Characters: Owen, Snock, Ianto.
Summary: Only is trying to get what he’s learned so far about Snock biology down in a form the rest of the team, and hopefully future teams, will be able to understand without needing a medical degree.
Word Count: 1418
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 106: Anatomy at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Settling in at his computer, Owen opened a new document, checked his notes, and began to type…
ANATOMY OF THE COMMON SNOCK
He frowned. Was that strictly accurate? Could snocks be considered common? Thanks to Jack, there were quite a lot of them lurking in the shadowy corners of Torchwood’s underground base, they still didn’t have an accurate count of them, but it was unlikely that they existed elsewhere in the world, or even in Cardiff. It was Jack’s habit of permanently losing socks in odd places around the Hub, combined with close proximity to the Rift, that had created the creatures in the first place, and it was possible that Jack’s unusual traits of immortality and rapid healing might have contributed to their evolution in some as yet indefinable way.
He tried again…
ANATOMY OF THE SNOCK
Leaning back in his chair he stared at the screen. That title was perhaps more accurate, but it felt somehow incomplete. Anatomy of the Greater Snock? But then what if bigger snocks were discovered at a later date? Lesser Snock? Ankle socks might one day result in a smaller subspecies.
He sat forward, cleared the screen, and resumed typing…
ANATOMY OF THE HARKNESS SNOCK
He deleted that immediately with a shake of his head. No, that would just make Jack even more bigheaded than he already was, not to mention more possessive when it came to the snocks. He was already trying to hog them when strictly speaking every member of the team should have an equal right to them. Ah, of course!
ANATOMY OF THE TORCHWOOD SNOCK
That was fairer; it made the snocks the collective property of Torchwood, rather than the property of one individual. Just because the snocks used to be Jack’s socks didn’t mean he had sole right to them. Relaxing back into his seat, Owen continued to type…
The Torchwood Snock is a snakelike creatures evolved from lost woollen socks. The average snock measures approximately 18 inches in length, with a body circumference of approximately 4.5 inches at its widest point. There is a small hump, or vestigial heel, one third of the way along its body. The head is blunt-nosed and the body tapers to a narrower tail with a rounded tip.
The skin of the snock has a knitted texture, but varies between ribbed and plain with both textures often appearing on the same snock. It feels soft and slightly fuzzy to the touch. The most common colour is grey, although snocks exhibit a wide range of shades from a pale silvery grey to almost black; they have two round, black, lidless eyes measuring a little less than half an inch in diameter, one on either side of their heads, and two almost invisible nostrils situated at the very tip of the snout.
The mouth is similar to that of a snake, but completely toothless, the inside being pale pink in colour. A slightly fuzzy grey tongue similar to that of a cat enables the snock to lap water and lick up its diet of dust and fluff.
Scans reveal that the internal structure of a snock is quite primitive. It has fairly rudimentary organs, a basic heart, a single lung or air sac, and a stomach, but no obvious reproductive organs, leading me to suspect that snocks are either infertile or have an as yet unknown method of reproducing.
The circulatory system carries a pinkish fluid around the body that serves a similar purpose to blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the various organs and the small brain. However, analysis of the fluid suggests it has more in common with lymph than with blood.
Snocks have a threadlike nervous system that extends throughout the body, with the greatest concentration of nerve-endings unsurprisingly situated in the sensitive snout and lips.
There is no skeletal structure at all. The internal organs appear to be housed within a porous and extremely flexible tube that varies in width and extends from the back of the throat to the tip of the tail. Furthermore, the brain is protected by a bubble of the same material that is both separate from and attached to the tube.
The rest of the body appears to be constructed entirely of muscle and sinew, no doubt accounting for its flexibility. The skin and underlying flesh can be torn, but evidence suggests that the tube containing a snock’s organs is much tougher and can be squashed almost completely flat without causing internal damage, making them remarkably resilient creatures. Flesh wounds, though obviously painful, are relatively easy to repair and even severe tears, once stitched closed, will generally knit back together in little more than a week.
Leaning back in his chair again, Owen checked over what he’d written and decided that was good enough for general usage of those without a medical degree. It was always necessary to write a version of his notes that the layman could understand. Get too technical and the information went right over the heads of the rest of the team. He’d write up a more complete report to go with this one later, once he had the results back on the tissue and fluid samples he’d taken while treating his latest patient.
Speaking of which… Pushing his chair back from his desk, Owen made his way down to the medical bay and peered into the incubator where the injured snock was living while it recovered. Most of the tears in its body were almost healed by now, and it dabbed at the glass front of the incubator with its nose when it saw Owen, wriggling happily.
Owen raised the lid of the incubator and lifted the snock out to examine it. Well, that’s what he’d tell anyone if they happened to notice. Plucking a plump dust bunny from a jar beside the incubator, he sat down, put the snock on his lap, and fed it.
“How’re you doing today, Scrap?”
The snock looked up at him, purring, and nudged at his fingers. He stroked it gently, careful not to touch any of the stitched areas; they were still a bit sore. In a few days though, it would be fully recovered and ready to return to the rest of its flock, if they’d accept it back after its long absence. Owen knew he’d miss the little creature, he’d grown quite fond of it, but if he tried to keep it as a pet… That wouldn’t be fair, it should be with others of its kind. He didn’t want Scrap to get lonely. Three more days and he’d set it free, but he’d keep an eye on it for a few days after its release, just for his own peace of mind.
“How’s the patient?” Ianto set a mug of coffee down beside the incubator, propping his tray against the cabinets and crouching down to look at the snock, stroking its head with one finger. Ianto had been the one to rescue it from its predicament and still blamed himself for its injuries because if he hadn’t left the access panel off the sub-etheric resonator, the snock wouldn’t have wandered inside and become jammed in the machinery. It was lucky to be alive.
“It’s doing okay. Should be completely healed in another day or two, then I’ll remove the stitches and keep it under observation for twenty-four hours before letting it free.”
“D’you think it’ll be okay out on its own? I mean it’s so tame now. Will it be able to fend for itself?”
“I’ve implanted a microchip in its hump so I’ll be able to keep track of it and make sure it’s finding enough to eat. Shouldn’t be a problem though.”
“I don’t know; the flock under the stairs really battle it out sometimes, fighting over the best bits of fluff.”
“That’s natural behaviour in the wild. Snocks are a lot tougher than they look.” Owen tried to be reassuring even though he had the same concerns over the snock’s future as Ianto had. “Just try not to let Harkness lose any more of his socks or we’ll soon be overrun with snock-kind.”
“I’ll do my best.” Ianto straightened up. “Right, back to work I suppose.” Picking up his empty tray he left the medical bay.
Owen sipped his coffee and relaxed, petting the snock; he should get on with some work too, before Jack got on his case. He smiled to himself; work could wait until he’d finished his coffee. It wasn’t going anywhere.
TBC in 'Snocktaking'