Knights of the Old Republic: Vanguard of the Republic is a fan fiction novella written by user Jedi Master 76. Vanguard of the Republic was the first of several novellas written for the Days of Dissidence Series, and it is the earliest chronologically. The story was conceptualized during the writing of Convict's Dawn, and it was written during the fall of 2009. The story was updated during 2012, receiving a minor rewrite.
Vanguard of the Republic is the accompanying novella of Convict's Dawn; as such, it provides backstory and coverage for events either alluded to or missed during the novel itself. The story is primarily told in the first-person through the eyes of Republic soldier Jhosua Weros. Fighting on Sluis Van, Jhosua is forced to undertake several missions in an effort to defeat the Sith forces intent on capturing the world. The novel occasionally shifts to a traditional third-person format to introduce Colonel Ducian Eto, the Republic officer in charge of the defense of Sluis Van, and Verita Ladola, one of the Jedi Knights under his command, detailing their actions in the fight against the Sith.
In order of appearance and/or mentioning.
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About a year before the events of Knights of the Old Republic, the Republic Army has positioned itself on Sluis Van to try and keep the Sith—serving under both Darths Revan and Malak—from conquering the distant world. The story focuses on Private First Jhosua Weros of Fourth Platoon, Besh Company, 39th Battalion. He and the other members of Coruscant Squad are initially pinned down in an abandoned corporate building located in a major city. With most of the defenders dead, their commanding officer Major Obeno Mallory and his NCO Staff Sergeant Nakin Horan decide that the only way to keep their objective secure is to find Corellia Squad of Cresh Company and bring them back so that they could hold the position.
Horan leads a fire team to find them. Jhosua proves a rather incompetent and timid soldier, much to the dismay of his superiors. After a brief firefight in which the outnumbered Republic unit is soundly defeated, Sergeant Horan blames Jhosua's foolishness and skittish nature for the deaths of two other soldiers. After a brief scuffle with the NCO, the survivors carry on and find what is left of Corellia Squad. The two soldiers they meet confirm two of Major Mallory's fears: the Sith are blocking communications in and out of the city, and Cresh Company has been reduced to a fraction of its initial size. Jhosua thinks that trying to rescue any locals and hold the city with their paltry numbers is impossible. The two soldiers lead Jhosua and the others to Major Regen and his team.
Major Regen introduces himself and explains that they are trying to rescue Sluissi VIPs that the Sith have captured and plan to sell into slavery. Even with Sergeant Horan's few reinforcements, Major Regen believes they do not have enough soldiers to defeat the Sith patrol guarding the building the Sluissi are in, and he confides with his adjutant that he will use Sergeant Horan's fire team to weaken the enemy before moving in his own soldiers. Jhosua overhears and understands him, but he says nothing. Sergeant Horan intends to send Jhosua and another rifleman into the breach, but Major Regen suggests that Jhosua go with his soldier, Marina, and the Mon Calamari sniper, Jacque, around the back of the building to deal with soldiers there. Jhosua falls in line and helps Marina get inside; she does most of the fighting. After a bit of convincing, Jhosua moves to free the imprisoned Sluissi only to get shot by their guard.
When Jhosua comes to, he finds himself surrounded by the beings he had intended to save. Somehow, he survived the blaster shot. The Sluissi praise him and consider him some sort of demigod for surviving what should have been a fatal hit, but the Republic soldiers brush them off. With Jhosua and the emancipated Sluissi in tow, the Republic soldiers leave the building and try to contact Major Mallory but are interrupted by a planetwide broadcast from Colonel Ducian Eto, the CO of the 39th Battalion. He explains that Besh Company, including the other members of Corellia Squad and Major Mallory, had perished after Jhosua and the others left. Sergeant Horan, now in charge of the survivors, is distraught at the news. Major Regen takes control of the situation and leads them to the outskirts of the city via the extensive sewer system underground. They are escorted back to the Republic's primary base in two Kneebhawk-class troop carriers.
While Jhosua and the others are on their way back to Outpost SV-0, Colonel Eto organizes the Republic's retreat across the planet. The Sith resoundly beat his forces in every major confrontation. The Republic Senate did not see the strategic value of the world, too remote and not a member of the Republic, and refused every request for reinforcements. While he tries to salvage the situation, his Lieutenant Rajes Thonnel interrupts him and informs him that the leader of the Sith, Darth Revan himself, wants to speak with the colonel. Such an unprecedented request shocks Colonel Eto. During their communique, Darth Revan attempts to appeal to their old friendship and their mutual experiences during the Mandalorian Wars, but the colonel rebuffs him. Seeing that Eto will not work together with him, Revan only asks that the colonel turns over Verita Ladola, a Jedi Knight serving alongside the Republic at Sluis Van. If he does, Revan promises to allow Eto's soldiers and their allies to retreat safely. Eto doesn't believe him, but he is curious as to why Revan is so interested in a seemingly unimpressive Jedi Knight.
Elsewhere in the Republic outpost, Verita attends to her duties as a combat medic. Her skills in healing are legendary, perhaps the greatest in the Jedi Order, and the High Council has sent her across the galaxy to hone her talent. However, in their eagerness to train her, they had not expected her to fall in love with Geryon Latona, Prince of Alderaan. She has kept her romantic tiff with him a secret from the Council, but she eagerly awaits to hear back from him no matter where she goes. With the other soldiers in a pre-battle meeting, Eto sends her to fetch Jhosua. Although Jhosua is initially hesitant to follow her, he does so and listens to Colonel Eto while he discusses their latest battle plan. During the course of the talk, Sergeant Horan—using a slugthrowing shotgun he had stolen from the armory—arrives at the meeting and fires into the crowd. He manages to kill Marina, injure several others, and nearly kills Jhosua before Verita arrives on the scene with her lightsaber. She destroys his weapon and incapacitates him.
After the commotion dies down, Eto calls Verita into his office and explains that she will lead a unit into battle during their attack on the Iridorian-controlled landing zone. He also warns her that Revan is searching for her, but she brushes off his concern. When she returns to the infirmary, she finds and talks with Jhosua. She learns that he harbors some resentment for the Jedi Order, mostly because his older brother, Ibrays, had abandoned his family to join the Jedi Order and fight in the Mandalorian Wars. When he died on the field, Jhosua blamed the Jedi. Seeing no way to get through to him, Verita leaves him alone with his thoughts.
The next day, Colonel Eto begins the operation to capture a landing zone from which they will organize a hasty retreat. Jhosua is packed into one of eight Kneebhawks and arrives in the forest just beyond the LZ early in the morning. His platoon advances while artillery weakens the defenders of their target. Although Jhosua and his allies make a steady advance, they are suddenly halted by an Iridorian attack that proved too much for them to handle. While the bloodthirsty and vicious Iridorian forces split up the Republic units, Jhosua finds himself lost in the midst of the forest. Stumbling around, he watches Iridorians kill many of his comrades and even sees Republic artillery bombard their own troops. He gets into a fight with G'aull, Raen's Iridorian friend, and only narrowly manages to defeat him with a shotgun he seized from a wounded Sluissi. Watching the Sluissi die, coupled with the utter carnage around him, causes him to lose hope and he begins to grieve. Republic soldiers find him and bring him to a large Republic transport just before it takes off. Jhosua overhears Eto talking; the colonel decides not to wait for Verita and nearly a hundred survivors. The transport joins with Republic starfighters in orbit and escapes Sluis Van before the Sith can organize their fleet to intercept.
Several months later, Jhosua finds himself in a bar on Fere with Toredo and Jacque. He pays his respects to the fallen at a nearby graveyard before electing to drown his thoughts in alcohol. Jacque has elected to transfer branches and join the Republic Navy. When Jhosua turns down his offer to join him, the Mon Calamari gives him his sniper rifle. Before they can reminisce further, Major Altesius calls them into action. Jhosua and Toredo leave with him while Jacque sings, and Jhosua promises himself that they will meet again.
Behind the scenes
The story told in Vanguard of the Republic was originally intended for Convict's Dawn, the first novel of the Days of Dissidence Series. However, pacing issues forced Jedi Master 76 to cut out the story entirely, devoting it to the first in his series of short stories. Had this not happened, the first novella in the series would have involved a backstory for Ralina Venli, the smuggler captain introduced in Convict's Dawn, or detailed events on Alderaan after Raen Benax, the protagonist of Convict's Dawn, fled the planet. The latter idea would eventually be adapted into Knight of Alderaan, the second novel in the series.
Sluis Van was chosen as the setting for Vanguard primarily because it had been settled at the time of the Jedi Civil War and yet had not been given a detailed canon background for the time period. The scenes set in the unnamed city and the forest battle afterward drew inspiration from various levels in the Halo series.
The idea of the protagonist as a rookie soldier is common in military fiction; in Jedi Master 76's case, he purposely made Jhosua Weros a rookie soldier in Vanguard to show his character's growth throughout the story and the series as a whole. He was originally named Caleb, after the Israelite spy in the Judeo-Christian Book of Numbers; however, he was renamed Jhosua to draw parallels to the Israelite leader, Joshua, instead.
Although all of the characters were present in the earliest drafts, not all of them were given names and some of them had much smaller roles. For example, Verita initially had no name and was a background character, and Horan's part in the story was significantly downplayed prior to the final draft. The Sluissi were a relatively recent addition, added when Jedi Master 76 realized that the soldiers had little to no interaction with the planet's natives.
Colonel Eto's fate was much different between the decision to cut the Sluis Van segments from Convict's Dawn and writing it as a novella. Ducian Eto was originally supposed to betray Verita and hand her over to Darth Revan to secure the survival of his men; however, his actions would be discovered by the Jedi Council and he would have been executed for treason by the Republic. This was changed, and he ended up surviving the battle and its aftermath, despite leaving the military.
The story was primarily influenced by the 1957 film Paths of Glory while the final battle drew from the battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Other inspirations for the story include the video games of the Halo series, Mass Effect series, the film Saving Private Ryan and the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The title refers to Darth Revan, who sees himself as the defender of the Republic even as he is destroying it, but it also refers to Jhosua Weros, especially as an allusion to his future responsibilities in defending the Republic while not serving under them as he is in Vanguard. The story's theme is centered around the concepts of duty, honor, and sacrifice.