Note: This is a version of the author's background notes for Worlds Apart and is subject to change, expansion, and random retconning as convenience demands.
The Galactic Commonwealth was the primary body of interstellar governmental coordination from the 30th Solar Century until it, along with the rest of human civilization, collapsed sometime between the 53rd and 55th Solar Century.
The Commonwealth was not so much a political organization, but a system of treaties, agreements, understandings, and threats that bound together Human Civilization as worlds throughout the Milky Way Galaxy were colonized.
Prior to the Commonwealth, the human colonies were governed under the laws of the Galactic Federation and the Galactic Parliament, which met in the Earth city of Sarajevo. By the 29th Solar Century, the Major Colonies had long since eclipsed Earth in population and economic and political power. The Earth-Centric power structure of the Galactic Federation was no longer suitable to the task of governing more than 300 worlds spread across 6,000 cubic light years of space.
In the Solar Year 2814, Avalon colony became the first to declare that its Government was no longer subject to the rule of the Galactic Federation, after the Federation decided to recognize the independence of two of its colony worlds; Guinevere and New Albion. Avalon sent warships to reassert control over the rebellious colonies. The Galactic Federation was paralyzed with indecision and unable to respond. By mid-century, each of the Major Worlds had developed a fleet to rival that of the GF and was able to assert sovereign control over their respective sectors of space and colonial possessions. One by one, they renounced the Authority of the Central Government on Earth.
The Galactic Federation contemplated war to bring the colonies into alignment but concluded it would be futile to make the attempt. The Galactic Federation continued for a time, but was a hollow shell of its former self. A depopulated and resource-depleted Earth had very little capital to expend in support of keeping the Galactic Federation afloat.
As the Galactic Federation lost its power to maintain peace and order, conflicts began to spread throughout the colonies, some of which began to suffer economic decline. The Major Worlds recognized the value of maintaining some of the elements of the Galactic Federation. In 2845. they met at Terra Nova colony and hammered out the Initial Commonwealth Accords, which established a form for coordination among each of the Major Colonies and Earth, and established the sovereign powers of each major world:
- · The power to govern their home worlds and colonies in accordance with their own laws.
- The power to build and maintain fleets of ships for galactic exploration and defense of their worlds and sectors.
- · The authority to claim newly explored planets within its sector as territorial possessions.
o This last was especially offensive to Earth, which had previously held a monopoly on determining the territoriality of newly discovered worlds.
o It also was offensive to independent minded settlers, who wanted to establish worlds independent of control by the major worlds.
The original idea for the Commonwealth was less a central galactic government, and more of a club that allowed its members to share benefits among one another and allow for the building and strengthening of interstellar relationships. It was not until two centuries later that the Galactic Commonwealth had collective power that superseded those of the major world.
Under the original Commonwealth Charter, each populated world was responsible for providing an assessment to The Commonwealth to support the costs of its responsibilities. The Galactic Commonwealth was vested with the power to maintain peace among the colonies, undertake relief missions in times of disaster, enforce trade laws, and protect human rights, and so the Commonwealth Space Fleet was commissioned, intended as a neutral force manned by volunteers from all worlds. The Commonwealth Justice Commission was also vested with a Tribunal with the power to try and punish violators for various galactic offenses. The Commonwealth Reconciliation Authority was vested with Arbitration powers to mediate disputes among colonies. The Commonwealth Academy created a system of higher learning to nurture the finest human and artificial intelligences around the galaxy. The Commonwealth Center for Human Advancement was charged with advancing knowledge, science, and technology. The Commonwealth Health Service was charged with advancing medical knowledge and standards for all colonies.
Notably, the Commonwealth consistently failed in each of these endeavors.
The Galactic Commonwealth became the official political organization for the Galaxy on January 1 (Earth calendar) of the Solar Year 2900. The Galactic Parliament was disbanded, but Sarajevo was maintained as an “Interstellar Neutral City” where the diplomatic delegations of different worlds would meet.
The Commonwealth was implemented as a coalition of Governments without any central authority. But its responsibilities for maintaining peace, law and order, defense, and human rights demanded an extensive establishment and staff. This was overseen by the Council of the Galactic Commonwealth, which was populated by delegates from every colonized world. There was also a Special Council, to which each of the 12 Major Colonies and Earth belonged (and, later, the capital worlds of the Outer Sectors). These Councils were responsible for the administration of Commonwealth functions and resources. There was no ruling body for the Commonwealth. However, the need for coordination of Commonwealth Organizations (such as the Commonwealth Space Fleet) necessitated high-level cooperation among planetary governments. Initially, these took place in the old Galactic Federation capitals on Earth (Singapore, Sarajevo, and Jacksonville).
Eventually, however, the need for a neutral location for the Commonwealth Council was recognized. The planet Duìchèn Xìng, a beautiful ringed world in the Orion Sector, was selected for this purpose. The Commonwealth built complexes for coordinating galactic affairs that grew in time to become major cities.
While most Sectors and Worlds organized their own fleets of Starships, the Commonwealth itself was also accorded a Fleet, headquartered in the City of Ad Astra on the planet Duìchèn Xìng. Commonwealth Military resources were used throughout its lifespan to ensure Galactic stability, and to defend worlds threatened by, for example, the artificially intelligent war machines released during various Machine Rebellions.
Beneath the altruistic surface, the Commonwealth was also a vehicle for worlds to carryout acts of espionage, subversion, and sabotage against one another. Once the Commonwealth emerged as a powerful interstellar government, Commonwealth officials were notoriously easy to corrupt and influence. Commonwealth positions were often sinecures or political appointments for well-connected incompetents.
Quadrants and SectorsEdit
The Commonwealth convened the Shunga Galactic Cartography Project, under which the Galaxy was organized into four quadrants and 88 prime sectors. Each Quadrant was not a ‘quadrant’ in the mathematical sense of the word, but rather linked to the four arms of the Milky Way Galaxy; the Orion Quadrant being the arm closest to Earth, the Centaurus, Carina, and Perseus Arms each being respectively further out.
The designation of sectors had been a holdover from the period of the Galactic Federation, but had little meaning. The colonies in one area of space were simply lumped together as the ‘Aquarius’ Sector and so long through the Zodiacal constellations. Drawing borders in space would have made no sense since stars are widely separated and constantly moving. The original sectors were drawn out according to complex mathematical formulae and fit together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Each of the original ‘Sectors’ was given a Zodiacal Appellation, except for Earth’s which was designated the Orion Sector. Each contained roughly a billion stars. Each Sector had a major colony world designated as its ‘Prime,’ effectively, its capital. As follows:
· Aquarius Sector -- Asha -- (A.k.a Aquaria Prime)
· Aries Sector -- Atlas
· Cancer Sector -- New Dawn
· Capricorn Sector -- Proxima
· Gemini Sector -- Han
· Leo Sector -- Avalon -- (a.k.a. Leo Prime)
· Libra Sector -- Alpha
· Pisces Sector -- Parallax (Pax)
· Sagittarius Sector -- Vesta
· Scorpio Sector -- Terra Nova (a.k.a. Scorpio Prime)
· Taurus Sector -- Astra -- (a.k.a Taurus Prime)
· Virgo Sector -- Pacifica
The other sectors of the Orion Quadrant were also the earliest to be settled. The prime worlds of these sectors were not considered Major Worlds, but became increasingly important as their sectors developed.
The Centaurus, Carina, and Perseus Quadrants, being sparsely populated, largely eschewed the notion of Prime Worlds. Only a few Sectors of the Centaurus Quadrant designated their most populous worlds as “Prime.”
Over time, the Commonwealth Council grew in power until it became as oppressive and riddled with corruption as the Galactic Parliament, and the Major Worlds became as power hungry as Earth. They squabbled continually among themselves, and treated the colonies within their territories as shabbily as Earth had treated them.
The initial wars that would become The Early Crusades were wars of rebellion by smaller colonies against their colonial masters in the Major Colonies. Diplomacy continued throughout the First and Second Crusades as the Commonwealth tied to mediate and resolve the interstellar disputes that led to them. The Commonwealth helped coordinate forces in opposition to the Red Committee, Scorpion Empire, and the Strange in the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Crusades .
Later Crusades were typified by the efforts of one world, or one group of worlds, to control the destinies of other worlds. In the latter crusades, worlds were supplanted by beings of immense power, but the goal of subjugation remained the same. The Commonwealth Space Fleet was joined by other forces, most notably, The Christian Fleet, in their battled against the overlords.
Throughout all of the Crusades, the Commonwealth continued its non-military functions; providing communication, mediation, and shared services throughout humanity’s colonies in the stars.
For most of the Crusades, Earth tried to maintain itself as neutral territory, a place where both sides could meet. This was seen widely as Earth’s last gasp at maintaining relevance in a galaxy where it had long been eclipsed politically, economically, and culturally by the Major Colonies. Earth did not come under direct attack during the later Crusades. However, Duìchèn Xìng was devastated repeatedly.
The Human Galactic CommonwealthEdit
The Commonwealth emerged from the Crusades greatly reformed from the organization it had been in the past. The New Constitution of Solar Year 4400 (the 11th rewrite of the original Commonwealth Charter) abolished the control of Prime Worlds over their sectors and recognized the longstanding truth that worlds were sovereign over themselves. The Galactic Commonwealth became the Galactic Commonwealth of Humanity or Human Galactic Commonwealth. The Human Galactic Commonwealth became a Non-Governmental Organization; supported by 10,000 human colonies, but exercising no political authority over them. Instead, it provided peacekeeping forces, technology exchange, interstellar consultation, exploration services, and logistical support to small and remote colonies. This final form endured for the next thousand years, almost.
(See Article: The Nine Crusades)
The Year 10,000 ProjectEdit
At the dawn of the Solar Year 5000, the Human Galactic Commonwealth’s “Commune for Human Development” released a plan for establishing thriving human colonies in all the charted sectors of the galaxy. The plan envisioned 100,000 inhabited worlds, and called for aggressive expansion of colonies in the Perseus and Carina Sectors. It envisioned 1,000 Starlocks connecting the different worlds. There is even some uncertain evidence that the Commonwealth may have dispatched automated or multigenerational ships to seed StarLocks in the Andromeda galaxy, thus opening a new avenue of human exploration and colonization.
According to widely believed legend, Earth was annihilated when Human Civilization came into contact with a much more advanced and powerful alien species called the Tarmigans. The Tarmigans ran rampant through the Commonwealth planets, Major Colonies and Minor Worlds alike. The Tarmigans were able to move through the galaxy much, much more quickly than humans. They destroyed the Starlock network that enabled galactic travel and the communication relays that permitted real-time communication. Within a matter of years, the Tarmigans had devastated the Orion Quadrant and wrought havoc across the others, leaving behind thousands of surviving colonies with no means of communication or travel with each other. This event became known as the Tarmigan Apocalypse.
An alternate theory holds that the Tarmigans were a myth and that the collapse was a less dramatic and more drawn out process. As each world developed both self-sufficiency and its own unique culture, the need for contact and trade relations with other worlds diminished. There is evidence that, particularly in the Orion Quadrant, that interstellar trade and exchanges declined gradually throughout the Fifth Millennium. According to this alternate theory, the Commonwealth did not so much collapse as fade away.
Around the year 7200, a New Galactic Commonwealth was constituted among several colonies in the Perseus Quadrant, including Republic, Independence, Bountiful, and Denali.