Tue, 05 Sep 2000
Alara Rogers alara@mindspring.com
AUTHORITY: The Cold Equations (Midnighter)

Next: Alara writes a story about characters she knows nothing about!

That's right. I have read some fanfics and I have read Jenny Sparks #2, and this is my sum total of knowledge about Apollo and the Midnighter. And do I think this qualifies me to write about them? Not at all, but I'm doing it anyway. Comments, particularly criticism of characterization, are very welcome.

This is all Frito's fault. You *had* to go and tell me all about the Authority, didn't you? You *knew* I don't have money to buy trade paperbacks, and yet you had to tell me about it. You are an evil wench. :-)

Also a bow to Dex for reminding me of the story that I ripped this title off of, in a recent thread on Rant and Rave.


The Cold Equations

Alara Rogers

 

There is a .00037% chance that your mods will fail in flight, and you'll fall.

There is a .423% chance that you'll come down with a disease that even you can't survive.

I don't think I was ever much for mathematics, before, though I can't be certain. But now the cold equations dance perpetually behind my eyes, and I've had to learn what they mean. Numbers, by themselves, are nothing. I needed to learn how the numbers relate to the real world, to make them part of me.

There is a 5.43% chance that you'll contract cancer from the radiation that concentrates in you.

There is a .009% chance that you'll be hit by a stray bullet in a firefight, in exactly one of the few vulnerable regions of your body.

Statistics lie. Depending on the time period you analyze, we all have a 100% chance of dying. If you compound a risk over a lifetime, it starts to look much more meaningful than if you're looking at a specific time period. Flying's safer than driving, and the people who are least likely to be mugged are the ones who most live in fear of it. You learn to analyze a spread of odds. 5.13% that the thug in front will feint left, 7.85% to the right, 74.67% that he'll pull a gun. Each leading to a chain of events, each with their own probabilities. You need to be prepared for every single contingency, but some are more likely than others. You ignore the .0004% chance that they'll do something the computer hasn't predicted, the .057% that despite your best analysis you'll die anyway.

What I should say is that *I* ignore the chance *I'll* die anyway. Because when it's you, it's different.

.028% that your mods will overload in the path of a microwave beam that you've accidentally flown through, and kill you.

Never less than .3% that you'll die in any given battle. Often more. Sometimes a lot more.

I can't protect you. That's not what we're about. You're stronger than me and less vulnerable anyway. And from the beginning we've been partners. I don't shelter you, even though i know the odds, because you wouldn't let me, and it would destroy what I love about you.

You're so bright. So *good*. Your motive in going into this was never to make the scum who hurt people pay, but simply to protect people from being hurt. My goal was more geared around revenge, and meting out justice to the bad, not saving the good. That's why you're a better man than me. That's why I need you at my side, as my partner, because the cold equations don't tell me how to be a good man, don't tell me how to keep from descending to the level of scum we fight. With you, I can be a hero and not just a vigilante. With you, I can feel confident that we're not merely letting the ends justify the means, but that we *are* doing the most ethical thing we could do in each situation.

The equations don't show me ethics. Working with you does.

There is a 93.784% chance that we won't get to grow old together, that one or both of us will die by violence, sometime in our violent lives.

I accept the risk for myself and shrug it off. But you? How do I shrug it off for you? How do I bear going into battle by your side, every time, seeing the odds of your death and being unable to put them in perspective? A .5% chance is so low it enters the realm of unpredictability, of random chaos, but every time there's a .5% chance of your death my blood runs cold. Why do you think I feel so cold, all the time?

I have to learn to ignore it, the same as I ignore the odds for myself. But I don't know if I can. If I die, then I die, and that's all. I don't need to be concerned with what happens if I die. But if you die, the world ends. If you die, I can't live without you. I won't *want* to.

73.58% chance that if you die, I won't outlast you by more than a day. That's a comforting figure.

We'll go into battle as partners, time and time again. And I'll never let you know how terrified I am of the odds I see against you.


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