Bound willingly together by electrostatic forces, the society of titanium atoms in conrod number 4 of Sebastian Vettel's engine braced themselves. From the moment they'd started their duty cycle, they knew something was badly wrong. Little more than 10 nanometres away, (the equivalent of half a block in Manhattan terms), they could sense an interloper. The minute perturbations in the stress field of the crystal lattice were unmistakeable, for within the otherwise optimal ordering of the titanium alloy, was a nitride inclusion. It glowered menacingly at its well-bred neighbours, who cowered in fright, and hid their electron families behind them for protection.
This metallic society had been on a long journey. Born in the hellish, claustrophobic confines of a massive star, many millions of years in the past, they'd been blown into space when the star had reached the end of its lifetime. In stoic silence they journeyed across thousands of light-years, until happening upon a small proto-stellar disk, where they found a home in the nascent crust of a small blue planet. After many years of heaving volcanism, and numbing stratification, they'd drawn the lucky straw, and were mined, reduced, alloyed, and then forged into a conrod.
Now they had a purpose which they performed with unalloyed pride, reciprocating in manic cylindrical fury, transforming chemical energy released in the forbidden void above, to mechanical energy submerged in the dark, mysterious, viscous fluids below.
The inclusion, however, was very bad news. Under load, the inclusion elastically deformed at a different modulus to its surrounding matrix, and after numerous cycles, the bonds eventually broke like tethers flailing from an errant Victorian airship. An ominous cavity opened up, and as the stress concentrated at the edge of the void, so the bonds there broke asunder like so much piano wire.
Some of these severed links created dislocations in the lattice, which rippled through the crystal, momentarily relieving the stress. Soon, however, the dislocations began to pile up at the nearest grain boundary, and presently a fissure had opened up from there as well.
The society knew the end was near, and as their electron progeny span in nervous agitation, the dark fissure leapt across the lattice, coalescing with the cavity in a ripping cascade of broken bonds. The conrod disintegrated, and the community was smashed against the roof of its firmament, sucked downwards in a catastrophic descent, and then, with a mighty whoosh, pumped into a whirligig ride, tumbling with unburnt fuel down a dark intestinal tunnel. Suddenly there was light and air! A carbon-fibre pullrod shot past like an orthotropic bullet. Briefly suspended upon a cushion of air, the society was then flung with disdain into a chaotic spiral, mingling indiscriminately with spray and oil, before crashing painfully onto bitumen and aggregate, cold and wet, rolling over and over to a final resting place.
The journey was over for now, the community forlorn, bereft of purpose and belonging. The road, however, swept ever on.