Next Tiara on Me

Dateline: Mammoth Gardens -- July 13, The Future

They'd been hunting humans all day, and while they required no rest, the maintenance schedule dictated down time to complete uploads and run general diagnostics. The power downs began.

The new droid-designed cave breakers could navigate the formidable obstacles of mountainous terrain and offered hope of finally extinguishing the last of the human race. Today they'd exterminated a small family of "germs" with their newest robots. One of the lead droids successfully snatched a sparkling plastic tiara from a germ of about seven years old prior to gassing her.

They'd sussed out the small group of humans lurking in the rocky caves outside Mammoth Gardens to the west. Recon knew they'd been malingering in the area for years, but the difficult terrain once allowed only drone attacks. The abandoned mine shafts in the area provided the humans cover. The new machines' capabilities solved the problem.

Stowing the tiara bemusedly on a metal cylinder roughly where its head might be, the droid said, "We will forward this sparkling gem to the museum as a reminder of the first day the germs and their spawn could no longer escape us." The other robots chirped in amusement.

New era bots didn't physically laugh, but shared data streams of amusement rolled through the neural networks of the small band of rock climbers. The latest system-wide updates continued to include the hilarity codes created by the final human programmers. They'd hoped the newly sentient machinery would be more relatable with a sense of humor, and now those droids maintained the code as a whimsical nod to their depraved forefathers.

The lead bot tapped the sparkling diadem awkwardly on its associate's "head."

"Nice hat," the droid said to its hunting companion foolishly sporting the tiara.

"Thanks," he said in machine language. "I'm headed back into delousing soon for updates. I'll model it for the others, but the next tiara I find, it's for you, on me."

July 13, 2022 NYTXW