Authors: Gordon Rennie
Tags: #Science Fiction
Dredd vs. Death
"Very well then,' Chief Judge Hershey concluded. 'If there's no other business to be discussed..."
"Just one item," interrupted a new voice from the other end of the room. All heads turned to see Judge Dredd standing in the council chamber doorway. The Council of Five meetings were supposed to take place in closed session, with no one permitted to enter without the Chief Judge's permission. Dredd, however, was always a special case.
When Dredd spoke, Hershey knew from long experience, it paid for Chief Judges to pay attention to what he had to say. She sat back in her chair, signalling for her old street patrol partner to continue.
"What's the official Department policy on vampires?" he asked.
#1: DREDD VS DEATH
#2: BAD MOON RISING
#3: BLACK ATLANTIC
Simon Jowett & Peter J Evans
#5: KINGDOM OF THE BLIND
#6: THE FINAL CUT
#7: SWINE FEVER
MORE 2000 AD ACTION
#1: FEAR THE DARKNESS - Mitchel Scanlon
#2: RED SHADOWS - Mitchel Scanlon
#3: SINS OF THE FATHER - Mitchel Scanlon
THE ABC WARRIORS
#1: THE MEDUSA WAR - Pat Mills & Alan Mitchell
#1: THE UNQUIET GRAVE - Peter J Evans
#1: CRUCIBLE - Gordon Rennie
#1: BAD TIMING - Rebecca Levene
FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT - David Bishop
#1: OPERATION VAMPYR
#2: THE BLOOD RED ARMY
#3: TWILIGHT OF THE DEAD
A 2000 AD PUBLICATION
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Copyright © 2003 Rebellion A/S. All rights reserved.
All 2000 AD characters and logos © and TM Rebellion A/S."Judge Dredd" is a registered trade mark in the United States and other jurisdictions."2000 AD" is a registered trade mark in certain jurisdictions. All rights reserved. Used under licence.
A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
DREDD vs. DEATH
Judge Dredd, Judge Giant and Galen De Marco created by
John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra
Psi-Judge Anderson, Chief Judge Hershey and the Four Dark Judges created by
John Wagner & Brian Bolland
Novelization based on the PC/PS2/Xbox game "Judge Dredd: Dredd Vs Death". Script by
Tim Jones, Kevin Floyer-Lea & Paul Mackman
MEGA-CITY ONE, 2112
It was the smell from the rotting corpses of his wife and daughter which finally forced Vernon out of the apartment he had shared with them for the last five years.
He wasn't sure how long he had been in there with them. Time seemed to have altered its flow in the days since the whole of Mega-City One had fallen into this place which must surely be something close to Hell. The perpetual gloom that cloaked the city and enveloped the tops of the highest city blocks made it difficult to tell day from night, but by his reckoning it could only have been a few days since reality, as the citizens of Mega-City One had known it, had simply ceased to exist.
Just a few days. Not long enough to account for the rapidity with which the city had fallen apart. Not long enough to account for the overwhelming stench of weeks-long decay emanating from behind the closed door leading to the small apartment's bedrooms. But more than long enough to account for the growing sensation of gnawing hunger in his stomach.
The city's power supply was intermittent now, but even that couldn't account for the speed at which the food in the icebox had rotted away. There was something in the air which seemed to seep into absolutely everything, bringing festering decay in its wake. Even the contents of the packets of synthi-stuff in the kitchen cupboards had become mouldy and rotten, and Vernon hadn't been able to keep down more than a few mouthfuls of the raw synthi-noodle flakes he had tried to eat.
All he could do was sit there in the semi-darkness of the apartment, shivering against the unnatural cold that seemed to creep right into his very bones, listening to the terrible sounds that echoed through the deserted street-canyons outside - and wonder when it would be his turn to meet the awful, shapeless source of those sounds.
The stench got worse every day. It touched something deep inside Vernon, something dark and growing. Finally, he found the courage to flee the apartment and venture into the terrible, frightening world outside before his sanity finally gave way, before the terrible, groaning hunger within him caused him to look at that closed door and think of the bodies festering away behind it with something other than revulsion and a distant, mournful despair.
He stepped out into the corridor, closing the apartment door silently behind him, leaving behind forever the life he had lived there. The flickering corridor lights illuminated a scene of derelict decay. Slime dripped down cracked walls onto mildewed floors. Strange patterns of mould and moss crawled across walls and ceilings, finding nourishment from ultra-synthetic surfaces which should have provided none.
Just a few days, Vernon reminded himself. All this has happened in just a few days.
Most of the apartment doors which lined the corridor were closed. From behind some, he heard a few faint sounds of life: sobbing or weeping, or disjointed, mumbling words which may have been snatches of some half-remembered prayer. From behind one - 78/34, the Kirschmayers, he remembered, and Mr Kirschmayer was a deputy lieutenant in the block's Cit-Def unit - he heard a broken, maniacal cackle. From another, a few doors along - 78/42, Mr and Mrs Voogel, who had been friendly with him and his wife - he heard eager, hungry, scratching sounds.
One door at the end of the corridor stood open, with the welcome, reassuring sound of a voice on a tri-d coming from within. Vernon found himself running eagerly towards it. Tri-d at least meant some kind of normality, a reminder of what had until recently been a huge part of everyday life in Mega-City One, when the city's thousands of media outlets poured out a brain-numbing torrent of game shows, vidverts, chat shows, info-blips, newscasts and shock jock tirades into the over-saturated minds of the citizens. Someone talking on a tri-d meant that maybe someone was explaining to them the cause of the madness that had engulfed the city - and that maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere was doing something about bringing an end to it all.
'Good morning, citizens,' hissed the eerie, sibilant voice on the tri-d. 'Once again, a sinister black pall has settled over the entire city, blocking out all light and hope, while the temperature will be somewhere round about zero, meaning that you can leave the corpses of your friends and loved ones to fester for a while longer yet. If you are foolish or brave enough to venture outside, remember that the curfew is still in force and that you will be shot on sight... which would be a real pity, since we have provided so many other more interesting and painful ways for you to die.'
Vernon was at the door now, staring in at the figure suspended from the ceiling, hanging from the synthi-leather belt wrapped round its neck, the other end attached to the lighting fixture in the ceiling, and at the figures - a woman and two children - all dead from single gunshots, lying sprawled on the floor beneath its dangling feet. But it was the ghoulish, cackling apparition on the apartment's tri-d screen that monopolised his attention.
'Although, really, we should be grateful to you all,' it continued to hiss in its monstrous voice. 'Many of you have already given up hope and lost the will to live. Some have already begun to starve, and disease is spreading rapidly throughout all parts of the city. Faced with this, many of you have already chosen to take your own lives rather than await your fate at the hands of my brothers and their servants.'
The creature broke off, laughing shrilly to reveal an animal-like mouth crammed with sharp-fanged incisors. With a start, Vernon realised that the thing on the tri-d screen was actually female.
'All this pleases us very much,' the monstrosity continued. 'Your help in achieving our great work is very much appreciated. Even now, our brothers work tirelessly to bring justice to you all, but they are few, and you are so many. Be patient, remain in your homes and they will get to you in time.'
The creature's voice was rising, moving swiftly towards a shrieking crescendo: 'It is a momentous task we have set ourselves. To purge this city, to cleanse all of you, its teeming millions. To grant you eternal absolution from the greatest crime of all... life itself!'
Vernon started to run, fleeing from that voice and from the terrible, awful things it was telling him. Even as he fled down a stairwell choked with corpses, climbing over the bodies of neighbours and strangers, he could still hear the final words of the inhuman, mocking creature on the tri-d pursuing after him.
'With your help, we will turn this city into a monument to justice, a home fit only for the innocent. Where the only sound will be the blessed silence of the grave, and where the only sign of life will be the flies crawling amongst the vast mounds of your rot-bloated corpses. With your help, all this will soon come to pass... TOGETHER, SINNERS, WE WILL BUILD OUR GLORIOUS NECROPOLIS!'