|Out of universe information|
- "I know you're not human, you're definitely not Wraith, and if you were an Ancient you wouldn't have needed our help to activate the device so...what are you?"
- —Daniel Jackson
- "Because they do not believe the ends justify the means... And look where it got them."
- —Vanir leader
Members of the Vanir are physiologically similar to the Asgard as they were descended from the same race. Like their Ida cousins, the Vanir employ cloning as a means of propagating their race. However, the Vanir have two small implants placed on their bodies, one located above the right eye and another on the left chest. It is unknown what purpose these devices serve, although it may be related to their more advanced cloning techniques.
Like the Asgard of the Ida galaxy, the Vanir suffered the negative effects of generations of cloning and re-cloning themselves and sought means by which to stabilize their genetic structure. However, where the Ida Asgard were unwilling to engage in acts that risked other lives in that endeavor, the Vanir, consumed with the desire to survive, believed that the ends justified the means. Their primary goal was survival as they did not wish to end up like their distant cousins, which would result in the loss of a hundred thousand years of history.
To this end, the Vanir began conducting experiments, similar to those conducted by Loki in the Milky Way galaxy, on humans of the Pegasus galaxy, allowing them a level of success in stabilizing their genome and preventing extreme cellular degradation.
In order to survive on their Toxic planet in the Pegasus galaxy and fight off enemies, the Vanir made use of powered exoskeletons that serve as life support as well as battle armor. (ATL: "First Contact", "The Lost Tribe")
- "My people are dying. The fact that, as you tell us, our brothers are already gone only reinforces the need. If we do not do this, our whole civilization, a hundred thousand years of history, would be wiped out forever. I cannot allow that to happen."
- —Vanir leader
The history of the Vanir began over 10,000 years ago when they split from their Asgard kin and made their way to the Pegasus galaxy. This was during the early years of the war between the Lanteans and the Wraith. This distraction allowed the self-exiled Asgard to begin their experimentation on humans in order to solve their Cloning problem without interference from either the Asgard High Council or the Lantean Council. They believed that the war between the Lanteans and Wraith would give them enough time to find a solution to the genetic problems caused by the repeated cloning of their species. However, the war took an unexpected turn when the Lanteans (who the Vanir believed would win due to their advanced technology) were forced back to Atlantis and abandoned the Pegasus Galaxy, leaving the Wraith to become the dominant species of the galaxy.
Unlike the Lanteans, who would have censured only their illicit research, the Wraith did not tolerate any species with advanced technology other than their own. To that end, they began attacking the Vanir. Caught off guard, what intergalactic starships the Vanir possessed were destroyed, and they lacked the means to construct new ones. In order to survive, they abandoned their settlements and retreated to a planet whose atmosphere was toxic so that the Wraith would not be able to find them.
Their new homeworld was somewhat tolerable to live on at first, only requiring the use of breathing apparatuses. Over the eons, the planet became more and more hostile, which required the Vanir to make use of powerful Armored exoskeletons to protect them. This continued for nearly 10,000 years until the planet became too hostile for the race to survive on by the year 2008.
Desperate, they ventured out into the galaxy for the first time in centuries and discovered a secret outpost with a powerful weapon within it. They theorized that the device could cripple the Wraith on an ongoing basis. However, a crucial component was missing.
When Dr. Meredith Rodney McKay and Dr. Daniel Jackson found a hidden lab in Atlantis, they unwittingly transmitted a subspace signal that was picked up by the Vanir who deduced that whoever sent the signal had found the means to make the weapon work. Sending three of their number to the city, they obtained the missing component and took McKay and Jackson with them to get the device up and running, something the Vanir were unable to do due to their lack of the Ancient Technology Activation gene.
While holding the two captive, one of the Vanir revealed his identity to Jackson, as well as the history of his group. He stated that that it was a matter of survival that they use the Attero device, despite the fact that it caused Stargates to overload and explode while it was in operation. The Vanir traveled only by ship and were not concerned about the loss either of the gates or of anyone who might be nearby, only caring that it would help destroy the Wraith.
When Lt. Colonel John Sheppard arrived in a Traveler ship to rescue McKay and Jackson and stop the device, three Vanir spaceships engaged the Traveler ship. Two were ultimately destroyed, while the third jumped to hyperspace with the control key for the Attero Device, making it impossible to shut down.
The Vanir had advanced technology, vastly superior to anything the Tau'ri have developed themselves, ranging from hyperspace capable starships that could pass through Atlantis' shield with ease (although it was subsequently reconfigured to prevent this), to personal energy shields and transportation devices. They also possessed energy weapons similar to Wraith stunners and appeared to have at least a rudimentary understanding of Ancient technology, as witnessed by their discovery of the location and purpose of the Attero device.
It is unknown how much if any of their present technology was based on Asgard technology developed by their Ida galaxy counterparts, as much of their original technology, such as their intergalactic starships, ware destroyed during their first war with the Wraith, which forced them to remain in the Pegasus galaxy. It's quite safe to assume they possess an heightened intellect like their cousins, so it's not surprising they have developed such advanced technology, even under the harsh conditions they live in.
One impressive piece of Vanir technology was their inpregnable Armored exoskeletons. The armor had a wide range of technological abilities imparted on its user giving them superiority in personal combat.
The weapons and shields used on Vanir ships appeared to be inferior to those of the Asgard in the Ida galaxy and the Lanteans, but they were a match for those of the Travelers. The fact that they were no more than a mere match for the Travelers indicates how inferiror their ship technology is to their Ida cousins, who could destroy whos the prior to their encounter with the Wraith, they had ships capable of intergalactic travel, suggesting they were more advanced in every aspect to the interstellar ships they now use.
Additionally, the Vanir possess a superior cloning technique and although far from solving the problem, it leaves them slightly healthier than their Ida cousins. (ATL: "First Contact", "The Lost Tribe")
Behind the scenes
Though not given a name in the two episodes they appeared in, the Vanir were originally named after the episode "The Lost Tribe" and received the name Lost Tribe. Later, in an interview with Martin Gero, GateWorld suggested the name Vanir which Martin Gero accepted as their official name. Vanir were the second group of gods in Norse mythology, less well known than the Aesir who lived in Asgard, due to the Vanir being more elemental forces and spirits than divinities.