'In our year 2271,' Tuvok began, focusing intently on the crowd gathered before him, 'Stardate 7412.6, near coordinates 5783911 by 2113490.78 by Alpha Q 700712 on the galactic charts, three Klingon cruisers were performing routine military training exercises when they detected an indefinable cloud of energy quickly approaching the edge of the imperial borders.'
Suddenly, the Vulcan stopped. He turned to his captain.
Grimly, she nodded.
Continuing, Tuvok returned to the Assembly. 'At this point in their cultural development, the Klingons were a race of fierce battle warriors, intent solely upon seeking out combat with other species. Their philosophy was to vanquish the opponent, and thus lay claim to proprietary rights of the defeated species' possessions, technology, and resources. Consequently, Klingon scanning technology was predicated on principles of identifying heightened energy sources. As is often the case, energy - not mass - is utilized as a primary means of defense and offense. As a point of comparison, I would draw your attention to the Besarian planetary defense shield. It is based entirely on the output of energy, not mass. In contract, as my shipmates and I have since come to learn in studying the technology pirated from the Borg by The One, the Pulse Cannon utilizes mass ... a torpedo housing a Twelfth Power Energy reactor ... in order to achieve its destructive potential.
'However, in their attempts to classify the cloud, the Klingons were ineffective. As the approaching mist registered on their sensors as nothing more than pure energy, it appeared simply as anomalous to their pattern definition buffers. Outside of the visible similarity to space nebula common throughout the Alpha Quadrant, the cloud possessed no definite characteristics. The Klingons appropriately determined that a closer visual inspection of the cloud was necessary to determine the liability of allowing it to pass through their imperial space. They broke off their military exercises and changed course to intercept the anomaly. After all, should the flight officers capture the intruding anomaly, harnessing an unimaginable power source would logically provide the Klingon Empire with unimaginable power.
'Upon closer engagement,' Tuvok pressed on, 'the Klingons determined that the cloud was, in fact, a functioning entity possessing highly advanced weapons and scanning technology. All attempts to perform even cursory scans, from a closer distance, were reflected back, indicating perhaps the use of some type of scanning inhibitors, a technology unheard of at the time and still undeveloped. Rather than frighten the Klingons into retreat, the warriors realized how valuable the prize would be should capture prove possible. After little debate, the flight officers agreed upon yet another course adjustment ... that of entering the cloud.'
Breaking momentarily, Tuvok sighed, solely for his benefit and not for the sake of theatricality, as the Besarian Assembly assumed.
'Immediately upon entrance,' the Vulcan continued, his voice unchanged, 'the Klingons found themselves with the ability to make minimal scientific assessments of the cloud. Scanning was now possible, albeit limited. Specifically, the crew aboard the Klingon attack cruiser Amar determined that the transgressor of their imperial space was far more than just a cloud ... far greater than a combination of indeterminate gaseous elements. Rather, they detected what appeared to be a massive functioning organism. In short, the Klingon High Council, to this day, contend that they achieved first contact with the galaxy's first living machine.'
From the raised platform, Janeway heard some gasps from the throng.
'With little resistance or effectiveness,' Tuvok persisted, 'the three cruisers - two of which the names remain classified out of respect for the Klingon ancestors for which they are named - were destroyed.'
Kathryn Janeway recognized the rapture of an audience when she saw it. The Gathered Races of Besaria - she had heard Packell refer to his new people on more than one occasion - were utterly captivated by Tuvok's recounting of pure fact.
'A Starfleet sciences station, Epsilon IX, recorded and encoded all of the relevant data and transmitted it, via subspace, to Starfleet Command,' the Vulcan pressed on, oblivious to the emotional impact he was having on the audience. 'For this period in history, Starfleet's scanning technology was markedly different from the Klingon application. While the detection and isolation of energy matrices is unquestionably the underlying principle of all scanning philosophy, the Epsilon IX Space Station was equipped with matter enhancement meters, auditory indicators, and deep-space visual photography units. Epsilon's scans, directed and summarized by the station's commander Zephram Molaire, remain one of the oft-cited case studies of purely impartial scientific analysis for cadets enrolled in sciences classes at the Alpha Quadrant's Starfleet Academy. Indeed, the comparative scans were thorough, cross-referenced, and filtered through countless permutations of resolution ... visually, audibly, and electrically.'
For no apparent reason, Tuvok suddenly paused. Janeway noticed as he glanced momentarily at his PADD and then back at his audience.
Then, he reacted.
She saw it.
Kathryn Janeway trusted only someone as close to him as she would notice the ever-so-slight cock in his left eyebrow.
Despite all of her dealings with various cultures, races, and peoples, she knew that that solitary trait - the subtle yet perceptible rise in an eyebrow - was as close to an open display of emotion the Vulcan people would ever allow.
'Dr. Molaire's scans were reviewed in increasing detail by Starfleet Command,' Tuvok continued with his recitation of history.
Janeway looked up from her seat toward the source of the voice. Surprised, she found the question had come from ...
'I asked why?' the Trakill Prefect repeated.
Tuvok remained unfazed. 'I do not understand your question.'
'Why did your people spend so much time studying the cloud?'
Nodding, Tuvok placed his PADD on top the podium.
'Because,' the Vulcan began, 'the machine/organism was, without question, on a precise heading for the planet Earth.'