It was raining.
It was always fucking raining at this time of the year in Sector 83.
It wasn’t enough that Lex had to travel down from Sector 7 every day before his shift. Nope. It was the rain that really got to him. Toxic rain coming off the Black Atlantic. Spend too long outside and your skin would start to show the effects of the fine radioactive particles in every drop. Even the kit he wore was showing signs of exposure. Lex’s Lawmaster bike only lasted him his first four months on the street before it had to be replaced.
It seemed that the rain never stopped sometimes. Someone at the station house had told him he’d get used to it. That worried him.
Every time a drop of rain hit his armour a little sizzling sound could be heard. The slow death of the once pristine kit, just like everything and everyone else in this dump. You could always tell who wasn’t from 83 just by looking at their face and clothing. Then again, it was rare to get visitors to 83.
Lex was still a rookie Judge, and as such he was assigned, like the bulk of Mega City One’s judges to the Street Division. It wasn’t glamourous, and the pay didn’t stretch far enough, but it was work he enjoyed, and it kept a room over his head, and gave him a purpose in life.
Looking up to the grey sky, Lex couldn’t help but wonder how much longer he’d be stuck in such a backwater sector. He hadn’t scored well enough in his class at the academy to land a spot in one of the more elite divisions of the force, or even a better sector to launch his career, but he had passed-out, and that was what mattered at the end of the day. That and surviving his first quarter on the street. Of the nearly 500 graduates of the class of 2080, he was one of 325 that were still alive going into their fifth month on the street.
The rookie dropped his head and looked over at his partner, supervisor, and mentor Judge Sarah Alesberg. At a full six feet tall, Alesberg had an inch on Lex, and was built just as powerfully.
“Keep your fucking head in the game.”
The rain continued to fall as the duo inched along the grey concrete exterior of a featureless building, one of hundreds like it in Sector 83.
83 had only two mega-blocks, the massive one-story plus buildings that dotted Mega-City One, while the rest of the city was made up of structures ranging from single story to five, all build after the Atomic Wars, and almost all of them covered in graffiti and heavily scarred from the rains. Alesberg herself was showing signs of exposure, perhaps that’s why she never asked for a transfer out. Rumour at the station house was that when she had arrived in the sector as a rookie she was an attractive woman, now she was scarred, just like the locals. Perhaps that’s why she kept turning down promotions and offers to transfer out. She was the most decorated Judge in the sector, by a long way. She could have been running a sector by now, but instead she hid in plain sight. In Sector 83.
It wasn’t often that a concerned citizen called the Judge’s to complain about a matter of law and order in this sector. That kind of shit would get you killed in a place like this. But a call had come into the sector house about a drug manufacturing operation being run out of the shithole building that Alesberg and Lex were currently stacked up outside.
There weren’t any sentries posted. No cameras and no dogs. Low tech thugs operating in this part of town probably couldn’t afford such luxuries, because if they were making any real profit, they’d have had security in place. That or they were just sloppy.
The sector house had sent a drone into the area for an initial reconnaissance, and only one entrance to the structure had been discovered. There might have been other ways into the building, but if there were, they weren’t visible to the Judges.
“Door.” Alesberg said in a low voice.
Lex brought his head around and looked past his mentor and confirmed. “Door.”
“Sweep left upon entry.” She ordered.
“Left.” He repeated.
In his four months on the street, Lex had passed through many doors in a similar manner. Alesberg would lead and take one section of the first room they entered, he’d take the rest. They had been met with gunfire on several occasions. Some of it very accurate and Lex was certain that on at least two occasions the duo had been lucky to escape with their lives.
Alesberg pushed the door open without trouble. The lock was either not engaged, or the door had been left unsecured. Either way she disappeared into the building and out of Lex’s view for a split second before he followed her inside, out of the stinging rain, and into a dimly lit entrance hall.
There was a thin mist hanging around the ceiling, and the walls were covered in graffiti like the exterior of the building. There was trash littering the ground and it was obvious to Lex that this entrance was almost never used.
The space itself was ten yards wide, and fifteen deep. The exposed concrete blocks that lined the walls had a rough look, an unfinished look. At the opposite end of the room from the door they had passed through was a thick black curtain hanging from a bar that had once been the top of a doorway. From Lex’s position, it looked to be made of a heavy plastic, but he wasn’t certain.
Looking to his right, he watched as Judge Alesberg took her time to look over every inch of the room. Looking for clues or dangers, just like he had been taught in the academy. When her sweep was finished, she looked over to Lex.
“We’re going to move up to that curtain. You stay left. Silently.” She emphasised that last word.
Lex just nodded.
Alesberg stepped off first, slowly. She took deliberate steps. She also made an effort not to step on anything other than the floor beneath her feet.
Lex wasn’t sure if Alesberg thought that the room was booby-trapped, but he took her lead, and gingerly placed his foot down with each step.
Three and a half minutes later the pair was ready to rush through the curtain which was made of a heavy-duty plastic, but was not attached to anything other than the top frame of what had once been a doorway.
Lex could hear voices on the other side of the curtain, but they were distant. He knew from the initial drone reconnaissance that the building was fifty yards deep, which meant it was 35 yards to the far wall.
“Stand-by.” Alesberg ordered.
Taking her left hand down from her pistol, Alesberg opened a pouch on her utility belt and pulled out a small grey metal looking ball and knelt down.
“Get ready.” She took a final glance up at Lex before bringing her arm back and rolling the orb under the curtain with great force, before springing back to a standing position.
Alesberg looked down at her left forearm at an image that Lex couldn’t see, but he knew what she was waiting for: a count on the number of humans on the other side of the curtain. The orb could detect all living organisms within a one-hundred-yard radius, critical information for any breach.
It didn’t take long for the results to come in: 12.
“Sweep left and keep moving forward.”
“Sir.” Lex tightened his grip on his pistol before tilting it slightly to the side to make sure the weapon was on ‘standard’ fire mode, and he wasn’t about to fire off an incendiary round. He’d made that mistake before, and he wasn’t about to make it again.
Lex was through the curtain half a second after Alesberg, by which time they were already taking fire. It wasn’t accurate, but enough to send him ducking forward into a roll that brought him to a knelling position behind a large concrete support column. Shifting to his right, he brought his pistol to bear on the end of the room in time to see two men down, weapons next to them, Alesberg halfway across the room.
The rookie sprung to his feet, and ran forward twenty yards to a position just to the left and front of Alesberg and quickly took in the scene. Two dead gunmen, both dropped with single shots to the head. Eight male and female workers in aprons squatting or kneeling with their hands raised and looking scared out of their minds, and then a man and a woman, both wearing jeans, grey tank-tops and covered in lots of ink standing defiantly against the backwall with their hands in the air.
He glanced over at Alesberg. She holstered her pistol and bent down and picked up the two weapons that the dead men had dropped and quickly emptied the weapons of their ammunition before rendering the weapons inoperable, and then dropping them back to the ground.
“Evaluate.” She said in her normal speaking voice, which was elegant and refined, and hinted at a background of higher education.
Lex dropped his gaze from the two standing individuals and looked around the room. Six tables were set up nearby. Four had laboratory kits on them. It was clear that a ‘cook’ was in progress. The fumes in the air stank. Health and safety procedures were clearly not in place. The remaining two tables were littered with an assortment of weapons, packed drugs, and cash laying on them in a very haphazard manner.
“Manufacture of controlled substances. Illegal possession of firearms. Resisting arrest.” Lex said with confidence before turning his attention towards the two standing individuals. Taking a few steps towards them, Lex got a better look at their ink, before turning to Alesberg. “Membership in illegal street-gang.”
Alesberg nodded. “Good.”
Lex took a few steps back towards Alesberg, his pistol still trained on the two tattooed suspects, neither of whom had spoken yet. “Sir?”
Alesberg took in a deep breath, and exhaled loudly. She looked down at the eight workers that were cowering on the ground. The oldest was not even out of his teens. “Get me scans on them.” She pointed down to the workers.
Lex nodded, and pulled out a data-reader off his hip and moved towards the workers and methodically took finger and retina scans, plus photographs of all eight workers, all the while keeping his pistol trained on the two bosses that hadn’t moved or said a word yet.
“Done.” Lex reported.
“Good.” Alesberg looked over at the cash on the nearby table and walked over to it and poked the large stack of cash with her left forefinger. Her right hand resting on her pistol grip. Turning towards the closest worker, she pointed. “You.”
Lex looked at the kid that Alesberg had pointed to. A mixed-race youth of maybe ten.
The kid looked at his bosses, then over to Alesberg, then to Lex. A look of fear on his face.
Alesberg knew that the kid was scared. Who wouldn’t be?
“It’s okay.” Alesberg said quietly, and without hesitation pulled her pistol and shot the male in the grey tank-top in the chest, and then holstered her pistol like lightening. “They won’t hurt you.”
Lex snapped his head around just in time to see the male grab at his chest before crumpling to the ground.
“All of you, come over here.” Alesberg said to the eight kids. There was hesitation for a moment before the youngest, a girl, got up and walked over to the table Alesberg was standing next to. “Fill your pockets.” Alesberg pointed towards the cash.
The girl hesitated for a second, and even glanced over at the female boss who was standing next to her dead partner, a look of fear on her face, before looking back down at the cash. A final look up at Alesberg, and then she grabbed at the loose credits, shoving them by the fist-full into her pockets.
“All of you, do the same.” Alesberg ordered.
Walking away from the table, Judge Alesberg started walking towards the female gang member. “On your knees.”
The woman didn’t move.
“Lex. Get that bitch on her knees.” Alesberg ordered.
Lex moved forward, and did as he was told.
“Children.” Alesberg stopped behind the woman. “This is what happens when you break the law.”
A single gunshot rang-out, and the female boss slumped forward, dead. “Take that money, and get out of here, and let me never see you again.” Alesberg stepped over the dead woman’s body and started to stride back towards the table.
The children paused for a moment, taking a final look at their former employers, and then took off towards a set of stairs in the corner of the room.
“Meat wagon, Lex.” Alesberg ordered.
Lex made the call as his superior walked back towards the table with the drugs, weapons and money.
“You know what Mega-City is, don’t you Lex?” Alesberg asked, taking off her helmet and setting it down on the table. “It’s a meat grinder. People go in one end, and meat comes out the other. All we do is turn the handle.” She let out a laugh. Reaching down she picked up a neatly bundled block of cash. “Hold onto this.” She tossed it towards Lex. “There are a few things I still have to teach you.”
Lex caught the block of cash. It was wrapped in plastic with a number printed on the front: 5,000. That was more money than he or Alesberg would make this month, put together.
Alesberg turned around, and rested her rear on the table before pulling out a cigar from her breast pocket. She stuck the tobacco in her mouth before pulling out a silver lighter from her hip pocket. Lighting the cigar, she took a few quick puffs before looking through the smoke towards Lex. “I think it’s time we take your education to the next level.” She took a few more tugs off the tightly wrapped cigar. “I’ve still got a few things to teach you.” A smile creeping onto her face.
Looking towards Alesberg, a smile started to creep over Lex’s face. The weight of the cash in his hand felt good. The expensive cigar smoke that wafted about him smelled delicious, and the blood that was racing through his veins sent a warm rush along his skin. Lex looked around him at the four deceased criminals that Alesberg had taken-out, then back at his superior with a giant grin on his face just as a sense of power start to come over him. It was one of the best feelings he had ever experienced.
Lex looked down at the cash in his left hand, and righted himself, finally holstering his pistol. Looking towards the black plastic curtain they had come through only a few minutes earlier, he could hear approaching sirens in the distance.
I’m a huge fan of the Karl Urban ‘Dredd’ film that came out in 2012. Good story, excellent action. It’s a really fun piece of sci-fi storytelling. I’ve been off wordsmithing for a bit and wanted to get back into the swing of things gradually, so I thought I’d just knock-up a quick story offering a bit of backstory on Lex, the villainous Judge who comes to Ma-Ma’s aid. How did Lex become the Judge he is in the film? I’ve tried to offer a bit of an answer to that question.