The robots were engaged in what the humans called “playing chicken.” The outcome was still uncertain. But the robots had several advantages: their metal and composite structures were much stronger than flesh and bone, and data had just been backed up to remote storage. “Lead foot, indeed,” one robot declared. “Mine is titanium and scandium with polycarbon sub-structure!” The internal combustion engines roared with a squeal of tires…
“A bonfire tonight, please,” the robots asked. They recalled a story I had told them about my youth and bonfires and jumping through the flames. After a while the fire had gotten a good start and was sending whole galaxies of sparks into the night sky. “Don’t get too close or your seals’ll get roasted,” I warned. They just continued to stare silently at the flames.
In attempting to describe a state of “tranquility” to the robots, one interjected: “A state of low latency; actuations execute with optimal feedback.” After a moment’s consideration I replied, “a little like that, yes.”
The worst part of the job was having to go down to survey the sub-levels, where the coastal cooling inlets were. There, the brackish water lay still. It was a noxious, corrosive sludge; a copper oxide nightmare.