A Kindred: The Embraced Story by Elena
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money gained.
Author's notes: This story came into being because of Jeff Kober's remark that, according to his understanding of the character, Daedalus is supposed to be 3000 years old. Also, I set out to write something else entirely when I started this story, but as always, the muses had other plans. This might turn into a series of short pieces intended to explore Daedalus' past and character.
"I mastered the horseless carriage," Julian Luna muttered, frowning fiercely at the computer screen. "I will master this contraption."
There could be no doubt about it: Modern technology was finally beginning to encroach upon the elysium of the prince of San Francisco, despite the Ventrue's best efforts to halt the advance of electric machines into his house. Like all members of his bloodline, he was rooted in his past, and using such a simple thing as a coffee machine when pre-ground coffee, boiling water and filters were perfectly sufficient was still alien to him.
"I don't doubt it," came the measured tones of Julian's enforcer. Judging from the confident way he had unpacked and plugged in the new devices, Daedalus was quite at home with modern technology. But then again, he was Nosferatu. Almost all Nosferatu had taken to the advent of digitalized information like, well, like a sewer rat to water.
The two Kindred were sitting next to each other at the old wooden desk in Julian's study. All around them, empty packages and plastic wrappings lay scattered. The smell of new electronic equipment was heavy in the air.
"It's really quite simple, Julian," Daedalus went on, pointing a taloned finger at the screen in front of the two of them. "This symbol represents your word processor, your typewriter, if you will. You open it - turn it on - by clicking two times in rapid succession, using your left mouse button."
The prince looked on, frowning, as Daedalus demonstrated. "I see," he commented when a blank document appeared on the screen.
Daedalus smiled, closing the program. "Now you do it."
Gingerly, Julian put his hand over the mouse, giving it a few experimental pushes. As often happened to first-time users, he found it difficult to coordinate his movements, and it took him a while to move the mouse cursor over the symbol.
Embarrassed at his clumsiness, he cast a sidelong glance at Daedalus, but the Nosferatu was wearing his customary poker face and did not let the amusement show he must undoubtedly be feeling.
"If this were a typewriter, I'd be halfway through the letter by now," Julian muttered, eyeing the computer uneasily.
"Correction, Julian," Daedalus said, and his deep voice did sound amused now. "Jeffrey would be halfway through."
The prince conceded the point with a small smile, which widened when he managed to open the word processor after several false starts.
He then proceeded to make the usual beginner's mistake of hitting the return key at the end of each line and was thoroughly confused by the save file as dialogue. Daedalus, however, obviously had an almost unlimited store of patience, and he didn't mind explaining things three times if necessary. An hour later, Julian could access his files and even print them without mishap.
"So," the prince said when he had powered down his new computer under Daedalus' guidance. "I admit that this thing might save a little time as soon as I've gotten the hang of it."
Daedalus smiled. "This system has its shortcomings, however. If you continue to be interested in the technology, I could install one of our computer systems for you instead."
"One of yours?" Julian asked, frowning. Then his face cleared. "A Nosferatu computer?"
"Yes. They don't crash, for one thing. They're also much faster and can store more data. However, a Nosferatu file is totally unreadable on a PC - that's what this is," he added, nodding at Julian's desktop computer. "We've invented a completely different digital encoding/decoding system that would take to long to explain. Suffice it to say that it isn't binary. We don't just use ones and zeros."
"I see," Julian said slowly, even though he didn't.
Daedalus' eyes glittered in amusement. "Our computers can emulate PCs. You wouldn't notice any difference, except that with a Nosferatu computer, you'd really be halfway through a letter while this one was still powering up."
Julian regarded the tall man next to him, thinking that any prince who didn't ally himself with the Nosferatu in his domain made a grave tactical error. The Keepers of Secrets obviously not only had enormous amounts of information at their disposal, they also commanded considerable technological resources, and only a fool would allow to let all that potential go unused.
"Who taught you so much about computers, anyway?" he changed the subject. "You're so much older than me. How come you don't still use an abacus?"
"They're handy for complex calculations, it's true, but they don't surf the internet too well," Daedalus said dryly. "But to answer your question, no one taught me. I was one of the inventors."
Julian stared at him as the pieces of a puzzle he'd had no idea he was looking at suddenly fell into place. "Daedalus," he began, and then fell silent.
The Nosferatu inclined his head. "Yes," he said, his voice deep and emphatic.
For a moment, neither man said anything. Julian felt like hitting his head onto his desk. All this time, and he'd never thought to ask his friend this one simple question. It was so obvious, and still he hadn't seen it, hadn't thought far enough to make the connection.
"I had no idea," Julian finally said, shaking his head. "How stupid can you get? All this time..."
"It's not exactly something one wishes to make general knowledge," Daedalus said slowly. "As you know, the young ones tend to get overexcited at the thought of having a Methuselah in their midst."
"Daedalus," Julian whispered. "You... deferred to me. You kissed my ring..."
"As I will continue to do, Julian," the Nosferatu said, eyes wide and an expression of sincerity on his angular face. "Nothing will change with this knowledge you now have."
Julian was still incapable of getting past this enormous revelation. "I had no idea," he repeated. "You have no accent. You never said anything. No one ever said anything." He continued to stare at his friend. "I can't conceive of it. My God, three thousand years! The things you must have seen, done. My God."
"Julian," Daedalus said, uncomfortable, "this needn't change anything. I'm still the same man I was ten minutes ago."
"I know." Julian visibly shook off his awe and tried to smile. "One of these days, I'll understand why I'm prince, and not you, Daedalus."
The Nosferatu returned the smile. "That's easy. I like the peace and quiet. I never was a good statesman. Painting and dabbling in alchemy are much more to my liking."
"And inventing things, like computers. And mazes, if I remember my Greek legends correctly."
Daedalus merely looked at him, a mixture of warmth and acceptance in his gaze.
Julian nodded sharply. "Well," he said, rising. "Thanks for the crash course, my friend. And for letting me know."
Daedalus, too, rose and inclined his head. "Any time. I'd be grateful if you didn't let this become general knowledge, though."
"Of course not!"
"And should you find yourself unable to bend the computer to your will, you know where to find me."
Julian watched him leave for the basement of the gatehouse.
Turning, the prince of the city regarded the chaos of boxes and plastic wrappings in his study, and the new device that now occupied his antique desk. He smiled. With this man of myth at his side, he was convinced that he would prevail against anything; even against the infernal machine and whatever else the age of technology could throw at him.