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A series of books in the so-called Star Trek Novel Verse, set in the mid-23rd century and so contemporary with Star Trek: The Original Series. The titular "Vanguard" is a Federation starbase located in a frontier region known as the Taurus Reach. Political tensions are running high as multiple governments attempt to uncover the secrets of the Reach, while the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who once ruled it are awakening and angry at the intrusions....
The novels are:
- Summon the Thunder
- Reap the Whirlwind
- Open Secrets
- Declassified (anthology of four shorter tales)
- What Judgements Come
- Storming Heaven
There are also several short stories linked to the series in the Star Trek anthologies, including a Mirror Universe version of Vanguard in Shards and Shadows. The full-length novel The Sorrows of Empire also features the Mirror-Vanguard.
The story Distant Early Warning, a tale of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, is also a part of the Star Trek: Vanguard arc.
Finally, the events of Star Trek: Vanguard are important to Paths of Disharmony, a novel of the Star Trek: Typhon Pact series.
This series contains examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Tholians' monomolecular-edged blades, established in Star Trek: The Lost Era, show up in Reap the Whirlwind. Xiong uses one to escape from a deserted Tholian starship in which he’s been stranded.
- Abusive Precursors: That would be the Shedai. They left self-destruct systems embedded in the planets they once ruled before going into hibernation. Finding some of those planets overrun with younger species, the reawakened Shedai Wanderer is quick to put a stop to it with an Earthshattering Kaboom or two.
- Action Survivor: Quinn, although he becomes far more of a traditional action hero during the middle of the series. Sadly, Quinn is very much in Butt Monkey territory...and not the humorous sort of Butt Monkey, either.
- After the End: Technically the planet of the Denn in Precipice, as its current civilization is built upon the ruins of a collapsed precursor society, once far more advanced. For that matter, this description refers to the Taurus Reach, too.
- The Alcoholic: Quinn. The reasons why were explained mid-way through the series. He then recovered for a time, only to fall back into alcohol towards the end, after suffering intense personal loss.
- All There in the Manual: The novels by David Mack often mention the Starfleet Survival Guide, which was also a actual book written by Mack. The characters are making use of survival tips and strategies that can actually be looked up.
- Arc Welding: This series does for the 23rd century what Star Trek: The Lost Era did for the 24th, tying many disparate threads and stories into a huge interconnected political epic.
- Arranged Marriage: T'Prynn's did not go well. The ritual combat that was invoked when she filed for divorce also didn't go well. To explain: T'Prynn rejected her appointed mate, Sten, whom she never loved, and decided instead to choose her own companions. Sten was unwilling to release T'Prynn from her betrothal and invoked ritual combat in an attempt to force her to submit. T'Prynn refused; she killed him in the combat that followed. But before he died, Sten forced his katra into T'Prynn's mind.
- As You Know: Gorkon expresses irritation with Chang because of his tendency to spell out the obvious implications of hypothetical political outcomes during conversation.
- Ass in Ambassador: The Klingon and Tholian diplomats love being this (especially the Klingons). Federation Ambassador Jetanien sometimes acts this way, partly to throw it back in the Klingon's faces. Funnily enough, he and Klingon Ambassador Lugok end up in Vitriolic Best Buds territory.
- Big Bad: The Shedai, notably the Maker, though the Wanderer seemed desperate to replace her in the later books. However, it's the Progenitor, when he finally gets to show his stuff, who takes the crown.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Shedai.
- Blessed with Suck: How did Tholians gain sapience? The answer explains why they're so vulnerable to Shedai telepathic assault.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Apparently, as of Storming Heaven, Quinn has been banned from most of the station's drinking establishments for such offenses as picking fights, failing to pay his tab...and urinating over the bar.
- Bounty Hunter: Kajek in Declassified.
- Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: The knowledge broker Chathani has several Anticans serving as her bodyguards. She mentions that Antican guards are known across the Taurus Reach for their loyalty, and thus it's implied a fully Antican detail is a status symbol.
- Call Back: In the final book, Storming Heaven, a call back is made to the first book, Harbinger, when Dr. Fisher asks Dr. M'Benga if he remembers the one rule of Rugby; namely, "no autopsy, no foul".
- Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: In the Vulcan deserts, watch out for K'karee and Aylakim (snakes and scorpions).
- Captured Super Entity: The artifacts built by the extinct Tkon have the power to trap and contain the Shedai. The Wanderer - the most frequently antagonistic of their number - was captured at the end of the fifth book, but later escaped.
- Citizenship Marriage: T'Prynn and Pennington, as a part of one of T'Prynn's many undercover schemes. She needs to get herself off of Vulcan, and requires Earth citizenship to avoid a specifically Vulcan identity check. She therefore marries Pennington, the nearest convenient Earther, and who has agreed to help her.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: The authors' websites include some notes on preferred casting - Reyes is Tommy Lee Jones, for instance.
- Continuity Nod: In addition to the Arc Welding of the original series, T'Prynn was first mentioned in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine relaunch novels as having worked with Elias Vaughn. Vaughn's daughter Prynn Tenmei is named after her.
- Razka the Saurian, who appears in Reap the Whirlwind, first appeared in Star Trek: A Time to..., where it was mentioned that he served during this timeframe.
- Cool Starship: Star Trek being Star Trek, there's plenty to go around, but the USS Sagittarius is a sexy little thing (even when it's on fire and about to be curb stomped by Klingons).
- Crapsack World: Golmira, home of the Denn, is like this, being a victim of runaway global warming in centuries past. That said, the current natives cope reasonably well on the whole, at least in the farming communities.
- Cultured Warrior: Gorkon.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Zett Nilric. He always dresses in a perfectly tailored suit, cleans his weapons carefully to maintain appearances, and generally has a certain flair.
- The Dark Times: The Tholians look back on their rule by the Shedai as this, seeing as they were used as living batteries to power Shedai equipment and boost their communications network. Interestingly, the Shedai are responsible for Tholian sapience in the first place.
- Deadpan Snarker: Reyes and Ezthene enjoy snarking at Gorkon.
"I presume you have some scathing remark with which to deepen my moment of disgrace?"
- T'Prynn, at times. Particularly notable when she asks if Starfleet personnel assigned to a super-freighter should be given first-class accomodations:
"No of course not. Such generosity from Starfleet would be certain to draw suspicions. Steerage it is then".
- Defeating the Undefeatable: The Maker is shocked to find her powers cannot "unmake" the Apostate.
- Defector From Decadence: Nezrene gets fed up with the Tholian Ruling Conclave’s inability to put aside their xenophobia. She knows that to stand against the Shedai, Tholia requires the aid of its neighbours and should co-operate peacefully. She and Ezthene, who has come to a similar understanding, leave the Assembly as fugitives in order to join up with the Federation team at Vanguard. Nezrene makes it; Ezthene gets side-tracked by Gorkon.
- Den of Iniquity: Aboard the Omari-Ekon, the Orion ship under registry to Ganz.
- Domestic Abuse: The JAG office on Vanguard station responded to an unusual case: A Denobulan man who attacked one of his second wife's other husbands (Denobulans have multiple partners, each of whom has up to three mates in turn). Was it simple assault or domestic abuse?
- Dying Moment of Awesome: The USS Bombay is destroyed by six Tholian cruisers, but DAMN if Captain Gannon doesn't make them work for it. She and her overworked, underrepaired starship pull out all the stops in an epic battle royale, wiping out at least FIVE Tholian ships before getting killed. Posthumous. Bad. Ass.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Several planets in the Taurus Reach, due to the use of Shedai technology by Federation and Klingon researchers. Some planets were destroyed accidentally as a result of inept use of Shedai artifacts, others were destroyed deliberately by the Shedai Wanderer in her attempts to prevent her people's technology coming into the hands of other, younger races. Palgrenax was one such planet.
- As was Ceti Alpha VI, according to the final book. Project Vanguard is thus responsible for much of the backstory in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Fantastic Caste System: The Shedai are divided between the ranks of the Nameless, each confined to only one body, and the elite Serrataal with individual names, e.g. The Maker, The Wanderer, The Myrmidon, who can take multiple forms simultaneously.
- As a result of the Quch'Ha plague (as seen in a two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise season four) many Klingon families have lost their forehead ridges. A division between those who retained them and those who lost them has resulted in an unofficial caste system within the Klingon Empire. The ridgeless Klingons - the Quch'Ha, or "unhappy ones"- are somewhat undesirable in the social hierarchy. Some Quch'Ha disguise their status with artificial foreheads.
- Fictional Currency: The Gorn use szeket.
- Foreshadowing: A chilling example with the beginnings of what we can see will one day be Project Genesis.
- Genetic Memory: The Tholians. Encoded in their crystalline molecules is every memory of their people, dating back to the first moment of sapience. Many are buried deep, of course.
- Government Conspiracy: Well, large-scale military coverup, anyway.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: The series concerns itself with this, and certainly a lot of the details about Project Vanguard remain classified in its aftermath. One of the books in Star Trek: The Lost Era demonstrates that a century later the existence of the Shedai is common knowledge in the Federation, at least on the level of "they existed", but much of what the characters did in the Taurus Reach remains unacknowledged. The Star Trek: Typhon Pact novel Paths of Disharmony features classified records of Project Vanguard as an essential part of its plot, confirming that although some of the events are widely known (the Tholians won't let the memories die, for one thing), much of the true picture is deeply buried beyond the reach of anyone but the highest members of the Federation government and Starfleet Command. The final page of Storming Heaven pretty much confirms that this trope is the major theme of the series.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Neera, the Orion woman.
- Gunship Rescue: The Lanz't Tholis attacks the Zin'za in order to defend the Sagittarius, so saving the latter ship's crew. The motivation is a classic case of I Owe You My Life; the crew of Lanz't Tholis are repaying a debt.
- Enterprise has one of these in the final book, chasing off a Tholian fleet harrassing the Endeavour and Sagittarius.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ming Xiong.
- Hive Mind: The Tholians, while all individuals (and indeed possessing just as many dreamers, dissenters, seditionists and individualists as any other Trek culture) have a version of this on the instinctive level. The Tholian lattice connects the minds of all Tholians, distributing basic race-knowledge to all and allowing individuals to commune with one another. The lattice is regulated carefully, with different castes having different degrees of access. On occasion, it can indeed cause the entirety of the Tholian race to share an experience, as was the case with the telepathic assaults of the Shedai.
- Honor Before Reason: The Arkenites take their debts very seriously. So much so, that when Klingons save an Arkenite outpost from a disaster in exchange for the outpost swearing allegiance to the Klingon Empire, the residents then refuse to back out. Even though they don't want to leave the Federation or help the Klingons, they all willingly keep to the promise even when Starfleet shows up trying to "liberate" them. To choose gratification over duty and refuse to repay their debt would, their leader explains, be unthinkable.
- Horse of a Different Color: The Mellul.
- I Am Legion / Me's a Crowd: The Shedai Serrataal ruling class are a blend of these tropes; they often speak as though they're a collective (despite being in reality an ideologically diverse bunch) and can take on multiple forms at once, controlling several bodies simultaneously. The Apostate, when describing the Shedai caste system, explains "I am Serrataal, I am legion", thereby making use of the I Am Legion trope while also using the same words to point to the Me's a Crowd nature of his powers.
- I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: Captain Desai (the station's JAG officer) responds to a mission request by Admiral Nogura with something akin to an accusation of trying to punt her off the station to avoid legal trouble. Nogura replies that, as a favor, he's going to pretend the previous thirty seconds never happened.
- I Owe You My Life: This is the reason why Nezrene, and the other surviving Tholians aboard Lanz't Tholis, come to the aid of the Federation officers in Reap the Whirlwind. Previously, the Federation characters liberated the Tholians from Shedai captivity.
- Insanity Defense: T'Prynn points out it's the only plausible defense she could give, though she doesn't pursue it.
- Interspecies Romance: A homosexual pairing between T’Prynn (a Vulcan) and Anna Sandesjo/Lurqal (a Klingon spy disguised as a human).
- Kicked Upstairs: Made the subject of a joke in the final book. What happened to Admiral Nogura after Project Vanguard was concluded? Answer: just what you'd expect to happen to an officer who had a starbase shot out from under him - he was promoted.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Diego Reyes.
- The Man Behind the Man: Ganz is not truly the crime lord of the Omari-Ekon, he is a front for Neera.
- Meaningful Funeral: For the crew of the Bombey.
- Mind Rape: The entire Tholian species suffers this due to the Federation's meddling with the Shedai. No wonder that the Tholians still hold a grudge over 100 years later, as shown in Star Trek Destiny and Star Trek: Typhon Pact.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Sniffy, the half-walrus, half-dog thing. D'aaawwww.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Reyes, after his ex-wife is killed along with everyone else on Gamma Tauri IV, indirectly a result of the general cover-up Reyes himself is participating in.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Apostate. He doesn't particularly want to take back the Taurus Reach and punish upstart younger races. He'd much prefer the Shedai go back to sleep.
- As a more minor example, Manon notes that she's unusual for a Silgov in that she has wanderlust and travels the galaxy. Indeed, she's far from Silgos (opposite side of explored space) and we've never seen another Silgov civilian out in the wider galaxy.
- Mythology Gag: Ganz' preferred alcohol. "It's green!"
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Starfleet's response to Reyes' disobedience can in part be seen as this.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Quinn is on the receiving end of several, at the hands of Ganz's men.
- No-Paper Future: Discussed a little, but averted, when Pennington reads a newspaper:
"Print is dead"
"Sure it is. They've been saying that for more than two centuries. Yet here it is in my hand, defying all predictions of its demise".
- Odd Friendship: Vanguard likes this: Quinn and Pennington, Quinn and Bridy Mac (this one later going beyond friendship), Pennington and T'Prynn, Reyes and Ezthene, etc. Mismatched buddies is the heart of the series, it seems...
- By the final book, Jetanien and his Klingon diplomatic counterpart Lugok have taken this to Vitriolic Best Buds levels.
- Offing the Offspring: Gorkon kills one of his (adult) children to preserve Klingon honour. This after having just undertaken a complex mission to save the son's life. The whole affair serves as a frustrating example of culture clash between the Klingons and the Federation.
- Poisoned Weapons: A Chelon's body. When under stress, Chelons secrete a poison through their skin. Jetanien points it out to his Klingon diplomatic counterpart.
- Precision F-Strike: In Precipice, when Quinn is warned against helping a pre-warp culture fight the Klingons on the grounds that it would violate the Prime Directive, he responds "Fuck the Prime Directive". Possibly the first use of the f-word in the entire Trekverse.
- Running Gag: Jetanien's food being unpalatable.
- Saved by Canon: In an interesting example of a character being Saved by Canon for the moment, but Doomed by Canon in the long run, T'Prynn can't die, even when she's in a coma due to Mind Rape, because she's going to die in a transporter accident eighty years later, as shown in Flash Back in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine relaunch novels.
- On a far lesser note, minor character Razka of Sauria, part of the Sagittarius crew, was always going to make it through the series alive, as he was introduced in the novel A Time to Kill, set over a century later.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Shedai. The Maker and the Wanderer in particular. The Apostate is benevolent, however.
- See You in Hell: Captain Brakk to Captain Kutal. Specifically, Brakk is in the process of trying to kill Kutal, and says that since the latter's death will hardly be an honourable one, they will no doubt meet up again - in the Klingon underworld of Gre'thor.
- Sequel Hook: The loss of the Romulan starship Bloodied Talon in Summon the Thunder. It's revealed that the vessel's commander was the daughter of a prominant politician. The mother's attempts to find meaning in her child's death, and how this personal fallout affects the wider politics of the Romulan Empire, formed the plot of a later story in Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins.
- Sins of Our Fathers: Ezthene insists it will take many generations for the Tholian Assembly to put aside its hatred and embrace peaceful relations with the Klingons or Federation.
- Smug Snake: Klingon Councillor Duras. There's a Duras in every era of Trek. The "original" Duras in the 24th century, who was a villain in Star Trek: The Next Generation, was in decline. The Duras in Star Trek: Enterprise was yet to truly ascend. The Duras of the Original Series era is from a House in its prime, and he knows it. What he doesn't know is that his House is going to lose much of its current influence when evidence of his plotting is thrown across the front pages of the galactic newspapers.
- Space Amish: The inhabitants of Kren'than village, the settlement on Vulcan where T'Prynn originates.
- Space Pirates: Scalzer's band are an example, one of many. Piracy is a common problem in the Taurus Reach.
- Space Station: Starbase 47, a.k.a. Vanguard, of course.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Each of the elite Serrataal among the Shedai; e.g. The Maker, The Wanderer, The Myrmidon, The Apostate.
- Spinoff Sendoff: Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise show up in the first novel; their introduction to the station essentially serves as ours. The Vulcan character is fleshed out through conversations with Spock, the Orion crime lord is introduced through Scotty buying alcohol from him, etc.
- Starfish Aliens: The Shedai, who can shed their bodies at will and, at higher power-levels/ranks, control multiple bodies simultaneously. There's also the Tholians, six-legged, crystalline beings that can live comfortably in a 300 degree Centigrade environment.
- Super Smoke: The Shedai can shed their corporeal form at will.
- Superior Species: The Shedai believe they are this, unquestionably.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Gorkon is attempting to find allies among the Federation and Tholians so that they and the Klingons can work together to avoid pointless war. The other Klingons are his biggest problem, and he well knows it.
- The Atoner: Quite a few characters might qualify, but T'Prynn is the most notable.
It is likely I will never balance the scales of my own guilt and virtue. But that does not absolve me of my responsibility to try.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Shedai Wanderer, who is a little too eager to blow up planets as a solution to her problems.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Broon attempted to do this to Quinn in Summon the Thunder.
- Time to Step Up Commander: Atish Khatami, who is forced to take command of the Endeavour in Summon the Thunder, when its original captain is killed. While she was initially lacking in self-esteem, she's doing a good job so far.
- To Be Lawful or Good: One of the central themes of the series. Diego Reyes eventually settles for the latter, following the death of his ex-wife and everyone else on her colony. The fact that the general cover-up of the Shedai kept her ignorant of the danger, and that Reyes was part of that cover-up, shattered his self-respect. He decided to illegally provide the public with details of Vanguard's true mission. As a result, he was removed from command, arrested and sentenced to prison. Desai, T'Prynn, Xiong and Nezrene also struggle with To Be Lawful or Good at various points. Ganz has it okay, since he's neither.
- Turtle Power: The Chelons. As the name suggests, they're friendly, powerful, bipedal turtles. They also secrete poison in battle. Plus, Jetanien, the most notable member of the race, is a smartass.
- Uplifted Animal: The Tholians, essentially. They were non-sapient when the Shedai took them from their homeworld (and put them to work as living components in their empire's communication network). Engineering and exposure to Shedai telepathy on a near-permanent basis resulted in an unintended progression to sapience.
- Warrior Poet: Gorkon.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: This is part of the potential in Shedai technology, and everyone knows it. The Klingons naturally see the Shedai relics in terms of weapons potential, and are eager to exploit them to this end. The Federation has the possibility of weapons use firmly in mind, because they know that's what the Klingons would use it for. And the Tholians already know the power of weaponized Shedai tech and are horrified at the prospect of its revival.
- What a Piece of Junk!: The Lovell. It's an old Daedalus-class starship that had been decommissioned for half a century before the Starfleet Corps of Engineers claimed it for their own. It has mismatched hull plates, welds and patches all over, and rattles like it's about to explode when it first accelerates to warp speed. But because it's a ship full of engineers who have nothing better to do than tinker, repair, or rebuild things it can keep up with (or outrun) any ship in the fleet.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A common response to T'Prynn's more cloak-and-dagger activities. And, eventually, Carol Marcus gives several of these speeches to Ming Xiong.
- With Due Respect: Made the subject of a joke by Captain Nassir and Commander Terrell:
"I assume that was said with all due respect?"
"Oh, absolutely, sir".
- Working Title: A humorous one. For a while, What Judgements Come was fondly known as The Taurus Key: A Crystalline Fairy Tale, Founded Upon The Mysteries of the Shedai and the Oppression of Their Servants. It Was Written for Kollotuul, but Others Should Read It.
- You Have Failed Me: Threatened by Klingon Captain Kutal. When his weapons officer Tonar responds to an order by saying "I'm endeavouring to do just that", Kutal replies: "then endeavour with greater zeal, or I shall find a new weapons officer".