proof of work (obs.): an archaic technique for (usually blockchain-based) cryp mining which ties mining capability to computational power. In its original form, it required transaction blocks to be hashed, which demonstrated time and computational effort put forth, and which would generate a certain amount of virgin cryp until the configured money supply was reached.

While widely criticized for its lack of scalability as transaction volumes grew and the extreme wastefulness of resources (both material and energetic) required¹ to maintain equivalent mining capacity in the face of the ongoing general expansion of computational capability, it nevertheless became a relatively commonly utilized technique in early cryp architectures.

A substantial blow was struck² to proof of work by the algorithmic crisis associated with the Isif Theorem and the Great Slump of 2840. Nevertheless, the concept staggered on for some considerable time afterwards, although the need for increasingly sophisticated cryptographic algorithms and specialized processors rapidly took mining of proof-of-work-based cryp outside the realm of individuals and small organizations. This left only large consortia of various types (and, of course, Powers³) capable of mustering the computational power necessary to participate.

The final death of proof of work did not come until 5193, when the Market Liberty Oversight Directorate – with the assistance of the Fiscal Mind and a specialized acausal logic processor – demonstrated the ability to mine out the entire volume of three newly launched cryps, using dust transactions to rapidly fill new mineable blocks, within seconds of each one’s launch.

– A Core Economic Dictionary, Aurum Press (6900)

  1. For this reason, proof of work was never a popular basis for Empire-based cryps. It is hard, after all, to imagine a domicile less friendly to the notion of deliberately overworking.
  2. Although a prolonged one, as much of the actual striking occurred after the advent of interstellar travel as word of the Theorem spread throughout what would become the Worlds at the speed of communications.
  3. A group whose existence enhanced the flight from proof of work, since those who were already concerned with confidentiality were, by and large, not enthusiastic about currencies seemingly doomed to fall under the control of alien space-gods.

What Do You Mean, It Doesn’t Grow On Trees?

What is cryptid-currency? It’s the latest brainstorm to come out of the convergence of bankers, cryptographers, and genetic engineers – a blockchain-based form of cryp designed to use the photosynthetically-powered computing capacity of mesh-networked genetically enhanced trees to provide the validation and storage necessary to operate the cryp’s backing protocol, combining environmental friendliness and stealthy operation in a single package.

All you need to do is find the trees. You’re looking for at least six (the minimum needed to form a functional server-grove with enough combined power to reach distant networks) – and bear in mind that since many varieties have been created, such as the byteoak, the moneple, the wishwillow, the cashelm, and the greenwood, not all trees in the grove are necessarily identical. Indeed, the converse is also true, and identical-appearing trees may be of different protocol varietals.

At this point, you can register an account with the appropriate wallet application for the cryptid-currency in question, running on your more conventional computing device. Since no special peripherals are required on ubiquitous cognitive radio hardware, all the data is stored in the tree’s logs (sic), and cryp applications tend to support steganographically concealed keys, a self-destructing app can effectively hide your use of tree-cryp from any and all nosy chaps out there.

So now let’s take a look at some of the more popular cryptid-currencies out there…”

– excerpted from Profiting on the Woodblock-Chain:
A Guide to Cryptid-Currency

Why Is There Still Cash In The Future?

…I am sometimes asked.

Well, this:

Cash Means Freedom, Which Is Why So Many Officials Hate It

Especially when it comes to foreign governments and their “monitoring economic activity”, “manipulating the economy”, “tax compliance”, and such-like fetishes, which is also why it’s so fond of its fierce banking privacy laws and, for that matter, free access to cryp.

The Chamber of the People thinks spiking ideas like that is hilarious.

The Empire’s banks, comfortably shielded behind the Worlds’ largest economy, cheerfully willing to do business with anyone courtesy of the extranet, and with large infosec and counterinfosec departments on staff, think it’s delightfully profitable.

And hilarious.


Trope-a-Day: Piecemeal Funds Transfer

Piecemeal Funds Transfer: Played straight, as the original trope suggests might be the case, with certain non-mainstream anonymous/secure cryptographic currencies (known as “cryp scrip”, or just “cryp” for short), in which each currency unit is its own cryptographically signed token that must be processed individually and sequentially to do the transfer.

The Heart of Mediocrity (1)

“No-no-no-no-no,” Arúaz Váriz Xinak Laníc Kúran viKoriaz said, hsis heads moving in some agitation.  “Absolutely not, never.  We and our crew cannot be paid enough to take you to Vonis Prime, no.   The kalatri do not like visitors of our kind, no-no-no.  Cause us/us/ours too much trouble, risk, damage.  Cannot pay us/us enough to make that voyage worthwhile.”  Hse peered at the suited figure through the hydrocarbon fog.  “Why do you want to charter a múrast ship anyway, oxygen-breather?  Our icehull has no cabins suited for your air and warmth, and the months to Vonis are a long time to stay in a suit.  Besides, the kalatri would only be more suspicious.  No-no, no answers, not our business.  We and ours will not take you.”

“It is a matter of my cargo, not myself.”  The suited figure tossed a cryp-token into the negotiating area.  “This, for the charter rate to Vonis.  This much again,” as a second token joined the first, “for your trouble, as well as,” a third joined them, “this more, for no further questions.  And as much again, and the cost of repairing any damage, when we return.”

viKoriaz stared at the tokens, counting; nearly four times the going rate for the charter lay in front of hsem already.  “With no further questions, how can we/we be sure we/we will ever return to see that pay?”

“Be sure?  You cannot.  But I assure you that I do not plan to throw my own life away on some foolish plan.  I am merely… in need of fast transportation, and yours is the only ship for charter in Fínar space right now.”

viKoriaz’s minds argued inwardly for a moment, before hse curled back into his oil-bath and took possession of the cryp with a tongue-flick.  “It seems we/we can be paid enough after all, oxygen-breather.  We/we/ours can be ready to depart from midwatch tomorrow.  The Consensus of Múrethch.  Bay 171-RR.”

Taking It With You

Accessing Your Funds

It is possible for you to access your funds directly on most of the core Associated Worlds, including all worlds of the Fringe, which are serviced by the Imperial Banking and Credit Network or one of its affiliate clearing networks.  Direct funds access is also possible on select other major worlds and colonies where First Commercial has branches, using our premium tangle clearing facility.

However, other worlds are affiliated with alternative clearing networks due to local regulatory or legal requirements, or remain unaffiliated. On these worlds, direct funds access is impossible, but First Commercial maintains correspondent relationships with local banks across the Worlds. If a correspondent bank exists on the world you intend to visit, we can provide you with a letter of credit which can be drawn upon there, or a bank draft with which to establish a local account.

If no correspondent bank exists, it may be possible for us to establish a chain of correspondent banks to put funds in place in advance of your visit, or to purchase locally acceptable negotiable instruments or cryp (where anonymous untraceable funds are permitted by local law) on your behalf which you can use to establish a local account.

Please note that specie, unprovenanced gemstones, and precious metals are not recommended for this purpose due to their low mass-value and volume-value.

Access Technologies

Where direct funds access is available through affiliate networks, a variety of different technologies may be required to access local financial networks rather than the Universal, including one-touch credit bars, cards encoded using magnetic stripes, holographic or other optical markings, or physical encoding, or even smart-paper or printed checks manually delivered to a central clearing house. First Commercial can provide you with any of these as required, appropriately encoded to draw upon your account.

You should be aware that while the Imperial Banking and Credit Network affiliate agreement requires adherence to its privacy, anti-fraud, minimum clearance time and fee structure constraints, many of these affiliate networks do not support advanced feature sets including smart contracts, metrics checks, immediate clearing, and referral of purchases to you or your muse for validation. As such, remote access to your funds via these networks requires disabling these security features on your First Commercial account, or setting up a separate foreign drawing account without these features.

For those unfamiliar with these technologies, a cautionary note: virtually all of these, unlike the Empire’s familiar Purchase Threshold ™ system, require that you present goods you wish to purchase to a cashier and perform the transaction explicitly. Do not simply leave with your selected goods; this will not cause them to be purchased.

Thank you for considering First Commercial’s foreign travel and retrocompatibility services.

– leaflet, First Commercial Bank of Seranth


“Ladies and gentlemen, here to discuss the Ikarakakt Forknapping is ConSec Network Operations’ incident commander, Soléän Muetry-ith-Merete.  Take us through what happened.”

“Very well. This message – the original variant of this message – was injected onto the extranet at the Tanel open-service relay in the Cordai Gap.  Ah – open-service relays are frequently used outside the Core, especially in the Expansion Regions, and unlike the dataweaves most of us are used to, they don’t require a full set of authentication certificates to accept traffic.”

“The message was piggybacked on a spam-virus using some new techniques that let it escape the security checks; we’re working with Bright Shadow and other providers as we speak to produce and distribute patches to eliminate the loopholes it used.  In any case, the spam-virus was able to redefine itself as an inoffensive weavelife agent and transmit itself to a more central relay, at Selvis.  From there, it was able to insert the message -”

“Aren’t the logophages supposed to stop unsolicited agent message transmission?”

“Yes, and the logophages did kill the spam-virus once they had a corpus large enough to identify it as a spammer.  However, before that point was reached, it had inserted various self-replicating/self-mutating messages into the local data systems of 37 middle-technology worlds in the Ring Nebula.  While the logophages pursued, local system incompatibilities slowed the response, and the selfreps weren’t terminated until the message had reached 13,329 data service subscribers spread across those worlds.”

“I see.  And then?”

“And then… fourteen people responded to it.”

“It’s hard to believe that people today -?”

“…still fall for this sort of crude, implausible, leftover-from-the-dawn-of-time scam?  Believe me, Cíëlle, we’ve seen a lot of variants on this in ConSec NetOps, and we have trouble believing it ourselves.  But nonetheless, fourteen people responded.  That might sound encouraging – fourteen is only just over a 0.1% response rate – but we have reason to believe that more people responded to the initial approach, but were either not targeted by the forknappers or were put off by later parts of the approach.”

“What happened after they responded?”

“Well, the message itself is almost completely false, of course.  While there have been some recent border incidents between the Tree and the Technate, no volume has changed hands, and there are certainly no caches to be had.  And, while admittedly it’s hard to find your way through the maze of Accord commissions the way the Conclave makes and unmakes them, there is no Secondary Security Services Commission, although there are some with similar-enough sounding names to be plausible.  The promise of cryp is the usual nice touch – everyone loves anonymous, concealable, network-usable currency if they think they can get away with something that way.”

“Anyway, these fourteen were very well stroked with the ‘such security assurances’ they offered.  I’ve seen some of them.  They are really very impressive – cosmetically – with seals and signatures and countersignatures from plenty of reputable-sounding institutions and plausible-looking multistep chains.  None of them led back to a reputable authentication authority, of course, but then, they’d provided an explanation for that, and they looked impressive enough, and providing them was co-operation enough, that these people just assumed that they must be valid.  And they couldn’t do a deep inspection, of course, to find the missing ends of the chains because ‘starcorporate interests are already in negotiation’.  Delay means losing the deal.”

“And so they all made, or took, a noetic backup copy of themselves and transmitted it off to the forknappers’ darknet, thinking they were going to be reinstantiated for the negotiations.”

“How did ConSec get involved?”

“A couple of the victims reported the scam to their local authorities after they never heard back from their copy and the darknet vanished on them, and it was passed up to us as an extranet-security matter.  We managed to trace the original agent back to the Tanel injection point, and from there traced the signal to a local asteroid outpost.  With the cooperation of a local nsang anti-piracy patrol, we raided the outpost and managed to recover some of the tools the forknappers had used, and eighteen stolen mind-states, in various degrees of editing.  We’ve returned those to their originals.”

“What are the chances of finding the forknappers?”

“Well, that’s something for the local authorities, not in our jurisdiction; we were just called in to investigate the breaches of extranet security.  But in any case, chances of catching them are negligible; the forknappers must have known we were coming.  They were long gone when we got there, and the outpost was scrubbed clean.  We only found what they left for us to find.”

“And in any case, the damage was done.  We recorded several large encrypted transmissions, both on-net and off-net, from the outpost on the way in, and more data could easily have been carried out on-media.  There’s no way to tell how many thousands or millions of slaved copies or derivatives of those mind-states could be out there by now, and without some new leads, there’s not a thing we can do about it.  Or that anyone can do about it.”

“Thank you for your candor on that point.  Do you have any advice for our viewers?”

“Only the usual; don’t be a damned idiot on the extranet.  If it seems to be too good to be true, it is.  If it originates from a darknet or from an open-service relay – the messages were stamped with the unverifiable-origin flag – ask yourself why.”

“And above all, learn the authentication infrastructure.  If it comes from a non-reputable or anonymous source, don’t trust it.  Bad fiction aside, there simply aren’t the kinds of local outages that could make an honest agent unable to identify himself.  Anyone who can’t present you with a verified key, for an identity or a nym, is up to no good.  It’s as simple as that.”

“Thank you again.  That was Commander Soléän of ConSec Network Operations, bringing us the latest on the Ikarakakt Forknapping.  We’ll be going live to the Seranth Exchange for the financial reports; for now, this is Cíëlle Peressin for Telememe.”


From Merak Ikarakakt, greetings.

My dear friend, having consulted with galactic rep networks and meta-networks, I believe you to be a sophont of the highest integrity and excellent reputation in the interstellar business community.  I have the privilege therefore to request your assistance in a matter of the greatest confidentiality and urgency.

I am an operative with the Accord Secondary Security Services Commission.  After the recent Silicate Tree incursions into the Santry Technate, my associates and I were able to identify several caches of experimental technology and bearer-denominated cryp located in secure vaults within the incursion zone.

These caches have been impounded by the Commission pending salvage clearance.  While I and my associates are unable to obtain this clearance, as we are known to the Commission, a respected soph of business such as yourself would easily be able to do so.  As our interest is primarily in the technology, we would be delighted to offer you the cryp within those caches, which we believe to have a value not less than forty million Accord exvals, enabling us both to profit from this discovery.

We are prepared to offer you such security assurances before departure as we are able within the incursion zone, despite the disruption of the identity and authenticity infrastructure by the Tree incursions; nevertheless, if you are willing to help us in this matter, we must request that you mindcast to our location with a minimum of delay since starcorporate interests are already in negotiation for access to these technology caches.

Please reply with your secure contact information to our darknet address urgently.

Your friend,

Merak Ikarakakt