The Letters of the Commission on Unusual Cargo
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From The Merchants at Jambi

To The Agents of The Company at Bantam

22nd of October 1615

Worshipful Sir, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

May it please you to understand on the 27th of September we arrived at Lapata, near one day's walk from the water and the mouth of the Jambe where the ship had been anchored, whereupon inquired as to the Java junks and sought a guide into the place for which we were wholly ignorant. We slept til morn when the master of the ship wrote to us and said that from the swelling of the Jambe, there was neither any way to board the ship nor allow it into open river, and as such we were to march two days to the place where Your Worshipful Sir's cargo may be possessed and returned two days hence to the ship. We did this with all expedience, and met the seller, a Dutchman named Iojann. Iojann seemed all the happier to be rid of it, and nearly left our engagement without being paid.

As this letter finds you I am in expectation of my arrival in Fort St. David within a fortnight, and London by year's end. Then as now I remain your humble, and obedient,

Othaniel Trower
Company Agent & Steward
The Merchants at Jambi

The Honourable East India Company

Manifest Detail # C-154919

Date: 21st of October 1615

Vessel: The Good Ship Tristanna

Storage: The cargo to be held in the lazarette, in a box of wood of thickest material, and secured to both floor and hull by iron chain. No crew, the Bosun or below, shall be permitted in the lazarette until this cargo be delivered. Should a crewman make his way within through misadventure or negligence, he is to remain there to expire.

Description: One (1) calf; a waif or runt of a beast with scarce the strength to stand nor move, should it be removed from within (Which, again, it should NOT). It is truly a creature unsightly in the eyes of God, but for that moment when the sun sets. Then, and I know not how, does the creature within become something else. Its voice becoming that of a wise man, speaking in an educated form, seeking release from its prison of wood and iron and offering riches and wisdom and other things of value in return. The box slowly grows quiet over the course of the hour if undisturbed.

Scribbled Note, in the margin.

23rd October
Father Leigham convinced the First Officer to allow him into the Lazarette to pray. They are with God now, and I am not [the note ends]

"So it was an SCP, then," Dr. Werner said, setting the tablet down.

Her companion shook his head. "No, it was not. Such designations didn't exist then. it was simply unusual cargo. That is, until the night of the 23rd of October, 1615. Something happened aboard that boat and the few officers who survived boarded a lifeboat and floated away, letting the good ship Tristanna sink to the bottom of the Indian Ocean."

"A good story, and well told," Warner said, taking a sip of a cup of coffee and leaning back in her chair. "Forgive me being blunt, but I fail to see its relevance now. Unless the cow is still active?"

He shook his head. "No, it is not. But we haven't quite gotten there yet. Please, continue."

From The Port at Leole

To The Worshipful George Barckley, Agent for the English Nation in Bantam

The 26th of March, 1617

Whereas before you wrote unto me by servant of Lord [indistinguishable] to render unto him the purchase of two or three hundred boards from his master, I have made bargain for 38 rials per hundred.

In meanwhile, I have learned of note a man who has spoken of Bantam, and has entreated unto me to offer him that I might send his regards; he claims he is a man formerly of the Company, whose ship was lost at sea some two years ago; he begs his remarks be shared unto one Othaniel Trower who, he insists, serves at Bantam in your household, by the name of Arham Whitters.

Yours to Command,
Heinhurst, L.
Steward of Port at Leole

The response is hastily written on the reverse.

2nd of April, 1617
Captain:
I respond with courtesy on behalf of the Worshipful Lord Barckley's Household on this matter.
The man who claims to be Arham Whitters is not to be trusted. Should this letter arrive before I do, you must kill him at once.
Othaniel Trower


From The Steward of the Company Investigations Committee of the West Indes

To The Worshipful George Barckley, Agent for the English Nation in Bantam

12th of April, 1617

Worshipful Sir, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

It is as feared, for upon my arrival on the grounds of the port, the stench of death was thick in the air. As my crewmen departed the ship—or rather, as those who would dare to do so departed the ship, the air was cool and quiet but our hearts thundered in protest of that which we were to discover.

I will spare the details, but each and every man, woman, and child at Port Leole is listed as a casualty in the attached report of our survey, including one Liam Heinhurst, whose reputation as your good and faithful servant is undisputed.

During the completion of our survey, which took several days, A good crewman by the name Danfield became very distressed, and attempted to take command of the ship Rhiannon Bay on the morning of the 8th, resting further down the port, but was captured by guards and stowed in the brig, where, where his howls for freedom, food and pity were unable to be ceased.

In the later afternoon I had the grave misfortune to discover the body of the late Danfield, who had apparently taken his own life some days earlier; but as his howls from the Rhiannon Bay were still unceasing, I recognized the beast for what it was. The sun was near to dropping below the horizon, and I ordered chains and a cargo chest to the Rhiannon Bay, where we wrestled the enraged Danfield into the chest, locked it, and secured it with iron. We set the ship afloat in the harbor, and I ordered it be watched through the night in rotating shifts. In the morning we re-boarded the Rhiannon Bay, retrieved the chest, and secured it below deck.

As I write this, Worshipful Sir, I can hear the crying below deck again, but it is not Danfield. It is that of a young girl, begging release from her prison. The men stationed below have put wax in their ears to stifle her cries, and are under strict order to kill any man should try and free whatever is in that box. Their vigilance is paramount to the creature meeting its fate.

I remain, as ever, your humble and obedient,

Othaniel Trower
Steward
Investigations Committee (Abroad)

"Danfield was the cow SCP?" Warner shook her head, taking another sip of coffee. It had gone cold.

"Danfield was the creature, yes—and after some considerable debate in London, I am sure, it was decided the creature, which was unable to be killed by conventional means, should be confined. It was. Meanwhile," the man reached over and swiped forward on the tablet to the next set of documents, "Trower was hailed internally as a great asset to the East India Company, having recovered valuable assets and prevented further catastrophe at the hands of godless creatures from hell."

"That's understandable. What did he get, an award? East India Company stock?"

"Yes," the man said, opening the first document on the next page. "and also: A Commission."

The Right Worshipful Maurice Abbott, Governor-General of the East India Company, Lord Mayor of London, by the authority of James I, King of Great Brittaine, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., hereby grants this my Governor's Commission to LORD OTHANIEL TROWER, to lead and direct this Right Honourable Commission on Unusual Cargo, and direct him to perform the duties of said office as necessary to support the Honourable East India Company, and affords him the rights, privileges, and honours in all places under His Majesty's rule and other such places as may be entitled to such honours, signed this Seventh Day of September, in the Seventeenth Year of His Majesty's Reign.

From The Steward The R.H. Commissioner of the Commission on Unusual Cargo

To the Agents of the Company at Bantam

11th of October, 1623

Worshipful Sirs, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

It is with deepest pride that I accept The Right Worshipful's gracious commission to serve on the Committee so stated in your letter, though for divers and difficult matters it is impossible to receive it in person. As it is, my duties which this committee will assume are not stayed by delay in their care.

I am informed that the committee will oversee all three pieces of unusual cargo which are housed here. Furthermore, it is my intention that as the needs of this Honourable and Royal company grow as with the East Indian people, it is without doubt that we may indeed recover more.

On this subject I am afraid I must somewhat digress; this third piece of cargo is most peculiar; no box nor chain can contain it and as such we have used considerable expense to be certain it will no longer cross the winds of our ships nor threaten the tradesmen nor assets under our banners.

I remain as ever, your humble and obedient,

R. H. Othaniel Trower

The R. H. Commission on Unusual Cargo

Manifest

Authorized by the Board of Regents of said Commission

Report #20-002

Storage: The cargo must be kept in stone hole of two feet with a depth of ten feet, bordered with a ring of lamp oil. Should the cargo attempt to escape this hole, the oil is to be lit, the heat and light of which should subdue it, while bamboo rods are used to push them back in.

They must be fed; they are quick to consume spoilt food though it makes them ill and quiet, but does not kill them, so as such any spoilt food shall be given to them so they will be most docile.

Margin note: Should they get through the fire, they may be lured with rancid meat, seized with a bucket, and returned to their hole. Do NOT touch them with your flesh!

Cargo Description

The cargo is four rabbits, two white and two brown. They do not sleep nor grow old and frail as rabbits do; these I am told are nearly 50 years in age. The trouble grows deeply particular when they are undetained, as they will seek out food and eat it with a ravenous nature unseen in the fauna of God's kingdom. They eat anything they find; they were discovered aboard an abandoned Company vessel which, upon investigation, had its food stores emptied and was afloat for seven days unmanned. The discovering crew believes the rabbits may have eaten the previous crew, as all are missing.

Margin note: I am inclined to believe this, given how the rabbits react when

[end of page]

"And this group preceded the SCP?" Warner said, stirring her cold coffee with a pencil.

"By some time. The East India Company was a business entity, nothing more. The Commission oversaw all things that were beyond normal men's means to contain. Some of it wasn't actually anomalous…we know that. But some of it was. And this…this was the first coordinated, financed, planned way to contain them."

"And no one knew about this?" Warner furrowed her brow. "After all this time?"

He laughed. "This is the company whose main governing body outside of London was called the Secret Committee, which everyone knew about. But no, after some years the Commission started covering its own tracks, removing paperwork, and keeping itself rather quiet, until…"

She leaned forward, smiling despite herself at the man's sense of dramatics. "Until?"

From the Commissioner and Regents of the R. H. Commission on Unusual Cargo, The Honourable East India Company

To The Right Worshipful John Gayer, Governor of Bombay and Chair of the Secret Committee of the East India Company

October 21, 1648

Right Worshipful Sir, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

I have received your correspondence related to this manner of acts against our Honourable Company, and your order to use the Commission and its Unusual Cargo in the coming conflicts.

We respectfully decline.

R. H. Othaniel Trower
Commissioner

From the Commissioner and Regents of the R. H. Commission on Unusual Cargo, The Honourable East India Company

To The Right Worshipful Governor-General and Court of Directors of the Honourable East India Company

January 2, 1649

Worshipful and Right Worshipful Sirs, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

I have received your correspondence. Your threats are of the highest disrespect to your character and of the loyal members of this Commission, whose duties we owe to God and Mankind are clear in purpose.

We respectfully decline.

R. H. Othaniel Trower
Commissioner

From the Commissioner of the R. H. Commission on Unusual Cargo, The Honourable East India Company

To The Right Worshipful Governor-General and Court of Directors of the Honourable East India Company

January 31, 1649

Worshipful and Right Worshipful Sirs, our loves in all dutiful affections remembered, etc.,

If you read this letter then you are quite aware that the Commission has relocated. At this time we offer you no further allegiance. We will soon disappear from your records and you will be unlikely to hear from us further.

Othaniel Trower
Commissioner

"They wanted to use the anomalous objects for wars? Like…normal, person-to-person wars." Warner rolled her eyes. "Incredible."

"What is so poignant here is that Trower refused," the man replied. "He, like the Foundation's overseers, felt it incredibly important that these anomalous objects not be embroiled in the whims of petty politics. But the EIC was not impressed."

Werner set the tablet down. "So what happened?"

"The Commission vanished. The East India Company did not hear from them for a long time, and as promised, the Commission's files disappeared from the paperwork, and it was difficult to even determine who had been employed with them. That was the last of Trower, until…well. This." He gestured to the last document on the page.

From The Commission on Unusual Cargo, at [location unreadable]

To The Clerk of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Westminster Hall

Dear Sir:

Following the passage of the Act of 36 Victoria c 17, 15 May 1873 (East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act) Please find enclosed a completed redemption certificate for these guaranteed shares of stock.
As ever, your humble and obedient,

Othaniel Trower
Commissioner

Werner stared, agape, at the paper. "1873? He would have been—"

"Very old, yes. But here is the interesting thing, Dr. Werner. Occasionally we come across a containment report—a Manifest of Unusual Cargo—dated from the 17th century through the mid-19th. Some of them match SCPs in the system. Some do not. But a few mention the main site for the Commission of Unusual Cargo. But wherever it is, it has not been found. Yet."

Werner set the tablet down. "You're talking about, what? Dozens of SCPs?"

"Hundreds," the man replied, picking the tablet up and returning it to his bag. "Carefully procured, gathered, and contained by the Commission. But you see, it has remained lost for one reason—it can only be located by someone who knows of its existence."

"Infohazard protection?" Werner rubbed her temple with a finger. "So okay. Dude. Um…" Werner pulled a drawer open to locate a migraine pill, but she couldn't locate one. "Mister…um." The man stood up. She closed the drawer. "Wait. How do you know about the Commission, then? And why are you telling me? And…" She felt a dawning realization. "And who are you? And how did you get in here? And how did I even—"

But he was already gone. The office door was closed. Locked, even. She had been alone for hours. Everything was normal.

Except a single note on her desk.

Trembling, she picked it up.

I hope you find it.

O.


The Commission on Unusual Cargo
Tales: Letters
Manifests: 803 · 327

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