Travon surveyed the pile before them in hangar six. “89.3 trillion in shiny new credits,” Cassandra said. “It’s unbelievable.” Her lips parted at the gleaming mass. “Some systems still take it. It will take light years before they know it’s no longer valid.”
“Yep,” Travon said, though his voice held a hint of disagreement. Cassandra’s eyes sparkled. He knew that look all too well. “Galactic Green. The miracle currency. Ever heard the story of why it’s outlawed?”
“I haven’t,” Cassandra said, “But might we take a little as a… souvenir?”
Travon sighed. Some people’s greed could not be deterred. “Unable to be replicated,” he said. “That alone meant it could help put an end to corruption across the Milky Way.” He paused, waiting for Cassandra to ask a question, but she remained silent.
“It nearly destroyed Earth’s financial viability when we discovered the Centauries had been manipulating our bank records. Investing didn’t work anymore. We resorted to using paper and coin again. Then we learned they duplicated that even easier. If they could do it, we knew other alien tech would follow suit.” Travon adjusted his spacesuit. “It shuttled Earth’s economy back to the dark ages. Money was useless. We became like ancient traders crossing a starlit sea. Trying to swap worthless goods with things we knew were just replicas. But we needed them to survive. This seemed to be the solution to everything.”
“Why couldn’t it be replicated?” Cassandra asked. Her eyes never left the ocean of green.
“It’s anthroganic,” Travon answered. “Centauri replicators could only duplicate less complex matter constructions.”
“Anthroganic?” Cassandra said. She was kneeling before the pile, rubbing the green currency between her fingers. “What does that mean?”
“Anthroganic, my dear, means it was derived from living matter.” Cassandra batted her eyelashes in greedy ignorance. “Human matter.” Travon stared at her, hoping the words would sink in. “It solved two problems at once: Overpopulation and theft. Currency for the people, from the people.”
When Cassandra understood it, her knees buckled before she crumpled into a ball and retched on the green pile. Travon helped her to her feet, and she mopped her mouth with her sleeve. Was money ever clean?
He strode toward the door, punched a code, and the alarm began blaring. He slipped on his helmet and hooked his hand through the grip bar.
“Wait! What are you doing?” Cassandra shouted.
“Performing a funeral,” Travon said before slamming his fist on the keypad. The airlock flew open and evacuated the hangar, ejecting Cassandra and the currency across the bed of stars. He would give Cassandra what she really wanted: A trip across the galaxy with all the money she would ever need.
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