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U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

The ship sailed into orbit of the small Class-M planet, the system's G-Type star shining bright in the distance.

ALIEN PLANET SURFACE

The midday sun shone bright over the mountain plateau, covered with green grass as the form of the crashed Vralex ship sat in the center of the plateau, a long dark gash of scored ground behind it, where the bottom half of the ship had dug into the ground when it crashed.

Approximately six dozen feet away, a large group of figures began to materialize, shimmering curtains of silvery light announcing their arrival as the Frontier's away team materialized on the plateau, carrying phaser rifles.

Instinctively, the security members of the away team all raised their rifles, sweeping in all directions to look out for any Vralex that might be waiting to ambush them, while Commander Jor and two of the science team members whipped out their tricorders, taking sensor sweeps of the area.

From the surface of the plateau, the crashed Vralex ship towered over the away team like the Empire State Building, leaning dramatically to the right from the crash-landing.

“Sir, I'm not showing any life signs on the tricorder, but for all we know, they could still be in the ship, and the hull could have some form of sensor-inhibiting properties.” one of the science team relayed.

“Sir, the area seems secure, visually – do you want to proceed towards the vessel?” one of the security men asked.

“Can anyone isolate the Reticulan probe on scanners?” Jor asked, looking to the science team members, who shook their heads in a negative response. “Very well... let's proceed towards that pod bay – maybe we can open or breach that door.” he added, leading the away team cautiously forward.

As the away team moved forward towards the Vralex ship's aft side, a form began to gradually shimmer into visibility behind them, in a crouching position. As the figure became visible – a Vralex soldier in full heavy body armor, and his massive disruptor rifle already in aim at the away team, the tricorders on the away team came to life, beeping in warning, as Jor and the rest of the team turned to face their new visitor, just as two other Vralex soldiers also de-cloaked on either side of the first, their disruptor rifles also already in perfect aim at the away team.

“SIR!” one of the security men called out, aiming his phaser rifle, and preparing to open fire.

However, the Vralex were much quicker, and in literally the blink of an eye, the nature of the Frontier's newest threat made itself known to the away team, as before the security man could pull his rifle's trigger, the Vralex soldier fired his weapon, unleashing an energy beam with such lethal force that the Federation had truly never witnessed an energy weapon so completely brutal...

The Vralex rifle's energy beam was multi-faceted... the primary central beam was a single and unbroken beam of brilliant lavender energy. That central beam was surrounded by a secondary enveloping beam of energy that was a corkscrew tendril of lavender energy, which not only had a 'serrated' look to it, like some sort of energy-based barbed-wire, but that also rotated around the central focused beam.

The Vralex's beam instantly struck the security officer, the sheer force of the impact with his body knocking his own rifle from his hand while the entirety of his body was physically lifted up off the ground, the Vralex beam keeping his body held up in midair over a dozen feet above the ground, all the while the serrated corkscrew part of the Vralex energy beam physically drilling into the man's chest, literally ripping his body apart in midair, until the Vralex soldier pulled back more on the trigger, releasing the energy beam, and throwing the now-dead man's body backward into the air another dozen feet, until his body came crashing to the ground, a sickening mass of ripped-apart flesh, bones, and innards.

As sickened as the away team was at the sight, instantly Commander Jor drew his own rifle, as the entire away team now began to return fire, while Jor struggled to find a moment to activate his communicator.

“Jor to Frontier, we're under heavy fire here! Get us out of here, now!” he called, as a bolt from his own phaser rifle slammed into the center Vralex's body, throwing the Vralex back a good dozen feet.

The away team began to fall back, forming a circle around their fallen comrade's body, as the Frontier's transporter beam enveloped them all, vanishing them from sight in a shower of silver light, while the Vralex soldiers made their way back toward their crashed vessel.

U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

The ship sped through space at high warp, having abandoned the pursuit of the old Reticulan probe. By now, it was obvious that the cost of extracting what minute bits of information they possibly could was way too high, and the ship was moving on with its original mission now.

SICKBAY

The look on Captain Nikolayev's face was one of utter rage, as Doctor Rayza pulled back the white sheet covering the body of the dead security man for him to inspect. He had never seen any energy weapon do this to a body – ever. Not even anything he'd seen the Jem'Hadar use could have done so much physical damage to a body. He motioned with his hand for Rayza to once again cover the body.

His emotional state was a mix of rage and regret – rage that the Vralex had done this to one of his crew. Sadness that he had just been witness to his crew's first casualty in the Andromeda Galaxy – sadness that he had indirectly caused that death, by wanting to pursue the retrieval of the Reticulan probe. He wanted to know who the hell these Vralex were, and what they wanted that made them so violent – at least what made their weaponry so brutal.

“Sir... are we going back to Gendalon?” Rayza softly asked.

“No.” Nikolayev began, not facing her. “I want to put as much distance between us and this region of space as possible.” he added, facing her. “What's next on the map?” he asked her, as she looked into his eyes.

In space, the mighty Frontier shot through space at maximum warp, the stars streaking by the ship.

“Captain's Log – what a fool I've been... I wanted to pursue the data contained within the old Reticulan probe we found orbiting Gendalon Major, but it was a pursuit that would come at too high a price, at least for me. The Vralex – the first alien species we've encountered in Andromeda, have attacked my ship and my people, killing one of them, in a shockingly brutal fashion. I've decided to abandon any study of Gendalon Major, and instead have set course for a region of space that the Reticulan database refers to as the Loxxon Reach – apparently there are several Class-M planets in that area that may be worthy of study.”

READY-ROOM

Nikolayev was trying desperately to somehow find some relaxation in his Ready-Room bunk, but to no avail. Sighing in frustration, he got up, walking to the wall replicator.

“Cola.” he ordered, the replicator buzzing as the cold, dark beverage materialized on the small replication pad.

He took the drink, sipping while he made his way to his desk, sitting down in his chair and activating the desktop computer, reviewing the stellar charts for the Loxxon Reach as he drank his cola. As usual, the door to his Ready-Room was wide open. He glanced in the direction of the front of the Bridge, part of the main viewscreen visible through his door, the image of the warping stars filling the screen, as a call came in from the Bridge over the intercom.

“Bridge to Nikolayev.” the man's voice announced.

“Go ahead.” he replied, tapping his communicator.

“Sir, we'll be entering the Loxxon Reach in approximately one hour.”

“Understood, thank you.” Nikolayev replied, again tapping his communicator.




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