You may now post! "The dream of everyone is to make it big in some city somewhere- to make a name for oneself however you can. Try as they might, not all make it, not all really can make it, though it's a lot harder nowadays to work as an artist in this damn country.. Police everywhere.. Fact is even if I can get my art off the ground the government warps my words for the good of the people." There was a puff of smoke emitted from the young man's mouth, his lips pursed into an uneasy smile as he looked out of the old 4 story building on the outskirts of what was once New York's Brooklyn borough. The year is 2045, and this 23 year old artist was one of the few to be selected to live in the Chinese Occupied Territories under that profession as an artist. The problem? This city isn't what it used to be. Crime, frequent purges, and police presence at an all time high means little rest for the group. There are 7 of them in total. 3 men and 4 women, taking up the top half of the brownstone just outside Brooklyn. When China rolled in, they didn't change much on the surface. Politics was always about money, a game of sorts, and the artists were in the middle. Crafting their poems and their speeches to the masses, though now there was heavy regulation. Five Points, once seen as a grand display of artistic imagination, was torn down as soon as the local Party boss decided it best that they focus on 'proper values'. English, thankfully, was still the most commonly spoken language in the continent however China had divided the nation. Interestingly enough, they took control of the Western Coast states (California, Washington, Oregon) to the Rocky Mountains, yet oddly enough left Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona largely ungoverned, leading to local coalitions to form. Colorado was taken over and turned into a training facility for soldiers from around the region, with mandatory conscription being enforced in that state alone- no other state in the West had that policy. In the East, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York State and New York City, as well as New Jersey were bought out by senior Party officials who left the states alone for the most part so long as they provided China with a portion of their nuclear power and electricity. In exchange, these states were modernized to the point of becoming as technologically advanced as Estonia. The Eastern Coalition was formed to regulate policy as a proxy government for the Chinese regime, and even though the Party rarely puts soldiers on the ground, there are key points of interest- such as New York City, where they need to keep a high presence. The residents in the city are 90% handpicked by local officials to live and work for the Party in science, technology, the arts, and international business. This is the story of artists trying to make ends meet, and to thrive, in American China. 2043, Out with the Old Kilo, an artist selected for his patriotic poetry and oratory skills, sat on the balcony overlooking New York City. He had been selected 2 months earlier to live in the city in order to bring new culture to the region as an artist. The speeches he wrote and spoke were broadcast across New York City- Time's Square was now famous for it's statues to the great New Artists, as they would be known. Such a luxurious life, they had been promised. "I cannot believe you missed out on the money, Kilo. I thought you'd do better than that." The door opened at the other end of the building to his apartment, a one bedroom dwelling with a full bathroom. This wasn't the Party boss, rather this was one of the more criminal persuasion. "I thought I told you to leave!" Kilo shouted angered, his voice cracking in fear. You see, Kilo wasn't picked simply for his skill... No, that would be too hard to choose from. The Party requested that in addition to skill one must also submit money for lottery tickets- out of 30,000 tickets each costing roughly $500, Kilo had secured 1000, more than anyone. People who had zero background in the arts were barred from participating- ergo the billionaire children couldn't buy up every ticket. Ever since the Chinese came to power however the gap between rich and poor had gotten wider despite Chinese efforts to curb the ultrarich. Kilo had to borrow money from criminals within the New York underground in order to purchase the $500,000 worth of tickets, and he still owed 300,000. The Government paid artists handsomely- almost 200,000 a month, though after tax and taking care of the debt, Kilo only would take home 40,000, if he was lucky. Connections as an artist, however, led to advantages. For instance, the criminal boss in front of him- Vladimir Petrov, was known to run illegal sweatshops. "You know Vladimir... I could have you arrested." Kilo retorted with a wicked smile, calmly sliding off the balcony onto the floor attached to his apartment. "I will not kill you yet, Kilo, but do not forget your place." Kilo nodded, Vladimir cocked his pistol and fired a warning shot- breaking a glass vase. "Next time you'll end up shattered yourself." Two days later, Kilo walked down to the Party Office in Brooklyn and requested that the Artists Sector be blocked off from the rest of the city due to criminal threats, and he spoke of Petrov's sweatshops in Harlem and the surrounding area. "While we do not have jurisdictions there, I will call my superior. You will be rewarded, Kilo, but stay safe." The woman spoke to him with a kind smile. She was from Mainland China, and yet so was 70% of the New York population nowadays, it was either you're a privileged 'foreigner' (ie European, American, etc) who was allowed to stay when the Party moved in, or you were put in the city for your talent- as a foreigner. The Chinese had free reign to do what they pleased. The click of a radio could be heard, the dial turning and where there was once static came the melody of a song. "MY my... Times do change." Kilo smiled as he took a bite of fresh salmon, raw, with sushi-style rice to use in order to hold the fish together. He had pan-fried it with ginger and garlic, along with some Chinese chili, having acquired a taste for the stuff not many months ago. It would be one year before Kilo hit the dirt, the Party boss had found his work unsatisfactory, and had decided it best to have him shipped inland to St. Louis where the only connection to the outside world was via the railways, which were selectively operated by the Eastern Authority and Western Colonial Transportation Agencies respectfully- no lines ran directly West-East or East-West that weren't strictly military or required permits. ------- 2045 New Blood The Artist's District, renovated in June of 2044 to accommodate a classic artists area. Stucco walls and beautifully mosaic ceilings in public buildings, yet this is only for the 20 Government Approved artists, those that have surpassed all others in skill. True, normal artists are allowed to sell their work on the streets- so long as it doesn't criticize the government. The area is blocked off to all but 400 sanctioned artists who live and work in the few blocks provided to them. Theater is an entirely different art, as is film, so those two groups are not sanctioned in this area. Sculpting has fallen out of fashion, and as such anyone seen making sculpture that isn't an abstract work can have his/her license revoked. The Kilo Incident, as it was called, had pulled the rug over a criminal network that existed within the Artist's District, one that permeated life there and ran things while the Party was away. Around the clock now, gangsters roamed the streets while police attempt to secure the safety of this place. What they don't know? Some of these very artist's are calling the shots with their work, with their speeches, and with their poetry. Some even incite riots across the globe with their works. Many are targets for assassinations, and yet they're still considered Government Employee's, an enviable spot and one that is hereditary should one have it unto death, even going to the widow of the deceased in order to pass on. The artists live a life of privilege to the outside world, but one of hell on the inside. While they have freedom of movement, they rarely are given peace of mind.