- Add onto this more kids will be growing up possibly:
- Standford and Mason's kid
- Royko's post-death child will probably get a cameo
The Commonwealth always had FTL coms, so they could quickly reinforce problem sectors or send in the Peace Corps to take care of things in a matter of days. Without that in place its going to be nigh impossible to stop people from breaking away and fortifying their worlds before the military can come and put the rebellion down and what was once Commonwealth space will become a disorganized hellhole of infighting very quickly.
Burns is just as invested in unifying humanity as Walkingstick, but he is a politician, and despite being the head of the Committee on Unification, as a Senator, theres a good chance he could get voted out of office, impeached, term limits, any number of fair and legal ways a democratic society can eject its rulers. Walkingstick as a military officer has none of these limitations except that he is supposed to answer to the Senate, he will always be able to climb on a ship and go out to unify humanity while eventually Burns would not.
So as things start to go south with the wars he decides he doesn't want the dream of Unified Humanity to fail because he is voted out of office and the war inevitably ends as a loss and he gets blamed for it. So Burns helps, or at least doesn't hinder, talk of using Walkingstick as The Scapegoat, then when he goes out to the Alliance to broker peace, he warns Walkingstick in passing. Knowing Walkingstick to be the popular, charismatic military leader he is, his subordinates would get pissed, Walkingstick would be torn, but eventually the Marshall would travel back to Sol with a fleet at his back.
Burns knew Walkingstick well enough to know the man was not going to disappear, and sure enough Walkingstick does show up with a fleet, the military immediately side with him and the Senate suddenly has a gun to the head. So Burns can pretend to be outraged but then immediately calling Walkingstick emperor, which would position him nicely to be some sort of advisor or second-in-command. Permanently.