Checklist Item 1: Prevent Machinery from Failure at the Worst Possible Moment
"So, Senpai, you won't be able to make a trip back this year?"
Shirou shook his head and spoke, "Sorry Sakura, I really want to but Chaldea is about to enter a new phase of operations, so they want everyone that can to attend."
"Oh," the phone went quiet for a bit. "I can lay some flowers on Illya's grave for you if you would like."
"Thanks Sakura," Shirou smiled, if a touch bitterly. "Could you do some white lilies again? I think she would like it. When I get back, I'll put some new ones on."
"Of course, Senpai. I'll get a bouquet for her and ask the flower shop to keep some on hand," A pause and then, she continued with a tinge of hope, "Do you know when you'll get back?"
"I don't know. I could have a plane ticket for next week if nothing goes wrong or it could be several months," Shirou sighed before changing the subject. It wouldn't be good for his employment contract if he breached the confidentiality agreements. "I may have mentioned this before but thank you Sakura. Thanks for being friends with my little sister."
"No problem Senpai. We had a lot of similarities. It was easy to be befriended by her."
"Yeah, Illya is that type of person, isn't she? But, I've been wondering for a while, what similarities did you two have? I know you both were cute and that we frequently ate breakfast and dinner together, but your personalities are almost opposite of each other." Shirou tilted his head and asked. He had been wondering about that for a few years.
"S-S-Sen-Senpai!" Sakura protested aloud even as Taiga broke out of her funk to roar with laughter from the other side of the phone. "You- You can't just say that! Not so suddenly like that!"
"What? Is it private? If so, I'm sorry, you don't have to share." Shirou apologized.
"S-share! B-But I don't know if I'm ready for that yet! At-at least, let the first time be a private one. Just you and me…" Sakura stammered as Taiga's laughter redoubled and now had an accompaniment of a steady pounding sound like she was hitting the ground in her mirth. "A-and what about Saber! I thought you weren't over her yet!"
"Saber? What does Saber have to do with both of you? Did the three of you stumble over a secret treasure or something at my house? Actually, were you, Illya and Saber even at my house at the same time?"
"No… unless Saber also found the elementary school pictures…" Sakura took a deep breath and exhaled. "Senpai, what are you talking about?"
"I was just wondering about why you and Illya got along so well," Shirou paused and continued. "And did Taiga bring out the old scrapbooks again?"
"Oh," Sakura said in one of the most disappointed tones that he had ever heard from her. She must have really liked Illya for the brief time she was here. Then again, Shirou realized as he frowned, it wasn't like Sakura had any other friends.
"Sorry Sakura," he simply said.
"Sorry? Sorry for what, Senpai?"
"It must be hard on you to be reminded of the death of one of your few friends. Is there anything that I can get for you, when I return?"
"No. Just having you home again would be enough," Sakura admitted. "I miss you Senpai."
"Yeah, it will be nice to see you and Taiga and Issei again."
Shirou glanced at the clock. His break was about to finish in 10 minutes and he had to get back over to Platform R-17 to confirming that the all of the lights and monitors were operational. He wanted to get that task completed before moving onto anything else.
"I've got to go soon so I'll call again next week okay? Sooner, if I get the chance. Is there anything you need? Money for Taiga's food or any spices?"
"No, we're fine. Just be safe and happy Senpai. That's all I'll ever need."
Shirou chuckled. "You're a good friend Sakura. Thank you and see you soon."
"See you again Senpai."
"See you later Shirou!" Taiga interjected. "And make sure to bring back some pastries again!"
"Bye Taiga." Shirou hung up the landline phone back into its receptacle before turning around, grabbing his bag from off the circular table, and leaving the breakroom.
Shirou had been working here at Chaldea for a tad over three years now. The remote Antarctician research post, with the only entrance at 6000 meters above sea level, was buried into the mountain. Here mages, scientists, and workers gathered for a single purpose. The continuation of mankind.
As he strode past the plants into the corridor, just before he turned a whiff of decay, smoke, and something alien, something foreign to man came through.
"Professor Lainur," Shirou greeted as he turned down the hallway towards the person standing there. Although, it was strange that the smell was stronger than usual. He must have been at one of the workshops recently. "How are you today?"
"Shirou, I'm doing well. How are you?" Lev Lainur nodded in greeting. He continued his walk forward and Shirou fell in step with him.
"I'm doing very well. Just had a phone call home," Shirou greeted in return. He cocked his head, "Is there something that needs fixing?"
"Well, a good snack wouldn't go amiss but since we are about to begin Rayshifting practical applications, I would just like to have one of our best technicians standing by at the central powerplant." Lev chuckled before returning to serious. "It's just in case. We wouldn't want anything to befall our Master candidates in the middle of the Rayshift practicals."
"Well, I'm not sure that I am one of the best. I mean Kallen Sayward is much better than me at ensuring smooth prana flows across machinery."
Lev nodded. "I've already asked him, but he doesn't respond well to surprises. With your practical experiences, I am sure that in the event that some issue pops up, you will be able to help the technicians respond quickly in any circumstances. It would put me at ease."
A hiss sounded from the corridor they were passing by and both Shirou and Lev turned to face it. A small furry squirrel Phantasmal creature took the opportunity to hiss again at Shirou.
Shirou blinked and the Phantasmal was suddenly far down the hallway.
It's awfully fast, Shirou thought as he looked after it turn around the curve in the hallway. Well, it is a Phantasmal.
"I never understood why Fou seems to hate you so much. He always does that when he sees you, doesn't he?" Lev Lainur commented to Shirou.
Shirou chuckled a little. "I always figured that Fou can smell the monsters that I've killed. I could have killed one of its friends or something." Either that or it can smell that I have been working on my Reality Marble.
"Hmm, then do you know what it is?" Lev Lainur turned to Shirou in curiosity.
"No, never seen a Phantasmal creature with that type of mane before," Shirou confessed. "But I figure that in my journeys, I may have crossed paths with it before. It is small enough that I could have missed it."
"Unlikely. Fou was found by the previous director and brought here 20 years ago. You would have been a child when that happened." Lev said before continuing their walk. "You will help the engineers out, right?"
Shirou shrugged, no complaint or reason to not down there. "Alright, if it'll help then I'll do it."
"Thank you. Oh, and by any chance do you know where Mash Kyrielight is?" Lev asked before explaining to Shirou's curious look. "The briefing is about to start, and the director wants her there."
Shirou shook his head. "I haven't seen her since…" He cocked his head in thought, "Huh, must have been 2 days ago at lunch. It has been kind of busy lately with all the double checks. Anyways, have you checked the top floor outer corridor? She seems to like going there for her breaks."
"I'll go check it out then," Lev nodded once before turning with a click of his heels down a hallway leading to the uppermost floor in Chaldea. "Thanks for your help and I hope you finish your task."
"Thanks for the well-wishes," Shirou answered as he took a different corridor to the elevator. "Good luck to you."
Shirou stood gloved hand on the outer shell of the geothermal condenser, sweat staining his brow.
"The pumps appear to have no problems with the heat transfer and the water flow is working just fine. Are there any flaws that you can see?" technician von Nettesheim asked.
"I told you, my element is not conductive to this type of analysis." Shirou responded absently. The steel is not showing any propagation of cracks. Stress level is fine. Strain level is low.
"Well," Shirou stated as he withdrew his hand, "the cracks on the machinery aren't propagating. Assuming that we don't experience drastic increases in stress for this generator, then we should be fine using this generator during the Rayshift."
"There are cracks? Where? I didn't see any when I analyzed it!" demanded Rum.
"Then obviously it was out of your sight," Shirou sarcastically responded as he reached out his hand to the container again. "Trace On." Structural Analysis went out from his hand, into the machine and down the pipes. "The largest crack is on the 319th pipe segment and there are several gears each with cracks less than a nanometer in size."
"319th pipe you said," von Nettesheim asked, reaching out his own hand as Shirou withdrew his own hand. Prana from different mages could interfere with each other's spells. "Structural Analysis." A beat. "Ah, along the grain boundary. Must have always been there, otherwise we would have seen it form. But as it, I think this will be fine. Shouldn't affect performance at all."
"But if there is a flaw, we should replace it immediately. We can't afford for a single error," Mr. Rum interjected. "Not on this revolutionary day."
"There are acceptable tolerances, and this is well within the tolerance range. If we fix it, we will have to take the generator off the grid for a minor replacement, and we can't even be sure that the replacement will lack cracks as well. Also," He disagreed before glancing towards Emiya. "Mr. Emiya isn't specialized in this field. His opinion is valid but the same could be said for all of the materials. If we suffer large enough stresses, then all the machinery will fail. However, if we do experience such large stress across all the machinery, we will probably be dead from receiving the stresses ourselves."
Shirou shrugged. Von Nettesheim was right. Shirou hadn't had any form of education. All he knew about machinery, he had learned from experience with smaller equipment.
Which reminded him, he should helping out here before going back and finish the check-up on R-17.
The intercom blared to life with its distinctive crackle. "Attention all personnel. Please stand-by as we begin preparations for Rayshift. Attention all personnel. Please stand-by as we begin preparations for Rayshift."
"Well, here we go!" von Nettesheim shouted, Rum behind him started nearly quivering in excitement. "Places everyone!"
"So glad the director isn't here. Can't you see her going 'Be silent! You work for me and this behavior is unseemly!'" Maugris said in a perfect imitation of Director Animusphere's voice. Laughter rang out from the technicians as Shirou headed towards the panels where the fuses are kept.
"Did you really capture her voice in a bounded field just so you could ventriloquize her, Henri? I didn't think you had the guts for that!"
"Eh, laugh it up, laugh it up. My wind element is going to revolutionize the steam here."
"Yeah, the steam off the director."
Amidst the guffaws, von Nettesheim tried to regain order "Now calm down everyone, we don't want- "
"TR- "Emiya was about half-way there to the fuse breakers when the explosion started from the ceiling above the generator. Experienced in fighting creatures faster than he, he reacted to the sound of an explosion by bringing up his magic circuits. Unfortunately, the few milliseconds before the shockwave hit was not enough time for him to reinforce himself or protect another.
Shirou entered the darkness immediately.