As the door slid closed behind him, Madseu're sat on the end of his bed in the privacy of his quarters. He turned the envelope over, and into his open hand dropped a single shining coin. Madseu're gently turned it over and over between finger and thumb, examining it. Yes, it WAS! A real coin, made of precious metal, possibly even gold!
On one side of the small coin was what looked like a mansion, with a statue at the center, seated between two rows of pillars. Over this image was some text that was scarcely legible from the years of handling and abuse; the text beneath that, though readable, was written in an ancient tongue, and he had no was no way to translate it: E Pluribum Unum. Under the image was inscribed in larger letters, "One Cent," a currency that no longer held meaning. On the opposite side of the coin was a bearded man in profile; behind him the word "liberty" barely able to be read, and by his lapel, an indistinct date. Over his head was the thing that struck Madseu're as being most unusual about the coin, the expression "In God We Trust." It surely was a mis-struck coin, he decided. It probably was intended to read "In Gold We Trust."
He was amazed; awestruck; dumbfounded; a million trite expressions came to mind to describe his loss for words. He had only ever seen a coin like this once, and that was as a child on a trip to a museum where a glittering silver dollar had winked at him from behind a glass case in one of the historical archive vessels that orbited on a separate path from the rest of the stations.
A coin like the one he now held, Madsue're Disvone'ray realized, was worth a fortune!
He remembered the lessons his teachers had taught about how long ago coins had been used as a way to purchase items, reward workers, and repay debts before all finance had been digitized. All currency had been recalled, and ordered to be destroyed. But when computers world-wide had crashed in what became known as the Sunspot Stock Crash, the ones who thrived were the private sects and prudent collectors who had chosed to stow their money rather than exchange it for digital wealth.
Madseu're recalled where the legendary hero Ahab had been quoted in a verse from the Scriptures, "He who raises me a white whale shall have this gold ounce, my boys!"***
Historians were unsure what a whale was, as no one had ever seen a living one. Most conjectured that it was a large furry mammal that ate cockroaches, based on archeological expeditions that had been made to the planet's surface, in which they had uncovered remains of creatures the size of an infant human, with collars and small boxes of sand they were given to bury their waste. The only animals other than humans who had survived the Seven-Day War that followed the Sunspot Crash had been roaches. Then the conclusion that followed was that Ahab, had been a captain of a space station, and frustrated by the surge in cockroach population, he had cried out desperately that he would offer a gold coin, which symbolized great wealth, if someone could find a living whale to devour the bugs.
Madseu're held the coin for a moment before getting up to hide it in a safe place. This object was worth a great deal! He checked the envelope again, but there was no note of explanation enclosed. Why had the Big L given it to him, who was merely the head cook for Station RK237? He didn't really even know him all that well! Perhaps he would get answers from the Big L himself, this evening at the farewell banquet being held in honor of the Big L.
*** Note: Historians generally agreed that the Scriptures, most of which had, sadly, been partially lost during the Great Burnings of the Puritan-Pagan Age, were authored by a German prophet named Herr Mel Villemann, based on information gleaned from a torn cover of a printed copy of the Scriptures, which read: