This is the fourth section of the first chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here
James watched the scene outside from the control tower. Around him in the tower was the debris from the previous people who had worked at the consoles but now the room was empty apart from him. Ships carried on their normal routines as most of the work was automated, the staff had planned the schedules for the next few days so things were running themselves now. Tugs and their attached cargo flew slowly towards the docking bay below him. They were slowly thinning out, it must soon be time to swap over to some tugs leaving to collect new cargo. The tugs themselves were fairly easy to spot, they were roughly X shaped craft, by the time the craft were returning on their docking runs only the core of the craft was visible, the propellant ice having been burnt off leaving just the main engine and four thrusters, one on each arm. The first of the tugs carrying cargo back to the cargo craft were beginning to leave the docking bay above him, This time the tugs were carrying dozens of empty containers to be placed back on the central spine of the cargo ships. The tugs this time looking like fire breathing icicles, the engines must have been on maximum thrust minimum efficiency mode.
James tried staring off into the distance to see if he could make out the prick of light that would be Earth, but with all the engines running in front him it really wasn’t even possible to make out Mars, He tried to see if he could make out Jupiter, but at the moment Jupiter was very much at the opposite side of the solar system, as was Saturn so again he was left with only the Sun in the distance and local reference points of the other asteroids around him.
He stared with a certain wonder at the dance of lights happening outside his control tower window. The scale of the operation amazed even him and he felt no small responsibility for having built all this. When he’d come here there had been the remnants of humanity’s early attempts to mine the asteroid belt that the arrival of the Habitat had made futile. Now here he was having seen the missed opportunity and the sky seemed to dance in front of him feeling like a conductor watching the dancers twirl to his orchestra under the control of his baton. Although looking at another craft having its reactor core removed for reprocessing he wasn’t sure that an orchestra should have that much plutonium.