Letter of Marque
The letter of marque is similar to a mercenary ticket, in that it allows a non-government organization to carry out aggressive operations against bad actors, in this case pirates, or those who have illegally attacked other ships. It is an electronically encrypted file that the Captain can have transmitted upon any request. It is a pure textual file, but the encryption is very high, nearly impossible to crack or duplicate, and specifically identifies the issuing authority.
A letter of marque is a royal warrant for a civilian ship and it's crew, under the command of a trusted captain, to hunt and prosecute pirates within the area specified. The Emperor has delegated the authority to issue these letters to those who hold a Ducal title, i.e. Grand Dukes, Archdukes, and Dukes are limited to the space under control of said noble. While all ships are allowed to defend themselves against agression, those with a letter of marque are allowed to seek out and engage in a preemptive manner. Care is taken to ensure that ships and crews do not become rogue by limiting the duration and requiring an assurity bond against prizes and cargo that are taken.
The clauses of a letter of marque consist of several delineated sections as specified by Imperial decree.
- Name of ship
- Name of captain
- Allowed area of operation
- Duration of effect
- Bond required
- Issuing authority
- Terms of cancellation
The document is considered public knowledge and holders must identify themselves as holders of a letter prior to beginning operations against a pirate ship or base.
During the early years of the cluster's expansion, anti-piracy was a responsibility of the Imperial Navy. As the cluster spread outwards, skirmishes and wars occurred and required the Navy's involvement, either to protect or expand it's borders. This placed piracy, which is generally a local issue, in a low priority for Imperial assistance and local governments had to step up and provide protection for commerce trading. Several dukes appealed to the Emperor who recognized the issue and created the letter of marque.
Digital Recording, Various