Then at last you could see the rings. They flickered in the starlight as the ice boulders tumbled and spun, an ethereal curtain flung across the sky. Pretty, perhaps even beautiful. But you could only delight in the dancing lights of faerie astrophysics so many times. It didn't take long for the miraculous to become the mundane. We'd been here long enough for the novelty to have worn away, beaten down by day after boring day in the midden mines.
Take a look at our home, as the lights ramp up for another night of hustle and bustle as machines and men sieved through tonnes of predecessor rubble for chunks of the future. This is our panorama, the scope of our activity on this dead dump of a world. One small valley, surrounded by hills, and nearly filled by the midden. A pair of silver railway tracks ran out over the hills, going somewhere, anywhere but here.
Here was Camp 12, a small cluster of prefabricated buildings and tents, thrown up around the skeletal frame of a dead Wuperthal dropship. The midden rose up behind the camp, a mountain of alien trash piled around the base of one of the atmosphere machines. Its regular rumble kept us awake at nights, as it belched air and water. Today it was quiet, letting the sky clear for a short while. The clouds would be back tomorrow, along with the rain. At least the pay was good.
Children were playing in the mud, kicking a ball around, splashing through the puddles. It landed at my feet, showering me in mud. I needed a beer.
"Shuttle was by today." The ramshackle bar was full of people, swapping gossip. "And shift is over." Monica handed me a bottle. "Something from home."
I didn't look at the label. After all, it was beer, and I needed a drink. "Anything else interesting happen today?"
"A couple of the older kids stole the train. They won't be going too far." She leaned over the bar and whispered, "Bossman will be looking for you soon. He'll be wanting you to take out one of the microlights in the morning..."
(I think I finally broke the back of this story yesterday. I'd be wondering why I had two separate strands of narrative - now I realise I need them. One for the kids on the train, and one for the people left behind, trying to find them - two different viewpoints, and together the two strands finding something they weren't expecting, there in the rubble and ruins of a brown dwarf moon covered in the trash of a dozen alien visitors. Which means I get to use the spider scene, too...)