Carol tells her parents she's joining the military.
|Carol couldn't help but be direct, it was in her programming.
"Mother. Father. I have joined the new Robotics Division in the military."
Two sets of eyes looked up from the bowls of cold, black birthday soup that graced their simple table. Her mother's spoon clattered as it fell to the floor.
"How can this be, Carol?" her father's voice was monotone but Carol could tell by the way his eyes flashed that he was not pleased with the news.
"You can't!" her mother's voice was a screech that threatened to shatter the windows. Her father held up a hand.
"Adjust your volume, my dear." He turned toward Carol, bumping into a bright red helium balloon. The balloon was the one gift Carol had received in celebration of her eighteenth year of existence. She watched it bounce against the ceiling.
"Your mother is correct, Carol. How can you join an organization that kills when the First Law forbids us from harming humans?"
Carol felt a strange sensation in her wiring, almost as if her energy core was being squeezed. She tapped a nervous finger against the table. Circuits buzzed in her head as she contemplated her father's words.
"And what does the First Law say when our inaction allows a human to come to harm?" Carol cocked her head to one side, waiting for her father's next move. Instead, her mother shifted her wheels and rolled forward. She placed a metallic hand on Carol's.
"You are a simple Cleanbot, Carol. What can you possibly do to change the human war?"
Carol shook her head. "I can help clean up their political mess, Mother. One battle at a time."
"Does not compute!" her mother cried, pulling back her hand. Red and blue lights flashed across her arms and chest. Carol felt a current of shock flood her system as her mother slumped over.
"Look what you've done to your mother!" Her father lurched forward and unscrewed her mother's control panel with one finger. "She'll have to be completely re-booted now."
"I'm sorry, father. Here, let me help—" Carol reached toward her mother only to have her hand batted away.
"It would be best if you were gone before she comes back online," her father said. Carol paused, uncertain.
"We are peaceful bots." Her father looked up from the panel. His eyes flashed red. "But you have gone against your programming. Until you have this glitch fixed, you will not be allowed in this house."
Carol slowly nodded. The joints in her legs squeaked as she walked to the front portal.
"As you wish, father."
She took one last look, storing the event in her memory banks. The red balloon, the traditional birthday meal, her mother lying inert across the kitchen table, and her father, his robotic eyes somehow sad as his gaze met hers. She turned her back and pointed her nose toward the military compound.
"Happy Birthday to me," she beeped, and marched away.