Libby| Give me Liberty

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At the age of five Liberty 'Libby' Bradley was given her first toy chest.

It was a Marine Corps footlocker. While other little girls got colorful wooden boxes, her father decided Libby should have an olive-drab, steel-reinforced, double-padlock trunk emblazoned with SEMPER FI and steeped in his own personal military history.

She still had it. Bolted to her bedroom floor.

Her mother raised her to be an artist, but her father trained her to have a tough skin and to defend herself. When she was growing up, he was more like a drill sergeant than a dad. Once when she was ten, they were hiking in Pike National Forest. One minute they were together and then suddenly her father was gone, and Libby was all alone in the middle of the Colorado wilderness. She had nothing but a hunting knife. No food, no water, no compass. She knew they hadn't separated by accident, either. This was a test.

It took her thirty hours to pass it, but finally she found her way back to camp. Her father had yanked her into one of his rare but warm hugs, Libby had basked in her father's proud grin. When they got home, he had bought her the pink bicycle with the streamers that she had her eye on for months.

Her mother has never been the wiser about the incident till this day.

Now, 17 years, Libby followed the instructions he'd given to her which she'd promptly programmed into her Jeep's GPS. Libby found a road that ended outside a long-abandoned warehouse at the edge of town. She turned the steering wheel and pulled over. She got out of the car, slamming the door behind her, and crunched her way across the gravel parking lot.

The warehouse was dilapidated, and there were no cars in the lot except hers. A fast-food wrapper blew across the ground in front of her. Everything was eerily silent.

It didn't matter. She knew the others were here.

The warehouse's big metal door rattled when Libby knocked on it. She could hear footsteps coming. When it opened, there stood a reed-thin platinum blonde woman, her pointy face carefully neutral.

"I'm here for the inauguration." Libby said, a little warily.

The woman eyed her thoroughly, she didn't speak.

"For the Storm Trials--I'm a finalist." Libby added quickly, uncomfortably aware that what she was about to walk into may not be the safest thing for a teenage girl, no matter how skilled she was at hand-to-hand combat.

There was a long pause while the woman looked her up and down, her mouth pursed. Libby shifted under her penetrating gaze.

The woman frowned, and for a moment Libby thought she'd slam the heavy metal door in her face. But then her lips turned up in a warm smile. "Come on in, Ms. Bradley." She said, "The others have been waiting."

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