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Literature / Star Trek: Vanguard

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A series of books in the Star Trek Novel Verse, set in the mid-23rd century and so contemporary with Star Trek: The Original Series. The series was created by editor Marco Palmieri and author David Mack (and later co-written with Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore).

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:

  • Harbinger
  • Summon the Thunder
  • Reap the Whirlwind
  • Open Secrets
  • Precipice
  • Declassified (anthology of four shorter tales)
  • What Judgements Come
  • Storming Heaven
  • In Tempest's Wake

The Vanguard cast consisted of:

  • Commodore Diego Reyes: The commanding officer of Starbase 47. He soon finds himself with immense guilt over some early decisions.
  • Commander Jon Cooper: The first officer of Starbaze 47.
  • Lt. Commander T'Prynn: A lesbian Vulcan intelligence officer with a split personality due to a failed katra merged.
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  • Lt. Ming Xiong: An archaeologist investigating the secrets of the Shedai.
  • Ezekiel Fisher: The chief medical officer of Starbaze 47.
  • Rana Desai: The JAG officer for Starbase 47. Which is awkward as she is Diego Reyes' girlfriend.
  • Jetanian: A giant praying mantis alien who is a diplomat for the Federation.
  • Tim Pennington: A Federation reporter with a checkered love life.
  • Cervantes Quinn: A former mercenary turned con man and smuggler.
  • Ganz: A confidant and charming Orion crime lord.
  • Anna Sandesjo: A Klingon double agent in a romantic relationship with T'Prynn.
  • The Shedai: A race of seemingly all-powerful aliens that once ruled the Taurus Reach and enslaved the Tholians.

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. In Tempest's Wake is an e-book designed to bridge the gap between the two time periods shown in Storming Heaven and serve as the final wrap-up of the series.


The story Distant Early Warning, a tale of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, is also a part of the Star Trek: Vanguard arc.

Mack's 2022 TOS novel In Harm's Way is also a loose crossover with Vanguard. It serves as an interquel chronologically set during the events of Precipice (specifically about halfway through that book's one year narrative).

Vanguard has a sequel series of sorts, in Star Trek Seekers.

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 Earth-Shattering Kaboom or two.
  • Ace Pilot: Celerasayna zh'Firro.
  • 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.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The novels by David Mack often mention the Starfleet Survival Guide, which was also an actual book written by Mack. The characters are making use of survival tips and strategies that can actually be looked up.
    • David Mack also posted the series Bible that detailed facts about the Vanguard, its crew, and plot developments they planned but strayed from.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Back for the Finale: Kirk and the Enterprise during Storming Heaven, which bookends their Spinoff Sendoff from Harbinger.
  • 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 are formless energy beings that inhabit bodies they create of matter whenever it is convenient.
  • Blessed with Suck: How did Tholians gain sapience? By being constantly exposed to Shedai telepathy. 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.
  • Broad Strokes: Mack's 2022 TOS novel In Harm's Way re-canonizes the broad strokes of Vanguard for the post-Star Trek: Coda novel continuity.
  • Bury Your Gays: T'Prynn and Anna/Lurqal are this. Not only is T'Prynn doomed by canon to die in a transporter accident but Anna is killed well before then by Klingon assassins after her cover is blown. By then, their relationship is utterly screwed anyway.
  • 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).
  • Canon Immigrant: A variation. The Watchtower-class Starbases eventually made their way into live-action Trek for the remastered version of "The Ultimate Computer".
    Keith R.A. DeCandido: Reports that Vanguard co-creator/editor...Marco Palmieri squealed like a small child when the remastered episode aired are unconfirmed. (Oh, who am I kidding? They’re totally confirmed…)
  • Captured Superentity: 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.
  • 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 A Time to Kill, where it was mentioned that he served during this timeframe.
  • Continuity Overlap: Harbinger officially begins immediately following the events of the second TOS Pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The series then runs parallel to all three Seasons of TOS before concluding during the latter half of the show's final Season (right after the events of "The Tholian Web").
  • 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).
  • Cosmic Deadline: The last book in the series exhibits this with many loose ends from earlier books being resolved and various characters dying even before the final battle.
  • 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.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Kajek the Bounty Hunter, who channels his OCD into his work by listing his various bounties in an alphabetical database that is meta-tagged and crosslinked according to any and every conceivable criterion he can think of.
  • Cultured Warrior: Gorkon is as educated as he is terrifying in battle.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Quite possibly the darkest thing ever produced for Star Trek media. The Vanguard space station is built on a bunch of lies sold to the public by Starfleet to perform an illegal investigation of the region for Sufficiently Advanced technology. The protagonists are all Broken Ace types who have severe personality flaws and make numerous mistakes that get a lot of people killed. Then Starfleet covers it all up. It also involves realpolitic, Killed Off for Real, betrayals, and Downer Ending situations that are virtually the opposite of typical The Original Series era fair. This is, indeed, a main selling point for the series as a contrast to normal Trek.
  • 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".
  • Deconstruction: This is a version of Starfleet like we've never seen before where they are conniving, amoral, and goal-orientated versus being The Paragon. This is meant to tie into the Genesis Project from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where Carol Marcus' team is extremely suspicious of Starfleet weaponizing their research. Because Carol was a witness to them doing it before.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Multiple books end this way but it also ends in this for the series as a whole. Starfleet classifies all of the data from the project, leaving it in a box for over a century, and learns almost nothing from the experience. Numerous characters are killed, their careers ruined, or minds broken. Carol Marcus will use her research as the basis for the Genesis Project but that is Doomed by Canon. The Shedai are defeated but relations with the Tholians are irrepairably damaged over these events and their anger will last centuries. The Nimbus III project is also a complete failure. The only bright spot is Gorkon becoming chancellor but even that is a Bittersweet Ending because we know how it will end.
  • 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?
  • Doomed by Canon: A lot of this book series deals with characters suffering this.
    • T'prynn dies in a transporter accident decades later.
    • Doctor Carol Marcus will use the Meta-Genome in her Genesis Project but it is impossible to control.
    • Gorkon will be assassinated and his reign as Chancellor short.
    • Nimbus III is doomed as a planet of Galactic Peace, becoming a Wretched Hive that only the dregs of the galaxy frequent.
  • Dumb Muscle: Morikmol, described by Cervantes Quinn as "a walking life-support system for a pair of fists."
  • Dysfunction Junction: Vanguard Station and its crew are Bunny-Ears Lawyer types at their best and Broken Ace at their worst with some of them verging on being Fallen Hero characters. For most of them, it gets worse before it gets better.
  • 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 FOUR Tholian ships before getting killed (Confirmed when the Enterprise later examines the scene and finding the wreckage of four Tholian cruisers) Posthumous. Bad. Ass.
    • Mog and the engineering crew of the Endeavour, fatally poisoned by radiation during the Battle of the Taurus Reach refuse to leave their posts until their ship and fellow officers are saved.
  • Earth-Shattering 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.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Klingon Qam and MenIqam, building on the established QelIQam.
  • Fictional Currency: The Gorn use szeket.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Played with during the climax of Storming Heaven. Kirk and the Enterprise join the last stand at Starbase 47. Obviously, the TOS characters are not going to die and will survive to voyage to strange new worlds for another day. However, apart from Clark Terrell and Nogura, the rest of the fleet doesn't have Plot Armor...
  • 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 Spacebabe: 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Vanguard crew are this to Kirk and the Enterprise (and vice-versa).
  • 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.
  • Honey Pot: Numerous spies use this as part of their tool set. T'Prynn actually uses it on a Klingon spy that she falls in love with.
  • 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 he didn't hear her insubordinate remark.
  • 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).
  • Just Following Orders: When Xiong and several of the Starfleet scientists assigned to Project Vanguard refuse to carry out the experiments they've been ordered to run, Nogura tells them that Starfleet will simply remove all of them from the project and bring in another group that will go along without question.
  • 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. To be fair, there was nothing incompetent about his actions during the final battle and was even prepared to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save as many lives as he could.
  • Killed Off for Real: This happens to a large portion of the cast, adding to its Darker and Edgier reputation.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Diego Reyes is a cranky and embittered Starfleet Admiral who, nevertheless, breaks protocol to inform the public about the dangers of the Taurus Reach.
  • 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 Bombay.
  • 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: The series continues the tradition of having the characters of an earlier series appear in the first installment. We also find out the origin of Scotty's famous liquor - it's Ganz' preferred alcohol. "It's green!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Starfleet's response to Reyes' disobedience can in part be seen as this.
    • When Xiong manages to capture and contain all the remaining Shedai, the Tholians are torn between trusting the Federation to responsibly eliminate the threat posed by the Tholians' ancestral enemies or sending an entire armada to annihilate Vanguard. Starfleet explicitly orders Xiong's team on pain of court-martial to continue their testing/exploiting of the Shedai, careless of the risk of mind raping the Tholians. What's the worst the Tholians could do? Bye, Vanguard.
  • 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.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Reyes' issuing General Order 24 against Gamma Tauri IV after the Shedai slaughter the human inhabitants of the colony. The Klingons lend a hand.
  • Poisonous Person: 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 that since he isn't in Starfleet "Fuck the Prime Directive". Possibly the first use of the f-word in the entire Trekverse.
  • Realpolitik: The Federation engages in a lot of this over the series as do the Klingons and Romulans. The Tholians do not and their unwillingness to share information or work with the others prevents everyone from just leaving the Shedai alone.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The Shedai, who believe they rule other species by right and generally have no issue with slaughtering those who resist them; the Shedai word for beings outside their hegemony often doubles as a synonym for "criminals". Even the Apostate, who believes in benevolent rule and rejects the idea of conquest, seems to think the Shedai are natural leaders.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, Admiral Nogura will survive because it's Nogura who "gives" Admiral Kirk the Enterprise back in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Likewise, Clark Terrell and Carol Marcus will survive as they will appear in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • 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.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The USS Bombay.
  • 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 Battle: A fair few.
  • 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.
  • Stealth in Space: The crew of Sagittarius constructs a sensor shell out of scan-deflecting materials to provide temporary cover from a Klingon ship.
  • Super Smoke: The Shedai can shed their corporeal form at will.
  • Superior Species: The Shedai believe they are this, unquestionably.
  • Talk to the Fist: When Dr. Leone overhears an officer and a couple crewman complaining about Khatami being given command of the Endeavour, he chews them out. When the officer smugly says he's free to say whatever he feels like, Leone belts him. The other two crewman quickly say they're fine when Leone asks if they're catching the same "illness" the unconscious officer has.
  • 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.
  • Terrified of Germs: Dr. Lisa Babitz.
  • 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 manages to earn the crew's respect.
  • 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. Nogura has it okay, since he doesn't really struggle with it; he's good but he has to be lawful, so he trusts his subordinates to be good and gives them every chance to be while he handles the lawful side.
  • Uncoffee: Tellarite bojnoggi, which has become Dr. Leone's favorite morning pick-me-up. Khatami compares it to drinking cream of mushroom soup.
  • 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 is both intelligent, cultured, and wise in addition to being a brutal Klingon warrior.
  • 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".
  • 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".