Work Header

Running On Empty

Chapter Text

Red was stressed. He wasn’t complaining, honestly the quint rarely said anything, but the Sheriff had worked long enough with the fire truck to know when trouble was on the horizon. Right now the town’s gentle giant was staring up at the darkening sky, his side mirrors slightly quivering.

“Do you think that we will get rain with this storm?” Sheriff asked, already knowing the answer. The July weather had been hotter than normal and it was causing the air to be painfully dry. Unless that storm was a dozy, the moisture was going to be sucked right out of those raindrops before they made it anywhere close to the ground. In some ways, no rain was a good thing. A cloud burst brought the very real risk of flash flooding, but with the desert around them dry as tinder it looked like fire verse flood was going to be the problem of the day.

The look that Red was giving him indicated that the truck was having similar thoughts. The Sheriff could almost see the gears in Red’s mind clicking over has the fire apparatuses clicked through his internal emergency protocol list. While many people who didn’t live in town tended to view Red as being a bit simple, the police vehicle knew that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Red may have his faults, but the truck was fiercely loyal and a ferocious reader. The quint made sure to keep up on the cutting end information when it came to firefighting, he trained his volunteer firefighters well, and no one here doubted that truck was willing to put his life on the line in order to keep the town of Radiator Springs and its residence safe.

Perhaps, he was even too willing, the Sheriff mused quietly to himself as he stared up at the blossoming thunder clouds on the horizon. But then, Sheriff knew the oath that the two of them had taken…to protect their little slice of paradise from danger…and the old car could help but feel deep down in his engine that there were some things worth dying for.

Gathered at Flo’s, the various members of Radiator Springs were also staring at the rapidly approaching dark smudge with agitated concern. Except for town’s newest resident, he…well, he didn’t appear to be picking up the signals.

“Looks like there is a storm coming our way.” The red race car said thoughtfully, before breaking into a grin. “Think there will be lightening.”

“You better hope not…lightening isn’t something to laugh about here.” Sally commented softly between sips of oil.

Apparently the Porsche’s words managed to finally knock some sense into McQueen because he started to finally pay attention to the nervous vibe that all the residences were giving off. “But want about rain. Isn’t the rain coming from that storm good?”

“Only if it comes, soldier, only if it comes.” It was the old Sarge’s turn to throw in his two cents. “Well troops, it is time to get everything locked down for battle.”

“Battle?” Lighting asked as he watched all the various cars in town head towards their homes and businesses.

“Locking everything down and stuff.” Mater have a shrug with his tow cable. “With that type of thunderstorms, it is not unusual to have allsorts of big winds to worry about so it doesn’t hurt to tie down things that could blow away loose or move that kind of stuff inside.”

Lightning McQueen really didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, but he had enough common sense to recognize when his fellow vehicles were spooked. Since Guido and the Sherriff were already helping Lizzie get all of here ‘antiques’ packed back into her shop, the race car decided to help Sally bring in the cones and planters around the hotel instead. It was hard work, but the two vehicles managed to get everything inside the cone that Sally reserved for storage. The task was completed not a moment too soon. Only minutes after the last cone was successfully tucked away and all the doors to the rooms had been shut tight a howling wind screamed across the desert and Lightning was grateful that he could head indoors to avoid it.


The line of thunderstorms was a violent one. Lightning flashed in the hills around Radiator Springs and thunder shook the pavement under their tires. Then there was the wind…a bone dry wind that picked up the desert sand and howled through town. The grit the gale carried was what finally forced the residents to take shelter deep within their homes, knowing full well how quickly even a minor sandstorm could strip the paint and scar the windows of an unprotected car. The town residence pitied any vehicle that had been stuck on the highway when the wind picked up.

Still, it wasn’t until the next morning that the true impact of the rainless storm became more evident. Smoke was billowing on the horizon, and there was nothing that Radiator Springs’ single road bound fire engine could do about it.