[FFML] [NGE]A Question of Accuracy

Miashara miashara at deepfriedpuppies.com
Sat Jun 28 21:59:59 PDT 2008


NGE is the creation of and property of GAINAX.

This is a repost from about a week ago. Looking back over it I saw the formatting did not work at all. I 3FTed it, and it should be fine now. Previous chapters can be found at either ff.net or www.deepfriedpuppies.com/miashara

C&C would be greatly appreciated.

Chapter 2

        "Good morning, gentlemen."

        "Good morning, sir!"

        "You both know Chief Yoshida from maintenance. He will be the
enlisted representative here.  Ensign Makoto, front and center please.
Aoba, stand there, thank you."

        Fuyutsuki removed a small box from his pocket and approached
Makoto. "For demonstrating great ability at your duties under intense
pressure, displaying remarkable ingenuity and creative research
potential, and for your work predicting Tapp streams, you have been
selected for promotion, effective immediately." He took took the gold
bars from the junior officer's collar as he spoke, replacing them with
silver. "Congratulations, and a job well done."

        "Thank you, sir." Makoto bowed formally.

        "You're welcome." Fuyutsuki bowed back.

        "Congratulations, son." Chief Yoshida exchanged formalities as
well. "Ensign Aoba, your chair is finished. Come pick it up before COB
this evening. Gentlemen." The chief bowed again, and the two bridge
officers reciprocated. Fuyutsuki nodded, and the head maintenance tech
left.

        "Congratulations, you conniver. Getting a promotion for
something you don't understand."

        "Hey, work it if you've got it."

        They grinned at each other. Fuyutsuki raised his eyebrow. "What
is this?"

        "Sir, Dr Akagi never explained to me what a Tapp stream is. I
can predict them within seven meters, but I have no idea what I'm
predicting."

        Fuyutsuki looked at him calmly. Dr Akagi's receitance certainly
didn't surprise him. Still, he glanced at the door through which the
chief had left, then at the two young officers, and surprised himself by
sinking into an available chair.

        "In light of your work, I think I'll alter your security
clearance a bit. Take a seat."

        The two exchanged another glance, this one pleasantly surprised.
Makoto sank into his chair and got comfortable, while Aoba perched on
the edge of his desk.

        "About four months ago, just after the arrival of the Third
Child but before the subsequent defeat of Sachiel, we ran a series of
tests designed to calculate the probability of the Third Child
successfully generating an AT field on his first attempt. Though history
has vindicated the long shot, at the time the results were not good."
Fuyutsuki let himself relax enough to give the other two a wry grin.
They smiled back, curious and attentive. "Compared to other subjects,
the chance of him doing it was almost negligible. One oddity we noticed
however was that there were certain geographical locations that made AT
field generation more probable. These locations usually take the
appearance of long tracts of land, or ribbons, and we've taken to
calling them Tapp streams. One of which runs right through the geofront,
by a previously unnoticed coincidence. Makoto, you identified a
identification feature of this one."

        "Of course, sir. The Pacific Rim subduction zone," Makoto
injected

        "Precisely. The Tapp stream that covers the geofront runs the
entire length of the Pacific/Asiatic plate junction subduction zone.
Question, Aoba?"

        "What's a subduction zone?" Aoba asked.

        "Where one tectonic plate plunges beneath another is called a
subduction zone."

        "Oh. Thank you, sir."

        Fuyutsuki turned and began entering some information on the
terminal with precise, clipped movements. When he was complete he turned
back to the other two. "Makoto, please bring up the real time Tapp
stream plot."

        "I don't have access to that, sir."

        "You do now."

        The other two shared a look, then Makoto bent over his keyboard.
A few seconds later, a map of the world emerged on the Magi.

        It was spotted with dark blue bubo-like splotches that moved
imperceptibly around the world along the grid Makoto's calculations had
laid out.

        "But what are they?" Aoba asked.

        "You've seen a blue pattern before, haven't you?" Fuyutsuki
asked with the same wry grin.

        "Angels, sir?" Makoto gasped while Aoba exclaimed, "There must
be a dozen of them!"

        "Not quite angels," the senior officer dissented. "More
specifically, angel-like AT fields. Even more oddly, unlike those
generated by their Angelic counterparts, these seem to constructively
interfere with the AT fields generated by EVAs yet are totally
independent of both EVA and Angel."

        "But, what's creating them?" Aoba asked.

        "That, young man, we do not know."

        "Did anyone pursue this?" Makoto was leaning forward on the
desk, staring at the screen like a hungry man.

        "Yes. You."

        "I mean-"

        "I understand." Fuyutsuki smiled at the two of them, again
surprised by how much he was enjoying teaching after all that time. "No,
no one did. No one had the budget, the staff, or the resources until
now. Other things were always more important."

        "I'll get right on it, sir!" Makoto promised.

        "You too, Aoba. Find something interesting and develop it, and
I'll put you up for promotion as well. You've got a very good report
from your work with Makoto, and a little more might push you up the
ladder."

        "Yes, sir!" Aoba hopped to his feet and bowed.

        "And with that, gentlemen, I have other duties. Good luck and
keep up the good work."

        "Yes, sir!" Everyone rose and exchanged bows, and Fuyutsuki
left.

        "Dude, rocks are Angels!"

        "You're a moron."

        "That's moron, sir, to you."

        "My ass, sir."

        "Damn right it will be your ass."

        "Gentlemen, I want a fourth level bioscan-" Dr Akagi stormed
onto the bridge barking orders. The two bolted to their desks to obey,
while the good doctor went to her own station and began working as well,
fingers flying across the keyboard creating a steady drone of key
clacking that stopped only when she needed to drink from the water
bottle she kept with her.

        One of these times, while she was distracted, Aoba turned to
tell her something and promptly forgot what she had to say. In the four
days since the last round of tests, he had not seen her. She looked like
death. She seemed thinner with dark circles under her eyes. Her roots
were the color of her eyebrows, and she was sweating in the cool bridge
air. She turned her gaze back to him, catching his with her eyes,
brilliant blue eyes that were even brighter than before, unnaturally so
in her pale face. Aoba was pinned by her look, paralyzed while he
searched for breath.

        "--right now, Ensign!" She had been talking while he drowned in
her eyes.

        "Yes, ma'am!"

        The machines clicked and clacked while the MAGI's cooling system
hummed a gentle working song, sliding in and out of the range of audible
noises. There was something definitely melodic about the noises, and as
usual Makoto allowed himself to enjoy the music while he worked.
Calloused fingertips flew across the keyboards, creating a counter
harmony. Dr Akagi's tapping foot kept time.

        "Results should be compiled within seventeen minutes, ma'am,"
Makoto announced, unconsciously breaking the automated symphony.

        "Good. Have them in my box in twenty."

        "Yes-" the door slammed shut behind her. "ma'am."

        Akagi Ritsuko strode along, the look in her eyes scattering
others from her way. She arrived at her office and let the door shut
hard behind her. A couple of deep breaths later, her muscles relaxed and
her shoulders slumped.

        "Tell me, will this affect instrumentality?"

        "Gendo!"

        He sat at her desk, but not in his usual position of
imperiousness. His eyes were cool instead of hard. Though his posture
was still formal, to Ritsuko he might as well have his feet up and a
cigarette twirling between his fingers.

        "I have no idea. We've never even theorized what this might
mean, other than a mechanical error." There were no other chairs in
here, but she sat on a pile of books that bulged cancerously in the
middle. "The sync rating is supposed to be a ratio of how well a human
brain connects with the EVAs nerve system compared to how the human
brain connects to its own nerves. For a human to have a non-unity sync
ratio is undefined. It's dividing by zero."

        Gendo nodded and waited.

        "While I was checking the test setup, I took a total of eighteen
different measurements. Here, I'll show you." She rose and walked around
the desk to stand beside Gendo, pulling some folders out of the mess on
her desk. Her hips were only inches from Gendo's chair, and her back was
too him. "Sync tests always have some scatter. Small day to day
variations in diet and attitude. Normally we reduce this by extending
the testing period to several hours in an identical situation, and doing
some basic statistical noise reduction. Noise is reduced by more than
half. Three quarters on good days. Normally."

        She turned around and faced Gendo, feeling tired and nervous.
The lilt in her voice told him she was defensive. He stared into her
eyes while she talked.

        "This time, it did better than that. Statistical variation was
less than two percent." She handed him the papers, and he took them
without looking away. "He's trending down. Over eight hours his ratio
dropped an eighth of a point."

        "So what does that mean?"

        "I have no idea. I want to-"

        Gendo rose to his feet. Ritsuko didn't move, and when he stood
before her their faces were only inches apart. "-conduct some tests with
the EVA-"

        "Ritsuko."

        "Yes?" she breathed.

        "Find out. Then come see me privately. Soon." She could taste
his words and feel them on her lips.

        "Yes."

        Gendo turned and walked from the office without looking back.
His footsteps made little noise, but the little echoed off the walls,
bounced underneath the ceiling lights, and traveled along the spaces
between the ceiling tiles like flowing through an aqueduct. Delicate
sensors mounted between the sliding panels of automatic doors detected
the noise and bore it in dissected bits along copper wires almost a
million times faster than air carried the discrete waves. Some of these
wires ran down the walls of NERV's headquarters and others raced to the
wise men, the MAGI. One ran nowhere, shorting out on a cold water pipe
that traveled miles through the ground, meeting up with a pump with a
frayed control wire that met the air conditioning unit near where a
thermostat line branched off to a control box on the wall of an almost
empty room where the sole occupant, Shinji Ikari suddenly sat bolt
upright and looked around with a panicky, "Who's there?"

        No one was, of course.

        Shinji stared around for a moment, listening carefully. He heard
the whine of a ceiling fan above him. It was swirling hot air around,
already humid and dank with sweat. Shinji picked at his shirt, pulling
it away from his skin, and released it so it could stick again. He
pulled the phone NERV had issued him from his pocket and opened the
address book, scrolling down until he found "Misato-san." He stared at
that entry for a long time. Then with a snap he closed the phone and
returned his attention to the paperwork in front of him.

        "Man, who cares about my stool consistency?" he snorted, then a
moment later, louder, "Who cares about any of this crap?" he finally
complained.

        "Ritsuko, apparently. Hey, tiger."

        "Misato!"

        She smiled at him and stepped in, letting the pneumatic doors
shut with a hiss. "Ack. Why is it so yucky in here?" she looked around
discontentedly, picking at her uniform the exact way Shinji had a
minute ago.

        "I don't know."

        "Oh, the thermostat is broken. See, it just has a blinking red
light. Come on, let's get out of here and get something to eat."

        "The paperwork?"

        Misato stopped twiddling with the AC control and walked over to
Shinji and examined the documents he was filling out. "Check, check,
hey, that's pretty personal," she observed.

        "It gets worse-" Shinji began. He stopped suddenly and tried to
hide the folder he had been working on.

        "What? How? Why?" Misato's curiosity piqued, and she snatched
the papers from him.

        "Hey! No, don't-"

        "Ew!" she exclaimed. "That's disgusting!"

        Shinji blushed from the roots of his hair to the soles of his
feet.

        "They've been making you do this all day?" she asked.

        He nodded, unable to speak.

        "That's disgusting," she pronounced again, this time more
authoritatively. "How long have you been doing this?"

        "Since the tests."

        "It's a wonder you can eat, with writing all that down."

        "It doesn't bother me. I haven't had a chance to eat since
breakfast anyway." Shinji desperately wanted her to drop the topic.

        "What? Since breakfast? As your commanding officer, I order you
to stop filling that out and come with me to the cafeteria. You need
dinner, and I need to supervise you to make sure you maintain your
strength."

        "Now?"

        "Yes, now. Come on." She pulled the rest of the documents from
his hands and sorted them into two piles. The completed pile she pushed
into a pneumatic delivery tube in the wall and sent it away, the rest
she dropped into her briefcase. "See, I've got them and you can go back
to the joy of your circulatory system as soon as you want. Let's eat.
I'm starved."

        "Yes, ma'am."

        "Ma'am? You're killing me, Shinji-kun. Killing me." She rolled
her eyes and lead him out the door.

        "Sorry, Misato-san."

        "Why are you in such a wimpy mood? You've been getting better
recently. You were starting to act like a real boy. And now you're all
wimpy and apologetic again. Like," she paused suddenly as they got on
the elevator. "Shinji, are you having girl problems?"

        "What? No!" He yelled as the doors shut with a hiss.

        "Good! Because you're saving the world for humanity. The ladies
should be after you like white on rice. Ritsuko on a biology sim. Suds
on a beer."

        "Uh," Shinji replied.

        "So tell me, stud. How are you doing? Got a date for tonight?"

        Shinji sighed and gave up. Trapped in the elevator, there would
be no way of getting away from  her. "No, I don't. I don't really think
about that sort of stuff."

        "Well, you should. Maybe we need to take you clothes shopping.
Buy some fancy shirts. And beer. Beer works wonders."

        "I can't. I have to redo these sync tests tonight anyway."

        "That's true," Misato admitted.

        They whirred past another few floors.

        "Tell me, Shinji. How are you feeling about all this? I know the
poking and prodding and paperwork gets old. Trust me, I know how old
paperwork gets. I know about paperwork." Misato developed a thousand
yard stare as she said 'paperwork' silently a few times. Then she
snapped out of it. "But other than that, how are you? You're feeling
okay, right?"

        "I'm confused. I really don't understand what's going on."

        "Your sync ratio is dropping."

        "But not with the EVA," Shinji countered. "I heard that was up."

        "It is," Misato agreed. "It's up two points since your last
test. But with yourself it's dropping."

        "And what does that mean?"

        "I don't really know," Misato admitted. The elevator stopped and
the doors hissed open. They started down the hallway.  "Basically,
signals aren't moving through your nerves as fast as they should.
Ritsuko explained it to me, but I kind of spaced out halfway through."

        Shinji looked up at her curiously. She just smiled and shrugged.

        "What's going on with her, anyway?" Shinji asked. "She's been
acting all funny."

        "I don't know," Misato admitted. They crossed a side corridor
and waited while a couple of workmen were sealing the floor plates. "But
I'm sure she'll be fine."

        Shinji nodded seriously, then looked down through the hole in
the decking. Neither one of them spoke as the orange coveralled
maintenance staffed finished pushing spare duct segments aside and began
tightening a square plate with an impact wrench. He bolted it down at
the four corners, physically bending the steelwork to do so. The last
bolt sealed the hole completely, and Shinji yelped, and stumbled back.

        "You okay, tiger?" Misato asked, broken out of her own reverie.

        "Yes. Sorry. That last bolt startled me."

        Misato glanced over at the workman then back at him. "What? The
first three didn't give you enough warning?" but she tousled his hair so
he didn't take it personally. "Come on, I think hunger is getting to
you."

        The two of them moved past the workmen, who had now cleared the
hallway and were putting away their tools. Underneath their feet the
unbroken decking prevented anyone from seeing the air conditioning ducts
which ran perpendicular to the course of the hallway until they plunged
suddenly straight down hundreds of feet to a massive central unit which
had a secondary line that ran laterally into sector four G where it
provided an air source for a personal cooling unit that was blasting
frigid air into the office of Dr. Ritsuko Akagi who bolted upright in
her seat wild eyed.

        "Mother, I'm sorr-" She stopped. There was no one in the room
with her. "Oh, god. Keep it together."

        She shook her head to clear it. There was a glass of water on
her desk that she fumbled for, finally taking a long deep drag ignoring
the rim of hoarfrost that had begun to ring the inside. It seemed to
clear her head. She rose, idly flicked the thermostat back into the
standard range and returned to the two dossiers on her desk.

        One was titled, "Third Child, Synchronization Baseline Report."
The second only said, "Divergence Map" and the date.

        The folder on Shinji's sync baseline was approximately an inch
thick, most with computer printouts full of raw data. Towards the back
were a few graphs, all of which were extremely uninteresting to even
most educated eye. Ritsuko stared at them until she thought her eyes
were beginning to bleed, then scowled and discarded the report. She
turned her head to the second folder, but it was almost empty.

        Inside was one sheet of paper with fifteen numbers. Nine were in
one column, all dates, and the six others were matched up to the first
few. Five of these were zeros. The last was simply a "+2."

        Ritsuko stared at this lone slip of paper with all the intensity
she had previously directly at Shinji's file. She balefully considered
it, compared the two, and penciled remarks on a notepad.  She never got
more than a few lines along before she tore the paper off and shoved it
disgustedly into the incinerator. "It doesn't make any fucking sense."

        Distracted, she lit a cigarette and sucked the smoke down while
staring into the reports like answers were buried within the thin
sheets. Smoke curled up above her and wafted into the temperature
sensor, which shot a puff of cold air. On contact with the colder air
the doctor's skin suddenly slicked over with sweat. That faded as the
air warmed up.

        Later, in Gendo Ikari's secondary office, she reported, "It just
doesn't work. The data maps to within a ninety eight percent degree of
certainty. But the answers are nonsensical. Even the Magi have been
unable to find a correlation."

        "In short, you have no idea why the Third Child's central
nervous system is degrading," he replied.

        "We have no reason to believe his nervous system is decaying at
all," she countered. "We have no idea what is happening at all."

        "Is the data adequate?"

        "The data is more than adequate," she assented.

        "And the testing facilities are working adequately?" Gendo's
voice was soothing, calm, and almost kind. Within it was a bitter lie
that Ritsuko's distracted state prevented her from seeing. The commander
watched her while he posed simple questions, watched her sunken eyes
burn with a feverish intensity as she regurgitated incredible amounts of
information on the problem. A smile stole out of his heart, one he
carefully manipulated to kindness.

        "Then the problem may be user error. The machines seem to be
working most adequately."

        Ritsuko nodded slowly. Then he rose and stepped over to her.
With one effortless gesture he touched the line of her chin, and turned
her eyes up to his. "But perhaps it is merely a question of accuracy.
Surely you can answer that?"

        "Easily," she replied. Speaking was hard. She stared up into his
eyes while feeling the confidence, the control that radiated out through
his fingers into her cold skin. Gendo smiled again, deeper than before,
and pulled her in to him. He laid her down and took her there.
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