goodbye."

"So Harry, what's this about an away mission."

"We met another race who say they have a substance like dilithium that they are willing to trade."

"That's great, but what about the Lodaikians?"

"Don't worry we'll catch up with Voyager in time for the race."

"Sound's good to me."

"Also, you should know I was warned the path to their planet is difficult to fly through." They reached the turbolift and stepped inside. "Deck 2."

"Great, I like a challenge."

Harry smiled, "I didn't think that part would bother you."

"Where exactly are we going anyway?"

"Uh, well," stammered Harry. "I'm not sure exactly. I didn't catch the name of the planet. The only thing I really know is the name of the captain and his ship."

"So we are going to a planet we know nothing about following an alien we know nothing about, except his name."

"I guess I should have thought to ask that. What should I do?"

"Don't worry I'm sure the captain thought to ask. I'll find ask her about them."

"There are few supplies we'll need. It's not far to where we're going, but it'll still take a few days to reach Lodikia." He handed Tom a padd. "I split the list in half to get it done faster. I'll meet you in shuttlebay one in 20 minutes."

"You're sounding quite commanding for an ensign."

Harry blushed. "I didn't mean."

"Relax Harry, I was only kidding. See you in twenty minutes," said Tom as the turbolift doors opened and he stepped off.

Fifteen minutes later Tom was on his way to shuttlebay 1 with his supplies cradled in his arms. It would be so much easier if I could simply beam myself to each place I needed to go and then beam myself to shuttlebay one, thought Tom as he stepped on the turbolift.

"Tom, wait up!"

Tom held open the doors to the turbolift and waited for B'Elanna to join him.

"Deck 10. Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?"

"I just wanted to tell you to be careful."

"What's this? B'Elanna Torres concerned for my safety?"

"I'm serious, Tom. I've got a bad feeling about this area of space."

"Don't worry. I know they said the path was dangerous, but I'm sure I can handle it."

"It's not just that. It's just a feeling I have. There seems to be too much focus on pilots and I get the feeling there is something the Lodaikian captain is not telling us."

"I think that you are just being paranoid. He seemed nice enough to me."

B'Elanna could feel herself getting angry. "I think that you are just blinded by your oversized ego. What do you know about this planet you are going to?"

"It's called Daka. It's less than a day away from here."

"That's it? How do you know what their intentions are?"

"The captain says that they like to help people."

"Why does a shuttle have to go? If it's on the way as they say it is why can't Voyager stop there on the way?"

"Because we don't want to lose any time. This way Voyager makes it on time and we arrive shortly after."

The turbolift stopped and the doors opened.

"Don't worry, B'Elanna. I'll be fine."

"I hope so."

Tom got off the turbolift and headed to shuttlebay one. When he entered he saw Harry loading the shuttlecraft the containers they would use to carry the dilithium.

"Amazing, you're actually here on time."

"Of course. I didn't want you yelling at me for not being here on time," said Tom grinning.

"Ready to go?"

"Of course. I'm looking forward to flying this 'difficult' path. I can't wait to see what makes it so hard."

"Well, don't worry. We'll see soon enough."

Tom took his seat in the pilot's chair and began his preflight preparations. When he was finished he opened a communications channel."

"Lt. Paris to Captain Janeway. Permission to leave Voyager."

"Permission granted. Good luck Lieutenant. We'll see you on Lodikia."