Shcherbina: [Coughing] Do you know anything about this town, Chernobyl?
Legasov: Not really, no.
Shcherbina: It was mostly Jews and Poles. The Jews were killed in pogroms, and Stalin forced the Poles out. And then the Nazis came and killed whoever was left. But after the war people came to live here anyway. They knew the ground under their feet was soaked in blood, but they didn't care. Dead Jews, dead Poles. But not them. No one ever thinks it's going to happen to them. And here we are.
Legasov: How much time?
Shcherbina: Maybe a year. They call it a...[coughs] They call it a ‘long illness.’
Legasov: It doesn't seem very long to me.
Shcherbina: I know you told me, and I believed you. But time passed, and I thought, it wouldn't happen to me. I wasted it. I wasted it all for nothing.
Legasov: For nothing?
Shcherbina: Do you remember that morning when I first called you, how unconcerned I was? I don't believe much that comes out of the Kremlin, but when they told me they were putting me in charge of the cleanup and they said it wasn't serious, I believed them. You know why?
Legasov: Because they put you in charge.
Shcherbina: Yeah. I'm an inconsequential man, Valera. That's all I've ever been. I hoped that one day I would matter, but I didn't. I just stood next to people who did.
Legasov: There are other scientists like me. Any one of them could have done what I did. But you...Everything we asked for, everything we needed. Men, material, lunar rovers. Who else could have done these things? They heard me, but they listened to you. Of all the ministers, and all the deputies, entire congregation of obedient fools, they mistakenly sent the one good man. For god's sake, Boris, you were the one who mattered most.
Shcherbina: [Sees a small caterpillar on his lap and lets it crawl on his index finger] Ah, it's beautiful.”
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