This story is in my book "The Honeycomb Comet" which is now available at Author House -- Amazon -- Barnes and Noble and other fine book sellers, search for "Roger Bourke White Jr."


Humans and HX have been around each other for centuries now. While this is a long time in terms of civilized history, it is an eye blink when looked at in the evolutionary timeframe.

Yet, thanks to technology and civilization, humans are still rapidly adapting to the HX environment.

Book Ten
Mastering the Horse of the Galaxy

Transcript of a presentation by Master Teacher Shillara Enzeta, last in a series about the HX for current affairs and history classes.

This is the unfinished story of taming the HX, turning them into humanity’s Horse of the Galaxy. It’s an incredible story, a little like the story of inventing steel in the Industrial Age—so many people have contributed over such a long period of time.

The dream of harnessing the HX goes back to when it was first discovered that an HX “blip” was a form of faster-than-light (FTL) travel. That was just the beginning. Before the dream of FTLing across the galaxy on an HX could become reality, two questions needed to be answered.

The first question was, “Can humans survive a blip?” Blips create sterilizing gamma ray bursts, killing all unprotected life forms within several light-years of the place the HX is leaving, and also of the place it is arriving. Several light-years! For an example of lethality, witness what happened to the Solar System and its Alpha Centauri colonies during the Great Gamma Blip of 2536.

But as it became clear that the HX was a living creature, scientists began to ask, “Are there survivable conditions inside the HX? Do they remain survivable when it blips?”

For hundreds of years the question was purely academic. Not only was a blip lethal, any blipped HX with humans in it was never again seen nearby. It was gone to some far sector of the galaxy and even if humans did survive, none would come back to tell the tale. In fact, in those early years death by blipping was considered a horrible way to die, and many a xenophobe protester would display the likenesses of blip victims to argue that humans shouldn’t be messing with HX.

Light began to be shed on the dark mystery of blipping when HX Security started shanghaiing wild humans in the First and Second Human Sweeps. If HX Security bots were rounding us up to put in hospitals or prisons, then we might be surviving blips. We might be … or we might be just put in a fattening pen before being turned into humanburgers, which would make surviving a blip an irrelevant question.

The major breakthrough in blip knowledge came when genetically enhanced humans started showing up fighting human raiders. It didn’t take long to confirm that these domesticated humans were the descendants of human raiders who had survived blips and, often, had themselves survived blips! The dream of riding an HX around the galaxy took a giant step forward.

As might be expected, while the domestics were very dangerous to human raiders, they also gave humans a lot of hope. Well, they gave hope to those human optimists who didn’t have to go face to face with them. Those who did got more chills than hope.

The second question was, “How can we direct an HX?”

Now, humanity had already made the first giant step toward that answer. We have been working on understanding HX ecosystem languages ever since our first live HX encounter. The most important language was the one we first studied: HX Maintenance Language, or Hexmal, used by some of the low-level HX bots. As raiders learned to speak Hexmal as well as listen, they could shut down parts of the HX for their convenience. Then we grew more subtle and learned to mimic normal commands and control functions rather than merely shut them down. Simultaneously we were making slow inroads with the several other languages that had evolved in the HX environment.

Two developments sped up that endeavor. One was the realization that going beyond Hexmal would have practical advantages, which brought more personnel and money to mastering the other HX languages. The second was using feral humans—formerly domesticated humans who turned on their HX Security masters—as informants and partners. They had grown up as native speakers of the HX languages, with all that means for deep mastery.

Wild-feral human alliances proved deadly to the HX. In 2978, at the very height of the Human Sweeps, wild and feral humans formed a partnership with Drill and Sghalupa raiders. They lobotomized an ancient near-dead HX whose Security system had ground nearly to a halt. As they declared on their journalog in 2987, when their ships got back from the then-dead HX into communication range, “Yeah, we were kicking a dead horse. But we did manage to kick it before it died completely!” By which they meant that, for the first time ever, non-HX species had initiated a blip.

The next step was to control where the HX blipped to. But finding more HX in locations that weren’t going to sterilize worlds when they blipped wasn’t easy. It was like atom bomb testing in the 20th century, only even more deadly, because there was no ground to hide the tests under. And some suitably placed HX were clearly too strong to overrun. Nevertheless, through the following decades, humans and our allies found, took over, and blipped three failing HX, learning enormously from each success until at the third attempt in 3092 humans controlled the blip’s destination.

Such power! But with power always comes responsibility. Unfortunately, the second transfer ended devastatingly near an inhabited system. And in each case the HX died in the process.

In recent decades we have made further progress. Today, when we blip an HX we usually damage it more or less severely rather than kill it. But to do either is a great waste! Right now humanity is the HX’s worst disease. Despite our burning desire to move around the galaxy quickly, we know we cannot afford to proceed impetuously and make HX extinct in the entire area we can reach.

Part of our advance toward making the process more controllable and predictable has been finding the right mix of allies for the initial takeover and subsequent occupation. Wild and feral humans by themselves may be driven off or exterminated even on an ailing HX, and don’t stand a chance against Security on a healthy HX. So to consistently overwhelm Security and commandeer the “nerves” of the HX body, permitting its direction, military doctrine now prescribes a mix of five or more races with complementary talents in large numbers.

We now face three interlocking challenges that we need to work on, and work on hard.

Challenge One: We need to understand how to issue a gentle blip command that doesn’t damage the HX. The scientists and engineers believe this requires better understanding of what preliminary commands must be issued to various organs and tissues in preparation for the blip.

Challenge Two: We need to understand what makes a destination safe or dangerous for HX. We know that an HX looks at dark matter; we do not yet know what it sees. More research into HX sense organs and their data streams will be part of the solution.

Challenge Three: If we are to truly make the HX the horse of the galaxy, we need to understand how to pamper our horses, how to heal them, how to nourish them, and what actions they take that make them satisfied and happy. And perhaps eventually how to breed them.

Although we marvel at the great sophistication of their technology, which after millennia of raiding still remains advanced beyond the tech of any raider species, yet in what they do in the world of light matter—the world where we live—they seem to be no more intelligent than, say, horses. Nevertheless, attempts continue at direct communication with the HX as such, as well as with their constituent systems.

If we humans and our allies can become mutually beneficial HX symbiotes rather than diseases, when we develop (pardon the pun) a stable relation with HX, we will have our faithful steeds and the galaxy will be ours!

Transcript of remarks by CEO Goodluck Kunda of Titan Colony following Master Teacher Shillara Enzeta’s presentation.

And there you have it. From the story of a human first scavenging an HX fragment to the continuing story of humans striving to bridle HX powers.

Was it easy? Not on your life!

Was it inevitable? No!

Only by the hard work of visionary people, people who were willing to risk all, did it happen. It happened because humans are brave, true to our upbringing, and willing to risk for our personal, family, tribal, and species betterment. And sometimes even for that of our galactic sector.

Will it happen again? Perhaps!

The galaxy is a big place. Billions and billions of stars take some time to get to know. Anyone who thinks we’ve seen every surprise the galaxy has to offer is following in a long line of human fools. I’m sure there’s a lot more for humans to take risks on, and for worrywarts to worry over!

Was it worth it? Hah! That you have to decide for yourself!