Coming up for promotion in the Commonwealth Space Navy, Joel made the cardinal mistake of giving a lippy answer to the Admiral invigilating his lieutenant’s exam. He wasn’t failed but he did received the Navy’s most unpopular posting, to the SkySpy observation station. Joel is immensely proud of being a citizen of the Commonwealth; the actual fact of having to mix with Rusties, with whom he does not especially get along, is a drawback that he must overcome.
We meet Gilmore five years after His Majesty’s Starship, totally failing to enjoy his early retirement. After the events of HMSS he was essentially the man who founded the Commonwealth Navy, rising to the unofficial ranjk of Commodore. Naturally, he wanted to do it properly: “he had set up his own chain of command so that the Navy could be run with due procedure: an Admiralty, with a proper hierarchical structure, and a Space Ministry to advise the leaders of the Commonwealth on space matters and to link the politicians with the Navy under their command.
All well and good, except that Arm Wild, being a Rustie, far preferred to deal with people he knew. That was Rustie due procedure. He would happily bypass every mechanism Gilmore had set in place to advise him and approach Gilmore directly. It was annoying for Gilmore, who was acutely aware of the sensibilities of the people Arm Wild was ignoring, and it was frankly insulting for the Space Minister and Admiral Chase, so Gilmore had forced the issue by resigning. As far as he had heard, Arm Wild now toed the line, going through the appropriate channels. It was too early to tell if Gilmore had lost a friend in the process.”
What is certain is that Gilmore cleverly managed to divest himself of political power precisely at the moment when he most needed it.
Donna McCallum is a native of New Zealand. After five years service in the Anzac Marines, two of them spent in the hot, sweaty jungles of the Pacifican Campaign, she heard about the new opportunities opening up on the Roving, and it sounded much better than jungles.
Unfortunately there were no openings in the new Commonwealth for someone of her background, but King James had started a new marine force on UK-1 for which she was ideally suited. At the start of The Xenocide Mission she is commanding officer of Charlie Platoon, A-Troop, King Richard’s Regiment of Royal Marines. She is also in love and will not let anything, including military niceties, get in its way.
Captain Bill Perry is second in command of A-Troop, King Richard’s Regiment of Royal Marines and officer commanding A-Troop’s Able Platoon. He is also the commanding officer of the 60 marines lent by King James to the Commonwealth for Pathfinder’s mission to SkySpy. He is described as “tall, broad shouldered and blond, straight out of a recruitment poster”; Gilmore thinks of him as “brutally Aryan”.
His second in command Donna McCallum reflects that he “was a nice guy if you got to know him but, let’s say, limited in his outlook and let’s be frank, the teeniest bit of a dork at times.” Perry is utterly loyal to his King, and he and Gilmore share a mutual, deep dislike of each other. But for all that he is a brave man and a good leader.
Rhukaya Bakan works for the Confederation of South-East Asia and is a diplomat posted to the Roving. When the xenocide crisis breaks out, her government insists that she be sent as an observer on the rescue mission. She is glad to distance herself from extremists like RV Krishnamurthy, who were completely discredited five years previously on the original Roving Mission. She also had two brothers who died when the same Krishnamurthy used tactical nuclear force against the city of Rangoon. It is wisest not to draw inferences from either of these facts.
Like many experienced spacers on the Roving Mission, McLaughlin found himself in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the new Commonwealth. At the start of The Xenocide Mission he is commanding officer of the Commonwealth Navy’s biggest and best ship, Pathfinder.
McLaughlin is skilled as a ship’s captain and as a spacer, but diplomacy never featured in his training.
King James, at the start of The Xenocide Mission, is “still a slim man in good trim, but the hair and the moustache were greying.” He has not done badly, either personally or as King, in the unexpected aftermath of His Majesty’s Starship but still bears a deep grudge against Gilmore. His idea of defending UK-1 by creating a new marine force (of which he is very proud), however, was a good one and he is prepared to share it — when doing so is in his interests.