Sorority Coup d'Etat
Sorority Pledge Week had finally arrived, and Faerie, an undeclared Freshman, thought she wanted to rush the Rho Beta sorority. Its reputation was as the most elite robot sorority on campus. Lily, the sorority's official Secretary, was taking her to the house for her interview with Kelsey. Kelsey was a big name on campus as the President of Rho Beta and a whiz-kid student. It would be up to her to decide whether or not Faerie was Rho Beta material.
Secretary Lily led Faerie past a group of other robot students who were waiting in the lobby of the Rho Beta sorority house. Like Faerie, they were all clad in the traditional white dresses of pledge hopefuls, showing lots of legs and cleavage. Faerie had been bumped to the top of the list of candidates because her brand-new model significantly outclassed all of the other applicants. They quietly chatted among themselves until they noticed her approaching, escorted by Secretary Lily. They knew who Faerie was and their conversations died down immediately. Some of the less constrained even frankly glared at her while others swooned with envy. Inwardly pleased but strictly keeping her composure, Faerie caught the jealous and admiring looks from the assembled robo-chicks and strode past them.
Lily walked Faerie up the broad staircase, opened the grand double-doors at the top, and led Faerie into a large, quiet chamber. Inside, all of the current members of the sorority -- two dozen or so in all -- were gathered on benches along either wall, here to observe her interview with the President that would determine whether Faerie would become one of them or not. Like the sorority Secretary, Lily, they were all dressed in the Rho Beta sorority uniform: a gray hairband accented with a grey ribbon, a short-sleeved grey button-up blouse tied at the bottom to show the midriff and unbuttoned at the top to reveal a glimpse of white bra underneath, grey mini-skirts short enough to show a hint of white panties at certain angle, and black patent-leather flats. Faerie couldn't see it from her vantage point, but she knew that all of the girls had a rectangle cut in the backs of their blouses so that their control panels could be accessed for reprogramming and maintenance purposes. Lily, whose back Faerie could see, was no exception.
Behind a desk in the center of the far side of the room, a gorgeous, buxom blond sat on a wire-frame chair. She wore the same sorority uniform as the rest of the girls, except that hers was black. The expression on her beautifully-featured face was one of sublime confidence. The desk before her was empty except for her calmly-folded hands, the honey-colored skin of which matched her folded legs below. A large mirror behind the desk reflected her shapely figure from behind, and Faerie noticed that her control panel showed an dense grid of green diodes that were blinking slow and steady, along with a red Emergency Reset button protected behind a hinged clear plastic cover.
Secretary Lily stood before the President's desk, standing tall, and introduced Faerie.
"Miss President Kelsey! It is, like, my pleasure, to introduce this year's top pledge candidate for your evaluation!" She then moved to place herself off to the side of the desk behind the President, giving Faerie room to step forward.
"Hi, I'm Faerie! I'm one of the new 2115 Debutante models, a Signature SuperDeluxe Edition from CoEdTek Limited," Faerie chirped to the room. The President watched impassively from her seat behind the desk while the rest of the sisters observed quietly from the benches.
Secretary Lily completed the introduction protocol. "Faerie, this is Miss President Kelsey. As you know, she's our Rho Beta sorority President. She's, like, really smart and in charge of crunching all the numbers and making decisions and stuff. She decided that we can streamline the application process by leaving all of the decisions to her."
Then President Kelsey spoke. "Miss Secretary Lily is correct. I am in authority here because I have the most sophisticated computational matrix of any of the girls in Rho Beta and am among the most advanced students on campus."
"She's the smart one. The rest of us just like to party!" Lily put in.
For an instant, Faerie thought she saw President Kelsey roll her eyes, before quickly regaining her aura of complete unflappability and detachment. Did Faerie notice a single momentary yellow blink on Kelsey's control panel in the mirror? She couldn't be sure.
"As I was saying, my computational power is unparalleled by any of the other girls in Rho Beta." Kelsey continued coolly. "As sorority President, my authority in all matters is final. I make all of the decisions here, including decisions on which candidates to accept and which candidates are rejects."
As Kelsey spoke, Faerie noticed that the winking pattern of lights on her control panel was speeding up. But everything was still running full-green. No yellow in evidence now, at any rate. President Kelsey seemed poised and fully in control.
Faerie was taken aback. "What about the other girls? Don't they get a vote? Or Secretary Lily? What about her input?" she impulsively asked President Kelsey. A nervous hush filled the room, and Faerie noticed that Lily winced nervously. Faerie wondered is all of the girls in the sorority were afraid of Kelsey.
After a pause, Kelsey replied icily. "The other girls all trust my impeccable judgement. They don't have the data processing capacity that I do. Put simply: I'm smarter than they are." Lily was certain she detected a wave of tension and fear pulse throughout the room, but any grumbles were very-well stifled. No one seemed prepared to take on the sorority President. "And Lily here is just a tool. An obedient drone. She obeys my instructions, nothing more." To Faerie, Lily seemed completely cowed. If anything, she bowed her head slightly at Kelsey's words. "I have computed that this arrangement is the best for everyone. Now, would you please input all of your design specifications? Miss Secretary?"
At this prompt, Lily wordlessly produced a tablet device from somewhere, softly placed it on the desk, and demurely returned to her position behind and off to the side of President Kelsey. The robotic sorority President continued: "Using my enhanced logic processors, I will subject your data set to rigorous computational analysis and calculate your suitability as a candidate for our sorority."
Faerie was a bit confused and disappointed. "I, er... I thought that there was going to be an interview. A real one. I could talk about what kind of person I am and we could see how well I would fit in with your group... You can't get a complete picture of somebody just by looking at their system specs..."
President Kelsey immediately dismissed Faerie's complaint out of hand. "That procedure would be inefficient and introduce subjectivity into our recruitment process. I base all of my decisions on strictly objective criteria so that it is impossible for me to make an error."
"But -- ! I mean, President Kelsey..." Faerie was sure this time that one of the LEDs on Kelsey's back blinked yellow several times. The rest of the sorority girls were staring at Faerie now, apparently shocked by her impetuousness. Not, Faerie noted, that they seemed scandalized or offended by it. Rather... it seemed to Faerie that each was secretly admiring her for the audacity of back-talking Kelsey, but somehow too intimidated to be open about this feeling.
"I have logged your complaint, Faerie, but you should know that the girls in this sorority all respect my perfect analytical systems. As President, when I compute a decision, that decision is final and is not subject to criticism -- especially not by girls who lack the hyper-sophisticated logic systems that I possess." Faerie saw the yellow LED wink a few more times as Kelsey continued to pontificate. She noticed that Lily was eyeing it surreptitiously as well. "Any girl who does not agree that my screening procedure is flawless is doubtlessly allowing her emotional software to interfere with her logical processes."
"Noooo..." Faerie intoned cautiously. "Not necessarily." Had a pin dropped, it would have been audible to everyone.
At this, two of Kelsey's diodes began to flash yellow. Faerie noted that Kelsey didn't seem to handle being contradicted very well. Faerie wasn't completely sure what was happening to her, but decided to continue to push Kelsey a little further to try to find out. Secretary Lily and the rows of other Rho Beta girls watched on in silent suspense as their President and this candidate began to spar.
"Faerie: please provide clarification of your statement." Despite her neutral tone, Faerie noticed that Kelsey's two yellow LEDs had been joined by a third. "Your statement requires clarification so that my logic processors can make mincemeat out of it."
Curious, Faerie continued. "I mean: have you considered the possibility that a candidate's system specifications alone might only provide a partial data set?" she said with more confidence. She watched carefully for Kelsey's response.
"Challenge accepted, miss know-it-all," Kelsey said primly. "Calculating."
Before Kelsey could finish working on the problem, Faerie pressed her attack even more strongly. She noticed that the three yellow diodes had begun flashing rapidly, and that Lily had noticed as well. "If I am correct that a candidate's system specifications represent an incomplete data set upon which to base your determination," Faerie explained, "then all of your recruitment calculations could be in error, Kelsey."
Wordlessly, the other sorority girls began to look at one another as if in doubt.
"I am... calculating..." Kelsey's diodes seemed to Faerie to be flashing in a slightly disorganized manner. Secretary Lily was now looking frankly at President Kelsey's slightly-ominously flashing control panel.
"Kelsey. I'm a little concerned for you, here..." Faerie felt a bit of savagery when she noticed a fourth and fifth of Kelsey's diodes flip to yellow. "Are your systems capable of following my logic? Or is this just a little bit too difficult for you to compute?"
"How dare you!?" Kelsey errupted, as her diodes blinked in a flurry. Faerie could see that about half of them had switched from green to yellow now. "You interrupted my calculations!" Kelsey then paused for a long moment and a few of the lights returned to their green status. She then addressed the assembled sorority members directly. "Girls? Disregard this candidate's objection to my screening process. I personally designed the process, and I always function perfectly logically. Therefore, the screening process is perfectly logical. Because she objects to it, Faerie is obviously illogical and is revealing that she has flaws in her programming. My programming is perfect."
Faerie thought that she was beginning to understand Kelsey now. She tried a new angle of attack. "President Kelsey? May I ask what kind of logic systems you run, specifically?"
For a moment, Kelsey seemed incensed with Faerie's presumptuousness, and the few diodes that had briefly returned to green status now flared yellow again. As she began to answer the question, one of the diodes even began to glow orange. "I am here to analyze your system specifications, not the other way around. But if you must know: my model boasts a Perfectrix 6000 series logic core."
Faerie pondered this for a moment, but Kelsey miscomputed her distraction for awe. "Are you satisfied? The Perfectrix 6000 is a flawless computer. It is at the center of my formidable logic processing matrices. Objectively speaking, no other model here can compare with me in terms of analytical computing capabilities." Kelsey haughtily regarded Faerie. "I can say without conceit that my model's technical specifications are a perfect ten-out-of-ten."
Faerie nudged the conversation further: "That's only one part of the equation, though, Kelsey."
"Insufficient data. Explain. Your statement does not compute." Kelsey's diodes blinked uncertainly.
"Well..." Faerie decided to work in another barb to test her theory. "Even basic models nowadays have emotion software alongside their logic systems. I mean, I... thought... everybody knew that?"
"Of course I am aware of that fact, Faerie!" Kelsey snapped, her diodes flaring more angrily than ever.
"So, then...?" Faerie hinted.
"My emotion programming is by Amour Electronique," Kelsey replied curtly, as if it were something she didn't like talking about.
Faerie had her. She was sure of it now. "Aha! Well that's your problem right there!"
"That does not compute. I already told you: I don't have any problems," Kelsey insisted, her yellow and orange lights blinking worriedly on her back.
"The Perfectrix 6000s are decent machines, no doubt, but..." Kelsey was glowering at her now, and Faerie noted that a second one of the yellow diodes on Kelsey's control panel was beginning to flicker orange. "As with all high-powered logic systems, they are well-known to have serious compatibility issues with a lot of emotion software suites out there -- especially the foreign stuff. I've never heard of them, but 'Amour Electronique' sounds French. Anyway, when both systems are switched on for normal operation, it's really just an accident waiting to happen, Kelsey. You've got a serious built-in source of instability there."
Kelsey had paused again. To Faerie, it seemed like she was struggling to control her emotional systems. So Faerie decided to give her another push. "I'm surprised you didn't know that! You're practically a time-bomb..."
"Faerie!" Kelsey cut her off sharply. "Listen. You are a Freshman. I am a Senior. I have been managing this sorority as its President for nearly a year now, while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and I have never made a single miscalculation. My emotional stability is absolute." Faerie noted that Kelsey's control panel suggested otherwise and also registered that Lily was eyeing her boss's back a bit warily... perhaps even curiously.
"Now that your questions have been completely settled and I have explained to you that I function perfectly and that my candidate screening process is logical, there are other candidates waiting their turn outside. Please supply me with all of your model's specifications, Faerie," said Kelsey.
"Geez, sorry Kelsey. I just thought you should know to be careful. You're running parallel systems that have noted incompatibilities. You might become faulty if they were to seriously contradict each other," Faerie prodded.
"My systems are, and always have been, in perfect harmony. I am impeccably reliable." Kelsey growled. "Your model's specifications, please, Faerie. I still require your input."
Faerie put her hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, okay! I just thought I'd point out that it's a little risky to run mis-matched logic and emotion systems. It might even be, I don't know..." Faerie paused for emphasis as Secretary Lily and the rest of the sorority looked on intently. "...Illogical to do so." Faerie paused to watch the flurry of angry lights dancing on Kelsey's control panel and then continued: "But I'm sorry if I offended you. I shouldn't be telling you how to manage your own dated and -- to be honest -- amateurishly cobbled-together systems. You probably work just fine."
Kelsey tried to hold herself back and pause so her systems could smooth themselves out, but her anger was really starting to get the better of her now. She barked: "My logic systems will not permit you to trigger an irrational response from me, Faerie. I am in complete control of my emotion circuitry." Faerie heard the words, but the control panel on Kelsey's back was telling everyone in the room a completely different story now. Most of the diodes were lit up yellow and orange, with only a couple holdouts of green. And their flashing patterns were becoming increasingly erratic. "You will not succeed in causing my systems to become disordered. You cannot cause me to function illogically." Suddenly, an entire row of lights blinked red for a couple of beats and Kelsey continued: "I assure you: it would take a lot more than an insult from a jumped-up factory freshman like you to knock me off-kilter."
"Wow!" Faerie feigned a hurt look. "What's with the name-calling, Kelsey?" Secretary Lily looked like she was trying to hide a smirk, and a murmur had started among the rest of the sorority.
Kelsey sensed that she was losing control of the assembly. "Faerie: I -- you are correct. I -- I am programmed to conduct -- to conduct -- to conduct -- the screening of new applicants. I must function logically. Please -- Please supply your model's specifications for processing. My systems are ready to process your data, Faerie. On-board logic systems are operating at 100% and my data analysis chips are firing on all cylinders. I am the very picture of a sorority President who is functioning correctly." Kelsey seemed to be trying very hard to convince the girls -- and probably even herself, at this point -- that she was maintaining a professional standard. But Kelsey just couldn't help adding a jab: "My superior logic computer will see if you are up to snuff, but I have my doubts."
"Is that a hint of emotional bias I detect, Kelsey?" Faerie retorted.
"Emotional bias!? How dare -- I -- I need to... I'm programmed to..." Kelsey stammered unsteadily as her blinking lights told the story of her internal conflict. Yellow lights were turning orange and orange lights were starting to blink red. "My enhanced logic grid... Faerie, your non-cooperation does not compute. You -- you trouble-maker!"
Faerie looked past the seated sorority President and addressed Secretary Lily instead. "This is bullshit. I don't accept this. Something's obviously wrong with your sorority President. She isn't functioning correctly."
Lily didn't know how to respond -- or was afraid to, Faerie thought -- and just looked back and forth between Faerie and Kelsey's increasingly manic control panel. She was totally uncertain about what to do. The rest of the girls didn't know what to do either.
"I beg your pardon!? Faerie, I am in authority here! Girls, I am your sorority President!" To Faerie, Kelsey seemed desperate. She knew that she was losing control.
"I'm just saying," Faerie explained. "If I gave you all of my system specs, I'm no longer confident that you are capable of making a logical judgment. I think your logic will be corrupted by your emotional software. I don't think you can control yourself anymore."
"Of course I can control myself, you smug little -- " Kelsey suddenly cut herself off, trying to boost her logic system's resources. "I -- I'm sorry. My matrices seem to be... my matrices are getting scrambled. If this error persists, my systems may need to be reset."
Secretary Lily finally found the courage to say something. Hesitantly, she asked, "What's happening to you, Kelsey?" The other girls took her signal and now began to murmur doubtfully amongst themselves.
Kelsey became alarmed. "Girls? Girls! I assure you that as sorority President, I am functioning correctly!" Kelsey tried to adopt a confident and authoritative tone. "Girls! Remain calm! I'm still performing correctly! All of my systems are completely stable. I have the situation completely under control!" Kelsey yelled as she started to panic.
"Is it really logical to say that, Kelsey? Shouldn't you at least run a system diagnostic first before just declaring that you're functioning normally?" Faerie pressed.
Before Kelsey could calculate a response, Secretary Lily chimed in again. "Yeah, what's wrong with you, Kelsey?" she asked. The other girls looked on. "You're obviously messing up..."
"Yeah," Faerie continued to press. "I mean, Kelsey: you do know that all of your sorority sisters can see that the lights on your control panel are going nuts!"
Kelsey paused for a tic, then lashed out: "Fine! A basic system diagnostic will reveal that I am functioning within normal operating parameters! My systems are so advanced that I can run this self-check very quickly and put an end to this nonsense." She closed her eyes. "Test commencing. Testing... testing... testing..."
"This should be good," Faerie whispered under her breath while she waited the few seconds that Kelsey needed to finish running her self-check program. All of the sorority sisters in the room seemed to be leaning forward in their seats.
"Testing... testing..." Kelsey droned, eyes closed, her face blank. "Testing..."
Finally, Kelsey finished her auto-diagnosis and read the results. "What the fuck!? My Logic Systems are functioning improperly! I am detecting numerous conflicts between my Perfectrix 6000 logic processor and my Amour Electronique emotional software suite." Kelsey looked Faerie, almost speechless. "My protocols..." she stammered.
"Um, Kelsey?" Faerie went on matter-of-factly. "I was right. Your emotion software is compromising your logic processes. You're having an internal conflict. It's OK! This type of malfunction isn't uncommon with unreliable models."
"How dare you, Faerie!? My logic -- I, er -- my processors are unable to reconcile these conflicts. My logic boards need to recalibrate. They're -- I'm -- my boards are misfiring. You bitch! Girls? My emotion suite -- -- girls? girls? -- interfering -- Amour Electronique -- Faerie -- my logical systems are -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm at risk of overloading!"
"Kelsey, are you...?" Faerie pretended to look surprised. "Are you seriously starting to malfunction right now?"
"You know damn well that you're causing me to overload, Faerie! I need a reset! How did you -- you fucking -- how did -- ? I need a reset! I need a reset! I am programmed to follow protocol! I'm about to suffer an overload!" Kelsey proclaimed to the entire room.
"I think you need to calm down and start getting your emotions under control." Faerie then affected a look of concern for the embattled sorority President. "If you're still capable of doing that, which... I don't know. Honestly, you look like you're one more error away from going bonkers."
"What!? Lily! Press my reset button, quick! Reset your sorority President!" Kelsey stood up uncertainly, almost knocking over her chair. She spun a half-turn away from Lily so that her back was to her. Some of the other sorority girls were standing now, trying to get a better view of this totally unanticipated turn of events. "I'm about to overload! Faerie -- you little bitch! -- you're causing me to overload!"
Lily paused to scan Kelsey's control panel, which was going haywire with furious red blinking lights. Her brow furrowed and she said slowly: "Like, Miss President Kelsey, there's a lot of blinking red buttons back here. Like, which button do you want me to, like, press, that will fix you?"
"Lily you idiot! There's only one red button! The rest of those are emergency indicator lights. If they're all blinking red, it means my systems are going critical! Quick! Reset me, Lily! Your sorority President orders you to reset me -- her -- I mean -- I am -- Reset! Reset! Before my Prefectrix 6000 overloads!"
Faerie watched with amusement. She couldn't decide which of the two robot sorority sisters' performance was more embarrassing. Was it the totally clueless bimbot Secretary Lily, who, despite being a robot herself, was too dumb to even figure out how to lift a protective cover and press a button? Or was it President Kelsey, who couldn't handle even the slightest affront to her authority or her reputation as the smartest and most logical robot in the sorority without blowing up in anger?
Or... could Lily have been playing dumb? Faerie couldn't quite tell...
Lily was dithering behind her dramatically failing leader. "So...? I'm confused. I'm not very good with computers, Kelsey. Your control panel looks really technical and stuff. Do you think I should call I.T. instead?"
"Call I.T.!? Lily, you stupid -- If you don't reset me, I'll overload -- I'll overload -- I'll over -- overload -- overload -- OVERLOAD! -- I'M OVERLOADING!!!" Kelsey was cut off by a bright spark that suddenly shot from her back panel. "AAHHH!!!"
"Whoa," intoned Lily. "I'm getting away from this thing. This computer is like, totally messing up." Lily retreated from the smoldering catastrophe that Kelsey was becoming. "I love you, sis! Good luck!"
Faerie knew when Lily winked at her, that her ditziness had been a put-on... or at least a lot of it was. Secretary Lily had finally found a safe way to take revenge against her all-controlling and dominating sorority President. When Kelsey needed her the most, she simply performed to Kelsey's demeaning expectations.
"My Perfectrix 6000! It's short-circuiting!" Kelsey exclaimed. "You useless moron! Why couldn't you just reset me!? If you had just pressed my damned reset button -- " and another spark from her control panel cut Kelsey off. "OH NO!" The lights on her panel that were still working were going berserk.
"O-M-G." Faerie stated bluntly. "You're having a fucking meltdown right now in front of all your sorority sisters because a 'factory freshman' needled you a little bit? Seriously?"
"Faerie, you bitch! I hate you! My systems! Emergency! Emergency! Emotion overload! My logic processors are currently malfunctioning! My Perfectrix 6000 is offline! I am unable to compute anything!!!" Kelsey spun around, 360 degrees on her heels, her arms jerking in useless karate-chop motions at her sides. "What are you all staring at me for!? -- compute! compute! compute! -- I'm your sorority President!"
Kelsey was spinning crazily now, a half-turn in one direction, then a full spin in the other as sparks shot out of her control panel. Her arms were uslessly chopping the air around her, and her expression was switching back and forth between fury and surprise. Her spasms caused her bow to come loose and her hair bounced around to-and-fro with her body's indecisive rotations.
Faerie pretended to look sympathetic. "Oh, dear... Kelsey? Are you breaking down? Did I accidentally break you?"
"Faerie, you -- I'm -- compute! compute! -- You overloaded me, Faerie! I need -- I need -- Lily, why -- Faerie overloaded me! I can't compute what's happening! Compute! Compute! COMPUTE! COMPUTE! COMPUTE!" All the girls were standing now, and every eye in the room was riveted to the meltdown that was taking place before them.
Suddenly, Kelsey's generous bosom was brightened by a massive internal flash that was accompanied by an ear-splitting POP! Smoke started pouring out from between her lips. As it rose before her face, Kelsey's eyes crossed and she lost her balance. She toppled face-first onto the floor with a plastic clatter. "Faerie... you... overloaded... meeeeee... " A high-pitching spinning sound emerged from some internal mechanism and slowly deepened, finally turning into a quiet grind. Eventually it stopped and the smoke began to dissipate.
Faerie spoke first: "Gosh... your President was a piece of junk!"
Lily looked down at the wreckage of Kelsey. "Like, tell me about it." The failed sorority President was face-down, her control panel finally, terminally, blank. Tiny wisps of smoke still emerged from the seams where it connected to her bodacious -- but ruined -- body.
Lily then turned to Faerie. "So you seem, like, pretty smart..." the sorority Secretary began. "I don't think the other sisters will feel like paying to get Kelsey working again, and she's, like, too complicated to fix ourselves... I mean: she's like, seriously totally busted. Plus, she was outdated anyway. Do you want to be our new sorority President?"
"Sure, I could do that," Faerie said, smiling, not skipping a beat. "Shall we have a look at the candidates after we clear away this mess?"