15 Minutes: Denver
The Free Trade Zone
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.
Source: Shadowrun Denver