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     The space-transport doors hissed open. A collective sigh from the weary travelers resonated through the cramped cabin as fresh air replaced the body-odor, tinted oxygen.

     The captain's unenthused voice crackled to life over the intercom, "Welcome to Earth. It is currently seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit in New Seattle with falling precipitation. Proceed to the customs counter before leaving the area. Thank you for choosing Tedd's Transports for your interstellar traveling needs."

     With nothing but her backpack and a midnight-purple, hooded, cloak already in place, Liri Delaney's willowy frame squeezed through the disembarking crowd.

     "Pardon me," Liri apologized when crashing into a seven-foot-tall, green reptilian. 

     "Watch it, girl-food!" the woman snapped, bearing her mouthful of razor-sharp teeth in warning.

     Liri shook her head and pointed at a retreating, brown arachnoid. "I was shoved and didn't—"

     The station's music and viewing screens went silent. The lights flickered. All movements came to an eerie and sudden stop.

     Icy tendrils of dread and panic began zapping Liri like a cow prod; she fought the urge to flee as fast as possible with each muscle-cramping jolt.

     "What's happening, mama?" A frightened child asked the reptilian woman, worry wavering his young voice.

     "Just a power outage or something, baby-boy. Grab both your sister's hands, so we don't get split up as we did at the zoo on Draconis Prime."

     Alarms from personal devices buzzed, and the transport flight boards filled with the bright-orange, triangular, emergency signal before a message popped to life on every screen in sight. Translated, it stated, "We know you are hiding here."

     "Not again," Liri quietly lamented while confusion etched across nearby faces. 

     A wide-eyed, grey's head bobbed around as they do when alarmed.

     Several people randomly asked one another, "What does that mean?" 

     Others queried in panicked tones, "What's going on?"

     A woman's soothing voice stated over the public-announcement system, "A solar flare has disturbed the net and may take several more minutes before it subsides. Please, continue about your business and disregard the interruption."

     "You see children, nothing to worry about." The reptilian patted her daughter's heads. "Just the sun acting up is all."

     Swallowing hard, Liri took a steadying breath and began shuffling towards one of four open customs desks.

     All electronic devices screeched again, and people jolted in surprise. The same message as before flashed across the screens.

     Spotting the nearest exit, Liri inched her way there.

     "Miss, you need to go through customs before you can leave the area," a red-faced earthling in a security-uniform stated as she reached a wide red-line glowing on the floor.

     "I just need to use the restroom," Liri said while batting her eyelashes over her pale-blue eyes.

     He enunciated his words as if she was an imbecile, "This is an electrified, transparent, barrier, and if you step on that red line, you'll get knocked on your pretty ass in an instant."

     Liri's shoulders sagged, and she moved closer to him. "Have you ever been confined in an overstuffed transport for long?" 

     The guard shook his head and she continued in a sultry voice, "Let me tell you; it's not pleasant to use the latrines after a week, let alone a month." 

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