Inside the city, you would barely be able to tell it was the same place. The walls were all painted a pale blue and there was a large mural going around the gate, showing the first expedition to Mars, which would have been some four hundred years ago now, landing in a very artsy, cartoony style. At fiest, all they saw were tall concrete buildings seperated by the odd corner shop and the occasional supermarket. They were very plain and ordinary, but there was something strangely appealing about them. Soon after, the buildings began to fade into more old-fashioned, 21st to 22nd century looking buildings. The Glendale Canal ran through the centre of the city out to where it met Lake Alexandria.
The were driving along the river for some time now, and all the while Derik had been watching the large screens plastered to the walls on the other side. For ince, these screens were not simply showing advertisements. Instead, there was a man speaking, a large enough man who looked to be in his late forties, with short hair and a trim beard, both of which were peppered with grey. He was probably the Mayor, although they seemed to elect a new one every other week, so their faces never really stuck in Derik's head.
"With you help, we can build a better 2450." The man said. He had a commanding, yet comforting voice. He sounded like a real leader.
"We can build a better future for all mankind." He spoke again. Suddenly the screen faded to a shot of outer space, and the man began to narrate over it.
"The Red Armada Reasearch and Development devision have made a groundbreaking discovery in space travel. With this new technology, we are able to travel massive distances with little effort needed." The screen showed a spacecraft drifting away from Mars. It slowly accelerated and soon it was leaving the Solar System.
"We have detected a possibly habitible planet in the nearby Andromeda solar system. The Red Armada wants new recruits for investigation. Mars has proven a safe enough place to support human life- but how long? Just think- YOU could be the one to save all of human life." The screen faded into the Red Armada emblem, a white semi-circle with a dark red circle in the middle, and then cut back to advertising.
Derik's mother was setting up their stall. They were in the middle of a bustling marketplace, full of stalls mongering off their crops and scraps and crowded with people looking to get a good price on their dinner.
Derik's mother handed him a big woven bag and some coins.
"Be sure to grab some mushrooms from Mr. Goodman, we'll be having soup tomorrow." She said to him.
"Yes." Derik replied, and he turned and began walking into the market.
"And remember the potatoes this time!" she called to him. He just looked back and nodded. With this amount of commotion around them, she certainly wouldn't be able to hear him, and he wasn't actually sure if she had even seen him.
He started taking his usual route through the market streets. It took him around all the grocers he needed and what he had decided was the best butcher in town, and also gave him enough access to any scrap machinery stalls he regularly took from. Today he managed to salvage some spring-based parts, as well as the hammer and trigger from an old revolver.
He was nearly done, on a small detour to reach the mushrooms his mother had asked for when his faced met a hard, cold wall of nylon.
"Think you'd get away with it, did you?" Derik looked up to see a very tall guard smirking down at him.
"I've seen you," said the guard. His voice was raspy and his breath smelled of tobacco. "Every day coming here, pocketing whatever you feel like. What're you building? A robot?" He chuckled. Derik didn't know what to say. He had been caught by the Red Armada.
"What's that? I said- are you building a robot?" He sneered at Derik.
"... Yes." He replied. He wished he hadn't said it. He really didn't know why he did; it just sort of came out of his mouth. The man let out a high-pitched laugh. This got him a few funny looks from the people around them, but he kept going.
"Hear that? This one's building a robot!" He leaned closer to Derik. "Listen here, boy. We don't settle for thieves here in Belmor. You've got guts though, stealing in a place like this. I'll tell you what, kid. You-" he pushed his finger against Derik's chest "-go sign up for the Andromeda Mission, and we can just look over this whole thing."
"What's the alternative?" Derik asked, but he was fairly certain he knew the answer. The man raised himself up.
"Well- you've been stealing here every week for... What's that, six years now? Yeah, I saw you. Every single time."
"You..." Derik was at a loss for words. All this time he was so sure of his stealthiness, and yet he had never once evaded the guards.
"So, let's see, withy the penalty for stealing, I suppose that would make... About twenty years in prison."
Derik thought about this for a while. Then it snapped.
"You've been waiting, haven't you?"
"Yeah. Thought it would be a bit of fun." He chuckled. "To be fair, I was trying for the thirty year mark, but someone else managed to spot, you see, and-"
"What does Andromeda involve?"
"Eh? Already looking for an escape, huh? Alright- Andromeda is ten years setting up a colony on a distant planet. It's a bit risky, now... Anything could be out there. So, what do you say?"
Derik paused. He looked back at his mother. He'd be forty by the time he returned from a prison sentence like that. His poor old mother might not even be here when he got back.
"I'll... I'll take Andromeda."
Everybody get up it's time to slam now
We got a real jam goin' down
Welcome to the Space Jam
Here's your chance do your dance at the Space Jam