In Klingon space, three Klingon battle cruisers encounter a huge cloud-like anomaly. On the bridge of one of the ships, the captain (Mark Lenard
) orders his crew to fire torpedoes at it, but they have no effect. The ships take evasive action.
Meanwhile, in Federation space, a monitoring station, Epsilon 9, picks up a distress signal from one of the Klingon ships. As the three ships are attempting to escape the cloud, energy beams shoot out and engulf each ship one by one, and they vanish. On Epsilon 9, the crew tracks the course of the cloud and discovers that it is headed for Earth.
On Vulcan, Spock (Leonard Nimoy
) has been undergoing the kohlinahr ritual, in which he has been learning how to purge all of his emotions, and is nearly finished with his training. A female Vulcan Master (Edna Glover), surrounded by two men, is about to give him an ornate necklace as a symbol of pure logic, when Spock holds out his hand to stop her. Confused, she mind-melds with him and senses a consciousness calling to him from space that is affecting his human side. She drops the necklace. "You have not yet achieved kohlinahr. You must look elsewhere for your answer," she says as they leave Spock. "You will not find it here."
In San Francisco, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner
) arrives at Starfleet Headquarters in a shuttlecraft. He sees Commander Sonak (Jon Rashad Kamal
), a Vulcan science officer who is joining the Enterprise crew and recommended for the position by Kirk himself. Kirk is bothered as to why Sonak is not on board yet. Sonak explains that Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins
), the new captain of the Enterprise, wanted him to complete his science briefing at Headquarters before they left on their mission. The Enterprise has been undergoing a complete "refitting" for the past 18 months and is now under final preparations to leave, which would take at least 20 hours, but Kirk informs him that they only have 12. He tells Sonak to report to him on the Enterprise in one hour; he has a short meeting with Admiral Nogura and is intent on being on the ship.
Kirk transports to an office complex orbiting Earth and meets Montgomery Scott (James Doohan
), the Enterprise's chief engineer. Scotty expresses his concern about the tight departure time. The cloud is less than three days away from Earth, and the Enterprise has been ordered to intercept it because they are the only ship in range. Scotty says that the refit can't be finished in 12 hours, and tries to convince him that the ship needs more work done as well as a shakedown cruise. Kirk insists that they are leaving, ready or not. They board a travel pod and begin the journey over to the drydock in orbit that houses the Enterprise.
Scotty tells Kirk that the crew hasn't had enough transition time with all the new equipment and that the engines haven't even been tested at warp power, not to mention that they have an untried captain. Kirk tells Scotty that two and a half years as Chief of Starfleet Operations may have made him a little stale, but that he wouldn't exactly consider himself untried. Kirk then tells a surprised Scotty that Starfleet gave him back his command of the Enterprise. Scotty doubts it, saying that he doesn't think it was that easy with Admiral Nogura, who gave Kirk his orders. They arrive at the Enterprise, and Scotty indulges Kirk with a brief tour of the new exterior of the ship.
Upon docking with the ship, Scotty is summoned to Engineering. Kirk goes up to the bridge, and is informed by Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols
) that Starfleet has just transferred command from Captain Decker over to him. Kirk finds Decker in engineering, whom is visibly upset when Kirk breaks the news that he is assuming command, but recognizes it is necessary because Kirk has more experience. Decker will remain on the ship as 2nd officer. As Decker storms off, an alarm sounds. Someone is trying to beam over to the ship, but the transporter is malfunctioning. Kirk and Scotty race to the transporter room. Transporter operator Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) is frantically trying to tell Starfleet to abort the transport, but it is too late. Commander Sonak and an unknown female officer are beaming in, but their bodies aren't re-forming properly in the beam. The female officer screams, and then their bodies disappear. Starfleet signals to them that they have died. Kirk tells Starfleet to express his sympathies to their families.
In the corridor, Kirk sees Decker and tells him they will have to replace Commander Sonak and wants another Vulcan. Decker tells him that no one is available that is familiar with the ship's new design. Kirk tells Decker he will have to double his duties as science officer as well.
In the recreation room, as Kirk briefs the assembled crew on the mission, they receive a transmission from Epsilon 9. Commander Branch (David Gautreaux
) tells them they have analyzed the mysterious cloud. It generates an immense amount of energy and measures 2 A.U.s (300 million km) in diameter. There is also a vessel of some kind in the center. They've tried to communicate with it and have performed scans, but the cloud reflects them back. It seems to think of the scans as hostile and attacks them. Like the Klingon ships earlier, Epsilon 9 disappears.
Later on the bridge, Uhura informs Kirk that the transporter is working now. Lt. Ilia, (Persis Khambatta
), a bald being from the planet Delta IV, arrives. Decker is happy to see her, as they developed a romantic relationship when he was assigned to her planet several years earlier. Ilia is curious about Decker's reduction in rank and Kirk interrupts and tells her about Decker being the executive and science officer. Decker tells her, with slight sarcasm, that Kirk has the utmost confidence in him. Ilia tells Kirk that her oath of celibacy is on record and asks permission to assume her duties. Uhura tells Kirk that one of the last few crew members to arrive is refusing to beam up. Kirk goes to the transporter room to ensure that "he" beams up.
Kirk tells Starfleet to beam the officer aboard. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley
) materializes on the platform. McCoy is angry that his Starfleet commission was reactivated and that it was Kirk's idea for him to be brought along on the mission. His attitude changes, however, when Kirk says he desperately needs him. McCoy leaves to check out the new sickbay.
The crew finishes its repairs and the Enterprise leaves drydock and into the solar system. Dr. McCoy comes up to the bridge and complains that the new sickbay is nothing but a computer center. Kirk is anxious to intercept the cloud intruder, and orders Hikaru Sulu (George Takei
) to go to warp speed. Suddenly, the ship enters a wormhole, which was created by an engine imbalance, and is about to collide with an asteroid that has been pulled inside. Kirk orders the phasers to be fired on it, but Decker tells Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig
) to fire photon torpedoes instead. The asteroid is destroyed and the wormhole vanishes. Annoyed, Kirk wants to meet with Decker in his quarters. Dr. McCoy decides to go along.
Kirk demands an explanation from Decker. Decker pointed out that the redesigned Enterprise channeled the phasers through the main engines and because they were imbalanced, the phasers were cut off. Kirk acknowledged that he had saved the ship; however, he accuses Decker of competing with him. Decker tells Kirk that, because of his unfamiliarity with the ship's new design, the mission is in jeopardy. Decker tells Kirk that he will gladly help Kirk understand the new design. Kirk then dismisses him from the room. In the corridor, Decker runs into Ilia. Ilia asked if the confrontation was difficult, and he tells her that it was about as difficult as seeing her again, and apologizes. She asked if he was sorry for leaving Delta IV, or for not saying goodbye. He said that if he had seen her again, would she be able to say goodbye? She says "no," and walked around him and entered her quarters nearby.
Back in Kirk's quarters, McCoy accuses Kirk of being the one who was competing, and the fact that it was Kirk who used the emergency to pressure Starfleet into letting him get command of the Enterprise. McCoy thinks that Kirk is obsessed with keeping his command. On Kirk's console viewscreen, Uhura informs Kirk that a shuttlecraft is approaching and that the occupant wishes to dock. Chekov also pipes in and replies that it appears to be a courier vessel. Kirk tells Chekov to handle the situation.
The shuttle approaches the Enterprise from behind, and the top portion of it detaches and docks at an airlock behind the bridge. Chekov is waiting by the airlock doors and is surprised to see Spock come aboard. Moments later, Spock arrives on the bridge, and everyone is shocked and pleased to see him, yet Spock ignores them. He moves over to the science station and tells Kirk that he is aware of the crisis and knows about the ship's engine design difficulties. He offers to step in as the science officer. McCoy and Dr. Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett
) come to the bridge to greet Spock, but Spock just stares alarmingly at their emotional outburst. Spock leaves to discuss fuel equations with Scotty in engineering.
With Spock's assistance, the engines are now rebalanced for full warp capacity. The ship successfully goes to warp to intercept the cloud. In the officers lounge, Spock meets with Kirk and McCoy. They discuss Spock's kohlinahr training on Vulcan, and how Spock broke off from his training to join them. Spock describes how he sensed the consciousness of the intruder, from a source more powerful that he has ever encountered, with perfect, logical thought patterns. He believes that it holds the answers he seeks. Uhura tells Kirk over the intercom that they have visual contact with the intruder.
The cloud scans the ship, but Kirk orders no return scans. Spock determines that the scans are coming from the center of the cloud. Uhura tries sending "linguacode" messages, but there is no response. Decker suggests raising the shields for protection, but Kirk determines that that might be considered hostile to the cloud. Spock analyzes the clouds composition, and discovers it has a 12-power energy field, the equivalent of power generated by thousands of starships.
Sitting at the science station, Spock awakens from a brief trance. He reveals to Kirk that the alien was communicating with him. The alien is puzzled; it contacted the Enterprise--why has the Enterprise not replied? A red alert sounds, and an energy beam from within the cloud emerged and charges at the Enterprise. Spock annalysis the incoming alien weapon as a form of plasma energy, but lists it exact composition and guidance system as unknown. Kirk orders the Enterprise shields raises just as the energy beam (called a 'whiplash bolt') hits the touches the ship's force field, and begins to overload the ship's systems. Bolts of lightning surround the warp core and nearly injure some engineering officers, and Chekov is also hurt--his hand is burned while sitting at the weapons station on the bridge. The energy beam then disappears having expanded its energy. A medical team is summoned to the bridge, and Ilia is able to use her telepathic powers to soothe Chekov's pain. Scotty then contacts the bridge from the engineering room to explain that the ship's shield power is down by over 70% from the plasma energy bolt's impact. Kirk orders some auxiliary powers to be diverted to the shields.
Spock then confirms to Kirk that the alien has been attempting to communicate. It communicates at a frequency of more than one million megahertz, and at such a high rate of speed, the message only lasts a millisecond. Spock begins to program the ship's computer to send linguacode messages at that frequency. Another energy beam is sent out, but Spock transmits a message just in time, and the beam disappears. The ship continues on course through the cloud. They pass through many expansive and colorful cloud layers and upon clearing these, a giant vessel is revealed. It is roughly cylindrical in shape, with large spikes jutting out from the surface at equidistant angles between each other, forming a hexagonal shape.
Kirk tells Uhura to transmit an image of the alien to Starfleet, but she explains that any transmission sent out of the cloud is being reflected back to them. Kirk orders Sulu to fly above and along the top of the vessel at a distance of 500 meters. The Enterprise is so small compared to the size of the alien vessel that it appears only as a little white dot next to it. The ship travels past many oddly-shaped structures, including a sunken area where the energy beams originate.
An alarm sounds, and yet another energy bolt approaches the ship. It appears on the bridge as a column of bright light that emits a very loud noise. The crew struggles to shield their eyes from its brilliant glow. Chekov asks Spock if it is one of the alien's crew, and Spock replies that it is a probe sent from the vessel also made form a plasma energy combination. The probe slowly moves around the room and stops in front of the science station. Bolts of lightning shoot out from it and surround the console--it is trying to access the ship's computer. Spock manages to smash the controls to prevent further access, and the probe gives him an electric shock that sends him rolling onto the floor. The probe approaches the helm/navigation console and it scans Lt. Ilia. Suddenly, she vanishes, along with the probe.
Ahead of the ship looms another giant section of the vessel that begins to open up. A tractor beam is drawing the Enterprise toward an opening aperture. Decker calls for Chief DiFalco (Marcy Lafferty
) to come up to the bridge as Ilia's replacement. The ship travels deep into the next chamber. Decker wonders why they were brought inside--they could have been easily destroyed outside. Spock deduces that the alien is curious about them. Uhura's monitor shows that the aperture is closing; they are trapped. The ship is released from the tractor beam and suddenly, an intruder alert goes off. Someone has come aboard the ship and is in the crew quarters section.
Kirk and Spock arrive inside a crewman's quarters to discover that the intruder is inside the sonic shower. It is revealed to be Ilia, although it isn't really her--there is a small red device attached to her neck. In a mechanized voice, she replies "You are the Kirk unit--you will listen to me." She explains that she has been programmed by an entity called "V'Ger" to observe and record the normal functions of the carbon-based units (humans) "infesting" the Enterprise. Kirk opens the shower door and "Ilia" steps out, wearing a small white garment that just materialized around her. Dr. McCoy and a security officer enter the room, and Kirk tells McCoy to scan her with a tricorder.
Kirk asks her who V'Ger is. She replies "V'Ger is that which programmed me." McCoy tells Kirk that Ilia is a mechanism and Spock confirms she is a probe that assumed Ilia's physical form. Kirk asks where the real Ilia is, and the probe states that "that unit" no longer functions. Kirk also asks why V'Ger is traveling to Earth, and the probe answers that it wishes to find the Creator, join with him, and become one with it. Spock suggests that McCoy perform a complete examination of the probe.
In sickbay, the Ilia probe lays on a diagnostic table, its sensors slowly taking readings. All normal body functions, down to the microscopic level, are exactly duplicated by the probe. Decker arrives and is stunned to see her there. She looks up at him and addresses him as "Decker", rather than "Decker unit," which intrigues Spock. Spock talks with Kirk and Decker in an adjoining room, and Spock locks the door. Spock theorizes that the real Ilia's memories and feelings have been duplicated by the probe as well as her body. Decker is angry that the probe killed Ilia, but Kirk convinces him that their only contact with the vessel is through the probe, and they need to use that advantage to find out more about the alien. Suddenly, the probe bursts through the door, and demands that Kirk assist her with her observations. He tells her that Decker will do it with more efficiency.
Decker and Ilia are seen walking around in the recreation room. He shows her pictures of previous ships that were named Enterprise. Decker has been trying to see if Ilia's memories or emotions can resurface, but to no avail. Kirk and McCoy are observing them covertly on a monitor from his quarters. Decker shows her a game that the crew enjoys playing. She is not interested and states that recreation and enjoyment has no meaning to her programming. At another game, which Ilia enjoyed and nearly always won, they both press one of their hands down onto a table to play it. The table lights up, indicating she won the game, and she gazes into Decker's eyes. This moment of emotion ends suddenly, and she returns to normal. "This device serves no purpose."
"Why does the Enterprise require the presence of carbon units?" she asks. Decker tells her the ship couldn't function without them. She tells him that more information is needed before the crew can be patterned for data storage. Horrified, he asks her what this means. "When my examination is complete, all carbon units will be reduced to data patterns." He tells her that within her are the memory patterns of a certain carbon unit. He convinces her to let him help her revive those patterns so that she can understand their functions better. She allows him to proceed.
Spock slowly enters an airlock room. He sees an officer standing at a console, his back to Spock. Spock quietly approaches him, and gives him the Vulcan nerve pinch to render him unconscious.
Decker, the probe, Dr. McCoy, and Dr. Chapel are in Ilia's quarters. Dr. Chapel gives the probe a decorative headband that Ilia used to wear. Chapel puts it over "Ilia's" head and turns her toward a mirror. Decker asks her if she remembers wearing it on Delta IV. The probe shows another moment of emotion, saying Dr. Chapel's name, and putting her hand on Decker's face, calling him Will. Behind them, McCoy reminds Decker that she is a mechanism. Decker asks "Ilia" to help them make contact with V'Ger. She says that she can't, and Decker asks her who the Creator is. She says V'Ger does not know. The probe becomes emotionless again and removes the headband.
Spock is now outside the ship in a space suit with an attached thruster pack. He begins recording a log entry for Kirk detailing his attempt to contact the alien. He activates a panel on the suit and calculates thruster ignition and acceleration to coincide with the opening of an aperture ahead of him. He hopes to get a better view of the spacecraft interior.
Kirk comes up to the bridge and Uhura tells him that Starfleet signals are growing stronger, indicating they are very close to Earth. Starfleet is monitoring the intruder and notifies Uhura that it is slowing down in its approach. Sulu confirms this and says that lunar beacons show the intruder is entering into orbit. Chekov tells Kirk that Airlock 4 has been opened and a thruster suit is missing. Kirk figures out that Spock has done it, and orders Chekov to get Spock back on the ship. He changes his mind, and instead tells him to determine his position.
Spock touches a button on his thruster panel and his thruster engine ignites. He is propelled forward rapidly, and enters the next chamber of the vessel just before the aperture closes behind him. The thruster engine shuts down, and the momentum carries Spock ahead further. He disconnects the thruster pack from his suit and it falls away from him.
Continuing his log entry, Spock sees an image of what he believes to be V'Gers home planet. He passes through a tunnel filled with crackling plasma energy, possibly a power source for a gigantic imaging system. Next, he sees several more images of planets, moons, stars, and galaxies stored and recorded. Spock theorizes that this may be a visual representation of V'Gers entire journey. "But who or what are we dealing with?" he ponders.
He sees the Epsilon 9 station, and notes to Kirk that he is convinced that all of what he is seeing is V'Ger; and that they are inside a living machine. Then he sees a giant image of Lt. Ilia with the sensor on her neck. Spock decides it must have some special meaning, so he attempts to mind-meld with it. He is quickly overwhelmed by the multitude of images flooding his mind, and is thrown backward.
Kirk is now in a space suit and has exited the ship. The aperture in front of the Enterprise opens, and Spock's unconscious body floats toward him. Later, Dr. Chapel and Dr. McCoy are examining Spock in sickbay. Dr. McCoy performs scans and determines that Spock endured massive neurological trauma from the mind-meld. Spock tells Kirk he should have known and Kirk asks if he was right about V'Ger. Spock calls it a conscious, living entity. Kirk explains that V'Ger considers the Enterprise a living machine and it's why "Ilia" refers to the ship as an entity and the crew as an infestation.
Spock describes V'Ger's homeworld as a planet populated by living machines with unbelievable technology. But with all that logic and knowledge, V'Ger is barren, with no mystery or meaning. He momentarily lapses into sleep but Kirk rouses him awake to ask what Spock should have known. Spock grasps Kirk's hand and tells him "This simple feeling is beyond V'Ger's comprehension. No meaning, no hope. And Jim, no answers. It's asking questions. 'Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?'"
Uhura chimes in and tells Kirk that they are getting a faint signal from Starfleet. The intruder has been on their monitors for a while and the cloud is rapidly dissipating as it approaches. Sulu also comments that the intruder has slowed to sub-warp speed and is three minutes from Earth orbit. Kirk acknowledges and he, McCoy and Spock go up to the bridge.
Starfleet sends the Enterprise a tactical report on the intruders position. Uhura tells Kirk that V'Ger is transmitting a signal. Decker and "Ilia" come up to the bridge, and she says that V'Ger is signaling the Creator. Spock determines that the transmission is a radio signal. Decker tells Kirk that V'Ger expects an answer, but Kirk doesn't know the question. Then "Ilia" says that the Creator has not responded. An energy bolt is released from V'Ger and positions itself above Earth. Chekov reports that all planetary defense systems have just gone inoperative. Several more bolts are released, and they all split apart to form smaller ones and they assume equidistant positions around the planet.
McCoy notices that the bolts are the same ones that hit the ship earlier, and Spock says that these are hundreds of times more powerful, and from those positions, they can destroy all life on Earth. "Why?" Kirk asks "Ilia." She says that the carbon unit infestation will be removed from the Creator's planet as they are interfering with the Creator's ability to respond and accuses the crew of infesting the Enterprise and interfering in the same manner. Kirk tells "Ilia" that carbon units are a natural function of the Creator's planet and they are living things, not infestations. However "Ilia" says they are not true life forms like the Creator. McCoy realizes V'Ger must think its creator is a machine.
Spock compares V'Ger to a child, and suggests they treat it like one. McCoy retorts that this child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. To get "Ilia's" attention, Kirk says that the carbon units know why the Creator hasn't responded. The Ilia probe demands that the Creator "disclose the information." Kirk won't do it until V'Ger withdraws all the orbiting devices. In response to this, V'Ger cuts off the ship's communications with Starfleet. She tells him again to disclose the information. He refuses, and a plasma energy attack shakes the ship. McCoy tells Spock that the child is having a "tantrum."
Kirk tells the probe that if V'Ger destroys the Enterprise, then the information it needs will also be destroyed. Ilia says that it is illogical to withhold the required information, and asks him why he won't disclose it. Kirk explains it is because V'Ger is going to destroy all life on Earth. "Ilia" says that they have oppressed the Creator, and Kirk makes it clear he will not disclose anything. V'Ger needs the information, says "Ilia." Kirk says that V'Ger will have to withdraw all the orbiting devices. "Ilia" says that V'Ger will comply, if the carbon units give the information.
Spock tells Kirk that V'Ger must have a central brain complex. Kirk theorizes that the orbiting devices are controlled from there. Kirk tells "Ilia" that the information cant be disclosed to V'Ger's probe, but only to V'Ger itself. "Ilia" stares at the viewscreen, and, in response, the aperture opens and drags the ship forward with a tractor beam into the next chamber. Chekov tells Kirk that the energy bolts will reach their final positions and activate in 27 minutes. Kirk calls to Scotty on the intercom and tells him to stand by to execute Starfleet Order 2005; the self-destruct command. A female crewmember asks Scotty why Kirk ordered self-destruct, and Scotty tells her that Kirk hopes that when they explode, so will the intruder.
The countdown is now down to 18 minutes. DiFalco reports that they have traveled 17 kilometers inside the vessel. Kirk goes over to Spock's station, and sees that Spock has been crying. "Not for us," Kirk realizes. Spock tells him he is crying for V'Ger, and that he weeps for V'Ger as he would for a brother. As he was when he came aboard the Enterprise, so is V'Ger now--empty, incomplete, and searching. Logic and knowledge are not enough. McCoy realizes Spock has found what he needed, but that V'Ger hasn't. Decker wonders what V'Ger would need to fulfill itself.
Spock comments that each one of us, at some point in our lives asks, "Why am I here?" "What was I meant to be?" V'Ger hopes to touch its Creator and find those answers. DiFalco directs Kirk's attention to the viewscreen. Ahead of them is a structure with a bright light. Sulu reports that forward motion has stopped. Chekov replies that an oxygen/gravity envelope has formed outside of the ship. "Ilia" points to the structure on the screen and identifies it as V'Ger. Uhura has located the source of the radio signal and it is straight ahead. A passageway forms outside the ship as Kirk Spock, McCoy, Decker, and "Ilia" enter a turbolift.
The landing party exits an airlock on the top of the saucer section and walks up the passageway. At the end of the path is a concave structure, and in the center of it is an old NASA probe from three centuries earlier. Kirk tries to rub away the soot on the nameplate and makes out the letters V GER. He continues to rub away more of the residue, and discovers that the craft is actually Voyager 6. Kirk recalls the history of the Voyager program--it was designed to collect data and transmit it back to Earth. Decker tells Kirk that Voyager 6 disappeared through a black hole over 300 years earlier after it was launched.
Kirk says that it must have emerged on the far side of the galaxy and got caught in the machine planet's gravity. Spock theorizes that the planet's inhabitants found the probe to be one of their own kind--primitive, yet kindred. They discovered the probe's 20th century programming, which was to collect data and return that information to its creator. The machines interpreted that instruction literally, and constructed the entire vessel so that Voyager could fulfill its programming. Kirk continues by saying that on its journey back, it amassed so much knowledge that it gained its own consciousness.
"Ilia" tells Kirk that V'Ger awaits the information. Kirk calls Uhura on his communicator and tells her to find information on the Voyager 6 probe in the ship's computer, specifically the NASA code signal, which will allow the probe to transmit its data. Decker realizes that that is what the probe was signaling--it's ready to transmit everything. Kirk then says that there is no one on Earth who recognizes the old-style signal--the Creator does not answer.
Kirk calls out to V'Ger and says that they are the Creator. "Ilia" says that is not logical--carbon units are not true life forms. Kirk says they will prove it by allowing V'Ger to complete its programming. Uhura calls Kirk on his communicator and tells him she has retrieved the code. Kirk tells her to set the Enterprise transmitter to the code frequency and to transmit the signal. Decker reads off the numerical code on his tricorder, and is about to read the final sequence, but Voyager's circuitry burns out, an effort by V'Ger itself to prevent the last part of the code from being transmitted.
"Ilia" says that the Creator must join with V'Ger, and turns toward Decker. McCoy warns Kirk that they only have 10 minutes left. Decker figures out that V'Ger wanted to bring the Creator here and transmit the code in person. Spock tells Kirk that V'Ger's knowledge has reached the limits of the universe and it must evolve. Kirk says that V'Ger needs a human quality in order to evolve. Decker thinks that V'Ger joining with the Creator will accomplish that. He then goes over to the damaged circuitry and fixes the wires so he can manually enter the rest of the code through the ground test computer. Kirk tries to stop him, but "Ilia" tosses him aside. Decker tells Kirk that he wants this as much as Kirk wanted the Enterprise.
Suddenly, a bright light forms around Decker's body. "Ilia" moves over to him, and the light encompasses them both as they merge together. Their bodies disappear, and the light expands and begins to consume the area. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy retreat back to the Enterprise. V'Ger explodes and disappears in a flash of light, leaving the Enterprise above Earth, unharmed. On the bridge, Kirk wonders if they just saw the beginning of a new life form, and Spock says yes and that it is possibly the next step in their evolution. McCoy says that its been a while since he "delivered" a baby, and hopes that they got this one off to a good start.
Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet is requesting the ship's damage and injury reports and vessel status. Kirk reports that there were only two casualties: Lt. Ilia and Captain Decker. He quickly corrects his statement and changes their status to "missing." Vessel status: fully operational. Scotty comes on the bridge and agrees with Kirk that it's time to give the Enterprise a proper shakedown. When Scotty offers to have Spock back on Vulcan in four days, Spock says that's unnecessary, as his task on Vulcan is completed.
Kirk tells Sulu to proceed ahead at warp factor one. When DiFalco asks for a heading, Kirk simply says "Out there, thataway." With that, the Enterprise flies overhead and engages warp drive.