Vanguard is the name of the all-purpose United Nations superhero defense force in the City of Heroes MMO created during the first Rikti Invasion to stop the Rikti threat.
Although created during war, the foundation for the group actually began several years earlier with the rise of superhero organizations around the world during the 1990's, specifically with the rise of mercenary groups such as the Gold Brickers, the Malta Group, and Sky Raiders, whose motives were far from noble. While the call was there for some kind of organization, there was no agreement as to which organization would serve as the watchers of the watchmen. United Nations delegates were torn between the Freedom Corps, Hero Corps, the Dawn Patrol.
The matter was declared settled during the Rikti Invasion, as the Vanguard were created as a joint force led by Statesman and Hero 1. They organized and orchestrated all the groups together to mount a united front against the Rikti.
After the war, the United Nations Security Council authorized the Vanguard to serve as the official organization in charge of defending the planet from future threats. To that end, they are given access to the planet's defenses, as well as exclusive access to all technology seized from the Rikti.
The Vanguard operate through branch offices all around the world, including both Paragon City and the Rogue Isles. Each branch office has a local portal that can take them to the Vanguard Headquarters itself located in the Rikti War Zone, not far from where one of the motherships crashed in what used to be called White Plains.
(From the City of Heroes website.)
Vanguard is an all-volunteer force funded by the United Nations Security Council. They have been in operation since the first Rikti invasion, and have maintained a philosophy of watchfulness and preparedness, always proclaiming that the next “alien threat” is lurking a day away.
Although they have not been much in the news of late, we have observed considerable movements of troops and weaponry, and a higher-degree of battle-readiness in recent weeks than in past months. Their current command and operations center is located in the Rikti War Zone, and their primary North American agents are all stationed there.
Vanguard is overseen by its director, Lady Grey. The organization underwent a significant re-imaging once Statesman handed control over to Lady Grey. Many questioned the decision, but Statesman would not hear it, saying in a memo to the UNSC that, “the Vanguard is a necessary force in the ongoing battle against the Rikti and I cannot see a better choice for their leadership than Lady Grey.”
However, while Statesman supported her, not everyone agreed with the new structure. Vanguard was no longer a transparent organization. Today it is operated much more like a private army, despite its status as a UN organization. Vanguard has a considerable budget and very little oversight.
Furthermore, the volunteer force has some unusual faces under their helmets, to say the least. Lady Grey has some peculiar notions about standards, and seems not to believe so much in second chances as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In any event, Vanguard has welcomed former villains and wanted criminals into its ranks, and given them a measure of protection from US laws, as long as they battle Rikti forces and do not cause internal strife.
The original organizational setup for Vanguard were strike teams based on Greek lettering. The lettering did not determine the importance of the group as it was specific specializations.
The two letters that were considered "out of bounds" were Alpha and Omega, the two teams that took part in the "Alpha-Omega Gambit" that brought the first Rikti Invasion to an end. Vanguard officials have quietly acknowledged that a second Omega team dubbed "Omega 2" is currently operating in Paragon City although they are silent on why this team is allowed to operate.
- Epsilon Team - A special force led by Captain Clara Wolfe. Based in Canada, they handle emergency situations involving entities of unknown origin. Their activities were seen in "The City's Finest" #2
The current make-up of Vanguard is split into five major branches: The Helm, The Gauntlet, The Shield, The Sword, and The Herald.
The Herald is their public relations office, run by a heroine named Incandescent, their Head of Communications. They walk a fine line between keeping the civilian populace aware of potential threats, and fear-mongering with their propaganda.
This is the office responsible for the various billboards in Paragon City that continue spreading fear of aliens, as well as the source of many xenophobic rumors and myths spun about aliens. According to Incandescent, this is a calculated program designed to prevent pro-Rikti infiltration and insurrection, although it does have some negative side-effects.
Incandescent spends much of her time at the UN offices in New York and Geneva, but is the point person for official responses and sound bites. She is also the only person that is not located at the Vanguard Headquarters.
The Shield is Vanguard’s security and defensive division. It is coordinated by the joint command of Levantera and Borea, two super-powered sisters. They are also the faces of Vanguard’s recruitment drive, and the first point of contact for new volunteers.
The Gauntlet is the assault squad of Vanguard, led by Serpent Drummer. Gauntlet soldiers actively patrol and seek out Rikti forces, attempting to eradicate them wherever they are found.
The Sword is Vanguard's "black ops" or counter-intelligence agency. It is run by Gaussian.
The Helm is Vanguard’s intelligence division, run by Dark Watcher. This division of Vanguard is also responsible for the assimilation of heroes into Paragon City by creating civilian identities, although job placement itself is handled through Incandescent's office.
As a part of the United Nations, Vanguard has several locations all around the world, as well as underneath and in orbit. Each location is connected to the main Vanguard facility through a series of spatial portals.
The main headquarters to Vanguard is located in the Rikti War Zone (formerly known as White Plains). This is where one of the Rikti motherships crash-landed from the 2002 invasion.
Access to the headquarters can be provided through Vanguard branch offices in:
- Atlas Park
- Founders Falls
- Peregine Island
Operatives in te Rogue Isles can access the Vanguard Headquarters through its branch offices in:
- Cap Au Diable
- St. Martial
- New York City - United Nations building
- Washington D.C.
- Los Angeles
- Rio de Janeiro
It has been confirmed that there is at least one Vanguard satellite in orbit over Earth. Other faciliites, including a suspected Lunar Base, cannot be confirmed or denied by Vanguard.
(See Vanguard Atlantis)
As revealed in Issue #22 of the "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight" series, Vanguard also has an underseas base located somewhere on the ocean floor between Paragon City and the Rogue Isles. Known as "Vanguard Atlantis", this facility was reclaimed from the Fifth Column and re-purposed with the help of Positron and Statesman as a place to hold Rikti prisoners of war as well as the most dangerous of criminals, as well as those deemed high security risks.