Rukta is the common currency of Ethnis, at least conceptually. While most locations have a local currency to help offset economic fluctuations of the larger universe, all units are converted to the rukta standard. Anyone can access their accounts through their @comml and display them with hologram projections.
Our society might be a post-capitalist one, but not even we can escape the necessity of some sort of currency to represent to flow of goods and services. Makes you wonder if we really are post-capitalist, or if we've just engaged it on a new and more abstract scale, huh?
An Invisible DemandOne of the lesser-known crises of the Expansion Era came as the Banners expanded towards a critical mass of worlds. The extant currency systems, which still had holdovers from late-stage capitalism, couldn't sustain discrete economies within a larger whole. Each time a new world was made, money flowed out into that world to build an economy, but very little returned. Nobody wanted to invest in settlement worlds as a result, and preferred instead to focus on the short-term gains of harvesting resource-rich worlds.
Of course they could have gone the route of resources first and settlement later, but the majority of worlds demanded a long term investment, and with the economic infrastructure being what it was, projections were that it would only take a few more years for the economic viability of expansion to fall to a rate of one-per-decade. Or less. In the face of the outward landrush and inward resource crises, this was unacceptable. Something had to change.
Fulfilling the NeedAn Aen living within the Jupiter Syndicate found the solution. This economist, Rukta Estau tor Mharys, adapted the concepts of Fundamental Meritism and devised a series of formula to calculate the merit of a world and determine its exchange rate into Hub Credits. This allowed planets to found their own economic models and traditions apart from the Banners while still allowing trade to those Banners and softened the economic blow of moving to new worlds. The Jupiter Syndicate adopted this first, but the positive effect on the economy was so great that, like with The Archive and Fundamental Meritism, the rest of Ethnis quickly began to adopt it. In Sazashi and scientific tradition, Rukta's equations were named for him, as was the official currency when the Hub abandoned the HubCredit in favor of the Rukta
Saving GraceRukta's importance fell during the Melancholic Lacuna, when the WayHall mysteriously closed, fracturing the Hub and isolating the Outer Worlds worlds. While it was still utilized as a useful standard, the full strength of it went underappreciated, at least until the Lacuna came to an end, and the Reclamation Era began.
Once more the rukta saved the day, even moreso than before. During the Lacuna, many of the worlds which had been settled during the Expansion had grown to have their own economies. If it wasn't for the rukta quickly bridging the economies, we might not have been able to expand back out to them so quickly, and to open up immigration in both directions.
Transaction HandshakeLarger transactions tend to respect the tradition of a handshake. To reinforce this, it is a general standard that these large transactions only transfer when the wrist projectors of someone's CommLink is close to another's—as happens during the handshake.
Black MarkDepending on the nature of the transaction, anyone who makes a deal may have the right to view the other's outstanding debts. This appears as a greyscale rukta of size, shade, and shape equivalent to their debt.
I never do business with someone bearing even a single black sun, personally. I don't care if they made a good investment or took out an important loan. I care about what they can owe me, and if they already owe others so much then how are they going to pay me?
Calculating RuktaThe rukta exchange rate for a world is based on its merit as outlined by the tenants of Fundamental Meritism. Rather than being a measure of just active economic power, it is a measure of economic potential as well, and accounts for the averages, highs, and lows of: tech level, education level, population count, Monolith prevalence, Meta density, potable water, fertile land, farmed land, exports, imports, cultural contribution, terraformation completion, planet size, and more. Because this measures potential, it also takes into account metrics of where the planet is going, not just where it is.
You want an idea of how insane the calculation is? Rukta Transcended while writing it. That's right, creating it was such a mental exercise that he became divine. I opened the calculation once, unfurled it all out into a hologrammic wall 10 meters tall and almost half again as wide. I read it and cried. It was beautiful, and to this day I am still trying to comprehend it.Worlds with a low merit bait investors into moving in and investing in the world to improve the merit of it and get a return-on-investment in the backwards exchange, causing an eventual theoretical equilibrium in value to the Hub. It is said that any world which reaches that equilibrium will be counted as a Hubworld, but so far only Perduro and Nuage D' Argent have managed as such.
AppearanceRukta appear as hologram gems of varying color and shape.
ColorsThe colors of rukta represent its base value, and, inspired by The Wheel, run the spectrum of the rainbow. They look like iridescent gemstones, but are still primarily one color to make them easy to distinguish. Emerald, for minor transactions such as snacks. Equivalent to a $1. Turquiose, for household objects and meals. Equivalent to $10. Sapphire, for larger domestic purchases such as appliances and furniture. Equivalent to a $100. Amethyst, for major purchases such as small civilian vehicles. Equivalent to a $1,000. Orange Topaz for very expensive purchases such as homes and performance vehicles. Equivalent to a $10,000. Gold, the rarest used, for massive purchases. Equivalent to a $100,000. Higher denominations do not have a unique visual representation.
ShapeRukta gems appear as hologram constellations of geometry, with smaller values orbiting the larger. The worth of a gem is a combination of its shape and color. Spheres are the smallest unit, and represent a single measure. Pyramids represent a measure of 5. For example, a green sphere is similar in value to to $5, and a turquoise sphere is equivalent to $50. Cubes represent a measure of 10. It is rare that someone will use the cube or above measures unless they wish to for showing off to friends to make it look like they have more money than they do. Suns with 4 prongs represent a measure of 100, with 8 a measure of 1000, and with 16 a measure of 10,000.
A 16-pronged golden sun hovered above us, casting its amber light down over our gawping mouths and wide eyes. "A grant large enough to fund your research for 10 years," Osborne said, "Assuming you quintuple your staff. Consider this investment my wholehearted endorsement of what you're doing here." Nobody could speak. Our Director, Antony was leaning against the wall, crying in joy and looking like he was about to puke.