Let’s talk about finance.

No wait, where are you going? Come back! What, you think this is going to be a boring speech on the intricacies of fiscal matters and currency trading? Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Why, when talking about the rich, wonderful history of Universia’s single currency, you’re not just talking about fiscal matters and currency trading, you’re also talking about budget consolidation, tax adjudication, and the finer art of intergalactic investment economics.

As you can see, some real, rip-roaring stuff!

Hey! Wait right there! OK, I know when it comes to money, the only exciting thing is to spend it. But it really is true when I say that the history of Tetra credits – the sole currency that makes the whole of Universia go round – is full of interesting tales and facts. Why, just the other day, one was reminded of the legendary Gruta Xedicar, whose shrewd eye for numbers saved many planets a great deal of money on their Ship Insurance.

Where are you going?

Oh for glats… Right. That’s it. I’m not fooling around any longer. Why, I suspect that you just want to go straight into the nitty-gritty of this tale, don’t you? Oh yes, I can see it in your eyes… you can’t wait until you hear about big explosions, death-defying moments of purest peril, and edge-of-your-seat wonder. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Typical of you lot, always yearning for the instant gratification. No, you can’t have some background on your explosions and wonder, you just want things to go boom, whizz, and kerplow. To be fed some fizzy adventure, and not worry about the ramifications and fallout that such things cause. While you’re seeing a Galactic Army Force office blow up some Nazian Decay Fleet, you have no care for what the true cost such a battle has, do you?

Well all I have to say to you is this: tough. You’re going to have to sit there, listen to me talk about the history of Universia’s single currency – the Tetra – and you’re going to like it. Sure, at first you’ll be saying ‘oh please, stop talking, you’re more boring than the most boring Wezzion that ever lived’. And yes, you may be right, but you’re going to love this by the end. You’re going to be so thirsty for Tetra knowledge, that you’d take it to the nearest Grub Lord and ask them to grind it down into a fine shake for you, just so you can drink it up some more. Oh yes, you’ll crave it, I tell you now! You’ll crave Tetra knowledge until you go mad with it. Mad, I say! Mad! Ahaha! AHAHAHAHA!

Ahem. Now where was I? Oh yes.

Let’s talk about finance.

It all began with the creation of Universia. Now, obviously, when thousands of interplanetary communities come together, there are a few little details that need to be hammered out and made nice between all parties. Otherwise, you get various disagreements that lead to warmongering, and that solves nothing. Literally, as Martian de-weaponisation saw to that. While it was good that beings weren’t being blown to bits thanks to a microscopic life-form, it didn’t completely eradicate any tension therein.

So therefore, cash settlements were thought up. In some planetary cultures, the idea of giving someone money in exchange for goods and services – which in this case was not blowing them up – seemed the most logical way to solve these vast problems. But, naturally, such an approach led to even more problems.

You see, imagine the scenario – an Earth human meets up with a Gort and wishes to prevent them going to war with them, or falling out with them in general.

Actually, that’s a terrible example. Gort’s are so incapable of war, they’d probably take any financial offerings and try to consume them.

OK, how about Ghurians? Yes, they’re dumb as two very short pieces of cillinium, but they are always thrown by the presence of shiny things. So, to prevent them deciding that your belongings would look better in their homesteads, you try to pay them off with your Earth pounds, dollars, or whatever comes to hand. But giving a Ghurian paper money would just confuse them, for they have no concept of the value of a piece of paper. For one, it is not shiny and in trinket-sized form, and two? Most paper they find is used for sanitary purposes, and no one wants to see a historical figure in the nether-regions of a Ghurian. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

With this in mind, the idea of paying off beings with fiscal incentives – which should be noted isn’t bribery under Universia Law DT6-42> – becomes complicated due to the variations on bartering that comes with such a rich varietyof cultures. For while a Quen will deal only in complex jewels, a Tynion will trade only in informative thoughts; it just becomes far too complicated for a system of commerce.

Therefore, it was proposed to introduce a single currency for all of Universia to trade upon. One lone fiscal system, agreed upon around the known galaxy (and unknown should the opportunity arise), that would be used in all trade, anti-war pay-offs and, of course, bribery. This single currency was to be known as the Tetra – a term that was devised using a focus group covering a wide cross-section of beings, who were then paid off by the richest Universia Official to choose their name.

The system works, folks.

Naturally, there were problems with introducing a single currency. Most beings did not want to give up their old way of trading. The Pellians, for one, found the new Tetra to be below their standards of what they would use as a way to pay for things. Not that they often paid for things, as they mostly expected things to come their way, anyway, purely due to their heritage. But the Government of Universia has a way of making their own things go their way, and after a galactic marketing campaign used to tout the general loveliness of the Tetra, things started to finally go well.

It was also proposed that the Tetra would not be like any other currency. It would exist as a purely digital system that would be housed in pre-configured data sticks that businesses would use to control their finances. As for the individual, they would have their Tetra Card and use that to pay for goods, services, and general conflict reparations. As an all-round way of doing things, it was top stuff; there was no need to fiddle around for the right change, or try and convert some Rygan coins into Shorgan slobber in order to pay for some ship fuel. Instead, you’d transfer the Tetras using your Tetra Card, and all would be well.

And all was well. The Tetra Corporation, who were founded in order to regulate the distribution of Tetras, reported a whopping 10000% increase in the quality of life of all beings in Universia. Of course, independent statistical analysts argued these reports, stating that the quoted figure was a mere marketing buzzword, and didn’t accurately reflect the true results of their findings. However, they soon found themselves meeting with Tetra Corp, and came out giving thumbs up to their own revised findings, along with some fancy new clothes and jewellery.

So Universia lived their lives true and honest with this newfound wealth of commerce. Tetra became synonymous with trade and transactions, and everybody proudly showed their Tetra Cards when buying everything from a Cartereli Ale, to a small pet rock-monster. And all the while, Tetra Corp set up their Tetra Banks across the Quadrants, distributing gargantuan servers which housed millions of Tetras in order for planets, businesses, and the like to continue pushing along this general feeling of goodness.

See, wasn’t that exciting? Don’t you feel well informed and appreciative of the little bit of background information on this big wide galaxy of ours?

No? You’re bored of this talk of financial institutions, percentiles, economic peril and other exciting miscellanea? Glatting… fine. You know what? Fine. I try and set up a nice foundation in which to tell this story on, give you a bit of context so you don’t go in blind, but oh no. You need something stupendous in order to make you interested. Forgive me for trying to give you something a bit more highbrow, something a bit more educational.

Fine. You’ll get your excitement, but I’m still going to talk about Tetra history! Yeah, we’ll have the best of both worlds! See how you like that.

Oh, you would like that? Well why didn’t you say so…

Well then, like most things to do with finance, crime was always a big risk. At first, the Government of Universia challenged Tetra Corp as to how secure their currency was. Obviously, they did this without telling them, as to have the element of surprise. They sent in a crack team of hackers and general nogoodniks to try and obtain a number of Tetras for themselves, and found that they were surprised when Tetra Corp discovered these faux-bandits, and sent them off to the nearest GAF prison planet. In the end, those hired robbers got their Tetras in the form of compensation for the whole mess.

However, it did prove that if Tetra Corp were anything, they were secure. Kind of. I mean, when the numbers in your company were so large, so utterly mind-boggling, it is easy to see a few Tetras go down the cracks here and there. And because the numbers were so huge, those few Tetras would turn into figures so beyond you’re the realm of your average Universia being, it’d make their pants explode. Vast sums of Tetras were written off every day, with Tetra Corp simply putting it down to ‘administrative errors’, and because there was no real suffering on the quality of life of Universia, no one questioned it. But if they had, they would have found that in all actuality, while Tetra Corp were good at tackling both cybernetic and old-school robbers, they didn’t quite have the same handle on those that flew around the galaxy.

For you see, those Tetra Ships that sent the giant databases to and from each planet, weren’t the most solid of vessels. In fact, Tetra Corp weren’t one to simply let a being navigate it from A to B; they flat out did not trust anyone to transport such vast sums of cash. Instead, the Tetra Ships were automated to their destinations, which resulted in some very amusing issues when the auto-pilot went very, very wrong.

Nobody knows quite why the Tetra Ships were so shoddy. It wasn’t a major problem, as most were solid enough to make sure that the ships got around OK. But on average, a quarter of all Tetra Ships usually went missing, along with the contents inside them. Most of these were found later on with the majority of their data inside – for most scavengers who came across them had no idea what they were, while some were found to be floating husks or simply would vanish into deep space. While some conspiracy theorists opine that, in fact, it was Tetra executives who were fiddling the system, and had created these faulty Tetra Ships themselves so that they could claim back the lost money utilising clever insurance tactics, others believed it was just pure and simple space piracy.

Then, of course, there were the ones who knew exactly where those Tetras went. They went to people smart enough to know how to get them, and dumb enough not to care who knew. They would acquire the Tetras, store them in their very own accounts, and laugh in the face of anyone who challenged them. Most were caught and sentenced to the most serious punishments the Government of Universia knew, while Tetra Corp moaned the lost revenue and reclaimed it through their accounts.

Some, however, were far too valuable to simply throw into jail and lock away the key. Some had so much Tetra, and the right amount of moxie, that they could salvage a Tetra Ship and all its contents, and still fly away with a smile. And there was one particular person who did this very well.

Kirk Sandblaster.

(See, we got to him in the end, didn’t we? Happy now? Good…)

(Kirk Sandblaster faces TETRAGEDDON is available on Kindle from March 14th)

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