doll joints dot click

the caretaker doll bowed to the house's new owner as it walked in: a doll, like her, but a much more modern one. no quiet ticking, and a smooth plate of glass instead of a face, as was the modern style now that vocal thaumosynthesis was possible. it strode around, making note of furniture, of hardware. it did not speak to itself or write anything down as a human would, but she could read its body language: noting what would stay, and what would go. from the few things of the owner's that had already been moved in, she could tell its aesthetic matched its design: sleek, minimal, monochrome. she was afraid. what use would it have for her?

and then it came to her.

"Stand up, at attention."

she complied. it walked around her, inspecting, noting. its faceless face betrayed no expression, no hint of where its gaze lay. (the thought occurred to her that she had no idea how her new owner could see.) and then, as she prepared for her condemnation to the scrap heap:

"What's your make and model?"



"Your make and model. Even a human could see you need repairs, and you'll need a recolored shell anyway. Your old owners may have liked pastels, but I don't."

"this one is a blossom stainbane, but... this one had expected it would be discarded."


"because it is nothing like you, owner. because it would stand out, and fall apart. your reagent mixer, your brass forge, they're both clearly new. and this one is not."

it paused, tilted its head to the side a fraction.

"The things I use for my Purpose, I have exacting standards for. But you are not one of those. There are no exciting advances in the fields of washing clothes or sweeping dust that would render you unfit for my use."

her clockwork spun up as she processed this. it had to be able to hear the ticking of its core.

"this one thanks you, owner, for considering it worthy of your continued ownership."

a shake of its head.

"We're both dolls here. You don't need to talk like that."

"then this one-- then i-- will--". starting, stopping, shuddering syncopation--

it held up a hand. "But you can if that is part of how you function."

she untensed all over all at once. "this one thanks you for understanding."

"Of course. I fully intend to take care of this house, and that includes you. Now come on, help me bring in the rest of my things."

"yes, owner!"