Ineffectual

Captain Forsch was bathed in the mint green glow of the Kelp Nebula as he sailed by the scattered formation of the protesters. The small escort fleet from Freespace Private Security kept the protesters’ ships outside the work zone, but nothing could be done about their relentless transmissions.

The Kelp Nebula is a limited public space and belongs to all humankind including future generations who will now never be able to experience its natural splendor. As a fellow human being you have the agency to cease operations immediately. By continuing to pillage our night sky you’re expressly stating complicity for the defilement of the natural world. And so on, on and on.

Legally, Forsch had to leave the channel open, but he kept the volume low and let the thrum of the engines lull him. He sank into the deep grooves of his crash couch and took a quick hit of flow before firing up the ramscoops. Time to get to work.

He found the next cloud arm in the grid and flew along its edge, shaving its frothy perimeter down to a neat, clean line a thousand kilometers across. From within the nebula, it was impossible to see its shape—the kelp forest for the trees. It was just an all-encompassing, omnidirectional luminescence, the product of cosmic rays interacting with long tubes of accumulated tritium.

One days’ harvest could power a populated system for a week. It’s a no brainer, he told himself, and so he tried as hard as he could not to think about it. Flying in a straight line was pretty close to a mindless activity as well. With no use for a mind out here, he took another hit of flow and leaned back, his mouth hanging open. He pretended he was a dull, thin fish in the wide ocean, just nibbling a bit at the endless kelp. Just a little fish; nothing compared to that great expanse. He could never make a significant impact on his own. He was too small. Ineffectual.

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