|“|| It's an illusion that the Zone is under lock and key, and the army has all the ways in and out sealed and all that bullshit. Think about it, nowadays artifacts and rare specimens from the zone are found all over the world, and your fellow stalkers never had a shortage of canned meat, vodka, ammo or equipment - somebody's gotta be responsible for all that, right?|
- Docent Suslov
The Zone of Alienation, or simply "The Zone," is the 60 km wide area of exclusion that was set up around the Chernobyl NPP following the 1986 disaster and extended by the second Chernobyl disaster in 2006.
The Zone of Alienation stretches between the borders of Ukraine and Belarus, and is kept protected by the Ukrainian authorities. Due to the radical decrease in human presence and activity, wildlife has flourished in the Zone and the area is often described as having been "reclaimed by nature". Following the 2006 disaster, animals and plants have been grotesquely mutated and deadly anomalies abound.
Supposedly, the area is kept under lockdown by the military. However, the prospect of lucrative looting and treasure hunting has led a large number of opportunists known as Stalkers to jump fence into The Zone itself. These people are either operating for themselves, or in factions. Among the more notable groups are Duty, Freedom and the Ecologists.
Research is constantly ongoing to find out the nature and origin of The Zone, as well as a means to counter it. There are many different beliefs concerning the truth of, and reasonable response to, The Zone. For example, Duty members are attempting to "fight the Zone" while Freedom believes that the entire area is a gift to mankind and should be shared equally by all of humanity. During the course of the games, some characters express concern that the Zone might be growing and increasing its influence on the world.
Before the 1986 disaster, the remote areas around Chernobyl and Pripyat were used by the Soviet Union for research and development of psychotropic weapons and study of the noosphere. One of the earliest such programs was undertaken at Limansk-13, a secret city where top Soviet scientists experimented with radiowaves, in order to harness them as a tool, to create unflinching loyalty to the Union in all affected people.
However, the research was not safe. A surge in energy consumption during one of the experiments on April 26, 1986 was one of the main reasons Reactor 4 exploded. In response to the incident, the USSR evacuated Pripyat and settlements in the neighboring areas, until the Zone became almost totally deserted, save for a few die hard citizens (including the Forester) and scientific teams working in secret laboratories. For them, the incident came as a blessing, as the now-empty Zone of Alienation proved to be the perfect proving ground and laboratories became twice as active.
The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 did nothing to hinder their work, to the contrary - the weakened government of independent Ukraine proved to be unable to investigate rumors of strange experiments taking place in the Zone and put a stop to them. The scientists continued their research into the noosphere unabated. Soon, breakthroughs took place and they began the search to psychically influence humanity using the noosphere on a global scale. The science team, driven by noble intentions, want to eliminate war, injustice and conflict through their research into changing the human psyche. Any atrocities that occur on the way are a necessary evil. Regardless, the area around Chernobyl was relatively peaceful until sometime around 2001, when a bus full of tourists in the zone disappeared. The incident prompted the government to fully restrict the zone to civilians. In 2011, stalkers reported encountering zombies who spoke garbled English, revealing the fate of the tourists.
The first experiment in affecting human psyche on a massive scale took place on March 4, 2006. It lasted two full hours before it was shut down, likely due to unforeseen developments. A month later, on April 12, the experiment was performed again and this time it continued until its completion. However, it did not have the desired effect - instead, the generators created a rift in the noosphere, allowing it to directly affect the biosphere, creating a large area where physical laws were outright broken and mysterious phenomena not understood by modern science began to manifest.
Despite the catastrophic nature of the incident, the scientists responsible lived. In the aftermath, disputes on how to handle the incident led to half the scientists leaving to form Clear Sky, in order to research the Zone and find a way to remove the rift. The remaining half remained in the laboratories and, using available technology, merged into the Common Consciousness. They believed that the problem could be solved by studying the noosphere further and learning how to suppress it. Indeed, they soon learned how to control it, but with control came a price - the energy was so immense that they had to periodically release the excess, lest they be overwhelmed by it. Such a release became known to the inhabitants of the Zone as a blowout or emission. On June 10, 2006 the very first emission occurred. Unprepared military and scientific personnel were instantly obliterated while the zone expanded a further 5 kilometers.
Realizing that they need more time to find a solution, the scientists created a defense perimeter to protect them against intruders. The primary element of this psychic defense network was the Brain Scorcher, an experimental psi-antennae outside Pripyat. When activated, any human that came into its range was mind controlled by the C-Consciousness and joined the ranks of their agents. Secondary elements were the Monolith and its protectors - one lured stalkers into the center of the Zone with promises of wealth and wishes coming true, the second actively raided stalkers and defended research facilities, lest unauthorized people learned the secrets of the C-Consciousness.
In 2007, the Ukrainian government sent out expeditions into the zone, most of them ending in failure after the explorers were killed by mutants.
In 2010, the "stalker phenomenon" was becoming more evident. It was theorized that the zone was home to around 300 individuals who called themselves "stalkers" who made money by selling artifacts.
In 2011, the stalker population began to grow despite the military's efforts to cordon the zone. On October 25, 2011 the very first skirmish between stalkers and the military occurred, which prompted the military to shoot stalkers on sight. Strelok's Group managed to penetrate the center of the zone and survive, triggering the second largest emission to happen in the zone's history, with a mercenary named "Scar" managing to survive it without cover. During this time the Clear Sky faction was also destroyed in a massive blowout at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, when they attempted to stop Strelok's third incursion into the Zone.
In 2012, Strelok managed to deactivate the infamous Brain Scorcher and destroy the C-Consciousness. Despite this the zone did not disappear, meaning that the damage done by C-Consciousness may be permanent. In the wake of this opportunity, the military launched: Operation Fairway, under the command of Colonel Kovalsky whose task was to secure the Chernobyl NPP with a battalion of Spetsnaz operators, transported in 5 gunships called Stingrays. Despite all the plannings and precautions made, the operation ultimately fails after all the gunships were either downed by airborne anomalies or shot down by Monolith troops. Major Degtyarev was then sent to investigate the operation's failure, where he arrived at Zaton on August 1, 2012 which is the actual start of his investigation.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, Anarchy Cell design document. This directly contradicts the claims made by the C-Consciousness representative in Shadow of Chernobyl, however. It is possible that he simply did not remember or did not know the full extent of the Soviet research.
- ↑ S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl: The research in X-18 obviously contradicts the above statement.
- ↑ THQ's Official STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl website, THQ, retrieved on 18/07/2010
- ↑ Clear Sky website, Zone World section, GSC Gameworld, retrieved on 18/07/2010
See also Edit
- Within The Zone: Locations, Category:Characters, Mutants, Anomalies, Items
- Zone beliefs
- Wikipedia on the real life Zone of Alienation
- The timeline of the events in STALKER