My arc for Year Two of the Vault was named "Ethical Questions" and would have finished out with a story inspired by Jess Nevins. Jess remarked that the Fenris twins were sort of a dark mirror of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, which soon led me to a story wherein Fenris were that world's Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. It was basically my chance to play with the mirror universe bit, something no writer with a science-fiction bent can resist. It was going to be something so different in tone from the rest of the Vault, I wasn't sure whether everyone would love it for being bold and different or hate it. 

Issue Twenty (May 4)– “Rough Treatment" Spidey has resigned, desperately needing to get back to New York. Blue Shield and Battle Star return to the facility just in time for the gang skirmish between Fenris and the Doctor's group. Armadillo, Blue Shield, Battle Star and Firestar break up the fight. The U-Foes (minus Vapor) are brought in to custody in the Vault (Force Works #32). After the skirmish, Huang has an interview with Commandment, explaining that she used to do entry interviews with all the people who came in. He fully accepts his Commandment identity after his actions during the riot. At the same time, Hope's boyfriend finally crosses the line to physical abuse. Gordon brings in Bushwhacker (He was out collecting him when the Kree situation hit). Strucker regains his powers and busts out of Ryker's with O'Shea and several EF believers behind him. Paladin is caught trying to steal a file of evidence from the federal prosecutor's office in Washington D.C.

Issue Twenty-One (June 4) – “Loyalty” Hope comes to work badly bruised, and Huang talks to her about what happened. The Commandment makes lieutenant as a result of his growing violent streak. Gordon has to help Paladin, an old friend who has been forced to crime by an extortionist and was caught. Instead of taking him to the Vault, he clears his name. The Vault Security Team is sent out to bring in the villain, bringing them into conflict with Gordon. O'Brien visits Flannery and Bannister (Serve & Protect)? The Commission demands a report from Blue Shield and Battle Star on the goings-on at the Vault, and the two refuse.  Jzemlico goes to visit his kids. Huang leaves to go to England. (Crusaders)

Issue Twenty-Two (July 4) – “The Application of Force” Force Works stops by. Blue Shield and Battle Star track down Hope’s ex-boyfriend and bring him to justice, while the two men are being hunted down by federal authorities for refusing to agree to the Commission. Blue Shield nearly goes over the line beating up on the boyfriend. The Enclave and Dr. Hope create a cocoon for growing their bio-engineered beings. Rock yells at Gordon for the way he did his job, then demands that Dr. Hope make better progress, speeding up the Enclave's experiment beyond safe limits. Huang has a talk with Harpoon, Scrambler and Arclight. O'Brien returns from New York.

Issue Twenty-Three (August 4) – “Dark Mirror Part One: Them" Huang returns from England. Firestar is off with the Warriors. Gordon tells Blue Shield and Battle Star that they need to come back to the Vault. He then has a knockdown dragout argument with Rock over the way he's been running the Vault. The cocoon hatches beings of power like Her and Adam Strange. A group of them, vastly powerful with a childlike intellect.  Kismet arrives, having detected the beings. The Enclave, along with Tombstone and a few members of his gang, try to escape using their cobbled teleporter. The beings, acting under orders from Rock, try to stop them, but wind up transporting the consciousness of some of the people in the room (Armadillo, Huang, O'Brien, Jzemlico, Rock and Hope) into a Dark Mirror universe. It is a darker version of the universe, wherein the Avengers, Fantastic Four etc. are evil. The Vault is a holding facility for those who refuse to join in the evil.  Meanwhile, their evil personas are displaced into the bodies here.

Issue Twenty-Four (Sept 4)–  “Dark Mirror Part Two: Thunderstrike!” While our protagonists try to keep up the front of being from the mirror universe and the Enclave and Hope attempt to recreate the portals that Them made, the dark versions begin to scheme. They plan to use Them to reshape the world around their minds, creating a place of power from the Vault. They also reprogram all of the Bio-Sentinels and release a lot of the prisoners. The Thunderbolts and their Sentinels attack the Vault, surprisingly finding allies in the administration. Gordon brings Blue Shield and Battle Star back, and they are all captured by the reprogrammed Sentinels and released villains. They are put into Hope's lab and experimented on. Huang also psychologically tortures them. Dr. Spectrum III and Speed Demon escape from the Vault.

Issue Twenty-Five (Oct 4 - Powerloss) – “Dark Mirror Part Three: Terror at the Vault” Tony Stark sells out the group to the Avengers, and Rock kills him, unbeknownst to the rest, before he can give away all their secrets. An assault on the Vault takes place in the mirror universe, as the protagonists release most of the prisoners to help them defend it. In our universe, a similar assault takes place as the PowerLoss event robs the villains of their ability to keep control. Gordon, Blue Shield and Battle Star rally the unarmored Guardsmen who have been in captivity to destroy the now-dormant Bio-Sentinels and retake the place. In the end, the Vault in the mirror universe is destroyed, just as Hope and the Enclave seem on the verge of recreating the portal. In our universe, the desperate Vault "command crew" is working on overloading the reactor, which is having no effect due to the Powerloss event. The issue ends with the Vault exploding.

The Dark Mirror Universe
Here we have my rough plans for the Dark Mirror Universe...the three main power groups were the Avengers, the Eldritch Five (Fantastic Four) and the heroic Thunderbolts. I'd still like to use some of these ideas some day, as I enjoyed some of them.

The Avengers – In this universe, the Avengers were formed when Thor, barbaric Norse God, began cutting a swath of destruction through New York. The Hulk, a being created when Dr. Stephen Strange sought out magic to cure his ruined body after a car accident, whose intellect could only comprehend a threat, opposed him. Like giant monsters of the Japanese cinema, these two monsters battled each other, destroying much of New York in the process. Loki, hoping to kill his brother, fed magical power into the Hulk, but a minor magician known as Rick Jones detected this and sent a magical summons for help. Iron Man (Dr. Bruce Banner, wearing a gamma-powered battlesuit) answered him, as did Wasp and Yellowjacket (bickering couple Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne), Crimson Dynamo (Tony Stark, rescued from captors in Southeast Asia by Chinese troops), and Captain America (John Walker, sole survivor of the super-soldier project from Vietnam). 

The group decided that with this much power in one place, they should take over. The few remaining war heroes like the Invaders and All-Winners Squadron were no real threat.  The Avengers, aided by the Eldritch Four, quickly took over the entirety of North America. 

Later on, everyone but Crimson Dynamo left, leaving them with newly recruited former freedom fighters Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These were nicknamed “Dynamo's fearsome foursome.” Today, the Avengers consist of: Captain America (John Walker), Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Vision (Ultron, using the Human Torch’s body) and Loki. They control most of the world, with a few small patches of it under constant siege.

The Eldritch Five – Reed Richards dabbled in sorcery in college, against the advice of his friend Victor Von Doom. His fiancée, her brother and his roommate Ben Grimm were all there when he made contact with the nether realms. The foursome traded their souls for power. Ben Grimm became the Thing, a monstrous man-demon whose power was somehow linked to the Hulk. Johnny Storm became the Human Torch, channeling hellfire through his body. Sue Storm became the Phantom Girl, a ghostly apparition capable of telekinetic feats, invisibility and insubstantiality. Reed Richrds became Mr. Horrific, able to shape his body into hideous shapes with terrible destructive potential. The four of them were later joined by the She-Hulk, Strange’s cousin Jennifer Kale, who in trying to use her cousin in a plot for demonic power, wound up cursing herself as well.

The Thunderbolts – The rebel group that opposes the tyranny of most of the metahumans. Organized after the formation of the Avengers by Dr. Stephen Lang, he gathered together heroes to fight the oppressive powerful beings. His leader is Citizen V, and only he knows that V’s true identity is Victor Von Doom, using magic learned as a child. Fenris, raised by the villainous Baron Strucker, were originally members of his Brotherhood of Evil, but broke free of their conditioning and joined Citizen V. The final member of their foursome was originally Hawkeye (he was the one who taught Doom swordplay), but he betrayed them and joined the Avengers. Hawkeye’s former foe (and former Avenger) Crimson Dynamo overcame his communist brainwashing and returned to his original persona and joined the team. 

The team operates out of Latveria, ruled by Citizen V’s secret identity. Tony Stark, Dr. Lang and Dr. Doom have built robotic Sentinels to defend the country from assaults by the Avengers. They plan to launch an assault on the Vault soon.

There were going to be some pretty drastic changes in the cast for Year Three, subtitled "Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows." They included additions to the security team, changes in most of the supporting cast, and several new cast members. (In fact, my original plan called for Jzemlico to die, not just get seriously wounded and lost for a while, but I decided it was too bloodthirsty and a little pointless.) I was constantly going back and forth over what I was going to do with Firestar...give her up for New Warriors or give her up for the Vault. In this plan, I had decided to have her become leader of the New Warriors and leave the Vault. A lot of these ideas were sketchy, as I had only really planned out the first half of the year.

The Characters
Senator Alan Woofe - A lawyer from Colorado who moved up from the local City Council to the Senate. He has always run as a conservative, fiscally and morally. He campaigns against homosexuality and mutants, arguing that both are dangerous to the American way of life. He's not a zealot, but rather a deeply principled man who is absolutely certain he is right. He is very good at playing political games, but even better at selling his image as a good family man.

VOC Chairman Raymond Rock - Rock can't believe how well his plans have worked out. Not merely Warden, but head of the Vault Oversight Committee, and all within a year. He has acceded to Woofe's demand to put O'Brien in as Warden in order to give him trouble, he knows he's not suited for it. Now he plans to expand his domain, building Vaults across the country. He will find himself struggling with the rest of the VOC, who have different goals.

Warden Michael O’Brien – O'Brien has been removed from his role that he enjoyed to become an administrator. He hates it. He doesn't know how to handle it, either, and will step all over Blue Shield's toes and even begin thinking of him as a usurper. His relationship with Huang will suffer too, as she tries to be nice and reform the felons and O'Brien has to keep them in line. He also doesn't feel like a cop anymore, which drives him nuts. Toward the end of the arc, he will actually begin taking nights off to act as Guardsman the hero again in Denver.

Assistant Warden Helen Davis - A gorgeous bombshell, looks to be in her early twenties although she is actually early thirties. She resembles actress Vivica Fox. To most, she looks like a college girl, having studied psychology, criminal justice and business administration in college. She is friendly, but doesn't seem to have many principles, instead doing what her superiors tell her to and staying out of trouble. In fact, she is highly principled, but knows how to hide that from those above her. She has had to deal with people misjudging her throughout life, and learned that the easiest way to deal with life was to make people think she was sweet and easy-going.

Dr. Joanne Huang - Joanne has lost out on her job at the Vault once before, and has no intention of doing it again. When she perceives trouble from O'Brien, she'll be quick to get defensive, and she will throw herself more fully into the work. She is also suspicious of Davis, thinking her friendliness is a way to move in on O'Brien. She will become closer friends with Armadillo, however, helping him to adjust back to regular life, and will be very helpful for Gypsy Moth for a time.

Blue Shield (Security Chief) –Joseph Cartelli has gotten into a role that he enjoyed before, but didn't feel ready for. Now he thinks he is ready for it, but O'Brien won't let him do his job, which will cause major stress between the two. He will also be very annoyed to learn that Mystique was brought in without informing him, and be very angry at Davis. Leaving him angry with everyone in the administration, and causing him to take it up with the VOC.

Dr. Sharon Hope - Dr. Hope suffered a lot in the Mirror Universe. She managed to fake being the mirror Hope long enough to escape, but spent a lot of time on the run before the Thunderbolts found her. She was in hiding with a kind family that was slaughtered by the Avengers. Her cold exterior remains, not wanting to get close to anyone, and she blames the Vault for all of it, which will lead her to quit in the close of year three and move on to the new series The Chosen One.

Dr. Jose Revilla - A biologist and botanist, Jose is one of the assistants who has stuck with Hope from the beginning. He is a quiet person, but a very moral one. He is a very devout Catholic, and a genuinely nice person.

Gordon "Bounty" Hunter - Gordon is, in many ways, the stereotypical Texas lawman. A staunch believer in family values and mom, the flag and apple pie, he votes Republican and goes to church every Sunday. He is polite but tough, speaks with a southern drawl, and listens to country and western music. On the other hand, he is not in any way a renegade. He likes his freedom of operations, but he knows the rules and sticks by them, having little patience for those who don't. He loves a good fight, but he knows when he's outmatched. In year three, he'll become the outlet for all of O'Brien's desires to do something outside the Vault, eventually chafing at the direct authority he's trying to exert. He'll also be a good friend (and listen to all the bitch sessions) of Blue Shield.

Armadillo – Antonio Rodriguez has slowly come to live without Maria, and is directing his attention more into being a good guard. He will begin considering going back to school, encouraged by Blue Shield, who shares the details of his criminal past as well. His problems with the convicts will continue, and he will slowly get frustrated, starting to talk with Huang about managing his anger.

Battle Star – Lemar Hoskins is free from the Commission now, and is enjoying being a friend to Blue Shield again. He will have a great time seeing John Walker (Jack Daniels) again, but the friendship will suffer tension when Jack doesn't want to acknowledge his past. This will cause further tension between Shield as he tries to get Jack to acknowledge the friendship and their time with the Commission. 

USAgent - Jack Daniels will not be at all popular. First of all, O'Brien remembers how Battle Star and Blue Shield were supposed to be plants for the Commission, and thinks Jack is the same for either Woofe or the VOC. Jack also has problems with Hoskins, who reminds him of his painful stint as Captain America; Blue Shield, who couldn't make it as an Avenger while Daniels could; Armadillo, who Jack thinks of as a convict and always will; and Huang, whose soft liberal attitudes will clash with Jack's politics. In fact, the only person he'll get along with is Hope, who at least agrees with his politics and the fact that nobody at the Vault is doing the job they should be. 

Mystique - The most coldly efficient of the Vault Security Team, she'll always be testing her limits, bordering on needing to be incarcerated as well. She'll impersonate various people, getting a feel for what everyone does and learning secrets, manipulating people. She will also start gathering people from Fenris and the Syndicate to try and put together a new team. Eventually, she intends to get them out and have a criminal syndicate with herself (in a disguise) at the center.

Attuma - A barbarian warrior who has led both armies and an underwater nation, taking over the Syndicate from a has-been Golden Age villain is nothing to him. He keeps the Commandment, who is a useful lieutenant, and begins training his people to be more of a military force.

The Doctor – A nine foot tall, muscular and bald mad scientist who fought the Fiery Mask in the forties. He used a ray that turned ordinary people into zombies, had super-hypnotic powers and had bred giant buzzards that obeyed him. He was almost mortally wounded by the Mask, but survived at the hospital and has been in various prisons ever since. He was one of the first prisoners brought to the Vault, and one of the few who has never escaped. At this point, he probably couldn't even make it in the outside world. He shared a cell with the Trapster at one point, but then he's shared a cell with a lot of people. He will be one of those whom Aireo approaches. He has long been hoping to regain his stature as a master villain, and thinks this is the first step. He will lean heavily on Aireo at first, until he realizes that Tombstone knows more about the outside world.

Skybreaker – The other former member of Force of Nature, Aireo is an Inhuman with a thirst for power. He hates ordered societies, and loved the chaos of the Vault. He isn't really wild about the idea of becoming a villainous mastermind, as it would take too much work, but he loves working for others. He is constantly trying to goad of the non-mutants to form a prison gang that would oppose Fenris, and will succeed with the Doctor, only to find his role marginalized early on.

The Commandment - Danny Vincetti learned the worst parts of various people. From the Doctor, he learned to hunger for power. From Tombstone, he learned to use violence as a tool. From Aireo and the Corruptor, he learned the art of manipulation. Now he seeks physical pleasure, leading him to seduce Gypsy Moth, and he's quite happy to be lieutenant to Attuma, knowing that when the villain leaves, Commandment will be able to take over the Syndicate.

Gypsy Moth – After her rough treatment in conventional prison, Sybil Dvorak has retreated into herself. After a suicide attempt, Huang doesn't know what to do. The Commandment does, sharing just enough of his true past to bond with her. She thinks she's found a protector and a lover, when really he's just using her. The end result will probably be quite tragic.

Aqueduct – Peter van Sante still wants to get over his fear of fire, and while he stays in the Syndicate, he'll also talk with Huang often, trying to deal with his fear. Eventually, he'll make a choice not to help them, but he won't hinder them either. He'll be the only convict who somewhat understands what Armadillo is going through.

The Corruptor - Dr. James Twilley has gone completely around the bend. He now believes that total chaos is the best way for people to be mentally happy, and he also has a bit of a god complex. He is sure that he will eventually plunge the world into chaos and let his followers please him. He truly hates everything he was and everyone he knew. He didn't have time to murder his family, but he looks forward to having them visit so he can mentally torment them. He loves the tension that has resulted from Rock's takeover, and the fear and hatred he inspires in the other prisoners. He views Commandment as a pupil.

Plot Outline

Issue Twenty-Six  (Nov 4) - "Dark Mirror Part Four: Closing Chapter" Opens on the shattered ruin of the Vault, panning across the dead and dying. The last face we see belongs to Warden Jzemlico, who was “killed” in the explosion. He moans, still alive, but possibly not long enough for someone to reach him. The story then flashes back to what happened. As various heroes pushed the monsters of our universe back into the Vault, a portal opened that began bringing them in. Dimensional energies begin pouring through the Vault on both sides, striking various staff, heroes and the monsters. There is an explosion. The story then flips to the mainline Vault, where the staff is sitting around discussing what happened. Jzemlico began trying to get everyone into the portal, and was struck by energy at the last moment. The alternate Vault was the one that was blown up, and Them were transported there when it happened. Tombstone escaped during the uncertainty early on. This takes place after Powerloss has ended.

Issue Twenty-Seven (Dec 4) – "Politics as Usual" Senator Alan Woofe makes a visit to the Vault and talks to Rock, telling him that they've made a major coup. Attuma has been captured during the powerloss event by a group of Navy SEALS and they are going to secure him in the Vault. He also brings in Dreadknight. Gordon and O'Brien object, telling them that the Vault's charter states that certain villains will never be incarcerated there, but they lose the fight when Rock agrees. He tells the Senator his price for altering the charter so is setting up a new guiding force for the Vault with Rock at its head, and the Senator agrees. The Senator also sends US Agent to the Vault as a new security team member. He also asks that Firestar either give up her affiliation with the gray legality Warriors or the Vault team, leading her to quit. Both Battle Star and Blue Shield are pardoned by the Senator over Rock's objections. Blue Shield is made security chief when Senator Woofe selects O'Brien as the new Assistant Warden. Neither is happy with the change. Gypsy Moth tries to kill herself.

Issue Twenty-Eight (Jan 5) – "The Mirror has Two Faces" Dr. Hope cozies up to Blue Shield, which surprises and pleases him. Blue Shield and Commandment have a confrontation, and Shield promises that he won't need help to handle them. Attuma comes to the Vault and has a disturbing entry interview with Huang. Rock hires some of the Doctor's gang to dig up dirt on Gyrich and make his life hard. With Rock concentrating so much on his bid for Commissioner, O'Brien is left doing all kinds of administrative work, which drives him nuts. Huang talks to Gypsy Moth, who is dangerously unstable. At the end of the issue, Hope is home when her boyfriend comes in, angry about Shield and ready to take it out on her. She responds by coldly murdering him. It is revealed that she is in fact the mirror universe Dr. Hope. Dr. Revilla tips off Shield to the fact that Hope isn't quite right.

Issue Twenty-Nine (Feb 5)  – "Unpleasant Surprises" Gyrich (actually the Yellow Claw) makes short work of Rock's goons and then takes over their minds, sending them back to kill Rock. Attuma beats the Doctor so badly that he winds up in the prison infirmary and takes over the gang. Blue Shield catches Dr. Hope experimenting on one of the new prisoners and realizes who she is, and that she really is in love with him. O'Brien goes down and tries to talk shit to the Doctor's gang, severely undermining Blue Shield's authority. Gordon brings in Mystique/Cottonmouth and Bushmaster. 

Issue Thirty (Mar 5) - Senator Woofe creates the Vault Oversight Committee. Rock is made head of the VOC, with other members including General Haywerth, a former CIA operative of some kind, an advisor to the President on Mutant Affairs, and an FBI Assistant Director. This leaves O'Brien as Warden, with no Assistant Warden. Rock and the VOC appoint a new assistant warden who seems to be loyal to them. She is in fact a very solid ally of O'Brien and the others, but won't seem like such at first. Blue Shield incarcerates Dr. Hope, and has another run in with O'Brien about issues of control. Dr. Revilla is made head of the science staff.

Issue Thirty-One (Apr 5) - Moth and Commandment bond over their shared problems with molestation, and she joins the Syndicate. O'Brien hears of this through Huang, and goes down and threatens her. Which gets back to Huang, who then bawls out O'Brien. Blue Shield then comes in asking him what the hell he's doing interfering in the gang situation. Gordon goes to Russia to recover Crazy Ivan and Morningstar (Crusaders: Shadows #16)

Issue Thirty-Two (May 5) - Gordon takes Hope to Reed Richards, and along with a Guardsmen contingent, heads into the Mirror Universe to recover her. Gordon and his Guardsmen hook up with the Thunderbolts, who have been harboring Dr. Hope. They find out that Jzemlico is still alive, in the hands of the Avengers. Blue Shield and O'Brien have a boxing match to work out the tension between them.

Issue Thirty-Three (June 5) - Breakout point. Attuma takes over, and it seems like he has the help of Assistant Warden Trey. Armadillo gets the living crap kicked out of him by vengeful inmates. Huang is placed in danger, and O'Brien gets badly beaten trying to protect her. Hope, remembering the last riot and her time in the mirror universe, throws in with Attuma's group. The U-Foes break out. In the alternate universe, Gordon and the Thunderbolts clash with the Avengers to get Jzemlico back.

Issue Thirty-Four (July 5) - Attuma is basically the head of the Vault, until the assistant warden authorizes some very brutal and ruthless measures, including help from Mystique. The assistant warden reveals her true nature. After the Vault is recovered from Attuma, Gordon shows up with Hope, Jzemlico and his Guardsmen in tow.

Issue Thirty-Five (Aug 5) - Blue Shield is furious about Mystique being on the security team without him being informed. O'Brien and Huang make up. Hope quits. Jzemlico speaks to the new Commission about his time in the alternate dimension, and the President makes an appearance to personally appoint Jzemlico to the VOC.

Issue Thirty-Six (Sept 5) - The VOC plans the next phase of the centers, plus an orbital facility. Armadillo will earn his pardon and go out into the real world again.

Issue Thirty-Seven (Oct 5) - Big cliffhanger issue. Mystique begins her infiltration of the gangs. O'Brien proposes to Huang. 

From here, I knew it was time to start thinking about wrapping it up. Year Four was going to see the transformation of a protagonist (of sorts) into the major villain, and a riot to end all riots, basically destroying the Vault. The idea being that at the end, I would give all my characters a nice send-off and the Vault would be ready for whoever wanted it next...either rebuilding the existing facility or using the expansion plan I had developed at the end of Year Three to have a whole network of facilities, including a spaceborne prison that I think would have had all kinds of story possibilities.

Year Four (#38-49) – Mystique is the big villain, infiltrating as various people until she has basically brought the whole Vault to the edge of all-out war. She’ll impersonate various people throughout the year, leaders of gangs, O’Brien, Blue Shield, etc. During the year, there will be little to no indication that it’s her, and people will no doubt be wondering why some people are acting so wildly out of character. The end of the year, and the series, will see the Vault consumed by the biggest riot it has ever had. Mystique will of course be caught and sentenced to work for the government under tighter control, and the Vault will be temporarily shut down for repairs, disbanding the Vault Security Team. 

Issue Fifty – "And They All Lived..." Six months later, it is the O’Brien/Huang wedding. Jzemlico is there to tell them about the VOC, and how he has made it to Chairman, which drives Rock crazy. They are just a few months shy of repairing the Vault and completing the orbital Vault station, and he offers them their old jobs back. O’Brien has been working freelance security for a variety of clients, while Joanne has been doing the same kind of work at various asylums and prisons where villains have been temporarily housed. Both will accept the jobs, although O’Brien will go back to being security chief. The assistant warden will be made Warden. Hope will introduce the people from Chosen One that she is travelling with. US Agent and Battlestar have gone back to their superheroic careers, and finally make their peace with one another at the funeral, mentioning the possibility of working together again someday. Armadillo has gotten an offer to be the lynchpin of an "N.W.O." type organization to "oppose" the Unlimited Class Wrestling Foundation. It’s going well so far, and Blue Shield has decided to give it a try for a while, although he’s looking into starting up his superhero identity again.