Trope-a-Day: Worthless Yellow Rocks

Worthless Yellow Rocks: Oh, yeah. Starting with gold itself, whose rarity went the way of the dodo shortly after asteroid mining was developed, and whose price is of a similar order to Earth’s prices for iron, if not actually less. (Which is to say, if it didn’t wear down so fast, you could pave streets with the stuff.) Iron, meanwhile, is so ridiculously cheap that most mining companies will let you have it for the cost of hauling the damn stuff away – it’s basically an overly plentiful byproduct of refining metals that are actually worth something.

In any case, this makes the gAu, along with other precious metal currencies like the gAg and the gPt, float very low indeed on the Empire’s currency exchanges and those of the other Core Markets. If you want them to be worth much, it’s time to find some Emerging Market deep in the Periphery, preferably worldbound.

Diamonds, if anything, have suffered even more. They’re trivial to assemble for even the most primitive carbon organizer, to the point where diamondoids are common industrial materials. Worse, enough planets have used carbon-organizers for industrial-scale carbon sequestration that there are entire bloody mountains of bar diamond lying around in places.

In general, advanced materials technologies are really hard on simple valuable stuff. Stuff with complexity included, now, that’s a different matter…



The nodes of the public notification channel had snapped back to full operation within milliseconds of the pinch going off, and geotags bloomed in carmine distress across the wreckage below.  She noted approvingly the grounded flitters upstream of the wrecks, their drivers already moving in with unpacked emergency kits, foamsteel spray to cap venting slush and LiME to break through stubborn wreckage.

”Put us down there,” she directed. ”Yeah, by the crush.” A StellEx freight wagon – it must have been near the center of the flux – had spun out and crashed, swatting a half-dozen flitters out of the sky on its way down. The ambulances accompanying them were falling behind, collecting the merely wounded from the trailing wreckage.

Leaping from the rescue flitter at a low hover, she landed at the run, waving her credentials – Cerí Oriane-ith-Meliane, revivifier – at the constabular sequester-claim, and shifted overlays to stack-pings and danger-warnings only. The first stack was nearby, a corpse hanging through the windscreen of a flitter’s front half, impaled on the shattered diamondoid. She reached for the neck, pulled it down, and slipped her pithing knife smoothly through dead flesh and photon-cable alike. With a twist, the gleaming walnut of the vector stack popped free.

She dropped it into the embag at her waist, then looked about for the next ping-tag. There, inside that wreck. A spray of LiME and a few heartbeats’ pause embrittled the thin metal of the hull, and a kick shattered it like glass.

Shit. It’s a live one. The man inside the shattered flitter was still breathing, though barely, eyes glazed with agony. She made the call in moments – near-full-body burns, unsalvageable – and pressed a hissing euthspray to his neck. And then, again, it was the pithing knife’s turn.

And on to the third…

By Their Warnings Shall Ye Know Them

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