EDIT: FINISHED STORY! I've been working on this while at work in order to pass the time. If y'all like it enough, I might keep plugging away at it. Keep me motivated to actually finish a writing project! Note: For the trekkies, this story is supposed to occur roughly between Insurrection and Nemesis. I don't follow the novels, so if this information overlaps/conflicts with the stuff in the Trek books, burn those. For the Transformer fans, this story is supposed to occur some time following "Rebirth." I'll be borrowing, occasionally, from other elements of the G1 universe. However, as we've come to know, the Transformers mythology is a moveable feast, so I might not strictly adhere to one universe. STAR TREK: THE PARADRON PUZZLE “Analysis, Mr. Data.” The premise, Jean-Luc Picard mused, was wonderful. Comforting. As Starfleet had kindly requested, they were to investigate the anomaly and reports of starships having to reset their sensor arrays each time a ship left or entered this, the Paradron system. Several theories had begun to swim around in Picard’s mind even before the Enterprise had entered the system – high levels of any major radiation source could cause a sensor system to be tricked into giving slanted readings, and then there was always graviton displacement…But this was all…nearly too good to be true. They weren’t organizing battlegroups or herding refugees from the Dominion War. They were exploring again. “It appears to be a very small class j nova, sir. The key elements that would consist of a stellar nova are all present, yet the quantity of the material often needed to sustain the heat of a nova is not present.” The android, having finished his analysis, turned to face the captain, counselor and first officer as Will Riker spoke up. “So something is keeping this furnace hot other than the usual mix of hydrogen and helium.” “Quite right, number one.” Picard looked from Riker to the image of the Nova again, brow beginning to furrow. Data noted the thinking frown on Picard’s face and spoke up. “I believe it is safe to hypothesize that whatever is giving this nova the chemical momentum to continue burning might also be affecting the sensor arrays of ships entering and leaving this area.” Commander Riker smiled and nodded. “Data, remind me to discuss ‘stating the obvious’ with you when we’re off duty.” Deanna Troi mocked a face of shock at the first officer, while Picard shot Riker a sour look. “Will, come on.” Then, to Data, “Are our sensors also being affected by this distortion effect as well?” The android lazily swung his chair back to the sciences console and began running his fingers across the sleek, ebon LCARS controls in front of him. Moments later, Data pivoted the chair again, facing Riker and Picard. “I am uncertain. Standard sensor readings indicate that our trajectory into and out of our system are unaffected. Additionally, data on the nova, the Paradron system and proximity readings outside of the Enterprise have not changed since we entered the system.” “Yeah, but it’s starting to sound like that’s is a recurring trend,” Riker noted, glancing from a PADD to the image of the micronova on the viewscreen. “This cruise ship, the Pueblo Del Sol, reported similar initial readings when they came through the Paradron system. It wasn’t until they were leaving warp outside of the Frocus system that they realized they had arrived at the wrong place.” The commander of the Enterprise glanced back at the PADD, then shot a look up again when he heard Jean-Luc Picard chuckling softly. “Are you all right, sir?” Deanna asked, moving to stand. “As a matter of fact, I am. I am, along with all of you, gathering the data necessary to research an interesting stellar phenomenon.” Picard chuckled softly again, a grin spread wide across his face. “Yes, we are, but…why is that amusing?” Troi noted cautiously. “We’re finally fulfilling the Starfleet charter once again and visiting ‘strange, new worlds.’ We aren’t rallying the ship to Red Alert or fending off Dominion assault vessels.” Riker grinned as he recognized the captain’s jubilance. “We’re explorers again, not members of a task force.” “Quite right, Will,” Picard nodded, satisfied with the summary. His moment of exhilaration passing, Picard gave the bridge crew an once-over and began issuing commands. “Mr. Data, I want more information. Begin running element-intensive searches on the nova. Particularly, what elements are present in the nova that could induce a phenomena of this nature? Are there gravitons, chronitons present in the nova that are impossible to detect with standard sensors? “Number One, you and Counselor Troi prepare a shuttlecraft for flight. I want you to travel out of the system and back in; we’ll compare the data from your jaunt to Mr. Data’s. Be ready to meet again in 2 hours in the conference room.” His orders given, Picard watched as the cadre of officers under his command nod their “aye, sirs” and head off to take care of their duties. This was it, Picard thought. This is what he had missed during those months of reading battle reports and tactical analyses. Strange, new worlds. “Analysis, Perceptor.” So far, this mission had been relatively calm, Skyfire mused. That was surprising. It was also unsettling and roused a feeling inside Skyfire that he had carried with him since he had awoken from his icy tomb on Earth – the feeling that, at any moment, enemies and allies might show up to start fighting each another, ruining research or destroying artifacts. It had become the way of the day for the Decepticons and, unfortunately, for the Autobots as well. If Skyfire’s fellow scientist, the telescope Autobot Perceptor, felt the same way, he was not showing it. “It appears that the planet Paradron's sun has, somehow, gone nova. Additionally, based on the degree of burn within the nova and the gasses being expelled, it would seem the nova has been this way for some time. According to Rodimus Prime and Ultra Magnus’s initial reports regarding the planet, it was, apparently, rich in Energon and in other sources of energy and, ultimately, unstable.” “’Other’ sources of energy? Do we have any information about these ‘other’ sources?” Skyfire queried, standing from the his integrated chair/information center. “Unfortunately, no…Rodimus’s team did not have time to make additional readings before they…well, you know.” “Before he destroyed the planet without thinking of any other way to handle the situation?” Skyfire sighed heavily as he clunked across the astrophysics laboratory to where Perceptor was sitting. “It’s all right, Perceptor – it’s just you, me and the omnibots. I don’t think any of us are going to jump to defend Rodimus or his ‘legacy.’” Perceptor shook his head slowly. “I tried to remain positive about his leadership. I recognize that the Matrix had a place for Rodimus in the hierarchy of Autobot leadership. Still…” The telescope Autobot nodded resolutely, forcing a smile for Skyfire. “That was then. This is now. Let us focus on the Paradron puzzle.” The smile Skyfire returned was genuine. “Let’s. And let’s hope we can focus on it without any interruptions – Autobot or Decepticon.” “Seconded,” Perceptor chuckled. The red-and-white Autobot starship leaned over his friend’s console, looking at the readouts Perceptor had gathered. The telescope Autobot had arranged the data from the Trakon Gamma’s sensors so that it was sorted neatly, showing any major trends in the activity of the nova. “Efficient, as usual, my friend,” Skyfire muttered, pouring over the information. “Although I wonder why Rodimus or company never marked anything in the logs about the planet's sun going – and remaining – nova after the explosion.” “Those were not the concerns of the day,” Perceptor sighed, bringing up another datafeed from the Takon Gamma’s sensor cluster. “In those days, it was either ‘blast or be blasted.’” The red-and-white Autobot jet nodded, his head drooping a bit. “Right. Fiendish times, those.” Skyfire perked up, looking around the lab. “I’m thinking about going outside for a closer look. I’ll relay all data back to the Trakon Gamma, as well as video feeds and any energon readings I pick up.” “Enjoy yourself, Skyfire. I will monitor whatever data feeds you provide from here.” Perceptor turned back to his console, reconfiguring it to handle incoming information from the other Autobot. “You are aware that the Trakon Gamma’s sensors would provide the same information you’re seeking to ascertain and keep you safely distanced from any hazardous radiation at the same time,” the telescope Autobot noted as the doors to the astrophysics lab whined open. Skyfire stood in the doorway for a minute, smiling wide. “Perhaps it would. But being a scientist does not mean I have lost my sense of excitement. Besides, wouldn’t you rather see this type of stellar phenomena with your own optics?” Perceptor groaned, shaking his head no. Jetfire chuckled again as he left the lab.