realize it’s a routine legal form which releases the Navy from any liability in a malpractice suit brought against the examining physician. It doesn’t release the physician of responsibility, but there’s very little danger of malpractice in a physical examination.”
She handed the form across the desk to him with her pen. He immediately saw an opportunity to bind Kyra to him with hoops of paper stronger than steel. Once signed, witnessed, and recorded, documents assumed their own inviolability only lengthy court procedures might challenge. He signed and handed the form to Kyra, who signed it. The chief witnessed their signatures, appended her serial number, time-stamped the document, and put it in a manila folder.
“You were saying Kyra has no relatives.”
“Not on earth, Chief Anna. Kyra’s a visitor from the now extinct planet of Kanab. She has come to petition the U.S.A. for enough uranium 235 to power her journey onward into space. For reasons I can’t go into, her quarantine must be expedited. I know this may be hard for you to accept, but I think the proof of what I say will be evident to any doctor.”
“I don’t find it hard to accept at all.” Chief Pilsudski smiled. “I knew Kyra didn’t get those beautiful green eyes anywhere on earth, and with so many stars in the sky it’s incredible to me that we earth folks haven’t been visited before.”
Suddenly a look of dismay clouded her eyes, and Breedlove tensed slightly, but the chief continued in a speculative tone: “Unfortunately my security rating doesn’t clear me for restricted data concerning space exploration. I have a clearance for classified medical intelligence only, so I may be violating Navy regulations by asking Kyra questions.”
“Chief, how could the Navy possibly issue directives about interviewing visitors from space, since it’s never been done before. You’re establishing the precedents, here and now, for others to follow.”
“Of course, you’re right,” the chief said, still retaining her composure in the face of Kyra’s origins. “There can be no regulations concerning that which never happened. I’ll go right ahead with the forms.”
Again Breedlove observed the steadying effect of routine on the human nervous system. Chief Pilsudski questioned Kyra calmly as she went through the form, skipping only one question, “Proof of Alien’s Birth in Country of Origin?” Kyra signed it; Breedlove, as her guardian, attested to her signature,—and the chief witnessed it. For a moment she sat considering the form, tapping her forehead with her pen.
“I do wish you had brought along a birth certificate, Kyra.” She eyed Kyra’s shoulder bag as if expecting Kyra to rummage through it and come up with a birth certificate. “Don’t you have any evidence of your birth on Kanab?”
Kyra thought for a moment and said, “Yes, Anna, I have.”
She stood to unbutton her shirt and jeans. Thinking she intended to flash the true green of her hair, Breedlove averted his eyes and heard Kyra say, “Look, Anna. No bellybutton.”
“This is most curious,” the chief said. “You have no navel but you have breasts, so you must be a mammal, but what happened to your umbilicus?”
The chief had asked herself the question, and her eyes groped for an answer, rolling around for a moment until the whites were visible in odd places. Slowly she rose and leaned over the desk toward Kyra, asking in a sharp, accusatory tone, “Kyra, where is your bellybutton?”
“I have none, Anna.” Kyra’s voice assumed its fluting, soothing tone.
Chief Anna Pilsudski was beyond being soothed. A harpy was emerging from the woman of distinction, but the wild words that poured from her were not directed solely or even mainly to Kyra. They were breast-beating imprecations against a malevolent fate.
“What’s a mammal without an umbilicus? Only kangaroos have teats without bellybuttons. What are you, a wallaby? If you’re a marsupial,