If someone had told Connor ahead of time that taking North to Florida would result in her acquiring an extremely large snake, Connor would have run some preconstructions and determined they weren’t right in the head.
Yes, there are an abundance of pythons in the wilderness of southern Florida, particularly in the vicinity of Everglades National Park. Yes, pet pythons tend to grow very large when introduced into an area they are not native to. And yes, North likes snakes, quite possibly more than humans.
Perhaps there was no single factor leading up to this occurrence. A large part of it was almost certainly the old, empty, vaguely structurally stable motel on the outskirts of town, with swamp in its backyard and an infestation of mosquitoes that descended on the five androids immediately upon arrival, decided they preferred red blood to blue, and instead waited for the next hapless human tourists to arrive.
The reason they were staying here , in particular, was because the owner and manager of this particular hotel was one of the only android supporters in town, and North and Connor had privately agreed that staying somewhere further out from Orlando would be for the best.
Connor thought she had Markus’ safety in mind, all their safety.
It turned out she just wanted to see the, in her words, awesome Florida wildlife. Deviants tended to like animals, and Connor had thought for a long time North was the token exception.
This was, of course, before the Events of Two Minutes Ago.
“Did you see that snake?” North asks for the fourth time in two minutes and twelve seconds.
“Yes,” Connor answers for the fourth time in two minutes and twenty-six seconds. He consults his memory files this time, and in the hope that she’ll stop asking, he supplies, “It was a burmese python. Python bivittatus. It is not native to the area.”
“She was huge! ”
“She,” Connor is reasonably certain from his limited, at-a-distance analysis that this particular specimen of python bivittatus is a male, but he’ll humor North for now as the others are somewhere in varying stages between exiting stasis and being prepared for the day, “is an invasive species. Burmese pythons are hunted here in order to curb their population and prevent them from damaging the Floridian ecosystem. She is so large because she is damaging the ecosystem.”
North seems far less bothered by that than she should. She taps a finger to her lip speculatively, glances out the window again.
“Didn’t the human that owns this place say he was a hunter?”
“Tell your boyfriend we’re finding that python.”
“Markus is not—” Connor sighs, decides not to argue it, and says instead, “We?”
“We’ve got a day until we actually need to do anything,” North says like it’s the simplest thing in the world. “Markus needs a break, Josh would get eaten by an alligator within five minutes, and Simon’s probably reading that book about the end of the world he’s been reading for the past week.”
Connor blinks. He’s been recruited, evidently, and when you’ve been Recruited by North for something, he knows from experience that it’s exceedingly difficult to escape said something.
“...I need a break too?” Connor tries.
“You can help us track her with that neat reckoning software you’ve got.”
“Reckoning?” Connor blinks again, makes an educated assumption on what she actually means. “Reconstruction?”
“Yeah, that. Tell Markus, I’ll go find the human.”
And so here they are, trekking through deep swamp in weather that would make Hank seek out a cold beer and looking for a snake that’s at least ten feet long. And they’re carrying tranquilizer guns.
Connor isn’t sure who’s more crazy, North for coming up with this idea or the motel man for agreeing to it.
“My cousin hunts these snakes all the time,” the motel man says cheerily. “I haven’t joined him in a while, but you never forget. Although, taking her alive might be a wee bit difficult—”
Connor, in the lead, holds up a hand. He kneels in the mud, barely avoids wincing because of that, and analyzes the tracks.
It’s the snake. And, when they find it, Connor is almost pleased enough about finding it not to inform North that this particular snake is, in fact, a male.
It’s probably a testament to the fact that Markus is used to dealing with North’s antics that he’s not even surprised when they come back with a sedated snake and North promptly starts to transform her motel room into a makeshift enclosure for him. The motel man actually encourages her, provided she helps him take it all down and patch up some of the leaks for when the ‘afternoon rains’ pick up again.
Connor is beginning to wonder if he’s the only one just a little concerned about this development.
“North,” he says, “how exactly are you planning to do this?”
“I’ve looked up how to bond with snakes,” she says with a dismissive wave of her hand.
Connor checks something, his led blinking yellow for a moment. Then he replies, “The entire first page of results from three separate search engines refer to bonding with far smaller snakes.”
North simply shrugs. “We’ll work it out.”
“How are you planning to get this snake back to Detroit? Assuming, of course, that this does in fact work out and not end with you being squeezed to death by a particularly angry specimen of python bivittatus .”
Much to Connor’s annoyance, North shrugs again. “This is why I’ve got you and Markus. The two of you share the single brain cell most days.”
Connor fixes her with a blank, yet frustrated stare.
“Okay,” North concedes, “so you don’t have it now. But you’re already thinking of how to transport South back home, aren’t you?”
Connor decides not to admit that she’s right. Instead he raises an eyebrow, fixes her with a calculated expression, and says, “South?”
North shrugs. “Why not? You’ll help me get him home, right?”
Logically speaking, Connor really should say no. But logically speaking, Connor should never have deviated. Logically speaking, Connor shouldn’t still be alive, shouldn’t be alive at all in fact.
So he says, “Let me name him, and I’ll help you. He needs a better name than South.”
“Like what? ”
Connor shrugs, runs a quick search for snake names. One of the most frequent ones seems to have been used for an obscure Dungeons & Dragons campaign a couple decades ago, for a snake person from… yes, Florida. That would do nicely.
Connor sighs. “Steve... South, then? He can have two names, plenty of humans have two names, plenty of androids have two names. You can call him South. I’ll call him Steve. I like Steve.”
“If we’re calling him something that long,” North says after mulling it over for far longer than she needed to, “I’m calling him SS. Double-S. S2? Yeah, I like S2. Now, will you help me or not?”
If you were to ask Connor, he agreed because having a very large python on your side that quite liked androids tended to intimidate the humans. Especially when S2 decided to coil around North’s arms, and neck, in a way that probably wouldn’t hurt any human in the same position but the humans didn’t know that. And doubly especially because S2 tended to glare at humans more than North did, although while North tended to just be pissed, S2 was very, very good at looking very, very hungry.
This was a lie, of course, S2 is very well fed. Just not on humans, as far as Connor knows. His casually informing North that eating a human would give her baby indigestion may or may not have had a hand in this, and may or may not have been entirely accurate.
In reality, maybe Connor likes snakes too. A little.