After a number of years and many previous attempts, compiling a complete history of the Rebel Squadrons has been elusive. Accurate and regular record keeping didn't really start until early 1997. Some of the history will forever be lost to forgotten memories, lost members or even irrelevance. This article is an attempt to drift back into the mists of time to uncover as many historical points as possible.
For the purpose of clarity, Officer Ranks and Positions are identified in Rebel Squadron's current terms. How Officer Ranks and Positions were denoted in the past has varied.
The current Internet didn't really exist before 1996. For a long time, most online activity was on local BBS's, CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL. None of these talked to each other or to what little Internet there was in that time.
The original online Star Wars game-based clubs organized on CompuServe. These prolly formed soon after the first release of LucasArt's X-Wing Flight Simulator in 1993. Sometime in 1994, a group of AOL users got together to organize the Rebel Squadrons (also based on the X-Wing game) on AOL. It is likely that at least one of these founding individuals was originally part of a CompuServe club.
Due to the nature of online limitations at that time, the Rebel Squadrons started out as an AOL only club.
The First Rebel Squadrons
The first Leader of Rebel Squadrons was GEN rogueleader. Under his command, it is believed that the Rebel Squadrons experienced some success during 1994 and early 1995. LucasArt's X-Wing Flight Simulator was a popular game. However, LucasArt's TIE Fighter was also a popular game. With superior game play and graphics, the TIE Fighter game called many to the Dark Side. Former members of the Rebel Squadrons and their affiliates formed a new club on AOL known as Emperor's Hammer. In addition, various other clubs Star Wars-based clubs sprung up on AOL. With all of this competition and the pull of real life, it appears that activity levels and interest in the Rebel Squadrons waned. In early 1995, GEN rogueleader retired.
General RogueLeader handed command of the Rebel Squadrons over to General TIE Boy (aka Byteman58), who then became Leader of the Rebel Squadrons. The earliest Rebel Squadrons newsletter available online was uploaded to AOL by General TIE Boy in June 1995. Apparently, this is just before the Rebel Squadrons was disbanded. Membership may have peaked at around 30 members. The final membership before the disbanding was under 20.
Rebel Squadrons Reborn
Sometime in August 1995, TIE Boy organized the renewal of the Rebel Squadrons. The first meeting was held at the end of August and consisted of Admiral TIE Boy, Vice Admiral MATEO 15, two or so other former members, and one new member called Vice Admiral Super (aka matt101a1). Each member of the new council commanded one squadron, with Admiral TIE Boy serving again as Leader of the Rebel Squadrons, but not commanding a squadron himself this time. This commanding council was later referred to as the High Command, but it is unclear when this term came into use.
Recruiting went into high gear, and membership levels increased, but something was lacking. The problems that plagued the first Rebel Squadrons cropped up again. There was a general lack of interest in club activities.
Vice Admiral Super was commanding Gold Squadron. As soon as he recruited a few new members into his squadron (likely by the end of September 1995), he introduced the Interactive Tour of Duty (ITOD). ITOD is a way of playing the original X-Wing game within an ongoing, changing plot. The squadron leader produces a weekly custom mission based on a general story. Each member then plays the mission and reports back on how well they did on their first attempt. The results of the mission are judged successful or not by the average results of those who provide their reports. Each successive mission in the ITOD is then based on the results of the previous missions. In this way, members feel as though they are really taking part in the story. It should be noted that an ITOD is not easy to manage. Any leader who runs an ITOD smoothly should be commended for their dedication, skill and imagination.
ITOD became a very effective recruiting tool for Vice Admiral Super. New members joined and soon filled the ranks of Gold Squadron. There were even examples of members from other squadrons requesting transfers into Gold Squadron.
Change of Hands, Again, Again
Admiral TIE Boy retired from the Rebel Squadrons in November 1995, handing off the position of Leader of the Rebel Squadrons to ADM MATEO 15. Under Admiral MATEO 15, Vice Admiral Super organized the formation of an Internet based group. The vice admiral Super's proposal to turn this group into a wing was met with enthusiasm by Admiral MATEO 15. In December 1995, two new wings (one based on the Internet) were formally created, each commanded by members promoted from the ranks of Gold Squadron.
However, without a clear fleet structure, and the fading attention of Admiral MATEO 15, the Rebel Squadrons fell into disarray. As an example, the two new wings had been created without any additional attention given to the original squadrons. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the club at that time. Vice Admiral Super produced the "Renegade" (Renegade Newsletter to upgrade club activity) in mid-February 1996 (March 1996 edition, later uploaded to AOL club files area) to encourage club-wide activity and shock the leadership into action.
Increasingly, various members throughout the Rebel Squadrons were calling upon Vice Admiral Super to take the reigns of the club. There were more senior members still around, but they did not have nearly the activity levels that Super was fostering. So, he encouraged an open discussion on the matter. A member-level club-wide referendum vote was proposed as to whether or not Vice Admiral Super should act to lead the Rebel Squadrons. Vice Admiral Super avoided stating his opinions on the matter during the discussion and vote. The results of the vote to have Vice Admiral Super take control of the club were overwhelmingly in the affirmative. Super is the only leader of the Rebel Squadrons to be appointed by club-wide referendum. In March 1996, Vice Admiral Super notified Admiral MATEO 15 of the decision, which Admiral MATEO 15 graciously accepted. MATEO 15 then retired.
The club had between 30 and 40 members at this time.
In March 1996, Vice Admiral Super formed the post of Fleet Commander as the leader of the Rebel Squadrons. This position was not associated with officer rank. Assuming that position, Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Super set out to organize the Rebel Squadrons. Here's a sample of the first month's actions in March 1996.
The First Fleets and Groups, A Very Brief Beginnings History
- Established the Squadron/Wing/Fleet structure. Squadrons, Wings and Fleets would live, grow or fade, based on member activity levels. No set squadrons would exist simply for the sake of filling a spot on the roster.
- Established the first version of the formal list of officer ranks and abbreviations. This was originally based on the X-Wing game, and was short compared to the modern list in which he later developed.
- Formalized the evolving role of the High Command, and the responsibilities of Fleet leaders and their XOs.
- Formalized the responsibility of Squadron leaders.
- Opening the forum of the ITOD concept to all squadrons, as each Squadron leader saw fit.
- Formed the new core fleets of the Rebel Squadrons, including reorganizing command positions with active leaders.
- Established expanded activities for members, such as posting messages in the club forums, custom mission creation, submissions to the Newsletter, etc.
The first Fleets formed were the Justice Fleet, Internet Fleet (later known as Liberation Fleet), and Redemption Fleet.
Justice Fleet's activities were centered on the X-Wing game. It was formed from the original squadrons. The first Fleet leader was Rear Admiral Noble (then known as Yoda4309) who took the lead April 1996, as noted in Rebel Squadrons Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 3. Rear Admiral Noble turned the Fleet into a highly motivated group that was growing and expanding. Due to his success, he was later given command of Internet Fleet. Admiral Cuptoman then became Fleet leader. The infamous Grey Squadron was born within the Justice Fleet around this time. The squadrons from this Fleet eventually were combined into the Patriot Battle Fleet, with all other X-Wing based squadrons.
Internet Fleet activities were also centered on the X-Wing game. However, its members would come from non-AOL places. Admiral Mykra was the first Fleet leader. After Mykra retired, Admiral Noble took command. It was then renamed to Liberation Fleet. This fleet was later disbanded and its remaining squadrons were added to the Justice Fleet.
Redemption Fleet was designed to be the ideal fleet for a Fleet Commander to run personally. It would give the Fleet Commander the ability to form and nurture new groups into new fleets as needed. From the Redemption Fleet, many successful and many unsuccessful groups would be started over the years. This Fleet allowed the Rebel Squadrons to branch out to other games and concepts carefully and with intent. Fleet Commander Admiral Super was the first Fleet leader. This is the oldest remaining Fleet within the Rebel Squadrons.
Other groups which were started at this time within the Redemption Fleet were:
- Jedi Knights, a simming group, originally commanded by Noble. Later by JdiLynx.
- Corporate Squadron for technical Research and Development, such as software hacks. This group was originally led by byrne-b.
- Squadron for Macintosh X-Wing users. This was originally known as Mac Squadron. It later became the Stealth Wing and then Crusader Fleet. As a squadron, it was originally commanded by BobaFett1a. Later, it was commanded by WegAntiles. As with the Justice Fleet, the squadrons from this Fleet eventually were combined into the Patriot Battle Fleet.
- Storm Squadron was for the TIE Fighter gamers. It was later Storm Wing and then Retribution Fleet. It was originally commanded by DialaThos.
- The most unsuccessful group from this period was probably Rogue Squadron. It was intended to be an elite group of members who could prove their game piloting skills. For some reason, this concept was difficult to maintain at that time.
Also, at this time, there was a dedicated effort to form a Fleet geared for just ITOD. It was known as Pisica Fleet. However, with the open use of the ITOD, this proved to be unnecessary. Thus, it was disbanded quickly.
A common problem for Fleet Commander Admiral Super was maintaining a leadership staff. Frequent reorganizations of fleets and shuffled commands based on dedication, participation, success and general activity was a must. As time went on, and groups matured, this was less frequent.
Offers to combine (merge) with other clubs were frequent. Some of these might have been a squadron wanting to join a larger group. Most offers were declined because of early difficulties. There was some malicious activity going on during 1996 that most members of the RS never saw. One early member of the High Command was a leader of an independent club that the Rebel Squadrons absorbed. The group was great, but the Admiral had the desire to do real life harm (in the form of cyber attacks) to other clubs over the Internet. After being frustrated with Admiral Super's lack of willingness to go a long with this, he left the club. He will remain nameless, but he was the source of troubles later. Knowing his tactics, Admiral Super realized the club roster needed protection, so he declared it secret, and that it should never be published without security measures. This action protected the Rebel Squadrons from the kinds of attacks that were eventually made against Emperor's Hammer. That situation was eventually resolved.
Grand Admiral Ronin, Emperor's Hammer leader, approached Fleet Commander Admiral Super with the idea of a competition between the Emperor's Hammer and the Rebel Squadrons. In July 1996, Admiral Super created the Encyclopædia Terrestricana. This document combined Emperor's Hammer documents with Rebel Squadrons documents to form a club-neutral database of planets. In addition, a third party document of all known Star Wars universe worlds (as of 1995) rounded out the Encyclopædia Terrestricana.
This document later served as the starting point for the competition with Emperor's Hammer. It also served as the foundation of the first fictional Rebel Squadrons planets.
Republic Shield and the Super Disappearance
Club membership reached around 120 members near the end of 1996. With the growing ranks in mind, Admiral Super tried to increase the scope of the Rebel Squadrons to something beyond what it was. This was known as the "Republic Shield". Basically, he tried to form an umbrella organization to encourage mergers with other clubs within a structure that would not disrupt its member groups. The idea did not succeed for various reasons. Mainly, Admiral Super was in the middle of forming it when he disappeared at the end of November 1996.
His disappearance is still a mystery to this day. It was preceded by an e-mail to the Rebel Squadrons XO, leaving him in charge as Acting Fleet Commander because of an event in Fleet Commander Admiral Super’s life that was going to deny him computer access for a few months. Fleet Admiral Cuptoman never received that email. Instead, Fleet Admiral Cuptoman left the Rebel Squadrons to join the Emperor's Hammer in the ultimate act of betrayal. For this reason, members still use the term "cuptoman" as an insult down to this day. Okay, not really... LOL. He actually left the Rebel Squadrons because he felt that Admiral Super’s disappearance signalled the club’s demise. How wrong he was.