Biting was really the only word to describe the wind that came screaming in off Mt. Nibel- buffeting hard speckles of freezing snow up to pelt across the windshield of the company truck. It seemed to possess teeth like icy shards; piercing to the bone through even the thicker fabric of an overcoat, despite the rest of the world heading into the beginning of summer. The entire universe had been a swirling, grey-white sea - the omnipresent static on a dead television set - for miles now; just the howl of the wind and the bend in the road to guide them to their destination. Zhi tightened his hands around the steering wheel and peered ahead into the nothingness beyond the headlights, glancing occasionally at the whirling air. They should just about be in Nibelheim by now. Still nothing. Still nothing.
He hated snowstorms.
There had barely been a pause in their travel when Zhi, Asher and Sofia had reached Junon- there was no choice really. When a mission was top priority travel was by Shinra's rules; so it was no surprise when - on the very second of their arrival at the tiny town's small company base, no less - they were immediately informed by the guards that travel was scheduled for the first ship out tomorrow- a Truck would be waiting at Costa Del Sol. There was no time to do anything but eat, file a report, sleep and wake again, the sun still far below the horizon, before they were boarding one of Shinra's special reserve aircraft from the upper platform in the dead of morning.
"Take a good look." He had paused just long enough to gesture to the beach far below and then sweep his arm grandly up the side of the mountain to where the jagged metal spires of construction were creeping tendrils slowly toward the sky. "The next time you stand here everything you'll be able to see will belong to Shinra Inc. All part of the President's plan to construct our newest and largest military training facility- based on the projected strength of our SOLDIER program."
He'd felt a small thrill as the image took hold in his mind. With even the pitifully small amount of information he was privy to on the discoveries… the miracles
the science and weapons departments were starting to produce with Mako… the possibilities were infinite
. It was pleasant enough - allowing himself to daydream about the kinds of things Mako energy might allow humanity to accomplish - that he had simply laid back and let it distract him as they made the trip in the tiny aircraft, glinting waters of the ocean a thousand feet below. They had touched down on the runway just as the sun began to dip out of the center of the sky.
True to the first guard's word a truck was waiting on the tarmac when they set in- another uniformed guard waiting with a set of keys. The drive to Nibelheim past North Corel would take at least another six and a half hours, and he had wasted no further time- wishing to arrive before the last of the daylight had completely faded.
By around hour four, minute twenty-seven, Zhi had begun silently cursing that he hadn't stayed long enough to catch a weather bulletin.
It could have been worse, he mused, as the howl of the blizzard whipped around the cramped cab of the military grade ‘personnel transport vehicle’. The last time he'd made this journey had been by Chocobo, just as autumn was beginning to set in. What was supposed to be a day or two of light, easy riding had turned out to be a week of blinding white misery
- punctuated by scarce hours of calm in which to continue before being forced to camp; of using materia to stay warm and being confined to a tent with a spooked bird for days at a time. He’d been out of energy, out of greens, nearly out of food, and a day away from death when he'd ridden into town. It had taught him never to travel that late in year without getting word of the weather beforehand. This was different, though. It was nearly summer- and in Zhi's estimation these kinds of storms should have stopped for the season long ago.
Suddenly there was a sickening, weightless lurch - as if an unseen hand had lifted the entire vehicle off the road - veering the passenger door straight toward one of the icy banks of packed snow that lined the road. Despite himself he actually let fly with a low "Fuck!" before he could manage to correct it and, jostling, the wheels found traction again.
Apparently, snowstorms also hated Zhi.