It all started with the mindlink.
Some tech company had a breakthrough, they managed to make a direct link between the human brain and a computer using some fancy electric process. I don't know the details, it's all classified and copyrighted, no one knows how it works. No one even knew they had done it until they finished programming the entire world and then some into a couple thousand supercomputers. No small feat, it must have taken a while. Rumor has it the mindlink tech was around for nearly two centuries and then some before they were done. I can't imagine how they kept it a secret for so long. But I can wonder.
Anyway, once it was out they got some people to try it out, stuck 'em in life support pods and linked them right into their fake world. They called it Veality, catchy contraction of Virtual reality.
And those people, those stupid wretches, they loved it.
In Veality, you can live dangerously without death or pain, respawning anytime you like. Glutting yourself with the simulated images and taste that pass for food will never make you fat, because all you're really eating is the stream of nutrients that enter your body through an IV in your arm.
You don't need a job. Everything is free.
"Killing" someone generates no hard feelings.
Birth control is hardly necessary.
Basically, Veality takes responsibility out of life.
So obviously every person that could signed up. Most of the world lives on the Other Side now, in their blank buildings, stacked pod upon pod, living a dream.
But not everyone.
For me, life is real. Someone has to generate energy to power the virtual world. Me and my team man a generator rig. You'd think they could get a computer to do it, but apparently they don't trust AIs to do this sort of thing.
I can't really complain about my job, the only thing I dislike is having to see what it does. It pumps out tons of waste. Oceans of toxic sludge flow down onto the earth, killing the tender life there and turning it into a barren wasteland under the bright layer of chemicals. Years ago, my rig wouldn't even be legal, it's so damaging to the environment. But no one cares now.
Veality's trees are taller.
Their grass, greener.
Their animals are more beautiful.
Why should they care about Earth? Humanity is self-sufficient now.
Responsibility is dead.
...But are consequences here, if not there. Our rig's dark heart and others like it cannot go on drowning the planet. I can't help but know this as I sit in the shuttle and watch the Earth go toxic green.
And some more pics to show detail. Look closely, I've used some unexpected parts in this MOC!