by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright Feb 2005
This is one of a series of stories in the HX Encounter series. At the start of this series mankind is exploring the Solar System with newly developed constant acceleration spacecraft when a chunk of a large, large as in near-moon-size, alien spacecraft is discovered in the Kuiper Belt. HX stands for huge unknown alien -- which these HX turn out to be.
This particular story takes place about three hundred years after the first story in the series, The Honeycomb Comet, in which George Burnmeshorts first discovers an HX relic in the Kuiper Belt. By the time of this story, mankind has constant acceleration starships which travel routinely between habitable stars within about 10 LY of the Solar System. These ships and a lot of Solar System prosperity have come, first, from the looting of three HX fragments found within the Solar System, and later, from the looting of two complete HX skeletons found in interstellar space three and six light years from the Solar System. These later finds both had other aliens still in the process of looting them when mankind discovered them. One group of aliens sent a ship back to the Solar System for what turned out to be a brief pirate-like raid, covered in the story Alien Invasion!. It was brief because the aliens found nothing of value compared to spending time looting an HX skeleton.
Mankind was humiliated by the raid, but adapted, and over the years became a major player in the looting of the nearby HX skeletons.
HX Skeletons.... This story is about what happens when a live HX "blips" into mankind's space.