The home civilization of the Vanguard is the Galactic Union, an interstellar alliance of over a thousand advanced starfaring civilizations. These civilizations are made up of many types of sapient beings, from humanoids of many types to non-humanoid “starfish”-type beings (including jellyfish-type, giant worm-type, crustacean and insectoid-type beings) to sapient machines at various levels of sapience (collectively called milects, short for machine intellects). The Union occupies the region galactic south of the core, stretching towards significant portions of east and west.
The milects play a vital role in Galactic Union polities; in most such polities they manage the infrastructure and make sure all citizens’ needs and many of their desires are fulfilled. The milects are so good at this that they’ve rendered politics and the resulting wrangling over resources virtually irrelevant. There is no central government as we know it, local polities on planets, habitats and colonies manage their own affairs and citizens vote in local affairs they are concerned about. Citizens of several polities can also come together to vote on matters of interstellar concern, while groups of milects tend to work together to manage interstellar crises.
Many Union polities still form elected councils as insurance against the occasional unscrupulous milect and to represent their polity to more traditional societies. The councils are otherwise largely symbolic, as each citizen can directly call the local milect for whatever they may need through various types of comm terminals, including neural implants, earbuds, and terminals worn as jewelry.
The milects running local polities and most large ships are generally hypersapient, many orders of magnitude more intelligent than the average sapient citizen*. This hypersapience enables them to perform feats like holding individual conversations with each citizen, which on larger habitats, and established planets can be several billion, even tens of billions, while managing the infrastructure of power, water, communications, waste handling and recycling, and other functions which keep a civilization running smoothly, and also doing other things like observing the surrounding space and/or managing interstellar crises in cooperation with other such milects.
Economics and Crime
A major feature of most Union polities is they no longer use money, at least not as we know it. The milects manage polities’ resources so well they have eliminated most forms of scarcity, meaning that within certain material limits, Union citizens can have any material desire fulfilled on request. This, combined with the almost anarchic freedom Union citizens have (the guiding principle almost universally followed is every citizen has the freedom to live their life however they please, and the responsibility to not impinge on the freedom of their fellow citizens to do the same), means Union polities are virtually crime-free aside from the occasional crime of passion, which even then rarely happens dues to the advanced and pervasive safety/security systems in place across most polities.
The Vanguard operates mainly at the borders of the Galactic Union, protecting it from outside invasion, exploring space around those borders and representing, protecting and advancing Union interests among outside civilizations. The Galactic Union has no “Prime Directive” as such, but carefully evaluates on a case-by-case basis whether they should intervene in the societies they encounter outside the Union, and how extensive that intervention should be. For example, during the late 20th century our time, a Vanguard team arrived at a small blue planet near the edge of the galaxy that they learned was called Earth by the inhabitants, and thoroughly but surreptitiously explored and learned everything they could about the civilization they found there over the remaining years of the 20th and first decade of the 21st century. After considerable deliberation among the crew and consultation with other milects and experienced Vanguard members across the Union, it was decided to intervene in Earth civilization to make sure that civilization survived and developed into a well-behaved and productive member of the galactic community, and potential member of the Union (Earth officially joined in the late 22nd century after nearly a century of intervention).
*Biologically based sapients can be hypersapient as well. The Eldaaron are, and other sapients can ascend to hypersapience with sufficient mental and physical augmentation and appropriate mental preparation, though sometimes it can happen accidentally under extraordinary circumstances. However, such accidental ascension, or ascension without the most careful planning and preparation is more likely to lead to an insane hypersapient, who will then be an extreme danger to any lower level sapients around it.