The tamed Process didn’t recognise this being. She was vaguely familiar; more similar to its Mistress than any other human it had seen, anyway. It knew that anyone that entered the Sandbox was a friend of its Mistress -- but it did not know this one yet. This woman carried a large object, nearly the size of her own body. It was flat and predominantly a shimmering turquoise-aqua-chartreuse, with a familiar round, crimson cabochon - like an eye - at its centre, and golden blades at its edges.
“We’re not alone,” the greenish thing warned, and the Fetch adjusted its scan. Apparently there was two humans; humans spoke, and this thing was speaking. It trawled its memory banks for any recognition, and it came across a garbled string of corrupt data. Only a sequence of ten letters was still parsable: TRANSISTOR.
It found more information on the woman; its Mistress had stored many things in the Fetch’s memory about “Red”, but much of it was irrelevant to the Process beyond the title.
It ran the usual greeting subroutine. The Fetch dropped into a playful bow, tail raised.
“Hey, she’s friendly! ...I think.” TRANSISTOR said. The human and her companion approached the Fetch. She wedged the sword upright in the sand and crouched, offering an outstretched hand to the Process as if it were a real dog.
The Fetch stood upright and took a few awkwardly stiff steps forward, brilliant sparks showering off it. It stood in arm’s reach of the woman, its ear-flaps lifted.
“Hi Luna,” TRANSISTOR greeted it. Some of Mistress’s companions had reacted unpleasantly to the Process, but this voice sounded inviting and soothing. “Can I call you Luna?”
The Fetch overrode its previous title. Luna trotted jerkily across the sand to a large, multicoloured sphere, and its head spun around to point expectantly in the direction of Red and TRANSISTOR.
“Huh. Looks like she wants to play… Luna, fetch!”
Luna dropped low and snapped out an acceleratory bark, launching the ball into the air. It hit the sand and bounced twice, rolling several feet before it stopped just shy of the water’s edge, halted by some invisible barrier.
“Good girl,” TRANSISTOR said. Luna rigidly swing its tail back and forth four times, scattering pinkish sparks that winked out before hitting the sand.
Luna rose to her feet expectantly as the doorway flashed open and Red stepped through. She did not have TRANSISTOR with her this time, but another companion. There was a visual similarity to TRANSISTOR, however. The eyespot of this one was glowing harshly, causing Luna to hesitate as it searched its memory, but it found no relevant data.
Luna re-scanned Red and found that the woman was indeed accompanied by TRANSISTOR. Its scan must be defective. The Fetch ran a self-diagnostic as it approached the pair.
“I… think I’m okay,” TRANSISTOR said. “Must be something the air back there…”
Red sighed and slumped, leaning on TRANSISTOR as she stifled a yawn. She patted the angular surface of Luna’s head absent-mindedly.
“Hey, get some rest. I’m okay,” the voice coaxed. Red ran a hand across the crossguard and trailed TRANSISTOR with her as she headed for the hammock. After a moment’s consideration, she shoved the tip of the greatsword into the sand, just far enough to stand him upright. She propped herself against him to slip her boots and stockings off, leaving them on the sand as she waded into the ankle-deep, balmy water and hauled herself onto the hammock.
Luna followed at Red’s heels, but the shallow water was a barrier the Fetch could not cross. It stopped in the sand alongside TRANSISTOR, watching Red. She perched on the edge of the hammock, swinging gently as she shrugged off her jacket.
“In Highrise,” TRANSISTOR started, “Don’t know what came over me out there. It was like…”
Luna paced in a circle next to the sword, trampling soft sand under her paws.
“Well, anyway, whatever it is, it’s passed.” He tried to force himself to sound cheerier. “Feels like I’m me again! More or less.”
Luna spun around twice more and laid down next to TRANSISTOR, one ear-flap cocked towards the door’s manifest point.
“Did you know, I always wanted a dog,” he said as Red laid back in the hammock, pulling the oversized jacket over herself in lieu of a blanket.