Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Praxis-Rings Over Pyongyang



Captain Hikaru SULU: 
Quarter impulse power! ...Damage report!

Checking all systems, Captain.

Don't tell me that was any meteor shower..!

Negative, sir. The subspace shockwave originated at bearing three two three, mark seven five. 
It's Praxis, sir. It's a Klingon moon.

Praxis is their key energy production facility. 

...Send to Klingon High Command :

'This is Excelsior, a Federation starship. 
We have monitored a large explosion in your sector. 
Do you require assistance?'

Aye sir.

Mister Valtane, any more data?

Yes sir. I have confirmed the location of Praxis, sir, but...

What is it?

I cannot confirm the existence of Praxis.

On screen! ...Magnify!

Computer enhancement.


What's left of it, sir.

Captain, I'm getting a message from Praxis.

Let's have it.

KERLA (on viewscreen): 
This is Brigadier Kerla, speaking for the High Command. 
There has been an incident on Praxis. 
However everything is under control. 
We have no need for assistance. 
Obey treaty stipulations and remain outside the Neutral Zone. 

This transmission ends, now.

An incident?

Do we report this, sir?

Are you kidding?

This briefing is Classified. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, the C-in-C.

C in C: 
As you were. 
I'll break this information down succinctly :

The Klingon Empire has roughly fifty years of life left in it. 

...For full details, I am turning this briefing over to Federation Special Envoy.

Good morning. 
Two months ago a Federation starship monitored an explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis. 

We believe it was caused by over-mining and insufficient safety precautions. 

The moon's decimation means a deadly pollution of their ozone. 
They will have depleted their supply of oxygen in approximately fifty Earth years. 

Due to their enormous military budget, the Klingon economy does not have the resources to combat this catastrophe. 

Last month, at the behest of the Vulcan Ambassador I opened a dialogue with Gorkon, Chancellor of the Klingon High Council. 
He proposes to commence negotiations at once.
Negotiations for, what..?

The dismantling of our space stations and starbases along the Neutral Zone, 
an end to almost seventy years of unremitting hostility with the Klingons, 
which the Klingons, can no longer afford.

Bill, are we talking about mothballing the Starfleet..?

C in C: 
I'm sure that our exploration and scientific programs would be unaffected, Captain, but...


I must protest. 

To offer the Klingons a safe haven within Federation space is suicide. 
Klingons would become the alien trash of the galaxy. 
And if we dismantle the fleet, we'd be defenceless before an aggressive species with a foothold on our territory. 

The opportunity here, is to bring them to their knees. 

Then we'll be in a far better position to dictate terms.

C in C: 
Captain Kirk?

The Klingons have never been trustworthy. 
I'm forced to agree with Admiral Cartwright. 
This is a terrifying idea.

It is imperative that we act now to support the Gorkon initiative, lest more conservative elements persuade his Empire that it is better to attempt a military solution and die fighting.

In the indefinite future, the "Stalker" (Alexander Kaidanovsky) works in some unclear territory as a guide who leads people through the "Zone," an area in which the normal laws of reality do not apply.
The Zone contains a place called the "Room," said to grant the wishes of anyone who steps inside. The area containing the Zone is sealed off by the government and great hazards exist within it. At home with his wife and daughter, the Stalker's wife (Alisa Freindlich) begs him not to go into the Zone but he ignores her pleas. In a rundown bar, the Stalker meets his next clients for a trip into the Zone. The "Writer" (Anatoly Solonitsyn) and the "Professor" (Nikolai Grinko) agree to put their fates in the Stalker's hands. They remain nameless and the characters refer to one another by their professions.

They evade the military blockade that guards the Zone, surviving gunfire from the guards. They then ride into the heart of the Zone on a railway work car. The Stalker tells his clients they must do exactly as he says to survive the dangers which lie ahead and explains the Zone's dangers are invisible. The Stalker tests for traps by throwing metal nuts tied to strips of cloth ahead of them. The complicated path that they must take cannot be specifically seen nor heard but can only be sensed. The shortest path is never the straight path.

The Writer is skeptical of any real danger, but the Professor generally follows the Stalker's advice. As they travel, the three men discuss their reasons for wanting to visit the Room. The Writer expresses his fear of losing his inspiration. He appears angry and stressed. The Professor seems less anxious, though he insists on carrying along a small backpack, its contents unknown. While the Professor's desires are not clear, he reluctantly gives in to repeated pleas from the Writer and admits he hopes to win a Nobel Prize for a scientific analysis of the Zone. The Stalker insists he has no motive beyond the altruistic aim of aiding the desperate. At times, he refers to a previous Stalker named "Porcupine," who had led his brother to his death in the Zone, visited the Room, come into possession of a large sum of money, and then hanged himself, completely contradicting what the Room is supposed to supply.

While the Room appears to fulfill a visitor's wishes, these might not be consciously expressed wishes but unconscious desires. In addition it appears that the Zone itself has a kind of sentience. When the Writer later confronts the Stalker about his knowledge of the Zone and the Room, the Stalker replies that his information came from the now deceased Porcupine. After traveling through tunnels the three reach their destination. They determine that their goal lies inside a decayed and decrepit industrial building. In a small antechamber, a phone begins to ring. The Writer answers and cryptically speaks into the phone, stating "this is not the clinic," before hanging up. The surprised Professor decides to use the phone to telephone a colleague. In the ensuing conversation, he reveals his true intentions in undertaking the journey. The Professor has brought a nuclear device with him, and he intends to destroy the Room to prevent its use by evil men.

The three then fight verbally and physically in a larger antechamber just outside the Room. The fight ends in a draw with all three of them exhausted. As they catch their breath, the Writer experiences an epiphany about the Room's true nature. He argues that when Porcupine met his goal, despite his conscious motives, the room fulfilled Porcupine's secret desire for wealth, instead of bringing back his brother from death. This in turn prompted Porcupine to commit suicide. The Writer further reasons the Room is dangerous to those who seek it for negative reasons. With his earlier fears assuaged, the Professor gives up on his plan of destroying the Room. Instead, he disassembles his bomb and scatters its pieces. The men rest before the doorway and never enter the Room. Rain begins to fall into the Room through its ruined ceiling, then gradually fades away.

The Stalker, the Writer, and the Professor are shown back in the bar, and are met there by the Stalker's wife and daughter. A black dog that had followed the three men through the Zone is in the bar with them. When his wife asks where he got the dog, Stalker declares that it just came to him, and he remarks that he felt unable to leave it behind.

Later, when the Stalker's wife tells him that she would like to visit the Room herself, he expresses doubts about the Zone. He states that he fears her dreams will not be fulfilled. As the Stalker sleeps, his wife contemplates their relationship in a monologue delivered directly to the camera. She declares that she knew perfectly well that life with him would be hard, since he would be unreliable and their children would face challenges, but she concludes that she is better off with him despite their many trials. "Monkey," the couple's daughter, sitting alone in the kitchen, recites a love poem by Fyodor Tyutchev.

Monkey holds the large book and lays her head on a table. She then appears to use psychokinesis to push three drinking glasses across it, one after the other moving across the table, the third one falling to the floor. A train passes by where the Stalker's family lives, and the entire apartment shakes. As the noise of the train begin to subside, the film ends.

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