A Good Pilot is Hard to Find
Disclaimer: Voyager and all its characters do not belong to me.
A Good Pilot Is Hard To Find
Lodiakia loomed large in Voyagers viewscreen.
Were being hailed.
On Screen, said Janeway.
Guntaks image replaced that of Lodakia.
We always open the festivities with a feast. We wish to invite you and
your crew to join us.
Thank you. We would be honored.
Excellent. It begins in one hour. We will see you then.
The Solaphim entered Lodakias atmosphere and Voyager entered orbit. An
hour later the first shift of crewmembers began beaming to the surface.
Janeway, Chakotay, B'Elanna, and Seven beamed down first. They beamed down
in the middle of a beautiful garden. Janeway shaded her eyes against the
sun and looked around.
Its beautiful. What do you think, Seven?
It isÉattractive, but I fail to see the point.
Why does everything have to have a point? asked B'Elanna. Cant you
ever accept that some things just are?
The point is it makes you feel good, answered Janeway.
How does a flower make you feel good?
They were interrupted by the arrival of Guntak.
Its good to finally see you in person, captain.
It is good to meet you as well. This is my first officer, Chakotay, my
chief engineer, B'Elanna, and Seven of Nine.
Seven of Nine. Thats a rather unusual name. And what is that above your
I was once Borg.
What is Borg?
Youve never heard of the Borg? asked B'Elanna. Consider yourself
The Borg are a race of cyborgs that seek perfection by assimilating other
races into their own.
Thats a very diplomatic way to put it, said B'Elanna.
How would you state it?
The Borg wipe out a race to add its distinctiveness to its own, but in
doing so it is no longer a distinctive trait as it is lost among so many
others. They take away peoples lives in order to be more perfect.
The Borg do not wipe out races. They assimilate them and you can not be
more perfect. They are trying to attain perfection. My answer was shorter
and more accurate.
B'Elanna growled and started to answer, but Janeway interrupted. I think
he understands now.
Yes, I understand. Im sure I am glad that we have not encountered them.
I wouldnt doubt that they should like to meet us, however.
Your technology is most impressive. They would not care to meet you, but
they would be quite interested in assimilating you.
He didnt literally mean the Borg would want to meet them, Seven, said
If you are ready, Im sure they are ready to server dinner now. Where is
the rest of your crew? said Guntak.
They are most likely wandering the garden, answered Janeway.
I will send some of my men to round them up. If you will follow me, I
will show you to the banquet hall.
They followed Guntak across the gardens to a large white building with many
columns and stained glass windows. A banner hung over the front door said,
Welcome Voyager. Inside were several long tables adorned with colorful
tablecloths and flower baskets. What appeared to be the head table was
raised slightly and had a fancier tablecloth. It was to this table that
Guntak led them. Once everyone had arrived, servers began filing in with
trays of delicious looking food. Janeway noticed that there were still two
empty seats at their table and asked Guntak about it.
They are for your crewmembers that went to Daka, in case I was wrong about
the Dakians and they do show up.
Janeway gazed at the two empty seats for a moment. I hope that you are
wrong. Do you really think they should show up in time for the banquet?
If they do not take too long there, and if they can make it back through
If they made it through to get there, shouldnt it be easy to get back?
Tom and Harry exited the shuttle onto the dark and dingy planet. They
followed Lunai into a large building that looked like a warehouse. Inside
there were several long tables at which many people sat. It looked as
though the whole colony had to be there. One table at the far end of the
room was covered with a nice tablecloth and had three empty seats.
We have prepared a banquet for you, said Lunai.
No, thanks. Were not really hungry. If you dont mind wed like to go
ahead and make the trade. After all the Lodaikians are expecting us, said
We have gone to a great deal of trouble to prepare this feast for you.
Once we have eaten we can continue with the trade.
Tom inwardly sighed. His patience with them was running thin, but he had
to be polite. Very well. Thank you for the invitation.
Lunai smiled and lead them to the head table. Everyone in the hall watched
as they walked across the room.
There sure are a lot of people here to see us, remarked Harry.
We have not had any visitors in quite some time. Everyone was most
anxious to meet you.
Is this everyone in your colony?
Well, almost everyone. Sonai, my sister, is not here.
Why not? asked Tom.
She was not feeling well. Have a seat here.
Tom and Harry sat down in two of the empty seats. Lunai sat down in the
third. As he sat down several people came in carrying trays. The food
looked hot, but that was about the best that could be said about it. It
looked gray and unappetizing. Tom struggled to keep his face neutral as he
began eating. Harry was not having quite as much luck. Tom noticed Harry
grimacing and elbowed him. Harry managed a small smile as he took his next
bite. Lunai seemed not to notice their dislike of the food as he savored
What do you think of the food? he asked Tom. It is one of our most
It is interesting.
Why, youve nearly finished already. You must really like it. Would you
care for seconds?
No, thats all right, said Tom quickly. This was enough. Im too full
to eat any more.
Tom tried to sit patiently while Lunai continued to eat, but it was very
Sit still, Tom, admonished Harry.
Tom sighed and forced his leg to stop bouncing. Lunai seemed to be an
exceptionally slow eater.
I feel like Im in a goldfish bowl, he complained softly to Harry.
What do you mean?
I mean the way all these people keep staring at us is starting to make me
Oh. Yeah, it is a bit disconcerting, but they probably just have never
seen humans before so they are curious.
I dont know. I get the feeling that there is more to it than that.
Would you care for some dessert? asked Lunai.
No thanks. I think I may burst if I eat another bite.
Really? Is that a trait of your species?
No, Its just an expression. It means that I am full.
I see. That is a very interesting way of putting it. Shall we get on
with the trade?
Yes, that would be great.
Lunai led them out of the banquet hall and through a maze of brown hedges.
They came to a larger, more run-down building and went inside. The room
was filled with barrels and crates of various sizes. Lunai pulled a small
padd out of his pocket and glanced at it. Then he walked across the room
to a group of large barrels.
Here we are. This is what you came for. He held out a padd, which Harry
took. This describes the composition of the material.
Harry looked it over. This is almost exactly the same make-up as
Great, Tom turned to Lunai. What did you want to trade it for?
We dont have to decide now. We have an overabundance of it. You can
take a small portion in a shuttlecraft and I can join you in a larger craft
in which you can take the rest.
I dont know, said Tom.
You can simply program your shuttle to follow the flight path you took to
Harry took Tom aside. Just think of how much help all that dilithium
It just seems a little suspicious thats all.
It is true that that much dilithium wont fit in our shuttle.
Yes, I know. Tom sighed. If we didnt need the dilithium so badly I
wouldnt even consider this. The fact remains that we do, so okay.
Great! Harry grinned and went to tell Lunai.
Excellent, said Lunai. He turned to Tom. Why dont you go and program
the shuttle while we gather the dilithium and begin transporting it to the
Yeah, sure, said Tom resignedly.
Tom trudged off to the shuttle. As Tom left, Lunai pulled out a contract.
I almost forgot. We trust you to deliver your part when we meet up with
your ship, but if you could just sign this contract.
Sure, said Harry.
After glancing over it he signed it and handed it over to Lunai.
Great, said Lunai. Now, lets get these barrels to your shuttle.
Soon the shuttle was loaded and Lunai sent Harry ahead while he and Tom
finished loading Lunais ship.
There. Thats the last barrel, said Tom. Tom looked around for the
first time since they began loading the ship. Wheres Harry?
He already left.
Why didnt he wait for us?
I told him to go ahead.
Because you arent going to be returning to Voyager.
Tom suddenly found himself surrounding by men with guns.
What do you need me for?
We need a good pilot. We dont have any.
Why do you need a good pilot?
I would have thought that was obvious. To get us through the minefield,
I already made it through once. Cant you just download the flight path
and follow it out?
No, the mines that are sensing are always changing. The same path will
not always be safe.
What about Harry?
If hes lucky, the mines may not have changed yet and he could make it out