The orphanage was in the ghetto of the city, below the levels that Anodramida’s mother had forbidden her to visit when she was a podling. It smelled like metal and sulfur, and the darkness made her shake. Christopher wrapped her tentacle around his arm, and his warmth evoked an involuntary purr, from deep within her throats.

Her mother said that humans were ugly, all those holes on their faces, the creases and the tangle of hair. Her mother thought that hair was the worst, it seemed filthy to her, the way it fell everywhere. Anodramida had thought humans were creepy till she separated the telepathic link from her mother and went to University. Without her mothers influence she found herself attracted to the humans heat and innocence. Christopher was all warmth, and he had hair on every section of his body, Anodramida knew this from examining his body in detail.

Christopher signed all the documents and told the robot caretakers that she was his lawyer. A lie, of course, but humans were good at lying. They walked the rows of cradles and looked at all the little humans. They were asleep; drugged or in stasis. Humans reproduced like bacteria, so much that they could not always afford to keep the children they produced. They were very territorial too, here, on their rusted home world, aliens were forbidden from adopting human children. Humans would rather keep their young in stasis than allow them to be raised by an alien.

To take home a child, Anodramida would not be able to return to her home world till her child was a legal adult. The child would never be allowed off world without Christopher, who would be his legal guardian. That would be twenty-two years on Earth, one of the most politically unstable planets in the galaxy. Anodramida wanted to grab all the children at once, made a little pod nest of all of them, like back at home how she was raised. Of course, she had read that human children required more care, and since they didn’t have a psychic link with a mother, they would be much harder to control.

The robots let them pick a child to lift out of stasis. All curled up, he looked like a little pink bean. She wrapped her tentacles around him, but he didn’t wake up. The robots took him to wash all the stasis fluid off him, and he slept through all of their scrubbing. Anodramida watched and thought they might be handling him a bit rough, the little thing looked so small, so delicate, like parts of it were almost transparent. When they were done toweling him off they handed him back to her, and she examined his little toes, the feathery hair, and the pudgy tummy. This child would grow and change, and get covered with hair and eat human food, oh divine energies, she would have to make human food!

Anodramida felt like she was breaking inside. She looked at Christopher. What had she been thinking? Had her idealism been overwhelming her good sense? How did she get to be here, holding a pink thing, giving up her life for this little person she didn’t even know! She couldn’t do it. She would tell the robots to put it back to sleep. Maybe it was good to want to help but maybe it wouldn’t be possible, she couldn’t raise an alien.

She looked down at the little one. “I’m sorry.” She said, in her native tongue. She gave him a careful squeeze and his eyes opened. She stroked his head with a free tentacle, and his lips curled up into a human smile.

Anodramida took him home.