Snek is a Good Boy
[A/N: This is a fic that answers an idle question I asked myself yesterday: "What if a snake was the hero of a Worm fanfic?"
Snek is the familiar of a powerful wizard. He's about as smart as a young child, and can create personal portals to go wherever he wants. He's also a sixty-foot boa constrictor.
This story was not beta-read.]
Snek is bored.
Snek has been a very good boy all day, helping Master with Master things. Master is busy now, with no time to talk to Snek. Snek was tired and slept on his winding-post, but now he is awake and Master is still busy.
Snek is bored.
Snek knows Master does not like when Snek disturbs him in his Master work, so Snek does not make wriggly-hole to go into Master's work room. Snek goes to door instead and taps three times with nose before opening door.
Snek knows 'three'. Master has taught Snek how to count all the way up to ten! Snek is very proud that he can count. He can count higher than anyone in Master's tower except Master himself. Master knows numbers Snek will never understand.
Master does not look around at first, so Snek waits. Even though he is bored, Snek is very good at waiting. Master has said that he likes that in Snek.
Master finishes what he is doing and looks around. "Yes, Snek, what is it?" He always remembers what Snek's name is. Master is very smart.
"Ssnek iss bored, Masster," says Snek. He tries not to hiss words when he speaks to Master, but Snek is Snek, and is hard not to hiss. "May Ssnek go and play?"
Master nods. "Yes, go and play," he says. "Be back by morning."
"Thank you, Masster. Ssnek will be back by morning."
Master does not answer because he is doing Master work again. Snek wriggles out of work room and closes door with tail. Then Snek opens wriggly-hole to another world. He does not care which one, because he is bored.
Snek has opened wriggly-holes into other worlds before. Once he found place with lizards that tried to eat Snek. Snek ate them instead. That was fun. And they were delicious. (Master taught Snek that word.)
Snek wriggles through wriggly-hole into new world. This place looks like city, but not city Snek has been to. This city smells of people and garbage and things Snek does not know.
Snek likes new places. Snek wriggles through city, looking for fun things to do. Then Snek hears man shouting. Man is very loud and shouty. Snek wriggles closer to hear man. Man is talking to big crowd. Snek smells oil from bang-ouch things. Snek does not like bang-ouch things. They are loud and make Snek sting.
Shouty man is hard to understand, but Snek thinks he is talking about hurting children. Master has always told Snek it is bad to hurt children. Snek does not like it when shouty man talks about hurting children.
Snek wriggles closer and lifts up head higher than shouty man. "Iss bad to hurt child," he says. People are rude. They start shouting. They point at Snek and shout his name but getting wrong. People always get Snek's name wrong.
Shouty man stares at Snek. He shouts and points. He tells people to kill Snek. Snek knows he is bad man because he wanted to hurt children and now he wants to hurt Snek. Master has said it is good for Snek to hurt bad men.
Strange thing happens. Buzzy bugs start biting people. Lots of buzzy bugs everywhere. Snek not know where buzzy bugs come from, but they are not trying to bite Snek.
People have bang-ouch things. They point at Snek. Bang goes bang, ouch goes ouch. They sting when hit. Snek does not like sting. Master has said Snek scales are hard as iron, but still sting.
Snek open mouth wide and hiss loud, scare people. People move away. Some run away. Snek hiss more, taste air. Snek smell pee-pee and poo-poo. More buzzy-bugs happen. People run away. Shouty man not run away. Shouty man look up then look at Snek.
Buzzy-bugs biting shouty man. Shouty man is now on fire. Fire is bad. Fire hurty hurt. Shouty man not hurty hurt. Shouty man has metal scales. Metal scales stop hurty hurt? Shouty fire metal man breathe fire at Snek. Snek tastes spot on snoot where fire hit. Spot warm, no burn.
Shouty fire metal man throw fire up at building. Snek not know why. Snek taste air. Taste person on building. Young person. Young person is child. Shouty fire metal man throwing fire at child.
Snek has told shouty fire metal man hurting child is bad. Snek wriggles forward. Shouty fire metal man jump up on wall. Snek strike, grab shouty fire metal man leg in mouth. Leg is hot, on fire. Metal tastes funny to tongue.
Snek like spicy food.
Snek pull shouty fire metal man down to ground. Shouty fire metal man tries to make Snek on fire. Snek wraps shouty fire metal man in body. Shouty fire metal man has claws. Tries to claw Snek. Snek squeezes shouty fire metal man, feels bones break.
Shouty fire metal man isn't shouty anymore.
Taylor stared over the parapet of the building at where Lung was fighting—and losing—against the biggest snake she'd ever seen in her life, even on Discovery Channel. It honestly looked like one of those prehistoric snakes in the reconstructions, the type that faced off against dinosaurs and won.
But it had spoken. It had actually uttered words.
And now it was squeezing Lung to death, slowly but surely. After Lung threw fire at her, then tried to come after her. She didn't know how to feel about that. Saving her life, sure. But killing Lung? Did he actually deserve that?
He wasn't coming up here to surrender to me, a tiny treacherous voice whispered in the back of her mind.
Also, she was absolutely certain that no amount of hornets—even if her swarm had survived Lung's flames, which most of it hadn't—was going to make a dent in that enormous creature's capabilities.
When it started swallowing Lung's body, head first, she pulled off her mask and threw up.
Snek a little disappointed that shouty fire metal man not on fire anymore. Eats bad man anyway. Master has taught him to clean up messes. Is a little spicy going down. Took long time to squeeze small enough to eat, kept unsqueezing. Snek not mind. Snek very strong.
When finished, Snek tastes air. Child on roof of building, smell scared. Others, long way away. Snek smell dog, but funny. Snek like dog. Taste good.
Snek has done good deed for day. Has had fun. Meal was spicy. Snek might come back, see if other bad men need eating. Snek open wriggle-hole, go home.
Disbelievingly, Taylor watched as the enormous snake poked its head into the hole that had just appeared in the stained, cracked asphalt and vanished down it. As the tip of the immense tail flicked out of view, the hole closed again, seconds before a motorcycle swung around the corner.
Not just any motorcycle. Taylor would have had to be blind, deaf and living in South America not to recognise that bike. Armsmaster was the head of the Protectorate in Brockton Bay, and his bike lived up to the hype.
As he rolled to a halt, Taylor hastily wiped her mouth and pulled her mask back on. He wasn't her idol, exactly (she'd really wanted to be Alexandria when she was younger) but he was still a hero. More to the point, she was out in costume. Being seen unmasked by anyone was a bad idea.
The next thing she knew, something clamped onto the building parapet and Armsmaster swung up and over to the rooftop. He stood there for a moment, apparently observing her as she sat with her back to the brickwork, huddled in on herself. She was certain that he could also see the puddle of vomit nearby.
There was silence for a moment. She got the impression that he had a speech he probably trotted out at times like this, but he'd been put off his stride. Finally, he cleared his throat.
"What exactly happened here?" he asked. "And are we going to fight?"
"I don't want to fight," she said hastily. "Lung … Lung was down there." She pointed at the street below with her thumb.
"I saw his mask," Armsmaster said curtly. "It's not like him to leave without retrieving it."
Taylor hadn't even seen his mask fall off. "No … he … I think he's dead."
That got his attention. "Unlikely. Lung is … very durable. Though what makes you think that?"
She started speaking slowly, explaining how she'd happened on the gathering and was about to break it up with bugs, and then the snake happened. Her words were inadequate, even to her own ears, as she tried to describe the sheer terrifying power of it. Slowly, the last few words stumbled from her mouth, and she hunched down again.
"So … a giant talking snake that squeezed Lung to death and then ate him." She had to give Armsmaster props for not laughing out loud as he summarized her account. If she hadn't seen it for herself, she wouldn't have believed it.
"That's about it, yes."
"And you have no idea where it came from." He looked at her sharply. "Do you think you summoned it with your power?"
Wearily, she shook her head. "My power is calling bugs to me, and controlling them. I didn't call it, and I didn't control it. I didn't even know it was there until it reared up and told them not to hurt kids."
"I see." Armsmaster paused. "And you say it vanished into a hole in the ground that disappeared afterward."
"Yeah." Carefully, she stood up, supporting herself against the parapet. She pointed down at the street. "Just about there."
He nodded. "Thank you." The blue and silver helmet tilted. "Are you alright?"
She shuddered. "Oh, I'm okay. Lung's fireball was only a near miss. And the snake stopped him from getting up here to me. But I'm never going to see a nature show the same way again."
"Understood." She wasn't sure if he did; it sounded like just something he said to move things along. "I don't believe I got your codename."
"I … I don't have one." She shrugged. "It's hard enough to come up with a bug-related name that doesn't sound creepy or villainous, or just plain stupid."
"That could be a problem, yes." He chuckled warmly. "I got in early enough that all the good names weren't gone yet." There was an infinitesimal pause, as if he were checking off items on a list. "So, have you considered joining the Wards? As you can see, Brockton Bay can be very dangerous for an independent hero."
She took a deep breath, suddenly aware of the sour taste in her mouth all over again. "Right now, I'm reconsidering the whole hero game, Wards or no Wards. That snake was big enough to ride on. If it had chosen me instead of Lung to snack on, there's no way I would've survived. I think I'm going to do some serious thinking about matters."
"Understandable." He produced a card out of … somewhere. "If you change your mind, call this number."
"Okay." She took the card and awkwardly held it as he descended to street level again. Turning, she trudged toward the fire escape ladder. It was going to be a long walk home. A lot of time to think.
I need to talk to Dad about this, she decided. He might have ideas.
Snek wriggle out of wriggle-hole into Master home. Master is there.
"Did you have fun, Snek?"
"Yess, Masster. Ate bad man. Ssaved child."
"That's a good boy, Snek."
Snek is happy. Snek has been a good boy.