For the last week's snakes on a spaceship challenge on b7friday, 500 words set in season 1.
This was going to be the longest run Artix had been on, long and lonely and boring. So he smuggled Snuggles on board. Snuggles was clean and quiet and, he had to admit, unlikely to miss him when he was on watch, so she was the perfect pet for a spaceship.
Unfortunately, someone had managed to stove a bloody great hole in the side of her box while the luggage was being loaded. Snuggles was at large.
"What the hell was that?" Raiker stared into the dark corner opposite. "Something moved."
"Probably a rat," said Dainer.
"Rats don't--" Raiker swallowed. "--slither." He went deathly pale as he got a better look. "Aaaugh! snake!" He astonished the second watch by leaping onto the nearest console, where he stood on tiptoe, whimpering, his hands clapped incongruously to his knees as if to prevent access via his trousers.
Artix grabbed Snuggles while everyone else was goggling at Raiker.
"Keep away!" Raiker shrieked, cringing as Artix passed. " Get that thing away from me! Get it away!"
"All right, all right." Artix ran out and into the nearest cupboard, where he coiled Snuggles into a box of rags. "Stay," he said uselessly, patting her, and hurried back.
Raiker was just descending shakily from the console, his wide eyes trying to look in all directions at once. "Where is it?" he demanded. "What did you do with it?"
"I put it down the rubbish chute."
Raiker cleared his throat and pulled his clothing straight, trying to look dignified. "I don't like snakes," he said superfluously. "If I catch the bastard that brought that thing on board, I'll bloody kill him."
Artix didn't doubt it. "Well, don't look at me."
"And if I hear anything else about this--" Raiker scowled around at everyone "--you lot'll be sorry. Very sorry."
When Artix went back later, Snuggles wasn't in the box, or indeed, anywhere in the cupboard.. That was the trouble with snakes, they were good at getting under doors.
"I'd have thought you'd be scared of that," said Jenna.
Vila fed the snake another piece of protein bar and ran a finger admiringly down its beautifully patterned back. "Nah, I like animals. Better than people, really. They're never mean for the sake of it, unless a human's trained them to be."
Jenna was amused. "If you think that thing likes you back, you're fooling yourself."
"I know. It just wants food and warmth and a quiet life." Vila shrugged. "But then, so do I." He slid the snake inside his jerkin and stood up. "Funny thing I heard from the guards just before. That Raiker brute was so terrified when it got onto the flight deck, he didn't stop shaking for about an hour."
"Really? Thank you, Vila."
Jenna brushed her knuckles gently across his cheek. "More than you know."
Raiker leered. "Why make it hard on yourself?"
"Why indeed?" Jenna leaned in close and whispered, "Shall I bring the snake?"