A Serial Saga Of Those Maverick Spacers Known As Rocketbillies And Their Moonshine-Powered Rockets
Author's Note: This space opera is inspired by a dream I had where I was blasting into space on a moonshine powered rocket. Going planet to planet, living free - - as a moonshine powered Rocketbilly. Cause when you're a Rocketbilly, whether you're drinking up or blasting off, you're always powered by that same ole moonshine.
As traders, explorers and prospectors, Rocketbillies exist within a highly decentralized star-spanning economy where the primary consumable - moonshine - can be produced almost anywhere that you can grow fruit or sugarcane to ferment. Where there is life, there is moonshine, as the Rocketbillies say.
I am proud to debut this serial space opera, as it is written, here on our own decentralized frontier - that "space" we call Steemit! I hope you enjoy.
Rocketbilly 2315.78 The Great Crypto Crash Of 2315
I was diggin' for alien artifacts in a crater when the crash hit. The twins were tryin' to keep orange dirt off their designer prospector outfits - without much success.
We were lingering at Trexxa station for a spell. Tradin' and swappin ' stories. Seein' jumpgate traffic come and go. Catchin' up with friends and enjoyin' my status as racer hero of some local challenges. We'd take day trips off-station to prospect, distill moonshine, explore, or just see the sights. The twins were princesses on their primitive homeworld. Here they were seein' things for the first time. Sharing my Rocketbilly world with them I felt like I was seein' it all with two new sets of eyes.
We'd day-tripped in search of a rumor. Alien ship out of control and disappeared among some planetoids. Presumed crashed. We'd found the crash site. A huge bounty of alien tech was revealed and we had the mech-bots toting it out. I was hoping just a little deeper and we'd find some alien crypto crystals.
The first sign somethin' was wrong was when Treena cried out, dropped her cybershovel and fell to her knees. Then Katreena dropped too, wailing. I rushed up from the crater's base, scrambled and lost traction on loose orange rock. Held them to avoid their complete collapse. In perfect unison, they wailed, "Coins!" A chill rattled my spine. Something was wrong with the coins.
As a catch-all term for crypto-tokens, cyphercredits, shinerbits, aurabux, and every other type of blockchain value atom, "coins" meant to us what "the stock market" must have meant to elder generations. Our whole rocket racin' economy ran on coins. A problem with coins was a problem for us all. For interstellar trade, Rocketbilly pride, and the value of all this salvaged alien tech we'd dug out of the crater.
The twins trembled, knelt in the crater rocks, and sobbed. Their psychic powers let them oft know when trouble was near. I liked it better when their visions helped me place a bet or make a profit. But this time they saw the future just seconds ahead.
My wristcom chirped, squawked, then went berserk. Calls comin' from compadres throughout the known universe. My number came on their screens cause I was the closest one to the source of the disturbance. From an unsurveyed planetoid nearby. A crypto signal gone out that rippled cross the tokenverse, takin' everything down. Leavin' trails of destruction that led back to a single point: The barren, blasted rock shown on prospector maps as Krampon-12x0505t-AG. Let's just call it "Krag" for short.
We'd uncovered tons more alien tech in the base of the crater but there was no time for that. I had the mech-bots drop what they was carryin' and prep the ship to launch.
I reluctantly strapped my Halzaka autopistol to my thigh. Gunplay was no game, not mostly. I'd rather make a profit or win a race than get in a gunfight. But we were the only ones close enough to stop the corrosive signal before our whole stellar society started to unravel. I stuffed an assault backpack full of cyber-grenades, cryptorockets and a data bomb.
I warmed the gravity shield plates, ignited the lift rockets, and we rose off the planetoid in a rumble of rock and dust. Up into the black that sparkled with stars so clear and bright you could see differences in their color. Into the glowing pink and purple nebula. I was already pumped up, not to mention pissed off.
I posted an update and silenced my wristcom to stop the crazy blizzard of incoming messages. Soon the planetoid "Krag" loomed ahead. Just another orange rock-strewn wasteland. With a hyperdense core sufficient to attract and hold an atmosphere and near-standard gravity. We'd be able to walk and breathe.
No sign of vehicles, equipment, proto-humans or aliens. Just some scrub vegetation here and there. I chose a clearing near some larger cliffs and boulders and settled down on the barren surface. As nav gyros wound down and lox whined in tanks and tubes, I tapped my wristcom. Called the one guy I wanted to check with fore we stepped onto the rock. Doctor Maxwell Leitraum, Professor of Astroresearch at Rocketbilly U. If anyone had any useful clues, it would be him.
"Been expecting your call!" he exclaimed. "You should be at the scene by now."
"Just touched down. What can you tell me?"
"The signal has reversed. It's sucking energy and value into some repository below the surface. An extremely advanced algorithm. Alien code, possibly ancient. Be careful."
"Careful's not the Rocketbilly way, Doc."
"I know. That was a joke. Good luck and for the sake of moonshine, shut that thing down!"
We stepped out and rocks pulverized under my feet. Crumblier than I'd expected. Almost like that breakfast cereal, "Orange Crunchballs."
The twins had recovered from their psychic jolt and were in warrior princess mode. Literally. Treena had a mini chaingun with multi-ammo backpack. Katreena wielded a projectile energy spear. Across the surface we warily crept.
In the distance a shimmering glow danced above a chasm between two spires, rock cliffs on either side. We went that way.
We entered a narrowing canyon. Rock walls rose high above us on either side. We continued ahead as the walls closed in but still there was room to walk. No further sign of movement. No sound but a gentle breeze. Tumbleweeds tumbled down a cliff face and Treena lit them up with the chaingun. They turned into tumbling fireballs, then smoking balls of cinder that we had to dodge as the breeze blew them past us. "Sorry!" She apologized meekly.
We continued on, fanning our weapons up and around the cliff walls. I was about to lecture Treena on the finer points of fire control when the ground collapsed beneath our feet. We free-fell down a chute. It angled and we were dumped into a massive chamber deep inside the planetoid.
Violet particle beams zapped from elevated globes and disintegrated our weapons. I tapped my comlink but it had no connection. Something was blockin' the signal.
Towering hundreds of feet all around us were banks of translucent blocks. They hummed and whirred.
"What is this?" I asked the twins, hoping for some psychic insight.
They closed their eyes and shuddered. Katreena answered: "Coins within coins."
A thunderous voice boomed through the chamber: "Your minds are simple! Your technology - simple!"
I took offense. "I don't see no culture here 'cept a bunch of blinky lights. Not impressed."
The whole chamber flashed red a moment, then resumed its multicolor flicker. The mega voice taunted. "You are like a bug to me."
I spat on the floor and smeared it with my boot. "You're like a bug to me too. A computer bug, destroyin' our world. Is that what you are, some kinda AI?"
The room flashed red again. "I am the Kryptovore! Destroyer of worlds! Devourer of information! A thousand worlds I have consumed. Absorbed their energy, their data, their records. Leaving them as burned out husks. Stone Age people, unable to rebuild for a thousand years. Then I return - to feast again!"
I glanced around for an object I could use to bash the computer blocks but there was nothing. Seemed futile anyway.
"Why didn't you zap us along with our weapons?"
"It amuses me to examine you up close on the eve of your destruction. Aside from a brief source of entertainment, there is nothing that I need to learn from you. My memory banks are swelling with all your civilization's knowledge. Its energy and value. All its tokenated systems."
I scowled. "Except one!"
The chamber went lime green. "One!?"
"That's right. One token. One coin you will never understand or be able to decode. My own personal crypto, the argokoin. Protected by a code word only I know. Without that word no one can unlock its contents. Its meaning will haunt you throughout eternity. Agitatin' you. Buggin' you like an itch you can't scratch. Maybe drive you insane, short your circuits..."
Thunderbolts of energy snaked from the elevated spheres and engulfed the twins. They writhed in pain.
The voice roared. "I will fill their brains with unimaginable torment! Give me the password within 5 seconds or I will incinerate their minds!"
"Kamikaze." I blurted out.
The twins went limp. Waves of light rippled across the computer blocks all around. Every color of the rainbow. Then they went dark.
The Kryptovore was a fool. My argokoin was a poison pill, activated by the password and geared to take over whatever system it found itself in. Based on alien cryptos I'd dug up years before and engineered in secret with Doc Leitraum's help. We'd never had a chance to fully test it, til now. It worked.
The twins rose groggily from the floor and smiled. "Coins good" said Katreena wearily. Most of the value and energy had already flowed back to its rightful place as my argokoin worked its magic. The rest we would soon return once Dr. Leitraum and his team disassembled and analyzed the computer blocks. The Kryptovore was now under my control. Within its circuits were a bounty of alien crypto codes from a thousand worlds.
We left as world saving heroes and remained such for several days. Travelled, enjoyin' parties in our honor. Free moonshine everywhere. Tributes of coins. Throughout the New Space of Rocketbillies, our legend spread. In Old Space near Terra, there was no mention of it and they couldn't care less. Typical.
I filed a crypto-claim on that so-called Kryptovore and it was carefully dismantled and neutralized. Turned into just another ancient alien crypto. Them data blocks became highly valued among crypto collectors. I made a fortune on 'em.
But I"d be lyin ' if I said I wisely invested any of it. Fueled some powerful good times though. I bought dozens of super-exotic race vehicles and bent or broke 'em all. Bought a whole stable of collectible classic rockets that met the same fate. We partied, then we partied harder. Once the fame and honors started to wear off, it was me buyin' the drinks. I gave away cars, homes, money, and cryptocash as freely as they say ole Saint Elvis gave away his. I guess when I get flush with coins I try to emulate his model.
The way I see it, money aint nothin' but a fuel. Like moonshine. It's there to drink up or blast off. To share and enjoy. Fuel for good times, doin' good and yeah, bein' foolish and fun with a major part of it. Moonshine, money, fuel or coins - I aim to use 'em and use 'em up. I weren't put here to just lock 'em all up in a vault and hoard. If there's one thing you oughtta learn as a Rocketbilly it's that the universe is bigger than you know. Always more out there to explore, to find, to enrich. New fortunes to be made and new ways to spend 'em. That's the Rocketbilly way!