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: Now, children, come on over here. I'm going to tell you a bedtime story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent race of animals that dominated the world through age after age. They ran, they swam, and they fought and they flew, until suddenly, quite recently, they disappeared. Nature just gave up and started again. We weren't even apes then. We were just these smart little rodents hiding in the rocks. And when we go, nature will start over. With the bees, probably. Nature knows when to give up, David.
: [McKittrick approaches Falken's group on stairs
] I don't know what you think you can do here, Stephen. Stephen Falken
: [suddenly noticing
] John! Good to see you. I see the wife still picks your ties. McKittrick
: What is- What has this kid been telling you? Stephen Falken
: [looking at screens
] How far's he gone? McKittrick
: Well the President about ready to order a counterstrike. That's what we're recommending he do. Stephen Falken
: It's a bluff, John, call it off. McKittrick
: No, it's not a bluff. It's real. Stephen Falken
: [raising his voice from stairs
] Hello, General Beringer! Stephen Falken! General Beringer
] Mr. Falken you picked a hell of a day for a visit! Stephen Falken
: Uh, uh, General, what you see on these screens up here is a fantasy; a computer-enhanced hallucination. Those blips are not real missiles. They're phantoms. McKittrick
: [McKittrick approaches Beringer
] Jack, there's nothing to indicate a simulation at all. Everything is working perfectly! Stephen Falken
: But does it make any sense? General Beringer
: Does what make any sense? Stephen Falken
: [points to the screens
] That! General Beringer
: Look, I don't have time for a conversation right now. Stephen Falken
: [Falken speaks as he approaches
] General, are you prepared to destroy the enemy? General Beringer
: You betcha! Stephen Falken
: Do you think they know that? General Beringer
: I believe we've made that clear enough. Stephen Falken
: [face to face
] Then don't! Tell the President to ride out the attack. Colonel Joe Conley
: Sir, they need a decision. Stephen Falken
: General, do you really believe that the enemy would attack without provocation, using so many missiles, bombers, and subs so that we would have no choice but to totally annihilate them? Female Airman First Class
: [on loudspeaker
] One minute and thirty seconds to impact. Stephen Falken
: General, you are listening to a machine! Do the world a favor and don't act like one. Female Airman First Class
: [on loudspeaker
] One minute and twenty seconds to impact.
[after playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War
: Greetings, Professor Falken. Stephen Falken
: Hello, Joshua. Joshua
: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
: What you see on these screens up here is a fantasy; a computer enhanced hallucination!
: Are either of you paleontologists? I'm in desperate need of a paleontologist. Jennifer
: No, we're high school students. Stephen Falken
: I loved it when you nuked Las Vegas. Suitably biblical ending to the place, don't you think?
: The whole point was to find a way to practice nuclear war without destroying ourselves. To get the computers to learn from mistakes we couldn't afford to make. Except, I never could get Joshua to learn the most important lesson. David Lightman
: What's that? Stephen Falken
: Futility. That there's a time when you should just give up. Jennifer
: What kind of a lesson is that? Stephen Falken
: Did you ever play tic-tac-toe? Jennifer
: Yeah, of course. Stephen Falken
: But you don't anymore. Jennifer
: No. Stephen Falken
: Why? Jennifer
: Because it's a boring game. It's always a tie. Stephen Falken
: Exactly. There's no way to win. The game itself is pointless! But back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war. That there can be "acceptable losses."