A/N: If you've somehow managed to miss the whole "Snakes on a Plane" thing, you might want to google the term before reading further. I have nothing much more to say about this fic except that its whole existence is entirely other people's fault!
It would be wrong to suggest Chrono and companions had reached their current stage of their journey without running afoul of their fair share of snakes. Several giant varieties of legless reptile had made up an entire, seemingly inexhaustible unit of Magus' Mystic army - Guardia had been crawling with them during their first few visits to that part of history. There were rather fewer of them around since Magus' abrupt disappearance, but even in the present one could hardly get through Medina without having a couple pestering you to buy a postcard. Then there was the even nastier two-headed snake variety, not to mention those bizarre Naga-ette creatures from the incident at the chapel. To this day, Chrono and Lucca couldn't so much as meet a nun without half expecting to see the end of a tail sticking out from under her habit.
One place they had never encountered snakes before was on board the Epoch. When Marle spotted a reptilian tail slithering under her chair and let out an almighty shriek, no-one was remotely prepared for what happened next.
The Epoch's cockpit had space for three people exactly, or one robot and two humans who didn't breath in too deeply. Two snakes, two humans and a frog who'd just gone into an instinctive imminent-predator-panic put it well over capacity. There were several minutes of frantic tumbling into one another, attempted drawing of weapons, while the Epoch improvised some stomach-lurching new variations on the loop-the-loop. Someone (possibly Chrono, this was never later resolved) landed on the weapons panel long enough to blast the hell out of an innocent lump of cirrocumulus. It could all very easily have ended in tears, flaming wreckage or a first-ever opportunity to settle the ongoing debate over whether the Epoch was watertight. The Entity must have been smiling on them again today though, because the crew managed to get its collective wits back before things could go irrevocably hedgehog-shaped. Both invaders were shortly immobilized inside a neatly conjured block of ice, the Epoch was pulled safely back on course, and snakes retained their position on the list of things Chrono and Co could deal with in a reasonably sensible manner.
"Well done, lass." Frog declared, still keeping as much space between himself and the now frozen snakes as the tiny cockpit allowed. "But how in the Queen's name could they have gotten on board? There were no snakes abound at our last landing, were there?" This was probably true in the literal sense, though given how often the Epoch was left unguarded in the pre-historic jungle, sometimes for days at a time, they were probably lucky it hadn't happened sooner.
"…!" Chrono threw his arms up in the air. "!!!"
"There's no call for that kind of language, Chrono." Marle admonished him. "Let's, uh, just drop them off around here somewhere, shall we?"
The snakes were left to thaw on a small, uninhabited island circa 600 AD. No-one thought anymore of the incident. By the time they'd fallen into a hole under the desert, survived a battle with a giant skeleton monster, returned to pick up Robo after a few hundred years of tree-planting and tiptoed nervously around several nuns in the new forest chapel, they'd forgotten all about it.
Four hundred years and two weeks later, while cruising over the ocean of 1000 AD, the Epoch's crew noticed something rather odd.
"Wait," Lucca pointed at an uninhabited but oddly familiar island. "Wasn't there a village down there last time we flew over?"
"That is correct. Last time we visited this period and location that island housed a settlement of approximately two hundred people." Bleeped Robo, who had the memory for details like that.
A closer pass revealed the reason why prospective settlers might have decided to give that particular spot a miss. The entire island was crawling with snakes. There were snakes on the ground, snakes hanging from the trees, snakes holding what looked from their height like a near solid mass of reptilian bodies holding a snake parade down the centre of the island. The whole scene was like something from a ophiophobiac's nightmare.
"This is certainly most peculiar." Said Robo, who's memory for irrelevant details was matched only by his ability to understate such situations. "Could there be something we've change in recent history that might account for it?"
Chrono pondered this.
"You did what?" Lucca blurted.
"You found how many snakes in the cockpit?"
"Why didn't you mention this before?"
"Oh, right. Yeah, that would have been distracting. Well, nothing else for it. We've got to go back to 600 AD and find those snakes!"
Alas, much like most efforts to change the course of history, this proved easier said than done. By the time they arrived the only evidence the snakes had landed there at all was a small patch of damp-ish earth. The Epoch was a marvel of engineering, no doubt, but within-five-minute accuracy was a bit beyond it. It stood to reason that the snakes couldn't have gotten far, but after half and hour of poking at bushes with Chrono's sword and producing nothing more deadly than a few irritated insects, it started to become evident that there were some minor flaws in Lucca's original plan.
"Maybe we could set a trap." Lucca suggested.
"It wouldn't be hard – I could build one. I'd just need a metal cage, some springs, a trigger mechanisms and some sort of… hm. What could we use for bait?"
This posed another problem. The island had to be covered in snake-food - future history was going to prove it. Finding something that would entice a snake into a small metal contraption of the deadly persuasion when there were small mammals and birds practically falling from the trees would be a real challenge.
"Magus, you had snakes in your army." Lucca pointed out. "What did you feed them?"
Magus's expression spoke volumes on his feelings about being pulled out of a quiet corner at the End of Time for what amounted to a glorified pest extermination mission. "…besides enemy soldiers?"
The whole trap idea was abandoned fairly quickly after that.
"There must be something we're missing here." Lucca insisted. "The trick Marle pulled off with the ice won't work, she'd have to know where they were to catch them like that again. Maybe we could smoke them out?" This was again typically Lucca. When engineering failed, she fell back on her other specialty, which tended to involve things that went bang and caught fire. "You don't have to look that skeptical Chrono, you don't have any better ideas do you?" Chrono shrugged unhelpfully.
It was all very well dealing with snakes that would leap out wanting a fight, but the variety that was happy to hide under control chairs or in the undergrowth was a very different matter. None of them had any experience in finding snakes. Usually the snakes found them, whether they liked it or not.
"Perhaps," Magus said thoughtfully, raking his scythe through another patch of long grass, "we are going about this in the wrong way."
Frog passed up dinner that night – there are some things amphibian digestion was just never meant to deal with, but the rest of them had to agree Ayla really made a great snake stew.