My Simming Memoirs

Part 3: Hope

Battle between Heraclius and Chosroes by Piero della Francesca

Chapter 11: The Third Generation; Chapter 12: Trouble A Brewing; Chapter 13: The Civil War; Chapter 14: February; Chapter 15: Freedom; Chapter 16: April Peace Brings May Wars; Chapter 17: FFSC; Chapter 18: The Simming League; Chapter 19: LeaderFed's Downfall; Chapter 20: Scott's Story

 

Chapter 11: The Third Generation

Scott: "I love debate."

Chas: "So do I." - IM, December 14, 1996

Fruck is one of those Trek Online cultural concepts created by Chip. For as much I have become over the years something of an expert and philosopher about sim government and organization, Chip really was a genius when it came to simming culture and club community. I don't know if it was calculated or just an extension of his personality, but because of him, Trek Online developed a cultural alter ego of smite buttons, MIBs, a city named Trekonlina and so forth. I know other clubs have copied our cultural alter ego, but I really do not know of any other club which has been able to tie its sims, history, and community all together into a simulated culture outside of the sims which is just as rich and dynamic as the sims. It was luck, or fate, that brought together Chip and myself. In a time when people wanted to make club wide communities, I had the skills to invent a new organization that allowed clubs to grow beyond their traditional role as simple containers for sims, and Chip had the skills to infuse the club with a spirit and cultural energy.

Fruck was envisioned by Chip as a God forsaken place, rumored to be somewhere near North Korea, where those who were punted offline or went absent without leave ended up. It was also a place where generally bad and evil things originated from. In other words - Trek Online's mythological underworld.

The year 1997, which for economic reasons started in December of 1996, truly was the year from Fruck for the simming world because the year 1997 marks the death of the old simming order and the premature death of the lost generation. The lost generation is lost not because it did not have a purpose or did not accomplish anything. It is lost because it died before it reached maturity and has largely been forgotten as a result.

In December of 1996, AOL switched its billing policies to allow its members to spend an unlimited amount of time online. When this went into effect for a particular person depended on when they first signed up for AOL. If they signed up on the 1st day of a month, their billing period always start on the 1st of every month, so that person received unlimited usage on December 1st. Unfortunately for myself, my billing period starts sometime during the last week of the month, so for me, unlimited usage did not begin until almost 1997.

As a result of unlimited billing, the USG quickly experienced what just about every other club of the time faced - evolution at work - adopt or become extinct. Leaders began to spend a lot more time online. They talked, got to know each other, debated club policy, and put forward their own ideas. People very quickly realized that because the first and second generation never allowed for the development of a club community, everyone in the club had a vastly different impression of it. Often what a person had felt for so many years to be the true purpose of the club, the proper direction of the club, or their official position with in it, was completely wrong. The USG may have been spared this problem had Chip and myself remained the soul leaders. But the merger brought Scott into the mix, and we quickly realized we had different ideas about what the merger meant. With only 5 or 20 hours, we may not have had enough time to debate it to a point where it became a problem, but with unlimited, we were always online, and always yelling at each other.

At the same time, there were larger forces at work than just clashes of personalities. The economics of the first and second generation had kept everyone apart. It created a ridged, static and bureaucratic simming world. The nature of the economics was reinforced by the model created by STF. Before the sim club model, leaders with in the same club were constantly fighting. But STF divided people up and gave people clearly defined things to command. Yet, in 1997, the economics which had kept that system propped up for so many years vanished overnight, and chaos returned to the simming world as Trek clubs everywhere had to struggle with the same question that people struggled with in 1992 - how do we accommodate all of these people? What happened in 1997 was a clash of ideas over how to rebuild the simming system and create a new sim club model and simming style that corresponded to the new economic reality.

The speed at which the old, apparently rigid and stable system collapsed was astounding. In January of 1997, the UFP/SF would fight a civil war. In March, STS would break apart. At the same time, the FSF was rocked by massive turmoil, split apart and died, only to be reestablished by Shuni in its present form. The ASG began to experience a rapid decline as its massive bureaucracy proved extremely slow in adapting to the rapidly changing landscape of the simming world. At the same time the USG was struggling with the situation on the Independence, the USF sim USS Potemkin almost experienced a mutiny because its old CO, Captain Putty, wanted to return to command his ship. But in this case the crew supported the new CO, Captain Sierra, and threatened to mutiny and leave the club if Putty was brought back. Needless to say, Captain Sierra remained in command.

Many more clubs were simply destroyed by internal revolution or failed leadership. When it was all over, the old simming order had destroyed itself. Most of the old clubs were dead or mortally wounded, and a new generation of clubs was emerging. The third generation kicked off with an upheaval tremendously more violent than that which had created the second. The chaos of 1997 completely and forever altered the simming landscape, not just in club organization, but in simming style. Clubs had kept alive a certain simming style and traditions. With the old clubs gone, the old way of simming was gone. Even though the same language of ::: for actions and abbreviations of CO meaning Commanding Officer are used, the substance of the sims today are drastically different from what they were before 1997. Even though I have tried as best as I can to describe the simming world in the first and second generations, it truly is impossible to understand that world unless you were there because the simming world we now inhabit is almost completely different from all that came before 1997. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of 1997.

For those few clubs and leaders who were lucky enough to survive their own internal struggles, unlimited online usage eventually proved to be a boon to their clubs and simming in general. People now could afford to join as many clubs and sims as they wanted. People who knew about simming or had dabbled in it before, but decided in the end not to join a sim or had to leave a sim due to economic reasons returned. The overall simming population swelled and it became very easy to recruit and find new members.

At the same time, all of the support mechanisms of the second generation were still in place. The internet was just starting to get going, so to go online, people still had to use an online service, and most online services had forums dedicated to simming. This caused all of the simmers to cluster together in one place, making it very easy to go and find simmers to recruit.

Trek Online, and several other clubs, were able to survive the dark days in the first half of 1997 because of that demographic fact. While myself and the other leaders of the club, along with those few dedicated simmers who stuck it out with us during the Civil War and following wars with Ben, Uriden1 and the FFSC, did everything in our power and worked very hard to save the club, we simply could not have done it without the demographic change that caused a huge amount of simmers to be available at central locations on AOL for easy recruiting. This, however, should not diminish the fact that we managed to make it through 1997, for many clubs did not. Had key decisions not been made, had key leaders such as myself and others not been in place, TOL would have died in 1997 and been forgotten just like all of the rest, regardless of the tremendous increase in simming population.

But in other places, unlimited destroyed simming and did not provide people to replace it. Online services like Prodigy and CompuServe could not compete with AOL and its unlimited plans. Prodigy did go unlimited around the same time AOL had, but its service was slow, old and text based. AOL was new and had fancy graphics. CompuServe, on the other hand, did not switch to unlimited for many months, and as a result it was clobbered by AOL. The simming worlds on both of those online services were devastated, first by the effects of going unlimited, and second by the massive population loss as people moved to AOL.

In addition, many non Trek forms of simming, especially Star Wars simming, which had increasingly become bulletin board based, began to die out. Bulletin boards were ideal when people had a limited amount of time online. They could sign on whenever they wanted, download the posts, sim by replying, and conserve their precious online time. But the unlimited world favored chats - bulletin board sims were just too slow.

Overtime the mess did sort itself out and clubs and sims adapted to the new economic reality. Before 1997, the economic and cultural engine of simming created accurate, realistic recreations of Star Trek and other genres. Today, the engine is designed to accommodate the flowing masses of simmers unleashed by the change in economics. Today people can freely move from ship to ship and from club to club to find the best rank and best sim. As a result, that old first and second generation commitment to the sim - a commitment that created a tight nit community and complicated plots has disappeared since most people do not stick around in a sim long enough to develop anything complex. Sims today have become watered down and uncomplicated. Only if more people could balance the best of the old and the best of the new like Trek Online.

 

Chapter 12: Trouble A Brewing

"Forum Ally is a funny kind of guy. You see he tried to get rid of Kris (Scott), and replace him with CaptPLynch" - Uridien1, December 31, 1996, explaining his basic goals.

The problems that the USG, later TOL, would specifically experience during 1997 were two fold. First, there was the structural flaw that developed from the merger. Scott viewed himself to be a second Vice President of the club. As a result, Scott would listen to Chip, but he would not listen to me, yet most of the club members would listen to me and not Scott. This structural flaw was part indicative of the larger struggle in the simming world over how to build a new simming order (since we had rejected the old ways and were fighting over whose dream to follow) and part just a club trying to get organized.

Secondly, there was Ben, Uridien1 and the forum idea that just would not die. As you will recall, the original captain of the Independence had been suspended by AOL for a few weeks in December of 1996 for cursing in a chat room. Ben and Uridien1, who were crew members of the Independence and who liked Pat, but not Scott - the new captain - started to plot. As a result, in mid December, when Pat's AOL suspension was lifted and he returned to AOL, he received his first E-mail from someone named Forum Ally.

According to this brand new Forum Ally, I had supposedly betrayed the forum by convincing Chip to give up work on it and punish Ben for his behavior. Even worse, Scott had abandoned the forum as well, usurped Pat's position as the captain, and had sold out the Independence to Chip and myself by merging it into our club as soon as Pat was suspended. Forum Ally wanted Scott out of power, wanted Pat to return as the Captain, and wanted to revive the idea of a new simming forum.

Of course, all of this was news to me. Actually, I wasn't even aware of all of the ideological dimensions and Ben's lies till many months after the fact. No one let me in on such things, so while the USG and Trek Online was soon to find itself engaged in one war after another for many months, I had no idea why we were being attacked, and why I was personally being attacked. All I knew at the time was that I was being attacked and I had to fight back.

Just before Christmas I was simply informed by Scott that a person named Forum Ally was causing a little trouble on the Independence. Why this person was causing trouble? Scott did not tell me, but he assured me it was a minor problem and it was being taken care of.

For me personally, most of the December of 1996 was rather uneventful as far as simming was concerned. Chip was supposedly handling most of the details of the merger, and he would occasionally tell me to E-mail Scott the club guidebook and tell him how things operated. I naturally sent all of the requested info, and Scott would cheerfully thank me for it. Towards the end of the month, however, I started to realize that Scott was not passing the info along to his crew members, and was not doing what was required of him as a captain - such as sending out logs, letting Chip and myself know how the sim went, and so on.

Then, on December 22, Scott informed me that someone named Forum Ally had been going around causing problems. We were not sure who Forum Ally was, but I figured he or she was someone from the Independence or Freedom crew who was upset with the merger, and that Forum Ally was just some petty troublemaker who wanted power or to have a little fun.

There perhaps could have been hope for a golden future in the USG had Scott trusted me and worked with me on the investigation. It would have built trust and a working relationship between us which would have allowed us to tackle the questions of how to run and organize the club. Unfortunately, around the same time, Pat E-mailed Chip, Scott, and myself, telling us that he had returned and would like his ship back. I had always been told by Scott that Pat had abandoned his crew and that Scott had assumed command with the full support of his crew. Now, Pat had returned saying that was not the case and at least one crew member, disguised as Forum Ally, was going around saying he did not support Scott. So when Pat E-mailed us, I replied to the effect that I think we should give Pat his ship back. This clearly did not go over well with Scott, and if anything it sealed my fate with him. On top of that, Scott began to suspect that I was Forum Ally, because I, like Forum Ally, wanted Pat to return. But in my case, it was just simple fairness. It was Pat's ship, he should get it back. However, Chip ruled that Pat had abandoned his crew and thus would not get back command of the Independence, so I let the issue drop and Pat quietly disappeared to start up a new ship elsewhere. Forum Ally and Scott, however, continued to fight it out behind the scenes. Forum Ally would harass Scott, and Scott would became increasingly paranoid.

Immediately there after I left for a Christmas/New Years vacation. While I was away, Chip and Scott had conducted an investigation and discovered that Forum Ally was Uridien1 (remember him?). There was ample evidence to prove it, and Uridien1 confessed that he was Forum Ally, but he later withdrew his confession. Chip and Scott promptly kicked Uridien1 out of the club and that was the end of that, or so it seemed. However, when I returned and I found out what had happened, my sense of fairness kicked in (or maybe it was my sense of hypocracy). I argued that Uridien1 should have be given a trial. After all, Scott forced me to hold a trial for Ben, so now I would force Scott to hold a trial for Uriden1. This only enraged Scott, and it became quite understandable why there after he would fight me and oppose me at every turn.

On January 4, 1997, a trial was held. Forum Ally was charged with attempting to disrupt the activities of the club, insubordination, conspircy, and sending of threating E-mails. Scott acted as the prosecution and it was up to him to prove that Uridien1 was Forum Ally. Dan, one of Ben's old forum leaders, but who had never taken part in any of Ben's or Uridien1's trouble making, acted as Uridien1's defense.

At the trial, I was the judge and several club members were selected to be the jury. The trial opened smoothly enough, but about a half an hour into it, Scott was punted offline. We waited and waited. I finally ruled to suspend the trial for the night and declared that until the trial was over, Uridien1 was free to continue to sim on the Independence. When Scott returned, he claimed his computer had been infected by a virus and implied that Uridien1 had sent the virus. Never mind the fact that Scott had a Mac and Macintosh viruses are exceptionally rare. Uridien1, however, decided to not show his face at any more sims. While on his Uridien1 name, he continued to plead his innocence and victimhood, but on his Forum Ally name, he continued to harass Scott. At the time, Scott did not tell Chip or myself that the problems with Forum Ally, so as far as I was concerned the entire Forum Ally business was over.

While under constant personal attack in IMs and E-mails from Forum Ally - this was before screen names could be blocked on your buddy list - Scott pretty much shut down. He began to lash out at me and as January progressed, and it became evident to Chip that Scott was not cooperating with his orders and that the merger was not working. The Independence had not been integrated into the club and Scott was not working out as a captain. It was also clear that the strain was causing the entire club to suffer. The USG was not functioning and we were loosing members. A number of E-mails began to fly back and forth between all of the captains calling for various proposals to stabilize the situation. At first it was an exchange of ideas, but it quickly grew into a massive ideological dispute between Chip, Scott and myself. Amazingly enough, I never once thought that maybe we should fire Scott and Chip never discussed the possibility with me. We both thought we needed the Independence, its members and its simming academy, and we both thought we could reach some agreement with Scott.

Scott, paranoid about Forum Ally, was the hardliner. He did not care about club structure, club integration, or club community. He just wanted more rules and more discipline to keep people in check. Chip and myself were against this - it went against our very simming nature and the purpose of the club. As far as Chip was concerned, the problem the club experienced were a result of bad simming content. He wanted to focus on improving the quality of our sims, which was the typical first and second generation solution to problems. I wanted us to focus on organizational reforms. At the time, and during all of my career, the bottom line for me was the organizational foundation upon which the club was built. I argued as long as all of the captains followed the same set of procedures, carried out the same basic administrative tasks, made sure their sims ran on time, and as long as communication and club participation was insured, everything else - including the generation of high quality simming content - would take care of itself.

In regards to these points, I had problems with both Chip and Scott. I clearly had the larger issue with Scott because he was not carrying out anything we had asked him to do, and on top of that Scott was undertaking his own projects and giving his own orders to captains and club members without consulting Chip. At a minimum, Chip and myself wanted Scott to send out a weekly log, to send us a copy of his sim transcript, to send an attendance report, and to forward to his crew important club E-mails - but he wasn't even doing this. Matters were made even worse because Scott was running our simming academy. If people were not being trained how Chip and myself wanted them to be trained, than well, new simmers quickly became lost when they joined the Generation, Vindicator or Endeavor. This all produced a situation where club members were becoming frustrated and leaving the club because every leader they talked to would give them a different answer.

Luckily, when it came to the future of the club Chip and myself were generally on the same page, even though we did have our differences on club structure and organizational reforms. Sim Masters were the biggest point of contention between us because Chip had never simmed with a Sim Master. In the tradition he was used to, the sim kind of happened. Crew members just made things up as they went along and the captain would sometimes dictate the outcome of events or throw new problems into the mix for the crew to solve. I, on the other hand, liked the Sim Master style used in STS. Having one crew member step out of the sim for the night and play God, dictating the outcome of events, and playing the computer to give us info, made things much more exciting, interesting and challenging for me. It was boring as the captain to know what was going to happen and be able to determine the outcome of events.

As a result, a cultural split began to develop in the club between the Vindicator and Endeavor, which used Sim Masters, and the Generation, which did not. Simmers from those two different cultures in the club did not interact or attend each others sims, and I was worried it would divide the club. Since the point of making this club was to have an united sim community, this was a big deal for everyone. Fortunately, over time, the simmers themselves did begin to mingle and eventually learned both systems and could sim with ease if there was or was not a Sim Master present. But at the time in January of 1997, the divide was very real, and on top of it, the Independence added a further divide. The ideological and real power dispute that was unfolding between Chip, Scott and myself over how to unite the club was soon to explode into war... well at least we called it a war to make it sound important.

 

Chapter 13: The Civil War

"All the ships are fine, but when you put them together....poof everything goes wrong." - Chip Rollins at the Battle of Stonewall summing up all of our problems. January 19, 1997.

After a few weeks of intense debate between Chip, Scott and myself, with Josh and Fox (the captain of the USS Freedom, the old Sunday Independence sim) also occasionally becoming involved, things were not looking good for the club on the morning of January 19, 1997, a Sunday.

The United Sim Group did not exist in reality, it existed only in name and title. There was absolutely no communication between any of its leaders, nor was there any organization to speak of. In fact, we had no idea who was even in the club! Every single sim was different. The Vindicator sim was 180 degrees separate from the Generation. The Independence and Freedom sims were no where near the Vindicator or Generation sims to start with. The three separate divisions (Vindicator/Endeavor; Generation; Independence/Freedom) acted like three separate clubs. To make matters worse, the few bits of organization and rules we had created for the UFP/SF had gone out of the window since no one was following them anymore. It really was complete chaos. The only reason the Generation and Vindicator managed to sim was because Chip and myself were good captains and we pretty much recruited and trained our own crews by this point in time. In addition, any discussion of adding non Trek sims to the club had disappeared because we could not get the Trek sims to work out. We all had big dreams for the club, but we needed to have an actual club in the first place.

These issues simply were not the problems of a new club finding its way. Had this been the first or second generation, where every sim was isolated, none of this really would have mattered. But the demands were such now that people could move about the club, so we had to make sure things were coordinated. Every club in 1997 faced these same problems, and most were not able to develop an answer. And, these issues simply were not some abstract thing that only effected leaders. Because of the chaos and confusion, people were leaving the club.

To make matters worse, Chip suddenly began to find himself busy with real life, so he did not have as much time to dedicate to the club, and this could not have happened at a worse time because the club desperately needed a leader. Scott was off learning how to become an AOL host in order to gain the power to discipline people more effectively, so his line of thinking was pretty much one dimensional. Thus, by the middle of January, I felt I was the only one who was trying to do any real work to save the club, and I sensed that maybe I was the only one who had any contact with the members and realized how fed up people were becoming and how close the club was to collapsing.

I would propose idea after idea, Chip would say it was great but he would never follow up on it because he did not have the time to. Scott would just shoot it down with out proposing a counter idea of his own. No one seemed willing to budge or compromise, and there was no leadership from Chip to force the club to work together.

In the days before January 19, things started to reach a head. Chip had become so fed up that he actually proposed that we just all give up trying to make a club and have each sim join an already established club. I too had become so fed up that I was willing to disband or break up the club. Scott, luckily enough, was against breaking up the club.

On January 19, 1997, I signed on and found Chip and Scott in a private chat room named Stonewall with a few club members. (Somehow during the early months the private room Stonewall became our meeting room - who came up with the name I have no idea.) Before I arrived Scott had been busy giving Chip a pep talk to cheer him up and convince him not to disband the club. In this regard, Scott deserves much credit. For whatever reason, Scott was the one who wanted to keep the club united.

By the time I arrived, the people there had begun to talk about the future of the club, and proposed ideas on how to fix the USG. I was called into the room, and seeing the nature of the chat, I decided to propose my own idea for splitting the club up into two different divisions. The idea did not go over very well (and how we would have ever managed to run a sim group is beyond me). Scott and Dan (of Uridien1 fame) were the most vocal critics. They accused me of wanting to divide the club - which I did want to do, but not in the sense they thought. I still wanted there to be one club, just two parts, like how most clubs today have individual fleets within them. I tried to argue that my plan would make things far more organized and convenient for the club, but luckily my arguments failed to convince.

The quick return to bickering between Scott and myself caused Chip to sink back into his unhappy rut. He began to talk about taking the Generation out of the club and having it join the ASG - the sim club he came from. Then, out of the blue, Chip said, "The thing is...I'm getting tired of running a group. I'm not experienced enough to do this."

In frustration, and unable to speak properly due to it, I followed by saying, "Look me and Chip have just about had it with this club here, we can't talk about we won't be organized because we aren't already. I'll take the Vindicator and go start up my own club if I have to, this is getting way out of hand. I'm just plain tired of signing on and getting E-mails about this problem or that problem. I'm tired of this not getting anywhere. I'm tired of us just talking and talking and than we all resolve that we will do something and than in two days its back to the old ways of us all fighting. I'm tired of constant fighting. I'm tired of constant arguing over trivial problems. I'm just getting tired of all of this, I'm just about to drop it all and start over."

Scott accused me of changing the entire mood of the room when I arrived. Before I was there, the mood was a lets work this out kind of mood. I showed up with the same intention, and had been struggling for weeks to work things out, but the rifts were already there, so when I announced my plan, which did break the club up into different sections, the rifts appeared and Scott freaked. After that, I said some things that had to be said, and that did change the mood of the room. But everyone felt that way, and I had to speak the truth. Everyone knew the club had no direction and that we were just arguing over and over about the same points and never making any progress. Had I not revealed my frustrations, had we maybe worked out some kind of plan, the fractures between Chip, Scott and myself still would have been there, the fractures between the different simming styles and ships would have been there, and the next time some problem arose a few days later, we would be right back to where we started. (I see this all too often in sim clubs and in real life. People are more then happy to blissfully ignore problems until it is too late instead of just confronting them, working through them, and moving on. Debate is not bad. It is a good and healthy thing - but people see it as a bad thing because they ignore and ignore and ignore and do not debate until it is too late.)

Chip quickly echoed my sentiments by saying, "Let me put this short and sweet. Chas and I are tried of going through this, we aren't having fun, at all. We come online and get bombarded with IMs. We come online and listen to everyone complain about someone each day. We can't do this anymore." Chip than hit the nail right on the head when he said, "All the ships are fine, but when you put them together....poof everything goes wrong."

Scott called for suspending all of the sims until we agreed on a reform plan, but I successfully argued against that. From Prodigy I knew that if you stopped simming, it would be hard to get a club started back up. Scott countered by insulting my sim, which to this day still makes my blood boil when I read the transcript of the meeting. I was very proud of that crew, and I looked out for my crew and I did not take it lightly when someone insulted them. All during this time, I had been IMing Chip to figure out what to do, and Scott's comments pushed me over the edge. I decided to stop trying. A minute later Chip announced our decision.

"I'm sorry to tell you all this but we have decided to let the ships go off in their own ways. We feel that this is the best way to handle this."

With that declaration, the real battle began. For the most part, everyone had been civil, even if the debates and confrontations had were frustrating and intense. Now, the insults began to fly. Scott compared Chip's decision to sucking the brains out of an unborn baby. Dan insulted Chip as a man. Scott was starting to have a nervous breakdown and could no longer spell. I was insulted as someone who was just trying to destroy the club. Chip snapped back by defending me, and I offered to not sign online for a week to allow Chip and Scott to work things out without me.

But than things suddenly turned again. Scott sill refused to let the club as an united force die, so he staked claim to the club and said he would run it. Well, I was not going to let Scott run the club, so I vowed to stay. With both of us deciding to stay, Chip decided he would stay too, but not as the President, just as the captain of the Generation. With that, the battle began to wind down and Scott and I decided to meet in separate private room to try reach some kind of agreement over how we were going to work together and keep the club alive.

In a private room named Peace Talks we agreed that I would become the President of the club and Scott would become the Vice President. I did not want to make Scott my Vice President, but given the situation I had no choice. I figured I needed to extend an olive branch to him in order to keep the club united. I also told Scott about my club on Prodigy, Trek Online, and we agreed to merge the two clubs together, to rename the USG and make it TOL, and to use the guidebooks and organization I had come up with for Prodigy for the club on AOL as a basis to give the club some kind of foundation to hold it together. With that, we went our separate ways for the day and agreed to talk again the next morning, which was the MLK Jr day holiday. Being a holiday, we both had the day off, so we were free to talk and work on club matters. After months of fighting with Ben and Uridien1 and among ourselves, there was a glimmer of hope for the future. However my sense of impending doom was still with me.

However, my new found working relationship with Scott did not last very long. Aside from our vastly different ideas about how to run the club, our personalities were ones that always seemed to clashing. After many months and years, we figured out how to get along - but it took a tremendous amount of effort on both of our parts to understand each other.

I wanted the club to have one strong leader. I felt this was necessary to give the club some direction and to get it back on its feet. I also felt that a new guidebook which combined the best aspects of the AOL and Prodigy club - something that I wrote up very quickly in the wake of the battle - needed to be enforced by the captains. We needed some objective statement of reality and how the club was organized.

Scott, however, started to talk about wanting a republic. He did not want a strong leader in part because he did not want me to have too much power over the Independence, and in part because he believed that everyone should have a voice. I was not against a republic, but I did not think the club was strong enough for a republic at that time. A republic would only cause a number of voices to appear - and that was exactly the problem with the USG - we had too many people trying to be in charge at once.

Scott also quickly turned against the idea of using items and ideas from Prodigy, fearing that simming on Prodigy was somehow vastly different from simming on AOL. In addition, Scott constantly attempted to create a harsh discipline system for the club. I have always believed that a sim was just for fun and entertainment, but Scott wanted to write a bunch of rules and give out harsh punishments for violating them. Scott even proposed a system where people would join the club with demerits already assigned to them. With good behavior and time a person could prove their worth and have their demerits erased. This idea was just totally outrageous to me, to punish people before they did anything wrong? Who would join a club that gave them demerits for joining!?

As I had done in August, I worked quickly and with in a few days I had completed work on a new comprehensive guidebook, sent out a lot of emails to captains and club members to let them know what was going on and to try to get everyone on the same page. I also drafted a constitution that accommodated some of Scott's ideas for turning the club into a republic, and I took some discipline actions against a few trouble makers to show Scott I was willing to at least listen to his concerns about discipline. However, Scott was unwilling to compromise. He did not like my constitution and my new guidebook because it did not have everything he wanted. With that, I finally lost all of my patience.

Any real pretense of working together disappeared and the fighting went public. The civil war (as we called it) went into full force as E-mails flew back and forth across the club, and violent debates erupted at the end of each sim. By January 30th, things had grown particularly nasty and personal between Scott and myself. After a Vindicator sim that night, in full view of the public, everything came out. Scott said he did not need my dictatorship. I told Scott to shut up and let me run the club. Scott told me to leave for a month and let him fix things. I told him that I was the President, that it was my job to run the club and that he should stand down or quit the club. The next day, our arguments spilled over into E-mails that were address to many club members. I tried to once again spell out my position, my vision, and my simming experiences as justification to why I felt the way I did. Scott replied and rejected everything out of hand. He began to preach to me that my problem was that I did not put Jesus first.

Club members tried to step forward to broker a solution, even though it was becoming laughable and ridiculous. Scott clearly was not going to budge, and the fighting was causing even more people to leave the club. I did not want to see my club die, so I decided to resign. It was really the only choice I had available. I could have stayed, the fighting would have continued and the club would have died. I could have fired Scott, but if he refused to go I would have lost all credibility as a leader and if he did go, I figured he would have taken half of the club with him, which would have defeated the purpose of keeping the club united.

So, on January 31, 1997, I E-mailed a little speech to the club saying that I was resigning. Scott followed by E-mailing his inaugural address - if it can be called that - to the club. In his speech, Scott announced that he was going to make Jim B., Ben's brother, his Vice President. Amazingly enough, Ben's brother was not a trouble maker, but he was just a junior officer in the club and had done nothing to warrant being made Vice President. But that was just the beginning. Scott's speech got better. Scott called for the creation of a command board to make decisions for the club - which was a good idea - but he also enforced his discipline plan and gave everyone in the club 5 demerits. Demerits were to be removed through good service and by accumulating 'helping points.'

This speech of Scott's clearly went over very well because the people rose up and threw him out of office. With in hours of my resignation, Chip and the entire crew of the Generation, Josh and the entire crew of the Endeavor, my crew of the Vindicator, and many crew members from the Independence and Freedom were flocking to me, publicly pledging their support and saying that they did not want Scott as their President and that they would follow me to start up a new club.

When I resigned I had figured that maybe some people from the Vindicator would follow me, but I really did not have any plans or idea what to do next, and I did not expect the tremendous public outcry.

Scott, worried that he would be virtually tarred and feathered by the online mob, quickly agreed to step aside as the President, to let me return as the President, to renounce all claims to power and leave the club. I was very generous, however. I allowed Scott to stay on as a Vice Admiral, CO of the Independence and chief of the Academy. However, he was no longer going to be my Vice President. Perhaps I am too nice. I suspect anyone else would have accepted his resignation, and my life would have been far easier had Scott gone away. But I wanted to show that I was dedicated to unity, and I wanted to use this extreme example to show that I was open to debate and the harshest criticisms.

On February 1, I announced my triumphal return to the club, or what was left of it. The weeks of fighting and bickering known as the TOL Civil War had almost destroyed us. When it was all said and done, there were only 16 people left supporting 5 sims. In December we had about 40 club members. The club was demoralized. The club's organization was a mess. And to top it all off, Ben and Uridien1 were still looming out there. No one, not even I, thought that the club was going to survive, but I was determined to do everything in my power to give it a fighting chance, so I got to work.

 

Chapter 14: February

"AdmChasTOL sucks and is a dirty no good (censored) freak, he sucks and should be kicked off AOL his sim sucks too!!!!!!!!! Don't speak to him cause he is mean and will kick you out of TOL!!!!!!!!! So don't join his sim group!!!!!!!!!!!!" - Ben, in an E-mail he sent to a club member who was just 11 years old. February 20, 1997.

February was a very tense month, but luckily Ben and Uridien1 did not launch an outright attack figuring we would destroy ourselves soon enough. Had they attacked in February, it probably would have destroyed the club. However, they did continue to cause headaches. Ben took the petty route, comparing me to Hitler and circulating E-mails to damage my and TOLs reputation. Uridien1 took a more sophisticated route, continuing his campaign from his Forum Ally name to harass Scott, and attempting to deflate the bit of hope in the club by going around making statements like, despite the new name Trek Online still had all of the same old problems. Forum Ally also began to personally contact me, and tried to convince me to give him some position of power in the club as a First Officer and to get rid of Scott. I suppose Ben and Uridien1 had little better to do then bug us.

One of the first things I did in February was to suspend Ben from the club for one year. (His previous suspension - given by Chip - only applied to the Vindicator and Generation and was contingent on his completing the academy.) With all hope of returning to TOL lost, Ben decided to start up a new club of his own - the United Sci-Fi Sim Group, or USSG (sound familiar?). To help him along, Ben copied my guidebook - word for word. But his club members quickly grew sick of him and revolted.

Because Ben and Uridien1 give us a bit of breathing room, the biggest problems TOL faced in February were internal. Scott did have some good ideas about making TOL into a republic, so I worked to write a constitution for the club. I tried to incorporate Scott's ideas of having a council of COs and XOs, and Chip's idea of having an Assembly of club members that met once a month, but unfortunately, my draft constitution almost caused the Civil War to erupt again. As soon as Scott saw it, he did not like it because it did not follow his ideas word for word.

With tensions once again rising, Chip threatened to resign, so both Scott and myself decided to back down. Thus, the idea of having a constitution and making the club a republic was put on the back burner. However, I realized the value of giving the captains and first officers a say in club affairs, so I was always sure to get their advise and have them unofficially vote on certain key items - a kind of defacto republic until it finally became safe in 1998 to have a formal republic.

But Chip was great. I personally think he was relieved that he no longer had to serve as the president, and he never once expressed or hinted at any animosity towards Scott, myself, or anyone else. He just wanted us to all act nice. Nor did Chip ever once try to assert himself into club affairs, give orders or try to cling onto power. He simply went back to being a captain, helped out where he could, and was always available to give me advise and to be someone who I could trust and vent to. He was TOLs greatest ex-president and without him, I do not think the club would have survived.

So how exactly did we all manage to save TOL, often despite of ourselves? Well - having Chip around to help us aside - my simple theories about sim club organization proved to be true. I felt that if you communicated with your members, you would see great benefits. I cracked down and enforced the rule that all of the captains needed to write ships logs and report their attendance to each other. I personally tried to contact every club member, talk to them, hear their concerns and explain my position, and I also sent mass E-mails to the club to let them know what was going on. The club's newsletter, renamed the Trek Online Times, was expanded to provide more info about the club and some humor to lighten the mood. (On a side note, the name TOL Times was inspired by Josh, who in January had sent me an E-mail entitled Simming Times in which he gave me a list of times for a proposed sim he wanted to start up. I really liked the title of that E-mail and named the newsletter the TOL Times as a result.)

The club guidebook, rewritten as I wanted it to be - unencumbered by compromises between Chip's and Scott's visions - not only gave the club a clear organizational foundation, it also conveyed to everyone who exactly we were, how exactly we were going to sim and conduct our business, and what rules people were expected to follow. Overnight all of the confusion between conflicting systems was cleared up and the club was given a reality - a document of words in a world that exists only in words. Plus, the fact that I was now the sole ruler, that everyone came to me and me only for questions and orders helped immensely. No more conflicting orders from both Scott and myself. And with my orders I made sure to work closely with the captains to give them clear advise and direction and get their impute so everyone was happy with the direction of the club.

Changing the name of the club on AOL to Trek Online gave the club a clean brake with the past and a new sense of purpose, even though Uridien1 tried to argue otherwise. The adoption of the simple open club origination I had created for Prodigy also proved to be very beneficial. The system where there were still assigned crews, but where everyone was free to join more than one sim in the club and attend sims on other nights if they were bored and wished to drop in. The system where the Captains were responsible for their crews and had creative control over their sims, and where it was my job as the President to coordinate the captains and take care of all overall club matters. This freed up my time as President for more important matters.

I also worked to promote a sense of community in the club by holding a club wide sim during late February. I also launched a recruiting contest which promised top recruiters big rewards and promotions for getting people to join the club.

Somehow through all of this hard work the club managed to right itself. Our spirits lifted. People began to enjoy simming again and started to talk to their fellow club members as friends when just weeks before they were following Scott and myself in trading insults. (Chip's Spam Poem helped to lift everyone's spirits.) People from the club on Prodigy joined AOL, and people from AOL, including Scott, joined Prodigy (I think his joining Prodigy and seeing first hand that simming was not vastly different ended Scott's resistance to my plans to bring TOL to AOL).The recruiting contest helped to bring precious new members into the club, including 3 people, Lara, Kyle and Nuvok, who were recruited by a Vindicator crew member named Shadow. All 3 joined the Endeavor and as a result, the Endeavor found itself with enough crew members to continue simming. Had it continued to function much longer with only 3 or so people showing up every week, I would have canceled it. Trek Online was very close to shrinking back to having just a few sims on AOL, and that probably would have taken the club down a completely different historical path. For their own part, the Endeavor Three all rose to high ranks with in Trek Online. Lara became a Captain, Kyle actually became a Vice President, and Nuvok became a distinguished simmer.

By the end of February, things were starting to look a little better in the club. Once again there was a glimmer of hope for the future - enough to at least keep me going and think that someday all of my hard work would pay off and that Trek Online would become a great club. Everyone was finally on the same page and the club seemed to be organized, but people were still depressed. However, people like Chip, Kyrin (the new CO of the Endeavor), Jace (remember her? The friend of Josh, who was a friend of Uridien1), and Wormella (Chip's new first officer) took it upon themselves to work to cheer up the club, to overpower the ill rumors spread by Ben and Uridien1, and to get beyond the scars of the Civil War. These actions, slow and cautious at first, grew into a unique sense of community and purpose. The little kind words, cards to club members, and sharing of inside jokes would slowly grow into TOLs unique culture.

Chapter 15: Freedom

"You threatened me! I HATE that! Now I'm going to pay you back." - Uridien1, March 17, 1997.

I always laugh at today's leaders who say they have never fought a sim club war and cannot understand how or why one would occur. Today, with all of AOL's and the internet's useful blocking features, trouble makers can easily be controlled. In 1997, however, these features did not exist. The few blocking features that did exist, such as ignoring a person in a chat room, would stop working as soon as the person you were blocking left and reentered the room. Plus modems were slow, so if your sim was raided and flooded by a bunch of people quickly entering and exiting and reentering the room typing nonsense onto the screens, your computer would slow down and sometimes crash, making it very difficult to carry on with the sim. Things were even more difficult when you were dealing with enemies like Ben and Uridien1 who possessed intimate knowledge of the club.

But raids on sims were just one of the tactics employed against Trek Online during the first months of 1997. There was also psychological warfare by Ben and Uridien1 - getting club members to provide them with information, spreading rumors and lies, and IMing Scott and myself when ever they could to just bug us and distract us while we attempted to work on saving the club. We could have turned our IMs off (there were no individual screen name blocking features at the time), but that would have blocked our IMs from everyone, and thus, we would have been unable to talk to people we needed to talk to. We could let them IM us and try to ignore them, but with many windows open and the way AOL IMs worked back then, we would have to stop what we were doing each time we herd an IM sound to check if it was them or someone we needed to talk to.

How closely Ben and Uridien1 worked together I do not know. They clearly had a common interest in starting a forum and possessed a common hatred towards Scott and myself. I'm sure that they shared news, tactics and ideas, but beyond that, I do not know. What is clear is that by the end of February, both Ben and Uridien1 were not very happy. The members of Ben's brand new club had revolted, and Uridien1 did not like the fact that I was still working with Scott and we was still out there bugging both of us.

Ben learned that on March 9, Captain Fox was going to retire from simming and that as a result, her ship, the USS Freedom, was going to be disbanded due to lack of crew members. As far as I know, Ben had no personal grudge with Fox. What happened at that sim, I think, was a personal attack on me because the Freedom was a sim in Trek Online. What happened is something that I can only call disgusting and childish.

Ben decided to attack the Freedom's last sim. By doing so he could make a huge statement - you may have kicked me out of the club, but you still cannot stop me. He also figured that he could gain credibility among the barbarian and pre teens without a life who hated Star Trek types that he was recruiting to help him in his new campaign against Trek Online. If he could say that he attacked the sim and if you look at the schedule now and it is no longer there, he must have destroyed it, so join me and lets destroy some more sims. Ben just clearly had nothing better to do and wanted vengeance at this point.

On Sunday, March 9, 1997, a few minutes into the Freedom's final sim, it was attacked. The room was flooded with people recruited by Ben, all of them scrolling and typing nonsense onto the screen making sure it was impossible to sim. The Freedom crew was IMed and we all moved to another private room, but the attackers followed us. Clearly someone in the club was helping Ben. Who that was we never found out. We moved again, this time inviting only people we could be sure to trust, and with that, we found some peace and quiet. Yet, by that time it was too late, the sim had been destroyed. No one had the will to continue. We were all completely disgusted and wanted revenge. Ben had disrupted some sims before, but this was totally different, it was something none of us had ever seen before, and it shocked and outraged us. Captain Fox was crying hysterically and we were all doing our best to comfort her. Fox was one of the nicest people I had met, she did not deserve what happened to her, and I vowed that the people responsible for this attack would pay for what happened.

Because the Freedom started as part of the Independence, I met with Scott in a private room entitled Rope and a Tree. The title of the room shows just how mad I was, and I do not get mad very often. During the chat, we did not discuss any possible punishments, it was more the two of us comparing notes and conducting an investigation into the attack. Our investigation did not take too long because Ben quickly 'confessed.' And Ben was no idiot, he 'confessed' that it was really Uridien1 who had planned the attack, something which Scott immediately believed, and something which I accepted since I was also becoming paranoid enough after having had to listen to Forum Ally IM me for a month. The attack was on such a vast scale that I did not believe at the time it could have been the work of Ben. In one quick breath, Ben played on our fears and was able to divert all of our anger off of him and onto Uridien1.

Over the following days, while I was still trying to determine what kind of punishment we could give Ben and Uridien1 now that they were no longer in the club, and how we could prevent this kind of thing from happening again, Scott took it upon himself, without my knowledge, to punish Uridien1. Scott created the screen name TOLJournal and began to harass Uridien1 in a manor similar to what Uridien1 had done with his Forum Ally name. Scott would constantly IM Uridien1 from his mysterious TOLJournal name and play mind games with him.

Scott's plan backfired, however, and Uridien1, on both his Uridien1 and Forum Ally names, began to ratcheted up the intensity of his actions against TOL. All of the evidence today suggests that Uridien1 was innocent in regards to the attack on the Freedom, so, quite naturally, he was not happy over being accused of planning or taking part in the attack, and he was not happy about being harassed by TOLJournal.

What exactly happened between March 9 and March 17, 1997, I am not sure. There apparently was a lot of positioning between Scott and Uridien1, using their various screen names in interesting combinations in hopes of being able to confuse each other and play mind games with each other. TOLJournal would contact Uridien1. Uridien1 would contact Scott. Forum Ally would contact TOLJournal, etc. At the same time, I began to receive word that Uridien1, using both his Uridien1 name and Forum Ally name, was contacting club members in an attempt to feel people out in order to find weaknesses in the club that he could exploit.

In particular, Uridien1 contacted the newly promoted Admiral Mike, captain of the sim that was to replace the Freedom, attempting to convince him that he had heard rumors that I was planning to take over the Indelphi (Mike's ship), or something to that effect. Mike was a crew member on the Independence who had simmed with Uridien1. After the Freedom sim had been destroyed, I learned that Mike ran a sim of his own, called the USS Indelphi. Desperate for members and new blood, I convinced Mike to merge his ship into TOL and in exchange I made him a Rear Admiral. Uridien1 probably figured that since had simmed with Mike on the Independence, he would be more incline to believe him and believe that I was a bad person. Unfortunately for Uridien1, Mike was the crew member on the Independence who convinced several of his fellow crew mates to support me on January 31. Thus, Mike was not going to turn against me and Mike reported to me what was going on.

At the same time, Scott, using his TOLJournal name, went around contacting people in the club - myself included - quizzing them and attempting to find out what was our relationship with Uridien1. Under any normal situation, I would have fired Scott. But, because getting rid of Scott was one of Uridien1's major demands, I could not look like I was giving in.

On March 17, 18 and 19, when Uridien1 realized that he was not going to gain the support of Mike, both Uridien1 and Forum Ally began contacting me, attempting to stir up trouble with Scott by making up stories that Scott was planning to do this or that. Based on these chats, whatever lingering doubts I had about Uridien1 and Forum Ally being two different people disappeared and I decided to start playing some mind games of my own. By an amazing stroke of luck, I had been talking with my friends in STS and found out that Uridien1 had joined one of the ships there. When Uridien1 contacted me, I told him that I had scouts watching his every move and I knew that he had joined STS. Uridien1, who in his chats was normally cool, manipulative and in the position of power, suddenly became angry and confused and worried. With that, Uridien1 lost it, declared war on TOL and began to resort to some Ben like tactics.

Uridien1 signed off, Forum Ally signed on and started to post on our message boards saying that he had taken control of the club and was going to put Uridien1 in charge. This caused harm to TOLs reputation, because at that time Mike was working with Admirals from other clubs to work out a joint sim arrangement, but in the era where simming was concentrated on one forum where everyone could view your message board and you did not have the power to delete posts - many people saw the post and suddenly became unwilling to get involved in a club that had so many problems.

The post about taking control, however, combined with his attempts in February to convince me to make him a first officer, shows that, like Ben, Uridien1 simply wanted to gain a position of power with in the club, and when he failed to do that, he turned violent. Yes, both he and Ben were upset about the forum and hated Scott and myself, but really they were jealous and envious of our success where they had failed. Had they been made a commander or captain somewhere, I'm sure they would have forgotten all about the forum and their hatred. However, there was no way I was going to give anyone who had caused so much trouble a command position when there were so many other deserving, hard working, dedicated and peaceful simmers in TOL.

Over the following days, a few other club members, such as Admiral Mike and Aly82 reported that either Uridien1 or Forum Ally had contacted them, threatened them and the club. They, along with many other club members, were concerned and were wondering what was going on, especially in regards to the posts about how Uridien1 was now in charge often club.

All of the captains and admirals in the club were convinced that the best course of action was to keep the situation with Uridien1 quiet. I, however, believed that we should put all of the cards on the table and let everyone know exactly what was going on, and that is what I did.

On the 20th I wrote up - with the help of Jace, my first officer, who had gotten to know Uridien1 through their common friend Josh - a comprehensive E-mail that explained the history of Uridien1 and Forum Ally,and how to deal with him. Armed with this info, everyone in the club knew what was going on and knew how to respond. Club members started to come forward and provided me with evidence and pointed out things I had missed. People started to ignore Forum Ally and shrug him off. Uridien1 craved attention, he loved to play games and hide in the shadows, but now that people were ignoring him, it drove him crazy.

But what happened at just about the same time really knocked him for a loop. Scott, now an AOL Host, was able to use his connections to have all of Ben's, Uridien1's and Forum Ally's various disruptive posts on our message boards over the months deleted. It was a shocking and unprecedented move. The blow to their ego must have been astounding. All of their wonderful posts, all of their history of disruptions, erased.

In desperation, Uridien1 spent the next week threatening myself, Scott and the club. Using his Forum Ally name, he E-mailed Captain Pat in one last desperate attempt to convincing him to return and stake claims to the Independence. I do not think Pat ever bothered to reply.

Just when it looked like he was finished, Uridien1 caught a break. He discovered that I had not sent the E-mail about him to the crew of the Indelphi because I feared it would scare off the ship and its new club members. So Uridien1 went into full force at the Indelphi sim on Easter Sunday, March 30. He told them all of the usual stories and tried to convince them to follow him and cause problems in Trek Online. Luckily Scott was online at the time, and Mike, the CO of the Indelphi, alerted Scott, and Scott rushed to the chat room. I signed on a little later and was called to the room. Normally, Uridien1 would have played it cool or would have left to avoid being caught in a compromising position. However, he was so desperate for attention, and convinced that he still had some cards left up his sleeve, that he agreed to resume his trial, right than and there, with the crew members of the Indelphi acting as the jury. Well, it was not officially a trial. Technically it was W. Weasel, a crew member on the Indelphi, 'conducting an investigation of his own.' However, for all practical purposes it turned into a trial and after several hours of an intense discussion, Cadet Clodo, the Jury forman, rose and announced that the crew of the Indelphi found Uridien1 guilty of being Forum Ally and all of the accompanying crimes. Uridien1 apologized to Scott and as a punishment, he agreed to delete the Forum Ally name and to leave TOL alone. We - Scott especially - also agreed to leave Uridien1 alone. Uridien1 complied shortly there after by deleting the Forum Ally name and the club breathed a collective sigh of relief.

While Uridien1 may not have directly attacked a sim, as Ben had done, the covert and psychological campaign Uridien1 unleashed on the club in March of 1997 just added to the darkness and despair that the club had been experiencing since January. Uridien1 knew many of our weaknesses, and he played them skillfully. He could have caused the club to have descended back into chaos and civil war, and Uridien1's role in causing the stress, paranoia and hardline attitude in Scott which helped to bring about the Civil War in January should not be forgotten. Even though in February and March Uridien1 was unable to turn us against each other, or manipulate me into giving him a position of power within the club - a position he so desperately craved - his constant psychological games, had they continued for a few more months, could have caused me to throw in the towel. Luckily, before that occurred, the battle quickly turned and we managed to gain the upper hand against Uridien1. While the struggle against him did not end in March, the path to victory was assured.

However, I was not overjoyed at Uridien1's defeat, nor did we hold any celebrations, for there were still many problems facing the club. However, the events of March 30 did fill me with a new sense of hope and gave me some additional energy. I really do not know why or how I managed to keep on going during all of those dark days in 1997, when it seemed like nothing was going right within TOL and when it seemed like wave after wave of barbarians were attacking. I guess I just really loved simming, I had a tremendous amount of faith in my vision for simming, I loved my club, and after having witnessed the death of STECO I did not want to see another club die. On top of that, I had great people around me, people like Chip, Jace and Kyrin, who were always there to help out and cheer me up. While it was a very difficult time, I did catch a few breaks in the attacks - a precious few days here, a week there - where the club was at peace and I could get a glimpse of what was in store for the future. It was a glorious future at that, for my plans and hard work was beginning to pay off in Trek Online. Attendance was up. Club spirit was beginning to increase, and the sims were becoming ever more fun and exciting.

Ironically, instead of dividing us as Uridien1 had hoped he would do, the war against Forum Ally helped to unite the club on AOL. It gave us a common external enemy to rally against. Club members began to appreciate all of the hard work and torment that Chip, Scott, I and the other leaders put ourselves through so that they could enjoy their sims in peace. Plus, people began to think if someone really hated this club so much that they would go through all of that trouble to destroy us, there must be something really special about us to deserve that attention.

On April 1, Ben publicly announced that he supported Forum Ally and would continue his fight against TOL. On April 3, Ben reassembled his barbarian friends and raided the USS Vindicator sim. While Ben's methods at this attack were far more sophisticated than what he had done at the Freedom sim - he and his raiders employed illegal online tools known as Fate to send IM bombs and scroll in the room - we had learned from the Freedom attack and were able to quickly regroup in another private room and continue simming. In addition, because Ben used the Fate program, we were able to report him to AOL. Like he had done with the Freedom attack, Ben tried to pin this attack on Uridien1 as well, but this time no one bought it, and several of Ben's raiders were kicked off of AOL because they had a record of trouble making. This crippled Ben's war machine. But since this was Ben's first official offense with AOL, he got off with a warning from AOL. Unknown to me at the time, Scott also gave Ben a two hour tongue lashing in which he said that the cops were going to come and arrest him. This set Ben straight, at least for a little while. At the time though, it had seemed that with in a few short days, both Uridien1 and Ben had been defeated and peace was returning to the club.

And as far as I was concerned, the people who I felt were responsible for the Freedom attacks and other trouble making in TOL's past had been brought to sufficient levels of justice, by either TOL or AOL. Yes, Uridien1 was innocent when it came to the raid on the Freedom, but that does not change the fact that he was guilty of causing numerous other problems for TOL. While it was Scott who prodded Uridien1 into launching a full scale war against TOL, Uridien1 was still guilty of attacking the club. I had no choice but to deal with him.

All that remained was the question of what to do with Scott. The TOLJournal stunt he pulled was unacceptable, but I could not punish Scott directly for it because that would play into Uridien1's hands. Uridien1 had just been defeated and I did not want to give him a victory. Plus, it would have been a suicidal move on my part to - just days after the club had united together to fight Uridien1 - punish the man who, between his deletion of the message board posts and his prosecution of Uridien1 at the Indelphi trial, had become the leading champion of TOL's struggle against Forum Ally.

The really ironic thing is that at the time both Uridien1 and myself did not like Scott. But Scott was an admiral and I needed him to help run our simming academy and make a webpage for us. Uridien1's attacks and behavior put me in the position of having to defend Scott, even when it was not something I was thrilled about doing, but something I did un-hesitantly because the future of my club depended on it. However, after Scott's TOLJournal stunt, I decided that in my own time, and in my own way, I would deal with Scott.

 

Chapter 16: April Peace Brings May Wars

"Most of you are aware of the changes taking place in STS during the last week, although some of you are not. For those of you who are, you may be confused; rumors may be spreading, and the like." - Admiral Trekker, March 31, 1997, annoucning the break up of STS.

The month of April of 1997 was like no other in TOL history. For the most part, it was a month of peace, but everyone was still on edge. Ben and Uridien1 had been defeated, but no one felt like celebrating. In retrospect, April was just a ceasefire, allowing all sides time to rest up and rebuild for the final battle.

TOLs rebuilding efforts consisted of the recruiting drive that I had launched in February. It finally kicked into high gear in April, thanks in part to the Indelphi. My gamble of letting Mike's ship join TOL only weeks after the disastrous Civil War had paid off. I was right in assuming that Mike's crew, who did not experience the Civil War and its associated fighting and public incriminating would bring new life to TOL. In addition, because the Indelphi had played a crucial role in helping to defeat Uridien1, its crew members now felt that they had become a vital player in TOL, and rightly so. One such crew member, W. Weasel, inspired by his new club and the role he had played in defeating one of its biggest enemies, personally went out and recruited almost 30 people into Trek Online during March and April. His efforts - which I made sure to highly publicize and reward - caused other club members to spend the month of April out in force recruiting. A recruiting craze hit the club, and at the same time, people in TOL began to talk about and feel as if they were part of a great community. It was around this time that things like smite buttons, spam parties and fruck began to appear.

On both Prodigy and AOL, our sims were going great and the club was really beginning to click and work together. We could have avoided a lot of fighting in December and January had we decided to just follow the old first and second generation model, but we were all dedicated to making a new and open system, and by April, it was paying off. Besides, had we decided to follow the old way of doing things, TOL would have been swept aside by the changing economic reality with all of the other clubs that still clung to the old ways.

That changing economic reality hit STS in late March. By April 1, the news was public and rumors were swirling around STS. It just was not TOL that was fighting a Civil War in 1997 as the leaders struggled to deal with the new economic realities. And, unfortunately for STS, its seasoned and experienced leadership made the wrong decisions.

STS, like most other first generation sim clubs, was designed to resemble Starfleet. Its sims were compartmentalized and did not interact with each other, and its leadership was concerned with controlling the content of the sims to ensure accuracy to Star Trek. The leadership of the club was broken up into three parts. Admiral Trekker was the founder of the club and he operated as the head of Starfleet Command, issuing general orders to all of the ships about where to head and what missions to carry out. He also issued - through simming guidebooks and club E-mails - various memorandums about the usage of warp drives, promotions, how to use technology and equipment, etc. Supporting him in these operations was TrekGuru, STS' chief Sim Master. Every ship in STS had a sim master assigned to it, and the SMs would work with Guru in coming up with missions and sim plots that had to be approved by Guru.

The third person in this mix was Vice Admiral NFO. He was the person in charge of club operations and had the real power in the club. His job was to do what I as President did in Trek Online and what all modern sim club Presidents do today - he took care of the clubs administration, paper work and dealt with all of the non simming items that needed to be taken care of before a sim could occur - and trust me, it takes a lot of work to make a sim happen on a regular basis, and it takes even more work to run a club.

NFO joined STS in late 1994 or early 1995 when STS still consisted of one sim. It was, in fact, NFO who argued that STS should expand from one sim into an actual club, and he was able to jump ahead a few ranks by convincing Trekker and Guru to let him start up a second ship in STS. Over time, several more ships were added to the club.

Because of the desire to control the content of sims among first and second generation clubs, Guru ended up becoming the Sim Master for 3 STS ships. With the arrival of unlimited usage, NFO wanted to continue to expand the club, but Guru was against it. There were not enough sim masters to cover new ships, and she did not want to sim more than 3 times a week. Also, there were not enough simmers in the club to justify additional expansion in her eyes. The battle lines were drawn, and as result of unlimited, "Little differences got bigger under so much time (spent online)" as Guru explained to me in an interview.

An additional layer to this story is that prior to the arrival of unlimited, most of the paperwork duties were scattered among various people in STS. With the arrival of unlimited, NFO could spend more time online and thus began to appropriate these duties for himself, amassing more power in the club and stepping on a lot of peoples toes in the process. Trekker did nothing to stop NFO because Trekker wanted to expand the club as well - bigger is better, as the theory goes. (And STS was soon to find out that the theory was very wrong.)

But all of the hurt toes and fault lines between Guru and Trekker did not destroy the club. As was the case with Trek Online, STS was rocked by a major dispute over how to handle trouble makers, which were appearing in ever increasing numbers due to unlimited usage and the lack of tools to control them. As Guru explained, "It just was getting very complicated and people were acting up and out since there was way more airtime." STS had a long established judicial system, but NFO tried to circumvent it by establish his own new court marshal system that enabled NFO to kick out the people he did not like.

But even that was not breaking factor. What was the breaking point for Guru was that in 1997, her husband began to have serious medical problems and was frequently in the hospital. NFO took her frequent absences to amass more power for himself, and demanded that she help SM more, new sims so that the club could expand. Guru would not take the pettiness and uncaring, unethical behavior of NFO any longer, so in the end of March, 1997, she quit.

What exactly happened in STS was never publicly revealed. Unlike was the case in TOL, the leaders of STS did not feel the need to convey to its members what was really going on. While Admiral Trekker did send two E-mails to the entire club regarding the matter, they did not explain what was occuring and only attempted to gloss over the situation. However, it was clear to everyone that rift had apparently developed between TrekGuru and NFO, and rumors swurled.

When TrekGuru quit, she had no plans to start a new club. Indeed, she wanted to quit simming. However - and this is where all of these hurt toes come into play - many others were upset with NFO as well. About half of the club - or about 4 ships - quit STS and followed her, eventually establishing a new club called Final Frontier Sims (FFS). While STS always tried to officially cover and hide the loses, it was a mortal blow. to the club The fact that the leadership was all but silent over what was occuring on only contributed to the flow of rumors that caused many more people to quit the club. While STS did stager and stumble along during the rest of 1997 and into 1998, by 1999 the club had effectively died.

In April of 1997, I was only a lowly Lieutenant in STS, so I was not privy to any info about what was really occuring. But that was a benefit to me because it made me understand what it must have been like for the average club member in Trek Online to have to go through our Civil War and other wars. I experienced all of the fear and uncertainty and desire to just forget all of the nonsense that an average club member experiences. During almost my entire time as a Captain or Admiral in the UFP/SF or TOL, I made sure to secretly join other sim clubs and sim there as a simple member. While from time to time as an Admiral in TOL I was accused of being out of touch or not knowing what it was like to be a cadet, I knew that such accusations were wrong. By always having the prospective of joining a new sim club and having to work up the ranks, combined with my earliest experiences in SFOL, I was always was concerned as the President of Trek Online to make my members comfortable with the club. Joining a sim club and taking part in this strange thing called a sim is a very awkward and intimidating experience, and I think the simming world would be a much better place if the leaders remembered that.

Even though I did not know the details of what was going on behind the scenes in STS, the news shocked me. If this kind of thing could happen in a sim club like STS - which had been simming for 4 years and seemed to be solid - it could happen anywhere. How could brand new and fragile TOL possibly survive? The news made me worry even more about the future, and was just another in a long line of realizations about how unforgiving simming is - that no matter how large or powerful the club, it can disappear over night. That is why I took great care in TOL to plan for every possible contingency, no matter how unlikely. It lead to constitutions, detailed guidebooks and laws. It also lead to my forceful desire that captains and future Presidents of TOL follow certain guidelines and have a certain mentality and work ethic. I wanted to cheat simming death. I thought I was smart and clever enough - I had figured out a new sim club model - so I was confident I could figure out how to make a club last forever.

But before I could have time to think about such grand long term problems, I still had to insure the day to day survival of the club. On April 20 Uridien1 joined the crew of the Indelphi - so much for his promise to leave TOL alone. While in March Uridien1 had failed to convince Mike to revolt, in April Uridien1 did successfully manage to convince Mike that he had reformed and should be given a second chance. I, quite naturally, was against letting Uridien1 join the Indelphi. I went as far as to order Mike to not let him join, but Mike refused to listen to me. Maybe Uridien1 honestly wanted to sim, I thought, or maybe his plan was to get me to kick Mike and the Indelphi out of the club. Thinking that, I decided to not punish Mike for his insubordination, but I made it clear to Mike that if Uridien1 acted up, I would put both of their heads on a platter.

With Uridien1 back in the club I did not have to wait long for events to once again quickly spin out of control.

Scott clearly was not happy with Uridien1 joining the Indelphi either, and once again he took matters into his own hands. He made a new screen name and pretended to be Josh - the old captain of the Endeavor and Uridien1's friend - in an attempt to get Uridien1 to open up and say what he was up to. When we found out Scott was doing this, Josh, Uridien1, myself, and a bunch of other people went ballistic. Scott apologized and Josh agreed not to report Scott to AOL, but I was still fuming and wanted to kick Scott out of the club.

However, events were moving so quickly that I did not have time to build a legal case to bring Scott to a trial or think up a way of how to punish Scott without giving Uridien1 a victory. On April 24, I received word that Ben had started up a new sim club, called the Science Fiction Group (SFG) and once again had copied my guidebook, word for word. Ben actually forgot to change the guidebook in some key places to mask his plagiarism. His guidebook opened with the section, "What is Trek Online?"

One of the people Ben recruited for his new club realized this fact and contacted me, figuring that I would like to know that my work was being stolen. This person also provided me a list of Ben's club members and I E-mailed all of them to tell them what Ben had done - after all, I had spent days working on the guidebook, and I was not going to let someone just copy, word for word, with out my permission. I kindly explained to everyone that the guidebook was stolen and that I had written it. This was enough to disgust most of Ben's club members, causing them to leave his club, and Ben gave up on his latest attempt to start a club of his own.

Ben was once again angry at me, and he was still angry at Scott for the tongue lashing he had given him a few weeks earlier. Ben decided first take his anger out on Scott - but, after seeing how his attempts to personally disrupt sims had failed in the fall of 1996 and how his attempts to raid sims with hacker buddies had gotten him into trouble a few weeks earlier - Ben resorted to a new tactic. He created a new screen name, CmdrMulder, and attempted to sneak into TOL using a new identity.

Being a new club member, CmdrMulder was sent to the simming academy to be taught by Scott, who, at least when it came to the academy was cooperating and doing a good job. However, I still was looking for any kind of excuse to punish Scott for his TOLJournal stunt and for his Josh impersonating stunt without having to bring up those cases and involve Uridien1 in the trial, and this CmdrMulder seemed to provide me with the perfect excuse.

On May 3 CmdrMulder contacted me and told me that Scott had ignored him, been rude to him and harassed him at the Independence sim that CmdrMulder had attended for training purposes. Not knowing it was Ben at the time, and thinking this was a pretty good case - especially because it was a case I could use against Scott that did not involve Uridien1 - I decided to give Scott a pretty intense verbal lashing myself and I threatened to strip him of command.

However, trying to at least be judicial and fair - as I have always try to do - I investigated the charges and discovered that CmdrMulder was Ben and that the entire incident was fake. The next day, Sunday, May 4, I dismissed the case, informed Scott that it was Ben, kicked CmdrMulder out of the club because Ben had previously been suspended the club, and apologized to Scott.

Scott needed time to let all of this blow over, but unfortunately time was a luxury that TOL received that night. In fact, the conditions could not have been better for what was going to happen next.

 

Chapter 17: FFSC

LeaderFed: "What do you think of our intelligence branch... one of our strongest features besides being able to put secret agents in groups and undermine them when the time is right."

AdmChasTOL: "Well our strong points are being able to have fun sims and being able to withstand a lot of stuff"

IM, May 4, 1997, My reply sums up why and how TOL was able to survive so many challanges.

On May 4, 1997, the right person appeared at the right time with the conditions of history ripe for his arrival. That person was named LeaderFed. Had Scott listened to me and not got involved with Uridien1's return on April 20th; had I been more forceful and not allowed Uridien1 to return; had I not tried to go after Scott during the CmdrMulder incident; had Uridien1 never showed up to the Indelphi sim on May 4, 1997, things would have been totally different. I even had the chance myself to make things different, for several days prior SamScottB, a cadet in TOL, had invited me to attend the inauguration of the leader of the new sim club he was helping found, the Federation Fan and Sim Club, or FFSC. Had I gone that day to that meeting, had I meet LeaderFed as he was elected, congratulated him on his election and gave him a few pointers, we would have gotten off to a totally different start. But it was not to be. I was too tired, too fed up with Scott, with Uridien1 and Mike, and I just did not want to go to the ceremonies, so I told Sam that I did not wish to attend. What a mistake that was.

Five hours after I had ended the Scott-CmdrMulder case, I attended the USS Indelphi sim, with Uridien1 also in attendance. During the course of the sim LeaderFed, the president of the FFSC, contacted me and introduced himself. He asked if he could attend the sim, and seeing no harm in that (Uridien1 was a good simmer and never acted up during a sim anyway) I agreed and I invited him in to watch. Over IMs we discussed our clubs and simming. Almost off hand - at least it seemed to me - he mentioned the idea of merging, and I more or less said no in a polite way. I really do not know what was going through his mind, I don't know if SamScottB - who was a member of TOL and the FFSC - told LeaderFed we would be a club open to merger or what. However, LeaderFed apparently did not take kindly to my refusal to merge. For a little while later, in the chat room, in the middle of the sim, he blurted out that he was going to take over TOL.

With that, the sim came to a screeching halt. Scott was also in the room, and, still quite mad at me, he figured I had sold out the club to LeaderFed and promptly began to accuse me of doing so. Uridien1's ears immediately perked up and ideas of teaming up with LeaderFed in a new crusade against TOL immediately flashed through his mind. And of course, Ben was quickly contacted and told about this potential new ally.

Scott immediately moved everyone who was at the sim, except LeaderFed, Uridien1 and myself, into another chat room and began to berate me. I figured TOL was on the brink of another civil war and for once did not know what to do. Scott began to tell everyone how I was selling out the club, how no one should listen to me, how could I give the club to LeaderFed, how could I let Uridien1 sim, etc, etc, etc? It pretty much became a bash Chas party. At the same time, he bombarded LeaderFed with IMs, insulting him left and right. I tried to talk to LeaderFed to calm him down, but it was to no avail, for at the same time Uridien1 was also IMing him and telling him stories about how evil TOL is - and who is the guy going to believe? After all, he has TOL's Vice Admiral insulting him in public and in IMs. So LeaderFed naturally believed all of the horrible stories Uridien1 told him about Trek Online, and LeaderFed began to feel that it was his purpose in simming to launch a crusade to eliminate the wicked and horrible Trek Online from the face of Simulation.

After the events of that sim, I was finished. I signed off, went out side, looked at the stars and decided I was going to quit. I had not been fighting for all that time to just have to fight another war. I was tired of simming, I was tired of the club, I was tired of Scott and I was tired of all of the fighting. I had it and I did not want to go through several more months of war. In fact, I was so fed up, when I signed off I just signed off, I did not even bother to save the sim transcript or my IM with LeaderFed and Scott like I normally would have done in such a situation.

When I signed back on later that night around 10pm I immediately received an IM from LeaderFed declaring war on TOL. I started to IM Scott, again and again. He never responded. I was really getting upset - was he was ignoring me? After all of this? After what seemed like forever, Scott finally returned and said he was out at Taco Bell. So, in the middle of a crises he started, Scott just walks away from his computer without saying anything, and stays signed on so everyone can think he is ignoring them which causes them to only become angrier as a result?

When Scott returned I told him that I was resigning, that I had it, that I had enough of the fighting and the club was now his. I IMed Ben and told him that he had won and I was putting Scott in command of the club. Then the strangest of all things happened. Ben - who quickly followed Uridien1's and was now a member of the FFSC preparing for war against TOL - began to try to cheer me up and convince me to stay. To this day I have no idea why. Maybe he was afraid of winning, but much more likely he was still very afraid of Scott and he did not want to see Scott in command of TOL.

Scott gave me a similar pep talk, I doubt he really wanted to be in charge of the club after the mess he had just created, even though a few hours before he sure acted like he wanted to be in charge. Scott tried to contact LeaderFed and work out some kind of peace, but it was too late. Scott also began to contact the club members who had been at the Indelphi sim and began to tell them nice things about me.

In other words, the events that had transpired on May 4, 1997, caused Scott's attitude to totally reverse. Maybe he felt sufficiently guilty about starting this latest war. Before May 4, I could not call Scott an ally or even a friend. He was someone who I had to tolerate and defend at best; someone who I tried to drive from the club and fought with during the worst moments. However, after the events of that evening transpired, Scott suddenly transformed into a loyal ally, friend, and someone who closely worked with me and made sure my wishes were being carried out and made sure that he was not overstepping his bounds. It was exactly what was needed in order to get through the next few months. Had Scott continued to pursue his own polices when it came to Uridien1 and had continued to do all of the little things he did which bugged me to no end, it would have been a disaster.

And Chip, boy, Chip had been great during all of the wars. He had become my friend and his sense of humor always cheered me up and made me realize why I enjoyed simming in the first place. Plus he was also my closest advisor. He always put things into the right perspective. During the war with the FFSC, he was just spectacular and always remind me to not take it too seriously, to just keep on simming and no matter what happens, we will survive.

I signed off a little bit after 11pm and that was the end of Sunday, May 4, 1997. It turned out to have been a day that was as important to defining the club - if not more so - than the battle of Stonewall had been on January 19. Yet at the time no one knew it. At the time we did not understand what had happened. We did not see how all of the events fit together so perfectly. All we knew is that we had to once again put our heads down and fight our way through yet another war.

With in a few days it became clear that Uridien1 had swapped war stories with LeaderFed, for on May 7 the name ForumsAlly began to appear, contacting and harassing club members. I figure Uridien1 and LeaderFed thought that the name ForumsAlly would inspire fear and terror in us, just as the name Forum Ally managed to do in December, January and February, before we figured out Uridien1's tactics. But by May, it had become something of a joke, and the person behind ForumsAlly was also a joke. We quickly realized that ForumsAlly was LeaderFed, and all he really did with the name was to talk dirty and curse out people. He even made the bright move to curse out Scott during the AOL chat he was hosting in an attempt to disrupt it. That went over so well that the name ForumsAlly was TOSed out of existence.

Having his ForumsAlly account TOSed by AOL caused LeaderFed to reassess his war plans. He decided to take a few weeks to build up and train his club, and to prepare for a coordinated and sustained campaign against Trek Online. After all, at that time Trek Online had 5 sims and 57 members. The FFSC was a brand new club with only about 10 or 15 members. LeaderFed needed to recruit warriors and he needed a good plan if he was going to defeat a club that was so much larger than his own.

The plan the FFSC developed was two fold. First, LeaderFed apparently came up with the idea to launch a massive, long term covert operation against Trek Online. FFSC members would make new screen names, join TOL, gather info, spy on the club, and buddy up to club members to gain their trust and support. They would also buddy up to TOLs captains and admirals to the point where we would trust them and download files from them, which would contain viruses. With the computers of TOL's leaders out, the FFSC would strike.

Using the friendships they had developed with regular TOL members, the FFSC spies would spread lies and rumors that TOLs leaders had abandoned them. From there, the FFSC types would either lead a revolution to destroy the TOL outright, or put the club in the hands of the FFSC. But all of that would take time, and the club would have to be softened up at any rate - so LeaderFed followed Ben's advise and developed a second component to his plan. The FFSC would, with the aid of various barbarian and hacker types, attack and disrupt TOLs sims directly. The spies inserted into TOL via the first part of the plan would aid with the attacks, letting the FFSC raiders know what private room we moved to in an attempt to escape them. It was hoped by LeaderFed that the constant direct attacks by FFSC would be enough to cause me to resign or to sue for peace, the price of peace being I had to hand the club over to the FFSC. If that did not happen, the attacks would continue until they destroyed TOL, or drove enough members out of TOL and softened the club up enough so that the handful of FFSC spies woule be enough to spring into action and destroy TOL internally. As was the case with Ben and Uridien1, LeaderFed was jelous of TOL. Ben's price for peace was to be made the Vice President. Uridien1's price was to be made a First Officer and get rid of Scott. LeaderFed's price was to hand TOL over to him.

LeaderFed also naturally assumed that because he was undertaking all of these grand schemes against TOL, I must have been plotting to do the same against the FFSC. This was his fatal weakness. Seasoned from my many campaigns against Ben and Uridien1, I had a pretty good idea of how to fight an online war, and understand a person who was plotting against me. LeaderFed had such a huge ego that he had to IM me just about every time he signed online, and because of his ego, I could get him to just talk and talk, which allowed me to get a good idea about what his strengths and weaknesses where. As the quote at the start of the chapter reveals, he even hinted at some of his own secret plans. Armed with that info, I began to exploit LeaderFed's natural fears for all they were worth. As a result, LeaderFed began to become paranoid and worry that the people around him were really TOL agents plotting to send him a computer virus. He began to put into place elaborate security measures and rules to ensure the loyalty of his members. He created a secret police force to keep an eye on his members and sims, and he in turn had others keeping an eye on the secret police.

LeaderFed rallied his club to engage in war against Trek Online by preaching to them how evil and blood thirsty TOL was. However, I had no interest in fighting a war, and I made no plans to attack the FFSC. In fact, I had been making very public and personal appeals to LeaderFed and the FFSC council to end this childish stupidity and to sign a peace treaty. My attempts to work for peace, combined with the fact that Trek Online did not live up to LeaderFed's rantings, was enough to cause some very high ranking members of the FFSC to question LeaderFed's crusade against TOL. This questioning started with Dan.

For the most part Dan - despite having been a personal friend of both Ben and Uridien1 - had stayed out of trouble during the wars against Ben and Uridien1, but when LeaderFed appeared, he could not resist the urge to join the FFSC and join forces with his old forum team, which seemingly was being reassembled over there. However, Dan became discouraged rather quickly. He had no real interest in war and trouble making, so he quit the FFSC after only a few days and told me everything he had learned. In my chats with LeaderFed, I started to hint and reveal that I knew about some of his battle and operational plans, and this helped to cause LeaderFed to become more paranoid. It convinced him that I must have had spies everywhere in the FFSC. He immediately launched a whole new series of security procedures and discipline plans on top of the outlandish measures he already had in place, some of them as outrageous as Scott's plan to give everyone 5 demerits upon joining TOL. This only caused more of his members to question his actions.

In fact, as early as May 8, LeaderFed's measures had become so extreme and my personal appeals for peace so widely circulated in the FFSC that some intelligent and mature people on the Federation Council began to realize that TOL was not a threat. They could see that TOL just wanted to sim, and they too just wanted to sim in the FFSC. After all, in the lingering spirit of the lost generation, they had started the FFSC with high hopes of making a brand new sim club that would become one of the first simming republics before LeaderFed hijacked the club with his crusade against TOL. Amazingly enough DataBev, the head of FFSC Intelligence - the one responsible for the covert campaign against TOL - contacted me on May 8 and began to feed to me all of LeaderFed's plans. Over the following weeks, others followed. I had about half of the FFSC council working for me by the end of May. At first I thought maybe this was all part of some scheme by LeaderFed to feed me false info, but it turned out these people really wanted to help TOL and avoid a war.

LeaderFed must have realized that something was up when all of the spies he sent into TOL found themselves assigned to the USS Independence, where Scott - whose AOL hosting powers were now becoming very useful - could keep a close eye on them. (As you can also tell, at this time I was starting to mature as a leader. I was beginning to not take things as seriously and I was having lots of fun screwing with these people.)

However, when we knew to look for spies - even if we had not been provided their screen names - they easily stood out, giving rise to my advise to captains and admirals everywhere never to trust a cadet who asks too many questions or tries to be your friend. Sure, people are going to ask some basic questions about how to sim and all, but when someone is asking too many odd ball questions about the club - be careful. In addition, the rank of captain and admiral is intimidating, and people online are naturally shy, so if a brand new cadet wants to become your friend 5 seconds after joining your ship, he or she is probably up to no good.

During the middle of May, LeaderFed began his attacks against TOL by attacking all of the events we held in public chat rooms, which had the effect of driving all of our activities - such as trivia's and parties - into private rooms. From a military stand point, it was as if he was attacking our lesser protected outer settlements before going after the more central, and heavily defended sims held in private rooms. Despite this, I still tried to work for peace, and I made no plans to attack the FFSC.

Then came round 2 on May 20th - the forged E-mail that was sent by one of LeaderFed's hackers. The E-mail was forged to make it looks like I sent it to a member in the FFSC threatening him and cursing him. The plan was to use it to get me TOSed by AOL, but everyone realized it was a forgery and the author of it was TOSed and kicked off of AOL.

That personal attack on me still did not change my basic strategy, which was to do what we had always done through all of the problems with Ben, the Civil War and Uridien1 - to just keep on simming, to try to have fun and not worry about what will happen next, to just react to it as best as we can when something happens. I made no plans for war or to attack. I saw no point in disrupting the lives of my simmers by making any defensive plans. I just reinforced to my captains all of the lessons we had learned from dealing with Ben and Uridien1 and how to respond to raids.

Even though his espionage operations were not going very well, by May 25, LeaderFed had gathered enough low lifes and decided to push the war into high gear. The Indelphi sim was raided, and despite my attempts to teach my captains how to respond to a raid, Mike clearly was not paying attention, for the Indelphi sim was successfully disrupted.

On May 28, the Endeavor sim was raided, and again, it was successfully disrupted by the forces of the FFSC. I was starting to become a bit concerned. Did I have to attend all of my sims in case they were raided because I had been the only captain to date who had managed to recover from a raid and keep on simming?

The fact that the FFSC, despite its small size, had been able to muster two successful attacks against TOL in less than a week greatly concerned me. I figured if they kept it up for a few more weeks, it would probably cause a great number of people to become fed up and quit Trek Online, wiping out all of the population gains we had achieved during April and pushing TOL once again to the brink of destruction.

After the Indelphi attack, I E-mailed the entire club and informed them about what was going on, and building on the success of the war against Uridien1, in my E-mail I outlined the entire history of Trek Online, going right back to the early struggles against Ben. Even though I felt I had the FFSC spies in TOL pretty well under control, the history provided an insurance policy against anything they may have been planning to say or do in case they sprung into action. It also prevented rumors from swirling around the club about what was going on and why we were being attacked. Rumors and fear are never a good thing in a sim club. Just telling people how it is has always worked for me.

Once again the E-mail history and the attacks worked to unite the club. The waves of new cadets who had joined during April and May quickly became assimilated and felt a part of the club now that they had been called to help defend it. In addition, I received a tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement from members, saying that they were with me and would do what ever was necessary to keep on simming. But I still feared how long that sentiment would last if the attacks continued.

But I did not have to worry. After the Endeavor was raided, club members took matters in their own hands and began to attack LeaderFed. The names of those who took part in the raids and of FFSC council members became public knowledge in TOL. I'm sure they received many threatening E-mails and IMs from TOLers. I was also finally starting to think about building on this support and declaring war on the FFSC. I did not want to stoop to their level and attack their sims, but I started to let it be known that I was pondering going to war. Between my talk of war, LeaderFed's already existing paranoia about Trek Online, my playing up his fears by letting him know I knew his plans, and TOL members bombarding LeaderFed and others with angry questions and statements, LeaderFed changed his tune and began to sue for peace. In addition, several of the raiders actually came forward and apologized to me and asked if they could become members of Trek Online instead! Of course, I did not let them join.

Nevertheless, it was only after several days of very long and strange conservation's with LeaderFed that lasted long into the night and verged into a tremendous amount of historical hyperbole that we finally reached a peace agreement, and the agreement was simple enough. Neither club would raid the other. Both clubs would stop spying on each other. Our members would leave each other alone, and TOL and the FFSC would work to build a Simming League to ensure a peaceful resolution to future conflicts. Maybe LeaderFed gave in because I found out that it cost him extra to be online - long distance charges or something like that. As soon as I learned about that in late May I would try to talk to him to keep him online for as long as possible.

The people on the FFSC Council who were helping me out in secret quickly voiced their support for the agreement. Between their persuasive arguments in the Council and the threatening messages other council members were receiving, everyone but Ben and Uridien1 voted to accept the peace treaty.

For the first time, I truly felt that maybe peace was with in reach, and maybe this time, the peace will last. For some reason, all of us in TOL felt like something was different this time, and all of us felt that we could let our guard down and celebrate.

On June 1, 1997, I wrote in my diary the following. "A new month and a new age? Well at least it was the first day of peace and relaxation we had in a long while around here. No longer having to worry about spies from the Fed, or raids and attacks. Its very peaceful. Of course Urid is mad about this new peace, but what is one to expect? Its been about a month of fighting... a month of war. A month of stupidly. Hopefully we can put it all behind us and go down the road we should."

 

Chapter 18: The Simming League

"I have a former crew member harassing me now, I have tossed him and wrote havran, who only said contact a guide.........oh well.....nice to have my crew and sim disrupted and havran wont do a thing. We need this league." - Hod Kadrea of the UKDA Sim Group, April 24, 1997, speaking before the Senate, arguing for the need for sim clubs to band together in a more comprohensive fashion to deal with trobule makers.

The Simming League is simultaneously my proudest achievement and my greatest source of frustration.

The idea to create an United Nations type organization for the simming world is an extension of the Lost Generation's desire to create larger simming communities - in this case a community among leaders and all sim clubs. Even though the economics had changed, the spirit of the lost generation still lingered on until mid 1997. But to some extent the desire to create an United Nations of simming was also the result of the harsh new realities facing simming as it moved into the third generation. Club leaders soon began to realize they needed to reach out to each other and work together to find a way to end the chaos.

The movement to create the Simming League began in March of 1997 when FAmrlAnnie began to contact leaders of the sim clubs that had message boards at AOL's Non Affiliated Gaming Forum (NAGF), which was the largest private (meaning non SFOL) simming forum on AOL. The forum was created in the wake of SFOL's break up as an attempt by AOL to somehow control the private sim clubs by giving them message boards and encouraging their simmers to stay online beyond the 5 hour monthly limit. The forum was administered by volunteers, most of whom come from private sim clubs. Thus, instead of AOLs plan to control simming, a rivalry between the SFOL hosts at the SFOL forum, and the hosts from private sim clubs manning the NAGF developed. This rivalry carried over to the leaders of the private sim clubs as well. However, hosts in SFOL were just captains and did not have any real power. The higher ups in both SFOL and the NAGF got along quite well. The people at the NAGF, including their leader, OGF Havran, did their best to provide us what resources they could, and sometimes Havran received support from high up SFOL types. However, at the level at which SFOL hosts and private sim clubs operated, the rivalry was intense, and as TOL's history demonstrates, most private clubs had to fend for themselves and did not receive much help from AOL. Luckily for TOL, Scott was an AOL host and could deal with some of the trouble makers we encountered.

However, most other clubs did not have someone like Scott to defend them. FAmrlAnnie was so fed up with SFOL people harassing her club and with AOL refusing to do anything about it that she decided it was time for the private sim clubs on AOL to band together to form a union of sorts against SFOL and AOL. While private clubs during the second generation got along peacefully enough with SFOL, now that the strains of the third generation were beginning to take their toll on both SFOL and the private clubs, the old animosity had returned. Animosity was also directed at AOL in general, for all of the wars and raids sim clubs were experiencing was a very new phenomenon. With only 5 hours of online time, a person like Ben or Uridien1 could not afford to stay online to cause so much trouble, and if they did, they were easily confined to one sim. Now, many clubs, not just TOL, were experiencing massive problems with disruptive members, and AOL did nothing to help.

The focal point of the movement became a series of E-mail and chat meetings during March and April, first called the NAGF Senate, and later renamed the Sim Senate. At these meetings the leaders of a wide range of sim clubs - for the first time in simming history - began to communicate with each other, exchange stories about what difficulties their clubs were facing, and gave each other support and advise. At the meetings, Trekology, a well respected second generation leader of the GAMM sim group, began to talk about some ideas very familiar in TOL history. He submitted resolutions for the Sim Senate clubs to vote on, calling for us to petition the NAGF and AOL to give us more aid, and even forums of our own. He wrote, "Personally, I feel that we should be able to have the access to the same features that SFOL does and while OGF Havran works hard at the NAGF, we should have our own forum."

Unfortunately, the NAGF told us that their hands were tied and they could do little to help us at the time. In the long term, however, the ideas presented to the NAGF did bring about some changes. From 1998 to 2000, the NAGF did construct little forums for every sim club that wanted one. The NAGF also became more active in monitoring the message boards and controlling disruptive posters. Ironically, after all that had happened, Ben's dream became a reality, even though he had no part in creating it. What he wanted was not so far fetched after all, he just went about it the wrong way in thinking that AOL would put him in charge of running a new forum.

In 1997, however, when the NAGF said that they could not do anything more for us - as was the case with Ben's forum protest in the summer of 1996 when AOL rejected his appeals - the movement began to fall apart. Even Admiral Annie herself began to become less active in it. But all was not lost, for several people, including myself, AdmrlOpp of the United Association of Colonies (UAC), RomiDax (a captain in the respected second generation club TrekZ), CmdrJKyle - who ironically would later go on to become the leader of SFOL - and LeaderFed of all people, stepped forward articulating a new idea. If AOL would not or could not help us, we would just have to ban together and solve the problems facing simming on our own.

In May and June we began to expand on the idea of the Sim Senate into an alliance or league of some kind. Given my natural tendency to write guidebooks and the like, I ceased the moment and by early May (in the middle of the problems with the FFSC) wrote a mini creed for the League of Star Trek Sim Groups, and this creed, naturally, became the focal point of future discussions. The basic goals of the League were to maintain peace and security, to present an united front against aggressors, and to provide a forum where sim groups could exchange tips and ideas.

Unfortunately, in early June, LeaderFed began to present his own ideas to instead create an alliance called the Federation of United Clubs, which had the unfortunate abbreviation FUC. The main point of contention was over to what degree would member clubs be required to come to each others aid and defend each other in times of war. After all, TOL, the FFSC and many other clubs were engaged in or had just ended a whole series of sim wars, so defense and security was on many peoples minds.

My Simming League plan only called for a defense pact, where first attempts would be to peacefully resolve wars by the League via meetings and negotiations. LeaderFed's plan called for a military alliance - pure and simple - where you would have to fight to defend your fellow clubs.

I do not mind an honest debate, but LeaderFed threatened to resume his war with TOL if we did not support and join the FUC. What was going on here was that while the FFSC council and many FFSC members wanted peace with TOL, LeaderFed had recruited a number of raiders, spies and secret police to fight Trek Online, and they were quite understandably upset that their war had been called off. They were pressuring LeaderFed to resume the war against TOL, so LeaderFed was looking for any excuse he could find.

In fact, the new demands from LeaderFed came a day after we signed the peace treaty. So I - in turn - quickly pressured SamScottB, FFSC's Vice President and simmer in Trek Online, saying that I would have to kick him out of TOL if the war resumed. He enjoyed TOL and wanted to remain a member of both clubs, so he worked to ensure that LeaderFed did not resume the war.

In addition, those involved in the discussions with the Simming League did not take kindly to LeaderFed's threats. Some of them - such as Admiral Jeff Sorenson (known simply as JDS) of Member Focused Simulations (MFS) - attempted to negotiate to reduce the growing tensions among the FFSC and TOL. JDS was a great help to Trek Online during May. I met Jeff actually when he contacted me in May asking if all of the horrible things he had heard about TOL were true. Needless to say, Ben, Uridien1 and LeaderFed had done wonders to destroy our reputation. When I quickly proved to Jeff that TOL was not a threat or evil club, we quickly became friends and he became involved in the League movement. He also offered his services during the war with the FFSC as a negotiator. On many occasions, he was the one who personally delivered my peace appeals to the FFSC council, which helped to convince several of those brave council members to secretly aid Trek Online.

Other less diplomatic minded leaders simply told LeaderFed that he should be ashamed of himself in threatening war against TOL to promote his vision for simming peace.

LeaderFed backed off of his threats and the peace between TOL and the FFSC remained intact. However, this caused LeaderFed to reap what he had sowed in May, for sometime around the middle of June, the raiders and other low lifes LeaderFed had recruited to fight TOL revolted and created their own group called the Maquis and vowed to destroy the FFSC.

Distracted by the Maquis, LeaderFed stopped paying much attention to the League. Work on a refined creed for the League, now renamed the Simming League, went ahead, and it was approved on June 30, 1997. Six clubs joined that first Simming League, with many more, including MFS, supporting it - but waiting to see how things went before they officially became a member. Unfortunately, as soon as the League started to get up and running, everyone seemed to run into problems in their own sim clubs and thus were unable to give much time to the League. On top of that, the NAGF - perhaps fearful that we were still plotting to unionize against them - took away our message boards. As a result, the League drifted apart and by September it had all but fizzled. However, the idea for a Simming League was not forgotten.

Even though it had fizzled after a few months, what the first Simming League did was very important. By bringing the leaders of many different sim clubs together for the first time, the first League affirmed and created some basic principles, which are still followed to this day. For starters, there was the idea that private sim clubs could come together to make a common community and help each other out. The notion of creating a forum where leaders could meet, get to know each other, work out problems and exchange ideas served as the foundation of the Simming League when it was brought back to life several months later. The Sim Senate, created by FAmrlAnnie, continues. The engine of the Senate - given to us by Trekology - is the ability of sim club leaders to present to the Senate resolutions and bills for the entire simming community to discuss, vote on, and follow as guiding principles.

Even more importantly, the community of leaders - through their condemnation of LeaderFed's threats to resume the war against Trek Online - rejected the notion of simming wars and proposed the idea of negotiations and hearings in the League to settle the differences between clubs. In addition sim clubs are now armed with more effective tools in dealing with people who want to disrupt a club or go to war so that today's simmers and leaders are blessed by wondering how and why could a sim war ever happen. But tools simply were not enough. Even though for all time people realized that sim wars were dumb, a few people with no lives could enjoy causing trouble and waging wars because they could hide in the shadows. When the entire simming community came together in the League, people were shamed to have to fight in such a disgraceful and petty manor in front of so many people.

And, of course, the most important thing of all. People simply coming together - before there were ever any problems - has a tremendous ability to diffuse situations. Just imagine what would have occurred had I attended Leaderfed's inauguration, or if there was a League at the time and both TOL and the FFSC were in it. We would have gotten off on a totally different foot, and if any problems developed between our clubs, we could easily deal with them because we already knew each other.

But what is even more amazing to me is that at the exact same time, club leaders on Prodigy began to contact myself and each other with calls to somehow band together to deal with the challenges of the new reality facing simming on Prodigy. The leader of this movement was Admiral Dailey, who was in charge of starting up a division of CompuServe's Fleet74 on Prodigy. While his Allied Clubs League (ACL) did not get as far as the first Simming League on AOL did - it fizzled after only a few March and April Sim Senate style meetings - it once again illustrates how powerful economic forces are in shaping the simming world, and how as a result of similar economic forces, the same cultural and historic movements can appear in vastly separate places.

In any event, the ACL did bring me into contact with Admiral Dailey, and as a result, a new chapter in TOLs history was soon to be born on CompuServe.

For years Fleet 74 had been THE sim club, and often the only sim club on CompuServe. By 1997, however, it was in serious trouble. CompuServe refused to switch to unlimited service at the same time AOL and Prodigy had. So, as a result, in 1997, thousands of people were leaving CompuServe every day for AOL, and the ranks of Fleet 74 were decimated as many of their simmers switched to other online services. In desperation, Fleet 74 - for the first time in its history - branched out to other online services in an attempt to start up simming divisions there.

A long time Fleet 74 leader, Admiral Dailey, was put in charge of Fleet 74's venture to start up a version of the club on Prodigy. However, by 1997, Prodigy was also a dying online service. While the USS Orion was one of the few chat sims that somehow managed to thrive in the largely deserted chat rooms of Prodigy, by the spring of 1997 Julie had given up on her several attempts to get the USS Sierra up and simming and decided to retire. While she did hold a few sims, they were sporadic and lightly attended at best.

There were a few other chat sims that popped up from time to time, including a classic era sim which did survive for about half a year, but the spring and summer of 1997 proved to largely be a desolate one. It was a far cry from the summer of 1996 in which every chat room in the science fiction area seemed to be swarming with simmers. So many had left for AOL.

Regardless, Prodigy was always an escape for me from the problems of AOL. On Prodigy, I could sim and run the club over there in peace. The few simmers and chatters who frequented the Trek rooms on Prodigy were all very close, and my Orion crew was full of wonderful characters who were great simmers and all very good friends. Morgan, Jedifire, Sels, Bo, Shane, Alec, Sean, they were all great people and we all had a tremendous amount of fun.

Amazingly, despite the fact that Prodigy was dying, I never found it difficult to keep the USS Orion simming. The core group of simmers was very tight nit and could always be relied upon, and the reputation of the Orion was very strong, even some Buletin Board simmers respected us. As a result, there were always people who would show up for a week or two to sim with us whe they had some free time.

However, Daily found it very difficult to start new sims and a Fleet 74 division on Prodigy. There just were not enough people to go around. He also did not recieve much support from the Fleet 74 managment on CompuServe and was burdened by their rules which did not apply to Prodigy, so in frustration, Daily left Fleet 74, took the one ship on Prodigy he had managed to start up, the USS Gateway, and tried to build up his own club around it. However, when that failed, and when his simmers started to drift over to the Orion, he came to me with the idea to start up a TOL division on CompuServe.

I immediately approved the idea and Daily got to work. I gave him free reign over CompuServe. All he had to do was report back to me and promote TOLs simming ideals of having fun sims and a friendly simming community which felt like an extended family.

Using his old connections and friends on CompuServe as a starting point, Daily was able to secure advertising space for Trek Online on CompuServe and the club quickly took off. Apparently many people were interested in joining a club that promised a fresh start in a simming world dominated by one old club. By July, there were two sections to TOL-CIS, the US division and the European division. There were 2 ships in the US division and 3 in the European division. Sadly, however, the flame of TOL-CIS burnt just as fast as it burned brightly. By September, with school restarting, many of the simmers and most of the captains were forced to retire. With that, the CompuServe division was devastated, and several attempts to restart it failed, mainly because CompuServe was a dying online service and few new recruits could be found. Even more tragically, Fleet 74 followed TOL-CIS to the grave. With it, CompuServe's rich simming tradition also died.

However, TOL's CompuServe division was the clubs first experimentation with republican government. On ComupServe Dailey ran a council which gave the leadership of the club a direct say and vote in affairs in TOL-CIS. Between Dailey urging me to adopt something similar for the club on AOL and Prodigy, LeaderFed's occasional propagandizing of how his club was working to become a simming republic, and memories of the debates I had with Scott over government and constitutions, I started to think more and more about the future of Trek Online and that maybe, as the threat of destruction was passing, was TOL approaching the time when it would be ready for a republic?

Yet, before that time arrived, there was still one last battle to fight.

 

Chapter 19: LeaderFed's Downfall

"That is the ultimate revenge, taking his club from him using the rules he setup." - Uridien1, IM with me, July 30, 1997, as we decided how we would get rid of LeaderFed.

During the first few days of June 1997, Ben and Uridien1 engaged in an intense private debate with LeaderFed and the other members of the FFSC Council about war and peace with TOL and about the Simming League. Ben, for some unknown reason - perhaps he was shamed after reading the TOL History I had sent out after the FFSC attack on the Indelphi (by early June it was starting to circulate in the FFSC) - suddenly wanted to start cooperating with TOL and wanted peace. Ben made it secretly known to Scott and myself that he wanted to redeem himself and someday rejoin TOL. To achieve that, Ben started to provide us with additional inside information about the FFSC. Ben's sudden change of heart infuriated Uridien1, and the two of them had a very public falling out on June 5. Believing that the key to future peace for Trek Online was keeping the two of them at odds, I started to drop hints in public that Ben was sorry and wanted peace with TOL and was trying to redeem himself to get back into the club, and that if Ben was successful at this, I would let him return when his suspension ended in February of 1998. When Uridien1 found this out, he became only more frustrated and angry with Ben.

However, Uridien1 was also very angry at LeaderFed for ending the war with TOL, and he was smart enough to realize that he could not take TOL without Ben, so Uridien1 decided to try to take over the FFSC instead. On June 10, perhaps in an attempt to gain my support, Uridien1 told me that he would not attack TOL if he took over the FFSC. I simply ignored him.

A few days later, either at Uridien1's design, or far more likely just by a stroke of good luck and timing, LeaderFed's raiders revolted and formed the Maquis. With this, the FFSC was plunged into a civil war even more bitter and destructive than the one fought by TOL.

While Uridien1 and the Maquis had the same stated goals - the destruction of LeaderFed - I never received any reports of them working together. In addition, LeaderFed would immediately kick any person out of the FFSC who he thought was supporting the Maquis, and Uridien1 remained in the club through out the entire war against the Maquis. What, perhaps is amazing is that Ben and Uridien1 did not run off to join the Maquis, take control of them, and redirect them on their original path to attack Trek Online. The fact that Ben and Uridien1 had split, and that I kept pressure on them during the entire summer to keep them apart, testifies to how successful keeping them apart was to maintaining peace in TOL.

The war against the Maquis lasted about as long as the TOL Civil War - only a few short weeks. While I do not know how it was done, LeaderFed managed to defeat them by the end of June. On July 2, 1997, the FFSC held victory day celebrations. The celebrating was to be short lived, however.

The war against the Maquis only contributed to LeaderFed's paranoia. Even though the FFSC was founded to be a republic - and it did have a council and constitution - LeaderFed had turned into a tyrant, kicking out anyone he had the slightest doubts about. This caused DataBev and others, mostly the original FFSC types who founded the club and secretly aided TOL during May, to quit the club shortly after the end of the Maquis war - some time around July 7 - and start their own sim club. Those who remained in the FFSC did not care for LeaderFed and wanted him removed. Sensing the threat to his power, LeaderFed continued with the persecutions.

For the second half of June and into the first weeks of July, LeaderFed did not contact me all that much. On July 11, however, he contacted me, and continued to contact me, asking if I could be interviewed for his clubs newsletter. I said I would think about it. At the same time, several of my old informants contacted me and told me that LeaderFed was hoping that in the interview I would talk about the war the FFSC fought against TOL and say something nasty about the FFSC which LeaderFed would then publicize to either use as an excuse to redeclare war on TOL or say that TOL was still against the FFSC thus justifying his extreme security measures. I do not know if the accusations were true or not, but at the time I believed them.

A few days later DataBev, Turalyon3, DAN SILVA3, and Uridien1 sprung into action and launched a revolution in the FFSC that toppled LeaderFed and brought DataBev back as the new president. However, on July 18, LeaderFed somehow managed to find some supporters and launched a counter attack by convincing enough people in the FFSC that he deserved a trial before he was kicked out. The trial was complete chaos and in the nasty campaign that followed LeaderFed, amazingly, managed to restore himself as the president of the FFSC.

I had stayed out of internal FFSC matters up to this point in time because I figured LeaderFed was close to falling and there was no reason to get involved. However, now that he had returned, and given the war he had fought against TOL, his threats to renew the war over the Simming League, and the latest news I had received about him wanting to revive the war over a newsletter interview, I felt it was time to get involved and get rid of LeaderFed once and for all. My decision to instruct Scott and Ben to work together to eliminate LeaderFed, and my decision to inform people like DataBev that I would aid them in their struggle against LeaderFed became very easy to make when on July 29, many TOL members began to receive threatening and harassing E-mails from ForumAlly@hotmail.com.

Our initial evidence - even though it was circumstantial - pointed to LeaderFed as the one behind the hotmail E-mails. For example, the only TOL members contacted were the ones who had been at Mike's trial, and LeaderFed attended that trial. The demands ForumAlly@hotmail was making were identical to the surrender demands that LeaderFed had made to TOL in May, and the E-mails were not as refined as Uridien1's Forum Ally had been. They instead resembled LeaderFed's typing patterns and the style he had used when he made the ForumsAlly screen name in early May.

With in a matter of days, the simming world totally turned on its head. Uridien1 replied saying that he was not sending the E-mails and wanted to work with me and Scott to bring LeaderFed to justice for stealing his alter ego. (Yes, Uridien1 finally admitted to being Forum Ally on AOL.) But the simming world turning on its head was not a result of converging interests or someone posing as Forum Ally. It happened because on June 19, Mike - perhaps still feeling betrayed that Uridien1 had violated his trust in April when he was allowed on the Indelphi - decided to get even. Mike reported to Scott that Uridien1 had stolen his password. Scott immediately used his AOL connections to report Uridien1, only to have Mike a few hours later admit that he lied and made up the entire thing. Things moved quickly from there. A trial was held on June 23 and Mike was found guilty of several crimes. In light of his service to the club, he was not kicked out of TOL - he was only demoted to the rank of Captain and suspended from TOL for 2 weeks. He also gave a public apology to the club, Scott and Uridien1. This, however, was enough for Uridien1. It convinced him that I really was not a bad guy after all. In the end, I was on the side of justice and I would punish one of my own admirals for breaking the law to go after TOLs biggest, most hated enemy, Uridien1. Now, a few weeks after the trial, Uridien1 had admitted his own guilt and was willing to work with TOL to get rid of LeaderFed. And even more amazingly, Uridien1's efforts to get rid of LeaderFed were legal. He did not revert to his old tricks and plotting and psychological games. He worked within the legal system of the FFSC to get rid of LeaderFed - if only because he told me "That is the ultimate revenge, taking his club from him using the rules he setup."

In addition, Ben and Uridien1, even though they now hated each other, once again united, this time to get rid of LeaderFed. When these efforts gained enough momentum to bring LeaderFed to a new trial in the FFSC, LeaderFed - in an insane plot to divert attention off of him - charged Ben with treason. I immediately rushed in to defend Ben in the FFSC courts, and the FFSC once again descended into civil war. The various attempts to hold trials were raided by opposing factions. It was an insane mess, no one had any control, but I was doing my best to exploit the various connections I had with in the FFSC to try to find as many votes as possible to impeach LeaderFed and kick him out of the club. Some where during all of this, Ben even apologized for attacking the Freedom sim and said he was the one behind it and that Uridien1 had nothing to do with it.

Where as in May and June I had refused to allow people from the FFSC to join TOL when they wanted to, now in the end of July and early August, I opened the gates of TOL and allowed refugees from the FFSC to join TOL. One of them, TorresEng, enjoyed a very long and distinguished career as a simmer in Trek Online.

On August 1, however, the dynamics of everything suddenly changed. Upon my request, Ben forwarded me all of the E-mails he had received from LeaderFed over the past month. In those days, AOL saved your old E-mail for a month, instead of just a day or two. Not only did the E-mails provide valuable intelligence, but they also revealed that as part of the victory day celebrations on July 2, LeaderFed had E-mailed his entire club a pirated copy of Photoshop. Scott was quickly informed and he passed the info up AOL's chain of command, and LeaderFed went bye bye. Since he had only forwarded the E-mail, and did not start the E-mail chain or personally pirate the program, he was only suspended from AOL for about two months, but it was enough. It, however, took a few days for the E-mail to work its way up the ranks of AOL. LeaderFed used this time to pretend that he was gracefully stepping aside as the President to end the fighting. Everyone was so tired that no one cared and we gave him this one last moment to be delusional.

By the end of August, what was left of the FFSC held Presidential elections, and, believe it or not, Uridien1, with my help, won. Yes, Uridien1 became the president of a sim club. With the rift between Ben and Uridien1 still alive and well, Ben quit the FFSC, and many followed him. However, Uridien1 did manage to, through a number of wars, headaches and hard work, right the FFSC and turn it into a nice little sim club which enjoyed a good run before fizzling out. I suppose there is such a thing as karma after all.

I continued to help Uridien1 by becoming his unofficial advisor, and several of our talks discussed if Uridien1 should keep the FFSC a republic. These made me wonder even more about the future of Trek Online's government. During our talks, we both recognized the irony that Uridien1's ultimate punishment for all he did to Trek Online was to have to become the president of a sim club, heal it after a devastating civil war, and at the same time deal with wave after wave of disgruntled former club members who were out to destroy him.

LeaderFed did return for Uridien1's inauguration ceremonies on a friend's account and tried to cause some trouble. And, when he returned to AOL after his suspension was lifted he tried to claim that he should still be the president of the FFSC and Uridien1's club was not the real FFSC, but no one listened to him and LeaderFed rapidly faded away.

However, after LeaderFed's downfall, we began to realize that another person, Susan066, was responsible for the ForumAlly@hotmail E-mails. When we confronted her, she confessed and in a plea bargain she agreed to leave TOL. No one is really sure why she posed as ForumAlly. She was a member of the FFSC and a supporter of LeaderFed - so she could have been sending them on an order from LeaderFed. However, she was also a member of Trek Online - of the USS Independence.

In the middle of all of the problems with LeaderFed and the FFSC, I had finally gotten around to dealing with Scott for all of the great grief and harm he had caused TOL (and this is another reason why Uridien1 changed his act). Scott had become a friend and had fought valiantly against Uridien1 and the FFSC in an attempt to clean up the mess he had created for TOL, but that did not change the fact he pretty much caused most of the wars TOL had to fight. By July, his sim was starting to slip attendance wise, so I ceased the opportunity and canceled it. Scott really didn't care, however. I think after all of the fighting his heart just was no longer into simming. He did stay on till August to help defeat LeaderFed, but after that he slowly drifted away from TOL. I could have, and in reflection, should have gotten rid of Scott after the Civil War. It would have saved me all kinds of problems. But, for starters, it would have been wrong. Only Uridien1 was against Scott - the rest of the Independence crew supported him. They did not want him to be the President, but than again, no one liked the radical ideas he had proposed as President. Also, after the Civil War, all of us wanted to keep the club together. We wanted to make a club wide community. Had I cast Scott out, the Independence and Freedom would have left, and that would have defeated the entire reason why we fought the Civil War to try to find a way to make the club work. Lastly, had the Independence left, Mike would have probably left the club. With out Mike, there would never have been the Indelphi, which gave the club new life, and there never would have been W. Weasel who recruited 30 people into TOL when we needed them the most.

But by July, the Freedom had already stopped simming, the Independence was declining, and the club had expanded beyond the Independence Group, and had grown into a united community with a life of its own.

On July 19, the final Independence sim was held. Unfortunately, because I moved so quickly to cancel the Independence and move Scott into retirement, many of its crew members were only notified after the fact. One of these people was Susan066, and she was quiet upset about it. Thus, it is very possible that, being upset and knowing TOL history, she pulled one of the greatest ironies in simming history by using the name Forum Ally to attack me for canceling Scott's sim.

This of course raises the question, if a large part of my decision to get involved in overthrowing LeaderFed was due to the fact that I believed he was behind the hotmail E-mails, was what I did wrong because there is a possibility that he was not behind the E-mails?

Well, I suppose, but I do not see it that way. Lets just take his entire history - he had attacked TOL in May, and threatened war all during June and July. He needed to be dealt with.

Plus, how did I go about removing LeaderFed? Where possible, I tried to do it with in the confines of his legal system - by bringing him to trial and by working with Ben and Uridien1 and others to find council members who were willing to impeach him. While there were plenty of raids and counter raids, I never approved of the violence or used any violent methods to go after LeaderFed. In retrospect, it actually is amazing that the TOL Civil War did not descend into as much violence as occurred in the FFSC. All of our fighting was confined to E-mails, IMs and after the sims. In the FFSC, everything was disrupted, and people were not above using viruses and punting tools to eliminate opponents. How Uridien1 managed to restore peace is beyond me. I suspect that with LeaderFed gone, most of the extreme raiders - who employed such devices as viruses and punting tools - felt that they had their fun and went elsewhere to cause problems.

The violence and civil war existed in the FFSC long before I got involved, and the court cases and impeachment hearings I wished to bring against LeaderFed had not yet reached fruition when I discovered he had distributed a pirated copy of Photoshop. However, at the time, everyone could see that as soon enough order could be brought to the situation to hold a trial or impeachment hearing against LeaderFed he was done for. It is very possible that LeaderFed encouraged the many attacks and violence in the FFSC to delay his fate for as long as possible.

In addition, his own club members clearly did not want him to be their president. They had tried to revolt against him in mid July, and LeaderFed clearly had corrupted their dreams to make a simming republic. LeaderFed was a tyrant - who even though he had a council and wrote a constitution for the FFSC - kicked people out of his club left and right for the slightest infraction, rewarded people for turning in traitors and spies instead of for good sim performances, and turned the FFSC into a military force that attempted to destroy TOL. He was someone who needed to be eliminated. (This begs the question did the FFSC actually ever sim? Yes, they did.)

When I found out that he had distributed a pirated copy of a several hundred dollar program, I had to notify AOL. Things simply were out of my hands at that point in time. The fact that LeaderFed was suspended from AOL quickly solved everyone's problems. TOL no longer had to worry about the FFSC being a threat because LeaderFed was gone, and the people in the FFSC were now able to freely sim in peace. On top of it all, Uridien1 was not going to attack TOL because I had punished Mike and finally got rid of Scott. Plus, because Uridien1 was now experiencing first everything I had experienced as the President of Trek Online, he apologized for all he had ever done and changed his ways. Ben was not going to attack TOL because he was now on a quest to behave himself and regain membership.

As TOL moved into September of 1997, we celebrated our one year anniversary. After a year of immense struggle, we finally were confident that we had peace. In private chats, Chip and I agreed that our sense of impending doom had finally disappeared - that things really were for the better this time. In September of 1997, Trek Online truly celebrated for the first time in its history. Somehow, through the very dark days and constant fighting, we had managed to survive, and now, Trek Online was thriving. Despite everything, we were approaching a hundred members and several new sims were starting up.

I think we just were lucky, and we were able to survive because at key times the club banded together. We helped each other out, gave each other support and encouragement, and always, no matter how hard things became, always tried to focus on simming and having a good time. While Chip, Scott and myself had always been looking to make a true club wide simming family and community, more than anything else, the wars brought the club together and forged a tremendous sense of unity and purpose - if people hated us so much, we must be special. In addition, the struggles gave us a sense of purpose - that Trek Online must always work to ensure that no club would ever experience anything like the wars and fighting TOL experienced in 1997.

Hope carried us through the dark days of 1997. We all had dreams about what Trek Online and simming should look like, dreams that were created in the early days of the club, dreams that we wanted to see become a reality, dreams which no one wanted to give up on. During the dark days, as we huddled together, waiting for and fending off one attack after the next, we encouraged each other and hoped that someday our dreams would become a reality.

Looking back, the struggles were worth it. They helped to shape the club, made us stronger, made us unique. Despite all of the bickering the dreams of Chip, Scott and myself find a way to complement each other and become a reality.

Also looking back, it is amazing how - while at the time we all knew we wanted to make a new kind of sim club, and we all had different ideas about how to go about it, and we all had a sense that we could make a break with the old order of things and take advantage of first 20 hours and then unlimited - everything seemed back than to be complete chaos and one random, violent event after another. However, in history, everything appears to be smooth and orderly, as if it was guided by some unseen hand.

 

Chapter 20: Scott's Story

"I'm not sure about you either, but since you got this thing started, you must have some good traits." - Scott to Chas, sometime during the Civil War when the two attempted to work together.

In September of 1997, with LeaderFed defeated, Ben and Uridien apologetic and attempting to make amends for their past transgressions, Trek Online held wild celebrations for its one year anniversary. Somehow, we had made it, we had survived and now, we could all enjoy a bright future of wacky simulated adventures. Most of the sims had special anniversary celebrations which brought together simmers from AOL and Prodigy. Special chat parties, filled with jelly bean fights, pools of spam and smiting galore were held. To mark the occasion, I published the first version of My Simming Memoirs so that future generations would never forget the struggles and bravery of Trek Online during its first year. As part of my first simming memoirs, I included a chapter written by Scott, and here it is, reprinted in its entirety. I hope it gives everyone a different and interesting perspective from one of TOLs other founding leaders.

"I have not been good at dates or exactness and so I am unable to convey them to you, but the living experience that TOL, USG, UFP/SF went to are all there, waiting to be relived again. Some times I feel we need to learn of everything to make sure it does not happen again or how to deal with it when it does happen. To know the future, one must have mastered the past.

What was life like with Charlie and myself back in the early days? Well we did not know each other, nor in the beginning each other's personalities (We would find them out, in a most unfortunate manner).

We stayed our separate ways for the most part. I was the Executive Officer of the USS Independence-A, and our Captain was CaptPLynch. Patrick and I talked frequently on the phone with each other and become good friends. Many have asked me how in the world did we meet, well strangely enough in a similar manner as Chip and Charlie :)

I logged onto my eWorld account, Sdbuch and while not believing the news and talks of Apple really shutting it down and our club, I planned to get on e-mail my fellow crew members and say I told you so. I never got that opportunity, but instead a long text file loaded up explaining what happened. eWorld merged with AOL and wanted us to transfer over there, we got 20 free hours for it and the software (v2.5) was right there. I did it. Once I downloaded the software I just sat there in my chair looking at my Performa 6200CD just thinking of all the friends I have lost, and my crew members. I was a Lt. Commander in a popular sim group, just enjoyed Star Trek and Mac Addicts <g>.

The next day I signed onto AOL and got out my Master Card to get an account, I had no idea what name to choose, than I thought why not choose Sdbuch again so that if by miracle a friend of mine can locate me, Sdbuch@aol.com instead of Sdbuch@eworld.com, it'd be logical to other E-World Members. Well I found out the next month, no indeed they were forever lost with time.

With my time online I discovered Keyword: Trek, and yes of course the Bridge. I did not have friends online, nor was I in a Sim Group, I just used it for work and enjoyment. On this day I did go to the Bridge were as usual someone was advertising a sim group, well this was usual and I did not have the interest nor will in it anymore. Than unlike any other time he IMed me, a CaptPLynch. He told me he had a sim group already and needed a Executive Officer, and the only reason I even remotely thought about it was the fact that he IMed me, it was more personal. I told him I would think about it and e-mail him later today. I thought about the pros and cons, and than remembered the great times I had simming with my Mac Crew Members. Than I had my answer. I sent him an e-mail and said my decision will be based on how you answer this question Captain, are you on a Macintosh PowerPC, 68k, or Windows 3.1? He answered a Macintosh PowerPC. I told him that yes I would be his Executive Officer if he still needed me and that I was a Mac person also and was from eWorld :)

Of course he accepted me :P He brought me a ton of e-mail to absorb, which I did. He wanted to ease me into it, so he brought me to my first sim in 2 1/3 months. It was a fantastic crew, you could not believe how kind everyone was to me, someone so new. As I recall an ensign, StarFox25, I know she was on a PC, but it really didn't matter I guess. I did become good friends with her as she lived in Wisconsin, in fact not far from me at all, and what was ironic is that I visited her hometown frequently as my Aunt lived up there, I would drive up periodically to say hi to my Aunt and think of Anissa (Fox).

Down the road I joined the Vindicator. I cannot recall clearly how I met one CaptChasSF, but I believe he was the one to IM me. I did enjoy the Vindicator also, nice crew although I must say I was new to the Game Master idea or as Charlie called it, Sim Master (SM).

Around December all hell broke loose. CaptPLynch left us and his account was not active. He called me to tell me he was done and threw in the towel, but it was on my answering machine and I could not call him back as I did not have HIS phone number. I did decide finally to break this news to the crew, it was a miracle they let me survive after hearing it <g>. But I could tell at that point things would be forever changed and the touch that was there would be lost. I did nominate Fox as my Executive Officer as I was left in Command of an entire club. I did change it to one ship as I did not want to command a club, remember the highest rank I held on eWorld was Lt Commander, and I was not prepared for such as leap.

In the process of commanding a ship, I realized quickly I had to report to know one, I was the one that others came to me. Ever wonder where the ones that give help and are in charge go for help? So do I! LOL. I had to basically reteach myself everything as I went along. I did tell my CO, CaptChasSF who transformed into AdmChasUSG the situation. I also become active in the Vindicator's sims and was promoted to Lt.

My guiding light and inspiration quickly came to be Anissa, or Fox. She as a excellent Command and First Officer, there just was no one better than her. Our crew held together for a bit of time, unfortunately there were those out to just get ME of all people. In their eyes they felt I killed of Patrick or made him leave, when in fact he was TOSed out of AOL and di not want to tell me. Forum Ally later appeared and at a Chat with my XOs soon-to-be-husband Anissa, Anissa, and Uridien1. I found out Uridien1 was Forum Ally with his chat. Before this Uridien1 was a great guy, I was not really involved with him much, and nor was he. But I know he was a funny guy in my sims, and I remember clearly some fantastic sims with Uridien1 and DEfissel, such as the classic episode of Dan and Uri getting drunk at Quark's. Oh the entire crew had a great time with this sim, I know one of the clobbered me over the head with a chair and knocked me out, than when I came to I found a drunk Klingon (My XO Anissa) standing above me who also whacked me good for another unconscious time just lying there, I believe she did it by accident, I stood up and said wha... just as she threw a chair at Quark :) Quark ducked, and I... well I took a nap. But back to the story. Uridien1 was Forum Ally in my mind and as we would later find out he hated me for what happened to Plynch and blamed me fully and than of course he admitted it, than denied it again, ack!

It became a horrible situation and drove a lot of my crew away, later I talked with Charlie on the USS Independece-A joining USG/FP. Finally we did and went through some turbulent times.

Jumping to a time -- the dark age as it came to be. The new club Charlie made was just dumped down. I did talk to Charlie immediately in Peace Talks - a PR. I was being left President of the club as Chip was resigning and Charlie said he was too. I convinced Charlie not to leave and how to create a new constitution with a democracy. At the time I had many many members come up to me saying how to save the club and what they wanted, I carried out on that. (Chas' note, in these few previous paragraphs Scott has clearly burred the events of December and January and confused the order of some of the events.)

Finally later on Charlie gave his last proposal to me. It met all of what the members wanted except he was the sole power and could veto or over turn anything made by the CO and XO Council. In other words, it served no good use if we still have that one main person. While we need the symbolic leader of a President and one top leader such as what we have in the US, we could not have what he proposed. So I disagreed after much thought.

When he resigned I knew what he was doing, he had it all planned out from his Military background and personality. I knew that all hope for the right way was lost, yet still sent out my planned e-mail from the other day as we planned together. I knew and would not expect anything less than the USS Vindicator crew to follow him, along with the USS Endeavor as the talk behind my back all centered around Josh replacing me. One thing I did not count on was Chip leaving also, once he left I knew that what I was doing could not be right and was wrong. At that moment I just sat down and just felt bad. I knew I had been betrayed and that he had managed to route everything past myself. I could not compete with such as Militant Leader and my ideals on discipline were not there from previous months or years, but in recent action of one Uridien1, Forum Ally, Ben, and DEFissel. But Charlie centered around the discipline plans I had as they were not wanted by the general membership. (Scott probably means that he felt he lost the debate and the club revolted against him because I successfully cast the debate against his discipline plan, and he failed to cast me as a militant leader.)

I gave up and resigned from all hope and left the thing that was left. I of course remained with the USS Independence-A and USS Freedom. Which later I gave command to the Freedom to my XO, Anissa, which she deserved unlike anyone and she loved it!! VgerMom soon became her Executive Officer whom was a Vulcan. VgerMom was a 36 year old mom of two who really enjoyed Star Trek.. so just how did she meet up with the Independence? Well back in the day I was one for Tech Live Auditorium, I would go into a unstaffed row and give better tech support than any other AOLTech <g> VgerMom was one of those who received my tech support and it worked, I also told her some tips for helping her computer, she loved it so much she stayed in contact with me from than on! Eventually she joined our ship and LOVED it :) Unfortunately a flood came to her house and everything was lost, we regained contact with her 62 days from that point and to this day are unable to reach her. She was one of the first members of TOL on AOL to receive a medal.

Back to the story at hand. Chip, Josh, Chas, and someone else all meet for a private meeting for the new club. Leaving me out of the light once again and going behind my back for the 9th time (but who's counting, hey? <g>). After the meeting, I squeezed Charlie out of a Chat Log. I than talked to him about it all and told him I would not be joining that club again. Finally after still talking to him for greater lengths, I agreed to run the new Academy and my ship. I would no longer be in any Command areas. Only on that condition would I join back and forget the betrayals and hope to make a new friendship. (This paragraph refers to a meeting I held with Chip and Josh on January 31 in which they pledged their support to me after I resigned.)

We eventually got everything worked out and more problems followed us with LeaderFed, they were taken care of again. Charlie and I become very good friends in the following months. Anissa retired from the Freedom and of course that sim went out with a blast, literally. That is about all from my perspective in the TOL Realm. It had its ups and downs, but its been my home :)"