Delivering the Commonwealth

by Mark Schaefer

Someone or something had reached down out of the cold depths of interstellar space and gotten their attention. They’d undeniably gotten his.

Delivering the Commonwealth, PROLOG

Four hundred years ago, an expedition set forth from the Commonwealth of Humanity to colonize new worlds and expand the boundaries of human settlement. The expedition eventually settled four new planets—but never heard from the Commonwealth again. Now, facing a relentless and unstoppable enemy, the League of Four Worlds must attempt a daring mission to travel hundreds of light-years back to Commonwealth space for help. But does the Commonwealth still exist, and if it does, will it be able to help?

Chapter Previews

  • Prolog
    Everywhere the citizens of the Four Worlds seemed to be walking about in dazed silence. A pall hung over our systems. We were not alone. And whoever they were, they meant business. This was not how we’d ever imagined ending our isolation.
  • 2 | Makindi | iThanga Elide, Farmark
    Makindi dropped and rolled to his right, bringing his weapon to bear and firing round after round into the creature. He poured fire into the alien but couldn’t figure out where to aim. Without any obvious brain center, how were you supposed to kill this thing?

About the Book

Delivering the Commonwealth is a story about individuals and societies. On one hand, it tells the tale of an intrepid band of people who put their lives on the line to deliver their worlds from defeat at the hands of an implacable foe. These characters undertake a desperate journey hundreds of light-years to seek help from the only source they can imagine to offer it.

On the other is that source itself: the Commonwealth of Humanity—a vast interstellar empire that our protagonists have not heard from in centuries. Does the Commonwealth still exist, and if so, will it be able to help? Our protagonists cannot know—because of the lack of communication, the Commonwealth and its fate remain a mystery.

In most of the galaxy-spanning civilizations of science fiction, communication is never a problem—it’s virtually instantaneous. Every once in a while on Star Trek, they’d mention that it takes three weeks for a subspace message to get from the Romulan Neutral Zone to Starfleet Command. But most of the time, they ignored any communication limitations and had real-time conversations.

But what if our communications were still limited to light speed, but our travel was not?  That is, what if communications actually ran slower than our ability to strike out?  In effect, this is not unlike the situation the settlers of the New World faced. Today, we can cross the Atlantic and discover that there is email there waiting for us. But it wasn’t always so. What if those Plymouth colonists had set out for New England, established a colony, and never heard from Europe again?  What if they no longer possessed the resources to make the journey back across the Atlantic—what would their life be like?  And what if generations later, they encountered a hostile force they could not resist, and their only hope was in a country they had not heard from in centuries? 

This is the challenge that the characters in Delivering the Commonwealth must face if they are to save their worlds from destruction.

The Characters

The characters of Delivering the Commonwealth, image of the LSS Deliverance and the characters Killian, Makindi, Kavanagh, Blackstone, Delacruz, Flores, and Filipov-Ibañez

Lt. Jareth Killian

Killian is the chief of Security on the LSS Deliverance. He had previous experience in the Merchant Marine, which ended with a mistake during a crisis that continues to haunt him.

Captain Juliana Kavanagh

Juliana Kavanagh is the captain of the LSS Deliverance and the leader of the Expedition to return to Commonwealth space. A student of naval history, she is fond of using ancient maritime expressions, much to the amusement of her crew. She is the daughter of the legendary Gaius Kavanagh whose legacy sometimes threatens to overshadow her.

Lt. Rebekah Blackstone

Lieutenant Blackstone is a gifted cryptologist and linguist who struggles to find her place on the Expedition until her gifts unexpectedly become vital to the success of the mission.

MGySgt Benjamin Makindi

Master Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Makindi is the sole survivor of a rescue mission on the alien-occupied planet of Farmark. Still recovering from the trauma of that mission, he serves aboard the Deliverance as one of Killian’s primary security officers.

Cmdr. Husayn Delacruz

Commander Husayn Delacruz is the Executive Officer and second-in-command of the LSS Deliverance. A longtime colleague of Captain Kavanagh, he often serves as her sounding board and voice of conscience.

Lt. Cmdr. Miguel Filipov-Ibañez

Filipov-Ibañez is the Deliverance’s tactical officer and a keen observer. His innovative thinking often comes in handy when the Expedition faces problems it can’t solve.

The Invaders

A species resembling a cross between a starfish, a cricket, and an octopus, this five-limbed creature has insect-like legs that end in eight-tentacled “hands.” Hard to kill and ruthless, they are responsible for the destruction of the League fleet and Makindi’s squad.

Lt. Marissa Flores

Communications Officer, LSS Deliverance

Ens. Pyotr Thorsten

Helms’man, LSS Deliverance

About the Ship

The starship aboard which the bulk of the action takes place is the League Starship Deliverance, a newly commissioned ship of the line, chosen for the mission to journey to the Commonwealth.

The Deliverance is a cruiser with a crew complement of 128 officers and enlisted. Although the ship is outfitted with gravitic plating and the crewmembers wear magnetic boots on board, much of the gravity on the ship is generated when the vessel is under acceleration or deceleration. For that reason, the orientation of the decks is perpendicular to the direction of thrust. As a result, the ship is like a tall building lying on its side as it moves through space.

The main engines are at the front of the vessel. They consist of a large ring that opens up and sustains a tunnel through hyperspace, allowing the vessel to travel at velocities faster than light. The sublight engines, consisting of a fusion reaction drive, are also located at the bow end of the ship, projecting from the main drive ring.

A sensor tower projects from the aft end of the starship. The tower consists of sensors and communications arrays and includes an observation deck for use when the ship is not under acceleration or deceleration.

Contrary to most assumptions, the bridge is not in the tower but is safely tucked away in the center of the starship. The bridge consists of a number of workstations and a 360-degree display that takes up the bulkheads. The display can show additional readouts for each workstation or any view the crew desires. In the center of the bridge is a 3-D holographic tactical display projector for use during combat or other complicated operations.

Schematic of the LSS Deliverance, portside inboard view

About the World of the Story

World-building is one of the more enjoyable aspects of speculative fiction. Although the novel spans nearly a thousand light-years, the narrative concerns two major interstellar societies, the League of Four Worlds and the Commonwealth of Humanity.

The League of Four Worlds

History

The League of Four Worlds was formed by the colonies established by the KGM Expedition of 2368. Departing from Terranova, the KGM expedition went well beyond the established boundaries of the Commonwealth in pursuit of worlds that did not need to be terraformed. After nearly 700 light-years of travel from Commonwealth space toward the neighboring spiral arm of the galaxy, the Expedition happened upon the Sharon system with two habitable worlds: New Sydney and Pherat. The nearby system of Roger’s Star contained one habitable world—Fairhaven, and the third star system after that—Kittim—contained a habitable planet colonized as Farmark.

Given the tremendous amount of resources consumed on the journey and the need to use their colony ships as the main settlement buildings of their colonies, a return voyage to the Commonwealth was not possible. The colonists focused on establishing settlements on their worlds and on conserving their meager supplies of anti-matter and deuterium for necessary trips between worlds for vital supplies and commerce. Even the hyperspatial drones were used sparingly.

Because the colonists had left a series of “breadcrumb” probes behind, it was only a matter of time before Commonwealth trade and consular ships arrived and incorporated the colonies into the Commonwealth’s economic and political spheres.

After seven years, no ship from the Commonwealth had yet arrived, and the colonial governments of New Sydney, Pherat, Fairhaven, and Farmark decided that they would need to establish their own polity for the indefinite interim. On July 20, 2378, the four colonies established the League of Four Worlds.

Government

The League is a confederation primarily for regulating commerce and sharing vital resources. Each world sends delegates to the Great Assembly, which is unicameral and composed of members elected on the basis of population.

The citizenry participates in selecting a League Chancellor through popular elections. The top three vote-receiving candidates are then presented to the Great Assembly, which elects the individual who will be Chancellor from among that number. Frequently, this individual is the one who received the majority or plurality of the popular vote, but this is not always the case.

Insignia

The insignia of the League of Four Worlds is a stylized representation of the three stars—Sharon, Roger’s Star, and Kittim—along with the worlds that orbit each star.

three gold stars in a diagonal line over four solid blue circles in an L shape

The Commonwealth of Humanity

History

After the conclusion of the Third Terran World War, the United Nations established a Global Charter for collective security. In the period of economic growth and stability ushered in by the post-war global community and out of a desire to ensure that human civilization might survive the follies of nations, an era of space exploration and colonization began.

Toward the end of the twenty-first century, the slowship Voyager made the 70-year journey between Earth and a planet in the Proxima Centauri system. The New Damascus colony became the first extrasolar human presence in the galaxy.

seal of the Commonwealth
The seal of the Commonwealth, with the original founding worlds at center, surrounded by olive branches.

Fifty years later, Dr. Rebecca Sheridan invented the hyperdrive, allowing for faster-than-light travel between stars. In the decades that followed, New Paris (Alpha Centauri IV), As-Salaam (40 Eridani II),  Terra Nova (Wolf 359 III), and New Brazil (Sirius II) were all colonized.

On January 1, 2289 by the United Nations of Earth, the Colonial League of New Damascus, the New Parisian Federation, the Governing Council of As-Salaam, the Terra Nova Congress, and the All World Congress of New Brazil, signed the Great Charter, establishing the Commonwealth of Humanity.

A decade after the Charter was enacted, advances in hyperdrive technology led to even faster ships and a second great expansion. After only four centuries, over 100 worlds had been colonized and added to the Commonwealth’s number, with the population of the Commonwealth numbering over 100 billion people.

Physical Dimension

The Commonwealth occupies a rough sphere with a radius of 92 parsecs, centered generally on the Sol system. This is a function of the more-or-less even expansion in all directions from the core worlds during the Second Expansion. The boundaries of the Commonwealth have not increased appreciably since 2370.

Technological limitations

For all the advances in hyperspace technology, communications were still limited to light-speed transmissions. Information from one star system to another needed to be physically sent via hyperspace drones. Upon arrival in the other system, the drone would transmit its data via laser link and receive data from relay buoys that could then be brought back to its system of origin on the return trip.

This process was costly, and because of the challenges of hyperspatial navigation, drones did not make more than one jump, restricting their communications to neighboring star systems. As a result, information propagated slowly from world to world. It could take days for information from the periphery of the Commonwealth to reach the central worlds. This limitation would prove to be a challenge to the Commonwealth as it expanded.

Government

The Commonwealth is governed by Parliament that convenes in the city of Jerusalem on Earth. The Parliament is divided into two houses: the Assembly—consisting of delegates based on planetary populations, and a Senate consisting of one representative for each world. The members of the Assembly are elected directly by the people of each planet, and the Senators are selected by various methods by the governments of each world. Members of the Assembly serve for three-year terms in three classes; members of the Senate for seven.

The Parliament elects a Consular Committee that serves as the Executive for the Commonwealth. The Consuls perform executive duties over defense, security, commerce, justice, and social welfare. The Consuls of the Committee take turns as Prime Consul or Chancellor, the nominal head of state and official spokesperson for the Consular Committee. Consuls serve a term of three years.

Symbols and Insignia

The seal of the Commonwealth of Humanity is a representation of the Sun, Earth, and Moon and the five stars of the founding worlds of the Commonwealth (Proxima and Alpha Centauri, 40 Eridani, Wolf 359, and Sirius), surrounded by a stylized pair of olive branches. Spiraling out from Earth is a red arrow signifying the human journey to the stars and the expansion of the human race into the galaxy.

The flag of the Commonwealth uses a simplified version Commonwealth seal in the center of a tricolor banner. The green represents the land of the individual world upon which human communities depend for life. The light blue band represents the planetary atmosphere. The midnight blue band represents the nighttime sky in which the stars of the Commonwealth can be seen as reassurance and constant presence. Older versions of the flag had individual stars to the left and right of the seal representing the individual member worlds. When the number of stars grew too numerous, the design was altered to remove them altogether and allow the seal itself to represent the stars of the sky.

Flag of the Commonwealth of Humanity
Timeline of History Leading up to the Novel
April 12, 1961

Space Age Begins

Yuri Gagarin becomes first human being in space

April 12, 1961
July 20, 1969

Moon landing

First human expedition to the moon; Neil Armstrong first man on moon

July 20, 1969
2010

ISS

Completion of first International Space Station.

2010
2069

Moon Colony

Tranquility City becomes first permanent settlement on Moon

2069
2074

United Earth

United Nations brokers end of Third World War with Global Charter, creating international confederation for collective security

2074
2154

Extra-Solar Colony

Arrival of Slowship Voyager in Proxima Centauri system, first extra-Solar colonization expedition (New Damascus Colony)

2154
2204

Faster than Light

Dr. Rebecca Sheridan invents hyperdrive

2204
2215

Beginning of FIRST EXPANSION

2215
2217

New Paris

Alpha Centauri IV (New Paris) colonized

2217
2219

As-Salaam

40 Eridani II (As-Salaam) colonized

2219
2225

Terranova

Wolf 359 III (Terranova) colonized

2225
2231

New Brazil

Sirius II (New Brazil) colonized

2231
January 1, 2289

Founding of the Commonwealth

United Nations of Earth, Colonial League of New Damascus, New Parisian Confederation, Governing Council of As-Salaam, Terranova Congress, and All World Congress of New Brazil enact Great Charter establishing the COMMONWEALTH OF HUMANITY

January 1, 2289
October 17, 2289

The Fleet

Commonwealth Star Navy and Commonwealth Star Marines founded

October 17, 2289
2294

Mark II FTL

Sheridan Institute invents Long Radar; begins manufacture of Mark II Hyperdrive

2294
2297

Beginning of SECOND EXPANSION

2297
2356

200

Commonwealth reaches 200 worlds

2356
2368

KGM Expedition

KGM Expedition sets forth from Terranova

2368
February 2, 2370

KGM Expedition First Colonies

KGM Expedition arrives at Sharon system; colonies of New Sydney and Pherat established

February 2, 2370
July 18, 2370

Fairhaven Founded

KGM Expedition arrives in Roger’s Star system; Fairhaven colony established

July 18, 2370
January 3, 2371

Farmark Founded

KGM Expedition arrives in Kittim system; Farmark colony established.

January 3, 2371
July 20, 2378

League Founded

Colonies of New Sydney, Pherat, Fairhaven, and Farmark establish the LEAGUE OF FOUR WORLDS

July 20, 2378
2790

Farmark Lost

Farmark destroyed by invading alien forces

2790
2791

The Expedition

LSS Deliverance and LSS Brunswick set sail for Commonwealth space

2791
Watch the Teaser Trailers

Concept Art Character and Ship Sketches


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