About the command structure of this Vanguard team, you will notice that the other team members look to Tethor for direction. Tethor is the avatar of the ship Milect (Machine Intellect, my name for AI), it’s representative.

In other words, the ship itself is the leader of this Vanguard team. And this is only one of many examples of the leadership role Milects play in the Vanguard universe in general, and the Galactic Union in particular.

This arrangement is actually quite common on ships in the Vanguard universe in general, and ships of the Galactic Union and the Vanguard in particular. Since the Milects are highly advanced, hyper-intelligent and powerful intellects, and have proven themselves over the millenia of the Union’s existence to be dedicated to the safety, comfort and happiness of the biological intellects (or bionts for short) under their care, AND are better at providing that care than ANY biont government has EVER been, the bionts on most Union ships worlds and space habitats just let the Milects run things.

Yep, the Galactic Union is run primarily by machines. Highly advanced and hypersmart machines of course. Sure, there are representative councils and whatnot on various worlds (although they’re rather redundant since every GU citizen has a direct link to their local Milect by various means), but it’s the Milects that make and implement the final decisions regarding such governmental duties as foriegn policy, resource allocation, and security of its citizens, subject to direct vote by each citizen.

This is of course, not my direct idea-I’ve borrowed it from Iain Bank’s Culture novels. I liked the idea of a civilization run by highly advanced, powerful, but benevolent AI-I figure they’d do a far better job of running that civilization than any human government ever has or will.