Challenge #01437-C342: Bringing Home Strays

It is common knowledge that humans crave companionship from cats and dogs. But one day the human rescues a pest animal, insisting the creature is their new companion. -- Anon Guest

The human pack-bonding instinct is a strong one. Always be certain that your human isn't bringing unwanted creatures back to your vessel with it. - From Every Cogniscent's Guide to Human Care and Maintenance.

Something in the human's vacation clothes was moving.

"Dee?" warned Kla'kish. "Have you found a pet?" Pet, pronounced, unexpected vector of trouble, anxiety, and abject terror amongst my fellow crewmembers.

"Only a little one. I met him in that holding cell you guys left me in for a couple of days."

"We were arranging bail, Dee." Kla'kish sighed. This, she realised, was going to be one of those days when being Designated Companion was going to suck. O Powers... she'd adopted their slang... "What did you find?"

Dee dug it out of her shirt. In human terms, it was as if a Quokka had somehow made a love-child with a Ring Tailed Lemur, and then that love-child had then had relations with a Fennec Fox. The resultant mixture was slightly bigger than a New York Rat. "She's toilet trained, leash trained, and she'll eat any insect that the Oshits miss."

How to explain this? "Dee... you've adopted this planet's equivalent to a rat."

"Huh. That explains why her leg was caught in this barbaric spring trap. By the time I nursed her back to health, we were good pals. And anyway, I used to keep rats as a kid."

Of course she did. Humans... "Has..." that monstrosity "she been checked for diseases?"

"Cleared and immunised," chirped Dee. "I even had her neutered. So there's nothing the Captain could object to."

Apart from the fact that it was vermin... "Stay in Quarantine with your..." disgusting "friend. I will speak with the Captain." With any luck, it hadn't been named.

"It's o-kay, Pookie," Dee cooed at the thing. "I made sure it's gonna be aaaallll right."

Flakk it. The human was keeping the local vermin as a pet. Any day, now, Dee would start dressing it up in little outfits. And if the Captain decided that this creature would have to be euthanized, the human would be upset for months.

Kla'kish felt inexplicably heavier as she trod the long path to the Captain's office. Explaining this was going to take a long time. She was briefly tempted to argue, This is your fault, you left her untended for two days. You made it an order. But that sort of thing never earned the Captain's favour.

She had to tread carefully with this...

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