The meeting began as Prince Thandal Iskhavium Khal entered the chamber. Baroness Jarset Sharet, the Princess's 1st cousin and Director of Intelligence, Fleet Admiral Cindeck Zhan. The Commandant of Naval Infantry, General Nlor Quhen. the Foreign Minister Askarin Mnelo. The Speaker of the Moyet, Lord Whythel Dran and the Speaker of the Opposition, Lady Dame Miela Czedra. The Prince began as he sat his 2.3 meter frame in his chair. "Okay, as this is about the actions of one senior lieutenant Draven Knorr. Lets start with the facts of the incident. Now what do we know from the sensor logs, Admiral Zhan?"
"Your Highness, though damaged, we were able to glean some information from those of the Drakkan and the Krang. They do show that they were engaged with two unknown vessels. It appears that the Drakkan was attacked first, though it isn't totally conclusive. The Krang's logs don't have any information on that matter as the fight was already in progress when they came upon it. It is factual that the Krang followed procedure and demanded that all vessels stand down. About a minute later they both pirate ships opened fire on the Krang, who then defended herself." the admiral's raspy voice the result of an injury suffered 14 years ago when he was defending two merchants from an attack by Zaherian raiders.
"That's nice." replied the foreign minister Askarin Mnelo. "Yet, my Prince, what does that have to do with the situation. So he followed procedure and defended himself and knowing what procedure is, I might add, who should damn well know better in granting a Zaherian light raider the armed merchant status. A vessel clearly listed as an armed combatant and military ship. True it appears that the Drakkan was attacked first, which can't be definitely proven, even if such could be definitively proven, how does that change his action?
Besides I've already had inquires from Lord Deskharliot about the incident and if it represents a change in our policy?" His demeanor and tone were always formal and he was an excellent foreign minister, even if a by the book person.
Baroness Jarset Sharet, 1st cousin of Prince Thandal, spoke up. "Why shouldn't it?" as she stared Askarin down, her red hair with a tinge of orange almost looking like a flame. "Are we not honor bound to protect all merchants that enter Iskarian space for peaceful purposes? Don't we allow Kalvarian and Ghoram merchants such trading privileges? I've checked the data base and ships like the Drakkan do have a noticeable cargo capacity. Besides, if you'd checked that we note that these ships are used as merchants. So, our policy doesn'y preclude that possibility to be used. The fact that it hasn't may or may not be a matter for the diplomatic corps to solve, but and granted this might well be a technicality, the senior lieutenant didn't break our policy, he just deviated from standard practice."
"Baroness, your political leanings are well known, yet technicalities will not make the Kalvari Empire or The Ghoram Union happy with us. Maintaining our neutrality is paramount." replied admiral Zhan.
"Yes, Baroness, the Moyet has only a plurality that favors neutrality. This will cause debate and show a divided front, which might create many situations, if other ships captains feel that they can alter policy based on a technicality, or politics" That was the Lord Speaker of the 1st Teract, Lord Whythel Dran, that of the Commons, for the Moyet.
"Lord Speaker, why does maintaining our neutrality seem to mean ceding authority over our own system? Allowing pirates at best or active Kalvari Naval ships at worst to flaunt our system and attack, with impunity our naval vessels? In lieu of evidence to the contrary, isn't the assumption of innocence presumed for the Zaherian ship Drakkan?" That was General Martock Lynor, commandant of the Iskarian naval Infantry. One who favored the Zaherians over the Kalvari/Ghoram alliance.
"Lord Dran, since when has the 1st Teract or for that matter all of the Moyet, been at a loss for words when we debate? You just don't want debate because that might lead to a vote, which you don't want. Besides, isn't our neutrality already in question if we don't allow any Zaherian merchants to trade in our system?" lady Dame Czedra's wit and sarcasm were both evident as well as her loathing for the Lord speaker..
"Dame Czedra, I'll not use 'lady' for fear of insulting those of honorable employment with that moniker. Do you mean to say that you support the senior lieutenants actions, despite how they might cause consternation with the Kalvari Empire and the Ghoram Union!"
"Well Lord Speaker, at least my bed partners all have two legs. Yes, I think we should consider a change in our policy. Yet you and your Social-Democrats favor alliance with the Kalvari and Ghoram, because of the Zaherain raids 15 years ago, which is irrelevant to the current situation. If everything we did was based on 15 year old events, wouldn't even your family be in a different position? This ship was either the victim of a pirate attack or Kalvari naval forces active in our system. The Zaherians deserve the right to conduct peaceful trade. Besides, in any vote you'd only win with the 1st Teract." Her eyes just filled with comeuppance as she looked at the Lord Speaker. Next heard was the nice tenor voice of Prince Thandal.
"I expect my council to be civil and respectful to each other. Besides dear baroness, I will be the determining factor in what is honorable to us. I don't like the fact that pirates or privateers, decided to attack one of our patrol ships nor do I like senior lieutenants, who for whatever reasons, potentially making diplomatic policy."
General Lynor spoke up. "If we make an example of the senior lieutenant, it won't sir well in the 3rd Teract. His father is R'Karvin Knorr, head of clan Knorr and President of the 3rd Teract and head of the Traders Union and also on the Committee of Naval Design." reminded General Lynor.
"Your Royal Highness, we still need to reprimand and rebuke his actions and at the same time emphasize that they were his personal actions and therefore not government policy, which resulted in the rebuke. We can't let his family affect our decision, reguardless of any potential political fallout. If I may ask, Hhow does your sister factor into this your highness?" Askarin Menlo stated. The Lord Speaker was even more emphatic.
"In all discussions of this matter, the princess is to be left out and not considered, unless her actions also violated our policy." the prince had a very poker neutral facial expression but his eyes were just filled with rage that his sister was brought in on this.
"Yes, that and he needs to be reduced in rank so no other officers will do anything so foolish."
Lady Czedra chimed in. "Great, I'll contact R'Karvin Knorr and we'll work on breaking up your political alliance with the Conservatives. This will be so easy, once you make an example of his son. My lord Prince. What are your thoughts on this matter?"
"My initial thoughts are of two fold. Ship captains do need to have allowable leeway for their actions and expect their government to support them but the altering of established policy is troubling to me. Is there perhaps a compromise that we can reach?" as he scanned those at the table.
Fleet admiral Zhan just nodded his head. "Perhaps. our trading partner, The People's Republic of Elvhra has requested through their fleet admiral Martin Heskva, assistance from our navy in dealing with increased piratical activity. What if senior lieutenant Draven Knorr was given this assignment? He'd be removed as a focal point in any debate and we'd be helping a trading partner and keep his father happy."
Prince Thandal Khal just looked at his Foreign Minister, a very slight smile crossing his face. He'd also be out of the system as far as my sister is concerned. "That's acceptable. Just a letter of question about his taking such action without gaining approval in his file, no decrease in rank and a statement that our policy hasn't changed." as a smile came to his face.
"And just what will our policy be, dear Prince, that hasn't changed Lord Askarin?" spoke Admiral Zhan, a quirky smile coming to his face.
"Why that any military vessel that enters our system, has 90 hours, to leave the system or be interned."
Lady Cezdra spoke with a bit of urgency in her voice. "My prince. That does seem to be the point here. Just what is a merchant ship? Merchants we allow, armed ones from both the Ghoram union and the Kalvari Empire. What if all other ships needed to have Iskarian certification within 30 days or face either internment? We'll let our own determine what qualifies as a merchant or armed merchant. This will let us remain fair to all sides keeping to our neutrality and perhaps provide an increase in revenue from the licensing fees generated and keeping military ships out of our system."
The Lord Speaker was on his feet. "Absolutely not!! It would be manipulated to the detriment of the Kalvari Empire and Ghoram Union."
A most interesting option Lady Dame Czedra brings up. "Well Lord Speaker, that might well happen, yet aren't all of our policies manipulated by some group? This might be a nice bone for the Traders Union and his father. Bring in more money and support for our neutrality. If the Zaherians are going to be afforded an opportunity to be traders, then they'll met our requirements, if not then they only have themselves to blame. If the Kalvari and Ghoram complain too much, just remind them that this is Iskaria and we make such determinations. Also, ask them why old style Kalvari naval ships attacked one of our patrol ships? Does this represent a change in their policy? Now, what to send to help our trading partner?" Prince Thandal said, effectively ending the discussion.
"Well your Highness." said fleet admiral Zhan. "Let's repair the Krang, then, along with her, we can send the light cruiser Prang along with the destroyers Ikar, Monthar, Winther and Bilzel. It'll be a task Force unit so we could offer him a brevet rank of captain or not, just make him the senior ships commander in system and there fore the defacto task force commander. We provide support to our trading partner and that is always a good thing."
After a moment pause, nobody objected. As with many political options, not everyone liked it yet they didn't hate it that much either, in other words acceptance was at least a palatable alternative.