A Meeting Transcript

AGENDA: Discussion on a matter concerning the interconnection of traditional etiquette rules and the advancement of human technology.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Determine proper etiquette for the discussed situation.

MEETING ATTENDEES: 

  • Katia of Kiev
  • Valdis Ivarsdottir
  • Sakarbaal
  • Alekto of Sparta
  • Giovanni the Sicilian

[BEGIN RECORDING]

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: [Valdis makes a dismissive gesture.] Call the meeting to order, Sicilian.

[Giovanni frowns.]

SAKARBAAL: Must you taunt him this way each time, Valdis? I understand you two have history, but this is getting pointless.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: [Alekto grumbles incoherently.] Fine, then. I’ll do it, you worthless excuses, pathetic sacks of meat and blood. I call this meeting of the Council of Ancients to order. Are we all here?

KATIA OF KIEV: I believe the Prince Vlad has elected to abstain from this meeting. He called it pointless meandering. [Katia shrugs.]

SAKARBAAL: Of course he did. Sometimes I wonder if he cares about our people at all.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: Prince Vlad is a warrior, born and bled. He is no administrator, no governor. No pencil-pusher, as the humans call them. [Valdis grins.] I can appreciate the mindset.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: Of course you do, you spawn of a Northman brute.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: [Valdis growls and bares fangs.] I am the spawn of Ivar the Boneless, Killer of Kings, Scourge of Saxons! And given the chance, my father would have sacked your little island as readily as-

[Katia slams her cup on the table.]

KATIA OF KIEV: Let us get on with this meeting. [The others become silent.] Giovanni, I believe it was you who requested us to attend.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: [Giovanni stands up, bows with a flourish, and places a device on the table.] Indeed, gracious peers. [Giovanni sneers at Valdis.] And you, savage. [Giovanni gestures to the device.] This is a robot the humans call a roomba.

SAKARBAAL: Robot?

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: A machine capable of performing tasks on its own, Your Highness.

SAKARBAAL: [Sakarbaal shakes his head.] If I was still king, the cattle would never have been allowed such extravagances.

KATIA OF KIEV: And yet you are no longer king, Sakarbaal.

SAKARBAAL: I am still your elder, you upstart girl-child. I am the eldest among us, and you being a witch does not excuse your lack of respect for me, girl-child. Had I not slept through the ages, you would never have been fit for eternity! None of you!

KATIA OF KIEV: [Katia scoffs.] I am the most powerful witch of our kind. My place on this council was earned in power.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: [Valdis rolls her eyes.] I am overlord of every vampire in Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, and England. I rule over a vampiric North Sea Empire far greater than anything you ever claimed, Sakarbaal.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: [Alekto turns her focus on Giovanni.] What is this roomba and why should we be concerned, Giovanni?

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: This robot is a vacuum cleaner. An automated one.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: So?

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: It is automated, savage. Meaning it does not require orders to perform its task, which is to suck up dust in the room it’s in. And based on the week I spent observing this one at its task, it is quite adept at it.

SAKARBAAL: So it is a mechanical sweeper of floors. Yet more evidence of the decadence we should not have allowed the cattle to experience.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: [Alekto frowns] I believe I see why you are so concerned, Giovanni. And I’m a little disappointed these other leeches don’t realize it.

KATIA OF KIEV: Oh? [Katia takes a sip of warmed blood from her goblet.] Do enlighten us, Alekto.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: Dust, witch. It’s about dust. What do we turn into when someone kills us? Dust. What does that machine do? Suck up dust.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: [Valdis chuckles.] You called this meeting because you are concerned about that machine sucking dead vampire dust?

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: Yes, savage. I have a mind that we should all be concerned about it, because we pride ourselves on our adherence to propriety and etiquette. We hold ourselves to a higher standard of civilized behavior than the vulgar humans we feed upon. Indeed, this higher standard is what makes us better than they are.

KATIA OF KIEV: And so you propose we should set down what constitutes proper behavior when handling the ashes of our kind with these machines?

[Giovanni nods.]

SAKARBAAL: [Sakarbaal examines the roomba.] This would not have been allowed during my reign. It is regrettable that we have allowed them to make such things. [Sakarbaal mutters incoherently.]

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: I fail to see why we should care. The ashes will be cleaned up and tossed out like refuse. How they are gathered does not matter since the outcome is the same.

KATIA OF KIEV: I believe more care should be taken. Using a device that does not think connotes a great deal of disrespect. Consider, if you order a servant to clean up the dust, that servant has to acknowledge the dust. It is recognition of who that dust once was, of the vampire they had been. [Katia glances at the machine.] By having a machine do it, you remove that act of final recognition. You essentially dismiss their entire existence. Whatever you do with the dust is irrelevant in light of that insult.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: My thoughts on the matter are in accord with our esteemed Lady from Kiev. The implied disregard is too great an insult to bear, even for our worst enemies. It is far too uncivilized to discard another vampire’s ashes along with the common rubbish.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: Dead is dead, you sentimental fools. Friend or ally, it doesn’t matter. If you showed them no respect in life, why bother showing them any once they’re nothing but dust that needs cleaning up?

SAKARBAAL: Oh, the travesties we have allowed.

KATIA OF KIEV: If we fail to show some level of respect for our departed peers, are we any better than mere animals? Than the humans?

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: So you would advocate we instead be hypocrites? Treating our enemies like dust while they still bleed, and then we pretend like we have some regard for them once they are no longer a threat?

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: And since when do we concern ourselves with the ashes of the twice-dead? My Bloodline just buries personal effects and sentimental items and doesn’t care about the ashes. Don’t most of you bloodsacks do the same?

SAKARBAAL: In my day, our kind had elaborate funerals and great stone tombs. Our ashes would be wet with the blood of favored slaves as a final drink. Oh the tragic loss of our traditions.

KATIA OF KIEV: We Kievan vampires have always seen fit to scatter the ashes of our fallen at a location of their choosing. Or to store the urns beneath the ground, if that is what they prefer.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: Where I come from, we put the urns in catacombs.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: I have servants sweep it up and throw it out with the rest of the rubbish. As would any other vampire in my domain. [Valdis turns to the roomba.] Why should this make things any different?

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: I almost believed you weren’t just a rabid animal, Ivarsdottir.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: [Valdis drives an ax into the table.] I will show you how rabid I can be, you filthy Sicilian.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: [Alekto shakes her head.] I believe it is time we put this to a vote. We all have things we must return to, and further debate only moves us closer to daylight. All in favor of treating the use of these machines to clean up the ash remains of a vampire as a gesture of disrespect, raise your hands.

[Giovanni, Katia raise their hands.]

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: All against.

[VALDIS, ALEKTO raise their hands.]

KATIA OF KIEV: And you, Sakarbaal?

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: Does the old man even understand what we’re voting on?

SAKARBAAL: You know, in my reign, this finger-counting nonsense we do would have been outlawed. It’s such a terrible way for a king to rule over his subjects.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: Just choose a side, you old sack.

SAKARBAAL: Fie, such disrespect. I will treat your ashes with the same disdain as you treat me when you inevitably meet your end, you pale-faced savage.

KATIA OF KIEV: [Katia groans.] Technically, that is a vote for Valdis and Alekto’s side. As loathe as I am to admit it. [Katia sighs.] Fine, then. The motion has passed. We will not consider the use of a roomba or other automated device cleaning up a vampire’s ashen remains as a gesture of disrespect.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: [Giovanni shakes his head.] A most unfortunate policy on a crucial matter of vampire propriety and civilization. [Giovanni glares at Valdis.] This is what happens when we let savages and heathens on this illustrious council.

VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: If you want me to leave, Sicilian, you are welcome to try and make me.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: As peaceful as it might make future meetings, the loss of the North Sea vampires would be detrimental to the goals of this council.

SAKARBAAL: [Sakarbaal pets the roomba.] I shall name you Anki. You shall be my new herald.

ALEKTO OF SPARTA: [Alekto shakes her head.] I believe we should adjourn this meeting. Before we start trying to kill each other. Again.

SAKARBAAL and VALDIS IVARSDOTTIR: It was just the one time!

KATIA OF KIEV: And I am still unable to clean the stains from my gown after that incident.

GIOVANNI THE SICILIAN: [Giovanni sighs and retrieves the roomba.] Meeting adjourned, then.

[END RECORDING]


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