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Truck Drivers

Chapter Text

There’s Cloud. Then there’s Aerith.

They accidentally met twice, in the middle of a random street with introductions, Cloud walking around after a failed attempt to get a job in a job fair, Aerith selling some flowers. They bumped at each other, Cloud picking the fallen flowers for her, and Aerith offering some for him.

“Oh, here’s a flower, it’s one gil, just for you!” said Aerith with a friendly tone, to Cloud, who gave her one gil willingly and put it on his ear.

“Oh, uh, thanks... what’s your name?”

“Aerith.”

“Cloud.”

“Nice eyes though.” Both said, in perfect timing.

“Oh shit, we said the same words!” said Cloud. Aerith just giggled.

“I think there's something close in us. See you next time, then! Here’s my phone number.” Aerith told him, scribbling a piece of paper with her phone number (personal).

The second time, it was in a church she visits around, and Cloud just visited said place, since he saw the same type of flowers she sold him once.

“Oh it’s you again, Cloud! I think it’s time we have a date! We might as well have one together since we constantly meet each other anyway.”

“In return for the dates which I also want, I can be your bodyguard.”

“Sure, thanks!”

Some dates later, as Cloud got a job and used his money for dating her, both agreed to live together and shared the same room, since Cloud didn’t have a place to sleep on (not to mention they became a close-knit couple). As for the job, he got himself in a bar/delivery company called Seventh Heaven and did deliveries on a car, but the company was also known for its trucking services. Although he liked driving around, the boss was the problem. By problems I meant she tried hitting on him, bugging him to no end, even if he told her he had a girlfriend.

He once complained it to Aerith, who told him she’ll find a job for him, whether at the shop or not, but also told her he’ll find another job himself.

As for the flower shop, she, Marlene and Denzel (neighbors' kids who happen to like Aerith's work) arranged and carried around bouquets of flowers. Marlene arranged it (sometimes) to the point it became an art form, Aerith often checking if Marlene did it right (read: flaw, what flaw?). Aerith personally delivered said flowers by car (if they were bouquets), and always acknowledged Marlene’s work.

But there was another job that Cloud was told to do.

Driving a truck.

He might be used to driving a car and some other small vehicles, but not a huge ass 7m Ural 44202-0511-41 truck with a 12m semi-trailer on its back. (1)

“So... my customer wants you to drive this thing to Narshe.” Said the woman, who looked at him with her red eyes.

“I didn’t expect to drive this.” said Cloud, while he looked around at said Ural.

“Yeah, well my customer couldn’t find someone else to do it and our deliverymen and truckers are out doing their jobs, so he contacted me. He’s going to prepare it almost a month from now.”

“I’m not even trained!”

“And? You want that Gil or not? You better train then.” Cloud thought of Aerith and her mother and their future.

“Alright... but you’ll let Aerith with me.” While they DID come from the same town, Cloud knew that his boss wanted him, but whenever he mentioned Aerith, the boss got mad. Besides, he needed a co-driver anyway. Talking of which, he’ll ask her later when he comes home, after finishing the deliveries for today.

“Fine... but after this thing’s over, we’ll have a talk.” He could feel how mad she was. Without letting her know, he saw her hands clenched into a fist.

As much as he didn’t like the boss, the boss was surely fair enough to let them together. But he knew that wouldn't last.

Later at night...

“I have some good news and some request!” Cloud announced at the dinner table.

“Sure! I’m listening.” Aerith said.

“The boss is offering me to drive a truck... so we can get more gil, so we can increase our finances, start our family and so on.”

“Nice! Congratulations, too!” Aerith congratulated him.

“So, Aerith, I was thinking, I actually need a partner at my job... and... I thought, you? I mean, I actually needed a co-driver since I need help doing things and drive to, and I’ll protect you along the way.” Cloud added, even if he was a bit hesitant in asking her.

“You mean you want me to join you?”

“Yeah... If you want to...” said Cloud, whose words drifted... “But then, your mother...” Cloud started to emphasize, fearing that Aerith might say no.

“Sure, why not? We can even go to other countries together, like San Andreas, or Vice City. Besides, we have B, C and E approved driver’s licenses, right? Also, I think the kids can help her do chores. They stay here every day.” Aerith answered him as he felt relieved.

“You have a good point. We do have enough money though if you’re ever concerned about the payment. Oh and d’you think of any plans for the flower shop since you’re coming with me?”

“I think Denzel and Marlene can operate the shop with Mama’s help, especially Marlene. Talking of which, she’s been itching to take it over, according to Mama. Besides, they're just a step away.”

“I wouldn’t mind you two away. I think the kids can do well here. But Cloud, do take care of her.” Aerith’s mother, Elmyra told them as Cloud nodded without hesitation. She actually liked him as Aerith's boyfriend, unlike in the original game.

Some months earlier they got the C-approved license (they had B-level of approval before, but got these approvals because Barret needed them and they were good at it). Now before they would venture outside Midgar, they asked Zack about trucking. After all, he spent time trucking in San Andreas with Cissnei.

At the first day of work, both walked into the office of Seventh Heaven, dressed in almost the same style of dress shirt, undershirt and trousers, except they had different colours. Cloud had dark blue, grey and black; Aerith had red, pink and black, all of which were bought from some internet store. (2)

Along with them were their backpacks, necessities (personal or otherwise) and documents needed for the trip, such as passports and their driving licenses. They also heard of bandits and monsters, so they packed some heat: 2 Zastava M57A pistols and 9 magazines per person, courtesy of Barret, the neighborhood-friendly arms dealer. (3)

“So, you guys are ready now?” asked the boss.

“Yeah, we are.” Aerith answered for herself and Cloud.

“Well, get your asses in!” said the boss.

But before they can get their asses in, they decide to check the new machine first.

First, they checked the Ural’s fluids such as the oil, coolant, brake fluid and windscreen wash, the air filter, lights front and rear, then the tires and spare tire, and the emergency equipment (such as the spanner), the medical kit, and finally an emergency warning triangle. They looked at the CB radio as well.

“We should check the documents.” Aerith told Cloud. Cloud nodded.

“Let’s see, there’s the registration papers, insurance, oh and some document.” The latter document had the words Книжка МДП/TIR Carnet, and that it was already written. It had their names, on the driver list, and their cargo, which was 19 tons of electronics. It was already previously produced and assembled in San Fierro, a city in the Kingdom of San Andreas, and delivered by another truck, judging from the Carnet's content.

Another important item they had was a blue metal plate with МДП written in white was found by the middle seat. Another blue plate had the words TIR, but it was attached onto its bumper.

Getting in the Ural, they found out the interior was small, even with a sleeping cab on its back. How can they sleep together if the said sleeping cab was for one person? Then again, they tried sleeping on one bed (Aerith’s bed) several times before, Aerith sleeping on Cloud, or Cloud sleeping on Aerith.

Cloud got himself on the driver’s seat with Aerith for shotgun. Aerith took the МДП plate onto the front, propped by said truck’s aircon vent.

“Let’s go.” Aerith told him. Cloud nodded.

Cloud stepped on the clutch and the brake, checked the gear stick if it was neutral and gave it some exercise, waited for a while to warm up the engine and started the ignition as the Ural came into life. Then, he pushed the throttle to leave the office, starting with the first gear. He had some problems at first, especially with the gear stick and he can’t easily see the front of the vehicle. At times, Cloud asked Aerith if he maneuvered without any hitches.

“It’s good, go left a bit! There we go!” Aerith peeked out on the right side.

Sceneries change from urban, to suburban, then to rural as the Ural went on, reaching the beginning of the Midgar-Costa del Sol-Nibelheim highway, or a series of tarmac roads, which was the current status of said highway.

“Now I’m getting really excited.” Cloud told her, as he shifted from the first and then the second gear."

“Definitely. I think this is the beginning of our adventures.” Aerith told him, excited with a new job (and driving) and some adventures they will face.

Chapter Text

Driving through the highway went without a hitch, except for some potholes while driving along the coast. While driving through a road that went to Costa del Sol, Cloud stopped the truck and put the truck on a parking brake, on a parking lot, as the time was 12:00PM, for lunch. Just as Cloud went out, however, he found out the truck’s front left tire was flat. Damn those potholes.  But the tires were probably old or patched up, even if they checked it.

“Ah, shit!” Cloud exclaimed, and then returned to the cabin to get the jack, some chocks and the lug wrench.

“What’s wrong?” asked a startled Aerith.

“The front-left tire’s flat! It’s probably from the potholes we experienced earlier.” Cloud complained.

“Cloud, let’s eat first, we didn’t even eat lunch yet. After this, then we fix the tire.”

They soon set up a folding table, two bottles of water, utensils, and food. After setting them all up, they ate their packed lunches. They couldn’t afford a rice cooker, for now.

In the meantime, looking at nearby Costa del Sol, Cloud was amazed by the town itself followed by a daydream, while Aerith looked around the town’s skyline.

My God, thought Cloud. He wanted a vacation for Aerith, ever since he saw it once. Once they become financially stable, he’ll give Aerith that vacation she deserved.

... (It’s that daydream)

“Aerith, have you been to Costa del Sol's beaches before? Aside from the time we met Makoto and Aigis?” Cloud asked, while sipping coffee. They were on a date.

“Naw, but I want to.” Aerith answered his question.

“Yeah, I mean, look at this house. It looks nice!” Cloud presented a photo of said house from his smartphone.

“I like the house. Once we get the money, we’ll buy it and we’ll call it Villa Cloud.” She told him, her hands on his face.

Cloud just blushed.

“You’re getting red, eh?” Aerith just laughed and messed Cloud’s hair.

... (now back to the present)

“So, how’s the Ural?” asked Aerith, interrupting Cloud’s daydream.

“It’s not bad. Although I think I can’t push beyond 90 km/h. Steering’s nice, the brakes are nice too, though.” Cloud asked her.

“I see. Thanks for informing me.” Aerith told him.

Once they finished eating and packing up, now it was time to replace the broke tire. Both wore gloves. Aerith put said chocks on the wheels, lifted the front wheel’s leaf spring’s U-bolt with a jack and loosened the wheel’s lugs with a lug wrench.

“Cloud, get the spare tire. I’ll get this one out.” Aerith pulled out the tire once the last lug was out.

Aerith wasn’t just adept at pulling out the tire’s lugs, but can pull out a tire herself and lift it out as well. Cloud pulled up said spare and pushed it on the front-left axle.
And they quickly did it in 30 minutes, considering they reinstalled a part that allowed the truck to give the tire a certain pressure.

Now it’s back to driving. Apart from a bunch of small gravel roads (which was nothing to the Ural, but took them more time due to the traffic of said roads), the usual calls of nature, driving through the country was fine.

...

It was 6:00 PM. An alarm buzzed the typically conversation-laden couple. They previously discussed the video games they played together on a PC, like DCS World or the numerous simulators/emulators. Cloud moved to the inner lane and pulled the parking brake. He then moved to the sleeping cab and told Aerith to move, the latter placed a CJD Compact console (it’s a like a Vita but in Android) by the sleeping cab.

“It’s your turn, Aerith.” Aerith nodded and moved to said seat, on the left. She adjusted the seat, pushed the clutch and the brake, and turned the truck’s ignition. She then shifted to the first gear. The truck soon went into life once again.

“Hey, Aerith. Thanks for joining with me.” Cloud thanked her.

“Welcome. Remember, we wanted to go to San Andreas, or some other country. There’s an advantage in being a truck driver. You get to places that you don’t expect visiting, and we are our own bosses.” Aerith told him, shifting on the 5th gear of the Ural.

“You have a point.”

“A different and unrelated question, you’ve tried Fridge Racer?” Cloud asked her again. He reached the console and chose said game.

“Yeah, I have a file saved. What about it?”

“I have another file, too. What’s your opinion on it?”

“The game is good and the concept behind it is funny, I swear, you’ll enjoy it. Racing with refrigerators? I like the idea, that’s why I downloaded it. Oh, and uh, get the HM 5000 ASAP. It’s got more nitrous, and apparently, according to the notes, a T-64 engine.” Aerith laughed at the game’s idea.

“And what about Urban Wakeboarding?”

“I’ll download it if one of us gets bored with Fridge Racer. I’m pretty sure, we won’t get bored. You’re already enjoying the game already.”

“Aight then.” Cloud continued playing.

As much as they loved talking to each other, they do need to rest their voices. It was also getting dark, and Aerith, as the driver, turned on the dashboard’s lights, the trailer lights switch, and the headlamp.

“Cloud, its 9:30 PM. You wanna go to Nibelheim? I’m pretty sure it won’t hurt meeting your parents and resting there for a while.” A yawning Aerith told him.

“Go, they shouldn’t strain us this hard, it's our first time driving. And if she gets mad at us...” Cloud’s words drifted.

“That’s her problem.” Aerith reassured him.

She then blinked the right light signal, changed lanes until she found the exit, going to Nibelheim. It was easy to find his house in the middle of the night. In fact, the first thing she saw was Cloud’s father, drinking Banora wine.

“Park here!” said Cloud’s father, who pointed at a space that can fit said truck.

Just as the Ural was parked and they left said Ural, Cloud’s father saw them.

“Hello!” said Cloud and Aerith to his father. They then plopped by the couch.

“Oh, hello! Have something to eat and drink.” said Cloud’s mother, who offered them Kompot and Krofne, both of them eating and drinking said offerings. Cloud’s parents sat on the couches.

“Thank you!” both told her.

“I’ll be out to get some Šljivovica!” Cloud told her and his father. The needed supplies were for: the small talk. Then again, Cloud and Aerith needed Šljivovica, coffee, sugar, and cream for their trip ahead.

“So, how’s Cloud?” started Cloud’s dad. When they met Aerith for the first time, they immediately accepted her into the family.

“He’s loyal, nice and protects me.”

“That’s good; he’s loyal and protects you. I thought he did deliveries, why did he drive a truck with you?” asked Cloud’s father.

“Let’s see, his boss made him drive a truck, because nobody else can do that shit for her. Cloud then told me about it, and asked if I can join. Of course I said, yes, because I love him and he also needs someone to take care of him, even if he didn’t say it implicitly. Besides, he takes care of me too, and we want to go on an adventure together.”

“So that means you left the shop to join him?” asked Cloud’s mother.

“Yes.” Aerith sipped some kompot.

“Who takes care of it?” asked his father.

“Mama and two young adults, Denzel and Marlene.”

“Oh, I see.” Said Cloud’s father.

“That’s good; In fact, since he takes care of you, take care of him back.” said Cloud’s mother, who sat beside Cloud’s father.

“Yes, mom and dad!” Aerith nodded, happy that his parents complimented her. She only used the terms for Cloud’s parents, since Mama and Papa were for her parents. Cloud referred to his parents in the same way, except the two independently used them.

They talked to her on other things, like how they met. It was already 11:00 pm. They better sleep now. Cloud came into the conversation.

“So, when are you two getting married?” asked Cloud’s dad.

“Uh....” Both said the same thing.

“This isn’t an “uh” race though.” Cloud’s mother reminded them.

“Uhh, we’re not financially stable yet.” Cloud told his parents.

“There’s no doubt that we love each other, but it’s not in our minds at the moment. We have to... upgrade a lot of things, starting with the house, the flower shop, ourselves, but mostly the house and the shop. Oh, and our family too.” Aerith argued.

“I see, even if you’re 25 and she’s 26. So how do you live together?” said Cloud’s mother. Numerous questions came into the fray, whether it was their relationship, their actual status, or anything that related involving the two of them.

The discussion about the question actually lasted for 30 minutes, since Aerith also told them they have to sleep. Talking of which, both withdrew to Cloud’s room. Coincidentally, it’s a small bed.  

“Hey, Cloud...” said Aerith who took the console from the side table.

“Yeah?” He asked, groggily.

“Your parents told me to protect you. You’re protecting me anyway. Come here, Cloud.” Cloud immediately hugged her, his head on her neck. She moved her arm and wrapped it around his neck so she can play Fridge Racer.

“Thanks. When did they tell you that?” She could understand Cloud’s voice even if her body muffled his voice.

“Your mother told me that. Besides, with this new job, we really do need to protect each other.”
“So, I watch your back, you watch mine.”

“Yeah, kinda like that. Oh, by the way, it’s nice you’re getting the MHM-1704 fridge.”

“Fuck... I forgot to save the file, and thanks for congratulating me.” Cloud thanked her, even if his voice indicated his sleepiness.

“Go to sleep, I will save the file for you.”

“Thanks. Remind me to do the same thing for you.”

“Night.”

“Night, to you as well.“ With those words, Cloud immediately slept. Aerith on the other hand, was getting asleep as well. But at least she saved Cloud’s file.

Now back to her game. She’s trying to finish the ZiL Challenge, using a Minsk-10 refrigerator against a ZiL-Moskva refrigerator, considered the topmost refrigerator in the 1st class. But tiredness made her think otherwise. She better sleep too, besides, she had 6 hours left to drive.

Chapter Text

So it was 5:00 AM. Nice. The sunlight hit their faces. Aerith was the first to open up her eyes. Last time she slept with him, she slept on and hugged Cloud. Now its Cloud’s turn, and Aerith had her left arm on his back, and her right hand on his head. Cloud’s hands were on her waist and back, fingers on her skin.

“Cloud, get up! We have to fix ourselves and get our asses back to the Ural!” Aerith woke him by patting his back.

“What time is it?” Cloud asked groggily, his face buried under the pillow.

Aerith grabbed her wristwatch from a side table. “Oh, fuck! It’s 5:10. We better get running!”

They did some face washing, then showering together (well his parents were actually asleep), some grooming, and new clothes (well design and color wise, they’re almost the same). They then ate breakfast, consisting of a shot of Šljivovica, coffee with cream, sardines and rice. Beside the table was a map they owned. A TV report soon blared over the dining room/kitchen, because his parents were watching news.

“These traffic jams are not yet solved for the past two days.” said the TV announcer. Those “two days” rang into their ears.

“Shit.” said Cloud.

“Daaamn!” said Aerith. Both of them said those words while eating breakfast.

“I think should we take this shortcut. Apparently, the traffic to the main road sucks ass. And you do know time is not on our side, I mean, 1 week and 3 days is a nice deadline already.” Aerith reminded Cloud, pointing at said map, which they marked using black pens. Originally, the plan involved driving to that stretch of road.

“I think we should. One, I don’t think we can last over a traffic jam, not to mention we might wait at the border. Two, the bosses in Narshe and the boss will probably bite on our asses if we’re late.” he told her. Zack told them they CAN drive to the mud road if they’re willing to get this dirty, but if not, they can drive on the paved highway, but will take a lot of time.

While they never crossed Wutai (yet), Zack mentioned they would have to wait their asses off at the border should they cross said country, because Customs on both sides are pains in the ass. Fortunately, the needed documents were in one folder, such as the carnet. They also have to visit the customs office right at the border.

“Yes, actually, you do have a point.” Aerith then sipped her coffee.

“So be it. Nothing happened for the past few days except the usual road jams. I’m on this.”

Parts of the expressway were still being built; there was the paved expressway segment but it did not have enough lanes. Another alternative road existed from Nibelheim to Cosmo Canyon (currently a mud and gravel road), while another (tarmac) was finished, running from Wutai’s southern border with Midgar (From a Wutaian city called Kumbira) to Cosmo Canyon. Before they ventured out again, however, they decided to check their machine if it was nice enough to pass through the unpaved roads. They might be courageous but they wouldn’t bet on pure luck. But first, they said goodbye to his parents.

“Bye!” both said to them, waving as they left Cloud’s house.

“Bye!” said Cloud’s mother and father.

Only for Cloud and Aerith to find out the Ural was refurbished, with a new spare tire to boot.

“Whoa.” Cloud commented.

“Errr...” Aerith, puzzled that their Ural was in front of them, at the direction of the town exit.

“Thanks. But why?” asked Cloud to his neighbor, a 20 year old kid.

“We found out this thing needed some repairs. We fixed this from 3-4:30 AM. Your parents told us to fix this thing.”

“Uh, how much? And what repairs?”

“It’s free! The repairs, well, the tire actually needed the replacement. And we cleaned them.” said Cloud’s neighbor.

“Alright then, we’ll be leaving!” If anything, Cloud wanted to repay his own townmates. How much? Cloud produced 1000 gil from his wallet.

“Uh, thanks. What should we do with it?”

“Uh, share it with your friends?” Cloud told him, no idea what to do with it as well.

“Sure then.” And his neighbors left.

“Let’s check this thing. Tires?” Cloud asked Aerith.

“Check. No damages.” replied Aerith, who poked the tires with a stick and checked them for rocks or pebbles that were stuck on each tire’s tread with a coin.

“The Ural itself?”

“No problems.”

“Connections to the trailer?”

“Secured.”

“Cargo?”

“Secured as well.” Aerith found the seals unopened.

“Personal things and documents?”

“Here.”

“Let’s go then.”

Time to drive again, Aerith! Cloud, take shotgun now! Oh and remember to take your seatbelts!

They went back to their positions from the previous night, and they left Nibelheim through an exit and saw the region’s scenery. On the way to the mud road, Cloud asked Aerith one thing, while he looked the scenery of the Nibelheim region.

“One thing, do you like driving a truck?”

“Well, I actually do, except I love driving around like you. If we succeed, I want us to work together, in the same configuration as we have one right now. You drive, I do paperwork or any necessary things and vice versa. Besides, you get to go to different places. Not just that, it helps us become more cooperative with one another.” Aerith answered while she concentrated on driving.

“We seem to have the same reasons.”

“And that’s why I feel we’re one and the same.”

Eventually, they found themselves on a Y-intersection. One led to a four-lane road, the other went to a two-lane road. When she noted that there were numerous cars that congested the four-lane road from afar, Aerith decided to go for the two-lane road. She then went right towards the two-lane road.

“I knew it! Cloud reminded her of their decision, as the Ural moved to the latter road. Except it wasn’t a complete “road”, they realized they have to drive harder than expected. Aerith stopped by the tarmac part of the road to start driving through its gravel and muddy parts.

She activated the winch (which was at the front of the truck), lowered a bit of the pressure applied to the tires, and activated the differential lock. She once read its Russian manual, who then explained it to Cloud (although both actually had a decent command of Russian).

“Are you prepared for this?” asked Cloud.

“Yeah, I am. It’s either we go, or we stop, but mostly, we go.” It just so happened, a song on the radio had the words “The gas on the floor only goes forward.”

Aerith applied half of her right foot’s pressure on the pedal, lurching from its beginning position, all of the Ural’s wheels spun to the “road”. The Ural rolled through lightly muddy roads. While they were aware of the truck’s ability to drive over everything, and that the roads they will face were shit (read: A normal car won’t pass), they saw that the road was parked with trucks and other vehicles of different designs, like for instance, a 4x4 Lada Niva, or a BTR-60. An 8x8 MAZ 537 was nearby, towing a 6x4 tandem truck with a trailer (AKA BDF for Europeans), while an Ural 4320-KUNG pulled a ZiL-133GJa.

“Most cars won’t pass here.” Aerith commented, her hands on the steering wheel.

“That’s why some chose this road. Traffic jams are not as bad as there.” Cloud told her, pointing the numerous vehicles that were parked along the road.

“But not everyone gets to pass through as if it’s nothing.” He added.

“Maybe we can though. As far as I know, the truck can go anywhere, and I saw videos of these trucks running through muddier roads.” She replied.

The Ural passed through muddy roads that normal vehicles could not pass through (it was 6x6), but the ride was bumpy as well for most of the time. It did not help that the average speed was at 10 km/h at best.

“Cloud, check the road if we’re doing right, if the truck is not toppling, or we’re moving in the right direction.” Aerith told him, even if the road... wasn’t a road in the average definition.

“Alright.” Cloud immediately looked on the right side of the mud road.

“No problems, for now!” Cloud told her, as she turned slightly to the right.

“By the way, it’s like a roller coaster, except it’s shittier.”

Two hours later (because they didn’t bother looking at their watches), they were half way to the town of Cosmo. They then realized their use of a mud road did save time, but dirtied the truck and its semi-trailer.

“It’s hard steering this while in mud, if you ever drive in the mud. Not to mention the cargo we’re carrying, so if we climb onto something high, we’ll take a lot of time.” She told him. It wasn’t a complaint. After all, they chose to drive in the mud.

“And we’re going to get this thing washed.” Cloud told her

“Yeah, you are right.” she added. The funds the boss (10,000 gil) gave them were enough for expenses, such as the Samogon (equivalent to diesel), toll payment (outside Midgar), food, and so on.

“Either way, we chose this.” Cloud stopped, so she can concentrate. 15-20 kilometers later (but lasted an hour), they had another challenge, a hill that also went right to the town (but was still far away). The uphill battle began with Aerith stopping the truck. She then stepped on the clutch to let it return to its normal speed.

“You can do it, Aerith!” Cloud encouraged her.

“Thanks!”

Her right toes were on the brake and her heel was on the gas. As she slowly stepped on the gas, she also lessened her pressure on the clutch. She was used to driving uphill, but the problem was that the surface she currently drove on was mud, not tarmac. Once the Ural went up, she moved her right foot completely to the pedal, the left on the clutch.
Soon enough, the Ural successfully climbed the uphill part of the road.

“Good job! I knew you can do it!” Cloud complimented her skills, patting her shoulder. For most of the time, the driving was slow, but they can move at least.

Now comes the tricky part: crossing a wooden bridge. As much as they wanted to cross the bridge, they looked at it. Maybe the truck might fall down. Who knows, they never drove over a wooden bridge, let alone a muddy road. If anything, they only visited a few places outside Midgar: Gongaga (because Zack invited them to meet his family), Kalm (replace Zack with Cissnei), Nibelheim (replace Zack with Cloud), and Icicle Inn (because Aerith’s clan invited the two of them), for examples.

“Cloud, get the map. I want to make it sure we aren’t fooling ourselves with one bridge.”

“Here it is. Unfortunately, it’s the only bridge that can cross the other side. We’ll pass the other one as well.”

“I hope it’s not like this one.”

Cloud decided to get out.

“Cloud, what are you doing?”
“I’m checking the bridge if we can even cross through!”

Cloud walked to the wooden bridge for 200 meters (the total was actually 700m), and found it to be structurally decent. He then came back and told her about the bridge.

“Let’s see, I checked a bit of the bridge. We can cross it, but we can only drive at 15-20 kilometers an hour!”

“Get in! Let’s do this!” Aerith reached for the right seat and patted it so he can sit.

As Cloud went back to the Ural, Aerith narrowed her eyes, gripped the steering wheel and the gearstick, her left foot on the clutch, and the right, on the gas. Cloud gripped her right hand for a while, as a sign he’s there to support her. Both looked at each other, straight in the eye, and nodded at each other. He then went out again.

“I’ll see if you’re driving right!” Cloud called at her.

“Well, here goes everything!” She called him back, looking at the wooden bridge they were going to drive on. Shifting from neutral to the first gear, Aerith drove at a slow speed of 15-20 km/h. From time to time, she would look at the wooden bridge if it ever creaked and aligned the steering wheel with the general direction of the bridge. One nasty mistake and it’s all over. Cloud looked at the front wheels of the truck, if they got it right.

“Go on, it’s good. Keep straight!”

Several hundred meters, and they finally reached the end of the bridge. But that wasn’t over. She still had to pull the semi-trailer behind. Aerith turned her head leftward and looked behind it. The semi-trailer was still on the bridge. Well, the gas can and should go forward.

“Go on, Aerith!” Cloud told her. She applied some more pressure to the gas so it can escape, but was careful not to go overboard. Alright, some meters more... there we go!

She was relieved when the Ural’s trailer finally left the wooden bridge. She took breath of relaxation and victory, but thought there might be another bridge. And she was right. The road after them was more decent than the mud road they traveled. It was gravel, something which the Ural was also built for. It was less bumpy and smoother than mud. Now she can apply more of the needed pressure to the gas. But another bridge came in. It was made out of concrete, but the bridge’s surface, was arranged like that of a railway, with a space in the middle (which was water). The wheels can only move in-line with the surface. Move otherwise, the vehicle might fall down.

“The bridge won’t fall down, but if we move a bit, we will.”

“Sure. I’ll drive as good as I can.” When Aerith meant “good”, it had two things, a bit faster, but also precise.

“I’ll go out again.” Cloud went out and gestured her to go on. While he did oversaw that wheels were at a correct alignment, she also made it sure they won’t fuck up. Oh and do take note the bridge was much shorter. He stopped and checked if the trailer wheels are also aligned. Fortunately, the trailer wheels were aligned as well. He returned in front of the Ural and then walked for 5 meters and signaled at her to go forward.

“The gas on the floor only goes forward.” She repeated silently, as her foot applied some pressure. Ironically, the song was replaced by another, a cover of the infamous Wii Shop theme, at least in the radio. But on Aerith’s mind, the song repeated in her brain. She wondered, if this repeat will end.

“Come on, you can do it, Aerith!” Cloud loudly encouraged her. Aerith replied with a thumb up from her left hand. Cloud felt happy she can do it. He looked at the wheels and they perfectly aligned with the bridge’s surface. Meanwhile, Aerith concentrated that she thought she could feel her heartbeat, or hear her heartbeat for that matter.

“There we go!” he added.

From time to time, she looked at the Ural’s wheels if they aligned perfectly. They repeated the same procedure for the rest of the bridge’s length, until the end of said bridge, passing it successfully.

“Cloud, are we out of the bridge?”

“Yes, we’re out of it! I’ll get in!” Cloud opened the right door and entered the Ural.

“Whew!” Aerith sighed in relaxation, at last. The Ural might have not crossed properly if it weren’t for their cooperation. The song in her brain stopped repeating.

“Hey, do you have any idea where we are?” asked Aerith.

“Yeah, we’re closer to Cosmo.” Cloud pulled out the map from their bag and presented it to her so she can see it.

“Oh, I see. Any idea how many kilometers left to Cosmo?”

“Hmm, I think 40-50 kilometers more. There’s nothing to worry about here, unless the last stretch is muddy. Either way, be prepared.” Cloud pointed at the road, which was tarmac.

“That’s good.” Aerith looked at the Ural’s fuel indicator, and realized the situation. Normally, the fuel was at П, or at Полный. It was actually at ¼, or 200 kilometers left (the Ural runs for 800 kilometers). The road to Cosmo was now at 30 kilometers of tarmac.

“Talking of which, once we leave Cosmo, it’s your turn. We need to refuel the Ural too while we’re at the town. Oh and get snacks, maybe beer and we should eat lunch.” Aerith told him, tapping her finger at the truck’s fuel indicator. They better find a fuel source fast.

“It’s quite a miracle it’s not completely empty yet.”

“Yeah, I know.” Cloud told her, in agreement.

“Talking of which,” she added. “What time is it?”

“10:35 AM.” Cloud looked at his watch on his right wrist (they actually wore their watches on the right wrist).

“That means I have two hours more then.”

All they have to do now is refuel and clean the Ural while in Cosmo, get some food for the next few days, and then go to the customs office near the border at Wutai.

Chapter Text

Unlike the gravel and mud road, which was a pain in the ass for her to drive; the roads from Cosmo to Wutai were tarmac. Once leaving the mud-gravel road, Aerith unlocked the differential. It would be harder for her to drive with said differential locked. Tarmac replaced Gravel, and they soon found themselves in Cosmo, more specifically in a truck stop.
They should do several things. Fix the truck if need be, have it washed, refueled and buy some portable lunch. The food comes in a paperboard container secured only by a rubber band and comes with a pair of plastic spoon and fork covered in plastic. (1) The nice thing about having their food in a paperboard box is that its light, portable and they can eat it while on the move or while on a break. They sat on a nearby curb and watched over the truck being washed at a short distance while they ate. The Ural had no problems with its parts, and it was already refueled.

“Since we’re in this city, you’ve heard anything else from the Red Mist XIII versus LS Benders? Zack’s been bothering me with that upcoming football match. I don’t even play football or watch it.”

“Me too. But I heard that they’re doing the match today at LS.” Aerith told him, the latter looking at their map, while she erased the previously visited roads on said map and marked new roads to drive on.

“On the other hand, any news?”

“Not much, actually, except of course the Crown Prince’s birthday. Ma looks forward because she’s going to get ice cream cake again. You know, I might miss eating ice cream cake.” Last time they ate ice cream cake was on the same holiday and at the King’s palace, and Aerith’s charges enjoyed eating said ice cream cake. (2)

“Yeah, pretty much true. But I can buy you one if you need one, right now.”

“Not now though, for the moment.”

“If you say so, then.” Cloud replied as he looked at the pen’s trajectory.

“You have any plan Bs in case we get into trouble?”

“Not yet, although I feel something might happen over the roads at Wutai. Zack didn’t say much about Wutai.”

“He was once there. Drove once, it was pleasant driving there, that’s what he said. Although I expect something can happen.”

“All basically we do is prepare for whatever happens.”

“Pretty much so.”

“Oh and we should divide the driving time between us in 4 in a half hours, so we won’t be that easily tired. I’ll drive, then you drive after me, as usual. Unless you’re really tired from the driving.”

“No problem. I’m not tired though. Didn’t the instructors at the driving school tell us that before? Either way I think it is better we drive that way.”

“Yeah. Sorry if I didn’t think of this before.”

“No worries. When will we do this?”

“Tomorrow. I’ll start first.”

“Sure, then.”

Once they paid for the services (all of which took two hours), it was Cloud’s turn to drive. He drove south of Cosmo, which led to road going to Wutai’s southern border. They should meet customs, because they had goods to declare. The customs office was a diversion of the road that led to some trucks piling along, as they too declared their goods.
One problem involving truckers is waiting their asses off at borders. While such a problem was new to Cloud and Aerith, it was a common problem not just with the borders at Wutai, but with most countries, such as the Kingdom of Liberty or Vice. Even San Andreas had such issues, but it was rare for that to happen.

And their problem right now was boredom. They waited because the customs checked their trucks and cargo by weighing them and by checking their documents. Every 15-45 minutes, a truck would pass through the customs office, sometimes taking hours, especially if said truck did not have that blue plate. Unfortunately, the border queue was 15 kilometers long, because of the usual security checks, although other reasons such as strikes and harvests do occur and can make it even less bearable. However, the queue moved fast. Cloud drove forward whenever a truck left. As they neared the office, an official walked to them.

“Your documents and passports, please.” An official came to Cloud. Aerith gave Cloud a plastic envelope of full of documents, including the Carnet, a written authority for Cloud and Aerith to drive (courtesy of the boss), and of course their passports. Cloud in turn, gave the needed requirements to the official. The official left and they waited again. Once at the office, some other officials checked their cargo and sealed their doors, letting them go.
“Ok, you two can go.”

There were other amenities as well, such as a money exchange and WCs. (3) He parked the truck.

“Oh yeah... I’ll convert some of our money to Ruburu.” (4)
“Sure, I’ll go to the WC and fix myself. I’ll be back in a while.”
While Aerith went to the womne’s WC, Cloud went to the money exchange, having 4000 Gil with him (2000 for themselves, 2000 for anything else). The rate is as follows, 1 Ruburu - 4 Gil. 1 Midgar Gil - 1 Wutai Mat. (5)

“How much is this and which to be converted?” a money exchange teller asked him.

“4k Gil to 1k Ruburu.” He answered and it was quickly converted into several bills consisting of 3 1000G, and 10 100G bills. Aerith came back.

“So, how are you?” He asked while he waited for the conversion.

“I’m fine.” Aerith answered casually.

Cloud kept the 500 (4x100 + 100) SRR for themselves, and another 500 for the truck’s needed services.

Eventually they found themselves at the border between Midgar and Wutai, a neighboring country. Unlike the customs it was much faster. Just pay the toll booth to Wutai, and then you go!

Cloud pushed the pedal, went to the border toll and steered right, towards a short queue of trucks that waited for their turn to get into Wutai. Once there, they immediately paid 150 Gil (either way they can either pay them in Gil), which was a toll payment for their truck to go through. Oh and they met Wutai’s customs, which was just as fast as Midgar’s customs. They were pleasantly surprised when they didn’t expect the customs on both sides to be fast. Then again, Zack and Cissnei drove there, once.

So, Cloud and Aerith, welcome to Wutai!

“Dobre Došli v Wutaj!” the first sign said, while another had the sign “Dobre Došli v Kumbira”, referring to the fact they entered Wutai and the city of Kumbira. It was the first time they’ve been to another country. Another reminder they were now in Wutai was that the speed limit was different. If you’re in Midgar, it was 100 km/h for trucks on expressways, 50 km/h for towns, and 70 km/h for urban areas. But in Wutai, it was 80 km/h, 50 km/h and 60 km/h, respectively. Cloud kept an average speed of 75 km/h, to play safe.

Now driving through Wutai (country or its cities) was fine. The roads were fine, the food was fine (they once ate at a Wutaian restaurant in Midgar, because Aerith’s other relatives invited them. They wanted to meet Cloud), and a Wutaian can even speak to a Midgarian, even if a Midgarian won’t understand 45-50% of what they’re saying. Also, if you’re interested in Sinitic buildings and culture (but the language is Bulgarian) then Wutai is the best place.

However, the inhabitants of the capital city wouldn’t mind harming inhabitants from the city of Midgar. An inhabitant from Gongaga, Nibelheim or Kalm wouldn’t be harmed at all.
An accident nearly happened when Cloud went northward to the city itself. An Aleko with Wutai car plates overtook them without using any lights.

“That fucking car just passed us!” Cloud pulled the horn and blinked the light three times.

“What the?” Aerith questioned the asshole’s motive.

“I know, right?!”

“I won’t chase him, if you’re worried.” He added.

“Either way, I wouldn’t. Unless we want to get our asses kicked.” She told him. Cloud kept on driving, as if nothing happened.

A few minutes later (but several kilometers later), the truck slowed down as a traffic queue appeared. An accident happened. A truck overturned; it belonged to some company from the Kingdom of Vice called Spand Express. They could see the vehicle registration code VC and on its front roof it had the title of said company.

“Izvinite, da li znate šta se dogodilo?” [Excuse me, do you know what happened] Cloud asked.

“Kamion se obǎrna.” [The truck fell over] said a policeman, who didn’t actually understood Cloud but guessed that Cloud asked what just happened.

“Hvala vam!” [Thank you!] Cloud thanked the man, even if he didn't understand a single bit apart from the word "Kamion".

“Trǎgnete po drugija pǎt!” [Take the other road!] the cop told him. Cloud understood, and saw that they must take a detour, which appeared itself in front of them in the form of a two lane road that went uphill. He then drove right towards the detour. While on the detour, he then looked above the wreck and saw the contents of the truck, which were sacks of cement.

“Shit, look at what happened!” Cloud showed the wreck below, to Aerith as the truck went up, going through the detour.

“Oh, damn!” Aerith cringed as she leaned over from Cloud’s driving seat and saw the wreckage above.

“We should check the map first though.” Cloud told her as he parked the Ural by the roadside. She showed him the map and a new pen mark, where the detour actually was. It had three lanes. Two for traffic, and the shoulder was for emergencies.

“Thanks, Aerith.” Cloud soon pushed the gas once more for the Ural to move.

“We better get going.” She told him as she returned to her seat. Cloud pushed the gas once again, this time going to drive towards the border between Wutai and Figaro. He kept on driving, that is until a voice came on the CB radio.

“Anyone, can any of you help us? We’re on the detour, and we’re going to Figaro! We’re the ones who have a grey Lada stuck on the right side of the road going northward.” A man asked them.

“Try helping them.” Aerith told Cloud as he nodded instantly.

“Aight, I’m on it.” Cloud told her.

Picking up the radio’s receiver, Aerith asked them: “So what exactly happened?”

“Well, some Wutaians pushed our car off the road, and now we’re stuck!” said the man.

“I see.” They felt sympathy when they heard what happened to the man talking to them.

“Oh, looks like they have the same problem as we did, except they succeeded this time around.”

“Pretty much so.”

Soon enough, they found a grey VAZ 2101, and a woman wearing a light blue blouse waved at them.

“Are you the guys who called for help?” Cloud asked.

“Yeah, we are!” the man told them, the former wore a suit.

“I’ll try pull this out.” Cloud told Aerith.

“That’s the spirit. I think we can pull it out, trust me. Also, I think we should pull the car from our front, since the trailer might not have the towing hook.” She replied with encouragement. After all, they were trained to remove semi-trailers and reattach said trailer back to the truck.

“Alright then.” Cloud ended the conversation as he drove in front of the car’s rear, aligned with said car’s position, and shifted to the reverse gear. Aerith on the other hand, wore gloves, left the truck and took a towing rope out, along with an emergency warning triangle, which she placed several meters away from the Ural’s trailer. The rope was first hooked onto the Ural’s right towing hook, while she then secured it toward the 2101.

“Go back to the car! Reverse it when I tell you! Cloud, reverse the Ural when I tell you!” Aerith ordered at the man and woman, as they went back to the car.

The man raised his thumb up. Aerith looked back and saw Cloud raising his thumb up. She nodded back.

“Go! Come on, come on!” She repeated as both Cloud and the man reversed their machines. She peeked at the truck’s back if some other cars came along. Fortunately, nothing was coming along their way.

Cloud pushed the gas until the truck successfully pulled out the trapped Lada.

“Good job, Cloud!” Aerith congratulated Cloud, as he pulled the Lada back to the shoulder. He raised his left thumb up once again. He went out and packed most of the tools, since Aerith pulled the tools out.

“Thanks for that too. Remind me to buy you a beer.” said Aerith as they left the Ural once again.

“You’re welcome, as always. And I’ll buy for you as well. We should have a short break for a while, 15 minutes at best.” Cloud said in return.

“Yeah, sure.” said Aerith.

After the two took a 15 minute break, the other couple met them. The woman first introduced herself.

“Oh yeah, we didn’t introduce ourselves. I am Lucrecia, and this is my husband, Vincent. So... you guys are?” asked Lucrecia.

“Cloud, and this is my girlfriend, Aerith.” Cloud answered as Aerith held his arm. He was always proud whenever he mentioned her, and when Aerith mentioned him as well.

“I can’t repay you at this moment, because we have things to do. But we’ll find a way.” Vincent replied. Cloud reminded himself to ask Vincent any troubles they might get.

“Thanks. Oh and here’s my calling card by the way.” added Vincent.

“I suggest we drive together so we won’t get ourselves fucked over by Wutaians.” Cloud suggested.

“Yeah, we should. We’ll separate after we get out of the city.” suggested Vincent.

“Any problems?” Cloud asked Aerith, or anyone for that matter. Aerith shook her head and gave a thumbs up.

“No problems.” She added.

“We’re good.” Vincent answered.

“It’s better we drive together.” Lucrecia replied.

“You guys, get in the front, that way we can protect you guys from getting your car veer off again. Let’s go, Aerith. We’ll talk with them along the way.” Cloud told them as Aerith went back to the Ural.

Both Lucrecia and Vincent nodded. They went back to their car. As they left the area and moved towards Wutai, Cloud pulled the radio’s receiver and started a conversation.

“What are you guys doing in the middle of Wutai?” Cloud asked through the CB radio’s receiver.

“We’re going to Figaro.” Vincent answered his question.

“Why?”.

“Some conference on Los Santos’ military technology during the last war.”

“I see. So did you guys face the traffic jam?” asked Cloud.

“We didn’t, although we heard reports of it afterward. We just attended another conference.” Lucrecia added.

“I see. Do you guys know of an alternative way back home without using Wutai?”

“Well this wasn’t even our car... so we’re going to bring it to some rental car company in Figaro, too, like our friend from Faremisac.” (6)

“Who is this friend of yours?” asked Cloud.

“Uhh... Barret.” Lucrecia answered them.

Cloud and Aerith were a bit shocked.

“How did you know him?!” Cloud asked.

“Well. We met at the arms expo at Costa del Sol several months ago...”

“We drove his extra merchandise that day, I think!”

“Are you the guys that drove those GAZ-53 along with some trucks?” asked Lucrecia once more.

“Yeah...” he answered back. Cloud and Aerith felt a bit uneasy.

“It’s a small world out there.” Lucrecia’s voice came from the receiver.

“Actually we live a bit far from Faremisac.” Vincent added.

“Shieeet! Do you know most folks from that district?” Cloud asked.

“Not really. Just Barret and his employees.” Lucrecia answered.

“So what do you guys do?”

“Eh, doing some work for the kingdom, like research on Military history. He works for another branch of the government.” Lucrecia told them.

“Oh, that’s good. Hey uh, we should concentrate on the road. If you guys have problems do not hesitate asking us.” said Cloud as he shifted the gearstick with his right hand.

As Cloud placed the receiver back to the radio, Aerith guessed what Vincent’s actual job was.

“I probably think he’s from the Army intelligence.”

“I agree a lot with this. Lucrecia just hinted at Vincent’s job.”

The truck and the Lada went on through Wutai (through the detour), without any hitches (Thank the gods, Cloud told Aerith), while Aerith took a nap.

Two hours later, going through cities like Tamblin, they saw the skyline of Wutai’s city (Wutai). It had more skyscrapers than Midgar as well, the result of Damcyan investment. By then Aerith was awake again.

“Damn... the city’s bright at night!” Aerith told Cloud.

“No need to turn on the lights like last time.” Cloud told her.

“Haha, yeah, I know.” Aerith laughed at the fact, while the Ural and the Lada left the city. Several more hours later they crossed Wutai’s border with Figaro, and they were both tired. Cloud drove on up until they left the Wutai border with the other country, where they had their documents checked only by Wutai. They went onto Figaro and stopped at a rest area. There, they met once more. It was also time for them to separate, since there did not notice any threats of cars trying to veer the Lada or the Ural (they can try!).

“Hey, uh, thanks for saving us.” Vincent said, as he shook hands with Cloud and Aerith and returned back to Lucrecia.

“The pleasure is ours.” Cloud told them, as he and Aerith waved at them as Vincent and his wife went back to their car and slept there. The rest area was just a parking lot with toilets. The drivers relieved themselves and went back to the Ural.

“We should sleep, too. ‘Night.” Cloud closed the Ural’s curtains and laid his back on its Ural’s bunk, followed by Aerith. He hugged her from behind.

“Sweet dreams, Cloud.” She replied, and both immediately drifted to sleep.

Chapter Text

After they woke up (it was 545h, 1), they found out the other two already left. Cloud found out a note attached to the truck’s wipers.
“What does it say?” asked Aerith.
“Dear Cloud and Aerith,

We thank you two for saving us. Without your help, we wouldn’t be at the conference at Figaro today. We’re grateful for your help. In return, we’ll help you in return. There’s also a calling card stapled to it.

Regards,
Vincent and Lucrecia.” Cloud read aloud the contents of the letter and found the calling card.

“We should keep it in case shit happens.” Aerith told him.

“Yeah, you are right. I’ll write the number for you as well.” Cloud tore a leaf from a notepad and scribbled the number with a ballpen he grabbed from their bag (like filling up documents).

“Thanks, Cloud.” Aerith then put it on her wallet, in case shit really does happen.

They left for South Figaro (which took them 9 hours due to the mountainous and narrow nature of the roads to the city), as it was the place where Figarian customs would record every single truck and its driver (or drivers) entering onto the Kingdom and its cities, such as Figaro and Narshe, or just going through the Kingdom.

So they got themselves into the Customs office at the district of Harcourt, South Figaro. Zack once told them not to deal with the customs themselves, as he himself once learned, the hard way. It took him 3 days and 200 San Andrean Ruburu (SRR) just to get their ass out of the office. Oh, and a pissed off Cissnei. (2)

What they must do, Zack told them, was to give a guy named Vargas or Sabin (both were customs officials for the Midgarian drivers) several things: their passports, visas, and licenses, for 60 SRR and a pack of cigarettes. These two will bring it to the customs office. It usually took Sabin/Vargas 6 hours to finish the process, but can be faster if you are willing to cough up 10 more SRR. 69 Brand for Vargas and Homies Sharp for Sabin. He was faster than Vargas but had a higher pay, at 70 SRR. If you had zero cigarettes, give him an extra 10 so he can buy a pack. (3)

“Hey, we don’t smoke, so here’s the money to buy cigarettes.” Cloud talked to Sabin (in Russian) and gave Sabin 10R.

“Spasibo vam!” [Thank you!] Sabin thanked them in Russian as well.

They saw Sabin disappear into the building, which they presumed was the customs office.
Waiting for them to finish took them 5 hours. While waiting their asses off, they ate lunch and read together a novelization of Brigada: Law of the Lawless. It was simply an adaptation of the famous Russian TV-series, except this time, the three others survive, while Tamara (Valerij Filatov’s wife) join Olga (Saša’s wife) and her son go to America before Saša’s bodyguard was supposed to deal with them. The four follow after the three. (4)

Both Cloud and Aerith were on the part when Saša was shot in 1989, when Sabin knocked at the Ural’s left door, their documents in his hands. It was better to read than buy yourself some useless trinkets, Zack told them once. (4b)

“Here’s the documents, as expected.” Sabin told them, in Midgarian.

“Thank you very much.” said Cloud, this time in his own language quickly pored the documents. He then started the truck.

“How did you know Midgarian?” Aerith asked Sabin, the former peeking at Sabin.

“Well, I just know from listening to people, not to mention, your truck’s registration plates.”

"Oh, I see." Aerith answered. "Good evening to you then." It was already 2040h, as they left the customs office.

 

“Hey, Aerith, we should have dinner, it’s getting dark already.”

“Yeah, I agree. I’m also hungry.”

“Sure, no problem. Now lemme find a good place for us to eat.”

“We should try there. It’s already near us.” Aerith pointed at a large truck stop.

“Are you sure about this? There might be too many people for us though, or a lack of parking space.”

“Eh, if there are too many people, we can ask by the radio for a nice restaurant to eat at. As for the parking space, well, same thing.”

“If you say so. I understand. I’m not forcing you or anything. Maybe we can have it parked there and eat at someplace else.”

Fortunately, they were lucky. They had a good parking spot.

“Aerith, hold on, I’ll find a parking spot.” Cloud looked around him. To the right, there was a parking spot that the Ural can fit in.

“There it is, on the right!” Aerith told him.

“Thanks, Aerith.”

“Go on, I’ll look out for you. Wait until I tell you.” Aerith added to Cloud (once he stopped the truck) once more, went out and inspected the Ural’s surroundings. There weren’t any obstacles. Aerith then began to gesture what should Cloud do.

She gestured to Cloud to go straight for a few meters, then moved and gestured Cloud to move right.

“Come on, go a bit right.” Aerith gestured towards the right. Cloud steered a bit to the right, as the Ural went into its parking space.

“Aight, keep straight, come on.” She added. In response, Cloud pushed the Ural forward to its parking space.

“Ay, stop for second!” Aerith went to the rear of the trailer. She then looked at the truck’s entirety. The truck was parked within its space and it was also aligned with the same direction.

She went back to Cloud and raised her left thumb up. “It’s good! You can stop now!”

“Thanks. Now we need to relax for a while, then we eat.”

And so they did eat in one of the stop’s restaurants. Now they talked about anything that came into their minds.

“Should we bring souvenirs home for Ma and some our friends?” Cloud asked Aerith as she ate her dinner meal. (5)

“Yeah, but as far as I know, they didn’t ask for any.” Aerith answered him.

“Well, you have a point.”

“Well, some alcohol from Narshe, I guess.”

“Case in point, you are right. They never sell that notorious shit outside this country, if we’re to believe Zack.”

That is, until a private VK (6) message came to Aerith, from one of Aerith’s two employees, I mean Marlene, while they were talking about their actual jobs.

“Wait a sec, Marlene’s telling me something.”

“Go on.” Cloud then stopped eating.

“Aerith! What should I do with this document? Let it be or will you do something else? They actually need it right now.” Marlene messaged Aerith.

“Let’s see, can you be the boss for a while? I’m not here, so yeah, you CAN sign it. It is good you’re asking questions too. I like what you’re doing.” Aerith replied.

“Well, if you say so.”

“I’m pretty sure this is a temporary job, and I think you should have more participation. But if you need problems, you can either ask me or Ma.”

“Thanks! I will keep you informed!”

Aerith then put down her phone.

“So, what happened?”

“Well, I told Marlene she can choose her decisions. I did tell her once a long time ago, but it’s fine to ask me about it. I’m actually happy she keeps asking. I mean, I did tell you about her trying to take my company. Well, so be it, but if she can, and/or I get to keep this job with you.”

“You have a point on that.”

“And besides, I can see the potential in her. I don’t mind if she becomes the boss, but that is not my decision. It also includes your decision, my parents’ decision and Denzel’s opinion as well. Even though, you are not an employee of my shop.”

“I don’t mind, but if I were you, tell her you’ll get your position back.”

“Aight, then.” Aerith ended the conversation, but she looked her wristwatch on the right. It was 2305.

“Damn, we better sleep! It’s already 23!” Aerith told him and showed her right wrist.

“Oh, we better get to sleep then.”

“Yeah!”

They immediately paid their dinner, went back to the truck and slept inside it.
...........
So it was the wee hours of the morning. 6 AM to be exact. Cloud woke up first, and then woke Aerith up. Checking his phone for anything important, a text message came from the boss told them they had a day off, because they can’t drive on Sunday, in Narshe at least.

“Since you guys are going to Narshe, I will remind you that you won’t drive for today. Narshe doesn’t allow truck driving on Sunday, which is today.”
He read a message that came from the boss.

“Oh, I see.” Cloud said it while they read it together.

“That means no driving?”

“Pretty much so. Hey Aerith, are we far from the deadline?”

“Halfway. I counted we have 4 more days.”

He immediately went out of the Ural and looked around. Cloud was a bit groggy so he rubbed his eyes. Time to stretch. He then realized he wore sleeping clothes or what I’d like to call pambahay. (7)

“I’m making coffee. You want?” He asked Aerith.

“Yeah, sure. But let me change into something a bit better than my clothes right now.” Aerith answered, who also wore pambahay type of clothes.

“So will I, but I’ll change way later.”

Cloud pulled out a folding table, small enough for two people, and things needed for their coffee starter.

...........
On a ZiL-131V with a sleeping cabin (8), Zack Fair started the day off. He drank some reheated coffee (yesterday’s coffee, because they were too lazy to make coffee again), then ate some Zebra bars (9) he bought from Los Santos (Midgar never had them), and looked around. He looked around his surroundings. There was Cissnei waking up at the sleeper cab, some parking spaces to the right, and a blue Ural 44202-0511-3 to the left. Ok, everything was normal. But wait, he spotted something interesting in the ZiL’s left mirror. Wait, who are those two, that blonde guy and a brunette girl? They look familiar. It’s even better those two are sitting, drinking and conversing, that’s what those two usually did to start whatever they did.

“Wait a sec... WAIT A SEC!” Zack internally screamed as he looked closer into the mirror.

“Cissnei!” Zack screamed at his girlfriend.

“What?!” she asked him.

“It’s Cloud and Aerith! They’re on the left side of our truck!” Cissnei then moved to the left mirror, even if Zack wanted to get out first. She saw the two, sipping some coffee and discussing. She then looked and saw the two of them.

“Lemme see! You’re right!” She told him.

“I TOLD YOU SO! Let’s greet them!” Zack was enthusiastic! He missed those two. He was even happier that he’ll meet those two again. So Zack went out, wanting to join the conversation.

Meanwhile, Cloud and Aerith talked what they saw in visiting the Kingdom of Figaro, sitting on two folding chairs and having a relaxed pose, both staring at the distant mountains.

“So, how’s Figaro for you?” she asked.

“Yeah, they have taller mountains. Colorful trucks that also have musical horns.” Cloud answered her question. In fact, one such truck passed them. As if it said “hi!” (10)

“Ironically, one just passed right at us. Now, where was I? Anyways, I also saw them. They’re dangerously overloaded. I was scared when an overloaded truck was in front of us, the cargo might hit us or something.” Aerith referred to the fact that said trucks carried too much cargo, and nonchalantly sipped some coffee.

“Guuys!” Cloud heard the sound. It’s familiar. Yes, that voice with the energy of a puppy.

“Cloud! Aerith!” They turned their heads to their backs and realized it was none other than Zack.

“Zaaack!” screamed Cloud.

“So, who are you guys working for?” Zack asked.

“Seventh Heaven.” Cloud answered him.

“Oh, you mean Tifa’s company? Wait, didn’t you deliver things by car before? And why is Aerith with you?”

“Yeah, I once did. The boss hired me as a truck driver, since they didn’t have anybody to do it for her. I asked Aerith if she can join. She said yes, and I thank her for that. Who do you drive for now, by the way? We’re driving some electronics to Narshe, well according to the Carnet we have.” Cloud avoided the boss’s actual name, since he didn’t actually like her (on a personal level) at all.

“Well, any customer actually. I’m delivering a shipment of assault rifles to Neverwinter, for Ammu-Nation.”

“Nice. From?”

“Las Venturas. RS Haul hired us.”

“Oh, I see. So, how’s driving?”

While Zack and Cloud talked to each other, their girlfriends/co-drivers talked about other things, like what they usually do.

“Oh, what do you do then?” asked Cissnei to Aerith, the latter of whom gazed at a distance.

“Uh... I’m his co-driver, but we change places. If he drives, I either check for him or look at the map. If I drive, he does the same thing. We alternate with paperwork.”

“Between us, we do the driving, but I do most of the paperwork. I just drive if he’s too tired.”

“Hey, uh, nice truck.” Cissnei complimented at the Ural.

“That’s not ours though.”

“Oops, sorry for that.”

“It’s fine. It’s a beast though. I drove it through the mud with some problems. In comparison, a normal truck wouldn’t last driving through mud.” Aerith emphasized on how awesome the Ural was.

“Like ours, actually. Also, was it at the other road, the one after Nibelheim?”

“Yeah. We escaped the traffic on the main highway.”

While they conversed with anything they can think of, other Midgarian drivers came around, especially when they heard other Midgarians talk.

“Cloud? Aerith? Zack?” asked one of Barret’s employees, Wedge.

“Well, well, well, it’s none other than Wedge! Where are Jessie and Biggs?” Cloud asked.

“They’re coming soon! They just parked their trucks nearby!”

“Ah, it’s a neighbors’ meeting!” Zack told Cloud. (11)

“It just so happens we have one.” said Cloud, who also added, “I didn’t even expect some of us would meet here.”

“Wedge, are you guys driving in a convoy?” Cissnei asked.

“Yeah, Jessie’s the lead.” said Wedge as he pointed at the three dark green trucks.

“Where are your trucks, guys?” Zack asked.

“Right there.” Wedge appeared and pointed at 3 Saviem SM 340 trucks (12) parked near Zack’s truck.

“Oh, alright. Guys, come in with us!” Zack concluded his question.

The three drivers returned soon brought out their own chairs, a larger table and cooking equipment. They transferred whatever Cloud and Aerith had on their table.

“You guys want some breakfast and coffee?” Biggs asked.

“Just the breakfast.” Cloud answered.

 

“Yeah, same here.” Aerith answered as well.

Once the three drivers set up what was necessary, they all gathered to talk on something new, or any problems. At times they would munch on whatever the three cooked up, which was canned food, eggs, rice and some rakija.

“Can you guys tell us about other problems, especially in Wutai?” Aerith asked the other drivers.

“Oh, yeah. Uh, be careful of cars trying to veer your vehicles off, but only if your vehicle has Midgar plates. Also, rest if you need be, just tell the other drivers if they’re in a convoy like ours, that they should take a break or at least let you have it. Lastly, don’t take hitchhikers, because they might steal or do something worse. Why so?” Jessie answered them.

“Well, first, we met this couple trying to free their car. We helped them.”

“Oh I see.” Jessie answered at her. “It’s good you helped them.”

“Oh, and did you guys face the massive traffic jam?” Aerith added.

“No, we didn’t, we took the trailers in Gongaga, late afternoon, yesterday. We’re driving them to Burmecia.” Biggs answered her.

“Oh yeahh... how’s your driving?” Jessie asked the two.

“Actually, well it’s tiring, but it’s worth going around other countries. We get to see something else new, like going to San Andreas someday. We’re starting though.”

“Aerith answered your question for me, so more or less it’s the same.”

“You also drive?” Biggs asked Aerith.

“Yeah, whenever it’s the end of his turn. Yesterday, we began to drive in 4 and a half hour shifts. Originally it was 9 hours, but we kinda didn’t last long with it.” Aerith told the other drivers.

“Talking of which, can you guys give us advice about San Andreas and driving a truck in general?” Cloud asked the other drivers.

“It’s a nice place. Geography and climes wildly differ per region. For instance, Los Santos has a mild climate and has nice, slightly warm summers. Paleto Bay and the rest of Northern San Andreas like Chiliad and San Fierro have a moderately cool to cold climate, but go east to Las Venturas, normally temperate to a bit colder than San Fierro. Why though?” Zack answered Cloud’s question.

“Thanks, then. We want to go to San Andreas.”

“That's why. Another question, how did you guys get to drive a truck?”

“The school in our neighborhood.”

“Ah, I see.”

“As for the driving,” Zack added, “since I assume you guys will drive another truck or become a full-fledged driver like me, I have some extra advice for you two. First of all, be prepared for every situation that can happen and don’t be over confident. Be careful when you guys get in and out of the truck. Take time when you guys feel unprepared. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask everyone if you can’t solve a certain problem. Keep your load safe and secure because accidents can happen with your cargo.” Both Cloud and Aerith just nodded as Zack told them extra advice.

“Oh, and by the way, exercise even if it’s a little. That keeps you guys sharp and healthy. Another question, how do you keep your papers?”

“We just put them in a single folder.”

“By the way, do you guys use a map?”

“Yeah, we do.”
“That’s good. Sometimes GLONASS or GPS won’t save your ass. We took this shortcut that GLONASS recommended once, turns out it’s a narrow road, and the other road was actually better. But there are times you will drive a narrow road or a shitty road because there’s no other alternative.”

“We actually drove through the mud road from Nibelheim and to Cosmo, because the traffic through the main highway’s gone to shit.” Aerith replied.

“Who drove through the mud road then? Oh and by the way the traffic got into normal late afternoon yesterday.” asked Cissnei.

“Aerith drove the Ural.” Cloud answered Cissnei’s question.

“With some of Cloud’s help.” Aerith added.

“Like how?” Biggs asked.

“He guided the truck on two of the bridges and encouraged me, too.” Aerith answered

“Wait, an Ural?” Wedge asked.

“Yeah, a big 7 meter Ural with a sleeper.” Aerith then pointed with her right thumb at the Ural parked on the back.

“Not bad.” Wedge told them.

“So what are you guys planning after the end of this job? As far as I know you guys took this job because the boss couldn’t get any other driver.” Zack asked the two.

“I have no definite idea yet, but maybe I might be delivering parcels to Midgar and nearby Kalm, or to Junon again, as usual. But I’m thinking we might keep driving trucks for the company. I might persuade the boss to let me drive another truck.” Cloud answered them but with some uncertainty in the two remaining sentences. If that happens he hoped he can find a way, he thought once he ended his answer.

“I agree with Cloud over the fact we might come back to our old jobs. We’ll see. We haven’t thought of a plan B yet.”

“But do you guys love this new job?”

“We do, because we love going to other places, you know, like San Fierro or some other place I can think of. I mean, we usually have been to other places back in Midgar, like Mideel, so maybe we need a change of scenery.” Cloud answered Zack’s question.

“That’s one advantage. But there are other advantages, like you get higher pay, more bonuses and benefits, atypical, secure and flexible work for most of the time, getting to choose certain variables, like for instance you two get to choose the cargo and the destination; and considering you two, you two can spend time together.” Zack told Cloud and Aerith as they both nodded on going around to other countries, getting higher pay, both being independent (although they always agreed on whatever decision they made), and that they would spend time together.

“Now you gave us other reasons to work as truck drivers.” Aerith told Zack.

“Zack and I spend time together in that truck. I mean, I think the fact we spent together, even if it was a bit cramped compared to a room, this job made us bond with each other.”

“But on the other hand, just to add those disadvantages,” Cissnei added, “there are several disadvantages as well, but mostly on health and hygiene issues, but that can be managed, like you know, exercising. Time is itself a problem amongst drivers as they could be late, or they might not spend time with their own families. But with you, guys? I think you guys can manage this.” Aerith and Cloud just nodded as Cissnei went on with her answer.

“Talking of which, what will you guys do for today?” Cissnei asked once more.

“We go buy some supplies,” Aerith answered. “Then do some paperwork together and then laze our asses off.”

The truck drivers conversed with one another with other subjects that came into their minds, like recent news (although I can't think of one) for instance, after which they went on their separate ways. Cloud and Aerith, to buy supplies and do some paperwork. Zack and Cissnei, dealt with paperwork as well, while the three drivers watched some movie Jessie downloaded.

They also agreed to meet up with one another in front of a train-themed bar nearby later at night, since they had nothing to do but drink again.

Chapter Text

After doing certain chores like daily maintenance, shopping for food or other supplies, the drivers met up at the truck stop’s bar, at 6:30/1830.

The drivers from Midgar were on the outside of said restaurant, since they liked the mild cold of the outside air, warmer than the outside. Both Cloud and Aerith wanted to wear the track jacket but they were too lazy to even do it.

Before the complex became a truck stop, it once was a train station. However, with the advent of road transport, the station also included the truck stop itself. In fact, what is particular was that the restaurant they went to was also train-themed.

“How’s the day, guys?” Biggs asked the other drivers.

“We bought some food, and did daily maintenance of the truck and ourselves.” Cloud answered.

“We bought some parts; some of the parts are long overdue, even with our truck getting complete maintenance.” Zack answered.

“Also, has anyone ordered dinner yet?” Aerith asked everybody.

“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Cloud asked and raised his right arm. Their waiter came and took their orders.

So while they talked, ate dinner and drank beer, a bunch of tourists acted raucously.

“Aww, tourists.” Jessie complained to her fellow drivers, judging from their appearance.

“Why?” asked Cloud.

“They can be the biggest assholes. We, I mean truckers who come here, kinda... don’t like tourists in general, although we can give exceptions. If anything, they’re noisy and act badly. This truck stop gave them their own turf, with the same area size, too!” Cissnei told them.

One of them (call him Seifer) hit the flag of their country on a nearbly table, causing it to fall down from the table to the floor.

“Hey, he put our flag down!” Biggs told the other 6.

“What the?” asked Cissnei.

The truckers reacted and stopped whatever they usually did. Cloud and Aerith stopped sipping beer and looked at the tourists; Wedge and Jessie stopped playing cards, Cissnei stopped looking at a bunch of pictures from her phone. Zack looked on with suspicion.

Now Seifer asked them in English or Common.

“What do you want?”

“You hit our flag down!” Zack screamed at them, but nobody from Balamb understood him.

“What?!” asked a girl in Common, who we’ll call Selphie.

The air of the small bar was tense. Biggs looked with worry.

“I hope they won’t fuck us up!” Biggs whispered to Jessie, who nodded.

“Hey, Squalo, can you guys please put the flag up, yeah?” asked Cissnei, in Russian (another Lingua Franca). A guy by the name of Squall just irked at how she called them (in particular, him). In response, a girl named Rinoa readied a model train from a backpack and displayed it.

"We don't speak Russian!" said Rinoa in Common.

Cissnei then spoke the same words in Common, but in a Midgarian accent. Selphie just gave Cissnei the finger, the latter of whom glared at Selphie.

“Hmm, it seems they want a fight.” Aerith whispered to Cloud, who just nodded.

“We’ve got to help our guys.” He also whispered.

“You are right.” Aerith whispered to him. It wasn’t really patriotism, but their friends needed help.

"I wish we should've brought our guns." Cloud complained.

"No way, the cops here would get our asses! But you are right, we better keep them on our sides." Aerith whispered.

"Oh well."

It looked alright (apart from being pissed initially), the tourists seem to cooperate. That is, one of them, Fujin decided to hit Zack for no reason, the latter nearly falling to stone pavement. Zack grunted and Cissnei managed to get him.

“Zack!” Cissnei got him before he fell. She stared angrily at the tourists.

“Yeahhh!” said one of them named Raijin, and cheered at each other, drinking alcohol.

“I knew it!” Aerith whispered to Cloud.

Cloud and Aerith just nodded at one another and prepared for the fight. Biggs, Wedge and Jessie dusted their jackets; Zack and Cissnei fixed theirs, while Cloud and Aerith cracked their hands’ joints. All nodded in agreement with one another, as the septet put up the flag back at the table. They formed a line in front of the tourists and challenged them, facing each individual that they might deal with.

“Hey!” The septet challenged the tourists. Mmmm, a fight.

“Woot!” said one of the tourists, whom I’ll call Irvine.

So the tourists charged at the drivers which led to the regret of said tourists.

Squall and Rinoa charged first towards Cloud and Aerith (they assumed the two were the actual leaders). Cloud stopped Squall’s fist and punched Squall, while Aerith avoided Rinoa’s improvised weapon. Aerith’s eyes were wide to see how close Rinoa was to hit her. She then jabbed at Rinoa’s hands (at the right time, too) and pummeled her several times with the back of her fist.

“Damn, that was close!” a shocked Aerith composed herself while Cloud was also on her back, also composing himself after dealing with Squall.

“They are pretty agile.” Cloud commented to her about their abilities.

Zack successfully swung a fist at Seifer, as Cissnei kicked Selphie on the latter’s butt.

“That’s for fucking with us!” Cissnei retorted after launching her fist successfully onto Selphie’s side.

What about Biggs, Wedge and Jessie?

They avenged Zack by hitting the other three: Irvine, Raijin and Fujin, respectively.

“Try and stop us!” Biggs announced to the three.

“Hey, all of you, stop!” Sabin appeared. But nobody understood him since he spoke in his native language, which I will call Narshenian. (2)

Along with him, some drivers from Balamb, Besaid and Alexandria tried to stop them either with restraining force or with punches but to no avail.

“Ward, they’re too many of them!” said a man named Auron, who nearly evaded a chair from Seifer, Amarant on the other hand, dealt with Raijin and Fujin, but got overwhelmed by Squall and Rinoa.

“Amarant, no!” Ward shouted as Amarant was overwhelmed by the others.

 

Meanwhile...

“Sabin?!” asked Cissnei when she saw the former, while she punched whoever she saw as her enemy.

“Yeah?! Catch this!” Seifer screamed at Zack...

“The bartender told me to stop the-" and pulled a model train from his bag so it can be launched like a spear at Zack. Sabin got it in time.

"Hey, you asshole! You cunt!” Sabin changed tone as he screamed in a mixture of Midgarian (BCS) and Narshenian joined the fight and whipped it at Seifer from the back of his hand. Seifer got hit and Zack performed a flying kick at Seifer.

“Where’s Vargas?” Cloud asked Sabin in Midgarian as the former restrained Squall, while Wedge pummeled Squall. Irvine swung a bat at Zack, but Zack dodged as Cissnei punched Irvine in his stead.

“He’s doing the usual paper, as always! I have two-days off!” said Sabin (take note: he speaks to them in BCS that’s why they understood him until I say otherwise), who punched Raijin.

Meanwhile...

“Stop fucking with our friends! Why didn’t you cooperate, assholes?!” Aerith punched Rinoa, followed by a left kick and pushed her towards a box. The latter spat at her, but the spit did not hit Aerith.

“Fuck you!” Rinoa told her in Common. Aerith didn’t actually understand what Rinoa said, but decided to punch her anyway.

“Ah, so that’s what you do, hm?” Aerith pulled Rinoa again and threw her at Selphie in anger, who tried to deal with Jessie.

“Thanks!” Jessie shouted at Aerith, who went to Jessie and dealt with Selphie and Rinoa.

“Welcome!”

Realizing the battle was lost, the Balambians left (left?) and the Midgarian truckers wanted some reward for themselves. This of course translates to getting beer, 2 bottles per Ruburu and by Ruburu I also meant each person. They went to a dining wagon converted into a bar and bought said number of beer bottles.

“Yeaah! Weee.... kicked their asssses!” Zack screamed in victory, chugging a bottle of beer. Well, all of them did (except Cissnei, who only drank one. Zack drank the other bottle for her), as they went out of the small bar.

“Thanks, guys!” Cissnei told Cloud, Aerith, Biggs, Wedge and Jessie, all of whom grunted in affirmation, too drunk to say something. Surprisingly, with the exception of Zack, they did not have any injuries.

“We should get back to the trucks before they want another fight!” Cissnei told them, but that won’t happen because... the Balambians brought more reinforcements.

“Now... they brought... more reinforcements!” Wedge complained.

“Ahhhhh... they... want another fight?” asked a pissed off Jessie.

“Aw man... not again!” Biggs complained.

“Nooo... ragrets!” Zack screamed in defiance, beating his chest once.

Both Cloud and Aerith just cracked their knuckles.

“So they want more, eh?” Aerith rhetorically asked Cloud with a grin.

“They want it; we’ll give it to them!” Cloud told her, while he felt more excitement.

“Well, stick with me; as always.” Cloud commanded her.

“'Aight, this is going to be good.” Aerith patted his back. (1)

“Sure thing, Aerith.” Cloud ended the conversation.

Meanwhile, some other truckers tried to stop the tourists but to no avail.

“Zell, they’re too powerful!” said a trucker named Snow, who went in and tried to stop the fight between the two factions.

“Snow, they’r- aah!” Zell cried out as Selphie carried him and launched his ass across the pavement, sending him to a train themed ballpit.

Snow thought he was going to get maimed alone by these Balambians, until another trucker like him, a friend of his named Hope, appeared and tried to stop them, but he too was dealt by the Balambians.

“Tell Vanille, I love her!” said Hope before he was thrown by Fujin and Raijin. Snow just hoped the former was unharmed.

“Well... sranje! They got ... his ass!” Cloud referred to Hope, while stopping Squall and Irvine at the same time. (3)

“Whose ass?!” Aerith drunkenly asked Cloud with a loud voice as she ran to help Cloud by performing a flying kick at Irvine.

“It’s the guy who was thrown!”

“Oh, okay!” Aerith drunkenly told him.

“Oh no! Wai-aaa!” Snow cried out as he too was thrown by Raijin as if he was light.

Only Midgar’s truckers can stop them now, even if most of them were drunk.

“So, it’s seven of us... versus... fourteen of them. Shiiiit!” said a drunken Aerith to her boyfriend and their friends who were mostly drunk.

“They better get to me... first, before any of them gets to you... or any... or to any of the others.” Cloud, while protecting Aerith.

He was right when they first launched their attacks against the others. So Cloud and Zack basically blocked the other people away from the Balambians’ harm.

“See I tol- ow, that hurt, asshole!“ Cloud screamed in pain as Rinoa hit Cloud’s hipbone instead of her intended target. Cloud took the hit for Aerith’s sake anyway.

“Cloooud!” screamed a drunk Aerith as she raised him up again.

“Thaaanks!” said a drunk Cloud. Aerith ran towards Rinoa and hit Rinoa’s ass out of retaliation by performing a flying kick.

But while the septet kicked the tourists’ asses, more help came for the truckers. The other truckers, (the ones who got their asses kicked before) helped the Midgarians.

“Eyy, who are you?” asked Cissnei.

“We’re some truckers who were beaten by them. I’m Hope.” said Hope (who spoke to them in Russian), who miraculously survived and helped fight Snow fight some other Balambians.

“Oh... you’re... helping... us?” asked Biggs.

“Pretty much so. Wait, are you guys drunk?” Zell asked, like Hope before him, in Russian to the septet.

“Da, most of us are.” Cissnei answered despite the fact she answered to the others in Midgarian.

The Midgarians were more drunk than their Balambian enemies.

“This is for Hope!” said Auron as he helped Biggs and Wedge beat Fujin and Raijin.

Jessie on the other hand kicked Selphie’s ass.

“I’m no patriot, but you could’ve apologized and put up the flag up!” said Jessie as she beat up Selphie.

“But nooo, you assholes.... didn’t bother... to do something decent!” she added, while she punched Selphie and threw her towards Rinoa’s ass.

Amarant and Ward on the other hand dealt with the Balambians’ new allies.

“Amarant, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you!” said Ward as he dealt with a Balambian.
“It’s alright, we should’ve joined them earlier.” said Amarant as he threw Seifer at Squall.

Cloud and Aerith on the other hand beat up both Seifer and Squall.

“When will you apologize to our friends?!” shouted Cloud at Squall. But then Squall doesn’t understand because he’s from a different country anyway. So it’s just them speaking different languages at one another while fighting each other.

“The cops might come!” Biggs alerted the other 6 and their allies.

“Disperrrse!” Cloud drunkenly ordered them as he threw Squall away.

Fortunately, they (as in all of them) quickly scrambled from the scene even before the cops came. They were also fortunate enough they didn’t damage anything, well except really minor injuries. Just so they wouldn’t get caught, they agreed on returning to their trucks.

“Guys, we have to get back to our trucks and change clothes. They might get our asses.” Cloud told the group.

“Run as fast as you can, but act ‘normal’ after you leave this area.” Aerith added, using air quotes for emphasis. They all left the scene immediately.

Chapter Text

After the fight, Cloud and Aerith immediately went back to the Ural, without anyone noticing them and hid themselves with curtains and blankets, quickly getting to sleep so nobody can just find them (or so they thought). Waking up at an early time and fixing themselves with tracksuits, they were surprised no one got arrested.

They texted the other drivers from Midgar; said drivers said they weren’t arrested and were safe. Then again, the previous evening’s darkness saved all of their asses (including the Balambians) from arrest.

“Dude, that was close!” Aerith told Cloud as she asked their friends.

“Yeah, we nearly got arrested! The darkness probably saved our asses.” Cloud replied as he went out.

Aerith started the engine and the truck’s digital tachograph, which was in the middle of the dashboard. (1) She inserted their drivers’ cards and then pushed the up button to indicate she started driving under “other work”, previously the tachograph marked their absence as “break”. (2)

As part of the “other work”, both of them did their usual routine inspection, although they checked on the brakes more because Narshe’s mountainous nature meant they will need the brakes more often than usual, not to mentioned it lasted for an hour because they checked on any problems. So far, no damage, although they pulled out pebbles and dried mud that were found on the Ural’s wheels. They also checked the cargo. Fortunately, the locks on the cargo were left unchanged after their country’s customs sealed it.

“Hey, how many days do we have left?” Cloud asked as he went out from underneath the Ural as he stretched.

“Three more days, but I expect we’ll be late, because the roads to Narshe are too steep to begin with.” Aerith answered as she put down the Ural’s engine cover.

Once finished, they both got in, since it was Cloud who drove previously, it was Aerith’s turn.

“I’ll drive this time around.” She told him as he nodded in response. She then marked her side of the tachograph as “driving”, while she marked off Cloud’s side of the tachograph (the first driver) as “period of availability”.

An hour or so later, the Ural reached the outskirts of South Figaro, and two more hours to the capital city itself. But once they passed the city of Figaro, they soon reached the roads toward Narshe and the challenges began.

To start, the roads to Narshe had steep inclines, which meant heavy vehicles had difficulty using said roads. The roads were also smaller, meaning that she (or Cloud) had to be more careful than ever.

A traffic policeman greeted them. He saw the truck’s car plates and decided to speak to them in Midgarian. With Aerith at the driver’s seat, he warned them about several things, in Russian, which they understood.

“As you can see, there are several warnings, first, a part of this road is narrow; second, said part is under construction; third, the roads are uphill and steep, and be careful once going down; fourth, accidents can happen; and lastly, be careful at driving!”

Once that was said, he waved at them to say goodbye and they left him. A few kilometers later and driving around the winding road, the first thing that they saw (and greeted them) at the main road was the wreck of a car. At the same time, a road sign appeared, exclaiming the road had a grade of 10%, and a speed limit of 50 km/h.

“Daamn,” Aerith was at a loss for words. “I might be used to seeing light accidents but I’m not used to seeing car wrecks.”

Cloud peeked over as he saw the wreck.

“You are godsdamn right! Oh and we better be careful!” He added as Aerith just nodded in agreement.

She then decided to stop the truck before climbing any hill or incline that they encountered.

“I’ll stop for a while. Let’s put up chains on all the tires. Even if the truck seems to run on all wheels, I want to play safe. After this, we take a break.”

“Go on, I’ll prepare the chains.” With that, Aerith went on the right shoulder and stepped on the brake pedal, and pulled up the handbrake. Both of them brought out the chains for all 6 tires and set them up.

“I’ll be the one driving after we set this up, you should rest and sit on the other side.” Cloud told Aerith as he finished the last chain for the tire.

Once they finished and went inside into the Ural, she started the Ural and activated the differential lock. She (or Cloud) wanted to play safe.

She looked at the left side if there were any other vehicles passing them. Once again, she slightly pushed the Ural to a higher elevation. Aerith looked again around her. Ok, some free lane, don’t shoulder, Aerith thought while she looked to the right. Cloud looked for any trouble on the right.
Breath deeply, Aerith, breath deeply, she thought to herself.

Concentrate and look for any signs of danger. After she climbed the incline, she kept the same amount of pressure on said accelerator. She followed the road and kept the same procedures until her 4 and a half hour shift was finished. It was Cloud’s turn.

Like Aerith before him, he also did the same procedures. Look for the sides, slowly climb the truck, and be careful with driving. While he drove upwards, he saw other trucks having a hard time, either pushing slowly like them, or parked at the road’s right shoulder. Along the way, they saw some trucks were pushed by a dozer, or were pulled by an IMR-1 CEV. (3 and 3b) Driving the roads were very much a pain in the ass, more so than the mud “road” Aerith last drove on, or even the Wutai detour Cloud took. This was steeper than they imagined.

While climbing at a higher altitude, they saw what the traffic policeman told them, the road was under repair and the main road changed from four lanes, to only one lane. They were told to wait for a certain bunch of vehicles to cross this one lane. It took them time before they could have their turn to drive.

“Hey Cloud, did you expect any of this?”

“Yeah, but if you ask me, I’m still surprised.”

“Me too, although I’m surprised we pushed through so far. I mean, it’s the first time we drove a truck, and we handled this thing like it’s nothing.”

“Then again we drove either together and we get into the most random adventures all of the time...”

While passing an uphill road with a grade of 5%, both Cloud and Aerith saw the narrow part of the road that the traffic policeman mentioned. What the cop did not mention it was also long and it had tight corners, tighter than the corners they previously maneuvered on the same road they’re on right now. Meanwhile, they waited as vehicles passed from the far side of the road. After them, five other vehicles were in front of them as well, also waiting.

“I’ll look if you can get to deal with the corners, ok?” Aerith asked Cloud.

“Aight. I’ll go look at the left.” Cloud replied as he looked on the passing vehicles. While they would usually do something else to wait, both looked at the vehicles that passed from the other side. He was going to stretch when suddenly the last vehicle passed and it was their turn, along with other cars.
Suddenly Cloud pushed the gas pedal, wasting no time. While passing through the road, Aerith looked at the right side of their truck. So far, none of them hit any of the barricades that protected construction work. They then encountered a really tight corner, which he then countered by quickly steering to the right, and then slightly to the left in order not to hit the guardrails or any oncoming traffic. However there were times he had to move left to another lane just so he can turn a certain corner.

The truck once climbed again, but this time, the altitude was much higher. The Ural had more difficulty climbing, causing Cloud to keep to the 1st gear-2nd gear only. Aerith could only watch at two things: Cloud driving and the road, especially the corners whenever it turned. Some minutes later, after he struggled to push the truck upward, it reached a certain part in which the truck would descend.

They faced the last obstacle, a 10% grade stretch of the road that was more like a roller coaster. It also didn’t help it was also zigzagged as well. True, it was in asphalt, but do take note that they had 19 tons of cargo on their backs. In other words, the weight did not help.

Even if they had room to maneuver, Cloud wouldn’t think of changing his lane. He was too concentrated as well, and he feared the truck would do jackknife or something else.
As the Ural went down, Cloud looked at what he could see, the left, the right, and the front. But while he was confident, neither of them knew how to climb down with an Ural from a higher level. The detour at Wutai was fine, but it wasn’t the same.

“Aerith, are you prepared for this? I’m not sure if we can do this?” He asked her.

“Me neither, but I’m here for you, as always.”

Once his hand left hers, he shifted the gear from neutral to the first gear. He moved his right foot from the brake and back to the gas pedal. Then, he slowly pushed the accelerator as the Ural slowly pushed downhill, all while looking at the Ural’s speedometer, which was running at 15-20km/h.

He released the accelerator, but the ball of his right foot was at the brake, which he also pushed a bit slowly in order not to rush down. It really was getting on his nerves. Cloud’s teeth gritted and his hands tightened on the steering wheel, concentrating on the road in front of him, sometimes steering to the right several times in order to deal with a rightward corner. He pushed the brake lightly for several times and continued doing so until the truck was on zero grade, that is, the road was now flat and straight. Now, they could finally breathe.

“Damn, that was over. I kinda caught my breath sometimes.” Cloud remarked to Aerith.

“At least we can control it. The last time we drove down the mountains, we screamed to oblivion while I tried to stop the Buhanka... after we got what Barret needed.” Aerith remembered a certain adventure. (4).

“Yeah, I remember that. I still remember loading in so much into the Buhanka we really did put the mop and two chairs for you and me.”

“Good thing the cargo wasn’t damaged.”

“Yeah... oh hey, we’re getting to Narshe!” Cloud looked and then added, while he pushed into the 3rd gear. They saw the outline of the city.

“Also, I think the tachograph’s saying it’s my turn to drive!” Aerith pointed out at the tachograph, and she was right, he did drive for the same amount as hers. “And we better take a break too.” She added.

“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Cloud immediately found a shoulder to park the Ural.

After taking a 30 minute break, Aerith sat on the left side, while Cloud sat on the right side. Unlike going up to Narshe, the roads were wider and weren’t steep. They could finally loosen their nerves for a bit.

“Did you get to see the mountains? I did, but not much.” Cloud asked after he slowly drank the Kvass.

“Well, yeah,” Aerith started, “but I was too busy looking on the right side.” Cloud nodded.

“When was the last time we drank Kvass?”

“I can’t remember, but the San Andrean and Russian embassies offered some Kvass back at the university.”

After said break, they went back to their trucks and ventured out to Narshe. It was Aerith’s turn. After several more hours going into Narshe (as the roads were still narrow even if they didn’t have a grade) and looking onto their map several times, they finally reached their destination. While they prepared to park the Ural, she then realized what time it was. But before that, she checked whether their destination was right. According to the map this was the building of Seventh Heaven’s customer. Aerith looked at the gate and saw it really was the company. It would be nice if she can park the Ural right at the building. But wait! There’s...

“What the fuck?!” Aerith exclaimed in surprise, after a man stopped their Ural from coming in. She even prepared herself to get into the gates of the building, due to its narrow gates.

She was peeved. But she had no energy to argue anyway. Both were tired and wanted to sleep. They helped some truckers fight a bunch of asshole tourists the day before and had to deal with driving up the mountains.

“Is this the electronics company?”

“Yes. However, it’s closed! Open up for tomorrow! But you get a bonus for being this advanced.” Said man talked to them in Midgarian, rather than the usual Figarian. “Park there!” he added, referring to a nearby parking spot.

“What happened?” asked a groggy Cloud.

“They can’t let us in! I’ll find a parking space.” She answered as she parked the truck nearby and both went to sleep.

----------------------------------------------------------------
So it was the wee hours of the morning. 7:00 AM. A knock from the door.

“Hey, uh, my dad says you can go in now. We also marked where you two will park the truck. Also, once you park this truck, remove it from the trailer.” A woman with green hair and dressed in red appeared and spoke to them in Russian.

“Thanks.” Cloud replied.

So Cloud slowly reversed the Ural into garage of their customer. Aerith went out and gestured with both of her hands, telling him to keep reversing until she said otherwise.
“Is it ok?” Cloud told her, with a raise of volume.

“No! Keep reversing! To the right!” she answered as he wiggled his way to the allotted place.

“Stop right there!” Aerith commanded him. “Let’s check then detach the trailer!”, she added, and he went out of the truck to help her detach it.

They first checked the trailer if there were problems. There were none, fortunately.

She pulled out the trailer’s brake, lowered the trailer’s legs, and removed the trailer’s number plate (It was to be returned). Cloud on the other hand, disconnected the wires that connected the trailer to the truck, removed the dog clip and disengaged its fifth wheel. Once it was safe enough, he drove out slowly and stopped it.

“Nice,” the woman appeared again, “Get in there,” she pointed with her finger, “and get yourselves some breakfast. My father says sorry you guys couldn’t get in yesterday. Our guys will unload the cargo.“ she added.

Both Cloud and Aerith nodded to one another and went inside the company's building. After getting in, got their first pay (50,000g and with thanks from the two) and eating breakfast with the woman and presumably her father, the latter began to speak.

“Good morning, I am Maduin Branford. This one is my wife, Madeleine, and this one is my daughter, Terra.” Maduin introduced himself (in Midgarian) and his family. The two then shook hands with all 3.

“As you can see, I apologize for not letting you two in yesterday, especially with the fact going to Narshe is a pain in the ass. We made a deal with another company, that’s why we were closed. Also, your company has another job for you two.”

“What is it?” Aerith asked.

“Well there’s a MAZ truck with a crane. Drive it to Kalm, to some company called Energoprojekt. We gave out some instructions, oh and come back at 2300h.” said Maduin, who pointed outside the window (near Cloud’s back, the latter of whom looked at the direction of Maduin’s finger) at a MAZ-63038 with a crane, the name Ивановец on the crane’s arm. (5)

“Oh, thanks.” Cloud nodded.

“It’s prepared already, so you guys will have to reverse your truck and attach the trailer. Terra added and handed the papers needed. After some talk, both parties greeted farewell to each other and went back to their jobs.

Cloud and Aerith returned to the building’s loading area. They have another job to do.

Chapter Text

The return trip back to Midgar was pretty much uneventful (they used the tarmac road this time and it the traffic was more bearable) and earned them another 50,000 gil. In total, that was 100,000 gil. 20k for the shop, 5k for Aerith’s mother (read: Elmyra) and her father Nemanja, 5k + 5k to Cloud’s parents and 5k for necessities (like food) and 5k for themselves (AKA whatever shit they might use it for). The other 50k was for their future money.

Now they went out with their belongings. But just as they went out, the boss came.

“Sorry, you guys are out.” The boss told them in a sad tone.

“Wait, what? Oh, here’s the excess money.” Cloud asked, as he gave out the excess money and a list of whatever they used from whatever service the Ural needed.

“We’re forced to downsize.”

“It was nice driving the truck! Why though?” Aerith asked.

“More money went out than going in and shitloads of unexpected problems.”

“That’s horrible! We can’t do much but offer sympathy.” Aerith ended the conversation. As much as she thought the boss was scary whenever Cloud was present (or the stories of how the boss tried to hit him), she still felt sympathy. On the other hand, she was relieved Cloud wouldn’t have to worry about the boss anymore, even if Cloud had no job.

“I have a plan but it might take longer than expected...” It seems the two realized the situation’s gravity.

Going out of the office, and walking their way home, Cloud pondered on the next job he’ll take as Aerith held his hand for sympathy.

“Cloud, let’s eat lunch first.”

“Aight, then.”

While they ate at a nearby restaurant (they were hungry already, it was 1200/12pm)

“Looks like I’m unemployed then. Are you returning to work at the flower shop?” Cloud told Aerith as they ate.

“Not likely, but I think I have an idea and it’s bigger. Since Marlene effectively replaced me, I can do some advice instead.” Aerith answered as she rubbed his back.

“I also have an idea, but you should tell me your idea first.”

“A trucking company of our own, so we won’t have problems like this. We move cargo, do paperwork, and of course, go around the world.”

“Shit, we think alike! The thing is, I’m suggesting a name. Should it be MidgarTrans? Or something else?”

“Uh, why not Strife Delivery Services? We do trucking or delivery and so on.”

“Hmm, I like the idea, but I think I have a better name. Why not Strife-Gainsborough Transport Services?”

“Why is my surname included, though?” Aerith asked, puzzled.

“Because, you have the same idea, as well, and you are a part of this. We drive a truck or two, while Marlene and Denzel get to operate the flower shop.” Cloud concluded. Aerith just laughed over the first sentence.

“You have a point! At least we don’t just go together; we become... tourists, in a way, I mean, that’s the one of the reasons why I joined along, along with being with you, having the funds to have a family and so on. Now where do we get the money? There might be a job opening, from what I heard from Barret and his guys.”

“Talking of which, do you know this guy named Kunsel?”

“I heard him from Zack, but never met him. What does he do anyway?”

“He organizes companies, did some advising for 3 years, talks to the government sometimes plus connections. He doesn’t have a job now though, he’s freelance, and he asks for little. He once told Zack he needed a job but couldn’t find one.”

“Yeah, let’s hire him then. But we better be careful though, if we can avoid it.”

“I also realized, we should earn money for a company first, their allowances and maintenances and shit, then earn for the fleet of trucks.” Aerith told Cloud.

Fortunately, they quickly got a job, when Barret Wallace appeared. Barret also had a transporting job for them, although it’s his arms deals that made him rich.

“Yo guys, I heard Seventh Heaven got fucked.” Barret landed his hands on their shoulders, causing both to yelp simultaneously.

“You scared me!” Cloud, was startled by his appearance.

“What do you want, Barret?” Aerith asked.

“Well, I’m happy with my arms deals, so I wanted to give my trucking company to you two. And I have job for you two.”

“Uhh, thanks.” Cloud thanked Barret, while the latter retracted his hands.

“Organize yourselves tomorrow. You two should meet me at my office tomorrow. I have a truck for you two and some transfers.” The office was close to Gainsborough’s house.
A day later, they finally arrived at Barret’s office, in the northern part of Faremisac. It took them a walk from their house. They’ve been to the same office several times, usually to fetch guns from once place to another.

“So, uh, here we are...” Barret told them. “Before you start driving, I will explain the whole plan.” Barret added.

“Uh, what do you mean?” Aerith asked Barret.

“You do know my company isn’t for trucking, it’s for guns. I decided to transfer my drivers Biggs, Wedge and Jessie to your company, buy another warehouse near your house and expand it. I also brought in 10,000,000 for company funds and here’s the debit card for this company, and the password is 022319. Oh and they’re good mechanics too. However, I haven’t finalized the name, some other holes to fill, gotten enough funding, so you guys have to deal with those problems as well.”

“I see. You are too kind, but thanks. Where exactly is it?” Cloud asked.

“Right there, near my warehouse. There’s another warehouse I bought before as well and I had it expanded to accommodate five trucks. Oh, by the way, the trucks are also yours.”
“What other ‘holes’,” Aerith asked inquisitively with a short pause. “Are you talking about?”

“Well, like buying up spare parts, shitloads of regulations, safety, job finding. But the 10,000,000 can be enough to save your asses for a while.” Barret answered.

“I understand. Thank you very much, Barret.” Cloud thanked him, especially when the truck garage was within walking distance of their house.

“I decided to concentrate on the arms selling business around our neighborhood. Either way I made profits on both, so you should get the trucking part of my business.” Barret added.

“Anything else?” Cloud asked.

“You two will drive a truck several days from now. I’ll explain it for a moment later.” Barret answered. “And by the way, my three drivers will move there later. That truck I mentioned is my gift of gratitude for helping me deliver my arms deals whenever the three ain’t available or we need some extra help and muscle.” Well, the two actually remembered that.

“Oh yeah, I remember that. You visited us at three in the fucking morning because you couldn’t find enough drivers to bring your guns in.” Aerith told Barret.

It was a year and a half ago, right after their 5th date (the 3rd date made them share the same bed), Barret knocked the door of the Gainsborough residence, in the middle of the night, at 3 AM. Cloud got up, after several moments of incessant knocking from Barret.

----------------

“Aerith, can you move a little bit? Someone’s knocking at our house, I’ll be right back.” Cloud gently tapped her back so he can get up and go downstairs.

“Aight, Cloud.” She answered and covered herself.

Cloud quickly walked downstairs and met Barret.

“Barret, why do you need me?” said Cloud, who was a bit pissed off.

“Oh, right, actually, it’s you two. I need you two to drive 2 vans filled with guns to Costa del Sol.”

“Hold on, wait...”

Cloud ran back to Aerith.

“So what happened?” she asked as she stretched and cracked her knuckles.

“Barret wants us to drive 2 vans full of guns.”

“Us? After we fucked? Well, shit, but I ain’t passing!”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Where is he?”

“Downstairs, right at the doorstep.”

“Let me fix myself. Man, all the nice things have to end.” Aerith rose up and got herself some pambahay clothes as well, as Cloud patiently waited for her. Like Cloud, she was also pissed.

The two walked down the stairs, and met the neighborhood-friendly arms dealer. Everyone talks and buy their guns from/to him, even Denzel and Marlene (well they didn’t buy guns yet, but you get my point?). Sell an old gun? Talk to Barret. Buy a new, shiny AK-12? Talk to Barret. Need some advice about buying a gun? Talk to Barret. Talk about anything else? There’s Barret.

Cloud opened the door for her and both faced Barret.

“Uh huh, uh why did you call us to drive your merchandise?” Aerith asked.

“One, we didn’t have enough guys to drive other trucks, apart from Jessie, Biggs and Wedge. Two, you guys are the only other drivers we can find.”

“Where’s Zack and Cissnei?” Cloud asked.

“They’re out of the country, I think in Ivalice or in Alexandria. I’ll pay you guys after.”

“Sure. I’ll write a note for Mama first.” Aerith told Barret.

“When will we do this?” Cloud asked.

“5 AM.” Barret told Cloud, as the latter looked at the clock above the door. It was 3:20.

“Aight, sure. But we better eat breakfast.” Cloud told Barret.

“Breakfast’s covered.”

“Really? Thanks.” Aerith told Barret.
----------------------
To cut things short, they drove the excess merchandise well, as in not a single hitch and got their pay.

Now back to present, Barret soon added another thing.

“As for the job itself, you get to drive a shitload of plastic flowers and M56 submachine guns, 10 tons and 5 tons, respectively, to San Fierro, within 2 weeks. Payment is 300,000 from the boss at SF.”

“Wait, San Fierro, San Andreas?” Cloud reacted.

“Yep, the Kingdom of San Andreas. Anyways, I’ll tell my drivers and your office staff they better meet tomorrow.”

“Uh, thanks. We should meet them tomorrow then.”

“Certainly.”

Now I might add in dialogues about them planning what to do tomorrow but since this I’m writing this for the sake of Cloud and Aerith getting shitloads of adventures, I wrote some sentences about the formation of their company instead.

So they met with the three other drivers, and two of Zack’s friends named Kunsel and Luxiere (Cloud and Aerith later found out they once worked with Barret), who were good at organizing things and finances and doing office shit that they usually don’t touch (e.g. dealing with government work).

They (all of them) all agreed on certain things: the name of the company would be STGS (or Strife-Gainsborough Transport Services), they will have more or less the same pay (for now, as all of them agreed that 10,000,000 might not be enough for the upkeep of their garage alone), they will participate in the decision making both as workers and owners of this new company, and for the meantime (depends on how long it will be), both Cloud and Aerith will work differently from them.

The two of them would get any trucking job at any place they can get to (for instance, working from Paleto Bay under a different boss) until they can earn enough money for the company’s upkeep and so on. The three would work with a normal route (which they preferred anyway).
---------
“So he transferred you three?” Cloud asked Biggs while they all gathered in the warehouse office, as they ate dinner.

“Pretty much so, he doesn’t want attention to his actual business, that’s his actual reason, and the fact that he’s rich from his arms deals.” Biggs answered his question, but Jessie also added. “He said he’ll give this company a lot of starting money as long as we don’t ever snitch on him.”

“Why would we? We never snitched at all.” Aerith asked.

“It’s just him being paranoid.” Wedge added in.

“So, are you guys ready for whatever we plan and do tomorrow or something?” Cloud asked another question.

“Yeah, we are.” Jessie answered.

--------
The day after organizing themselves and what’d they do, while the three other drivers went to certain companies around the capital that needed their freight transported. Kunsel operated the daily office work, funds and the wages for everyone else; while Luxiere communicated with people who need jobs or anything related to the small trucking company.

Cloud and Aerith went to theirs. They were back again at Barret’s warehouse and met him.

“Here’s the truck I mentioned.” Barret said as he shook their hands and handed them the documents.

“Mhm, go on.” Cloud replied as he and Aerith looked around a dark blue KAMAZ 54112 with SanCuunŠa decals on its trailer. (2)

“So yeah, you can drive it anytime right now, but why are you two looking at it?”

“Maybe because we haven’t driven this thing before and we wanted to look at it for its weaknesses.” Aerith budged in.

“Aerith has a point here,” Cloud defended her. “We just want to play safe unless the situation says otherwise.”

“Well, alright, wish you the best then!” Barret told them.

“We’ll be leaving, then. See you tomorrow!” Aerith told Barret as they waved at him and left the garage.

Chapter Text

While driving towards San Andreas, south of Midgar, they listened to two singers’ rendition of a song. It was called Nuthin but A G Thang by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, except the singers were different and the style was that of a Russian bard. The cover’s artists were Aleksandr Koseevič Arima and Galina Andreevna Morrow (Morrou in Russian). Actually, they had a playlist of Russian bards’ songs and Radio Los Santos hits covered by San Andrean singers. (1)

“Hey, didn’t Morrow’s parents sang the last time they were in Midgar?” Cloud asked Aerith while she drove.

“Yeah, Morrow’s parents made covers of Bards.” She answered.

“Like?”

“Jurij Kukin.” Aerith then hummed A ja jedu za tumanom, sang and written by Jurij Kukin. (2) It also happened the song was on their playlist, just after Dre and Dogg’s song.

“Ponimaeš', eto stranno, očen' stranno.” Cloud began to sing.

It was all normal, until...

“Guys, there’s a bunch of cops trying to find a blue KAMAZ with a cargo of Spank and Zap. Be wary of them.” A man suddenly announced on the CB radio. Aerith pulled out its receiver.

“Aight, understood.” Aerith answered.

Several kilometers later, at a distance of 20m, a cop waved a stop sign at them. She slowed the truck.

The cop approached them and she opened the window. The cop saluted her.

“Policajac Hobruković. Both of your papers please...” The cop requested. They pulled out their ID cards and drivers’ licenses.

“Can I see your cargo? We heard reports from our guys in San Andreas that there’s a truck from this country that is eerily similar to yours, down to the trailer itself, although the registration plates differ. The cargo of this truck I mentioned carries SPANK and Zap underneath packs of either guns or Marijuana.” He then added to assure them, “I unfortunately, don’t have any information on the driver though.”

“Sure... but our carnets and manifests only mentioned flowers and guns.” Aerith answered the cop as she and Cloud both exited the truck. “Look here.” Aerith pulled the manifest from the driver’s frontal document compartment and presented it in front of Hobruković.

They also both opened the trailer’s doors to let the policeman see things. He called in other policemen who brought in a sniffer dog as well.

Meanwhile both Cloud and Aerith looked on as the policemen inspected the semi-trailer. Not a single pack of SPANK or Zap. Just fake flowers and guns.

“Well, it’s good you have no SPANK or Zap.” Hobruković announced to Aerith as he shook their hands. Both returned back to the truck and went on their way. This time, it was Cloud’s turn.

“Shit, you heard what he said, there’s a truck that looks like ours.” Aerith told Cloud while she drove and looked around for incoming vehicles.

“Yeah, I know.” Cloud answered.

“What a coincidence, if you’re going to ask me.”

“Do you think there’s a chance we’d see another truck like that?”

“Prolly in a million or so chances, if not, it’ll probably be a hundred thousand.”

“Oh yeah, I’ll tell them too.” Cloud texted the other drivers.

“Guys, be wary of a KAMAZ like ours. Same model, color and even trailer. So if you guys see that truck, you better call the police or something.” The other three drivers and Zack/Cissnei answered with either a ‘yes’ or a ‘noted’.

Cloud then went back reading another book. Usually, he or Aerith would play Fridge Racer, but they were waiting for another update.
After crossing the border between Midgar and San Andreas two hours later, the latter’s customs and toll posts, Russian signs started to appear on their own eyes. But first.

“Cloud, we’re coming to San Andreas!” Aerith looked around the scenery. They realized they were in San Andreas when they saw its vehicles, registration plates, road signs and billboards were written in a different font and in a different language (Russian). (3)

A border sign said “Добро пожаловать в Сан Андреас” - “Welcome to San Andreas”. They can only see hills, forests and grasslands for now. That didn’t matter anyway; stepping foot in San Andreas was already a feat for them.

“You remembered you wanted to go to San Andreas, right?”

“Yeah, I did!”

“Well, you really did it yourself!”

“Well, apart from what happened earlier, you helped me do it! I mean, without driving from Midgar to San Fierro, we wouldn’t be here. You deserve this, too!”
-----

While taking a dinner break, on a stolovaja/diner along Paleto-Mefunsk-San Fierro highway (3b, 3c), they pondered on things on whatever they thought, like what he/she read or what were they going to do.

After ordering some beer and settled down, Aerith took a breath and asked Cloud.

“How’s the book? You’ve been reading that ever since you waited.”

Meanwhile, a call from the table was made.

“Table 11,” a man shouted in Russian, “here are your plovs that you ordered.” The man at the table called Cloud.

“Wait, I’ll answer your question after this.” Cloud told Aerith as he left and she nodded in return.

Cloud went to the canteen’s bar top. “Thank you!” Cloud thanked the server. He then returned with the food and she asked...

“So, back to the question...”

“Oh yeah, I liked it for the fact that the writer put so much detail. I mean, he skillfully wrote about how his characters felt while they were inside the tank” he answered and ate some spoonfuls of plov. “It also helped that he was in a tank.” Then he ate again. Meanwhile, Aerith ate as well.

“Have you read the novel Out from the BMP? Although, it’s kinda different from the BTR-man because she was from the Armored regiments and the fact she fought with her unit with a BMP-2. It reminded me of my army days.” Then she drank some canteen beer.

“No, I haven’t read it yet, although that’s what I plan to read sometime. Anyways, back to what’s happening, how long do you think will it take for the company to floursh?”

“Hmm, good question. It will probably take years, even if the government gives help. You have any strategies in mind? I think we should buy a shitload of spares in case shit happens. You never know, what the fuck will happen.”

“I was thinking of how we can help Kunsel deal with the government.”

“Yeah, you’re correct. Kunsel did admit it’s nothing to him, although we should help him.” Aerith nodded as Cloud told her and added, “I mean, he worked with Barret once.”
After eating, they left for San Fierro. Cloud drove for the last four and a half hours before both found a place to sleep. Next morning, Aerith drove (as alternating drivers) and then Cloud, until they finally ended in San Fierro.

They finally reached their location, a military base called Buhta Pashi (as in Pas-hi) or Easter Basin, for the guns, and a pier called Pier 69, for the plastic flowers. In fact, the guys at the base knew Barret and even told them they might get a new set of jobs if they looked at the job list in the port around Buhta Pashi. They did go there but found out there were no jobs going to Midgar, but there were jobs to Kalm, but they had to go all the way to San Fierro’s International airport. They planned to get the job but first...
Barret texted them. It was the usual hello and how are you, along with a:

“There’s this guy, his name is Gianni Pelosi. He’s the one who my friends suspected of driving the identical KAMAZ with SPANK and Zap. Now, he might be in your area, and you’re allowed to arrest him as citizens.” The message had a picture of Gianni.

It also added

“Either way, we’ll come here, 20:00. Here’s a photo of him. Meet me tomorrow!” Barret sent them the photo. It was 19:00 and the message sent was at 18:36.

“By we, who are you referring to as ‘we’?”

“My friends, Lucrecia and Vincent.” Cloud suddenly remembered Lucrecia mentioning Barret.

“Are you interested to deal with him? I mean, he didn’t do harm to us, but the coincidence... kinda makes me think why the hell would he have the same truck...”

“I agree. I want us to get him by ourselves and ask, 'did you coincidentally made your truck identical or something?'”

Just as they were leaving to get back to the truck and get the job, they immediately spotted somebody. It was Gianni.

“Hey, isn’t that Gianni?” Aerith asked Cloud. Cloud looked at the phone and looked at the man walking towards the airport.

“You are right! We better chase his ass!“

They entered the airport’s main terminal and slowly walked to Gianni, the latter having no suspicion of the two. But Gianni, unfortunately, wasn’t stupid. He quickened the pace and hid in an office.

Aerith peeked around the glazed windows of the offices.

“Nothing to see here, move along.” She thought. But she climbed over with a chair, and looked to her left.
It’s Gianni. Aerith narrowed her eyes, but widened when her stare looked at Gianni. However, Gianni, panicking, ran away and jumped to another room.

“Hey, Gianni!” Aerith barked at a distance, chasing Gianni. .

A woman screamed as the courier jumped to another room, Aerith trying to chase him.

“Come on, Gianni, you asshole!” Cloud commanded and knocked at the door. Panicking, Aerith opened the door, only to evade Cloud, who used himself as a battering ram.

“Sorry, Aerith!” Cloud apologized to her after he tried to use his body as a battering ram to destroy another door. She would’ve done the same thing in his place. But the airport security arrived and took them for interrogation.

“Look, we’re being called to ask some guy about some drug shipment he’s involved in.” Aerith justified (in Midgarian) their actions.

“Explain that later.” said the policeman (understanding Midgarian but answered in Russian) as he cuffed their hands.
Aerith and Cloud stared in anger at Gianni escaping.

Now they saw themselves in front of the airport’s security. He wore a copy of the Soviet Milicija uniform (except it had its own insignia) like every other cop, including the ones that arrested them.

“They call me Semjon Dzeffrievič Cross. How are you called?” he asked in Russian. (4)

“They call us Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough.” Cloud calmly answered in Russian, rather than explode.

“Mhm, anyways, we arrested you two because of trespassing. It’s a very light offence, don’t worry. I have some Midgarian friends. But I want to ask, what made you do it?” Semjon asked.

“Well, we wanted to get Gianni so we can find out why was our truck identical to ours.” Aerith answered him, again in Russian.

Semjon nodded.

“Sorry I got you two into this. So you guys are free. I apologize for my mistakes.” Semjon ended.

“Spasibo.” Aerith answered. She looked at Cloud who texted to some other dude and whispered to him.

“Who are you texting?”

“It’s Barret and the two of them. They’re in San Fierro!” Like her, he also whispered his answer.

It was already 20:00. Vincent, Lucrecia and Barret arrived at San Fierro’s International Airport.
“Where are you guys?” Barret asked.

“Right at the airport, at some office the cops mistakenly arrested us but they freed us now. We’re just talking about our target.” Cloud texted them while he whispered to Aerith. Semjon smoked a bit.

“Who are you texting?” Semjon asked in Russian.

“A friend of ours.”

“Could this be Barret?”

“What the, you know him?” Aerith asked Semjon. Semjon then started having small talk.

“Yes, he sold thousands of surplus weapons and vehicles after the war. Just a year after the war, he bought those trucks from the army and sold to anyone who needed a business. That’s why you might see ZiL or Ural trucks with box shaped sleepers.”

“I see, so that’s what made him rich.” Cloud interjected a question.

“Well, that and the fact he sometimes sold weapons, legally or illegally. That’s why he only works in San Andreas, Midgar and some other countries. Stepping out of those countries can mean arrest and extradition.”

“I see.”

“If you see him, tell him I said ‘hi’!”

“We will, we will.” Cloud answered.

But soon a knock appeared.

“Go ahead, open it.” The chief said but when Vincent, Lucrecia and Barret appeared, he asked: “Hey, who are you?”

“Friends of these two. They wanted to ask the man they tried to chase.” Vincent began in Russian.

“Well, they already said the same thing. If you guys need help, I can provide that.”

“Barret, who are these people by the way?” Semjon saw Barret and asked in Russian.

“They’re some officials from Midgar. Both of them wanted him as well, because he also tried to scam them.” Barret answered.

Then some minutes later while they chatted about good old times, a message appeared.

“Tovarišč Kapitan, Gianni was last seen in Easter Tunnel, he’s going to Las Venturas!”

“Understood.” he answered.

“You, Cloud, Aerith and the two of you!” “Get the 2101 outside! Yeah, the four of you!” Semjon commanded. “Yes, I’ll send a cop car! End of signal!” he added a reply.
They went out and got the car, as commanded. Once they went outside (it was at the back of the airport’s terminal), they met several policemen (also with a police version of the 2101) who affirmed they were with Semjon’s jurisdiction.

Just as they went out of the airport, they soon saw the identical KAMAZ right in front of them.

“Isn’t that the KAMAZ we’ve been talking about?” Cloud asked. Then it went left to go to Doherty.

Aerith looked deeper.

“It fucking is!” she answered Cloud’s question.

“Just tail him!” Vincent commanded Cloud. They tailed the truck while going through San Fierro.

Several roads later, while nearing the Gant Bridge, they noticed the truck increased its speed, right after it crossed an intersection (it’s near the San Fierro church, the area with a camera)

“Cloud, the motherfucker’s onto it!” Aerith commanded Cloud.

Cloud then swerved right and braked in front of the identical KAMAZ, which stopped. All four of them went out of the 2101 and surrounded him. Cloud and Aerith pulled out their pistols (they weren’t confiscated) and appeared themselves in front of the KAMAZ. Vincent stepped on the right side of the KAMAZ (holding by its mirror), while Lucrecia did the same thing, both of them aiming submachine guns at Gianni.

Both put down the safety of their SMGs to mean business.

Gianni soon asked.

“What do you want from me?” Gianni asked, in Common/English.

“We want to ask you some questions.” Lucrecia began in heavily-accented Common, while offering a pack of 69 Brand. “Call the police.” She then commanded Vincent, back to Midgarian.

-----
Meanwhile, after they dealt with Gianni (and interrogated him with said pack), they planned their next move, in a café in front of the ferry building at Esplanade East (or should I say... Vostočnaja Esplanada).

“So we found out that his boss, the one who decided to smuggle SPANK, Rocco Pelosi, was the reason why you guys got mistaken for the SPANK carriers.” Lucrecia stated to them.

“According to my network and from interrogating Gianni, Rocco seems to be somewhere along this city.” Vincent declared, but he also added “according to Semjon, he’s only present around the southern gates of the city, around Doherty or Missionary Hill for the time being.”

“Well, I have a plan. Two days from now, he’ll be leaving San Fierro for Los Santos, in a Cheval Fugitive. If not, a Merc. Now I suggest, we hold some checkpoints, and once we find him, we block his point with two trucks. Oh and the rest of us will also be armed with bigger weapons.”

Everybody nodded, except Cloud, who had some questions.

“Now hold on a second,” Cloud reacted at Vincent’s plan. “Aren’t there three main roads to Los Santos along with the tunnel?” (3)

“Well, according to the network I mentioned, he’s going to the tunnel. I forgot to mention that.”

“And why?” Aerith added.

“He doesn’t like the main highways.” Lucrecia added.

“Anyways, I thought of other possibilities to deal with that guy but unfortunately, we can’t use cop cars?”

“Why?”

“Too much attention.”

“And how do you answer this?”

“Make up some ‘checkpoint’ then, once he drives without noticing, we block him with two trucks.”

“And how do you do this?” Aerith asked.

“Well, we have a treaty with San Andreas allowing collaboration with their cops, although we still need some people to do it.”

“Seems settled then.”

But then, Cloud caught some people in his vision. They were none other than the other drivers, Biggs, Wedge and Jessie, and called their names and waved at them.
They ran to their fellow employees and shook Cloud and Aerith’s right hands.

“How’s things?” Biggs asked.

“Well, we got ourselves into a situation. We nearly got arrested because we tried to catch Gianni, but the cops freed us, then we caught him while he was driving the lookalike KAMAZ.” Aerith answered.

“Oh, so where’s he now?”

“He’s at the SFP building, near Downtown.” Lucrecia pointed at her right side.

“Hey, uh, do you guys need help?” Wedge asked.

“Yeah, why not? If you want to, that is.” Cloud.

Then Zack and Cissnei, for some reason, appeared as well.

“Hey I heard your voices and decided to come along. We ought to help too!”

“So I might modify my plan,” Vincent added. “We could use you guys rather than them. All we need now for the ‘cops’,” he added, “are their uniforms and some guns. And any of you who get to play cops, will pretend like one. Are you guys good at Russian?”

“Yeah, everyone here understands Russian, but only Biggs doesn’t speak it fluently. But only Wedge can speak as if he was a Russian. My grammar is shit but I can help in other ways.” Jesse answered.

“Ok, so pretend you guys are cops. Who are the other two?” Vincent pointed his fingers at Zack and Cissnei.

“Ah, you mean Zack and Cissnei?” Cloud asked.

“Yeah.” Vincent answered.

“Uh, what should we do?” Zack asked.

“Hmmm, you guys can block the road with the bunch of trucks.” Vincent

“Actually, we parked the truck at the airport. If you guys need help we can help you use ours.” Cissnei answered.

“It’s all good then. All we need to do is get some cop uniforms, some armor, more planning and some guns. Gianni might be armed or something.” Vincent added.

Chapter Text

After a day of borrowing uniforms, guns and cars as disguises, it was all set. They set up a fake checkpoint with the fake cops, then the lookers, and once verified by the three, Zack and Cissnei would block them with the trucks (their ZiL and the KAMAZ). Then, Cloud and Aerith would approach them. If all else fails, they would have to shoot the car’s tires and engine, but not harm Rocco. (1)

They did have a Plan B, in case shit did happen. This is where the guns come, shoot either Rocco or his car, or both. They didn’t have a plan C, however.

Now the last report from Vincent’s connection stated that Rocco would leave at 1200. It was 800 so they had some time to prepare, but they better hurry. At a safehouse Vincent once bought, near Doherty, they arranged themselves with the necessary equipment, and reached the road where Rocco will go through.

They arranged themselves according to the plan. Barret would be the main commander, Lucrecia and Vincent (and Barret) would look at Rocco with binoculars; Wedge, Biggs and Jessie played as fake policemen; Zack and Cissnei would block his path; Both Cloud and Aerith would just approach him with guns. In case shit goes bad, they’d call in a bunch of real cops armed with submachine guns and using a faster GAZ-24 Volga.

“Staršij Lejtenant Cukadev. Your documents, please.” asked Wedge in Russian. Biggs walked around with an AKM slung on his back, pretending they were a bunch of cops. (2)

“Yeah, yeah, here’s my ID.” Rocco replied, but in Common.

Wedge looked at the ID card. Goddamn, he conspicuously looked at the ID card’s photo. It was Rocco indeed. And the guy was Rocco himself. Wedge gave a quick look at Rocco, and confirmed it was him.

“Jezžaj, go on.” Wedge commanded Rocco to go.

“Ok, I’m leaving.”

What Rocco did not notice however, was that Wedge confirmed it was the former, by signaling with his right foot.

“Yeah, guys. It’s Gianni and his Cheval, block him once he passes.” Jessie commanded.

“Understood.” Said Vincent from afar, looking at the road in which Rocco’s car was going to leave San Fierro.

Vincent picked up an SVD, and aimed at the Cheval’s engine, but not to shoot at him. They want to take him alive.

“Rocco passed my line!” Lucrecia radioed.

“He’ll pass mine!” Vincent radioed as well.

Some moments later, Rocco passed Vincent.

“He looks calm,” Vincent radioed. “It really is him.”

Then the Cheval passed Barret.

“Now!” Barret, while in a police 21016, radioed Zack and Cissnei, both having the same frequency. Hearing Barret’s command, Cloud and Aerith soon hid by the road’s bushes and prepared their carbines, AKS-74Us. Afterwards, Barret picked up the two other watchers.

Cissnei blocked said front part of the road with the KAMAZ, effectively closing Rocco’s avenue of escape.

“Gotcha now, Rocco!” Zack announced as he blocked the rear side of the road with their ZiL-131, parking it in a circular fashion so Gianni won’t easily escape.

“You’re trapped now!” said Cissnei, who used the KAMAZ, blocking Gianni’s frontal escape.

Then Rocco realized some people were doing. They weren’t some random people, they were out to get him! Rocco was just going to escape on foot, but he didn’t notice two helmeted figures with AKS-74U carbines.
....
Aerith and Cloud leapt from the barricade. They pushed the selector from safety to automatic to demonstrate that she meant business.

 

Rocco realized the two were going to get him. But then he didn’t realize, apart from Zack, Cloud, Cissnei and Aerith, there was Barret and Vincent as well. Barret had a PKM with him, while Vincent appeared with an AK-74 rifle. Rocco wanted to escape but all of them were armed.

“I’m sorry, Rocco, it’s too late to even escape.” Vincent reassured him, appearing with said rifle.

“Fuck you all!” Rocco exclaimed in Common. (3)
.....
An hour later, after packing up, back at San Fierro’s police building, the two drivers, Vincent and Rocco sat in front of the police chief of the city.

“So, you are saying this Rocco guy is some fraud?” said the chief.

“Not just, he also used their truck for another, in order to distract the cops.” Vincent answered, his Russian was far better than theirs.

Suddenly a woman appeared with papers.

“Here are the papers for Rocco and Gianni Pelosi, Džintan.” A white-haired woman appeared with a plastic envelope, speaking in Russian.

“Thanks, Menma.” said Džintan I mean Jintan (the head of the city’s police, also speaking in Russian), who quickly pored through the shitloads of papers. A sound of tsk tsk tsk came from Jintan’s teeth. (4)

“Uh, can we go now?” Cloud asked Jintan, in Russian.

“Yes, actually. I forgot I was too busy dealing with some papers.” said Jintan (also in Russian), who gave them their passports.

“Do Svidanija!” both said to the chief, Vincent coming along with the other two.

“Oh, and close the door!” Jintan commanded at them, which they did. Menma locked the door silently.

“Can I-?” asked Rocco, but Menma stopped Rocco, by grasping his shoulder firmly, the former shaking her head at him.

“Izvinite, we won’t let you run away. You have other problems with our government.” Menma warned Rocco.

“No. We will talk with you.” said Jintan, who pulled a Stečkin to prove he’s business.

As Cloud and Aerith walked out, Vincent waved at them to say goodbye. The others already left back to Midgar or to whatever job they were doing. They counted the money given to them by the San Andreans. Vincent already gave out a payment of 500 ruburu per individual who participated.

“Sto, dvesta, trista, četristo, petsto... ruburu. That’s enough for us.” Cloud told Aerith.

“Yeah... a hundred is enough for a date, I guess...” Aerith answered him.

“Mhm,” Cloud nodded.

For a day, they managed to have a date and walk around San Fierro.

“I just have a feeling, true, we don’t fight, I mean, we support each other and love each other, but what we get instead is some adventure or mishap that happens every trip, for some reason. I mean, I still remember going downhill... in a van.” Cloud told her, while walking around the coastline of San Fierro (around Pier 69).

“Yeah, I notice that too. Do we even fight at each other?”

“Nah. I’m actually happy and surprised we don’t even fight at each other. You are right; we act as if we’re one. Like it’s inborn in both of us, since we met. You know, soulmates.”

“Exactly.”

After some date they had, they went back to port of Easter Basin and got another job to Midgar. This time, it was 15 tons of mechanical components to a factory in their city.

Chapter Text

After some trips from Midgar and to certain countries like Balamb, Narshe or cities like Kalm and Paleto (San Andreas), they got a contract to work outside the country as truck drivers courtesy of Luxiere. They had some upgrade in their skills: They could go longer distances, carry heavier loads, carry some important cargo and carry ammunition as well.
They came to the Kingdom of Dalmabradia (Nabradia and Dalmasca), as a part of a contract agreed with SGTS and a heavy haulage/transport/weapons transport company that had a connection with Barret.

For the payment of 2,000,000 Gil for both Cloud and Aerith, they’d work for the company for 6 months. After landing at Rabanastre’s Aerodrome, they met Rasler at the city’s terminal.

“Excuse me, but are you, Rasler Nabradia?” Cloud asked.

“Yes, I am Rasler Nabradia and I thank you two for helping us in what we need. My wife and I manage this company, because it’s a joined family business. We talk to the big San Andrean companies, you know, like Ammu-Nation and so on, and we know this Barret guy because we buy some guns from him. We know Luxiere because we often talked to him when he worked under Barret.” Rasler announced to them, in Russian as he shook their hands.

“Yeah, Luxiere’s responsible for finding jobs for us.” Cloud replied in Russian.

“It’s temporary though, because we don’t have a lot of truck drivers and we have more things we didn’t expect to do. Oh and be careful around here, the traffic is chaotic.” - Rasler added.

“Hmm,” Aerith began to ask, also in Russian. “Is this involving some movies mentioned in Mitgarska Politika?” [1]

“Yeah, two of them actually. One movie is about the Dalmabradia-San Andreas-Archadian-Rozarrian war, the other are cutscenes we’re making, as a part of a remake of some game the Japanese made. They’re all directed by Famran Bunansa.” [2]

“Mhmm, mhm.” Cloud nodded.

“Anyways, I’ll meet you two tomorrow. There’s a safehouse at Liberation street, at Lowtown. We live nearby, at Carl Johnson street. Get yourselves some rest as well... I’ll meet you two at The Sandsea, right at 11:30. I have some work to do.” [3]

And Rasler showed the city’s map where the locations were and greeted them goodbye.

Afterwards they roamed around the city, took some pictures of said city and its areas, and then went home, to the address I mentioned, to get some rest.
--------------------
It was morning and they went to said tavern, where they met Rasler and his wife Ashe.

“So you guys will do this, drive a trailer filled with ammunition and SVD rifles. Well they’re blanks, don’t worry. It’s for this movie set during the liberation war. But it also has another trailer attached to it, this time it’s loaded with swords, spears and staves. It’s for the remake as well. They’re for the same destination, which is Nalbina fortress, in the North.” Rasler handed the documents and a map to Cloud, who read them and then gave it to Aerith as well.

“The trailer’s outside! Be careful driving it, it’s longer than what you expect! It’s at the back of this tavern! And it’s 29 tons!” Ashe added, to which both Cloud and Aerith answered with an “ok”, not realizing what he really meant.

Once getting out of the tavern, they saw a Volvo F88 attached to a double trailer, a lemgthy ome. [4] They were used to seeing semi-trailers like that in their country, Wutai, Figaro, Balamb and San Andreas, but not driving them per se.

“Oh, I didn’t realize this... It’s the first time we’re pulling this thing.” Cloud told her.

“Me neither...” Aerith replied.

“I’ll drive and put the wires in.”

“I’ll direct the truck getting out of this parking lot.”

They did their roles, with the help of the tavern’s employees.

“Come on, come on. Go a bit right!” Aerith gestured her hands to follow her, as Cloud did whatever she told.

“Can you look if we are might hit something?” Cloud asked.

“No we aren’t hitting anything yet.” She answered loudly as she looked. Then she resumed what she did and went on until they could safely leave the place and go start their journey. As they were going to leave they called said employee and paid him a tip.

“Here’s 20 ruburu!” She said in Russian.

“Spasibo vam!” and the employee waved at them.

Going to Nalbina, Cloud drove through slightly heavier traffic though Midgar’s rush hour seems much heavier (thank the gods their office was in Faremisac). The traffic gradually disappeared as they left. No problems were encountered, that is until... they drove through the desert. It was summer and the fact their truck had no air-conditioning didn’t help. Well the truck worked well, no breathing problems, brake ain’t shit and so on. But what about the drivers themselves? Not so much.

“Cosmo is hot, but that’s nothing compared to this! Fuck, dude! Even with the fan turned on and my window on the left side opened, it’s as if we’re in a fucking oven!” Cloud complained as he wiped his face with his left hand, which then returned to the steering wheel. Meanwhile, Cloud’s mobile phone played Круг’s Кара-кум.

“Yeah,” Aerith replied, wiping her face with a handkerchief as well. “Hopefully with the windows opened we can get some air, which we really, really need.” Aerith replied, as she opened hers.

“And while we’re driving, we’re playing a song about a desert.” Cloud replied.

“Pretty much so.” Aerith then sang some of its lyrics. “Еще бархан куда ни глянь, Везде песок!”

Then Cloud added with “Дул ветер злой что было сил, Палящий зной с ума сводил!”And it went on and on.

Afterwards, for 2 hours they passed two main areas, Barheim and Garamsythe, and then to Nalbina itself. There, they saw a huge ass set. It consisted of T-34-85s with Garif, Viera and Dalmabradian extras dressed up in period costumes and armed with old AK rifles and RPG-2s. Then there was some guy commanding them.

“Yeah, uh the guy with the RPG, when you see that tank, shoot at it, ok? Pretend as if you’re there. But anyways, it is lunch time, everyone’s got to eat.” Some guy loudly asked with a megaphone.

Cloud pulled out the documents and got a picture of a guy which he looked at. On its back it was written “This is Famran Bunansa” in Russian. Aerith looked at it and they both approached him. Once nearing him, they waved at him. Famran walked to them.

“Izvinite, are you Famran Bunansa?”

“Da! Zdravstvujte! They call me Famran! Who are you?”

“They call me Cloud and they call her called Aerith.”

“So uh, the cargo is parked there.” Aerith exclaimed.

“Thank you. Anyways, how did you get here?” Famran.

“One of our employees got us a notice Rasler sent. We talked to him and we signed a contract with him.” Cloud.

“Ok, I see. D’you guys eat already?” Famran.

“Not yet.” Aerith.

“Well there’s lunch, so get to eat with us.” Famran.

After lunch, while they waited for the next cargo to bring back to the city, they didn’t realize they’d carry a different cargo.

“Hey, uh, Ashe told me that you guys transport some fine-ass šljivovica ice cream mix, in that trailer.” Famran came back to them after lunch and handed them some documents, this time involving 15 tons of said mix (it’s just ice cream with šljivovica as the main ingredient).

“Where’s the trailer?” Aerith asked.

“Well, we used that reefer with ice.” Some assistant of Famran appeared and pointed said trailer.

“Aight, ok then. Wait, what?” Aerith asked once again.

“I understand,” Cloud added. “But why do you guys need packed ice?”

“Two reasons. There’s no other trailer and this trailer’s fucked. It has broken air chutes and wires. I told the guys at Rabanastre, and they answered that this thing must be refurbished and repaired at the city, since the other repair facility between these areas needs to buy that shit straight from Los Santos.”

“Well... ok, then. Can we at least get some duct tape?” Cloud asked. Famran gave him a map, some notes (where to park), and a roll of duct tape in case shit does happen then wished them the best.

Once they checked the trailer, the truck and attached the necessary wires, they left back to Rabanastre. No problems for now... that is until they southward to Barheim. While there, they got a random-ass sandstorm. They stopped, but Cloud also saw smoke coming from the trailer while the sandstorm slowly died down. He then went out to see the trailer.

“Oh fuck, dude!” Cloud complained.

“What happened?” Aerith asked.

“The trailer’s refrigeration system is broke now as well.”

“I see. I think we should text them.”

“Aight, will do.” Just as he planned to do so, the sandstorm was gone.

“We had a sandstorm. We’re on the way.” Cloud texted.

“Yeah I understand, sandstorms are pretty common here. There’s no other facility to repair the whole trailer. But anyways, do what you must do.” Rasler answered.

Afterwards, Aerith started driving (since Cloud’s turn ended), but she pushed the pedal at a higher speed, at 100 km/h. Yes, the roads didn’t have any police cars installed around the vicinity but they needed to hurry.

“Aerith, there’s a cop car!” Cloud told her as she looked at the distance.

“Aight, I’ll slow this down.” She lightly stepped on the foot brake and turned on its engine brake, causing the speed to run at 90 km/h, enough at least for the nearby police car not to chase them. But she turned the engine brake off and sped up again.

“Better if we go fast, this might cut more time.”

“Yeah, I hope so. It’s freaking me out! My foot’s down already!” She said it while Dolazim za pet minuta played, right at the “Nemoj da bežiš, ne budi dete” part.

Both of them were too scared the ice might totally melt, and it didn’t help that the temperature was much higher, at 40 degrees C as they wiped their faces (The fan installed was shit anyway). They finally relaxed for a bit when they neared the city.

But that wasn’t the point; they had to hurry up because they thought the ice was going to melt. Time wasn’t on their side and Aerith quickly maneuvered the truck just to reach their destination, at some intersections they beat some red lights. They didn’t look at the time when they finally reached their unloading point. Once there she stopped the truck, shifted back to reverse, turned on the emergency flashers, looked at the left mirror and asked Cloud to look at the right mirror.

“I’ll go out and help you reverse the truck!” He left and waved with the back of his hands to help reverse said truck.

“Go left and reverse a bit, then reverse right!” Cloud added as the truck’s rear went its way into the depot. Aerith saw (from the left mirror) that the truck entered the depot and steered towards the right, and then to the left.

She immediately turned the truck so its rear can face the loading dock.

“Finally!” she exclaimed as she took a breath and went out of the truck. She then went out and met Cloud again, who then exclaimed:

“This is it!” Cloud told Aerith as they prepared for the worst.

“The moment we’ve been waiting for.”

Cloud pulled the door instantly and found out that only some of the ice did melt.

“Guys,” Aerith asked in Russian. “Do you have a nice freezer out here? Can you guys help unload the ice cream fast?”

“Yes, why not?” answered an employee, who already showed up with a forklift. He prepared it in front of the trailer doors. The two truckers quickly unloaded the boxes of ice cream lest they melt.

They waited for a few hours, anticipating some major complaint or something else. Talking of which, Ashe did come, but not to shit on them, more like appraise them.

“Nice work guys, even if the trailer was shitty.” Ashe then added: “Sorry about the trailer. We’re gonna have this repaired or replaced and used for spare parts.”

“Thanks...” Aerith answered her.

“You’re all welcome. Tomorrow you guys will get another trailer and drive it south of the capital. I’ll give out the details.”

Chapter Text

Cloud and Aerith drove back and forth to the same destination until they found out the Volvo F89 was getting damage out of wear and tear (read: it turned out some of the parts were far damaged than what they expected). Rasler had it fixed (but not sure how long will the fixes be), so he assigned them another job, involving oversized cargo, until he could find something better.

While waiting at the tavern, Cloud and Aerith shared headphones, listening to Vinicius and Toquinho’s Tarde em Itapua.

That is, until Ashe appeared.

“Hi guys, Rasler got you a new job, although this is temporary. What you will guys do is haul some heavy-ass objects, such as 50t-100t vehicles and what not. The job is at Mosphoran Highwaste. Haul this vehicle called the Oka, and drive it to Clan Centurio’s garage, so it can be restored. Now for us Dalmabradians, the Oka was as important as the IL-2 was for the Soviets, like rice is for Ivalicians or Faerunians and Karaturians.” (1)

“I remember the Oka before, the one at Deretić’s class.” Cloud noted. (2)

“A historian, perhaps?” Ashe asked.

“Yes. Except people don’t like it when he talks about Serbs being progenitors, but otherwise, he taught us about the notoriety of the Oka gun and the Scud missiles in the war.” Aerith added, then changed her question, because she didn't want to talk about the historian.

“Also, isn’t that the big ass gun?”

“Yes, but it’s a mortar.” Ashe corrected. She then added “Anyways, as for your drive today, you have to take attention to what will I say. First, your truck must not have conflicts with the escort vehicles, or any vehicle in general. Second, stay with the route, as found in this map I’ll give to you.” Ashe then presented said map. “Third, keep your speed at whatever limitation you will get. So if it’s 30, it’s 30kmh. If it’s 50, then it’s 50. Fourth, watch any overtaking traffic. Also, lastly, I’ll show you how the escort cars will go.”

She then produced a piece of paper that had poorly drawn rectangles as escort cars, and one long rectangle for the truck. “This car, the rear one, will go to another lane, then this other car will go to left, to warn anybody to stop driving and wait for you to go. As for the time, you guys will drive it, starting from 0000h. For today, you guys would be driving the MAN there to the Mosphoran Highwaste. Anything else?”

“Well,” Aerith asked. “Where’s the truck?”

“That one.” Ashe pointed to their right, which was a MAN truck.

“Any other questions?” Ashe repeated.

“Naw, I’m good.” Cloud answered.

“Aight, suit yourselves.” Ashe left. The other two, went to the truck she pointed at. They saw the truck, a green MAN 41.603, 8x4. On the truck itself, there were signs that had diagonal red and white stripes. (3)

Attached to it was a trailer, a ČMZAP-9990. In front of it, it had the words “НЕГАБАРИТНЫЙ ГРУЗ” (4).

“We should check the map first.” Aerith told Cloud.

“Let’s see, ok, so this road goes 60kms, then the other goes 40. We have to plan going to the city and back to Clan Centurio before 500, tomorrow.”
From Rabanastre they went to the Highwaste. While Cloud drove, Aerith played Fridge Racer. The sounds of the game made Cloud recognize the game.

“How’s Fridge Racer now by the way?” Asked Cloud.

“They’re releasing the new Soviet Limousines DLC or as they apparently called it, Specialnyje Mašiny – Tretij klass.” (Special Cars - Third Class)

“AKjubSoft wants to call it Čajka, after the car.” Aerith added. AKjubSoft was the game’s producer and developer.

“And the game itself, right now?”

“Well, I currently have some difficulty racing the refrigerator with a T-72 engine, against a Moskvič 412 Ralli edition, the one you’d see in the 1971 rally. Fucker’s going to chase you eventually. Unless you’re blocking said car.” While Aerith did know the name of said refrigerator, she couldn’t do so because she was competing against said car. (5)

“You need help later?”

“Nah. But I might give it to you so you can play it. I have times I have to repeat a certain race or two.”

Right the race ended (and Aerith won), they were at their destination. A man, wearing a yellow vest and military uniform (a TCKO-patterned Afganka) telling them to park the gooseneck trailer and face the Oka wreck backwards, as in the truck and its trailer’s rear faced the Oka. They were to start later at 0000 or 0030. (6)
But first, they were told to meet with Penelo.

“Good day! I am called Cloud and she is called Aerith.” Greeted Cloud at Penelo, who shook hands with the two of them.

“Good day to the two of you as well. We’re in the process of pulling that thing, the Oka.” Penelo started, in the Rabanastrian dialect of Dalmabradian. While Cloud and Aerith understood her, they couldn’t answer her in her own language, so they spoke in Midgarian instead.

“You guys need help?” Cloud asked.

“Yes, perhaps once we pulled out the vehicle, you know, chain up the machine. But you wait, we’re halfway because this machine’s a pain in the ass. Not just was it buried under years of neglect, it’s heavy and massive. We had to pull it with not one, but two BTS-2s! One for the vehicle, and one for the gun!” Penelo answered. (7)

“Aight, then. Anything else?”

“A short lesson on the machine once we get outside. I just had a break, and I’ll go out.”
So the three went out.

“You Midgarians know how fresh the War is in everyone’s minds, right? Everyone here has parents who fought in the war.” Penelo emphasized, although everybody who lived in Faestakija (the continent where San Andreas, Midgar and other countries are, unless I say otherwise) and Ivalice had parents who fought, they themselves fought, or had relatives who fought.

“My parents fought in the liberation of Rabanastre but they were killed by Flak gunfire, while assaulting Nalbina. If you look around Nalbina and Rabanastre, you can still see pockmarks.” She added.

“Well, in my case,” Aerith began. “My parents helped our soldiers carry ammunition, even if the officers were pissed at them. As for my significant other, his dad was a messenger and his mother was a spotter, but only under training. After the war ended, my parents settled and buried some rifles and machine guns, one of which was temporarily confiscated from us… after we brought it out and emptied rounds.”

“I see. What do you think about this vehicle?”

“Well, I assumed it’s a huge ass thing.” Cloud answered.

“Certainly it is. It had a huge mortar that it needed its own mount just to fire one round. It was also heavy. You’ve probably seen those really old movies or pictures where they show a huge mortar firing, and beside it a tracked vehicle, yes? This vehicle, is one such example.” (8)

Then Penelo began her story.

“As you can see, this vehicle was notable for fighting the Liberation War. It was made in Russia, bought by San Andreas and then by Dalmasca. It then fought the Rozarrians in retaking Rabanastre, then fought the Archadians up north, until that Oka,” Penelo then pointed at said vehicle, “was stuck. Everybody was too busy fighting the war so nobody bothered to pick the vehicle and make it fight again. By then, the San Andreans persuaded us to use Scuds, which to be fair, were far cheaper and less destructive on its vehicles. There was a plan to retrieve this but the king of Nabradia said otherwise, while his counterpart, the Dalmascan King, pushed to bring it back to service.”

“Any questions?” she added.

“What were your other jobs, like digging old tanks or weapons?”

“Well, I dug wrecks of T-34-85 tanks and CJ-1s, sometimes ending as grave memorials or as history memorials. I also consult with video game makers about the war, like Northstar. You might know Famran, right? He asked for my help about a T-34 they dug while on set. ”

Cloud was going to ask another question when it ended.

“Lady Penelo, the vehicle has been lifted onto the trailer.” A man ran to them and reported the situation. Penelo nodded at him and said man left.

“Alright, Cloud, Aerith, you help them tighten the chains around the vehicle. After that, you guys take a rest because you’ll drive later.”
They went to the gooseneck trailer and tightened said chains around the vehicle.

Now that the vehicle was fixed and the truck fuelled, they went back to the truck to have a long nap. A few hours later, they prepared for the upcoming work, taking some relief, eat and drink. It was nighttime, because their bosses didn’t want their activity to cause problems. But they had some fanfare. A news van was nearby and a TV reporter talked to Penelo, and a military band played nearby.

Both Cloud and Aerith saw two escort cars, a GAZ-24 and a 3102, both coloured grey. A uniformed man (different from the first one) came to them and saluted them.

“Good evening, or soon enough, morning, I am Reks, Colonel of the unit that helped pull the Oka out, that’s why there’s a soldiers working around. My homies and I will be escorting your truck to the city. We’ll be the ones driving the cars.” Reks pointed (in Russian) out the two grey cars.

“Yes, sir.” Cloud and Aerith responded, still used to responding to officers and soldiers, also in Russian.

“Shall we set off, then?”

“Yes.”

Both of them went to the truck, with Cloud at the wheel. Meanwhile, the frontal escort car, the 3102, drove off a few meters away from the truck with a roar. (9)

Cloud then started the truck and went on their way. He kept the speed of the truck at 50 km/h since he didn’t want to cause a fuck up. He was not allowed to slow down or speed beyond said limit as there were other cars that waited behind and in front of him. Then the frontal pilot car went rightward to the lane that passed Barheim Passage, which Cloud also followed. Aerith in the meantime, read the map and guided Cloud to whatever direction the map wanted them to do.

“You better go right, and keep straight until I say so.” Aerith informed him.

“Aight, then.” Cloud replied.

They went further south, passing through Garamsythe Waterway, and finally to Rabanastre once again. Except they had more space to drive… but also it wasn’t completely easy as it was dark (the sun was going to rise up soon enough, it was 4:00).

Aerith flipped to the rear of their map to find a map of the city, which somebody drew the path to Clan Centurio. Well the map’s trajectory for going to Clan Centurio involved going straight, then left (marked “depot”) to park said vehicle.

As they neared Rabanastre, the roads gradually narrowed enough that it was a two-lane road. Cloud asked Aerith to look if the trailer on the right side hit the railings that kept pedestrians from the road.

“Ok, so there’s the ‘Smoke’ avenue.” Aerith looked at the map and saw it was indeed called ‘Smoke’.

“Where are we now?” Cloud asked. Aerith looked again at the map going to Rabanastre. The highway was an avenue while within the city’s territory, and was called “Smoke”, named after one of San Andreas’ general who led retaking Rabanastre. (10)

“Smoke Avenue. We gotta go left there.” Aerith pointed with her right index finger. “That’s the depot of Clan Centurio.”

“Guys, I’m going in! I’ll slow enough to get in to the building.” said Cloud through a radio receiver in Russian. He slowed down to 40 km/h and in response so did the other two vehicles.

“We’re getting near! It’s 4:45!” Cloud announced both to Aerith and the escort vehicles.

Cloud then turned the left signal light and moved to the leftmost lane, as he prepared himself to go left to the hall. He saw it from a distance. When he finally went in, he drove a little bit straight, and then went left to the depot, in order not to hit the trailer. Aerith looked at the right side so he wouldn’t hit anything on the right. He then was ordered to stop in front of its gates.

“Just park it according to the sign.” Said Reks, as he and the other escort car went in as well.

“Aight, will do.” Cloud answered as the gates opened and let him in. The speed of the truck climbed 20 km/h and let it crawl for a bunch of meters according to the sign post. Underneath said post was a Bangaa man encouraging Cloud to go closer until he said so. Cloud understood him and thus lessened the speed of the truck by stepping on the brake gently and then the clutch, gently as well, until he could safely put it to neutral, which he did. After which, he pulled up the parking brake. The time was at 5:30, just at the right time before actual traffic started.

Now that it was over, Reks approached Cloud and told him that they can have their breakfast, followed by coffee and meeting with their bosses, because they’ll get their pay. They ate breakfast and coffee, then they talked to Rasler who congratulated them with 50,000 Midgar Gil to each of them.

After their payment was given, they watched a ceremony welcoming the Oka. A military band played the March of the Artillerymen, followed by a speech by a uniformed Viera.

“Thank you guys for helping us move the Oka.” Reks approached and thanked the two of them. “I know other people have been saying the same thing, but please remember, this helped bring the liberation of this country.”

“You’re welcome, then.”

Chapter Text

They did some jobs with the F89 again before some other driver named Fran drove it for the northern routes. Rasler called them to the public baths for another job. With both of them dressed in T-shirt and summer (it’s summer, that’s why) shorts, they were reading Rasler’s message.

“Hi guys, come to the public baths, we have some other work for you!” By other work, he meant work not usually made by his employees. Cloud and Aerith did normal jobs for his company, but there were times he needed them.

“Ok,” Cloud texted.
So the two of them commuted to the public baths (1), which were several blocks away from their current residence (Liberation street), by commuting in a LiAZ-677. Later, they ended up at their destination.

“So this is the public bath?” Aerith asked as she saw the building written as “baths” in Dalmabradian.

“Yeah, it probably is.” Cloud answered, because there was another building nearby that had the same text. They entered the first building.

Rabanastre’s public baths were for several reasons: You’re bored with a shower and you want to immerse yourself in warm water, you and your fellows have some deals, or you just need some time to relax. In Cloud and Aerith’s case, all of the above.

They were invited by Rasler, but for one reason: No Dalmabradian in their company wanted to drive to Rozarria’s border because the countries (Rozarria vs Archadia vs Dalmabradia) did not want to settle their arguments. This leaving San Andrean peacekeepers to keep them from fighting. And since San Andreas supplies them monthly, they usually relied on people who do not have personal histories against Dalmabradians or Rozarrians.

The customers this time were said peacekeepers, needing weekly supplies, and then a normal cargo of Eksir Berries to Dalmasca Estersand. The moment Cloud and Aerith were told about this request, they quickly understood it.

“So the job is to transport 122mm shells to the San Andrean base at Nam-Yensa. As you can see, its mostly desert and the roads are quite shitty, because nobody here wants to turn it into a border road. Nor do we want to talk with Rozarria or Archadia anyway. I can trade with the Ballasians and Vagosians but never with these two.” He announced to Cloud and Aerith.

“So you’re telling me none of you guys can’t go in, because you have a hatred of Rozarrians and Archadians? I mean, I understand though.” Aerith answered as she ate kofte with rice and potatoes all while her lower body was submerged in hot bath water.

“Yeah, we still hate them for what they did to us.”

“Sure. We’ll do it.” Cloud told Rasler as he ate Kushari, also in the same situation as Aerith.

“Thank you two very much! Trailer’s already fixed, the truck is fuelled and if you need help or suggestions, call me. The vehicle is at Dalmasca Estersand. Talking of which, the road to Nam-Yensa’s being rebuilt, so you might have to drive over gravel. For that, you guys will get some metal boards and a lot of food and water so you guys can drive in difficult conditions, once you go to Estersand. Also, don’t drive at the evening. Lighting sucks at road to Nam-Yensa, after going through this city of course, so stay for the night. After that, you guys drive a trailer of Eksir berries to the port. Keep the truck there and return to the city.”

In the wee hours of the next morning (600), both Cloud and Aerith went to the city of Dalmasca Estersand. It was Aerith’s turn to drive. The short distance of the country (it takes almost 2 days to reach the northern border from Rabanastre) actually let Cloud drive for three whole days. They commuted (with other people too) in a LAZ 699R to the port.

“You’re those Midgarians who need to drive to the desert, yes? I am Reddas.” Said man introduced himself, in Russian.

“Yeah, we are. My name is Cloud and her name is Aerith.”

“Aight, that’s good. So I have some tips. First of all, prepare your identifications because the San Andreans don’t want some random ass people to go into their base, as always. Second, although we checked this truck already,” he pointed at a green Leyland Marathon (6x4) “check it again. Third, get a lot of food and water because you might be working to get the truck out of the desert and you might lose energy. Fourth, use these boards.” Reddas pointed at the left side, revealing several Marston mats, made several decades ago by San Andrean technicians and engineers during the last war.

“Airfield mats?”

“Yeah, San Andreas used these things when they flew their aircrafts, like MiG-21s, -23s and Mi-24s.” Reddas answered them.

The two checked the truck and the cargo, a semi-trailer that had a capacity of 25 tons. (2) They thanked Reddas and said goodbye to him. The truck was in good condition and had offroad tires.

They crossed Rabanastre and went westward. Cloud read a map for her.

And while they went towards their destination, they had some short talk.

“You did hear that they didn’t want to drive the load out of historical reasons?” Cloud asked, while playing a different game on the CJD, Morning Missile Crisis, his elbows were on the right seat’s armrests.

“Yeah. They’re far more problematic with those countries. Even we trade with the Ballasians and Vagosians. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong.” Aerith commented while the truck weaved through desert tarmac.

“Wait, hasn’t either of the countries gave up on their claims on the Kingdom?”

“Yeah, as far as I know, they haven’t.”

“It’s worse for them than us with Wutai. At least we have something in common with them.”

Problems compounded them: First, it was a broke tire. It was solved quickly, for an hour, because it was hot.
Then it turned out they were going to the gravel and sand road.

"Ah, shit, a detour!” Aerith looked overhead and saw a sign that said “Объезд”. She turned right onto the gravel road. Fortunately, it was marked as such. Being the desert, they might not see the gravel road into the background of the desert.

Approaching into the 37th kilometre out of the 60th, their truck completely stopped. Aerith stepped on the clutch and returned the gear from the 7th to the 1st, then to the neutral position, because if she didn’t do it, the truck would stall.

“Godsdamn, the truck can’t move!” Aerith complained. “I’ll go out and check.” She added.

“Aight, tell me when you need help.”

“Ah, it’s stuck!” Aerith noted. “Cloud, can you get me a board?”

Cloud went out and got said board, a Marston mat.

“Imma dig too!” she added, as she went out and took a shovel.

They dug some shovelfuls of sand that submerged the rear wheels (the 4 part in 6x4), then inserted said mats onto the rear wheels, because that’s where the truck puts its power. Once inserting said mats, Aerith started to drive the truck with the rear differential activated.

Did I mention that they did this for 10 kilometers? Well, now I did, because that’s what happened. The only thing that kept them from losing any direction was the trees that surrounded the road.

On the 55th kilometre, Aerith wanted to take a break.

“I’mma stop for a while!” Aerith told Cloud as she planted a Marston mat under the left rear wheels, and then drove the vehicle for a meter or two. She then turned off the differential and put the gear back to neutral.

“Go on, I’mma stop, too. We gotta eat, drink and piss!”

So they sat on the sand dunes while taking a 20 minute break, resting their backs by the truck’s frontal bumper.

“I still remembered digging foxholes in one of our exercises near Kalm.” Aerith told Cloud as she ate some biscuits.

“Ah, yeah. We did our exercises just near Gongaga.” Cloud, also eating biscuits and drinking some water.

“You know how fast they made us dig right?”

“5-10 minutes or so.”

“Well Midgar proper and Corel have normal-ass soil, so we didn’t have much problems digging. Here, on the other hand… it’s sandy.”

Once that was over, Aerith and Cloud did the same procedure of putting up two Marston mats and letting the truck run over said mats.

At the 52nd kilometre, they finally touched asphalt once more. So Aerith had some easier driving this time around. They came to the San Andrean base and were thanked by the San Andrean commander. They even learned more interesting details, such as:

1. San Andreas traded with the Archadians and the Rozarrians, although it was small compared to Dalmabradia.

2. The small base will be turned over in 10 years, that’s why the base was as big as a small city.

3. The hostilities are so intense nobody from either side bothered visiting it. However, the Dalmabradians were aware of it and are holding lotteries as to who will get to be its first post-San Andreas residents.

They were also told to spend the night in the base because there was no lighting to guide them home.

So it was the morning now. They were ordered by Rasler to take the second cargo, which was Eksir berries, for a Belarusian brewery.

Once again, they drove again, except this time, it’s even hotter.

“Ahh shieet, it’s a fucking oven!” Aerith cried out.

Again they faced sandy roads once again they needed the mats. Then add it with a high temperature and you have two angry Midgarians wanting to get the job done.

“Goddamn, it’s hot! I don’t even want a rest or anything, I just want this job done” Aerith complained as she went out and pulled out a Marston mat.

“I just want a bath once we go back! I might want to bath in sand right now!” Cloud complained as well.

“Man, I’m used to Corel’s heat, but not this heat!”

“This is an oven, not a desert!”

So they resumed doing the same procedure for the next 2 hours, because it was so hot they decided to hide inside the truck. But they finally got onto tarmac again. They returned the mats (found at the back of the truck’s cabin)

But their crying about a need for bath hasn’t ended, because they were still driving in the desert heat.

“Do you want to go back to the city baths after we end this job? I’d want to sleep in a refrigerator after this!” Aerith asked as she unbuttoned her dress shirt. She wore an undershirt with the words “Fridge Racer”, with a refrigerator and a 2105 VFTS.

“Yeah. But we have to ask, because I don’t know how much they paid for it and how much it costs.”

“Ah, fuck, you have a point.” She answered as she poured water over herself.

But when they neared tarmac and finally hit said tarmac once more, they were overjoyed. She can drive normally once again and talk about something else. Cloud on the other hand didn’t need to bring out the Marston mats.

Their frustration subsided as they talked about something else, this time about another CJD game, called Pocket Pool. They were amused due to the fact it was pool, but using pockets instead of hands. Nothing perverted. Or is it? They did knew about that because Aerith’s father, Nemanja, mentioned that it meant “Masturbation through the trouser pocket”, since he went around Neverwinter and understood what they spoke. (3)

They left the desert region, crossing through Rabanastre and back to Dalmasca Estersand, and returned to Rabanastre, this time at Rasler’s office once again. They asked how much the baths cost.

“Rasler, I need to ask one question. How much does a bath cost here?” Aerith asked.

“Well,” he began. “It costs 100 Midgar gil for one person. You expected it was 300 or something higher?”

“Yeah… we did.” Cloud answered.

“Ah, that’s fine.”

“We did have baths like that of yours, except the baths were located at Sitice, at the street of Degenatron.” Aerith replied and added. “It was far from Faremisac though.”

“Ah,” Rasler began. “Well you are free to come though. Just don’t bring food because they’re also a restaurant. Also, while it's cheap, it's worth more to shower. Would you really waste your time with steam baths all the time?”

“Haha, thanks.” Cloud laughed.

Chapter Text

Cloud and Aerith waited to get their last driving mission from Ashe or Rasler, before they leave back to Midgar. In the meantime, they were at the tavern, playing a CJD game called Bait and Switch, which was just hunting and fishing with assault rifles, general purpose machine guns, heavy machine guns and even a BMP-2.

There was music (consisting of MIDI sounds) that really did not go well with the bar’s atmosphere, unless you didn’t give a shit about background music. The two just ate their British-style breakfast of bangers and mash, except they added rice.

Ashe once again appeared, first asking a question.

“Hi guys, how’s it going?”

“Everything’s good.” Cloud answered.

“Right, so you two would have to transport alcohol fuel to the set, outside the city. Vaan and Basch are going along with you and have their own trucks to carry, guys. You guys will go to Gahra, the city south of Tchita. Then, you guys will be taking a ship that will bring you to Balfonheim. After that, you guys will bring another buncha trailers to Lhusu mines. I’ve told the other two about it.” Ashe provided the maps.

“In what way?”

“In a convoy. It’s the grey Scania you often see. Basch’s going to drive a green KAMAZ.”

“Well, aight then.” Aerith answered.

“As for your truck, you’ll be using the RABA, because it just returned from maintenance last week. The other trucks are being used.”

“Seems, good, then. Why does it take an entire day though?”

“The ship takes almost a day to go to Balfonheim.”

“Aight then.”

“If you have problems, you can either talk to them or text me so we can provide a solution.”

“Looks like it’s settled, then.” Aerith concluded. “See you next time.” She bade Ashe goodbye.
So they met Vaan, who talked to Basch, who was also a truck driver.

“Oh, hi guys!” Vaan greeted them. “I was talking to Basch here. He’s driving to join along, in another truck, there.” Vaan pointed at said truck of his, a Scania 141, (“here’s mine”) then pointed at a KAMAZ 5410, coloured green. The RABA 843 they had was green.

As for the loads they had, the 141 had the props and costumes, the 843 truck had alcohol fuel (Samogon for vehicles), while the KAMAZ had alcoholic drinks.
After some preparations, the three went to their destination as a convoy. The weather was light, some drizzles.

Their trucks went through Nalbina and crossed the bridge that was located several kilometres right from Mosphoran Highwaste. Everything went normal until some adventures did come to them. The first of which was an illegal race. But they were going to help one of the racers. How? Vaan saw two cars, a grey Opel Mantra and a blue FSO 125p with rally decals, were racing. But the grey Mantra was hitting the FSO 125p.

With Aerith at the rear, she kept steering the truck until she could hear the honking sound several times from Vaan. Cloud, on the right side of the truck then saw the Mantra veer off rightway, letting the 125p pass their road.

So Aerith asked Vaan:

“Vaan, do you know what they’re doing? Is this some illegal race or something?”

“Unfortunately, yes! Because some racers are using it for their activities.” Vaan replied through the CB radio. “The roads are so godsdamn good, people from Nalbina organize races here!”

The convoy went on until it was the end of the 4h30m drive.

After taking a 15 minute break, since it was Vaan who took the lead for the first part of the trip, they agreed to have Cloud lead around (Aerith drove for 4 and 30 hours of the journey, out of a 9).

As he drove, Cloud saw a helicopter following them.
“Wow, I didn’t know they were watching us!” Cloud announced as he looked over his mirror, a Mi-2 flying overhead, then for some reason, they left. The convoy went on for a few more hours, mostly dealing with twisted roads. For instance, the drivers like Cloud dealt with really tight corners. So for most of the time, he slowed the vehicle a lot. He was far more used to the monotonous nature of the kingdom’s roads. Sometimes, he/Aerith nearly got asleep while driving.

They went on until they reached the end of Dalmabradian territory. The place was found several kilometres away from Cerobi, but several hundred more kilometres away from Archades. But anyway, it was night time and they finally got to Gahra. There, they had a break, either checking their vehicles or doing something else.

While waiting for the ship to go off, the truck drivers parked their vehicles in a modified Polnocny ship, an amphibious ship, refitted as a RoRo ship. While waiting for the other vehicles to arrive, Cloud and Aerith decided to buy some trinkets and some wine so they can wait for the other vehicles to arrive. They also ate dinner at the ship because the captain told them it was going to be a 14 hour trip.

While on the trip itself, for 14 hours, Cloud and Aerith did nothing but sleep, since they were tired from some trip they made a day before. They woke up to a good morning before landing on the dockyard of Balfonheim. It was now Aerith’s turn and it was Vaan who led the convoy. A few hours, and it was Balfonheim, at last! Well, the port itself, that is. But before they can go, identifications were requested.

“IDs, please.” The two local drivers brought theirs, while Aerith and Cloud, being foreigners, produced passports.

“Here’s ours.” Aerith spoke for themselves, in Russian.

“Aight,” said the man (in Dalmabradian), “Go ahead.”

They crossed the city and then went out into its outskirts. Fortunately, Balfonheim’s narrow streets were not to be passed. Instead, they drove through the coastal road.
So when the convoy left the city.

That’s where the set was. They met Famran and his crew and shitloads of locals who played as extras. Except the shitloads weren’t enough.

“Any extras here?! I need a buncha more people to do this scene.” Aerith and Cloud looked at him and understood what he said.

“Errr, Aerith, you want?” Cloud asked

“If they say ‘yes’. Extra cash is what we need.” Aerith answered.

“Can we join?” Cloud asked.

“Yes! You guys have to don this armor and wield some AKs. Whom of you will join?” Famran answered.

“Us two!” Aerith answered, once more.

As a result, the Midgarians and their fellow convoy members were acting as “judges” (as in the Archadian judges) with blankfiring AKMs. It involved some locals (dressed as Balfonheimians from the last war) with AKMs and more assorted weapons as well. The drivers were to “die” or “surrender”. They played the roles well. But removing their costumes was… the bigger problem, even Famran had to call for help to remove the drivers’ “armour”.

“Yeah, wait,” Famran and his assistant took out the helmet on Vaan. “Godsdamn judge armour! Even if it’s aluminium, it’s a pain in the ass!”

Aerith unintentionally removed it by punching the “helmet”. When she did, it finally got knocked off.

“Ah, thanks!” Famran thanked her.
She followed by doing the same thing on Cloud’s helmet.

“You ok?” Aerith patted him on the head.

“Yeah, I am.”
Cloud had to remove the rest of her “armour” while she did the same for him.

After that, they eat lunch and tried a different energy drink, except… it wasn’t as powerful as Sneg. It did give some expediency, because they feared the effects of withdrawal of having no Sneg.

"Do you guys have Sneg?" Aerith asked their lunches' vendor.

“Ah… sorry, we don’t have Sneg. But we have Semtex.” said a kiosk vendor.

“Uhh… what does it taste like?” Cloud asked, curious about it.

"Like Terabitská Kofola." the vendor added.

When they tasted it, they liked it, but only because it was based off the original Kofola (like the Czech one).

Once their break was over, it was time for them to return straight to the capital, but another trip was to be made, this time to Lhusu. Cloud and Aerith brought an excavator while Vaan had another trailer of alcohol fuel and Basch had explosives.

Like the previous RoRo trip, they inspected the truck at times, but also watched each other play games and ate so much. But most of the time, it was safe to say they were pretty bored, if they were finished doing chores.

When they landed, they unloaded their cargo, it was 1130 and they ate some lunch.

They were finished with their food and brought it back to the kiosk operator, when a man and a woman disputed one another, the man had a pistol but the woman had none. The two of them decided to investigate further. At a moment’s notice, they understood the dialogue.

“Fuck off, Delita!”

“Go ahead, try and fuck with me, Ovelia!”

“Ya heard?” Aerith asked.

“Yeah, let’s ask if they want to help.”

“We do actually need your help stopping them.” Vaan asked them.

“Aight then. We gotta check if we have guns in case it really, really gets bad.” Cloud whispered.

“We do, but please, don’t even think of shooting. It should be a last resort.” Vaan argued.

“Well, if you say so.” Aerith answered.
Cloud quickly thought of sneaking up at Delita, while Aerith would fire a warning shot at the air, if it gets really bad. But until then, she was to aim once Cloud catches Delita.

Cloud and Aerith took positions, ready to shoot Delita if he fires at Ovelia.

“Nibba, you better shoot him fast or else he’ll do more destructive shit.”

“IF YOU ASSHOLES FUCK WITH ME, I’LL SHOOT HER!” Delita screamed while aiming at Delita. He really was getting haywire.

“What the fuck do you want then, ass?!” Delita replied in anger.

Cloud didn’t listen to their dialogue because they were too busy. What mattered was that he better stop the asshole. Slowly, but surely, Cloud snuck behind Delita, and thrust his finger at his back. Good thing Delita didn’t shoot.

“Oh, fuck!” Delita gasped.

“Yeah, you are going to get fucked. So, before you can do shit, gimme your gun first.” Cloud spoke in Midgarian out of panic.

“Fuck no!” Delita cried out, still pointing his gun at Ovelia.

“It’s either you don’t shoot her and give up, or… we’ll shoot your sorry ass.” Cloud didn’t point at Aerith, but Aerith showed her handgun. A few seconds lingered…

“Come on, Delita, gimme your gun.” Aerith tauntingly requested Delita to hand over. “This thing’s on full auto!” she lied (M57s aren’t machine pistols).
Delita sighed, and slid the PSM at Aerith, who took the gun and pointed it at Delita.

“Good thing you gave it, otherwise you would’ve been shot by me. And by Cloud, for that matter.”

“Fuck you!” Delita muttered.

“Likewise!” Cloud answered, poking him as if it was handgun. Delita screamed in shock. He then shocked Delita again by telling the truth.

“Turn around, I have a surprise for you!” Cloud announced to Delita. The latter was even more shocked.

“I used my finger,” Cloud started, then continued with: “to trick your sorry ass, except, I do have an actual gun!” Cloud pulled up a bit of his dress shirt and pulled an M57A pistol with his right hand. “SMGs are too bulky, so I bring an M57 all the time. We’ve read the laws and it doesn’t say non-citizens or non-subjects can’t own a gun or carry one. But we don’t want to shoot somebody and get some diplomatic row over your shitty behaviour, so go fuck yourself.”

Now that Aerith got Delita’s pistol, Ovelia punched him right in the face.

“Guys, call the cops! We’ll restrain this guy until they come.” Vaan and Basch restrained Delita. Ovelia did it by calling on the cops herself.

“Thanks guys.” Vaan thanked Cloud and Aerith. “Delita’s an asshole.”

“Oh, that’s why.” Aerith answered.

After the cops took Delita and answered their questions, they spent the night in the island. They were going to have one final journey before they come back to Midgar, which was just driving the truck without its cargo. Their bosses ordered them to leave the trailer and go back to the city with their trucks. Only when they came back to the city did they talk about their adventures.

“It’s kinda extraordinary, I mean, having so many adventures, like witnessing an illegal race,” Cloud told Aerith as he drove towards their bosses' office.

“Or intervening on two people that we never knew.” Aerith added.

“Though I liked the part where we were “judges”. I missed firing a gun.” Said Cloud with his finger quotes. “I hope we get to reach the capital before 7:00.” He checked the watch and it was 18:30 already. Aerith laughed because she agreed with him on that.

Fortunately they did reach their bosses’ office, got their final payment and went home to prepare coming back to Midgar.

Chapter Text

Ending up in Western Ivalice, the two of them got work under the Gallione Construction Company. Unlike Eastern Ivalice, they could not much understand the Gallionian at all or any of its neighboring languages.

Wait, why would they work there? A hefty pay of 3,000,000 gil made them like working there because although they were a cooperative, they certainly need it for emergency funds, if shit really hits the fan, and the money was for extra spares for the three Saviems, not to mention they plan on buying a new truck, a fleet of MAZ-6422s from San Andreas. Now the government didn't mind small companies, and would sometimes use said companies for contract work. On the other hand, they also wouldn't bail them unless their small complex ended up as a government-owned facility.

Finding themselves at the capital’s airport, they were escorted to their residence by the company’s second in hand, Orran Durai. He told them of certain things about the region and its countries. One, they just finished a war, hence the still ongoing reconstructions of their cities, although these countries still have their problems with each other. Then again, Imaginationland’s a really multipolar world.

“So, you are Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough?” asked Orran in Gallionian accented Midgarian.

“Yeah, we are.”

“Then get into my car.” Orran introduced his car, a Zastava 750 for them to ride on.

But back to the scene, Orran introduced them to certain things, about their company, a small cooperative commissioned by the government to rebuild some cities as a bunch of mikrorajons, since the government had lots of shit to do, like building some other cities on the southern area of the kingdom, like Mullonde and Brigands’ den . He also introduced them to the general setting of the country, which had a European-ish feel to it, coupled with a dated setting, such as dated technology.

After a day’s rest, they got into work. They were told to get a Berliet TR 250 in the office, drive it to the southern port (just an hour drive) and haul bricks to Dorter, where they were building a sports facility and centre rolled into one. (1)

Their truck, a Berliet TR 250, was to haul 20 tons of bricks for the border city of Dorter, from the southern port of Gallione. In return, they were to take a new truck and haul 15 tons of windows.

When Cloud and Aerith went to the warehouse, they came to the place as early as 500h, because they’d have to load the truck’s cargo and deal with paperwork. They were told to wait until 6:30h, so they had no choice but to eat breakfast at a nearby roadside canteen, 15 meters away from the warehouse, since they went through the places with nothing but coffee and water in their stomachs. They ate breakfast and played with the CJD Compact, a new game they downloaded a day ago. The background was like that of Narcos, but the gameplay was that of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Boredom was and still is, the biggest enemy of the truck driver/s, if you’re in Imaginationland, at least, followed by health, consisting of accidents, sometimes back pain, sometimes pure human error, then shitty people, such as the supervisor that Aerith had a fight with, some months ago. Food wasn’t much of a problem in Imaginationland, for most of the time at least.

After eating, then playing, the warehouse workers arrived and the truck drivers started working by loading up the haul onto the vehicle’s semi-trailer, then dealt with the paperwork. They left the warehouse at 700h.

Everything seemed to be fine, that is until they already loaded the haul itself. Normally a 250 HP truck could haul it with almost little problems, but the 15-year old truck was starting to show signs of aging. Then again, Orran did tell them they will have to leave it for a different truck because it needed repairs. It’s last repair, he added, occured 5 years ago.

Aerith, the driver, started to complain about the truck.

“The steering’s a bit hard to deal with, and the pedal’s like a sponge.” she added on, “and I don’t think the brakes are good either, so we’ll have to use the engine brake far more often than we’d usually use.”

“Do you think we’d repair this in the middle of the road? Hopefully not.” Cloud told Aerith.

“Yeah, me too. However, Lavian told us they’re going to buy locally made spares.”

Going through Siedge Weald, they were informed through the CB radio attached on the top of the cabin’s roof, of a coach driver (more specifically an Ikarus 250 driver), trying to fix the vehicle on her own. As they went on, they saw an Ikarus 250 coach being repaired, by a woman. Being Samaritans, they parked their truck near the coach and saw a woman fixing her vehicle.

She had: long blond hair in a low ponytail and a pink ribbon, brown eyes, wearing an orange long-sleeved v-neck shirt and a white turtleneck, complete with a long-pink skirt, brown boots and a brown shawl. She was relaxing with a cup of some liquid, from a flask. It could be coffee, or some other liquid, sitting on a recently removed rear left wheel.

Aside from her, it was pretty much desolate. Sure, there was grassland and wildlife, but if we’re talking about human or talking animal life, then it was pretty much rare, save the driver who got his/her vehicle stuck.

For the both parties, they couldn’t understand each other. Two spoke Midgarian, the other spoke Gallionian. That is, Aerith spoke some Russian. In fact, neither side didn’t trust each other, since who the fuck were these people (husband and wife?) who just came here. Were they to help or were they to do some fucked up shit? So did Cloud and Aerith thoght.

Sitting on the wheel. She looked at the two and asked some questions, but neither could understand.

“Ah, do you speak Russian?” then repeated it in Common.

“Yes, I can speak in Russian, but also in Midgarian.” She answered in Russian.

Both of them were shocked, as Aerith quickly switched to Midgarian, introducing themselves.

“I call myself Aerith and he calls himself Cloud.”

“And I call myself Alma!” Alma answered back, offering her gloved right hand, but then she returned it back, only to remove it. In return, Aerith offered her hand.

“It was nice meeting you!” Aerith started.

“Ah, yes!” Alma smiled.

“You need help?” Cloud asked.

“Yes, I need to pull out the radiator, the water pump and the fan clutch.”

Cloud and Aerith removed some of the bus’ parts to see how much damage they took.

Indeed, there was much damage.

“So, why are these parts damaged?”

“Overuse.”Alma replied. “The company wants me to drive the bus themselves because we’re going to have them repaired and/or replaced. We don’t have transporting vehicles either, although we’re repairing this FTF tractor so I won’t have to go all the way here with this bus.” The last sentence made them think of other questions.

“And why do you have to go all the way to Dorter?” Aerith asked, as she gave the fan clutch to Alma.”

“Some transport company needs to get a single bus for them to study on how to repair it. And it just so happened that this bus went through! In return, we’ll get a Mercedes and a transport trailer.”

“Wait, who do you work for?”

“Gallione Construction Company!”

“So we’re fellow employees then!” Aerith told her.

“Yeah. But I drive coaches for the workers.”

After that, Alma then called for a tow truck to haul the coach to its destination. Cloud was to check the time (they had to reach before 1300h), and realized they still needed to go. They bid her farewell and off they went, but only when the tow truck, a MAZ-537G, haul off the coach and took the parts, with Alma still on tow. .

Once arriving at the construction site in Dorter, they unloaded the cargo. They were also told to drive the truck to the repair facility (10 kilometers away) for a new one, because the old one actually needed major repairs and parts replacement.

This time, they were given a different truck, an Ashok MAV from the country of Gurkan. Like it’s real life counterpart, India, it also designed and built Ashok trucks (albeit independently), except they were different in certain ways, like having LHD, like most countries in Imaginationland, mostly out of standardisation.

They’re going to haul 18 tons of straw bales, for the walls, rather than the usual drywall. So in the meantime, they waited by going around the city. After some hours, they returned back and left for Gallione.

Unfortunately, while refueling their truck, in the middle of the night, for some reason, their truck had all of its lights damaged. Nobody knew why or who damaged the lights. They didn’t expect this either. What also made it worse for them was the rains, and not just drizzles, but heavy ass rain.

Cloud whipped out his phone and called their dispatcher, Lavian.

“We have no choice but to come late.” Cloud called Lavian.

“Why though?” she asked.

“Well, for some reason, our truck lights were all damaged.”

“Aight, dude, but you’ll get some reduced pay, we kinda need it as soon as possible. Don’t ever risk getting here with the broken lights! We’ll ask questions later. Take care!” Lavian ended her call.

“So what’s gonna happen?”

“They let us stay here, but they’ll cut our pay.”

“Ah, shit.”

For a few minutes, Cloud and Aerith moped around the fueling station, that is, until a Mercedes 2232 semi-truck came, with a transportation trailer, a ČMZAP-5523. They saw the driver as none other than Alma, who greeted them.

“Ah, you two again?” Alma asked them. “How’s things? You’ve eaten your dinner?”

“Yeah, we’ve eaten already. But, we have broke lights! We’re going to stay here until morning!”

“I see. Where are you going to?”

“Back to Gallione?”

“To the construction company?”

“Yeah.” Cloud answered.

“Well, then, get the truck in the trailer!” she commanded them.

Cloud and Aerith then were told to open up the trailer ramps, so they can transport the truck easily. Aerith was to park it over the semi-trailer, and Cloud was to open the ramps. After setting up the ramps and driving the Ashok over, packing said ramps up, they were ordered by Alma to ride on the Mercedes truck, but they refused, since they were the ones driving

“Alma, we owe you a lot. I hope that if you need something, I hope we can help you.”

“Ah, thanks!” exclaimed Alma.

As some of the employees were shocked to see the truck piggybacked by the Mercedes (Lavian was shocked, but wasn’t pissed), the truck drivers and Alma went their ways, but had a short talk before going to their residencies.

“I checked your truck a while ago and I thought your vehicle had more damage than I thought.” Alma began her claim. “I think someone wants to fuck you two up, or even one of us, or maybe the entire company.”

“Are you suggesting sabotage?”

“Definitely!” Alma exclaimed.

“In what way?”

“Remember those spy movies you watched? Now, some countries have a knack for ruining the lives of people over and over. Sometimes, or maybe most or all the time, they try to fuck some things up. I’ll tell the boss about this.”

The next day, they were summoned by Orran, at a restaurant. He asked questions, before declaring:

“Dudes as much as you think it’s your fault, it’s mostly my fault. I mean, yeah, you might have a part at it, but I should’ve added rules for our drivers to be more vigilant. Looks like you two should be close to your trucks, actually, every driver would have to be careful. I’m planning to call some investigators. I heard of rumours, that there is this company, called Baert, and it sabotages construction companies. Unfortunately, I don’t have proof or anybody else’s. But if you’re gonna ask me, I think they are. See you later!”

After finishing their breakfast, they went back to work, going to the same destination, this time to get 20 tons of windows from Dorter once more, then unload them at a construction site at the eastern part of Gallione, in an Ashok Leyland 3121, imported from India with left hand drive.

The construction company was building a 10 story apartment as part of the Hyuga microdistrict, named after the San Andrean general, Neji Hyuga. Like most cities in Faerun or Kara-Tur (at least the San Andrean and Shou Long parts), communities were organized in a way that services could be accessed by walking at an average of a hundred meters, the highest being a distance of 300 or so meters. But anyways, they had some talk. Like the Comet before, it was decorated, in the inside and on the outside, with stylishly written Hindustani-language warnings or informative text, but both wished they could understand it. (2)

“So you kinda noticed that things look Indian or Gurkanian in general?”

“Yeah. Defintiely.”

“Remember the time we were in the Market, right? I saw a stack of Indian movies.”

“Wanna buy one?”

“If we can get some in Dorter, why not? I don’t see them that much in Midgar, or in Gongaga for that matter.”

It was a fact that Gurkan and India have a certain influence on Western Ivalice, whilst Central (e.g. Sal Ghidos) and Eastern Ivalice had a somewhat lesser influence to due to the bigger presence of Russian, Czech and Iranian investors.

“We could buy some stuff for your cooking.”

“Like Cardamom? Yeah, I’d want some tikka masala.”

Then the subject changed.

“So what do you think is making some of them, whether they’re Baert people or not, want to sabotage our trucks?” asked Cloud as he was lying on the truck’s sleeper. Aerith was driving towards Dorter.

“I guess company rivalry or something bigger? Either way, we gotta be vigilant.”

As Cloud and Aerith were loading up their truck, Aerith had an idea. By then she reached Dorter’s outskirts.

“Hey, I have a suggestion.”

“What is it?” Cloud asked.

“We should like treat this the truck like bait.”

“What in fuck’s name is that idea?” Cloud asked, before explaining his outburst. “Well, I like what you’re doing.”

“So this is how we do this. We basically give the impression that we left the truck. Once that, we have to hide at a good place, maybe a few meters near the truck, then we catch them. But I can’t say it would work though.”

“Why would you doubt it?”

“Well, if you’re gonna ask me, I think the Baert guys might be onto something else far more fishy.”

“All I can say is, go ahead. I’m going along this time. Any other details?”

“Well, we should go back to to the fueling station not far from this city. That’s the last time we got our truck broke. Then we hide by the bushes and surprise them.”

“Just prepare your phone, so you can record whatever the fuck will happen.”

“Aight, if you say so.”

Arriving in Dorter, they took the cargo of windows, worth 15 tons and were actually precut. All the construction company had to do was assemble them into frames and place them onto their positions at the apartment they’ve been building on.

Parking again, in the same place, did they “left it”, and hid under the bushes. Aerith had her phone recorded in case shit did hit the fan.

Turns out, there was a young man, with a hammer, going to destroy the truck’s lights again.

Good thing, Aerith had the phone’s camera on, so they can prove he was doing things.

The man was in the process of destroying a trailer light when Cloud caught him single-handedly, and a policeman was there to see it.

“Ahah, you motherfucker!” Cloud spoke in Midgarian, clutching the man by his shirt.

Neither actually understood each other, mostly because Cloud and Aerith alike had shitty grasp of any of the local languages, even if Midgarian and the languages were similar in grammar construction and vocabulary. They were just lucky Alma could speak Midgarian.

Aerith texted for some help to Lavian, their dispatcher. Now she told them they’d be bringing a translator along, named Beowulf Cadmus.

Some minutes later, a Skoda 105 sedan arrived. With it was a blonde man.

“Are you Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife?” he asked in Midgarian.

“Yes. I call myself Aerith.” she began. “He calls himself Cloud.” she then pointed to Cloud.

“I’m Beowulf Cadmus. Anyways, we just need some help here. We need to have his ass to jail first.”

Since I’m not into the whole filing papers and shit, let’s just say they had him jailed for a day, and an interrogator from the company asked him. Turns out the guy really was working for the Baert guys, but he couldn’t speak more, since he was just a new employee. Yes, I don’t like these plot twists, in which he was just bait, ok?

But anyways, they went on with their actual journey back to Gariland. Unfortunately a vehicular accident on the main road (the cargo, a T-55, overturned, while being hauled by a MAZ 537, and it took a day) meant they took another road, this time, it was hilly and was almost neglected.

For a truck that had only 2 driven wheels, with different rates of turns coupled with the weight of their haul, meant the truck was sluggish. Sure, their previous trucks were quite sluggish, but this one was slow.

So Cloud struggled driving all the way back to Gariland, even with the truck’s differential turned on. He’d only stop it once they climed the uphill part of the road.

Good thing his phone was playing Naoya Matsuoka’s music, the album Welcome.

“Hey, you’ve listened to Ngoma?” Cloud asked.

“Enang Ngoma? The jazz musician?” Aerith asked. “Uh, yeah. He sounds more or less like Naoya Matsuoka’s style. Kinda noticed that, too.” Aerith added. She went on playing Pocket Pool, since Fridge Racer was getting to a close, although on the other hand, she was awaiting more of its DLCs. Pocket Pool, on the other hand, did not have any DLCs, and was more of a short term game, for temporary gratification. Fair enough, she understood how to play actual billards, but was more onto video games or mobile ones.

Cloud kept looking for any oncoming vehicles, but once he climbed the hill, he finally had a sigh of relief. He parked the truck to the right side of the road. Going out, he wiped his face and realized he was sweaty. It wasn’t summer, (it was spring), but there wasn’t any slipstream, and concentrating on the truck meant it was hot for them, especially when the truck’s air conditioning was already broke. At least there was an oscillating fan that cooled them off.

Aerith looked over him and told him. “You need a towel?”

“One for my neck though!” After Cloud telling her that, she threw a short towel for him, which he wrapped around his neck.

Good thing that wearing undershirts (yes, both of them) with dress shirts being the main top did things for them: protected their main clothes and their skin, from any weather, not to mention gives them warmth, and in hot conditions, absorbs the sweat for their main clothes. It was so much common it became a habit for them to wear such types of clothes even out from work.

Now that they climbed the hill (thank gods it was the only hill they had to deal with) Cloud climbed again and returned to driving. Now they can return back to the city at a less difficult pace.

Chapter Text

At Bervenia, as Cloud and Aerith drove back towards Gallione, an unexpected VK message came to his phone, courtesy of Cissnei. Aerith took it for him and checked it. Cissnei had messaged Aerith.

“There’s a driver from our country and he needs help. Can anyone help us bail him for 100,000 Midgar gil? Can we meet at Yardrow tomorrow or better yet, sooner or later? If you can, do meet us at the 420 bar. It’s at the outskirts of Yardrow. It’s got a statue of a Marijuana leaf on front. It’s called the Marijuana bar.”

Aerith then told Cloud about it.

“Dude, we got some news. One of our countrymen got arrested. He needs bail.”

“How much?”

“1,700,000 Fovohaman gil, or 500,000 Midgar gil. What do we do? I mean, should we help him pay?”

“Dude, we don’t know this guy, but we help our fellow dudes. I mean, not because of some golden rule, ala help you so you can help me, it’s more of, we gotta stick together in case shit hits the fan. Last time we did that, we fought a buncha tourists!” he joked lightly, mostly to refer to the fight that occurred 2 years ago, as Cloud was going to move to the 8th gear (out of the 12th gear) of the company’s newly purchased KRAZ 258, which was to eventually replace the Berliet (actually called “Qarn”, referring to the temple and settlement). The truck itself was shipped to Southern Thanalan days ago, more specifically in the small town of Forgotten Springs, where the vehicle was going to be rebuilt and refurbished (to carry bigger loads), or if the truck was ohso dilapidated, scrapped altogether.

It was basically similar to Tatra 603s being sent to the factory for a rebuild. On the other hand, some people around Imaginationland do build their own vehicles on their own, although it depended on the person’s access to resources. Sometimes the builds were great, the others were absolute shit, although for most of the time, the builds were good enough that you wouldn’t need a mechanic to do that.

On the other hand the truck had a really simple interior. The only distinct modernization it had were: a tachometer, some switches, and a gear stick that indicated a different transmission. It was from Hingashi. The only thing that was theirs were their bags, consisting of clothes, accessories like toothbrushes, snacks, water, blankets, sewing kit and so on.

“So basically yeah, tell them we’re coming!” Cloud added. Either way, Aerith had actually written it before Cloud could even speak it out.

But anyway, Cloud also ordered Aerith to tell the dispatchers in the city of Gallione that they might come at a different date (not late, but you’d understand). She of course did, and they answered with an “Go ahead! So did Alma! She said she’d help them as well!”.

“They got our message! Alma’s joining too!”

“Wow! She knows the issue too.”

They took a junction which towards Yardrow, where the dude was. But to be more specific, the Marijuana bar. They saw it by the distance, and even saw some other people they knew. In fact, they noticed that most of the trucks belonged to Midgar, and even saw’s Alma’s Ikarus 250. Zack and Cissnei’s ZiL-131V was also there, when Cloud looked at the plate number MD-27-83.

“Dude, that’s their ZiL!” Aerith pointed out.

“Yeah, I realize that.” Cloud noted.

They got in and saw the place was quite occupied. 2/3s of the bar had Midgarians, judging from the loud

Sitting in the bar, were Zack and Cissnei.

“Hey Cloud, hey Aerith!” Zack greeted the two. The last time they met was around some months ago.

“What are you two doing here?” asked Cloud as he ordered for 6 bottles of beer, 3 for him and Aerith.

“Well, we were going to Eagrose, delivering spare parts for Zettos and Santosices, then this shit happened.” Cissnei answered for Zack, who was drinking beer.

“So how’s the guy?” asked Aerith.

“He’s ok. He’s got his family on the line. At least they’re nice enough to let him have SanNet. The jails here are shitty. Even the coach driver we talked to said she doesn’t want to pass through Fovoham. She only went here because Scotch needed help.” Zack answered Aerith.

“Scotch?!” asked Cloud.

“We met the dude last time! We were in uh...” Aerith forgot the words, then she added them. “In Ala Mhigo! We were delivering tree seeds to Ala Ghiri! We talked with him over afternoon tea on the way to the city! The guy was delivering maintenance parts for the desalination plant.”

“We were helping a Gridanian fix his truck, I think it was a KamAZ truck, or a MAN? I forgot...” Cloud added, then remembered what it was. “Yeah, it was a KamAZ.” Cloud then fixed his statement.

“So how did he got his ass here?” Aerith turned towards Cissnei.

“Well, he was delivering calculators from Gongaga to Gallione. The truck he had, a Volvo, managed to partially avoid a Peugeot 504, then it got hit. Surely he avoided them, thank the gods, but the car still managed to get hit.”

One thing that unites truck drivers is the fact they might have the same grievances, problems, stories to share and what not. In other words, a sense of shared commonality.

Like the fact they were talking about their common problems, like some asshole drivers with their small cars or the fact that they might have problems with their gear sticks and some other parts, or even simply asking for help.

After talking to people like Alma, Cloud and Aerith got to know what happened.

It turns out, according to Scotch’s point of view, his truck tried to avoid the Peugeot 504. Worst, it belonged to an official. However, what was worse was that although the passengers survived, he had to pay 100,000 MG per person + 100,000 for the car insurance, or he could face jail for 3 months. The worst part was, he was in a local jail (by Midgarian standards they were shitty), then moved to the city’s other jail so it can be closer to the Raubahn Hotel, where a gang of Midgarian diplomats were trying to secure the release of the man. The man could only cough around 20k. Fortunately, the Midgarians had enough to help their man.

In addition, from the locals’ sources, the 504 was trying to overtake a Paykan, but faced a truck instead. Fortunately, the Volvo F89 managed not to hit the car entirely, however, the Peugeot hit the truck and whilst it did go leftward, it managed to hit a rock. It also was made worse that the accident occurred at night. It might take a lot of time, and he might have to pay a lot beyond the 500,000 mark.

On the other hand, the locals insisted to keep the man and that he caused the crime, unless they paid the ransom.

Alma was also there, talking with Midgarians.

“You know what happened?!” she asked.

“Yeah! Do we have enough cash for his freedom?”

“Yeah, all we need is to convert it. My god, that’s why I hate driving here. This country’s full of assholes and extortionists. Whaddya expect, they’re not a Socialist state like yours, where you could get as much care as you need. You could have an entire army of kids and still not worry about the next meal. Not that I want kids or anything, but you get?”

“Yeah, but our country’s pretty racist.”

“Why? Do they hate foreigners or something?”

“Yes and no. We tend to have a hostility with Wutai even if San Andreas mediated a peace with us and them. Besides that, we more or less dislike the Ballasians. Even then, we sometimes riot over foreigners. What do you expect, your average Cetran is pretty tribalistic. Even the Royal Family, mind you, sometimes gets in a controversy for choosing their own tribesperson over some dude or cat who is far better in most cases.”

“Well everyone does have a hatred of one another. Just ask the Eorzeans how they still have a dislike of Garleans and their Vagosian relatives. I’ve never talked to any Ballasians but people around here still hate them. Besides, the past can help burn or create bridges! Look at the Thanalanians, their President apologized to the Amaljaa for his country’s aggressions against them, a long time ago, and they’re good friends. But it’s a case to case basis.” Alma rambled.

“But aside from that,” she returned back to her topic, “But there’s another problem. We have to convert the money because the locals insisted on paying them with local money. In addition, your country doesn’t have an embassy here, and it will still take time to convert the money, you know, out of some bureaucratic bullshit, at least from what I’ve heard. The diplomats said they need to relay this back to Midgar, and some other shit, at least from what I heard from the drivers.”

“Is it safe to say we gotta do this with our own hands?” Aerith asked as she sipped the last of the beer.

“Unfortunately, yes.” Alma added.

 

The decision was that either they pay the court 500,000 Midgarian gil within 4 days, or have his ass jailed for 5 months or a year, or worse, both. Fortunately, the Midgarian diplomats had the money (although Zack didn’t update them) but the problem was conversion. The sheer amount of money meant they had to get to other places to convert. There were only 2 money exchange centres in the city and they can only do 40,000 Midgarian gil per day. It was already early morning, so they had no choice but to get to another city that had the nearest conversion shop.

“We should wait for the decision.” Aerith told Cloud, who just nodded.

As they ordered beer again, the decision was made. It was agreed Scotch would get his freedom the moment they finalized the payment of the converted money, and it was to be sent at the bar under a diplomat.

They agreed to have the money converted to each of these cities, at least with the chosen destinations, all with an amount of 40,000. Andrea and Wymer agreed at Yardrow, Narjin and Wymer with at Riovanes, Burke and Butch, to Ziekden, Ronnie and Roche, to Lesalia, and Cloud and Aerith to Gollund. The rest were ordered to guard the trucks in case some random asshole wanted to steal their wares, but with some exceptions.

“Hey, can we join them? We know these two a lot.” Zack argued for the two. “They’re new here.” added Cissnei.

“If it suits you, why not?” said one of the drivers, Kotch.

“I will be joining them, they probably don’t know shit.” Alma added. “It’s fucking Gollund, they could get attacked.” The four Midgarians nodded. “And we’ll get the car!”

Actually, since the Yardrow conversion shops were not open yet until morning, but time was of the essence, Alma first rented a car, a relatively new Cragmaw/Wartburg 353.

“We’ll get this to run as soon as one of us wakes up.” Alma announced. Even Zack and Cissnei were not so much aware in visiting Gollund. They were just there to guard the couple since they were really close friends and they were newcomers.

The next morning, they crossed the border between Yardrow and Lesalia. Show the passports, then sleep their ass off.

Cloud and Aerith woke up to a rambling Alma. She discussed how she managed to fix the coach’s toilet without anybody noticing, or how comfortable the seats were if nobody were asleep on it.

“Alma, Zack and Cissnei are asleep.” Cloud told her.

“What?! Then who’s listening to my talk?”

“We did.” Aerith added.

“Oh I see. Did you get to the part about my uhh Cormyr adventures?”

“Yeah. You were talking about the fact you couldn’t understand a word and you needed a translator?”

“Actually, yeah, what made you want to drive a bus, despite having a degree?”

“Because not everyone wants to get into the confines of a building.”

“Well, we actually wanted to explore, upgrade some shit, then have a family.” Aerith declared. “I mean, we’re not anti-natalists or something but yeah, 1 kid is enough.” Aerith remembered that her professor argued against having kids, unless they’re to be born as protectors of their country’s environment.

Alma just looked at the road and the car’s mirrors.

“Anyway, so what made you volunteer for us four?”

“Well, I’ve been told by other people that Gollund is pretty much a shitty city and suggested that if I ever set foot there, you gotta bring people with you and to stick together.

Then as the other two woke up, first thing they asked was.

“Are we there yet?”

“No. Give it an hour or less.” Alma answered. “Oh hey, you two are awake! Actually, since we might be here for a day or so, let’s visit this friend of mine!”

“Uhh, who is she?” asked Zack.

“Reis Duelar! She’s a friend of mine! She actually lives by Gollund but she works here. She usually talks to Ul’dahn and Irani businessmen!”

As the Wartburg ended up in front of a pub (despite having a cramped size, the city did not have much cars owing to a public transport system, usually from LAZ buses from San Andreas), the Midgarians and their driver saw themselves in front of a dainty bar. Entering inside, with a bell announcing their arrival, Alma looked around for their friend, and quickly got her attention.

They found her at a pub, drinking water and eating breakfast. Reis wore a cream chore jacket patterned like that of a Korean inminbok (1) except it had coarse and rough material.

“When you order, you can talk in Russian or in common.” she reminded them. “Unless you know the native languages here.”

----------
Alma greeted her.
“What brings you to me, Alma?” Reis asked. “Have some seats! Do you want me to order for you or your friends?”

“No, no, no, unless they say otherwise. I just came to say hi and tell you a story as to why we’re here. Aside from that they need breakfast.” Alma answered in her native language, then told the Midgarians to sit down on Reis’ table.

“Pray tell about your story.” said Reis.

“These two are going to the money converter at the city centre.” answered Alma, pointing out at Cloud and Aerith. “A driver needs bail at uh, Yardrow. We gotta convert 40,000.”

“Oh gods! Where do they come from?”

“Cetska.” (or the actual name of Midgar as a kingdom).
-----

In the meantime, the four of them ordered their meals, with Alma following suit. As they ate, one problem arose.

-------
“What?!” Alma asked.

“The centre will open around uhh, 1100.” Reis answered.

“What time is it?”

“900.”

“Oh, that’s why. Guess we’ll have to wait then.”

-------

Then Alma changed her language so she can speak to her friends.

“We’ll have to wait around 11:00.”

They agreed to wait in the car until it was the right time. They were still somewhat relatively half-asleep, so they dozed off for an hour. When it was 10:45, they had Zack and Cissnei guard the car. Good thing (and they were lucky) they got to convert the money. Not much people visited it anyway since they didn’t need to have their money converted.

But anyway, they had to be fast because they had to drive back to the bar where the diplomats were there to collect the converted money.

Before leaving, they bade Reis farewell.

“So yeah, here’s the money converted.” Cloud declared. Not that Reno mistrusted them, but he’d make it sure they got the right amount, so he had the 40,000 gil converted counted by a portable money counting machine. Cloud and Aerith also checked the truck for any damage or loss (there were none) and paid the driver who guarded their vehicle 1,000.

“Oh, you two got the money right. Listen, I am Reno and I thank you two for saving the driver.”

“Yeah, we know him!” Aerith added. “We’ll eat some food then we go!”

Reno waved at them as a sign of farewell before they ate copious amounts of food and went back to their truck.

They went back to the road knowing that they can only drive for 9 hours each before having to stop again. When they did arrive, they parked the truck near the construction company’s office so it can be unloaded later.

The next day, they had it moved to the unloading area, unloaded the cargo and met up with the boss, Meliadoul.

“I know you’d come before the deadline, but why almost on time?” she asked lightly.

“Well, we saved one of our guys from being jailed.”

“How he got arrested? I mean, can you explain the whole story?”

“Well, the truck driver avoided a car that was going against him in the opposite direction. Fortunately, he did avoid the car but the car got wrecked. He got freed through bail.”

“Aight. See you then. If you have any problems, do not hesitate calling me or any of our employees. You’ve got all our numbers, right?”

“Yeah.”

Aerith concluded, and the two went back to work.