One fine day on Standardia, a tiny speck of light appeared in the sky between the planet's twin suns.
"I hope that is not an Imperial Patrol Ship come snooping," muttered Tex Stardust, the elected Governor of the Great Society of Standardia.
"Nothing we can do if it is," added his neighbour, Jefferson Clintwood.
"They might not like the flags," mused Tex, nodding towards the starry and spangly banners that adorned every homestead in the settlement. "They ain't Imperial colours."
"No," confirmed Jeff. "They're the flag of the Great Society of Standardia!"
The shiny speck resolved itself into a space-ship entering the atmosphere and heading straight for their settlement.
"Weirdest craft I ever seen," mused Tex.
"At least it ain't an Imperial craft," added Jeff.
As the craft settled in a flat meadow by the river. The men-folk among the colonists formed an ad-hoc welcoming committee whilst the women-folk called their children to their homes. One young man suggested that they form the farm wagons into a circle, but his elders thought that was taking things too far.
A door in the starship opened and from it there emerged a large slug-like creature, who oozed down the ramp surrounded by acolytes and guards of various sizes and species.
"Greetings, people of this fair land of Standardia," was the message that emerged from the slug's electronic chest translator. "My name is Barcla the Hoard, and I am come here to trade with you."
Tex stepped forward.
"We know who you are, Mr Barcla, sir, we actually come from Tattoo One ourselves. Welcome to the Great Society of Standardia. I'm Tex Stardust, and I'm the Governor here. It's mighty fine of you to call in on us folks, but I have to tell you that we are a Restricted Planet. Restricted by the Empire, we can't trade off planet."
A booming laugh, that needed no translation, echoed around the settlement.
"If you know me, my friends, then you will know that I, Barcla the Hoard, care not for Imperial restrictions?! No, no, let us trade and prosper, my friends. What do you wish to buy? I have some excellent droids, only two careful owners, some of them."
"I am sorry, Mr Barcla, but we have no money."
"Its one of the restrictions we have to live under."
"None at all?"
"Perhaps you have other useful items with which to trade. Kryptonite? Platitudinum? That Tibannium stuff that is all the rage for hyper-drives?"
"Nope, nothing like that. We plan to do some prospecting some time, but at the moment we're just planning on feeding ourselves. We got plenty of corn. We could trade in that."
"Thank you, I have no use for corn. But I see that you have a nice green planet here."
"Oh yes, much greener than Tattoo One. How is the old planet, sir?"
"As dry as ever, and getting drier all the time... Ah, but back to business. You must have some Imperial Credits tucked away somewhere."
"No sir, we ain't. Weren't allowed to bring none."
"Hmm. Curious. So how do you trade amongst yourselves? I see that you have a thriving community. You must trade with each other?"
"We have such a green and pleasant planet, sir, that we grow and make what we need for ourselves."
"Yes, but real wealth comes through trade, through the specialisation of skills and the exchange of the products of those skills, requiring some medium of trade."
"Sir, we generally barter things, and kinda just try and do things for each other as and when we need them."
Tex looked around at his fellow settlers, gazing at some of them rather pointedly.
"And it works... this communal bartering and what have you?"
"Some people don't pull their weight, though," muttered Jefferson Clintwood, loud enough for everyone to hear.
"Indeed," wondered Barcla. "Would not a means of exchange be beneficial to you?"
"A means of exchange?"
"Money, my friend."
"Like I say, sir, we have no money. We were not permitted to bring any."
"Tsch. man, I have money. I have much money, trading with the outlying parts of this great Empire of ours is most profitable. Out here, questions are neither asked nor answered and Imperial Customs Officers fear to tread. I could lend you some money."
"Lend us money?"
"Of course. A normal business arrangement, is it not? The initiator of trade. The creator of wealth?"
"Yes, but I'm not sure the Imperial..."
"If you don't tell them. I won't," oozed the slug.
"Even so, if we get a visit and they find we've got Imperial Credit Notes... Well, that would be an arrestable offence. You know that they got some sort of detection device built into them? Patrol ships can spot them from space."
"Hmm. So suppose the money was not actually Imperial Credit Notes?"
"I don't follow."
"Suppose I lend you some notes marked up as... what shall we say, dollar bills of the Great Society of Standardia, each one being the equivalent of one Imperial Credit and backed, of course, by my own prodigious reserve of Imperial Credits?"
"Then to any snooping Imperials, it would be not be regarded as proper money?"
"Exactly, my friend!"
"How much do you need?"
"I don't know."
"You don't trade off planet?"
"Like I said, we're restricted. We're not allowed to."
"How very obedient of you."
"This is our home, our freedom. We don't want to screw it up by being caught by some passing Imperial Patrol!"
"Have no fear on that regard, my friend. I just mean that whatever the amount, the value of the money will find its own level. Would a thousand Imperial... er, Standardian dollars do?"
"A thousand, yes, I guess... If each family has an equal share..."
"I don't care how you share it out amongst yourselves, my contract will be with the planet's governing council. I trust that you have such a body? The Empire did not deny you the capacity for self-government?"
"No, of course not. First thing after we landed here, we drew up a constitution and elected a governor, a senate, a judge, a sheriff, chief-fire officer, sanitation officer, dog-catcher..."
"Yes yes, I see."
"... well, second thing actually, after saluting the Standardian flag."
" Ah, yes, presumably you would want the flag to feature on these dollar bills..."
"Oh yes sir! Or maybe our great seal. And can we have a drawing of that mountain over there, its kinda distinctive...?"
"The one that looks like a pyramid with the top cut off?"
"Yes, and we'd like the words ‘In the Source we trust.' on them as well."
"The Source? You know of the Source?"
"The Source of all life, of course."
"Of course. The Source of all life?... Nothing else?"
"What else is there?"
"What indeed! What indeed! Good good, then I shall draw up the contract. Now there is the matter of interest. You are the undesirables of the Empire..."
"We are independent minded free-thinkers, and honest Source fearing folk!"
"Exactly, hardly a good risk. I think that 30% would be a fair rate, but as I like you, I am prepared to go as low as 20%. Payable for each standard galactic year."
"Will you get a better deal elsewhere?"
"No. No, I guess not."
"Give me two hours and I shall have the bills and the contract all ready for you."
Two hours later, sure enough, a neat little stack of dollar bills sat on a table before the Governor's house. Tex inspected the design.
"What's the eye above the mountain for?"
"I hope you don't mind. That's just my little addition, to remind you that I will be keeping a kindly eye on things here. I have to guard my investment. Do you not agree?"
"Okay, I guess so."
"One more thing," added Barcla. "You will find that as your economy grows, you will need more money to permit that expansion. I shall, of course, be happy to oblige... providing that your repayments come in on time."
"Certainly, Mr Barcla, sir. Thank you."
So the deal was agreed and the whole of the people of the Great Society watched as Governor Tex Stardust signed and sealed the document that gave the community its new currency. Barcla the Hoard signed a matching document and beamed with pleasure as applause echoed around.
"Thank you, good people of Standardia. I wish you every success and prosperity with your new money. I shall arrange collection of the interest in a year's time. It has been a pleasure doing business with you, my dear friends."
"And with you, Mr Barcla, Sir. Thank you!"
"Now tell me, are there any other Restricted Planets, that you know of?"
"Only Bacchanalia and Elysium. Their people left Tattoo One the same time as ourselves."
"Mmm. Bacchanalia and Elysium, you say? Thank you, and goodbye."