Credit for this post goes to tukk323, who wrote all of it apart from a few editorial additions.
* * *
“One man’s terrorist may be another’s freedom fighter, but a drug baron is always a drug baron, no matter where he is.”
- Michael Blunt, Australian Prime Minister, responding to the US ambassador, 1946
* * *
3 May 1942
Chapman [Tulagi], Solomon Islands Territory
Kingdom of Australia
Chapman: a decrepit, rundown slum of a city that had no business existing in Australia, a nation which prided itself as civilized. Arthur Rolton had his own thoughts about whether Australians could be considered civilized, even by non-American standards, but mostly he hated having to come to a place of teeming deprivation that should have belonged in Bharat or Africa.
Still, however much he hated the place, it suited his needs well. Very well.
As was his habit, Rolton had found out everything he could about Chapman before ever coming near the city. Knowledge could mean the difference between survival and capture, or even death.
The Kingslanders had moved into the Solomons during the middle of the previous century, acquiring them almost in spite of the wishes of the British crown. They had claimed these islands so that they could lure the natives to work on Kingsland sugar plantations in conditions that were only not slavery because they were given a different name.
While the Solomons were nominally part of the British Empire, in practice they had always been governed more locally, first by the Kingslanders and then Australia after the British united the continent. They had chosen Chapman as the centre of their administration, since it was largely free of the tropical diseases which plagued the rest of the islands.
Chapman had slowly grown into the major port of the Solomons. Most of the time, the Kingsland administrators and their Australian successors had governed from this town and been happy to leave the natives of the outlying islands to their own devices.
Eventually, British pressure had quashed the unofficial slave trade, leaving the Kingsland sugar planters to recruit East Indian labourers instead. Official interest in the islands waned, leaving the archipelago to be exploited by any native or white entrepreneurs who had the cojones to make use of them: fishing, coconuts, tropical timbers, palm oil, and more recently gold, copper and nickel. While the Solomons were not particularly wealthy, most of the resources they produced were traded through Chapman.
Chapman had become the preserve of palm planters, mining kings and timber barons, mostly white, some native, whose preferred form of government was benign neglect. Their wealth and influence saw to it that the government officials who were appointed here were not overly concerned with governing the islands, just making sure that laws were not being broken too openly. Most of the immigrants who came to Chapman were men of a similar bent to the planters, men who wanted wealth regardless of how it was acquired. The city earned a reputation as a port whose citizens were happy to conduct business and not ask inconvenient questions.
When the Solomons were made an official Australian territory after the war, not much changed in Chapman. A few more government officials were sent, but their main aims were to train the natives into government officials and police. They were given precious little funding, though, and most of what they received was spent on educating the natives in English, without the resources left over for much else. Which created a class of native administrators and police who had had their ambitions awakened, but were still trapped in poverty with an abundance of relatives clamouring for support. That made them easily bribed into looking the other way. The local planters had established the tradition, and Rolton would be happy to take advantage of it.
All of which made Chapmen perfect for his needs. Conveniently located for shipping, a relaxed approach to law enforcement, and sufficient poverty to allow him to subvert those few laws which were enforced. Personally Rolton thought that the Australians’ biggest mistake had been trying to put natives of lesser races into jobs which they were incapable of performing, all in pursuit of the lie of racial equality, but that was their problem, not his .
Of course, despite its unsavoury reputation, Chapman served as an important port for legitimate commerce, too. Rolton had arrived on a Nipponese vessel, the Shima. Several other Nipponese ships were docked here, too. Some used Chapman as a convenient stopping point before sailing on to Eden [Auckland] or Sydney. Some waited here until they could load cargoes of gold, nickel, palm oil or coconuts from within the Solomons.
Rolton had passed so many Nipponese sailors coming and going from their ships that it had seemed like an unofficial invasion; not that he could ever really imagine the Nipponese trying to invade Australia. Chapman was a popular liberty port for the Nipponese, with gambling establishments which were all but illegal at home, and alcohol which was much cheaper than Nippon or even mainland Australia, thanks to bar owners who found it cheaper to bribe local police than pay alcohol taxes.
He knew he cut an imposing figure, better than any of the wealthiest planters or other local ricos . He wore an immaculately-tailored, double-breasted suit – made of light cotton, in this climate – and a broad-brimmed but equally elegant hat to keep the sun from his face. He doubted that anyone would try to interfere with him, even those who did not know his reputation. Though many of the locals openly went armed, few carried anything as large as an auto gun [submachine gun]. Street crime was rare in Chapman during daylight hours anyway; that was one of the few things which would make the native police bestir themselves from their stations. What happened after dark would be another story, but he knew better than to venture into the lawless parts of Chapman during night. Or not unescorted, at least.
Come to that, usually he would not venture out into the streets of Chapman at all, at least not for business. Face to face contact in this town was usually the responsibility of his lieutenants; theirs the risks, his the rewards.
Today, though, he needed to act on his own. Only one man in his organisation could be trusted with the job that Rolton had in mind. He had also made sure he was the only one in his organisation who had contact with the man. This man’s services were expensive, and one of the things which Rolton paid for was discretion.
Chapman made an ideal spot for both of them to meet; it meant less travel time, and freedom to meet without worrying about any eyes watching them. Even if the natives took any notice of them, they knew better than to attract the attention of any of the police.
Rolton’s course took him through one of the poorest slums in town, filled with ramshackle, run-down timber buildings that had started to crack or rot in the tropical heat and rain. He strode past groups of ill-dressed black children playing games with balls or chasing each other around the streets. He ignored them, and they ignored him. A well-dressed man was unusual here, but not unheard of, given what happened here, and in this town a question might be answered with a bullet.
He stopped at a sturdier building, made of concrete that stood out in this neighbourhood, but which otherwise had little to distinguish it. The door was painted metal, though, which conveyed its own meaning. He gave the door one loud knock, then waited.
A blurry-eyed man opened the door. His already troubled eyes went wide when he saw Rolton. “M... m... Mister, I mean... come in please, sir.” At least he had the wit not to say Rolton’s name aloud.
Rolton pushed past without bothering to respond. Only when he stood inside did he look a question at the blurry-eyed man.
“Through that door.”
Rolton walked through, but turned back to face the other man. “Leave a small line in yellow chalk outside the front door. Don’t come back for at least two hours.”
About twenty minutes later, the right man must have seen the chalk, since he entered the building. This man appeared, in almost all respects, the opposite of Rolton. His natural skin colour was perhaps lighter than Rolton’s, but his had turned bronze from unprotected exposure to the tropical sun. Where Rolton wore the finest of suits to announce his wealth, this man wore ragged pants and shirts which would not have looked out of place on any of the natives here. He did not look like one of the blacks, of course, but he did a very convincing imitation of a shiftless white man who had drifted here because he had no prospects elsewhere, and now lived a life little better than the blacks.
“You really do know how to dress like you live here, don’t you,” Rolton said, his face twisting.
The other man ignored that comment. “What do you need?”
“I need a message delivered,” Rolton said.
“Try the Royal Post,” the other man said.
“This one needs a more personal touch. I need to show people what happens if they interfere in my business.” He pulled an old newspaper article from his pocket and passed it across the table. “It needs to be a public lesson. Can you get it done?”
The man glanced at the article for a moment, then said, “Of course, provide that who I use and how it is done is at my discretion.”
“Yes. As long as it’s public and brutal. And you use someone good. This one must not be bungled.”
The other man shrugged.
“Also, I want to be informed of any other actions that may be in progress that threaten my interests.”
“That will take more effort,” the other man said, his voice carefully neutral.
Rolton opened his case and passed a wad of bills across the table. “Perhaps this will help motivate those efforts. The rest will be waiting when the job is done... and when I get some more information.”
The other man picked up the money, nodded, then quietly left.
Rolton lit a cigar – finest Nicaraguan – and finished it in silence, to give the other man time to leave the area. That man was purely professional, very accomplished... but he still made Rolton feel ill at ease whenever they met. No need for any unscheduled meetings.
* * *
17 June 1942
Exeter [Christchurch, New Zealand]
Kingdom of Australia
His eyes wanted to glaze over, but Royal Narcotics Bureau Agent Keith Cook forced himself to stay awake. He had been at the office far too long, he knew, but he did not like to leave things unfinished. Too much work to do and not enough people to do it, as always.
After about another twenty minutes, he finished the latest report. He put it on top of the rest of the stack of documents, clipped them into the file, then locked it into his desk drawer. He switched off the light at his desk, leaving the office nearly dark. The other desks were already empty, the reception long unmanned, but he knew this office well enough to find his way with minimal light.
He had to unlock the door, of course, with the receptionist and everyone else gone. He stepped out into the coolness of the winter air, and locked the door behind him.
As he turned around, he thought he heard a noise. He stood very still, straining his ears, but he heard only a faint whisper of night breeze and the low rumble of a few horsts on London St [Colombo St].
He shook his head. Maybe he was getting paranoid. He turned to start walking toward the horst park, but he caught a glimpse of a dark shape jumping out from the side of the building.
Keith’s reflexes had been honed in a country far deadlier than Australia. He quickly swung his leg through the air to kick his assailant. But it was too late. The attacker ducked past Keith’s leg, swinging an arm that slammed a blade into Keith’s stomach.
Keith kept some strength in his body, still, and he grabbed at the assailant’s neck. He did catch one hand around the other man’s throat, but he was pushed to the ground.
The knife came back again, and again, each thrust closer to his heart. His vision got darker and darker, until with one more stab of pain, it went completely black.
* * *
Excerpts from “Addicted: The Empire’s Drug War”
By Jeffrey Harris
Chapter 4: The First Shots
Despite the Asian origin of many drugs used in the late 1930s, the truth is that an American was largely responsible for escalating the situation from a relatively restrained organised organised crime problem to a full-blown war between the drug rings  and police and specialist anti-drug agencies.
The Anaconda Ring  was a newcomer to the superin trade in East Asia, but Arthur Rolton brought with him immense wealth and influence, and vast experience in smuggling drugs from the USA to Europe. When the RNB managed to intercept one of his early large shipments to Exeter, Rolton lost the respect of many organised crime elements. In particular, one of his major superin suppliers in Indochina cut off all ties with him  and sold his superin to the Giap Ring.
Arthur Rolton was not a man who had reached his station in life by meekly accepting defeat. Also, he was well aware that to preserve his reputation amongst the Indonesian and Chinese gangs who acted as suppliers, he would have to show that he could solve problems. Using his agents in Sydney to gather information on RNB operations, he had an Exeter agent killed in a high-profile stabbing outside the local branch building. He expanded his Richmond [Brisbane] operations, and had several police officers killed when they tried to apprehend some of his dealers. In another stunning coup, he had one of his top dealers (Louis Mercury) broken out of custody, with several of his men attacking a prison transport to free Mercury, then leaving everyone else for dead in the Australian desert.
His daring exploits rebuilt his reputation. By the year’s end, Rolton controlled the most powerful drug supply and smuggling operation in Asia. This led to a superin epidemic hitting the streets of Palmerston [Darwin], Stirling [Perth], Richmond, Sydney, Exeter and Poneke [Wellington, NZ] in 1943. Previously quiet neighbourhoods became havens for dealers and users alike, and city police were tested to their limits. New criminal gangs appeared in the cities, with drug profits giving them resources on a scale which would have been unattainable before. Crime levels soared as drug addicts turned to theft and robbery to support their habits , and gangs fought each other for control of territory and distribution networks.
The RNB needed to expand to combat the new inflow of drugs. Minister of Health David Heath, the original driving force behind the creation of the RNB, persuaded the government to increase funding for the Bureau, and new offices were slowly established throughout Australia. His other main initiative was to ensure that further pressure was put on other nations of the Empire to clamp down on drugs, especially superin.
Funding for expanding the RNB was easily arranged, due to the large degree of public support. Efforts to secure international cooperation were much more difficult. Not until 1949 would the first Indonesian nation make superin and other drugs illegal, and the other nations took longer. Diplomatic pressure on the United States to stop its citizens’ involvement in the drug trade achieved precisely nothing, and the tension created by these efforts would contribute to the events of 1947.
The struggle with the drug gangs meant that local police agencies made major changes to their operations. Many of them formed special units to target drug smuggling and gang activities. However, much more than the RNB, the local police were susceptible to being corrupted by the very things they were meant to stop...
* * *
1 March 1944
Kingdom of Australia
“How many have been named?” asked Terry Holder, Active Agent.
“Four. All decorated officers of SPD Narcotics,” said CIO  Martin Sullivan.
“Bring them all here. Separately.”
“We agreed that this was my case,” Martin said.
A little coldly, Terry thought, given that they were in Stirling’s new Bureau building. This was his turf, not Martin’s. Still, safest to be polite. “Yes, but they have to be isolated. I know you’d like to arrest them at interrogate them at their own stations, so that you can show you’re cracking down on corruption. If you do that, though, you’ll tip off everyone else. Arrest them at their homes, bring them here, and when we’ve questioned them properly, I can put my men into action. Then you can take them all to Stirling Central and call the media, if you like.”
Martin considered that, then nodded slowly. “Fine. I’ll have them here within an hour.”
The CIO was as good as his word. Almost exactly one hour later, Terry sat in an interrogation room, complete with the traditional two-way mirror. Across from him sat Senior Constable Edward Pierce, now under arrest for possession of superin, accepting bribes, and conspiracy to commit murder. Pierce had messed up dark hair, and his clothes looked as if they had been thrown on. Which was, after all, more or less the case, since Pierce had been woken up and arrested at one in the morning.
“Mr Pierce. You – and your colleagues – are in a great deal of trouble.”
Pierce stared blandly back. “I don’t know what you mean. And it’s senior constable, thank you.”
“Not for much longer, I’m afraid,” Terry said. “You have two choices: cooperate with me or go with CIO Sullivan to Stirling Central. Either way, you won’t be a senior constable.”
Terry sat back in his chair to let Pierce mull this over. When he judged that the corrupt officer had been left in silence for long enough, he said, “You’re just lucky I happened to be in town when you were arrested. Otherwise, you’d have no options at all. But unlike Sullivan, I’m not here to bring down dirty officers. What you’ve done is despicable, but I have a bigger target in mind.”
Pierce shrugged. “Is that right?”
“You’re the operational coordinator of your local anti-drug operations. I know that you’re behind most of the corrupt actions of your unit. And I also know that you’re on Rolton’s payroll.”
Terry held up his hand to forestall Pierce’s next protest.
“Don’t bother denying it. We both know it’s true, though I can’t use my evidence in this case . Give me the time and location of his next incoming shipment, and I can have you off these charges and in a safehouse before morning.”
Pierce said, “Well, that sounds like a good deal, Agent Holder. “But I’ve got a better one. Take your deal and shove it up your ass! Sullivan can take me to Central; I’m sick of listening to you.”
“If you like,” Terry said, then stood and left to get Sullivan.
A few minutes later, the four arrested police officers left in two horsts, along with Sullivan. Terry stood at the window, watching them leave. When they were out of sight, he reached for the nearest phone and dialled a number. “In the blue horst. Pick up Pierce, and no-one else.”
* * *
2 March 1944
Kingdom of Australia
“What the hell is this?” Pierce yelled. His voice had lost much of its power, though. He had been tied to a chair in this empty room for a night and a day, judging from the light that had filtered through the high windows. Some sort of warehouse, most likely.
His shouts went unanswered for far too long.
When the door finally opened, in walked Agent Holder, of all people. Pierce wanted to yell a few choice insults at Holder – or more than a few, really – but his throat was already sore. He settled for a long glare, which was unfortunately wasted. Holder refused to meet his gaze, dragging a small table and chair over next to him.
Only then did he deign to meet Pierce’s gaze.
“I gave you a generous offer yesterday, Mister Pierce. Since you turned me down, you’ve left me no choice but to take... alternative methods.”
“Well, aren’t you a good fucking policeman?” Pierce said. “Anything you find out from me will be thrown out of fucking court when you have to explain all of this bullshit.”
“I don’t plan on getting near a courtroom with this,” Holder said calmly. Too calmly.
“A lot of fucking use asking me for location and shipment time is going to be when you need to ask a judge for a bloody warrant, then,” Pierce said. “He’ll want to know how you got your fucking information.”
Holder shrugged. “I’ll lie.”
The calm way that was said made Pierce’s blood run cold. “You’re as corrupt as you accuse me of fucking being, then.”
“There’s all the difference in the world, Mister Pierce,” Holder said. “You break the law for your own gain. I do it because sometimes to serve the law, you have to break the law.”
“Oh, isn’t that just the perfect fucking excuse,” Pierce said.
“It’s one of the lessons of life,” Holder said. “Would you like to know the story of my life, Edward?”
Pierce laughed. “Sure. It’s not like I’m going anywhere at the moment.”
Holder said, “The Bureau has hardly been my life; I’ve only been here for a few years. I worked in intelligence before that.”
“A fucking coward’s career,” Pierce said. “Too bloody scared to join the police or the army. Too fucking frightened to serve in the front line.”
“Oh, I was a soldier in my time,” Holder said. “I still am, really. Our country may not be officially be at war, but the truth is that the Great War never really ended. Our enemies now are the same enemies we had then. All that happened was that we changed the theatre of war, and the weapons. Now, we fight in shadows, and our weapons are usually cunning and subterfuge instead of arlacs and artillery, but we are still at war.”
“Fancy justification for what you do, but why are you boring me with it?” Pierce said. “You’re a liar and a kidnapper, and you have the fucking gall to call me corrupt.”
Holder sighed. “You weren’t listening, Edward. Australia is at war. We have many enemies. Germany might be the most obvious, but it’s hardly our only foe. Rolton and the other drug lords have declared war on us, and now I am a soldier in this new war.”
“You’re no fucking soldier. Soldiers have laws of war, and they follow them,” Pierce said. “You’re breaking the law here, no matter how you try to spin it.”
“Laws only work if both sides play by them,” Holder said. “When one side spurns the law, well... Now I’m working by a different rulebook. One I learned in night and shadow.”
Pierce tried to keep his breathing quiet and even, but he knew he had failed when he saw Holder smile.
“Have you ever heard of the Pesadilla ?”
Pierce could only shake his head.
“It happened in Colombia, although it’s not widely-known. The Jackals kept it quiet, both to save face and to stop word of it encouraging rebels elsewhere. You see, the Jackals thought that their fire-squads had pacified Colombia. They didn’t realise that terror would only breed more terror.”
Holder chuckled, and the sound had ominous undertones. “The revolutionaries stopped forming into bands, but that didn’t stop individuals. It never does. Men – and one woman – with nothing to lose and full of hatred for the Jackals and everything they stand for. The survivors bided their time, waiting for the bigger war to come, and the Jackals to let their guard down. Then they struck.”
Holder shook his head. “This time, the Jackals were suffering terror, not inflicting it as they had done with the fire-squads. Jackals would get kidnapped at night. A few days later, their bodies would show up. Always mutilated, usually disembowelled, and left hanging from the top of one prominent building or another. No-one knew who was doing it, and burning farms wouldn’t stop them. After all, it was clearly a few individuals committing the murders. Ravaging the countryside wouldn’t deter them.”
Pierce said, “No matter what you think of me, you should know that I hate the Jackals as much as you do.”
“You hate them, no doubt, but only someone who’s lived there and seen what they’re capable of can hate them as much as I do. Especially when I had to pretend to be one of them.”
Pierce caught Holder’s gaze then, and gasped involuntarily.
“Pretending to be a Jackal was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I assumed the identity of a Jackal soldier rotated back into the country after, well, never mind how I managed it. I played the role of a garrison soldier, while feeding the pesadillos information on high-level targets and how to avoid capture. The Jackals lost over fifty officers and a hundred of their other citizens before they caught the last of the pesadillos. There were only five people behind it.”
Holder shook his head. “Five people, for all of that terror. Can you believe it? Well, I certainly could. You see, I happened to be one of the soldiers in the group that finally caught the first pesadillo. I had to interrogate him to keep up my cover. And I was ordered to use his own methods against him.”
Holder lifted up a paper bag and started pulling out items and placing them one by one on the table. A knife came first, then tongs, then a cigarette lighter, then a vial of something that looked clear, but surely wouldn’t be water.
“Anything you want to tell me, Edward?”
“You wouldn’t fucking use those,” Pierce said, as defiantly as he could manage.
“I’d prefer not to,” Holder said. “If I’ve done worse than this to someone I admired, though, you can bet your life that I’d do it to someone I hate. So, for the last time... anything you want to tell me, Edward?”
The words came out as fast as Pierce could speak. Everything he knew about Rolton’s operations in Stirling, and what he had heard about Rolton’s activities elsewhere.
When Pierce had finished, trying to recover his breath, Holder said, “Thank you, Edward.” He stood. “Good-bye.” He pulled a pistol from his side holster.
Pierce started to shout a begging protest, until the sound of twin gunshots stopped him from speaking ever again.
* * *
 Strictly speaking, the Australian actions in the Solomons are mostly due to lack of resources and other competing priorities, rather than any moral goals. Due to the many commitments, especially after the Great War, investment in the Solomons is limited, and government through the locals was seen as the easiest option. However, *Americans take a different view of this issue.
 Rico is a slang *American word for someone who is extremely rich, derived from a Spanish word for “wealthy.”
 “Drug ring” is used in TTL much as drug cartel is used in OTL, ie a large scale operation of drug-growers and runners (eg from China to Australia).
 The “Anaconda” name stuck after Rolton used a ruse where his men smuggled inside the bodies of several anacondas under the pretext of transporting them to an Australian museum. The drugs were successfully smuggled in; the police only found out about the trick after the snakes bodies were dumped and washed up on a beach near Richmond.
 In fact this supplier was the one whose superin was seized by the RNB in Exeter, and he made the decision out of fear of being caught or identified, rather than over the financial loss.
 This drug wave is similar to what happened in OTL when crack cocaine hit US cities in the mid-1980s, although the level of violent crime is generally lower.
 Corruption Investigation Officer. *Australia’s equivalent to an Internal Affairs officer.
 In other words, Terry is protecting a source in Rolton’s organisation. He doesn’t mind implying this to Pierce, because Pierce would be unlikely to reveal this information to anyone, for fear that rumours may get back to Rolton that he has talked.
 From the Spanish word for “nightmare.”
* * *