Challenge #01434-C339: Pack Bonding is Strange

Someone who doesn't understand all the hoopla over puppies and kittens gets a more unconventional pet and loves it to pieces -- OohLookShiny

I'm not everyone. They say everyone feeds the Skitties on the sly. I don't. They say everyone will say 'hello' to a dog or coo over a kitten or a puppy. I don't.

I mean, sure, they're cute and all, but... I'm just not into them. I've heard all the arguments, by the way.

"Humans are pack animals..." Yeah sure. And my crew understands that. I get me some good haptic feedback on board and I see the Therapists during shore leave for the mating instincts. I'm fine.

I thought I was never going to have a pet because I was never into the soft and fluffy things. And then I met Zikki.

It was a scouting mission through an abandoned station. You know the drill. See what's useful, see what can be converted, and, most importantly, see if it's sound enough to cart to somewhere else.

Spacers hate waste. It's nearly a curse with us.

Anyway, this place was swarming with bugs. Little midge-like things, barely more than a brownish-red speck in the air. It's like trying to walk through a dust storm on Mars. Visibility next to nil, had to use the HUD to find my way around. Scanners on full, you know the deal.

And then there's this thud on my suit. Scanners classed it as an organic lifeform and noted it was partially blocking my heat vents. It was breathing the air, same as the bugs, and eating those same bugs.

Since it was only ten percent of the total heat, I figured I could deal. Havenworlders are nice and everything? But they build some paranoid flakkin' lifesuits, you know?

So I finish my EVA and head on back to the airlock. My crew had been complaining about changing the filters with every re-entry. But not after Zikki came along. When the suction moved all the bugs to the filters, the thing on my vents moved onto my shoulder. I stretched out my arm towards the nearest filter and ze shot up it to lick all the bugs out of the filter until it was sparkling.

I gave hir my other arm and ze shot up that to clean the other one. Then ze went all over my suit like greased lightning, licking up all the bugs that had got into the cracks.

I let hir onto the other filters that were waiting cleansing, once I got past the airlock. And once ze was done there, I let hir at the soles of my boots.

Zikki's some kind of gecko, near as I figure. Ze looks sort of like a gecko, and more like a spotted salamander, but ze's as big as a bearded dragon. Ze gets all the insects that the Skitties miss, and I'm hir favourite heating pad.

Endothermy for the win, I guess.

And getting used to hir moving into my bunk took some time, but it's all good. Ze cuddles me, and I find her texturally rewarding. And yes, people stare when ze wraps hirself around my neck as I wander around anywhere I'm a stranger. I'm used to it. Ze's my little cutie-patootie. And I meet a hell of a load of kids when I'm in a big enough station, or planetside.

I've never needed a leash for Zikki. I just feed hir crickets or grasshoppers and ze's happy between finding her own. The crew and I have been trying to find more for breeding purposes... but there's a lot of that station to inspect.

The name? Ha. That's almost a story. I tried to call hir 'Zippy' on account of how ze's so fast? But my crew are Havenworlders who have trouble with some consonants, so... 'Zippy' became Zikki.

And yes, you can feed hir a grasshopper. Ze loves them.

(Muse food remaining: 7. Submit a Prompt! Ask a question! Buy my stories! Or comment below!)