( A lot's changed in the past five years. This article should clear up a lot of the blank spots for you people. )«
… it was that way for years, with all the different sections walled off, needing a passport and fifteen different types of ID to go from one to another. All sort of stuff happened here.
What happened to change Denver? Summer, 2057. You remember '57, don't you? There was that huge drought in the Midwest. Food production dropped all over, in some places to only 25% of normal. That's pretty normal, though. A little tight, but not a big deal.
Then those NeoAnarchs blew up the hydroponics farms in Boulder. That's when the drek really hit the fan. Suddenly food prices went through the roof. It wasn't even the price, really - there just literally wasn't enough food to go around. Smugglers actually started transporting soy products, is how bad it got.
To make a long story short, FreeCal made a contract with the city for ten kilotons of algae flown in from the western seaboard. The food landed in Denver International Airport… and Theodore Harleson, a petty UCAS bureaucrat who had a lot of gripes against FreeCal, stuck it in quarantine for a period not to be less than 7 days.
Needless to say, all hell broke loose. People were crowded up around the UCAS walls, yelling and screaming, so much that the border guards nervously deployed extra Lone Star crowd control units. Shadowruns to go and collect portions of the food cache were just in the planning stages when the Sioux governor finally gave in to his advisers, and sent in a team of Wildcats.
When they blew the gates open, the crowd howled out in hunger… and the food riots of '57 began. They lasted almost a month, ending up with almost twenty thousand people killed and over a hundred thousand injured. Harleson, needless to say, was not among them, having booked himself a flight out the minute it started.
That time was crazy. Open war came close to breaking out several times, only stopping by the grace of corporations and countries glossing over the matters as a 'local incident'. Lone Star ended up fighting Knight Errant as both sides struggled to control the crowds and protect their people. Corporation arcologies were put under siege by hungry crowds who saw food being flown in by LAVs.
In the aftermath, there was a huge push from all sides, the UCAS included, for the declaration of the Denver Free Trade Zone. Everyone in the city was for it, barring a few staunch conservatives, from the top of the highest corporation to the bottom of the shadows. With an almost unanimous vote, the legislation passed, and the walls came down.
The Denver Free Trade Zone
The walls actually had taken a lot of damage just in the riots. Some of them even got rebuilt by the sections, but the biggest change was in the policies governing movement around the city.
In the region ascribed by the Denver Free Trade Zone, anyone can go anywhere. No fuss about passports, or ID, or citizenship. Goods can enter the trade zone and be distributed freely. Only when you leave the Denver area do you have to show your passports and visas, going through customs to make sure you're not transporting things illegally.
As a result, land value in the free trade zone has multiplied. Everyone and their kid brother wants a piece of Denver. Huge areas of the city are even today still in development, with millions of yen sunk into the construction. The suburbs are turning into high density apartment complexes, or luxury housing for those who can afford it.
Prices of a lot of goods has dropped a great deal in the free trade zone. Someone from Seattle can ship in a load of cyberdeck parts, selling them in the CAS. At the same time, demand rose, leaving market prices stabilized around normal.
While movement and trade is free, upkeep still isn't. The city laws and ordinances are set by the Council, but they're enforced by the separate zones. And of course, some of them are more willing to overlook certain violations than others, especially if you happen to be a citizen of that region, but by and large, they toe the line.
With all the prices going up on land values and whatnot, a secondary set of suburbs has evolved just outside of the free trade zone, cheap housing. Another type of visa has been created (at least in the UCAS and CAS), the Free Trade Zone Visa. This allows for relatively easy travel between the suburbs and the zone, with only a couple of minor checks at either end.
Yeah, I know, you and every single one of your smuggler friends is drooling and asking, "Where can I get me one of those?" Answer: You can't. By and large, anyway. These visa's are new, unencumbered by decades of red tape and bureaucracy we Shadowrunners like to slip through, and are strictly controlled. Only around 400,000 exist, period. In order to get one, you have proof of employment within Denver, /and/ have to be a registered citizen of the region issuing the visa.
That second part is the tough one. They check your records against other files, too, as part of the application process. I've seen more than a few cocky Seattle runners disappear when they tried and used their fake UCAS SIN to get a Free Trade Visa. Be forewarned, as a minimum, they check your blood and retinal scans, not to just see if it matches your credstick, but to see if it matches /any/ of their extra files. If you have a criminal record in any name, in any country, or even left a sample at an intrusion site but didn't get caught, I'd strongly advise against trying.
And don't think about hacking in. The IC on the government systems is blacker than SIN, and faster than death. Most often, they won't even kill you - they'll use you to find out who else is smuggling things out of their country, and then, /maybe/ they'll kill you.
The Aurora Warrens
Welcome to the neighborhood, chumboy…the worst one in all of fragging Denver. The Warrens is less a "place of interest" than a place to stay the fragging hell away from. You think the Barrens in Seattle are bad? They got nothing on this slum. Nothing. Matter of fact, the Warrens are still standing purely on the sufferance of the relocation committee, which could send the bulldozers rolling in on any giving morning.
The sector's put no money into maintaining the high-density housing in the Warrens, and it shows. Lone Star patrols the area once in a blue fragging moon, DocWagon responds to calls from the Warrens on a "when we get around to it" basis, and firefighters could fragging care less about minimizing collateral damage. In real English, that means that the smoke-eaters will let a building burn to the fragging foundations if the fire appears to be well-entrenched, and concentrate on stopping it from spreading to surrounding buildings. Anywhere else but the Warrens, they'd make an effort to knock out the fire and save at least some of the building.
Most of the buildings in the Warrens have no power, phone, or sanitation hook-ups, and those that do receive these services illegally.
Written by Loki
Yeah, things have changed a lot in the last four years. Hell, there used to be times when gangs would have wars in the street, throwing around firebombs and killing each other left and right and the cops didn't even blink an eye. Not anymore.
Since the Denver Free Trade Zone was ratified in late 2057, the whole city turned around. It used to be that a corp only built in Denver to keep an eye on what everyone else was doing - a city full of nothing but spies looking at each other's like seagulls on a fence. Now, the FTZ offers actual economic advantages. Being able to transport anything around in the
city lets corps play all sorts of shell games with data and equipment in the local government. With the tax laws as they are, they can even do weird things to skip out entirely on the bill.
All this was bound to have an effect on the entire city, even the sprawl. Land values went up everywhere. Corporations started seriously looking at the Sprawl as not just another place to dump SINless refugees, but as a place to do business in. There was even some talk about scraping the entire thing off the face of the earth like some bit of discarded rubbish and 'paving over it with solidarity'… and plasticrete. Heh. Gotta love the way politicos talk.
So why's the place still around? Well, funny thing. The city council looked at it, figured out how much it would cost - somewhere upwards of around thirty billion nuyen for relocating all the people currently there, bulldozing it, paying the workers, doing all the new construction work. Oh, and the security fees for guarding all this work against he people who already live there - don't we feel loved? Anyway, they didn't have that kind of money, so they looked at the UCAS (whose sector it's in) and told them they could foot the entire bill. You can pretty much guess their reaction to
Granted, it's a lot 'nicer' around the sprawl these days. With all the money flowing into the city, everyone's a little better off. Hell, the outskirts of the sprawl even got cleaned up in some cases. Every now and then a corporation gets real interested in how cheap the land looks and buys up a bit of it, cleans it up, clears all the rubble and whatnot off - only to find that the prices on security are about ten times as much as if they'd built it somewhere else in the FTZ. If I had two nuyen for every company that went under in the last three years from the gangers, I'd be a rich man.