The mirror universe is a parallel universe where the patterns of events move in similar manners to that of the regular universe, but the intentions and characterizations are different, often showing "evil" characteristics in place of "good" and visa versa. The mirror universe shares a similar history to that of the "regular universe" and many of the same people exist in this reality, but they and the galaxy they live in are skewed versions of their "normal" counterparts.
It is not clear if the mirror universe diverged from the regular universe at some point or always existed in tandem, mirroring events and peoples. If the two universes did diverge it was at a point many hundreds of years ago. Phlox noted that the "great works" of literature in both universes were roughly the same except that the regular universe characters were "weak and compassionate," with the exception of Shakespeare. (ENT episode: "In a Mirror, Darkly")
In 2063 first contact between Vulcans and Humans took place much as it did in the regular universe. However once the Vulcans landed, instead of welcoming them with open arms, Zefram Cochrane shot the first Vulcan to step onto "Terran" soil and the "Terrans" proceeded to raid the Vulcan ship. The gun used by Zefram Cochrane later would come into the possession of Jonathan Archer, who wondered what would have happened had Cochrane not "turned the tables on [the Vulcans'] invasion force." With advanced Vulcan technology now at their disposal, the Terrans were able to expand the Terran Empire and conquer other worlds, including Vulcan. (ENT episode: "In a Mirror, Darkly")
In 2155, the ISS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Maximilian Forrest was the flagship of the Terran Empire's Starfleet. In January of that year, Commander Jonathan Archer mutinied against Forrest in order to take the ship into Tholian space to capture the regular universe starship USS Defiant which the Tholians had obtained. While the mutiny was ultimately unsuccessful, Captain Forrest had no choice but to continue the mission, since the ship's helm had been locked on auto-pilot. The Enterprise was later destroyed by Tholian ships, but not before Archer was able to take control of the Defiant. Archer tried to use the Defiant in a grab for power, intending to replace the Emperor, but was betrayed and killed by Hoshi Sato, who declared herself Empress. (ENT episode: "In a Mirror, Darkly"; ENT novel: Age of the Empress)
In possession of the USS Defiant the mirror universe was aware of the regular universe, and in the regular universe Section 31 had some knowledge of the mirror universe. (ENT episode: "In a Mirror, Darkly"; ENT novel: The Good That Men Do)
However it was not until 2267 that any official contact between the universes is recorded. By this time the Terran Empire was the dominant power in the Alpha Quadrant. In a transporter accident caused by interference from an ion storm a landing party from the USS Enterprise switched places with an identical party from the ISS Enterprise in the mirror universe. The four Starfleet officers; Captain James T. Kirk, Lieutenant Uhura, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott and Doctor Leonard McCoy found the terran vessel to be brutal regime, almost dictatorial in its command structure. Advancement through assassination was commonplace.
During the encounter, Captain James T. Kirk convinced the counterpart of his first officer, Spock, that the Empire could not sustain itself. Indeed, Spock predicted that in its current form, the Empire had just over two centuries before total collapse. (TOS episode: "Mirror, Mirror"; TOS novel: The Sorrows of Empire)
Shortly thereafter, Spock rose to become leader of the Terran Empire, proposing a series of reforms designed to make the Empire more secure and less dictatorial in nature. These included a significant disarmament program. Unfortunately, once these reforms were complete, the Empire was unable to defend itself against the equally aggressive and powerful forces surrounding it. The Klingon-Cardassian Alliance overran the Empire, conquering Earth and leaving Terrans and Vulcans enslaved. (DS9 episode: "Crossover")
During this time, the forces of the mirror universe began implementing safeguards to prevent another crossover event with the regular universe. Transporter design was altered to prevent interdimensional travel, requiring the creation of devices specifically for that purpose, including the multidimensional transporter. In the event of another crossover, those involved would be killed to prevent further interference. (DS9 episodes: "Crossover", "Through the Looking Glass")
In 2293, after being snared in the Janus Prime Vortex, Captain Hikaru Sulu and the crew of the USS Excelsior found themselves in the mirror universe, transposed into the bodies of their duplicates, aboard the ISS Excelsior. In order to return to their own universe, Sulu's crew were forced to use the Imperial starship and its fighters to escape from the Terran Empire, and enlist the aid of the Klingon Alliance and the Romulan Republic in fighting the Tholian Empire to gain access to the Janus Ultima Vortex. (TOS video game: Shattered Universe)
By the early 24th century the Terrans had been reduced to a slave race and a handful of rebels on the run from the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, which was intent on destroying the entire Terran race. One such ships used by the Terran Rebellion was Stargazer, captained by Gilaad Ben Zoma. (STA novel: Three)
By 2370, the second major contact with the regular universe took place. A runabout from station Deep Space 9 entered the mirror universe following an incident in the Bajoran wormhole. Kira Nerys and Julian Bashir were captured by forces from Terok Nor, and interrogated by the commander, Intendant Kira Nerys. Bashir was sent to work in the ore processing plant, where he befriended Miles O'Brien. After instigating a series of incidents aboard the station, including the death of Odo during a slave uprising, Kira and Bashir convinced privateer Benjamin Sisko to rebel against the Alliance and help them to escape back to the regular universe. (DS9 episode: "Crossover")
A year later, Smiley crossed over to the regular universe and impersonated his counterpart long enough to capture Benjamin Sisko. He took Sisko back to the mirror universe, where he convinced him to impersonate his mirror self who had been killed in a skirmish with Alliance ships. The rebels needed the other Sisko to win over Jennifer Sisko, Sisko's wife, who was working as a scientist for the Alliance. Jennifer had been developing a transpectral sensor array which would have allowed the Alliance to locate rebel hideouts in the Badlands. Fortunately for the rebels Ben was able to convince Jennifer to defect to the rebels. (DS9 episode: "Through the Looking Glass")
In the Badlands, Chakotay, a former slave, commanded a ship in the rebellion attempting to evade pursuit. There he encountered a strange ship which had been catapulted seventy thousand light-years across the galaxy. (VOY novel: The Mirror-Scaled Serpent)
While in the Federation's universe, Smiley downloaded information from Deep Space 9's computers, including the plans for the USS Defiant. In 2372, the rebels constructed their own version of the Defiant, but had trouble getting it to function properly. Jennifer lured Ben Sisko back into the mirror universe to help. By this time the rebellion had grown in strength, culminating in the capture of Terok Nor, which became a rebel base of operations. (DS9 episode: "Shattered Mirror")
In 2374, Intendant Kira sent a thief, Bareil Antos to the regular universe to steal one of the Bajoran Orbs, believing it would permit Kira to unite Bajor under her rule. The attempt failed, and Bareil returned to the mirror universe without the orb. (DS9 episode: "Resurrection")
In 2375, Grand Nagus Zek, the leader of the Ferengi Alliance in the regular universe, used the multidimensional transporter to travel to the mirror universe, hoping to open up business opportunities, however he was captured and held hostage by the Alliance. Intendant Kira made arrangements with Worf, the Regent of the Alliance, to obtain a Klingon cloaking device from the regular universe in exchange for Zek's return.
She sent Ezri Tigan, a Trill mercenary and Kira's lover, to give Quark the ransom demand. Quark and his brother Rom stole the cloaking device from Klingon General Martok's ship and delivered it to Ezri, but decided at the last minute that they couldn't trust her to keep her side of the deal, and accompanied her to the mirror universe. There all three were captured by the Terran rebels, who planned to keep the cloaking device. Ezri's companion Brunt freed them, delivering them to Regent Worf. Aboard Worf's flagship, Quark and Rom were imprisoned along with Zek upon discovering Kira's plan, only to be later rescued by Ezri as revenge against Kira for killing Brunt. Ezri ended up joining the rebel cause. The regular universe Ferengis were allowed to return to the primary universe for having aided the rebels' defeat of Worf, a major victory for the rebellion. (DS9 episode: "The Emperor's New Cloak"; DS9 novel: Saturn's Children)
In late 2376, Intendant Kira managed to use a form of mind control to manipulate the regular universe Jem'Hadar Taran'atar into doing her bidding. She had him attack Kira Nerys before fleeing Deep Space Nine and eventually beamed him into the mirror universe, shortly after she was killed by Iliana Ghemor. (DS9 novel: Warpath)
The mirror universe was first established in the episode "Mirror, Mirror;" following this there were no further canon visits until the Deep Space Nine episode "Crossover." DS9 continued to explore the mirror universe in several episodes and some year later the series Enterprise also explored the mirror universe in "In a Mirror, Darkly". Between these various canon productions the mirror universe was the basis of many novels and comics; however as each TV series made its own mark on the continuity of the mirror universe the histories and futures established for the universe in non-canon works began to contradict canon. Most recently several mirror universe novels have been published in the DS9 Relaunch series and the Star Trek: Mirror Universe series which integrate new non-canon stories into the complete canon mirror universe.
The "mirror universe" is the informal name for a parallel universe, so named because many people and places are "opposites" of their counterparts in "our" universe, with "evil" replacing good and vice versa.
During the 22nd century, the capture of USS Defiant, a Starfleet vessel from a hundred years in the future, helped to solidify the Terran Empire's grip on power and dominance over the quadrant. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")
The chance interaction between Starfleet officers from the primary universe during the 23rd century, with their counterparts from the mirror, who eventually led to the downfall of the Terran Empire and the rise of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"; DS9: "Crossover")
Spock became the Empire's Commander-in-Chief, but was overthrown shortly thereafter by the Imperial Starfleet. David Marcus led an underground resistance dedicated to carrying on Spock's vision of reform, but made a tragic miscalculation. (A Debt of Honor) At some point the Empire located an Iconian Gateway and attempted to take control of it. (The Gift)
The Terran rebellion leads to the Empire's resurrection by 2379, when the Empire is at war with the Imperium (located in the Delta Quadrant) ruled by the mirror counterpart of Kes. (Star Trek: Arcadia)
In 2381, the USS Intrepid (NCC-74600) was sent to the mirror universe where they encountered the mirror Dominion at Terok Nor. The Dominion went to war but the Intrepid left before it could be destroyed in battle. (Star Trek: Distant Horizon)
The USS Dragon was accidentally transported by an anomaly to the mirror universe, arriving in the 20th century, two months after the start of the Eugenics Wars and before Earth possesses advanced space travel.
The ISS Sentinel appears and attacks the Dragon. The Sentinel's original mission was to test an experimental device that allowed them to easily cross dimensional barriers, but the mirror Chris Harriman's desire to test his abilities leads to the Sentinel's destruction.
A second Terran Empire evolved from the Terran rebellion after the destruction of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. 300 years later, the emperor of the Terran Empire plans to invade our universe. They eventually lead an assault on our universe.
After repelling the invasion the forces from our universe plan a counter-attack by taking the war into the mirror universe. ("Alternate Invasion, Part 2")
The Terran rebellion leads to the Empire's resurrection after 2375, in the form of the Imperial Union of Planets, which reclaims most territory of the original Terran Empire by 2385. (Star Trek: New Empire)
In 2371, at the same time Smiley O'Brien visited Deep Space 9 and stole schematics for the Defiant, he acquired schematics of the Phoenix-X and put one into construction as well. (DS9: "Through the Looking Glass", Star Trek: Phoenix-X: "Mirrorlyness!")
In 2375, the Phoenix-X in the original universe accidentally used an iso-star to bring the Phoenix-X of the mirror universe to our own. Upon the encounter the crew of the mirror version changed their ship's name to Phoenix-V. The Doctor on the mirror Phoenix-X transferred the Gotens mirror symbiont into a Trill substitute named James. It wasn't long until tensions arose and the Phoenix-X destroyed its mirror ship. James escaped safely on a shuttle. ("Pure Evil")
In 2377, James Gotens found a girlfriend in the mirror universe named Lex Seifer, whom he convinced to trade her symbiont with Night Gotens on a trip back to the primary universe. They were then turned into Lex Gotens and Night Seifer. Night Seifer chased Lex and James back into the mirror universe. While there, they encountered a mirror species of the Jem'Hadar called the Nega'Jem. A group of Nega'Jem ships returned to the primary universe when Seifer returned empty-handed. ("Secret Shuttles, Part II")
In 2382, James and Lex returned to the primary universe in the Raptor to bring the Phoenix-X into the mirror universe where the Seifer symbiont would come to life on its own. Since the symbiont was evil, it took James' command and planned to join the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. The Phoenix-X crew thwarted the plan and the ship returned to the primary universe. James and Lex along with the mirror Raptor were apprehended by Smiley on the mirror Defiant. ("Mirrorlyness!")
The next year, the crew of the previously destroyed Phoenix-V were brought back to life by an omnipotent being, named Rein. He simply plucked the crew out of corporeal existence mere seconds before the destruction of the ship and then re-materialized them eight years later aboard his own ship, the Socom. The mere action itself was to promote him to full omnipotent status - a power to which he used later to transport the crew back into the Mirror Universe. Before transport, the crew had hijacked and killed the crew of the USS Fusion. When they re-emerged in their own universe, they renamed the ship ISS Phoenix-X for the Klingons had conspired to bring such a named vessel back to the Alliance from the very beginning. ("Broken Pieces")
In 2387 a war began between the Terrans and the Alliance of Independent Governments. It lasted until 2389 when the Terran Empire was finally re-established. The remnants of the old Terran Starfleet were recalled into service, including the ISS Enterprise, USS Defiant and the ISS Excelsior. Also using stolen plans from the primary universe, the Empire was able to replicate a Sovereign-class vessel, the ISS Pioneer. (Star Trek: Pioneer (PNR))
In 2293, Captain Hikaru Sulu and the crew of the USS Excelsior were transported aboard the ISS Excelsior, where they were pursued by Commander Pavel Chekov on the ISS Enterprise-A throughout the Alpha Quadrant as the Excelsior crew attempted to return home.
Sometime after 2293, mirror Chekov assisted in the uprising of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. When doing so, he came into contact with the non-corporeal Pah'Wraiths, who gave him some of their power. Now immortal, Chekov helped the Alliance grow from the sidelines, never seen nor heard.
In 2382, the Terran rebellion had finally pushed the Alliance back and began the first phase of a new Terran Empire. The Pah'Wraiths, manifesting as a supernatural ion storm, passed along the border between both territories and gave random ships their power.
An Aeon Ryku stole a Lokirrim ship and named it the ISS Descent. He was sent on a mission to protect the upcoming Empress aboard the ISS Bozeman and ISS Hathaway which were attacked by a Cardassian ship infused with Pah'Wraith energy, commanded by Chekov. Upon defeating the ship, Aeon met with the Pah'Wraiths and the Descent and was given some of their power as well. (Star Trek: Shattered Universe)
In 2370, Scott Freeman joined the Terran rebellion. ("The Mirror Cracked")
The Terran Empire formed an alliance with the Romulans in 2250 after an exhausting, decades-consuming war. The alliance was dissolved in 2418, when Praetor Turan tr'Kaleh declared independence. He tried to gain strategic advantage over the Terrans by using newly invented technology to open the Bajoran wormhole (considered mythological until then), but spurred a Borg invasion. For a brief time, all enemies, Terrans, Romulans and Klingon rebels, worked together in order to save the four quadrants from the Borg. Once they were repelled, much of the territory fell into anarchy.
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