Part of USS Los Angeles: First Patrol

To Board, or not to Board…That is the Question

USS Los Angeles, on patrol outside The Triangle region
August 13, 2400
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The Los Angeles hummed gently as she moved through the system at sub-light speeds. On the bridge, Commander Abramov is sitting at the captain’s chair, looking at the PAAD they are working on for the new duty roster. They occasionally tap on the PAAD, making adequate changes. For a moment, though, Brooke looks up from her PAAD and scans the bridge. Every officer assigned to the bridge on Charlie Shift is focused on their work, carrying forward a straightforward patrol of the area. Starfleet Command orders were that the Los Angeles carry forward an interdiction patrol, stopping and searching vessels in the area to ensure that Federation law was upheld. Though the ship had stopped a few ships, there was nothing to report and the stops were more than routine. That pattern, however, was about to end; the Los Angeles was about to step into something that would eventually untangle a twisted web of criminal activity and illegality.

A small alert began to blip on the OPS console. The Ensign in charge of the OPS chair began to tap away, presumably seeking additional information before moving on. The proximity alert had gone off, but the ship classification and registry were not available. This usually indicated a problem with the sensors and computer tie-ins, but sometimes, it was because the ship transponder was switched off. Ensign Thorne sent a message to Engineering, requesting a check on the Los Angeles’ sensors and computer tie-ons. After a few minutes, the message came back: We tried looking, but everything checks out. Maybe their transponder is off-line? The message confirmed his suspicions – it was a suspicious ship, possibly running something they weren’t supposed to, in an area that Starfleet already had many issues in. One of the duties of the Los Angeles was enforcement interdiction, and it was time to alert his superior officer. The Ensign spoke up.
“Commander, we have an unidentified vessel, moving on a parallel course to us. Its transponder appears to be off.”
“Show me Ensign” Brooke says as they stand up to see the console for themselves.
“See here, Commander? This ship outline here, isn’t giving us the normal returns that it does.”
“Yes, I can see that, Ensign.” Brooke turned back toward the rest of the bridge officers on watch.“Lieutenant, summon the senior officers and the Captain to the bridge. We may have to conduct a stop.”
“Aye, Commander.” The Lt. taps a few buttons on her console. “Senior Bridge Staff to the Bridge. All Senior Bridge Staff to the Bridge.” She takes a breath. “Commander, ship-wide announcement made.”

Brooke took a breath before they responded. They just looked around the bridge and sighed, then looked out at the view screen. In that moment, the sliding doors opened, and the entire Command staff (save for the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Engineer) walked onto the bridge. The relief crew stood up and started to make for the turbolifts to head down to the other decks.
“Commander, what’s going on?” Captain Oteng asks as he makes for his chair, tea cup in hand.
“Well, Captain, we have a ship that’s running dark on a direct intercept course, no information to be had about this ship.”
“That is interesting, indeed. Miss Pearse, do we have sufficient cause to stop the vessel?”
“Well, Captain, it depends. So far, we haven’t tried to communicate with it, or make our presence well known. The vessel could have a malfunction; so I recommend that we try communicating to it, and seeing if they respond.”
“I concur, Miss Pearse. I think we should send a hail, then use the second best communication method…a torpedo to signal our intent.”
“Aye sir, hailing now.” Lt. Spencer verbally acknowledges without being given an order by the Captain, indicative of his proactive methods that endeared him to most of the senior officers he had been under.
“No response sir. On any standard Federation frequency. Let me try a few others.”
He taps the console, and shakes his head. “Captain, they have not responded. Also, Asi, you noticing this? They’re changing course.”
“Way ahead of you Leo; changing course to intercept.”
“Captain, I would go ahead and fire. It’s time.”
“Right you are, Miss Pearse. Mr. Spencer, would you do us the honors?”
“Aye sir. Firing now.”
The torpedo leaves the pod and streaks toward the fleeing ship, exploding in a brilliant flash of light in front of the vessel.
“Attention unidentified vessel. This is the Federation Starship Los Angeles. Heave to, and prepare to be boarded. Signal compliance by slowing to one-third impulse or respond to our hail.”
Captain Oteng looks around the bridge as the crew continues tapping on consoles.
“Sir, we’re getting a response on our hail.”
“Excellent. On screen, please.”

The viewscreen changes from an exterior shot of the vessel to the interior, what presumably was the bridge. Visible was what Captain Oteng thought was a Vulcan male, about 45 years old in human terms, wearing a blue jumpsuit with what presumably was his name written in faded white letter script.
“Starfleet vessel, I’m T’Jonn, master of this craft. We were conducting repairs and so we missed your communiques. My apologies.”“Captain T’Jonn, thank you for your response. I’m Captain Fabien Oteng, of the USS Los Angeles. We noticed your vessel running in blackout conditions…and I, for one, would love to know why.”
“Well, Captain, my transponder has not really been functional as of late. Seeing as we’re a civilian vessel, it shouldn’t matter.”
“Well…T’Jonn; it very much does matter. This corridor is known for smuggling and contraband trade. Starfleet has spent the last few years cracking down on the illicit trade in this area. Do you have your manifest declaration, by chance?”
Captain Oteng stands up and heads to the tactical station. “If you do have it, please transmit now.”
T’Jonn looks around, presumably at the other crew members before responding.
“Ummm…well, yes, we do have it…Uhhh…I’ll have my first officer send it to you, when we find it.”
“Captain, do you have the manifest?”
“Yeah, of course we do.”
“Then please send it over now.”
“We would like to cooperate, it’s just that our manifest is on a PAAD and we need to find it.”
“Your manifest is on a PAAD…” Captain Oteng repeats it incredulously. “Captain, I’m not sure whether your ship is disorganized or whether you’re trying to mislead me, but either way, I do not like what is happening. I’m sending over a few of my officers for an inspection.”
“Captain Oteng…Oteng, right? Captain, that’s not necessary. We just need a little more time!” The panic in his voice was starting to bleed through, and at that point, there was an exchange of looks amongst the bridge crew. Something was amiss.
“No, Captain T’Jonn. We’re conducting an official inspection of your vessel. There are too many unknowns here. Prepare for our arrival. Los Angeles out.” The Captain then turns to his first officer.
“Commander, why don’t you take Miss Pearse, Mr. Spencer, and a contingent of security officers…use the Catalina (Type-11 Shuttle) and go see what the hell is going on.”
“Aye sir.” They stand up and and begin walking towards the turbolift. “Siobhan, Thomas, with me.” The selected officers then get into the turbolift, and are awfully silent as the turbolift descends to the appropriate deck. No one relishes this kind of boarding action, but sometimes it has to be done. Finally, after what seems an eternity, Brooke pipes up.
“We’re going to get our equipment then we’re going to the shuttle.”
“What equipment are we getting? An interrogator kit?” Tom asks dryly as the turbolift slows.
Brooke laughs. “Cute, Lieutenant. Very funny. No, we’re getting our phasers. And maybe tricorders.”
“Awww, no fun.”
Brooke rolls her eyes as she leads the three bridge officers down the corridor to the weapons locker. After grabbing the kit that they need, the three officers chat as they walk, the tension having been broken.

The three security officers are milling about by the shuttle, their phaser rifles on their shoulder. As soon as they see the three officers, they stand at attention.
“At ease. Have you all been briefed on the mission?”
“Yes, Commander. It’s a standard inspection and search.”
“That’s right. We’re going to be inspecting the vessel. So make sure the crew is gathered in one central location, and wait for instructions.”
“Aye, ma’am.”
“Alright. Let’s mount up.”
Everyone piles into the shuttle and it smoothly departs the shuttlebay, looping around the the Los Angeles before the target ship came into view. As the shuttle prepares to dock, everyone checks their weapons. They don’t know what they’re stepping in to, but everyone knows that these types of boardings are unpredictable.