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City's Military Branch
Head of the Guardians
- "When a terrible threat rises, Guardians look to the Vanguard, the closest thing they have to a command structure. These elite veterans coordinate the reports of roaming Hunters, the analyses of cloistered Warlocks, and the instincts of grizzled Titans into a single plan of action."
- — Grimoire Description.
The Vanguard are elite Guardians who coordinate the Last City's defenses, organize assaults on enemy strongholds and assassinations of their leaders, and mentor newly-risen Guardians. Some Guardians work directly for the Vanguard as scouts, investigating potential threats to the City far afield.
The members of the Vanguard sell armor specific to their class, as well as guide players through story content via Quests. The Vanguard also sells weapons, armor and equipment through their Quartermaster, Roni 55-30. The Vanguard guides the player through the base game's questline and each subclass quest, as well as playing an important role in organizing a resistance against Oryx during the Taken War. Vanguard Reputation is gained by completing Vanguard Bounties, Strikes, or missions while on Patrol.
As a result of the invasion of the Last City led by Dominus Ghaul, the destruction of the Tower and the onset of the Red War, the Vanguard has been thrown into disarray. While the Vanguards leadership survived the initial invasion, they became displaced and questioned over how they would overcome the Red Legion.
However, they were reunited by The Guardian, and fought in the Red War against the Red Legion and Ghaul. After the successful liberation of the City and the awakening of the Traveler, the Vanguard set up a new base near the ruins of the old Tower.
Over a year since the Red War ended, the Vanguard would tragically lose a member. Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6, while on mission with the Guardian to contain a massive prison break within the Prison of Elders, finds himself beaten and his Ghost destroyed by the Fallen Scorn Barons. Worse, the Scorn's leader, the previously missing Uldren Sov, takes Cayde's weapon, the Ace of Spades, and murders Cayde in cold blood. His death leaves the Guardian Hunters without a leader and uncertain of their future. Though Uldren and the Scorn would know defeat at the Guardian's hands, who would assume Cayde-6's place remains unknown.
The remaining members of the Vanguard and other officials are considering who will assume Cayde's role as Hunter Vanguard. Unfortunately, what Hunters that have the skill and leadership to take the position fled the City in anticipation (or fear) of being chosen.
As seen in Shadowkeep the Vanguard forces also consist of Frame, Drake Tank and Hawk gunships. Vanguard frames appear in the first mission of Shadowkeep known as A Mysterious Disturbance where they are named as Vanguard Frontline. They are also located on the Moon patrol zone in Sanctuary where they protect the Vanguard outpost occupied by Eris Morn.
Following the Hive resurgence on the Moon, the Vanguard would have to contend with a controversial decision made by its Guardians as they traveled to Europa and battled with the Fallen House of Salvation: the wielding of the power of Stasis, an ability directly linked to the Darkness. Though Zavala understood the logic of wielding Stasis as akin to "fighting fire with fire", he nonetheless believed that the Guardians cannot make compromises with the Darkness, even though its power proved essential in defeating the House of Salvation and their leader, Eramis. As a result, Zavala made the policy that banned Guardians into wielding Stasis. However, many Guardians disagreed with this ban, believing that in order to prevent another Collapse and save their home, they must be willing to go beyond what the Light's abilities can provide. As such, despite the ban becoming official, Zavala couldn't enforce it as there were already too many Guardians learning how to master Stasis, rendering the ban moot. Ikora Rey, likewise, was starting to understand that Stasis can be used as a tool in the Guardian's arsenal, much like the Light, with the Warlock Vanguard recalling that the Light isn't fundamentally good as the Warlords of old once wielded the Light to suit their selfish purposes.
Sometime later, the Vanguard would represent the Last City after Cabal Empress Caiatl approached Commander Zavala and made him an offer: in exchange for the Guardians kneeling before her, they would join forces and combat the Black Fleet that had arrived in the Solar System. As expected, Zavala and the Guardians refused, thus forcing the Vanguard into a series of wargames against the Cabal, pitting them against Caiatl's strongest champions. After many long struggles, the Guardians under Zavala's leadership succeeded in slaying Caiatl's champions, forcing the Cabal Empress in agreeing to a ceasefire. However, as the treaty was about to be officiated, dissenters in Caitail's forces nearly assassinated Zavala but were thwarted thanks to Crow, newly revealed to the former Awoken prince Uldren Sov, and Caitail herself who killed one of the would-be assassins. Despite this, the treaty was agreed upon, a ceasefire between the Cabal Empire and the Last City was now official, with Caiatl declaring that if any of her people object to it and continue to make war with the Last City, then they will left to the Vanguard's justice.
In more recent times, the Vanguard would be forced to handle threats more closer to home. After the Endless Night blanketed over the Last City, Ikora Rey reached out to the one being that may be able to help: Mithrax of the House of Light. After finding him and saving his people from the Vex, the Warlock Vanguard offered the Sacred Splicer and his House sanctuary within the Last City, to which the Light Kell gratefully agreed. However, this decision, without the consent of the Consensus, angered the Factions, which only fueled the suspicions and doubts they had towards the Vanguard's overall effectiveness and decisions. This ultimately led to an increase in tension within the Last City. Though Ikora Rey and the Guardians believed that peace and cooperation with the House of Light could one day end the violence between humanity and eliksni, others were not so quick to forget the past and look towards the future. To add fuel to the fire, Lakshmi-2, who once was cautiously optimistic about the Vanguard's alliance with the House of Light, began to make public broadcasts denouncing their alliance, spreading fear amongst the Last City's populace. This ultimately led a paranoia-induced mob to ransack the Eliksni Quarters but despite this tragedy, both Mithrax and Ikora refuse to forsake their alliance, with the Warlock Vanguard growing increasingly angered by Lakshmi's fearmongering.
Believing that the Vanguard's judgment is compromised after Ikora interrupted one of Lakshmi's broadcasts, speaking out that the eliksni are not that different from humanity and their alliance can bring back the dawn, the War Cult leader began to conspire with her counterparts in New Monarchy and Dead Orbit. Despite the Guardians making progress against the Vex and learning that the Witch Queen, Savathûn, is behind the Endless Night, the Faction leaders attempted to convince either Saladin Forge or Saint-14 to assume control over the Vanguard, believing that their experiences in fighting the Fallen would have them more inclined to their line of thinking. Unfortunately for the factions, both Saladin Forge and Saint-14 rebuffed their offers as the Iron Lord still trusted in Zavala and Ikora's decisions and Saint-14 recently came to an understanding with Mithrax. Angered by this, Lakshmi would continue to make broadcasts against the House of Light but would gain the supposed aid of Osiris himself, granting Lakshmi and her fellow conspirators access to Vex portal technology.
Even after the Guardians succeeded in destroying the Endless Night's architect, Quria, the Dreaming Mind, and slowly allowing daylight to return, Lakshmi and her conspirators continued in their plan to usurp the Consensus and oust the Vanguard, thereby allowing them to exterminate the House of Light or force them to leave the Last City. Upon Lakshmi beginning her coup, the Vex portal she used ultimately allowed the Vex to invade the Last City and attack indiscriminately, killing the War Cult leader in the process. The Guardians hastily were able to close the portal and prevent the House of Light's destruction. With their conspiracy exposed, the other factions gathered what supplies and supporters they had and fled the Last City upon Dead Orbit's fleet rather than face the Vanguard's retribution, thereby bringing an end to the age of Factions.
With the Vanguard's alliance with the House of Light reaffirmed and after honoring their dead, the Vanguard was left to assumed control over what remained of the Consensus. Further, what was left of Future War Cult disbanded, with many joining the Vanguard since they objected to Lakshmi's views and decisions.
However, hearing rumors of Osiris' involvement in Lakshmi's coup, the Vanguard's suspicion in the formally exiled Warlock increased after he disappeared when the Vex threat was eliminated. Conducting investigations that proved Osiris' role in the coup, the Vanguard had the Guardian begin a search for him, leading them to the Reef. There, however, the Guardian discovered, along with Saint-14 and Crow, that the "Osiris" they had been tracking and had been working with was, in reality, Savathûn herself, having assumed his form since he lost his light to the Wrathborn. Though Savathûn would be imprisoned by Mara Sov, the revelation that, for months, the Osiris that had aided the Guardians in combating the Wrathborn, handling the Cabal, mentoring Crow and in facilitating Lakshmi's coup had been the Witch Queen all along rattled the Vanguard bitterly. Despite rightfully being wary of the infamous Hive god of lies, they agreed to the bargain Savathûn had made with Mara Sov: in exchange for removing her worm, the Witch Queen would return Osiris safely.
Following this, the Vanguard fully made an alliance with the Reefborn Awoken, allowing them to set up a command center within H.E.L.M., having the Guardians work with Mara Sov in combating Xivu Arath's Horde and in providing the Reef Queen needed for the ritual to excise Savathûn's worm. Though this campaign would take months, the Guardians succeeded in aiding Mara and the Awoken in clearing the Dreaming City and providing what Mara needed for the ritual: her Techeun Coven lost in the Ascendant Realm. After the ritual succeeded, Savathûn escaped but the Witch Queen kept her end of the bargain by safely returning Osiris, albeit weakened and comatose.
Following their missions in the Reef, the Vanguard would launch new investigations on the surprise return of Mars with the planet experiencing some form of temporal distortion. Ikora would lead this investigation but it would take a wicked turn after Savathûn made a reappearance on her ship, The Lure. Ikora sent in the Guardian to investigate the ship for any sign of the Witch Queen but while they did indeed find the Hive god, they discovered something far worse: the Witch Queen and her followers, the Lucent Brood possessed the Light, with some having their own Ghosts. Worse, their investigation would lead them to learn that after Savathûn escaped the Reef, she actually was critically wounded but managed to appear before the Traveler before she died, where it appeared the Traveler allowed a Ghost to revive Savathûn as a Lightbearer. Further, they discovered the Witch Queen's plan to "protect" the Traveler from an entity called The Witness, supposedly the being in command of the Black Fleet, by sealing it away in her Throne World. Doing so however, would leave the Last City defenseless. The Guardian would bring these truths to the Vanguard and it would shake its members to the core, with Zavala in near denial, unable to understand why the Traveler would give one of humanity's most devious foes the Light. Ikora, however, states that regardless of the Traveler's reasons, if Savathûn succeeds then humanity won't survive The Witness's return.
Resolving to stop the Witch Queen's plan, Ikora would take a calcified worm the Guardian had collected during their investigations in Savathûn's Throne World and would discover a shocking revelation: using her Worm Familiar, The Witness had lied to Savathûn during her time as her previous self, Sathona, tricking her into leading her siblings into the oceans of Fundament, which resulted in their pact with the Worms Gods and the rise of the Hive species. The Witness did this because the Traveler was poised to uplift the Krill species and sought to claim them first. Ikora shared this secret with the Guardian and tasked them to use this truth to help them in destabilizing Savathûn, thereby undoing her spell to seal away the Traveler within her Throne World. After a grueling battle against the Lightbearing Witch Queen, the Guardian succeeded in defeating Savathûn and saving the Traveler, though her Ghost, Immaru, would escape. Despite taking it as a victory, the Guardian would nonetheless state that humanity must be prepared for The Witness's return.
Such preparations would include slaying a powerful Disciple of the Witness, Rhulk, that had been imprisoned with the Witch Queen's Throne World and later making a true permanent alliance with Caiatl's Imperial Cabal. Though the Empress was initially angry with the Guardian engaging her Red Legion forces when their investigations into Savathûn began, Zavala is able to convince her to forgive the Guardian and focus on a shared foe, the Lucent Brood. The Empress agrees and together, the Cabal and Guardians battle against the Lucent Brood from stealing the Light from fallen Guardians and using it to create a portal to launch an invasion of Earth through the Scarlet Keep on the Moon. The campaign makes strides in uniting the two factions, with Lord Saladin reaching an understanding with Caiatl but the alliance would be jeopardized by Crow's naivety and recklessness. Having grown against the methods in which the Vanguard gained the intel vital to stop the Lucent Hive's invasion, using Psion's to search through the Hive lieutenants minds while they are trapped in a neither dead-or-alive state, Crow shut down the Psissorum on the H.E.L.M. but doing so in haste led to a malfunction and inadvertently killed Caiatl's Psion Envoy. Though Crow was left remorseful, he was willing to face Caiatl's judgement, who demanded he give his life for the one he had taken, as per the Cabal way. Zavala however, was unwilling to surrender Crow's life, leading Caiatl to attempt to take it herself but Saladin steps forward, offering his life in exchange. Caiatl commends the Iron Lord's bravery in the face of death and accepts, stating that his life is forfeit but serving as a Bracus on her War Council for the remainder of his days. Zavala agrees despite Crow's pleas, as Saladin's actions had preserved the Vanguard's alliance with the Cabal. Saladin's actions would also grant humanity a voice on Caiatl's council and the Iron Lord would in time prove his mettle to the Cabal, rising to the rank of Valus.
The Vanguard would later have to contend with the return of the former emperor of the Cabal, Calus, when his massive pleasure craft, The Leviathan, appears derelict near Luna. Worse, the Leviathan appeared to be transmitting a signal towards the Lunar Pyramid beneath the moon's surface, leading the Nightmare phantoms to resurge. With Eris Morn leading the investigation, the Guardians discover that Calus's true intent was to seize control over the Lunar Pyramid and become the Witness's newest Disciple. Though the Guardians managed to contain the Nightmares, sever the Leviathan's connections to the Pyramid and prevent Calus from absorbing the Lunar Pyramid's power, the former emperor had succeeded in giving himself over to the Witness, becoming it's herald of the Second Collapse.
Though the Vanguard wouldn't take an active part in dealing with Eramis's return, with Ikora's Hidden looking for the Shipstealer from the shadows and Zavala preparing for when Calus will make his move, they would make efforts in strengthening their relations with Mithrax, his House of Light and, albeit reluctantly, with the Eliksni mob boss, The Spider. The Vanguard agreed to grant the Spider a safe haven within the Eliskni Quarter as long as he helped arm the Guardians in battling Eramis and the pirates of the Old Crews as they searched for the Relics of Nezarec, pieces of a dead Disciple and gathered their treasures to improve conditions within the Eliskni Quarter. The Guardians succeeded in gathering the relics before Eramis could and with them, Mithrax was able to turn the Darkness essence within them into a benign substance that was given to Osiris, allowing the former Warlock to finally awaken who spoke of seeing some of the Witch Queen's memories, specifically a city found on Neptune.
Though Ikora had her Hidden search through Neptune to find the city Osiris spoke of, they found nothing, leading the Warlock Vanguard to think that Osiris may still be compromised due being possessed by the Witch Queen. Angered, Osiris approached Ana to see if she made any progress in repairing Rasputin but unfortunately, she hadn't. Desperate for answers that the Warmind may possess, Osiris suggests that they seek out Clovis Bray I, one of the Warmind's chief creators, but Ana vehemently objects, citing her grandfather's amoral nature but relents due to Rasputin's deteriorating condition. After saving the Bray patriarch from the Wrathborn, who have reemerged and gained partial control over the Warmind's security systems, Clovis agrees to aid in restoring Rasputin but for the selfish desire to ensure his legacy and self-preservation. The Guardians were instructed to gather Rasputin's subminds and reintegrate them into Rasputin's core, working hastily before Xivu Arath and her Wrathborn corrupt the Warsat Network and turn its arsenal against the Last City. However, after restoring enough of the Warmind, Rasputin informs the Guardians of Clovis Bray's true intentions: he intended to use Rasputin to upload himself into Seraph Station, the main hub of the network, assume control over the Warmind's arsenal and replace the Traveler as Clovis couldn't see anyone other than himself in being humanity's savior. Furious, Ana and her sister Elsie Bray, confront Clovis and cast him out, allowing the Guardians to continue in their mission without fear of Clovis's interference.
The Vanguard would later set up a meeting with the other Coalition leaders, Zavala, Mithrax and Empress Caiatl, after Mara Sov gathered evidence on what may be Xivu Arath's true end goal: the War God wants the Guardians to restore the Warmind and allow him to smite her Wrathborn forces. The resulting destruction would not only feed her worm but it would fuel a spell powerful enough to open a portal over Earth and summon her armies to overwhelm humanity, just as she had accomplished on Torobatl. As such, Mara Sov believes that to prevent Xivu Arath's plan from coming to fruition, they must not restore Rasputin. Ana Bray, however, enters the meeting and voices her objections, citing that Rasputin is more than a weapon and points out that they need him to survive the Witness's return. Mara Sov compromises by proposing that instead of a victory over Xivu Arath, they create a stalemate with her by restoring the Warmind as Ana wants but he refrain from retaliating against the Wrathborn. Zavala and the others agree to the plan, having the Guardians continue in their mission in collecting submind data.
Current Vanguard Members
- Titan Vanguard
- Zavala – Current Vanguard Commander
- Warlock Vanguard
- Ikora Rey – Current Warlock Vanguard
- Hunter Vanguards
- Vacant — Spiritually represented by Colonel
Former Vanguard Members
- Hunter Vanguards
- Tallulah Fairwind – First Hunter Vanguard, killed by an Ahamkara
- Caliban-8 – Second Hunter Vanguard, status unknown
- Aparajita-4 – Former Hunter Vanguard, status unknown
- Kauko Swiftriver – Former Hunter Vanguard, missing and declared dead
- Andal Brask – Former Hunter Vanguard, killed by Taniks, the Scarred
- Cayde-6 – Former Hunter Vanguard, killed by Uldren Sov and The Scorn Barons
- Titan Vanguards
- Saint-14 – First Vanguard Commander
- Warlock Vanguards
- Osiris – Second Vanguard Commander, exiled
- Osiris – Advisor
- Roni 55-30 – Vanguard Quartermaster
- Shaw Han – Vanguard Operative
- Shiro-4 – Vanguard Scout
- Sloane – Vanguard Scout and Deputy Commander
- Suraya Hawthorne – Clan Steward
- The Crow – Vanguard Agent
- Tango-9 – Marksman 
- Tevis – Hunter Agent
Unlike Titans and Warlocks who elect their Vanguard representatives, the Vanguard Dare is a challenge set between Hunters into deciding who will fill the position of Hunter Vanguard. The Vanguard Dare is a code of honour among Hunters and often followed through.
Due to the nature of Hunters who enjoy venturing the wild, the position of filling the Vanguard role has proven difficult for the Last City as no Hunter wants to be stuck in the Tower doing Vanguard duties. Since then the Vanguard has allowed Hunters to come to an agreement between themselves into electing an official and this can be contested as a gamble in which the loser must concede to filling the Vanguard role.
Currently, the Hunter Vanguard position is vacant as no Hunter wants to fill the role leading to many Hunters that could fill the role to flee the city for important "Assignments". They have since been spiritually represented by Colonel who occupies the space of the fallen Cayde-6 and has since been christened "Pigeon Lord" by Saint-14.
- Main article: Vanguard Transmissions for Transcript
Vanguard Transmissions are a series of audio messages accessible from Zavala's office. They were first introduced in the Season of the Hunt as messages from former Vanguard Commander Osiris to the current Vanguard Commander, Zavala.
Later a special message is transmitted everywhere by Queen Mara Sov and can be heard from Zavala's office.
- Main article: H.E.L.M.
The H.E.L.M. or Hub for Emergency Logistics and Maneuvers is a Vanguard operations ship formerly set up within a hanger of The Last City. It is staffed by Vanguard Frames and came into operation to deal with the arrival of the Imperial Cabal.
The centerpiece is a war table which offers real-time tactical information on the current conflict the Vanguard is monitoring. A terminal on the table can be used to read messages and receive incoming transmissions from Vanguard agents for briefings and reports from the field. Members of Vanguard task forces frequently meet at the war table to discuss ongoing operations.
In Season of the Haunted, the HELM left the Tower for the first time and was stationed over the Moon as Guardians dealt with the threat of the Derelict Leviathan.
- VIP 2014: The Guardian
- ERI-223: Eris Morn
- IKO-006: Ikora Rey
- CHA-319: Chalco Yong
- AUN-326: Aunor Mahal
- FEN-092: Fenchurch Everis
- RAN-187: Ransom
- TRU-135: Truce
- VIP#1315: The Drifter
- VIP#1786: Unknown, Possibly Asher Mir or Toland, the Shattered
- VIP#0704: Mara Sov
- VIP#0101: Exo Stranger
- VIP#1121: Variks, The Loyal
- VIP#3987: Mithrax, Kell of Light
- VIP#4503: Fikrul, the Fanatic
- VIP#2029: Eramis, Kell of Darkness
- VIP#5340: Kridis, Phylaks or Praksis
- VIP#5341: Kridis, Phylaks or Praksis
- VIP#5342: Kridis, Phylaks or Praksis
- 1287-FALLEN-DEV: House of Devils
- 692-FALLEN-DUS: House of Dusk
- 004-FALLEN-SIV: Kell's Scourge
- VIP#2015: Oryx, the Taken King
- HIVE-SAV: Savathûn, the Witch Queen
- HIVE-DUL: Dûl Incaru, the Eternal Return
- PARAC-NINE: Paracausal, The Nine
- INCID-LUNA: Incident on Moon
- LUNA-HEL: Moon, Hellmouth
- VESTA-DC: Vesta, Dreaming City
- RZ-724: Europa
Vanguard Strike Protocols
Vanguard Strike Protocols are names given to Strike by Commander Zavala and randomly generated by a strike name generator. The generator once famously created the word "babydog" and caused Zavala a lot of embarrassment. He went ahead with Operation Babydog as the strike protocol was already in motion and had no time to waste.
Other notable operations include Operation Piccolo and Operation Oboe, in which Zavala lost radio contact with the Operation Piccolo Fireteam and initiated a personal rescue mission called Operation Oboe.
- Operation Piccolo – Exodus Crash
- Operation Oboe – Exodus Crash rescue team led by Zavala
- Operation Intrepid – The Pyramidion
- Operation Radiolarian Cascade – The Inverted Spire
- Operation Stormcoat – Lake of Shadows
- Operation Babydog – Lake of Shadows
- Operation Forge – The Arms Dealer
- Operation Haystack – Unknown
Vanguard Support Force
- In real-world military terminology, the vanguard is the leading advance force of a military formation responsible for scouting ahead and securing ground for the main force.
List of appearances