When the lights dim and the sun sets over the cement jungle we call Clockworks, a wondrous culture awakes from its underbelly. A place devoid of judgement
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and selfishness, where dreams and passions crawl from the grave to be embraced and rejuvenated by the poor and needy.   Men, women, and even children called ‘Shifters’, gather the scraps knocked from the tables topside, in the hopes of building a prosperous life under the lampposts of the night.   These are our brothers and sisters, forgotten by those in power and with influence to do good. The bodies that work the pumps, bring you your food, clean your toilets and wash your clothes. Humble lives willing to work for their bread, and to feed their children through honest sweat.
   
"No one truly understood what would happen, or how the innocent efforts of my beloved husband would spur such a rebellion. He did what he did, in spite of the public views and the constant complaints of his investors, because he loved his fellow-gnomes. He never turned a blind eye to the sufferings of others.  
Jeremy watched the greed infect the corporate world, clawing after profits the instant restrictions were lifted. Something so abundant was meant to be shared, yet it was hoarded and yanked from those it would have blessed — a few more coins in their pockets — an extra scrap of food on a child’s plate.   That's why they killed him, my husband, and left me no choice but to bring the bastards to their knees. I did so by showing the power of kindness towards those who keep this nation running. When asked why,…it was the easiest question to answer.   ‘It's people who matter most, not profits.’   But the rich rarely listen.  
— Mrs. Paige Copperbottom
CEO, Krusty Kakes & Killer Koffee™
 

Opportunity for Greed

It’s no surprise that the nation suffered due to over-regulations and restrictions of the Government Faction. What may have started as well-intended protections for the common gnome, mutated over time to harm the very people these law were intended to protect. Working class gnomes suffered greatly, as employers were forced to spend more money on fees, penalties, and taxes, instead of investing in their own employees and communities.   It wasn’t until this trend started affecting the lives of those above the common gnome that this problem was voiced. Why not lift certain restrictions and allow corporations and new businesses the freedom to invent and invest in products and services to bolster the economy? The ‘R&D Lift’ bill was introduced and passed by a unanimous vote, giving businesses a new freedom to develop products and services without R&D taxation or restrictions.    

Negotiation for Poverty

With products came profits, but with profits came a tax burden so heavy, it deflated the initial excitement in the private sector. Not wanting to fold, lobbyists were sent to petition for tax relief. The relief came in the form of alleviating the matching tax burden linked to part-time employees. This final negotiation to benefit the corporate world would have irreversible consequences to Clockworks City.   With the tax relief limited to part-time labor, tens of millions lost their jobs, swallowed up by forced part-time positions. Menial jobs, meant only to keep scraps upon tables and to prevent starvation, were swallowed up by more qualified individuals. Stable families surviving on one income were compelled to work multiple jobs to survive, all while lining the pockets of the corporations.    

Birth of a Culture

Many citizens, unable to find or even qualify for what were once common jobs, sought financial relief by taking to the streets. Street food vendors popped up overnight, particularly food, providing relief both to the workers and those surviving on little more than pennies. The effect of overnight growth, millions of unregistered businesses prospering, was quickly felt. Demand for products and services dropped, and the corporate elite sharpened their claws.   It wasn’t long before new laws were initiated, prohibiting street vendors from doing business and exchanging money without a license. Enforced by Centurions, the streets were vacated…and gnomes began to starve.    

Kake and Koffee for all

Cafe mogul, Jeremy Copperbottom, was known for rising to wealth through honesty and hard work. His successful chain of ‘Krusty Kakes & Killer Koffee’ shops became the most recognized brand in Clockworks City inside seven years of opening his first cafe. Now with over 1000 locations
and opening fifty new cafe’s each month, and almost half the profits being used for the poor and needy, the Copperbottom’s had influence and public attention. While Jeremy worked the grills and fed the people, his wife Paige was the company face for the media.   Sponsoring their own lobbyists, the Copperbottom’s sought to help the people by initiating ‘DL-202’ — a creative tax incentive for any business willing to give their end-of-the-day scraps to the poor, rather than incinerating them. It also allowed the poor freedom to pick through the dumpsters without repercussions if looking for food.   The bill passed and every food-centered business took advantage of the tax benefits, saving millions from starvation.   To expand their influence and effectiveness, Krusty Kakes & Killer Coffee hired ‘scavengers’ to collect scraps from specific companies, and then used the ingredients in a line of foods given freely to there poor. When the results hit the media, the public responded favorably, sending in donations which equaled 82.1% of the company’s annual profits.   Which is why their competition had Jeremy killed.    

District Riots

In the thick of winter, a riot broke out in sub-district 66. Many were wounded over a reported fight in one of the Krusty Kakes & Killer Coffee soup lines. One of the males brandished a weapon, there was a struggle, and when Jeremy Copperbottom tried to separate the two gnomes with the help of an employee, he was stabbed repeatedly. The culprit had never been seen before and no local recognized the killer, who fled the scene.   Jeremy Copperbottom died before receiving medical attention.   At the news of his death, the locals exploded with rage. With only rumors and speculation as to the cause of his death, the poor blamed both the authorities and those who lived topside. Bodies flooded into the upper districts without number, breaking windows, breaking into shops and vandalizing with a single sentence: ‘Not caring goes both ways.’   For the first time in their history, Clockworks City went into lockdown, and topsiders isolated themselves for fear of violence.    

Defending from the Grave

The funeral of Jeremy Copperbottom became a nationwide media event. His wife called for an end to the rioting, reminded those of privilege of their moral duty to care for those less fortunate, and then turned to all the live cameras.  
"Today is a day of change. All Jeremy wanted was for his fellow citizens to have the freedom to earn a living wage, just like those topside. We use the labor of the poor, then tax them and bind them until they suffer and die. When he challenged that system, wanting to lift others out of their suffering, you killed him for it.   I know who you are. Every CEO, every politician who joined in willingly, or turned a blind eye. You murdered my husband, and he was the best of your generation. You took what I loved most in this world — now I’m going to take from you what you love most.   Your control and your profits."
  Within 90 days of the funeral, ‘Krusty Kakes & Killer Koffee’ shops were streamlined and franchised. Calling upon all small businesses for their support, with an offering to join the ‘corporate umbrella’ of 4K, INC., thousands flocked to support the
greatest merger in corporate history. Within the year, more than a million startup businesses exploded in niche markets, once monopolized by their larger counterparts. 10,000 new 4K franchise carts appeared throughout the city every month, providing a full-time living for it’s owners — still under the part-time tax freedom provided by Congress.   As startups grew in the food sector, a unified disposal system was created to funnel all excess to franchise owners, increasing profits and providing tax breaks, again created by Congress. One by one, each and every corporation and politician involved in the death of Jeremy Copperbottom or the oppression of the people were put out of business, or voted from office.  

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21 Sep, 2022 22:51

I really enjoyed the layout and the artwork used in this article. It is so well done!, Great job!

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