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History of the Peng Challenge Thread, Part I: Origins, Schism, and the Meeks Interregnum

The Peng Challenge Thread originated in the early days immediately after the dawn of recorded history (that is, around the time of the Gold Demo, which is equivalent to the Bronze Age of Combat Mission), when a certain individual, that being myself, Seanachai, chose to challenge another individual, Mr. Peng, to a PBEM.

It is wrong to maintain that Peng proffered the challenge. Peng, in fact, inspired the challenge. The original Thread, which went to something like 3,000 posts before collapsing into a black hole, was titled "Peng, I Take Our Challenge Public". It can still be visited by the adventurous who find the lost ways, I believe, but further attempts to post to it are impossible.

Because many of the members of the Combat Mission forums are as keen on spectacle and as filled with bloodlust as your ancient Roman plebe, it quickly drew the attention of a large and boisterous crowd of the cognescenti (affectionately called 'halfwits' by most), all chanting for blood, offering odds, and chundering out their own taunts and insults, first to the participants, and then, more generally, to each other.

Many remained to become Seniour Knights of the Cesspool, a name affectionately bestowed on the place by a long lost teenage landsmann named 'Minnesota Joe', who entered one day, and unceremoniously declared the place to be 'A Cesspool'. He then departed, and no one knows to this day if he still lives.

After the rather spectacular death of the first Peng Challenge Thread (people used to show up from other boards just to see if it was true that BTS had let a UBB thread go to that length. BTS, like the scientists who created the Atomic Bomb, not knowing if it's detonation might result in a chain reaction that would annihilate the planet's atmosphere, were apparently keen to see what would happen), there was a flurry as various members started up 'new' Peng Challenge Threads to fill the awful, rending void that the demise of the original had left in the fabric of the Universe, and the hearts of its followers. Also, I understand, there was a certain amount of genteel looting, burning, and pillaging (but not that other thing; a gentleman always asks, and if told 'no' he desists with a murmured apology) as various followers of the Peng Challenge Way took this as a general signal for the End of Civilization As We Know It, and surged out into the night to get in a bit of fun before order could be restored.

This led to the first Peng Challenge Thread schism, in which two competing threads were started, and followers hewed to one or the other, and spat insults and invective at the apostates in the other thread. No different, really from what they did to each other within the threads, but from different locations, and it made for a rather nice Holy War effect. The advocates of Orthodoxy, including most of the Seniour Knights, posted to the thread again started by yours truly, entitled "Peng, I Am Still Taking Our Bloody Challenge Public", while some younger Knights and a bunch of heretical 'extras' that wandered in to round out the crowd scenes posted in the evil thread, started by the Arch-Heretic Elijah Meeks, who's Southern US origins and biblical moniker made him the perfect villain for any schism, aided by the fact that he was 'as crazy as a tree full of rats".

Eventually, although Crusades were launched, heretics were burned, innocent bystanders were pelted with filth and spittle, the entire matter was decided by BTS (Steve, I believe) who gave the nod of the One True Apostolic Thread to the one begun by Seanachai, and clamped the Inquisitorial padlock of Heresy on the one begun by Elijah Meeks. Meeks, mouthing curses, promising vengeance, and sputtering a bit, then fled to some kind of 'Adventure Vacation/Research Mission' to the arctic circle, where he spent months reading Finnish copies of 'Playboy', longing for Asian women, and grooming a lack-witted California cousin for release on to the Thread as the first step in his revenge.

Now, mind, schism is a painful experience for any faith, and while Meeks's apostasy was grievous, his dedication to the Peng Challenge Thread was profound. A solution was attempted. Meeks, who refused to post in the new, One True Revealed Thread until a trial by combat between himself and Seanachai should absolve him, or force him to make obeisance and admit his error, was persuaded to return to the Thread by the offer of a position commensurate with his abilities: he was offered the post of Inquisitor General of the Peng Challenge Thread. Yes, in a brilliant move, seemingly, the originator of schism was set to sniff out heretics. This offer was made more appealing by the fact that the scenario designed for the 'Trial by Combat' was a nasty piece of work intended to humiliate both participants (another Cesspool tradition was born).

While brilliant, the results were mixed. Meeks, though undeniably efficient, brutal, and single-minded in a way that would have brought a rush of joy and a happy dance step to the walk of Torquemada himself, was aggressive to the point of psychosis in his drive to make the Peng Challenge Thread all that it should be. First there were murmurs, then voices raised, and then shouts of anger. Meeks responded as only the truly zealous can, by ever harsher and more vicious treatment of the protesters, or 'protestants', as they called themselves. Finally, after 99 newbies were nailed to the doors of the Peng Challenge Thread, Meeks stepped down from his seat of power. He fled into the wilderness, and sightings of him since have been sporadic, at best.

Some say he is gone, never to return. Some claim that he waits without, brooding, and will return to the Peng Challenge Thread whenever it is threatened, rabid in his defense and smiting the unbelievers hip and thigh, bringing red ruin down upon them and all detractors of the Holy Mutha Beautiful Thread. Some say he was never a 'real' person, but a creation of the Old Ones. Who knows? The Old Ones know. Go and ask of them about Meeks. Mind, the response'll be 'here, you little sod, bugger off, make yourself useful, get me another beer, now go stand over there with the other lackwitted supplicants and truth seekers, Lor' where do these little pillocks come from, anyways? Another one wanting the 'Truth' about Meeks, Lord love and aquatic fowl. Wankers.'