In the episode "In the Mirror Darkly", the Terran Empire consider the Vulcans as slaves, but the Terrans only obtained one Vulcan scout ship - how would have this been enough to take over a warp-capable species with advanced technological capabilities, e.g. The Vulcans?

It would have taken them years, if not decades, to figure out how to use Vulcan technology and by then it would have been likely the Vulcans would be aware of a missing scout ship on Earth and that it was taken from them.

So how exactly did the Terrans capture in the Vulcans to be a "victim" of their empire?

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    we dont have exact time lines, but with a little work on that vulcan ship, potential allies in the form of the andorians, and some backstabbing, its seems reasonable that by the time of enterprise they could actively be at war and winning against vulcan. in the 50 ish years after the first warp flight humans only suceeded in getting up to warp 5, imagine having a warp 5-7 ish ship in fully working order at your disposal. The Vulcans are also not aggressors, so they probably would have ignored the situation till it was too late.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


There's very little direct info on the Terran Empire's birth in canon. I'd lean towards the theory that the timelines diverged long before First Contact, and that the Empire may have its roots in the Roman Empire (Terran is derived from the Latin word for Earth, Kirk given the title "Caesar," etc.). So we don't know what technological differences there were between the prime and mirror timelines by the point of First Contact.

The concept of a mirror universe in general, and especially its depiction in ST, makes very little sense, but if we suspend our disbelief a bit, a case might be made that:

  • The Terran Empire didn't immediately launch an attack on Vulcan with just the Phoenix and 1 commandeered Vulcan science vessel.
  • Because they saw First Contact as a prelude to a Vulcan invasion, they engaged in a period of rapid technological R&D, just as the U.S. did during the Cold War, when they perceived the USSR as an existential threat. Except, the Terran Empire had the additional benefit of reverse-engineering Vulcan technology.

Given these two things, it's not inconceivable that in 92 years, the Terran Empire could catch up to the Vulcans enough militarily to conquer Vulcan. After all, it took Japan only about 50 years between being an insular society utterly helpless against European military technology, to developing a modern military and actually defeating the Russian Navy and Army in the Russo-Japanese War.

Also, remember, the time it took for United Earth to catch up to the Vulcans was prolonged as the Vulcans intentionally held back technology, wanting to give humans time to advance culturally before becoming a space-traveling power.

Additionally, if the T.E. had come in contact with other space-faring races, similarly assimilating and reverse-engineering their technologies (as well as conquering militarily weaker species), before they attempted to take Vulcan, that would further increase their odds of success. Consider the "Samaritan Snare" episode with the Pakleds, except the T.E. weren't just acting as technology-stealing pirates but were actually interested in understanding and improving upon the technologies they captured. 90-some years of such a singular global agenda could produce very profound results.

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    I would add, the Vulcan scout diverted because it detected the warp signature. So it's possible the Vulcans didn't even know it even landed and was taken over. So Earth could have literally had decades to reverse engineer and build ships before the Vulcans even realized they had an enemy. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 0:48

In prime timeline, Vulcans held back technology, not allowing humans full access to their ships or devices. With the Vulcan Science Vessel the MirrorHumans could have had years to reverse engineer and learn from the Vulcan tech. By the time the Vulcans do send someone to check in human tech capability could have been closing on Vulcan tech. On top of that you have billions of humans still in the recovery phase after WW3, a massive interstellar warmachine, even with NX-01 comparable ships, would be an economic boon, with the side benefit of dealing with overcrowding. Also, we see from MirrorTrip's comments that TerranTech does not value the lives of the crew as Prime universe does. Possibly stemming from a limited understanding of the underlying physics their newfound technology.

With Vulcan tech, Cochran and whatever government he allies with could quickly consolidate global power. And whoever takes control would likely style themselves on the roman model, like the Russians (Czar), Germans(Kaiser), and other conquering nations did. With a "mostly" consolidated world government already on a war footing, and a pipeline of redeveloped alien tech MirrorTerra would set out to conquer, with a handy map of the local resources/civilizations provided by the Vulcans.

Archer would have grown up in a society that knew only conquest, either planetary or interstellar. As to whether or not his statement that the Terran Empire had existed for "centuries" by 2155 was accurate or propaganda by the government is unclear. It is totally possible that he is referring to the founding of the political movement that Cochran eventually allied with. Also, Vulcan conquest seems recent with the level of existing rebellion within the society, with T'Pol being too young to have participated in the war.

This idea of tech stealing instead of development is also highlighted with the capture of the Defiant(NCC-1764) and stealing plans for the Defiant(NX-74205). Even though the Empire got their hands on the Defiant(NCC-1764) in 2155, the technology technology they gained from it did not give them much of an overall boost over the Prime universe by the 2260's.

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