Cloud and company had arrived at Nibelheim to find that the town was intact, which filled them with confusion. While they went off to cross the Nibelheim Mountains, they left the buggy parked near town. With his head occupied in more important matters, Cloud absentmindedly left the keys in the ignition... he would never see that buggy again.
'He's impossible to deal with. He doesn't take his responsibilities as seriously as a Turk should. He and Rude are always talking about who they liked and who they didn't like, it gets annoying some times. At least he has a certain loyalty to the Turks that goes perhaps beyond whatever loyalty he might have towards Shinra as a whole,' Elena mused. "Reno, get out of there, Reno!" All else aside, there was no excuse for Reno to get into a vehicle he did not own and make himself comfortable as if it was his. Elena glared, she pouted, she crossed her arms and stomped her feet. "Get out!"
"No, mother, I don't want to." Reno's words were dripping with sarcasm, which only served to annoy Elena further. "Can I play a little longer, please mommy?" He didn't need a babysitter, especially not a rookie babysitter.
"I'm not your mother or your babysitter!" Elena threw her arms in the air. He had no respect for private property what so ever. She placed her left hand on her waist and pointed with her right, moving it back and forth in accusation. "You're going to get into trouble. Worse, you might get us all into trouble. This is not something you should be doing and you know it!"
Reno placed his feet on the dash and pushed the seat back. "I'm glad you know I'm not your kid or some kid you're babysitting, now stop acting like it."
That was it, Elena gave up. "Fine! Do whatever you want, but I'm not going to be a part of it and I'm... I'm... I'm telling Tseng!" In her frustration, she did not realize how childish her threat sounded.
"Go ahead tattle tell," Reno stuck his tongue at her and once again became comfortable in the soft seat. "Yo Rude, you want to drive?" He took the keys out of the ignition and waved them around like a trophy.
"You're stealing it?" Elena looked horrified. Rude remained silent, while Elena gave him a disapproving look that seemed to scream 'say something' louder than words could.
"Borrowing," Reno corrected. "I'll go for a drive then bring it right back. Rude, are you coming or are you coming?" Who in their right mind would leave a buggy sitting all alone outside Nibelheim and expect to find it just as it was left? The keys were left in the ignition for crying out loud. The buggy was begging to be temporarily hijacked, permanently if it was as much a nice ride as it looked.
Finally, Rude spoke, "you drive."
Reno moved to the driver's seat so Rude could sit at the passenger's side. "See ya, later Elena!"
At first she ignored them while Reno took his sweet time listening to the engine purr and tuning the radio until he found some music he liked. Finally, she couldn't take it any longer. "Wait for me!" She hopped on the back seat. "I'm only going to make sure you don't do anything stupid."
"You just don't want to miss the ride." Elena chose to ignore Reno's comment in favor of looking out the window.
"We're off!" Reno stepped on the gas pedal and the buggy started moving full speed... backwards.
"What are you doing?" Elena yelled.
Reno slammed on the breaks. "It's not my fault!" He looked back; it seemed that he came within an inch of hitting a pole at the entrance of Nibelheim.
"You're the one who's driving! If it's not your fault, then whose fault is it?" Elena was already annoyed as it was and the recent event only made it worse. "We should park the buggy where it was and leave it there before you ruin it."
"Your bad mood is distracting me. You were probably wishing for something like that to happen. If you're going to ruin the fun, get out. It's not my fault I set it to go backwards, it's the fault of who ever designed this thing to look like it's set to go forward when it isn't," Reno argued.
"Maybe I should," Elena debated for a moment, but ultimately decided to stay, "forget it, let's just get the joy ride over with." The tension could be heavily felt in the buggy as Elena glared at the back of Reno's head and he played with the controls. Rude remained characteristically silent the entire time.
"There, we're on our way!" Now the buggy was moving forward as it should be. It was a smooth ride after Reno got it to work properly. The atmosphere inside the vehicle started to feel more relaxed save for the heat.
Elena occupied herself enjoying the scenery. She was feeling cranky because she was teamed with Reno and Rude instead of Tseng. Not that she particularly disliked those two; she was just upset that Tseng was stuck flying Scarlet around. "Hey!" Elena's train of thought was interrupted when the ride became bumpy. She found that instead of steering, Reno had gotten into a fight with his jacket, trying to get it off. They were approaching the river south of Nibelheim and the heat was strong on such a sunny day.
Reno tossed the jacket to the empty back seat next to Elena and poked around the control panel until he found the air conditioner. "Much better!"
Elena had to admit the air conditioner was nice. She was being cooked alive in her uniform before, but stubbornly tried to look professional.
Reno kept pressing buttons and found a way to retract the buggy's roof. At first it didn't look like a good idea with the burning sun, but up ahead was a shallow river that the buggy could cross. With an amused look, Reno stepped on the gas and crossed the river full speed. The result was refreshing drops of water raining on them just like a water park. "This is fun!" He made a U turn and repeated the action, speeding over the river several times.
"Reno you're getting us all wet!" Elena complained, but it was hard for her protest to be taken seriously when she said it between laughs.
"Then why are you laughing? Admit it, you're having fun!" Reno kept turning and going over the river.
"Oh, be quiet. I want to give Shinra a good impression." Elena mentally kicked herself for being there. She shouldn't have gotten involved; she should be back in Nibelheim waiting for Tseng after an aggravating day of transporting Scarlet.
"You worry too much," Reno stopped mid river, since it was easier to talk if they weren't having the water park experience. "Want to impress Tseng? That's fine but you don't need to be a workaholic to do that."
Elena's face turned as red as Reno's hair. Reno knew he was right and Rude had told him earlier that Elena liked Tseng, his information was always reliable. "I didn't say that!" Elena denied it as soon as she regained the ability to speak.
"It's true!" Reno already knew and Elena's face confirmed it. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about."
Elena took a deep breath; there was no use in hiding it. "So what if it's true? It's not like Shinra has any rules about Turks going out with each other. Not that we're going out, I mean... I just... I... Forget about it, let's change the subject."
"Tseng and Scarlet are going to make a stop at Nibelheim before continuing the search for the huge materia she keeps talking about. Isn't it a pity that she's dragging him around as her pilot?" Reno was clearly hinting that they should head back to Nibelheim and heroically rescue Tseng.
Elena got the message and couldn't agree more. "You can fly a helicopter too, right Reno? Maybe you can take Tseng's place as her pilot!"
Reno didn't like where the conversation was going. "Not in a million years, Scarlet is creepy. Besides putting up with her is Tseng's duty as the leader of the Turks, poor Tseng, alone with Scarlet all the time."
Elena had enough, "forget professionalism, for now... We're going to save Tseng, full speed to Nibelheim!"
"Who put the rookie in charge?" Reno tried to return to Nibelheim anyway, but the buggy didn't move.
"What's wrong? Why aren't we moving?" Elena had a bad feeling.
"I don't know," Reno tried to start the buggy again and after a few attempts, the engine made some odd noises and the air conditioner shut itself off, then the engine refused to respond at all. "We're stuck."
The buggy wasn't working. Why did this have to happen now of all times? Her beloved Tseng was in danger! "We're going on foot," Elena decided. She and Rude tossed their jackets and ties aside, this would be a long walk and the heat was too strong. Luckily, since they were in a shallow area of the river, crossing it on foot wasn't a problem. Elena took a moment to reanalyze the situation. "What are the chances of the buggy working again if it's on dry land?"
"Good," Rude replied.
"Yeah, I heard this model is known to randomly breakdown then start working again for no apparent reason." Reno gave Elena a suspicious look, "you're not suggesting that we..."
Elena nodded, "you two push, I'll drive."
Thus Reno and Rude ended up in the middle of the river, pushing the buggy. "This is heavy and it's not moving! Are you sure you're not stepping on the breaks, Elena?" Though the water was refreshing, Reno couldn't enjoy it in that situation.
"Of course not and I think we're making progress. Just a few more feet and we'll be out of the river. The trip to Nibelheim will be a lot faster and comfortable after this." Elena was determined, she might not get there before Scarlet but she would arrive on time to see Tseng and give Scarlet a clear, 'stay away from him' message.
"Are you sure we're making progress? It doesn't look like-" Before Reno could finish, the buggy started to move. It slipped off the shallow part of the river towards the deeper area and was carried down stream.
"Elena!" Reno and Rude called after her.
"It won't stop, the controls don't respond!" Elena was carried down the river on the buggy, further away from her destination. "Rude! Reno!" It was no use; her teammates couldn't keep up with the speed of the river on foot.
xoxox xox xoxox
After some time of being carried by the river and by a miracle not sinking, the buggy got stuck on a beach south of the quick sands that surrounded the Gold Saucer. Elena tried to get the buggy started again and by some miracle it worked. No one knew how those vehicles repaired themselves, but somehow after a breakdown, they mysteriously started working again a while later. Elena guided the buggy out of the sandy beach and into the grassy fields next to the quick sands. She rounded the mountains, passed Cosmo Canyon, then had to get across the portion of the river where the accident had occurred.
"Here goes, please don't break down!" Elena stepped on the gas all the way and the buggy was able to cross the shallow river without problems, however it didn't stop there. It looked like the gas pedal was stuck and the breaks couldn't do anything about it. Elena tried to keep herself calm, she was a Turk and she needed to handle this like a Turk would. Yet the best solution she could come up with was driving back to Nibelheim full speed and hope the buggy would run out of fuel near there.
xoxox xox xoxox
Reno and Rude were trying to find Elena, following the course of the river. "Your throat will get dry faster," Rude pointed out.
Reno paused in his endless ramblings. "It'll be more boring if we don't talk while we go for a nice long walk in the middle of nowhere in an immense heat with nothing to drink." The sarcasm was evident and so was the sunburn.
When Reno and Rude least expected it, they heard the sound of an engine approaching. The buggy zoomed by full speed, with Elena on the wheel, "I can't!" She made a U turn and sped by again, "stop it!"
"Jump!" Reno yelled.
"Are you insane?" Elena wasn't sure if she should be asking or concluding. Then again, she didn't have much of a choice. "Alright, I'll do it!" She used one of the ties that they left in the buggy to secure the steering wheel at an angle where the buggy would drive in circles around Reno and Rude; she intended to have them catch her. "Here I go!" Elena jumped out of the buggy and tackled both Rude and Reno. "Thanks for catching me!"
"The buggy!" Rude suddenly directed their attention towards the rampaging vehicle. The tie snapped and the wheel spun around, causing the buggy to go after them. The three Turks scrambled out of the way, trying to avoid being run over.
There was a short but steep cliff ahead next to the coast line. They jumped, taking refuge behind the cliff and witnessed as the buggy flew above their heads full speed and plunged into the ocean. With the engine still roaring, the buggy slowly sank. "That was close," Elena finally let out a breath of relief.
"Too close," Rude agreed.
"But it was fun!" Reno was back to being his cheerful, carefree self.
"It's not over yet," Elena declared, "let's go save Tseng!"
xoxox xox xoxox
One year later, at the Seventh Heaven, "Tifa, do you remember what ever happened to that buggy we got from Dio?" It was an unanswered question that Cloud suddenly remembered now that his mind wasn't occupied with discovering the truth about his past and saving the world.
"We parked it near Nibelheim and left it there after crossing the mountains," Tifa recalled. "Later we started using the Tiny Bronco for transportation and after that, the Highwind. I'm not sure what happened to the buggy, I don't remember seeing it again. Do you still have the keys?"
"I can't find them. I wasn't sure were I put them, but I guess there were more important things going on at the time. Maybe I left the keys in the ignition," Cloud concluded.
Tifa shook her head. "It was probably stolen. Who knows where it could be now."
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