In the not so distant future, the entire world has united under one nation. It's not under any one country. Everyone just lives on Earth now. However, having everything united like that caused problems just by causing no problems. The life expectancy and general well being of everyone has raised so much that the population has grown too large for the Earth to be able to sustain. Traveling between planets is still something of a luxury, and even the communication between planets would be slow and tedious, losing that unity that they had. Therefor, instead of colonizing other planets, Earth decided to just enlarge theirs. Virtually. By the year 2203, everything is set to be completely and totally automated. Gathering food, extracting the nutrients, and administering them to people is efficiently done by machines. The first step is complete. Next, they took a virtual reality game that was recently being developed by some of the worlds leading programmers as a hobby, and perfected it. The next year, the successfully hook up a group of volunteers to fully functioning Sustaining Pods, and connect them to this game. The volunteers could successfully live in this game for a week. Some quit, while others stayed in for another week. When they would eat in the game, it would administer nutrients in the real world. When doctors checked them at the end, they had no adverse side effects, and instead were healthier than before (due to their bad diet as gamers). That was too short of a time, though. The next step was hooking people up to a real world. They made a virtual "world" the size of a small country, and gave a group of 30 people free reign of it. The world's physics and ecology was exactly like that of Earths as a result of a massive collaboration. They were given routine medical checkups monthly, then bi monthly, then tri monthly, then annually. They were under for 8 years without any issues, and again, looked healthier. They had built villages and a community in the virtual Earth, and refused to leave it behind. Earthnet was a huge success. By 2217, they had a population of 10,000. By 2219, 200,000. By 2221, 1,400,000; 2223, 7,600,000; 2225, 45,000,000; until finally, year 2232, 95% of the worlds population was hooked up to Earthnet, which has grown to six times the size of Earth. The once green Earth was turned gray and chromatic to make room for Earthnet. Servers were upgraded, machines were made even more efficient, until finally, it was perfect and infallible. People lived happily on the server, seeming no different from the old life save for the fact that everyone has some elbow room. Things were looking good for Earthnet. That is, until 2254 AD. It is 2254 AD, and the new lead programmer of Earthnet, Arnold Weever, is cleaning up an old office in the real world. He stumbles upon the old files from the first group to be hooked up to the machine. 12 people were hooked up to a game for a few weeks. He looks around some more and finds the old data of the small virtual world that they used as an experiment. He opens it up and looks at the program. His heart starts beating faster. He loved to program, but he always felt like he needed more. This world was the most exciting thing he's ever seen. He takes the hard drive home and downloads the data onto a bigger drive. He starts to go through and perfect it. The programming was sloppy, and it didn't offer many features. He enhances everything about it. For years he works on this game, completely immersing himself into his own fantasy world. Day after day he would sit in his dark room and type away. He distanced himself from family, friends and even his fellow programmers. He developed an obsession with the game. When he would go to sleep after days of staying up, he would dream about the game. He would never run out of ideas to add. Once he finished coding one thing, he would jump to something else. Finally, after three and a half years, he "finished" the game. He felt there were more things he could add, there were always more things, but without someone to actually play it, there was no way he could tell. So the answer was simple. He needed players. ------------------------------------ Ty's eyes slowly open as he squints to adjust to the outside light. He could feel healthy grass against his face, his back dampening from fresh dew. The wind blows across the grass and makes it sway audibly. Ty sits up with his head in his hand. He looks around to see several other people either looking around as he was or still laying down. He counted 12 people in total. Just as he makes his count, another person appears, followed by another not too far away. What in god's name is going on? He tries to remember where he was before he woke up here. He rubs his temples in thought and hums to himself. His brow creases as he brings his thick brown eyebrows in in thought. He can't remember a thing. He sighs and stands up. The total number of people has increased to 34 and growing. He starts helping the people up around them and gathering information. It doesn't seem like anyone remembers what they were doing before this. He sighs and looks around. It's all just grass. Beautiful perfect grass. It looks too perfect to be natural, like it was someone's garden; very well kept. The gust of wind pushes back his medium length brown hair. He kneels down and brushes his hand against the tips of the grass. It was short, and consistent in length, but it wasn't cut. Where is this? Was this a recently updated part of Earthnet? While he was lost in thought, the number has grown large enough for it to be a bother to count. He walks on to help more people up.