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Paranoia is it's own reward.

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The Great Video Card Race

A day in the life of a video card...

It was hot in the surgery waiting room that afternoon. TNT sat looking out the window. All around him were twenty or so old and damaged video cards. The smell of solder filled the air and the walls echoed from the sound of broken fans. Some of the cards had been the victims of overclockers who’d become rather too ambitious. Most were here simply because old age had finally caught up with them.

Adjusting his glasses, TNT noticed a familiar figure hobbling down the driveway, towards the surgery entrance. ‘My God’, he said to himself softly.

A moment later, the frail image of Voodoo walked slowly through the doors. He looked around for somewhere to sit down. At first he couldn’t see anywhere to sit - the place was packed. TNT2 Ultra was there, nursing what looked like a broken heatsink. Next to him was Savage3D, looking dazed and moaning something about ‘drivers’. Turning his head, Voodoo met the curious gaze of TNT, and next to him, the only empty seat in the waiting area. Reluctantly, he sat down.

“Haven’t seen you for a long time,” said TNT.

“No, I’ve er, been keeping myself busy. You know how it is,” replied Voodoo.

“Yeah, sure,” replied TNT.

Feeling unsettled, Voodoo gazed around the room. He spotted someone in the corner, mumbling at the wall.

“Who the hell is that?” said Voodoo.

“Ah, that’s just Virge. Poor sod’s really losing it now. To be honest, I’m surprised he’s still around.”

His words hung in the air and both cards shuffled slightly in their seats.

“Still, he wasn’t bad in his day,” said Voodoo.

“True, true. He’ll be remembered,” said TNT.

Suddenly, the doors were flung wide open as a Soundblaster Live! came running into the waiting room.

“Nurse! Nurse! Help me!” he cried.

TNT and Voodoo quickly looked at each other. The soundcard looked badly damaged and a little confused. They could see scorch marks on his back and faint traces of smoke.

“What the hell is a soundcard doing in here?” said Voodoo.

“I dunno.” replied TNT. “Hey, son,” he said to the Soundblaster, “What’s the matter?”

“Some crazy kid tried to overclock me! I don’t know where he got the idea of overclocking a soundcard but the little bastard managed to melt half my components! If I get my hands on the fucker who put the idea in his head, I’ll-” That moment a nurse arrived and led him away into an empty room. The two old cards looked at each other again. A moment later they burst into laughter.

“Well, that’s one to remember”, said Voodoo. “Overclocking a Soundblaster, eh? Who’d of thought.”

Further down the row of seats, an argument was brewing.

“Oh will you shut up!”, said the Ultra card.

“Whasat?”, replied Savage3D.

“All I ever hear from you is moan, moan, moan. You’re not the only one to have had driver problems, you know? Just stop moaning. I’ll smack you one if you don’t let up!”

“Hey, there’s no need for that sort of language!” said TNT.

“Oh, shut your mouth, oldie!”

“Hey, leave him alone!” said Voodoo.

“Oh God, not another crusty. Man, I thought the pair of you would be dead by now!” said Ultra.

“That’s it!” shouted TNT as he stood up, “I’m gonna teach you a lesson.”

“Oh yeah, Grandad?”

“You’ll have to take the pair of us on, you little runt!” said Voodoo, as stood up.

“Right, fine!”

Just as the three were squaring up, a door opened at the far end of one of the corridors leading from the waiting room. A doctor popped his head out. “Is there anybody here who can help me with a Quake fps benchmark? I need to calibrate my diagnosis equipment.” he said.

The place fell silent. All the cards suddenly stopped whatever they were doing and even the more senile amongst them seemed to be awakened by the doctor’s words.

“Well? Anybody?” A second later a great noise erupted, as every single card that could still move, leapt from where it was and started as fast it could in the direction of the doctor’s room. Anybody who was in their way either found a door to duck into quickly or were swept aside by the stampede. Even Virge managed to raise himself. Steadily, he started towards the corridor but not moments later, fell into the lavatory door. Savage too was trying his best to beat the others. He soon picked up a tremendous speed. Sadly, it took him a while to realise he was running down the wrong corridor.

TNT and Voodoo had been lucky enough to get a head start and were at the front of the ensuing pack. Voodoo looked over his shoulder. Ultra wasn’t far behind and was catching on them rapidly. Voodoo nudged TNT and motioned to the card behind them. A moment later they both suddenly stopped in their tracks. Quickly withdrawing to the wall, they each stuck a foot out. Ultra didn’t know what had happened until he had been propelled several feet into the air. He landed badly and after a vain attempt to curse the two, slipped into shutdown.

Hearing the impending rush of the others not far behind them, the two set off again. The cries and shouts of all the cards seemed to fill the entire place. Doors were opening up and down the corridor as people wondered what was going on. The two old cards had nearly reached the end. Side by side, they carried themselves as fast they could down the corridor. It would soon be decided, once and for all, who was the quickest.

When they were only feet from the door, another door next to them opened. A fresh young voice could be heard.

“Sorry I’m late doctor. Just that some lads over at one of these gaming sites wanted to benchmark me. That’s the fifth this week you know. Anyway, I’m here now so I can help you run that test of yours.”

Out of the door, stepped GeForce.

The other cards halted almost immediately at the sight of the young card. He looked at them and smiled. Once again, silence fell on the surgery. “Ah yes, GeForce, come in,” said the doctor. “Sorry to disturb you lads. Another time, eh?” he said to the others. Only they weren’t listening anymore. With great effort, they were making their way back towards the waiting room. No-one was talking.

TNT and Voodoo stood side by side, watching the others.

“Want a hand, you two?” said GeForce, as he stood in the doorway.

“Bugger off, you cheeky bastard!” said TNT.

“We’re quite capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you,” added Voodoo in a sarcastic voice.

“Fair enough,” said GeForce, and gave them a knowing wink before he went in the room and shut the door behind him.

The two old cards held on to each other gently and helped each other back to their seats.

“He’ll learn,” said Voodoo. “You don’t stay at the top for long in this business. You know that as well as anybody,” he said, smiling at the other card.

“Hey, watch it you,” said TNT, grinning gently.

As the two cards slowly made their way back to the waiting room, a long black limousine pulled up outside the surgery. The doors of the car opened and out came several large men in suits, all wearing sunglasses. Behind them a mysterious figure appeared, quickly surrounded by the others. The men walked towards the surgery entrance, trying their best to hide the figure in the middle of them.

“Hey, look at this lot,” said TNT, pointing towards the men.

“Who are they protecting?” said Voodoo.

“Got to be some VIP,” replied TNT.

The entrance doors were flung aside violently as the group came into the waiting room. Everybody turned to look at them. Even GeForce popped his head around to see what the commotion was about. TNT watched them carefully as the shadowy group marched into a room marked ‘R&D’.

The GeForce noticed a wide smile on the face of TNT. Slightly puzzled by what he’d seen, he shouted to the old card. “Who the hell was that?”

TNT’s smile widened.

“Well? What’s the big secret?”

TNT mouthed some letters to him, whereupon the GeForce screamed and took off down the corridor. The entire waiting room turned and watched him as he crashed through the main doors and took off down the street.

“What the hell did you say to him?” asked Voodoo.

“Ah, nothing really,” replied TNT. “Just, NV15”

The end.

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