The Judge was standing on a ridge overlooking the city of New Caprica. Behind him, his troops were grumbling and making ready to confront the coming day.
The kid had been awake for nearly as long as the Judge; and thinking about it, he had never seen the Judge sleep. The guy was always there, staring at something, and if he was staring actually into space he had a good reason for it, you could be sure. Space was never empty. It was too frakking big for that.
Come on out you NCP
Come and fight me like you're free,
the kid hummed under his breath. But the NCP no longer existed as a law-enforcement force: the so-called Resistance had seen to that. Now there was just a rag tag of insurgents picking off whatever life they could find out here.
If it exists out here, the Judge said, striding back into the makeshift camp, it exists without our permission.
The previous day they had happened upon a small encampment of humans hiding in the rocks. The encampment had been even smaller by the time they left. The kid was beyond wondering at the Judge's decisions but "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" was a new one. It was that God bit troubled him. He wondered sometimes 'bout sound and vision but mostly about the Judge. Pronouncements about God. Guy sounded like a toaster.
God is dead, the ex-priest said after that.
How do you know, the kid asked.
I saw the Judge kill him, the ex-priest Tobin said. He is way beyond morality. Killing farm workers, stringing them up and disembowelling them so their guts pool on the New Caprican rock beneath. You do not have to be strong to live with such acts.
The kid looked at the Judge and the Judge saw him looking at him.
Your time will come, said the Judge.
What is he a judge of, the kid asked Tobin.
Everything, Tobin said. Everything and everybody. He killed God and took his place.
Correct, said the Judge, coming and squatting by them. I love, he said, the smell of charnels in the morning. It's that smell, that blood smell. It smells like the end of the mother-frakkin' world. Such fun.
Until Zarek has us killed, Tobin said.
The Judge stared levelly at him.
And what of it, said the Judge. He looked off into the distance where the rude hutments of New Caprica City were struggling to awake. He liked the word 'hutment' and used it a lot. A lot. There was something about it for him, along with the word 'calefaction' and 'trusty' that made him smile inwardly, and there was only one thing, as far as the kid could tell, that made the Judge smile.
There was a time in New Caprica when they had been rounding up resistance fighters. The Judge had found a she cat with her kittens, shot the cat and then threw the kittens up into the air one by one as quick-draw target practice. The kittens exploded, scattering blood and flesh in the cold New Caprican air.
The Judge smiled then. Death.
You think Zarek will seize control, said the kid.
I don't see why not, said the Judge. He has the shears of destiny in his hand and will remove our penii and scrotal sacs as soon as look at us.
The kid shuddered inwardly. The Judge knew of what he spoke. Had they not done precisely that several days ago - the cold rock, the stillness of the New Caprican day, the bellowing screams of "Fraaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!" as the shears slammed shut and blood spurted and human giblets fell to the floor.
The most human of words, said the Judge. Frack. It unites us before birth, within life and in death. Some scream for their mothers. I wonder what curse they bear in their hearts for their mothers that they call for them at such a time.
The kid wondered whether the Judge had a mother. He could barely remember his own.
While the rest of the encampment set to breakfast the Judge set to pencilling things in his book. He wrote many things in his book. He drew lifelike pictures of the people they had found and done to death. He drew exquisite drawings of mountain flowers and then erased the flowers with the heel of his boot. He drew a sparrow in flight and then on its next pass blew it out of existence as if it had done him some personal harm.
It has, he said. It not only existed without my permission. It ... but that was on a far planet and besides.
To the Judge, strange in his hugeness, the kid and Tobin and the others knew not to ask. The Blood Knight Glanton was long gone, blown to pieces at Pergamus Flats. The little band dwindled from hour to hour it seemed. Some fled. Some died. Some did one and then the other.
Some of the NCP have taken to wearing necklaces of ears, belts of human scalps. Scalps hang on a drying rack every night. The knife goes in to the side of the head, cuts round, the holding hand pulls up the hair and the scalp with it. The scalps dry in the heat from the fire. The kid wonders if anything really dries on this world. He coughs a lot, as do the others, but not the Judge.
The kid wonders this about the Judge. He also wonders if the Judge will death every one of them when they are no longer needed. The NCP is a dying force. Humanity will leave New Caprica. Galactica will protect humanity once more and all manner of things will be well.
The kid knows that all manner of things will not be well for him.
He prepares to don the black mask once more.