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Her first partner after her assessment is Judge Michaels.

Michaels shows her what it's like to police the freeways, to never go inside a tower, to live on the ribbons of asphalt that snake through the city. How to breathe out justice when all that's breathed in is exhaust and smog and the fumes from burning tyres each time some wreck catches fire. There are seemingly a hundred different ways to kill someone with a vehicle, to break what few traffic laws that exist here in Mega City One, and together they judge them all until the day Michaels and his bike are crushed under an overturning eighteen-wheeler during a high speed pursuit.

It's a particularly horrific scene by the time all the vehicles have ceased impacting and exploding, at least twenty-seven dead or unlikely to survive their injuries, and Anderson is covered in blood and soot and fuel by the time she gets back to the Hall of Justice. She goes straight to the locker room to clean up, and she knows she's in shock -- in her head, all she can see is the truck rolling towards her (and how she managed to survive what Michaels didn't is completely beyond her; she should be dead) -- so that's probably why it takes her a while to realise she's not alone in there.

Dredd is across from her and, if he notices her attention, he doesn't acknowledge it. She doesn't try to talk to him, or to share the images in her head; just focuses on his slow, controlled movements as he checks his gear, each action deliberate and certain and unambiguous.

It's calming in a way she could have never expected.

He finishes as silently as he'd moved, and leaves the locker room without a word when he's ready.

Breathing out, she picks herself up.




Judge Dubare likes adrenaline. Adrenaline and action and in a city that never sleeps, never rests, never lays down its' arms, he has plenty of both. He burns through each shift like it could be his last, like there's an unspoken law that he alone needs to judge the most number of criminals every day.

Anderson executes more in a week with him than she did in her first month with Michaels, and she says as much to Dredd when she feels him approach her in the commissary, her eyes closed as she dozes over her tray.

The scrape of the chair opposite being pulled out, the soft clang of his tray on the table. There's a brief hush that falls over the mess as he sits but when he makes no effort to respond to her, conversation in the room gradually resumes.

Anderson thinks briefly about asking him why he's sitting with her (a quick sense of the room tells her this is unusual behaviour for him, that usually he prefers to sit alone), or about the other day in the locker room (when he stayed with her while she was lost in her own head), or maybe about why he even passed her in the first place (she still can't figure that one out), but -- she's just too damn tired.

As soon as he's finished eating, she's expecting him to just get up and walk away as wordlessly as he arrived, but he surprises her by stopping beside her chair. The room quietens again but she ignores it in favour of the low buzz of concern she can feel coming from him, anticipating an order along the lines of keep your guard up or wear your helmet.

He surprises her, somewhat. "Get some sleep."

She snorts a little, and nods.

Dredd walks away.

Opening her eyes, she looks down at her tray and starts to eat.




After Dubare -- reassignment was inevitable after she had to have him committed to the cubes for threat of self harm, both of their heads full of images of him eating his own gun -- Chief Justice tries to put her in a quad, this time revealing her psychic status from the beginning like she did with Dredd. It doesn't go the way she'd hoped.

Judge Li, Judge Dickson and Judge Smith are all sleeping together, a fact none of them wants publicised (and especially not by a fourth who can read minds). Anderson tries not to let it bother her -- she understands people not wanting their secrets shared -- but she never reported fraternisation when she was at the Academy, even when others knew she knew with absolute certainty that it was happening, so it's frustrating that these three believe so strongly that she would send them to the iso cubes for it.

To the surprise of everyone else, Dredd has continued to sit with her in the commissary when they happen to have shifts that coincide, even though he rarely responds to her attempts at conversation.

She finishes eating first and asks, mostly rhetorically, "are people afraid, do you think? Of what I can sense?"

He looks up at her, a rare moment of acknowledgement, and asks instead, "would it matter?"




She's partnered with Yang next, a Judge who likes to stay in the one spot, to let the crime come to her. Yang likes to catch the criminals in the act, before anyone has a chance to report them; to look for the people who haven't yet had the chance to call for help. The boyfriend who slaps his girl across the face as they walk into O'Neil because he doesn't think anyone cares to notice, the mother who trades her son to an old man on the corner for a handful of credits, the teenager who pickpockets the workers leaving their tower in the morning.

It's a different way to help the citizens, and Anderson knows they're doing good work, reducing the number of calls that would otherwise get made, but a small part of her also wonders if maybe they shouldn't focus on those who have already asked for help. She can still remember what it was like to live in a tower where nobody ever came, no matter how many times you called out for them to, and she'd hate to think she's now the reason some other family is being ignored by the justice system.

So she starts to answer calls in the vicinity after every other judging, answering with a simple, "Anderson to Control, we've got it," and for a while there's a tentative balance to their daily judgings -- half opportunity, half direct response -- until the day Yang prioritises a public intoxication in the middle of the armed robbery Anderson thought they were both judging, and the crossfire kills her instantly.




Judge Nguyen, she realises within minutes of meeting her, hates mutants. Loathes them, in fact. She believes that a mutant killed her parents and Anderson barely has to skim the surface to know that nothing -- not reason, not the law, and certainly not Anderson herself -- would ever change that belief.

Anderson contemplates trying to make the best of the situation anyway, trying to hide her powers -- the Chief Justice hasn't tried introducing her as a psychic again after the failed quad assignment, so not everyone officially knows about her mutation -- but in the end she requests reassignment herself.

"It never would have worked," she says to Dredd when they happen to cross paths out in the city that afternoon. He's just busted a drug den and is waiting for resyk to arrive, and her high speed pursuit has ended basically at his feet. "Even if we'd partnered well together in every other aspect, Nguyen would have found out eventually and then hated me even more for concealing it."

Resyk arrives for both of them and, as they mount their bikes after, Dredd takes a call for Sternhammer and she takes one for Ezquerra and in the seconds before she can pull on her helmet, he says, "don't ever hide who you are."

He pulls away before she can respond.




Judge Anders (and she's not even going to think about how confusing their names would have been, paired together) lasts as her partner for about three hours, right up until she draws her weapon and, with it pointed at Anders' head, charges him with embezzlement, aiding and abetting known criminals, money laundering, witness intimidation, abuse of power, collusion, dereliction of duty, harassment and stalking, incorrect sentencing of crimes, discrimination, bribery, obstruction of justice, selective enforcement, improper use of city equipment and resources, theft...

Afterwards, walking out of Central with what feels like the eyes of every other Judge on her, she feels horrible -- feels dirty, like she was the one who was breaking the law -- and in her head is every childhood taunt ever thrown at her after she'd unknowingly spilled some kid's secret before she'd learned to control her mutation.

Dredd is in the locker room when she gets there, coming off shift. As she passes his locker, he says, "good work," like it's obvious, like there's not even the possibility of something other than those two words being said in response to what she did.

For the first time that day, she smiles.




Judge Gilbert doesn't have a reason for not wanting to work with her, at least not one that Anderson can identify when the Chief Judge asks her to scan him. She can find no traces of corruption or mutophobia or personal dislike or anything else to explain his refusal. He just... doesn't want to work with her.

It's as baffling to Anderson as it is frustrating to Chief Justice, having to reassign her again.

Anderson finds Dredd in the commissary that night and despite having thought about it on and off all day, the only explanation she can half-heartedly come up with is, "maybe he thinks I'm a jinx?"

Dredd makes a noise that she doesn't recognise at first, and she's about to check if he's choking on his dinner when she realises he's not asphyxiating, he's snorting. She amuses him.

"Oh, shut up," she says.




Her tenth partner is... herself.

"I'm sorry," Chief Justice says. "Maybe when the next lot of rookies graduate from the Academy we can look at it again, but for now..."

Anderson doesn't mind. Between every reassignment she's gone out into the city by herself anyway, and not having a partner doesn't necessarily mean always working alone -- she still clearly remembers Dredd calling for backup at Peach Trees without hesitation when they needed it.

As she leaves the Hall of Justice a 10-24 comes in for Sector 13 and, while she knows it's just a coincidence, she can't help but smile at the timing.

"Anderson to Control," she says, sliding onto her bike. "Tell Dredd I'm on my way."



The End