I felt the back or the recliner slowly bring ratcheted up until I was almost upright. A doll voice whispered sweetly in my ear, rousing me partway to consciousness. "Daaarieeen...are you comfortable?" I barely lifted my eyelids to see one of the dolls coddling me. I nodded slightly. "Would you like to stay this way forever?" I groaned quietly in response.
I felt the cold rim of a glass pressed to my lips. "You and your brother...so handsome...just drink this, and you will stay young forever..." I felt the glass tilt slowly, and my nostrils took in the tannic aroma of the Bloodwine.
That is until a blade sliced the doll's arm away, splattering the crimson across my blanket and scattering bits of wood, metal and porcelain across my face. I fell to the ground, groggily trying to get to all fours as I heard the sounds of cracking ceramic and gears ripped out of alignment. The Blood Doll fell before me, the face that never showed life cracked in two, revealing the shattered mechanisms beneath.
Bright lights destroyed the dark ambiance of the spa chamber, blinding me for a moment. A blocky, blue velvet mary jane shoe with a flowery silver buckle stepped in the space between me and the wrecked doll.
"Gem?" I asked as my vision focused upwards past the matching blue dress and laces.
"No, Doctor Mason, this one is peri. You do remember peri?" She lifted her arm, and the blade slid quietly back into her forearm beneath the lace.
Yes, the round painted face and her girlish voice were familiar, as well as her curls of blue-black hair. She hooked her hands under my arms and sat upright in the chair. I shivered in the cold, and she wrapped one of the clean blankets around me.
"perizada Strangelove? Yes, you've come to me for repairs before. You were one of Qlippothic's friends." I furrowed my brow. "Who are you working for?"
"After Aleister captured Qlippothic, he started catching other Dolls as well and reworking them to be his minions. But peri serves ONE Dollmaker and ONE ALONE!" She stood to attention and clenched her right fist against her left shoulder. I recognized the Straitjacket Salute.
"Doctor Steel." I wrapped the blanket around my waist for modesty and carefully sat up. "So he wants the Grid he plans to conquer to be full of his Toy Soldiers, not Aleister's Blood Dolls. Send him my thanks...but I hope he remembers my warning."
"peri remembers the message. Don't conquer the Victorian lands."
"Did he ever give a response?"
Miss Strangelove opened a cabinet and pulled a white backpack from the shelf. "Dr. Steel laughed for a very long time."
I just shrugged, and started rummaging through the drawers for anything that could work as a belt, or a weapon. She fastened the backpack to herself securely.
"peri must go. Goodbye Dr. Mason." With that, she skipped to the far end of the chamber and opened the hatchway I had been pulled out of, and jumped down.
On the opposite end of the chamber, something large, brown and furry burst open the door and started shambling towards me.