michaelmas '96 - Session 20

20. Ship to Thralldom

--        SHIP TO THRALLDOM       --
--             05.12.96           --

	The ships from ATC arrived a few days later and unloaded a few
crates of cloth, taking aboard a vast quantity of bread, citrus fruit and
other perishables. We were naturally a bit suspicious at this, since the
ship was only at quarter-load according to the harbour logs. Nobody could
run a ship like that profitably. We decided evidence was needed of
Allerton's involvement in the slave trade and concocted our best best
excuse to get onboard.
	Arriving at the British embassy, we explained pur suspicions that
Allerton was plundering the nations heritage and smuggling artifacts out
of the country aboard his ships. A combination of Guppy's legal bull and
the Prof's title final persuaded the French port authories to do a routine
search. "if we find any artifacts, we'll bring them out for you to
identify them." Suspicions were immediately aroused here, since they had
no reason to prevent William and Jarvis boarding the vessal with the
police and searching properly. As it happened, the 'search' of the entire
vessals took about an hour each - nobody could search something that size
withy anything more than a cursory glance in that time. The police are
either incompetant or corrupt.
	Another course of action was needed, John was volenteered to enter
a bar and 'befriend' a sailor. After the obligitory guffles and remarks
about leather jackets, Guppy found a drunk sailor and began the old
Aintree small talk "Let me show you my Dagon impression" etc. John slowly
steered the conversation from baseball to 'niggers' and from the sailor
guarded reply about whether he worked with blacks and the availibility of
slaves, we dedued that Allerton's ship certain did carry slaves and since
it had just returned from the southern part of Africa, was probably loaded
with such cargo now. We needed to get hard evidence.
	John had been drinking like a fish for most of the evening now,
but his companion was rivaling the good reverend in the comatose stakes.
The sailor was quickly debagged and left tied to a convenient lamp post,
Guppy enlisted himself in the navy. Borrowing the Prof's camera, he
boarded the ship, bottle in hand, waving his id card around in a random
fashion. He slowly staggered to the lower decks, straight into something
resembling party time in the red light district. For some strange reason,
nobody took much notice of another pissed sailor zig-zaging along.
	Theorising that any slaves would be keep in a secret hold near the
bottom of the ship, Guppy made his way downwards. Several large doors
lined a long corridor, the first was stacked high with crates. John
belched out a hello. Footsteps coming down the stairs. Darting quickly
into a corner, John lay on the floor - a true fish out of water. An
extremely drunken sailor kicked John a few times before vomiting in a
nearby corner and tripping over John's arm on the return journey. The
stagger up the stairs seemed to take a painfuly long time, the sailor
never apparently having learnt to walk around corners. Cheers from above
signaled his safe arrival.
	Of the three other doors, one was locked by means for a chain and
padlock. Tapping brought no responce, although this confirmed all our
suspicions about local police corruption and Allerton's involvement. One
of the remaining hold was empty and the other only partly full. A nearby
crow bar neatly removed to the lock and the door opened to released the 
rank odor of urine, excrement and vomit. John was physicaly sick, the
holded piled with slaves to be, chained together and drugged. After
regaining his composition, John took several photos adn tried to rouse
some of the slaves. No responce. Their heart rates were extremely slow,
some dead. The date and 'John' was scratched where the door mets the
hinge, hoping this would serve to tie the ship to the photos.
	Guppy returned to the crew decks and found a suitibly comatose
sailor, taking care to help along in this pursuit. Grabbing a nearby
bottle of spirits, Guppy dragged the sailor to the hold and left himand
the bottle in a compromising position involving a female slave and a crow
bar. Hoping that his little break in was covered up, Guppy was appalled to
hear a sober voice calling order and breaking up his cover. Sober people
might recognise a strange face. Guppy retreived the bottle and staggered 
up the stairs, straight into the captain. Doing a novel variation of the
standard navy salute, which involved pouring a stiff double into his ear.
A puzzled look crossed the captains face, John covered his mouth and did
his best 'Sunday morning' immpression - dashing up several flights of
steps and leaning over the ship side.
	Guppy left the ship, mixing with the ship's complement of
prostitudes on the gang-plank.
	Three of the four photos survived Guppy's little escapade, leaving
our investigators with a massive moral dilema - if we try and alert the
authorities, the slaves will all be killed, but leaving people on the ship
like that is hardly a good solution. We had to take Hobson's choice and
get word to Faraday about the shipment and our evidence despite leaving
them in such conditions. Guppy lapsed into senselessness, his emotions
smashed by the calling and his recent experience. We set watch and the
following day our visas came through, both the ATC ships having left
straight away that morning.



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