In a world consumed by greed... The Man has gained absolute power. Individuals have no say in anything that happens, and Big Business controls all aspects of daily life. Big Business does not control the government...
Big Business IS the government.
Renewable energy is nonexistent, and coal is used for all electricity generation. There are no controls on pollution. The air is filled with ash, toxic metals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and noxious fumes. The sky is not a beautiful blue, but rather a dull, dismal gray. When it rains, drops of highly concentrated sulfuric acid fall to Earth, burning everything it touches. Mine drainage runs straight into rivers and streams. Raw sewage and trash are dumped into the now-anoxic oceans.
Despite these appalling conditions, the common people can do nothing and say nothing about it. They are downtrodden, ill-treated, oppressed, sickly, and malnourished, to say the least. Families live at the factories where they work. Child labor is all too common. Life is short, dirty, and miserable. The common people resent the rich, who live a life of luxury. Uprisings occasionally occur, but they are quickly put down. Whenever things get bad, The Big Man hides behind his money.
Twenty years ago, the environmentalists, who had gone into hiding to avoid persecution, decided that their living conditions were intolerable. So a man stepped forth. His name was Ed Gore, the great-to-the-nth-power grandson of Al Gore, who was a prominent environmentalist during the 2lst Century. Although Ed Gore was rich, no amount of money could make Big Business enact controls on pollution, because then they wouldn't make as much of a profit. The environmentalists were forced to realize that if they wanted to live in a cleaner world, they would have to make one for themselves.
To accomplish this, Gore used his money to gain authorization to conduct rocket launches. A near-Earth asteroid was moved to the opposite side of the Sun but kept in the same orbit as Earth. In such a corrupt and underhanded world, money can get you almost anywhere. Next, a mining base was set up at Mercury's north pole. Mass drivers were used to fling molten rock from Mercury's mantle at the asteroid, where it accreated. Eventually it reached about three-fourths of the size of the moon. A long "string" of molten rock was flung into orbit around the asteroid, where it formed a ring. "Spokes" were built and they were used to connect the ring to the asteroid. The ring was excavated so that only the outer ring was left, creating a "half-pipe donut" of sorts. The remaining rock was processed into building material. Silicon dioxide from the rock was made into glass, which was used to make a "roof" for the ring. Then the ring was given a "roof" of glass. Nitrogen from <insert source here> and Oxygen from the processed Silicon dioxide were pumped into the resulting torus until a pressure of 0.5 atm was reached. A parabolic mirror encircles the asteroid at its "equator" and reflects light into the habitat. The colony was spun up to a rotation speed of 1.57 revolutions per hour to achieve normal Earth gravity. This created a 40 minute-long day/night cycle due to the parabolic mirrors.
Upon its completion, the environmentalists began an exodus to the new space colony, named "Quicksilver." Everyone took his or her family and closest friends. Anyone else who wished to leave could do so if he or she was able to afford it. By the end of the exodus, Quicksilver's population exceeded fifteen million*. For a while, at least, it seemed that all of their troubles were over.
But all is not well. On Earth, people are dying in droves. Even the most resilient members of the population are unable to cope with the massive amount of toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis. Such a sudden decline in workers is devastating for Big Business. The profit loss cannot be tolerated. The profit loss will not be tolerated. Something must be done.
And yet, whispers on the wind already speak of rebellion. People picket whenever and wherever possible, holding signs such as "God is Dead," "THE END IS NIGH," "Mother Nature Will Have Her Revenge," and "You DA, bring back the EPA, or we'll all be KIA." Some groups of workers go on strike. The people organize a revolt, but very few are able to procure firearms. The frail and sickly rebels make little progress, but the disturbance is enough to ruffle the feathers of some birds in high places. But The Man had seen all of this coming long ago, and he was ready. The Big Man decides it's time to show the little man who's boss.
To make a point, The Man comes down on the people with full force and all his might. He not only arrests people; he also kills people. To make sure the people get the message, he deploys mobile suits; giant robots controlled by human pilots. These mechs, which tower over buildings, are not powered by coal. Instead, their energy requirements are met by nuclear power; a small pressurized water reactor is installed in each unit. Armed with giant machine guns and bazookas, these robots make the people look up and know what fear truly is. Groups of people are stepped on, gunned down, or blown up just to set an example. The feeble rebellion is crushed. Although even more people died, The Big Man concludes that not much of value was lost. When it is all over, The Man puts the people on half-rations for a year.
To be continued...
* This population size is subject to change.