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First detected when passing through Klingon territory in 2273, V'Ger was unlike anything that Starfleet had ever encountered. Its initial appearance, that of a vast, luminous cloud capable of emitting enormous amounts of energy, was described as a "twelfth-power energy field", a scale beyond the energy-generation capacity of even "thousands of starships". As it traversed their space, the Klingons dispatched three K't'inga-class cruisers, led by the IKS Amar, to investigate. After approaching the outermost edges of the cloud, the Klingons fired photon torpedoes at it, to no effect. They continued their assault, but began a retreat as each of their torpedoes seemingly "vanished", and during the retreat, the vessels in the wolfpack began to be eliminated by powerful, spherically-shaped "bolts" of plasma energy emerging from within the cloud. This attack, while occurring within Klingon space, was monitored by Starfleet's Epsilon IX communications station, which was in close proximity to the then-disputed Federation-Klingon border, and was able to intercept communications between the Amar fleet and the Klingon High Command.

Shortly after the elimination of the Klingon vessels, the cloud passed into Federation space near the Epsilon IX station, which was able to perform limited scans on it, although most of its sensor sweeps were reflected back. The station crew was able, however, to determine that it measured a diameter in excess of two astronomical units, or more than three hundred million kilometers, and that there was a null reading at the heart of the entity, indicating a solid form or vessel of some kind. Unfortunately, V'Ger appeared to interpret Epsilon IX's scans as a hostile act, and eliminated the station in the same manner as it had the Klingon vessels.

Threatening Earth

With the cloud just 54 hours away from Earth, Starfleet dispatched the only starship within interception range, the newly refitted USS Enterprise, to determine both what it was and how to stop it if possible. When the Enterprise arrived at the cloud's coordinates, it determined that the entity had an energy output surpassing that of thousands of starships.

By assuming a non-threatening posture, the Enterprise was able to deeply penetrate the cloud surrounding V'Ger and begin to gather information. During this critical time, however, the starship was cut off from all communication with Starfleet. As V'Ger entered the Sol system, spherical energy "bolts" similar to those that had destroyed the Klingons and the Epsilon IX station, only vastly more powerful, were launched by the entity. The energy spheres proceeded into courses that would place them into equidistant orbits around the planet, at which point it was predicted Earth's entire surface would be devastated.

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