The group were shocked by the sudden end to the scream, and it felt as though part of the group consciousness had been removed. Ronnie recognised the scream as one of fear, but the end of it felt more cut off rather than terminal. Ronnie attempted to contact Ember’s bosses at the newspaper, but as it was 3am did not get an answer, so Darius headed to the Police station to see what he could find out.
T-Bone and Aiden left together to “search Ember’s flat”, and Ronnie asked Elizabeth to speak to Old Man Thames to see if he was aware of any strange goings on along the river; he sat on a bench to await her return. At the Police station Darius was able to track Ember’s mobile phone to a car park on the river bank near Greenwich Pier and the O2 Arena; he sent the message over the dragon net, and headed out again.
At Ember’s flat, an upstairs flat in a converted house in a typical suburban street, T-Bone attempted to effect entry, but the lock on the front door defeated him. He muttered something about 5 barrel locks, and looked for alternative point of entry, and spotted a small window on a latch that looked like it led into the bathroom. He turned to Aiden, and giving her no option attempted to boost her into the flat. Unfortunately, as Aiden got part way in the drainpipe that was giving her purchase cracked, and fell away, leaving her stuck part way through the window. Eventually, she managed to wriggle through the gap, but not before T-Bone had snapped a photo on his camera phone.
In the flat, Aiden moved quietly around and quickly found the office area, finding a synopsis for her current story, investigating the working conditions of the staff and crew of the river boats, checking on the legality of it all. T-Bone was left outside, and quickly realised he was looking a little shifty so he did his best to hide; he stepped into the shadows, avoiding the gaze of a nosey neighbour. Aiden demanded that T-Bone delete the photograph he took from his phone before she would let T-Bone in. He agreed, and deleted the photograph (ignoring the fact he’d already uploaded a copy to flickr), and stepped over the threshold to help Aiden with her search. Between them they identified the boats Ember was investigating, and the fact that all of them were owned by three specific companies. T-Bone also found some tube tickets for one way journeys to Pimlico. They found little else of interest, so slipped out of the flat and headed to the O2 car park to meet the others.
Elizabeth returned to the waiting Ronnie, and told him that Old Man Thames confirmed that there were “no mortals within his embrace”, so Ronnie thanked her for asking and guided her back to the safe house, telling her to make herself at home and gave her a spare key, before heading out to join the group at the O2 car parks.
Knowing that it’d be difficult to find a small mobile phone, Ronnie cast his mind back and attempted to remember what it was like to hunt as a dragon. His consciousness blurred with the current reality, and Ronnie felt himself soaring over the O2, and homed in on the glint of something that could be a mobile phone on the ground. He called his consciousness back to his body, and stumbled slightly. He did not know himself, but the others had seen him floating, roughly three inches above the surface of the floor. He looked at the group, puzzled by the looks they were giving him, and led them to the pier where he thought he had seen the phone, and they found a broken handset.
Ronnie suggested they attempted to cross check the names of the boats that used the pier with the names of the boats in Embers notes. He sneaked onto the pier and removed a mooring list, and the group headed towards the markets to find a cafe to have breakfast and check the information. Darius, with a practiced eye, was quickly able to tie in several boats to three specific companies that seemed to match the companies Ember had been investigating. The three companies were River Cruise UK, Party Boatz, and the Grey Meres Dining Experience. It seemed that there were a large number of illegal immigrants were employed on these company’s boats. Aiden noticed a small note on one page of Embers notebook. Darius quickly identified a post code which referred to a poorer area of London with a high proportion of Bed and Breakfast accommodation.
Darius left the group to go to use a McDonalds to take advantage of the free wi-fi and connected to the work computers to investigate the three companies. The others headed to the postcode and settled down to keep watch. At around 0630 a minibus pulled up to number 52, and around a dozen people were ushered into the vehicle which drove off. Ten minutes later the process was repeated at number 54.
T-Bone moved round to the back door, and Ronnie and Aiden knocked on the front door. A middle-eastern man answered the door and after Ronnie and Aiden talked their way in, and let T-Bone through the back door, and the three were guided around the house by their host. Although he was reluctant to show them round, he didn’t hide anything, and there was no sign of Ember. Ronnie asked him to introduce the group to the man who looked after number 54. When Aiden questioned him regarding some empty permits he panicked and ushered them next door.
The host from 52 introduced the group to his equivalent at 54, and had a frantic conversation in Farsi, which Aiden understood, and translated via the dragon net; the two men were frightened of “them”, and worried that they would be killed…
In number 54 the situation was much the same as in 52, however there was one empty bed, and the two hosts ushered Ronnie and Aiden around. Forgotten, T-Bone searched through number 52, and bumped into a man in the kitchen. He shared his bacon buttie with T-Bone, and as the two talked it soon became clear that the worker were effectively slaves, being forced to work to clear their debts and gain papers. Troublemakers, it seemed disappeared. T-Bone tentatively asked the man about the English woman asking questions, and the man quickly clammed up, before telling T-Bone that is was bad to “ask questions such as that.” He did however, let slip that some English people were employed alongside the indentured workers, and some tried to help. T-Bone made his excuses and left, to be quickly joined by Ronnie and Aiden who had completed their inspection of number 54. The group then left the street and moved to join Darius.
Darius’s research went very well, and he discovered that two of the companies were owned by the same company and had a labyrinthine relationship with another company that owned the third boat company, several small hotels and properties including numbers 52 and 54, and a mini-bus company. Overall, these were owned by Kensington Investments Plc, the majority shareholder of which was William Kensington–Smythe, who owned four houses in Pimlico, which were being converted into a single mansion. The mini-buses had been leased to a small unnamed temping agency, and Darius was able to get the address, which was fake, but Darius recognised that and was able to uncover the real address.