The Mystery of Bitcoin
How A Global Shadow Group Created Society’s “Greatest Defense” Against Government
Location: <redacted>, United States
“Look at real estate right now, how can we not ask: is the housing market a massive bubble?”
The T.V. blasted remarks from a corporate journalist, questioning the world of Wall Street in front of millions of Americans.
“They’re realizing it’s bullshit,” someone murmured.
Scarce beams of a city lightscape protruded through crinkled blinds, illuminating thick cigarette smoke in a shadowy conference room. Around a table sat two figures, both of them agents of the underworld. At least that’s what the general population would label them.
But they weren’t everyday crooks. They weren’t hackers. They weren’t Wall Street executives. They worked in the highest and most secretive levels of the Central Intelligence Agency, living nameless lives in the obscurity of the unseen.
Stenhouse sat at the helm of the table with a scowl on his face. Once a family man, his line of work, like many, had consumed everything he once cherished. He was now in his late fifties, with pale wrinkled skin and receding gray hair. The man was one of the most profound computer scientists on the planet, yet his brilliance sat juxtaposed with unapologetic apathy. This was what gave him such a successful career. Slightly below average in height, his blocky stature filled out a silver suit that stank of smoke. His bushy gray eyebrows rested furrowed on his balloon of a head, sitting above soulless black pupils. The eyes told the tale. There was only one thing Stenhouse valued: power.
“They’re realizing it’s bullshit. It’s only a matter of time,” he repeated, puffing his waning cigarette before dunking it into the ashtray.
Across from Stenhouse sat a smiling Cook. He was considered a young gun. Atop the forty year old’s slim head, slicked back brunette hair connected to a grizzled beard which outlined a chiseled jaw. His two icy pupils were locked on the screen. The man was athletic looking, just barely fitting into his tie-less black suit. Like most individuals in this specific line of work, Cook was a textbook Machiavellian. Nonetheless, he was much more sociable than Stenhouse. Maybe that’s what made him such a good partner for the sociopath. He could at least hold a conversation without coming off like one.
Cook also never had a knack for tech. What he did have, however, was ruthless salesmanship and an intrinsic understanding of global markets and affairs. While Stenhouse was fidgeting with gadgets and writing code for the U.S. government, Cook was closing multi million dollar weapon deals over fancy dinner reservations and laughing his way to the bank. He had no qualm with acts of bad moral standing, as long as he wasn’t on the receiving end of them. That’s why he was never a public figure. Living in the shadows made his work frictionless. Anonymity empowered him. He came from a military family, which was what eventually landed him in that shady conference room, right where he wanted to be.
“We knew it wasn’t gonna go on forever. We have two years at most, maybe?” retorted Cook, sparking a fresh cigarette as if they both weren’t choking on smoke already. Stenhouse didn’t bat an eye, his gaze glued to the screen as two journalists began to argue over the state of the economy.
“But, what if it’s less?” he continued.
Stenhouse’s head snapped away from the T.V. in an almost visceral response.
“Then the timeline is even shorter. We move faster.”
Stenhouse and Cook had been tasked by the forces in charge to carry out a top secret operation in lieu of the imminent economic collapse: The Satoshi Project. They had to create a long term hedge against the global financial orchestrators, for the global financial orchestrators. Sitting presidents and world leaders didn’t even have knowledge of the program. The entirety of it was going to be enacted through the collaborative network of a global military industrial complex. The United States, China, and Russia all had their own groups working collectively under the moniker of “Satoshi.” Stenhouse oversaw the development process with a compartmentalized team in the United States. The slick salesman, Cook, ensured smooth arbitration and handovers with all of the involved international parties.
On paper, it was simple. Government groups knew that the housing market bubble, along with the banking system’s other ongoing criminal antics, wouldn’t just destroy the U.S. economy when it all crumbled. It would bring the entire global financial system to a screeching halt that ended in hellfire. Millions upon millions of people would lose their jobs. Millions would fall into poverty. Many of them would starve to death. Others would commit suicide after they lost everything: their homes, their cars, their ability to feed their families. This was a foreseen consequence which these groups saw as a mere motivator behind something much more concerning.
They were more worried about an erosion of trust in their centralized systems. A lot of the general population would realize just how hard they were being duped by malevolent institutions operating under the guise of goodness, whether it was the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, or the Securities And Exchange Commission. And, to make it worse for them, this kind of exploitation went on in each and every nation in the world.
It was obvious that as faith in these systems began to evaporate, plenty of people would eventually be rallying to abandon them altogether. And, rightly so.
These dissidents would call for decentralization. They would try to move away from things like fiat money by all means necessary. There would have been no way to maintain control over them any longer. Unless, of course, the central powers at risk were the ones who built the foundational decentralized system that dissidents around the world ended up adopting and promoting.
This is why The Satoshi Project was started. But, contrary to popular belief, conspiracies aren’t as well coordinated as they seem.
Location: <redacted>, United States
And then it happened. The frenzy had already begun. The big bubble bursted into a million vaporized pieces. Markets plummeted. Worldwide chaos had just begun to unfold.
An early morning sun crested over the horizon as orange beams poured into the conference room. The smell of bitter coffee beans fused with the stench of cigarettes, attacking whatever oxygen was left inside. A T.V. inside began to grow continuously deafening, as a furious reporter screamed on national television.
“It’s just insane, these people. They exploited the working class and faced---,”
The screen abruptly went black. Stenhouse had the remote in his hand. He was still looking at it.
“As we expected,” chimed Cook from across the table, “so where are we?”
Government intelligence agencies always utilized compartmentalization to make sure operations went smoothly and according to plan. This time was no different. Cook only had a faint idea of what the project’s status was. They were making a new currency. That’s all. He knew that he would be the sole negotiator for it on behalf of the United States.
Stenhouse, with a bone colored coffee mug in hand, took the smallest of sips and stayed silent.
“I need to know what it looks like so far,” continued Cook.
“Here,” Stenhouse finally replied before opening his suitcase and sliding a thin packet across the table.
On the front, it read in emboldened black letters: “The Satoshi Project: COIN Protocol.”
Cook quickly skimmed through it and looked back up at Stenhouse. Then, back down to the packet. He let out an inaudible murmur as he read along. The room was dead silent now, aside from the occasional crackle of Stenhouse dragging his cigarette.
After a few minutes of reading and mulling it over, Cook finally looked back up with a look of bewilderment.
“I obviously don’t get the computer mumbo jumbo. Who gets to make the coin?” he asked.
“It’s already made. By us. Anyone can get it if they have the power.”
“So, let me get this straight,” replied Cook. He reached for a cigarette before being interrupted by Stenhouse’s response.
“It launches in open source. We tell them everything about it. We show them everything. They can examine every inch of it. They can see it all. That nobody can own it, or control it, by design. That everybody has the ability to get their own piece. That there’s nothing being hidden. Digital money for all. No big bad government to stop them.”
“21 million little coins up for grabs. Send ‘em around the world without a hitch. It’s like a fuckin’ libertarian wet dream,” admitted Cook, starting to nod as he contextualized the idea.
Stenhouse replied with swiftness, “No. They think it’s a wet dream. That’s the point.”
Cook didn’t even get a chance to ask his next question, as Stenhouse was firing on all cylinders.
“We start by locking away a million of the coins. Nothing crazy. Then, we create an entire narrative around it. A story. A fiction. We sell the world on it.”
“How do we control it?” asked Cook as the framework began to materialize in his mind.
“Who has the most computing power in the world?” Richard fired back.
Cook was beginning to realize all of the implications. If the only way to mine the coins was through top of the line hardware, the general population had little chance of matching that of a global superpower like the U.S. government. Governments could always mine them at a larger scale despite any sort of halvening mechanism that was built in. Even better, as new technological advancements were made, the ruling powers, who always had access to it before it saw the public eye, would forever have the advantage over the common folk.
A gold mine was the perfect analogy. One person who was skilled at mining could probably get their hands on a tiny bit of gold. If a bunch of them grouped together, they could pool their resources to mine even more of it. But, to a network of government subsidized mining companies, with infinite resources and exclusive access, these private miners posed zero threat.
“We divvy up the mining all over the place. We slowly siphon it over time. We gradually lock it all away for the big day.”
The conversation paused as Cook had begun to piece all of it together in totality.
“China’s gonna want parts on this one. More than we thought. And, Russians too. The others are on board already,” interrupted Stenhouse one more time, derailing Cook’s train of thought.
“So, that’s where I come in.”
“Okay. It’s almost complete then.”
“We’re in the final phase now.”
The plan, while not fully completed, was the perfect bait and switch. The three world superpowers would launch this worldwide digital currency, the first of its kind, and shroud its true origin with an epic folktale. It would enamor people, rather than deter them. The devout decentralists would romanticize it.
A brilliant computer scientist named Satoshi Nakomoto, who knew fiat money was dying, engineered an entirely decentralized system from an undisclosed location and then disappeared off the face of the Earth. He would be immortalized as a hero of the people. Loyalists would scour the face of the planet in search of their demigod, who single handedly held the largest market share of what they saw as the most powerful currency in existence. Others would claim they were the person behind the Satoshi moniker. Yet, he had never even existed.
The “big day,” that Stenhouse referred to was the day, somewhere in the future, that all fiat money simultaneously caved in. It was a day that would make the 2008 crisis look like a raindrop in a ten thousand gallon bucket, regardless of if it happened in five years or five decades.
Cook’s mission was clear cut. He had to lock in an agreement between the American, Chinese, and Russian groups before The Satoshi Project was unveiled for the public to slowly gobble up over the next decade. The agreement wasn’t going to be an end all be all, and would be subject to revision. It was simply going to be the starting point.
Location: <redacted>, Mainland China
In these situations, nobody knew each other’s names.
A circular metallic table sat under a dying white light. There was a raging ceiling fan above it, which did little to nothing to alleviate the suffocating mugginess of the chamber. Deafening silence was there, only in the form of a whirring fan and the ear splitting ring of crickets outside.
Around the table sat three men. One of which was Cook.
To his right sat the Russian operative. The man’s face was covered with a grimace, outlined with a patchy graying beard. He was built like a short Kodiak bear, with biceps bulging out of a blank gray thermal, and must have weighed roughly two hundred and forty pounds. The shirt tightly constricted around his massive neck, which was disproportionate to the small head that hosted his two beady brown eyes. His large meaty paws were clasped together in front of his face as he looked forward. Despite the intimidating appearance, he was eerily composed. He didn’t anger easily.
To his left was the Chinese representative for the Satoshi Project. Long midnight hair covered the sides of his clean shaven face as it blew around in the breeze of the dysfunctional ceiling fan. A black crew neck draped his thin figure to match the frameless glasses that outlined the dark pupils of his eyes. He sat tall and proper, with his hands in his lap. There was a stoic composure about him, as if he walked in with an agreement already set in stone.
The tension couldn’t be cut by a logger with an axe, let alone a knife. Although the three men were conspiring to collectively ensure their countries’ fiscal security, they were still supposed to hate each other to some extent.
All three of the parties played crucial parts in the successful start of Bitcoin. In 2005, a secret speculative meeting was what birthed the beginning of the project, where each party’s role was agreed upon. The United States, who first proposed the idea under the guise of a private contractor at a secret conference, was responsible for engineering the peer-to-peer network and proof-of-work protocol. China was tasked with establishing the infrastructure required for the mining process along with the technology needed to do so. Russia acted as a middle party, assisting in both the former and latter affairs as needed. This made things complicated.
“We want the mining,” whispered the Chinese rep abruptly, “all of it.”
The Russian seemed un-phased. Cook, on the other hand, tensed up.
“So do we. Doesn’t work like that. It can’t consolidate and work as planned,” Cook shot back. This was going to be the biggest hitch in the negotiation, which he already knew. The Chinese had not only developed the mining portion of the project. They also had the lowest costs, by far, when it came to the energy required in order to mine the coin. With a totalitarian government, they could even ban private ownership of it altogether if they wanted, giving the ruling powers sole ownership of the means of anything Bitcoin related. They could centralize the decentralized.
“We want majority. Your laws make it a risk. Ours make it secure. Easy.”
“He makes a good point, American,” interjected the Russian agent. His hands were down, reaching for a condensation-covered glass of water as he took on the role of spectator.
Cook continued, “Okay. Say you control the biggest chunk. You give up a fraction of the mining operations when the time comes.”
“No. We don’t show you hardware. We don’t give you hardware,” replied the Chinese agent, looking up from the table to make chilling eye contact with his American adversary.
“That’s not what was agreed upon.” exclaimed Cook. This wasn’t like his traditional meeting over a ten thousand dollar dinner filled with alcohol and laughs.
“You have mining protocol already. We brought it to the table. Figure it out. We keep all mining power for ourselves.”
Cook fired back, “Fine. You keep your majority. Doesn’t matter. But you’re going to give up some coin. On the big day, you give us twenty percent of what you mined from launch to date. Only way it works.”
“And what about me?” interrupted the Russian, “we want twenty percent as well.”
“Ten percent each. In the next ten years we will control half the mining. You either get this piece or none.”
Everyone paused for a moment to mull it over.
It was clear that China had the greatest means to foster a controlling gauntlet over the global mining operations surrounding Bitcoin. And, they could easily get away with it on the public stage. The problem here was one party trusting the other two to hold up every side of the bargain. Although it was a conspiracy, the power struggle was still present.
“What are you going to give up?” asked Cook.
The Chinese operative confidently replied, “You two get the first coins. We do not care,” with an upward nod as he sat back in his chair.
“I want half of the coins. I also want eighteen percent when the time comes. We bridged the gap between both of you. It’s only fair,” said the Russian slyly as he looked at Cook with a grin. He was no longer spectating.
“Good one. We get sixty five percent of the starting coins. And nine percent of China’s share afterwards. We can mine plenty of it ourselves.”
If China’s power grab of the global mining operation was successful, the amount of Bitcoin they would have in their possession, come the day of the fiat collapse, would far outweigh the measly amount locked away in the Satoshi vault. If they were unsuccessful, either the United States or Russia would end up being the ones in control. This negotiation, and the ones that followed, were going to determine which country would reign supreme on a global scale when the big day came. The idea they would all unite for global supremacy afterward, despite how insidious the operation already was, was ludicrous. There was no equal agreement achievable. It was all a calculated gamble.
This triangular tug of war for global financial power went on for what seemed like an eternity, and didn’t have a chance to grow more friendly.
Finally, after a few hours and dozens of phone calls to various supervisors, an agreement was reached. China would give up ten percent of its mining operations on the day of the collapse, split evenly between the U.S. and Russia. Regarding the original Satoshi stash, it would be equally split between the three parties, and then divided up individually and given to smaller nations who assisted their respective efforts down the line. The U.S. and Russia would also each receive eight percent of China’s total mined Bitcoin on the special “day.” Lastly, they all agreed that if important technological discoveries were made that could improve the effectiveness of the operation as a whole, they would be shared liberally.
It was also agreed that these terms would be subject to change in the future as time went on, but again, this was all just a starting point. It was going to end up being a centennial project.
“We’re all set then?” asked Cook as he looked to the faces of both the operatives.
All three of them nodded. That was that.
Over a decade later, the Satoshi Project had been working according to plan and ahead of schedule.
Cook never made it out of China. His ravaged body was discovered in a countryside landfill with a bullet lodged in the back of his skull. Such things were common for the nameless. Stenhouse had died of “natural causes,” and was quickly replaced by an even more profound dignitary. These individuals themselves were never important. They were simply small unlabeled cogs in a massive machine. There would always be another pawn to fill the shoes of the last. And of course, like all intelligence agencies, the CIA had proper procedures in place for whenever their agents were “disappeared.” Shadow wars, which never made the news or history books, would be fought over the Satoshi Project and continue until the present day.
Nonetheless, the meeting Cook attended had finalized the largest and most fought over global conspiracy in modern history. The once barely-formal agreement that was negotiated ended up spiraling into chaos, causing several world governments to conduct their own respective covert operations in order to secure their desired pieces of the pie. It was an ongoing battle.
Events around Bitcoin had remained rather monotonous for most of the following decade after the release of its white paper, at least in the public eye. At first, it was used mostly for mundane purposes like buying pizzas or playing virtual poker. It quickly ended up as a buffer against law enforcement in the conduction of a slew of dark web marketplaces. Obviously, Bitcoin’s conspiratorial creators, being dukes of the underworld, had no problem with its first main use factor being the purchase of drugs, firearms, sex slaves and hitmen. This just gave them more time to organize. The price continued to grow slowly but surely over time. This all changed in 2017, when Bitcoin made headlines around the world as its price soared from just under $1,000 to roughly $20,000 in only a year’s time before crashing back down.
As it first made the world stage, the institutions, as was expected and even planned for, denounced it. They labeled it as a scam, a ponzi scheme, and a futile attack on fiat money. Counterintuitively, it was this narrative around Bitcoin that created a foundation for developing the general population’s trust in it. The post-2008 decentralist movement was bubbling, and the 2017 boom solidified the world around Satoshi as a perfect place for all of the cypherpunks and anti-statists to reside. The denouncement of Bitcoin by governments and corporations seemed like an admission of its threat to the establishment. It was a sweet, sweet honeypot.
Naturally, as decentralist networks grew, thousands of cryptocurrencies were born over this decade timespan. Monumental advancements in blockchains, computing, and cryptographic protocols were made by private sector entrepreneurs and computer geeks all over the world. Some currencies were entirely different from Bitcoin, others were built upon it. Yet, in the end, Bitcoin was still the most widely popular of them all. By market cap, trading activity, and word of mouth, Satoshi remained king.
In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that buckled the knees of society, Bitcoin finally walked onto the main stage with confidence. As the economy went haywire, the United States government printed trillions of dollars for injection, accounting for nearly a fifth of U.S. fiat in global circulation. The Bitcoin maximalist movement was strengthened like never before. This cult grew overnight as more and more of the general population had begun awakening to the absurdity of it all.
Soon enough, as planned out in the original Satoshi documents, major institutions began to cosign the cryptocurrency. Maximalists’ faith in Bitcoin began to correlate with that of the mainstream. Banks, hedge funds, and credit card companies had officially started to board the ship, and nobody thought to question it. The religious dissidents welcomed the idea of growing mainstream adoption. The Bitcoin white paper was proclaimed as biblical. Its word needed to be spread.
The Satoshi Project’s network was more than prepared for this moment. The destruction of fiat money through looming hyperinflation, which could’ve been intentional, was seen publicly as a byproduct of necessary actions. Money had to be printed to save the world. The citizenry began to more openly embrace cryptocurrency as both a get-rich-quick scheme, and a hedge against this possibility, catapulting Bitcoin to a $50,000 all time high in the early days of 2021.
As the masses started piling into Bitcoin, the state of the Satoshi Project was still somewhat fractured. On paper, as of 2020, China was rumored to control sixty five percent of the world’s Bitcoin hashrate. To keep it simple, hashrate refers to the total computational power of Bitcoin’s blockchain, thus its mining and processing. They had almost centralized the decentralized. For some reason, plenty of the Bitcoin bulls were ignorant of this, or shrugged it off. Behind the scenes, government groups under both the United States and Russia had acquired ten percent shares of China’s massive mining network, respectively. This was a result of the latter two governments assisting China in fleshing out their efforts. It was easier this way.
Yet, there was still zero agreement between the three big parties about ownership of the mined coins to date in China. Because of this, the U.S. and Russia agreed to begin working on their own privatized mining network located somewhere in Siberia. It was kept under wraps for years until the news finally broke in February 2021. Seemingly overnight, this secret mining center popped up with roughly twenty thousand machines. It was the largest epicenter of mining in the entire country. With many assuming this operation was wholly an asset of the Russian government, cypherpunks in the U.S. began their rallied cries for their own government to get more involved in Bitcoin. Little did they know that this Russian operation was already a collaboration between the two countries, rather than a competition.
This flurry of half baked agreements would seem unorganized and nonsensical, but there was a new and crucial component of the conspiracy: quantum computing. It was the missing piece of the puzzle.
In layman's terms, the classical computer that the majority of society was familiar with paled in comparison to a quantum computer. If the classical computer was two plus two equals four, the quantum computer was something like thermodynamics.
Control of the mining operations didn’t matter as much if those with the strongest quantum computer could pierce the blockchain’s weak points and pilfer all of the vulnerable coins. Some theorists proclaimed that this at-risk share was around twenty five percent of all mined coins.
Because state of the art progress in technology was always hidden from the public, most people wouldn’t see quantum computing as a threat. Bitcoin transactions were mined in a quick ten minutes. Quantum computers could only break RSA keys, which were the bread and butter of the blockchain, in several hours. But, if quantum computing was developed enough behind the scenes, a powerful enough machine would be able to glean the private keys, which were linked to public keys involved in mining, in a fraction of the time. This would render the coins ripe for the taking.
As a result, while compartmentalized groups under each major government continued to battle over mining power, different groups were racing to make advancements in quantum cryptography. Maintaining a massive stake in Bitcoin as a whole was important, but to these quarreling government parties, being able to infiltrate the network and steal the coins on a whim was an equally crucial mission. And, to build an entirely new hedge, other subsidiaries focused on post-quantum cryptography -- building cryptographic algorithms that were secure against quantum attacks. Bitcoin was not a be all and end all for global domination, therefore progress in post-quantum cryptography was especially paramount for the future of money itself. It was a new system of defense for the dawning era of digital cryptographic warfare.
The use of quantum computers and other means by these governments to ransack Bitcoin’s network and strip away money from the general population, whenever it happened, would be simple. As adoption of the currency grew more mainstream, average Joes would have no idea how to safely secure their money. Holding Bitcoin wasn’t like storing dollars in a bank. There was no big institution watching over a person’s money to keep it safe. The individual was solely responsible, and they weren’t going to store their crypto cash on some flimsy thumbdrive. They would keep it on their smartphone, in their uninsured user-friendly wallet, with no protection from the attack. Bitcoin enthusiasts would be scolded time and time again about the unreliable and sketchy nature of the currency, and they would continue to roll their eyes. This only further set the stage for the perfect siege.
As Satoshi’s network used public institutions as propagandistic mouthpieces to reassure the public of the coin’s safety, they could then orchestrate a coordinated attack on the general population’s wallets post-adoption. Afterwards they could say it was a shady group of underworld hackers that stole everyone’s money. Sure, that was actually the truth, but there was no chance Satoshi’s groups would be caught. With everything being so untraceable, there was no discernible difference between a group of anarchist hackers and a group of hackers working for the state. They could use this crisis as an excuse for further regulation to be forced upon the common folk, something governments had been historically notorious for.
In the end, as long as Satoshi’s creation remained the poster child for digital currency, the threat of financial dominance by global state superpowers would stay within arm’s reach. Unless another cryptocurrency miraculously managed to dethrone Satoshi in the limelight of paid-off corporate news outlets, this entire process was inevitable. There was no slowing things down. Future economic turmoil would only accelerate the annexation. Bitcoin was a ticking time bomb planted upon the crest of society. The real question was whether or not anybody would ever realize it.