By Eliane Boey

It doesn’t feel like four years ago, but that’s when I first saw the word launch itself into a dance above my head—one of far-reaching wings and long legs. At the time, I was a junior trader at Lee & Lee Derivatives and trying to make everyone forget that I was not only the singular non-Finance major on the floor, but a Modern History major, at that. The market was in contango, the desk head said. And I nodded, and pointed finger guns, like I knew.

Contango, noun (of the stock market). The situation where the future price of a commodity exceeds the spot (i.e. current) price of the commodity.

It’s that simple. Except it isn’t. And it wasn’t until Human Raze began minting the IRL Collection NFTs—in particular, the A*Sor Hotpot Project—that I would truly understand what contango meant. Although, to be more exact, it was when we started predicting and thus—with any derivative—influencing the future of IRL captures, that I saw the tangle of wings and limbs again. Headed for me. Poor Jerry was so proud. We both were.

Knowing what happened, it’s easy to ask why we didn’t see it coming. But you must understand that before Human Raze, it was just money at stake. It was only much later that the currency changed from SGBits to lives.

But I’m ahead of myself. When it begins, this is a story about minting the future.


























The hired model in a unicorn head mask tipped the fluorescent yellow contents of the cup into the rolling hot pot broth, taking care that the sticker on the side of the cup, which read LaLa Lemon Dishwashing Detergent was visible. The unicorn gave two thumbs up and exited the shot, and Ix tapped the screen of the phone on the tripod. He raised a fist in the air while he cut and saved the segment. The teaser would serve as an introduction to the project in case anyone stumbled out of a data-jammed cave and upon Human Raze’s IRL Collection on the Tompang market platform. Ix opened the fist and pointed forward, with a brief nod, without looking up from the phone.

On the other side of the lens, Jerry Ng, known on Tompang as A*Sor, dipped a red oversized melamine soup spoon into the steaming brown broth and raised it to his lips. Ix mirrored the movement, lifting the tripod and the phone with it.

A*Sor twitched and wrinkled his nose over the spoon. He held his face long enough in the steam so that his large glasses fogged up to comic effect. With his eyes obscured, he took a sip. Ix licked his lips. Then, A*Sor sputtered and clutched his throat. His other hand beat the foldable card table which balanced the electric hot plate and the boiling pot of soup. I stood and reached for the bottle of water.

Ix touched my arm. “He’s fine. Look at your display, Jun.”

The offer for second half of April outcome “Merlion” was up from 0.85 SG-Bits to 0.98. And climbing. “Merlion,” named for the mythical Singaporean sea creature immortalized as a water fountain on Marina Bay, stood for the outcome where A*Sor…

A gurgle was heard from over the rolling boil. A*Sor covered his mouth with one hand. Ix tilted his head towards the Tompang market square board. Offers at 0.98.

“That bid is going to breach 0.80 in ten minutes.” Ix’s eyes never left the market square board.

“Where they left us with no takers just this morning?” I said. But I’d caught a glimpse of the noise in the chat windows, the private ones with our whales and the bigger channels for retail lots.

A*Sor made a guttural cough and beat his chest with a fist. I could see the red veins at the corners of his staring eyes. Then the cough became a wheeze, which withered into a flatulent laugh.

“Better luck next time, sickos,” A*Sor roared.

He took up his chopsticks, tapped the narrow points hard on the table, and gripped a slice of marbled pork belly. The pork belly was submerged in the broth for a mere second before he lifted it again, and it vanished in his mouth with a moist flourish.

“Lemon pork, mmmm, my favorite.”

Ix released a breath, slow and strained, beside me. I looked to his face in his hands, then at the market square board. Offers at 0.78 and falling. No takers on outcome: ‘Merlion.’

“Glad to see you’re alright, Jerry,” I said, three minutes later when the recording was done.

 Ix pulled his phone off the tripod and dropped it into his pocket. “Yeah bro, close call.”


“It’s true, we sold our share of bug-eyed animals and neon-stripped tigers—early ’21-’22 days of following the wave, which we were already late-joiners to by then—and that worked for a while. But Human Raze was always going to be about the future.”

—Ix Zen, CEO of Human Raze, in an interview with CoinDesk,
January 20, 2024.

The first NFTs we minted for Human Raze were static pieces of digital art. It’s hard to divorce Jerry from the tragicomic A*Sor, but most people forget that it really was just Jerry and I in the beginning. It was Jerry who forwarded me the articles and interviews by fiat currency and market traditionalists. I believe one of the memorable soundbites was from Warren Buffet. The moment was sometime in May 2021, when most of the adult population of Singapore was conscientiously performing collective non-panic by calmly stockpiling toilet paper and instant noodles, and buying chest freezers for the second wave of lockdowns…while screaming behind closed doors and venting on social media.

Jerry and I were chatting on Discord.

<<Disappointing>> Jerry wrote. <<Doesn’t he see it’s a new asset class?>>

I typed back,

<<Guys like Warren Buffet made their fortune in blue chip stocks. Businesses with locations you can visit, making products you can touch. Bitcoin doesn’t feel real to him.>>

In my first spring as an undergrad, my dad told me that summer backpacking in Southern Italy or volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Bali was for guailos who will regret their lack of foresight later in life, or for kids of parents who owned (or at least occupied) C-suite offices in conglomerates. To that end, he gave me a Popular Bookstore bag of books on investment theory, a biography of Warren Buffet, a book about Toyota’s Management strategy, and the name card of a friend from his Army days who was now a remisier, which is apparently greater than a stockbroker.

Jerry wrote,

<<It’s the lack of regulation that he fears. But he’s conflating that with a needlessness of crypto. When has unnecessity been a barrier to a thing having value? Bitcoin doesn’t have to replace the dollar to have a recognized value.>>

I wanted to drink up the hype and be amped as Jerry was, but it had been a week at work.

<<Every new asset class begins life as an unregulated frontier town. Give it a year, and the fun and profit will be strangled from it. Just look at freight futures.>>

<<This isn’t bloody shipbuilding, Jun. A year is at least an entire cycle in crypto. We can still catch this one,>> Jerry typed. <<Upside-down-smiley emoji.>>

Jerry had been a top tier government scholar who would have had a real shot at being a top bureaucrat by now, if he’d sat up straighter at his desk and volunteered for grassroots community work instead of enjoying his weekends. Instead, he was released back into the private sector upon the maturity of his scholarship bond. He pretended to himself that his discharge was recent. In reality, it’d been ten years of trying his hand at selling bonds before finally admitting that his hands were always in his pockets, and he was never going to be promoted beyond senior analyst. I was plodding along at Lee & Lee and thought myself doing all right when I was shunted from the freight futures trading floor into research. HR assured me it was due to my aptitude for analysis. But the look on the face of Lee (the Junior) the day before I was called in for a chat told me otherwise.

Jerry wrote,

<<My sister’s partner is in digital design. She can hook us up with the right artists.>>

I snorted aloud.

<<The sort who can design yet another gorilla in a diving suit, with a box of fries on its head? And there’s still the problem of wide-enough transmutability.>>

I minimized the Discord window, because it was nearly time for the second of my four daily Zoom “checks-in” at Lee & Lee, and I needed to know how bunkers were doing. It was then that my phone buzzed, despite how I’d thought it was on silent. I only ever used my phone as a remote control to cast media to speakers or to my monitors. And there was only one person who still messaged me on WhatsApp. I backlit the screen and pulled the notification, without clicking on it, to read the sample.

Dad: <<Hui Jun. In regards to Lee Junior’s remarks on your reassignment, I…>>

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m the superstitious sort, but I threw the phone into my backpack like a leaking battery and clicked to maximize the Discord chat.

And that, with a few details best skipped over, was how Raze was made.


I’d never heard of Ix in the year between Jerry and I getting Human Raze off the ground, but all of sudden, he managed to locate and corner us at every crypto, financial startup, and event we attended. I don’t remember exactly how I came to speak with him. It could have been the both of us reaching for the prawn, ebiko, and avocado maki at the same time, at one of the Coin cons funded by Singapore’s Economic Development Board in hopes the technology would stick. The point is, Ix found us just as Human Raze became something to watch. And then, he was simply there all the time, until we plateaued out after our first five NFT art projects.

Ix would tell the press that he watched our star from afar and approached us after we’d made our first fiat million and were ready for the big time. Ready for him to say something grander and more visionary than what he really did, which was:

“You could make a whole project of just close-ups of Jerry eating mala hot pot.”

At that moment, Jerry was chewing on some poached meat—pork belly or beef—which was clearly scalding his mouth. But he had refused to release the food, instead moving it around to spread the burn in a huffing, blowing, voluble juggle.

“Sure, like a mukbang, but in forty-second clips to matchthe life cycle of one slice of meat.”

“It could work. People willingly subscribe and pay to stream mukbang,” said Ix.

I was trying to remember which of us had invited Ix to join us for hotpot, or if he’d simply invited himself. I still don’t have the answer.

 “What do you say, Jerry?” I said. “At least that’s something to populate our market page with, before the Termitez project is ready.”

We’d never minted videos, least of all with ourselves in them.

Jerry said, “You got your phone?”


We called the project Prawnhead, because the prawn-shelling sequence was what we decided on minting when we looked over the footage later. We cut it standing around the dual screen monitors of the Hive on Carpenter Street, where Jerry paid for a virtual office.. Prawnhead was a collection of twenty videos of Jerry shelling and eating a mala hotpot-poached shrimp. At the time, we thought the attraction was the banality of the slow shrimp-shelling and general unexplained pop culture interest in crustacea.

What I didn’t realize then was that the pull was really in the grimace of pain on Jerry’s face, at the heat of the shell in his hands, and then the flesh burning in his mouth. Jerry thought it was good fun and a useful spot of promo for Human Raze. If Ix understood what exactly we were minting and selling, he said nothing.

The night that Prawnhead registered Raze’s highest-ever volume on the market, Ix showed up at my flat with Jerry already in his GTR to drive us to Al-Ameen for supper. We ordered mutton murtabak, a stack of egg pratas, and tall dusty milo dinosaurs, and then tried to locate our appetites.

Ix had a tonic water. “I’ve contributed significantly to the growth of Human Raze since joining you, and the take on Prawnhead tonight shows it. Human Raze is at the tipping point of the next growth surge, and I’d like to bring it to the next level,” he said. “As CEO.”

Jerry pulled the straw out of his Milo dinosaur, licked the chocolate slush off, and shrugged.

I said we’d think about it.

When I got home, I asked Billy Wongso—who was one of the local-based coin pioneers and Raze’s mentor of sorts—what he knew about Ix.

Wongso breathed cigarette smoke onto the speaker and said, “I don’t know anything about Ix, at all. Except that he’s bounced around the start-up circuit, and the only consistent thing about him is that he’s a shark.”

“Shark being a positive metaphor, in this case?” I asked. “To drive Raze forward?”

Wongso said, “What do you want for your company?”


“I think I should say modestly that the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization.”

—Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, on Bitcoin. At an annual shareholder meeting, May 1, 2021.

Human Raze’s first IRL collection—fronted by an expanded Prawnhead series—hit the ground running. We took advantage of the double-hype from a wave of high yield Prawnhead flips—which involved a few local celebrities and regional royalty—and our new CEO’s virtual publicity tours to shoot and add a few more sub-projects. There’s one that lives on in the metaverse as a meme. It’s of me falling asleep and sliding off a couch in slow motion.

In those first weeks, I watched Ix jump from Discord room to Telegraph channel to Zoom conference to recording interviews, and it was easy to believe that I relished working closely with Jerry again, with our headphones on most of the time, doing what we set out to do in the beginning, and not having to fix a smile on my face or filter my words for an audience. Human Raze moved into a glass-walled room at the coworking space which we now paid proper rent on because we could no longer pretend to be invisible. Even as I told myself that I wanted the invisibility.

We were picking coin up like shells on the beach until Raze hit its second growth-plateau the night we dropped what would be the last sub-project in our IRL series. We’d been seeing healthy volume, and the usual percentage of unique wallets were interacting, when two hours into the drop party, the music stopped. Volume deflated, the chatter on our official channels cooled, and we soon saw our freshly minted tokens offered down the chain at numbers we were embarrassed to acknowledge.

Under the green and yellow awning at Al-Ameen at 4 a.m., Ix said, “We need to start doing things differently.”

Jerry looked sideways at me, and I saw the idea slot into place, roll slowly along the marble run, and into position. “There’s a thread I saw recently. Some guys were talking about filming their own alternative outcome videos to the IRL project and minting them.”

“You mean fan videos? That could be good hype if we made them link it back to us,” said Ix.

“Or, we could do that ourselves,” I said. “We have the means.”

Ix upended the saucer of vegetable curry over his egg prata. He spread it with the back of a spoon, waited for it to soak through, and then cut it all up into pieces before he even began to eat.

“A Choose Your Own Adventure of NFTs. I like that,” he said.

“No, I mean like a derivative. Because if you think about it, that’s not such a different exercise in determination. Play a Choose Your Own Adventure, and you decide by setting a direct course from spot. Choose to trade derivatives, and you influence the future by what you bet on and when. I’ll have a think on that. In a meanwhile, check your inbox, Ix, we need an answer to the email from the Terra dude.”

I stirred the undissolved Milo powder into the rest of my drink under the fluorescent white lights and the slow-moving ceiling fans, where just months ago, Ix had invited himself into Raze, telling us he was worth it and changing its course forever. Yet in that moment, my mind wasn’t on Ix, as perhaps it should have been. I remember I was thinking it was the first time since day one of my job at Lee & Lee Derivatives that I understood what futures were.


Chat log of Telegram Channel: BonusStage, May 12, 2022.

0xWH173KN16H7: <<The very problem with stablecoin is its old skool fixation on stability. Chasing stability like a good bond. That’s why it can’t survive the crash.>>

topboi93: <<That’s what the people want, innit?>>

0x516N463: <<No shit. (music-note emoji) Get your money for nothing (music-note emoji) is all I want. If not Terra, then whatever comes next.>>

One thing that stood out to me during the fallout from the crypto bloodbath of May 2022 is that it was those who were furthest from the impending storm who were the most vocal about its inevitability. My side project for the last quarter had been to build the opposite to a kids’ playpen. A ring-fenced investor’s corner for the FOMO Gen-Xers and elder millennials among us who wanted in on the cryptoconomy but didn’t care to own a video of Jerry burning his mouth on hot food.

And like spawning fish heavy with roe and looking for the best chances of survival, I’d guided Raze into biggest ocean I knew: Terra’s UST.

I’ll spare you the blow by blow of our stages of disbelief, outrage, claims of sabotage, hodl, and ‘catching the falling knife’ however we could. The short of it was, at the end of the scramble, I tried to silence the noise in my head and the fingers that pointed at me through every chat box on every screen, by taking up pen and paper like I hadn’t done in at least a year. Moments later, I was in a Zoom with Ix. Ix hadn’t left his new River Valley apartment since 9May 9, and we followed his lead, working from home that week.

“So, I took that idea about futures and ran with it,” I said into my laptop’s camera.

Ix’s face was tense, and I could see the tightness on his upper lip. “Okay.”

“People have already been coming up with parody outcomes to our videos and uploading them on social media. Since our last sub-collection, those videos have begun to gain on the originals in clicks. I’ll drop you the stats later. What I’m getting at is this: What if the hotpot videos are just the introduction? Just the free opening to the real product, a project of probable outcomes?”

“You want to start giving away the hotpot collection for free.”

Ix’s face tightened further. I thought about how we started, with Ix hanging onto us, and somehow ended with ourselves answering to him. I wanted to poke his eye through the lens, or at least pick something up and hurl it at his face on the screen. But then, I heard the tapping of a little hand on the outside of the door, and the door inched open.

“Two more minutes, baby. You can listen to one more story.” I smiled at the little round cheeks pressed in the crack of the door. I swiped on my phone, selected one of the longer audiobook narrations, and cast the story to the speakers in her room. Keep it together, for her. If I misstep and end up having to hunt for a job, now would be the worst possible time to have Human Raze on my CV.

I ran my tongue over my teeth and continued, “The real value is in the curiosity for the unknown—the future. Take Prawnhead, for example. We release the video. Jerry shelling a prawn and eating it. That gets minted and put up for free, but now we mint three more outcomes: A) Jerry loves the prawn; B) Jerry recoils because it’s too spicy; and C) Jerry finds it’s undercooked, so he dunks it in the pot again. Those three outcomes we mint and drop for trading. Here’s a sample of what it could look like. I based it off the freight futures reports that we were required to fit into a single text message. Nothing too complicated. Take a look at my screen share.”



















Ix steepled his fingers and leaned closer to his screen. I imagined I heard his breath, and the moment it quickened when he realized how he could sell it. On dark days, when I look back on that moment, I think that the signs were so obvious in that Zoom call—whatever I think I knew, or didn’t know, and the things I thought I had to do for my family—I had to have felt where this was going from the way Ix replied.

What he said was, “I suppose the volatility in our forward curve will depend on the unpredictability of the…variables…introduced to the hotpot scenario.”


“I, and I alone, am responsible for any weaknesses that could have been presented for a short seller to start to take profit”.

—Do Kwon, CEO of Terra, in an interview with NFTV Coinage, September 9, 2022.

“People are what they are.”

-— Ix Zen, former CEO of Human Raze, in a since-deleted podcast,
June 31, 2024.

We minted the first derivatives of Prawnhead to a first-hour sell-out. The outcomes were rather tame and reasonable, in the vein of the model I first showed Ix on Zoom. It was a smart move for Ix, because it lulled Jerry and I into a false sense of expectation that this was how it was always going to be. Reasonable. Within our control. It was a Wednesday night, and we were closing for the week, with all the planned derivatives launched and just one more in the pipeline, when Jerry finally said, “I have a question. What exactly are do we have in mind for Outcome End?”

“A*Sor chooses to exit game because he’s had enough of this shit,” Ix winked.

“Yeah, Jerry. You’ll always be the driver in this,” I said. I know now that I said it to myself so I could watch the numbers rise, and the IRL futures market grow, and our individual wallets with it, and still think I was a good friend.

“And the only direction it’s going is up,” said Ix. “There’s increasingly strong volume on both sides of the ask, which looks like it will carry, even if we do nothing further to help it. Plenty of unique users jacking up the bids just to get in.”

My head and heart were light as I rapidly typed a message to my partner, thanking them profusely for holding the fort on the kid for the night, and then gathered my phone and eReader from the table to pocket them. The phone buzzed as I closed my fingers around it.

(WhatsApp message preview) Dad: <<Hui Jun, good evening. I hear talk that you are behind the market-leading…>>

I killed the screen and slipped the phone into my pocket. When I looked up, I met Ix’s eye, and I could have sworn he’d read my father’s message from across the table. I felt the blood rush to fill my cheeks. I saw Dad, squinting over his print newspaper and calling his remisier friend to counter-check what he was reading about me, and the blood flowed right through my eyeballs, jetted into my brain, and made me feel faint.

I said, “Let’s hit the Keong Saik bars before pratas. First round’s on me.”


Golden Goose: “Subscriber Thenuga asks, ‘Do you really have no idea what’s going in the hotpot until you taste it live for the NFTs?’ Now, I’ve been dying to know this myself.”

Jerry a.k.a. A*Sor: (laughs) “No peeking behind the curtain! But what I will say is this. Hui Jun and I—and Ix—have nothing but trust in each other. It’s what keeps this project together.”

—Jerry Ng, on the Golden Goose crypto podcast, Episode #18,
April 27, 2024

A*Sor clutched his stomach and groaned. He tried to speak, but something must have hit him again on the inside, and he winced and doubled over.

“Swallow the charcoal tablets,” I said, pushing past the swivel chair between us and cutting into Ix’s frame. “And have the decency to stop rolling.” The last line I threw at Ix.

I pressed the charcoal tablets into Jerry’s palm, and he knocked them back, crunching hard and swallowing. As he began to relax, I told him I was booking a car to take us to the hospital, anyway. Just to have it looked at. Then I turned on Ix.

“That can’t have just been laxatives,” I said.

Ix was cool. “It was. Although, the forward contract doesn’t specify the volume, or any other limiting factors, for that matter.”

I saw the pieces fall into place before me, but still I gave it one last stab.

“That was bad faith.”

“Or a badly written contract,” said Ix.

I saw his eyes disengage, even though I was close enough to tear them out. He was looking at his Tompang market square board. I didn’t have to read his open chat screens with his broker to know that he was trading under an anonymous account.








0.72(no change)












“You’ve been fucking bidding up Outcome End? While watching Jerry possibly die?”

“No one’s going to die, Jun.” Ix laughed at me. “Don’t you see, you’ve built a thing of beauty. Don’t tell me that you never knew where this could go, and what it would take? I bet your old man is prouder of you now than he’s ever been.”

I helped Jerry up and threw his arm over my shoulder. Jerry’s breath smelled oddly sharp, and he was breathing heavily. Before we left, I pulled open the drawer where we threw all of Human Raze’s bank paperwork that was to be filed by our thankless accountant at the end of the year. The bank authorization token was exactly where it was supposed to be, stuck to the underside of the drawer ceiling, with a bit of blutack. Good old DBS and their relics of the physical banking era. I pocketed it, not caring that Ix saw the action. I wanted him to.

“You’re not going anywhere, Jun,” Ix shouted after us. “Nothing will ever be as good as this.”


“I don’t pretend to know anything about the cyptoconomy. But I have been hearing a term going around, which struck me as rather poignant. Hodle? Hold? However you say it, ‘holding on for dear life’ has been the ethos of 2024.”

—M. K. Wong, Professor of Ethical Theory, in a lecture at NUS,
November 1, 2024

It took thousands of dollars of therapy for me to pick apart and face the things I’d done, and what the therapist insists I didn’t. A part of me still thinks the therapist is not entirely correct because she can only know what I tell her, measured against a bag of standardized theory. But it felt good to just talk, uninterrupted. It took many more months of distance to understand that Ix was not only a raider but a species of parasite that stayed and ate us from within. The only difference was I had willingly let him in and then abetted him.

Four years after Jerry and I started Human Raze to prove that we could be good at something, I am once again in the pits of a career embarrassment, and this time, I’m alone.

Jerry was discharged after a night at the general hospital. He reminds me so often that he doesn’t blame me, but I haven’t had the face to speak with him after we wound down the show.

Above me, the long blades of the ceiling fan slice the white light and throw shadows on the green table, where my untouched glass of Milo dinosaur threatens to slide in the puddle of its own condensation. I pull my phone out the second I feel it vibrate. It’s only after I click on the message that I realize I’ve forgotten my once-automatic response to discretely check the lock-screen message-preview first. Too late. My heart quickens, and I feel its beat in my throat.

(WhatsApp message) Dad: <<Hui Jun. Happy birthday. Love you, Dad.>>

The sound of my heart pounding through my skull does not quiet. But for some reason, that doesn’t alarm me. I feel calmer than I’ve felt in months. It’s as though the invisible dance that’s been going on in the space above my head has finally equalized and come to an end.

Happy birthday to me.


Copyright © 2023 Eliane Boey

The Author

Eliane Boey

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