Special Ambassador Harrington stepped onto the alien spacecraft for the first time since its arrival in the solar system, his suit telemetry telling the Secret Service agents about the nervousness that his face denied. They had stationed themselves in the hall ahead of him, angular black metal walls towering above the enormous men.
After consulting on an encrypted channel, the Secret Service agents reported that the atmosphere on the ship had been adjusted to match that of Earth - both in pressure and composition. The President's own advisors had suggested that Harrington remove his helmet in this situation as a sign of trust, but when it came right down to it he didn't trust them, not at all. Still, he knew the importance of diplomacy... sighing, he released the helmet and pulled it off. The air smelled somehow metallic, but not bad. Nodding to the Secret Service agents, Special Ambassador Harrington walked into the "conference room" to face the nightmare beings.
The creatures would have been right at home as horror movie special effects, all tentacles and eyes. They had a layer of mucus over them, and barbed spines along some parts. They were green. The anthropologists had assured the President that they were emotionally and morally similar to humans, although that seemed little comfort without knowing which humans - Mother Theresa, or Hitler? Harrington noticed that they didn't seem to be wearing any kind of space suit - his advisors had said they were incompatible with Earth's atmosphere.
"They can... breathe... in this air?" Harrington was asking one of the agents, but a device in front of the aliens replied in a monotone.
"We change ourselves. We adapt ourselves."
Recovering like a true professional, the Special Ambassador smiled.
"So good to talk to you! On behalf of the United Americas, I want to say it is an honor to meet you."
"We are pleased to meet you. Our home was destroyed long ago. We have traveled far hoping to find a new world. We are tired. Earth would be ideal."
Harrington shivered involuntarily. They wanted the Earth.
"You said you can adapt yourself, can't you live on any planet?"
"Some. It is very difficult. Some are easy. Earth is ideal."
Cold sweat was running down his spine. These things, on Earth. Where would they live? Would they be taking over? Kicking humans out, maybe even killing them?
"Where... would your people expect to stay on Earth?"
"We are tired. We have lived too long. We have traveled long. We have not found other ideal planets. Our people will stay here. Orbit Earth. We are tired. Earth is ideal for repopulation. Continuing the species. Our children would stay on Earth. In homes. In schools."
Harrington was at a loss. He smiled weakly, flipping through mental cue cards in a desperate search for the appropriate response. What do you say when hideous tentacled monsters from a distant planet announce they want to send their... spawn... to reproduce on your planet?
"We can provide technology. We can provide for our people. Your people. Our children. Food and power are easy to provide."
With the odd syntax and emotionless translator it was hard to tell, but Harrington suddenly felt like this was less of an invasion, and more of a plea for sanctuary. They almost seemed to be begging. He looked at them again, trying to find some basis to gauge their motives off of and failing. If nothing else, they at least didn't seem to be hostile. Harrington relaxed somewhat, but still found himself at a loss for words.
"We are tired. Soon we will be too tired. Our home was destroyed. If Earth is not home for our children destruction will be finished. We have traveled too far. We have lived too long. We will not find more ideal planets."
He wanted to say something. Could he do this, invite an alien species onto Earth? He subvocalized a message to the President, to be transmitted along with the live feed. Two simple words, PLEASE ADVISE, that carried a slightly different meaning: I'm in way over my head here.
"Look. Our first child. We change ourselves. We adapt ourselves. We adapt our children for you." Tentacles extended, holding a tiny infant. The child could have almost passed for human - fingers a bit too long, green skin, but still close enough to trigger the biological empathy inside Special Ambassador Harrington... he had always loved kids. Before he even knew what he was doing, without having received a reply from the President, Harrington lifted the child into his arms.
The sneaky bastards have a secret weapon, he thought as the infant burbled and clumsily grabbed at his nose. We've already lost this battle. Harrington smiled at the alien invaders. "She's beautiful."