Oswald floated on the edge of what he’d come to think of as his tactical fugue state. Voices were vague murmurings until important keywords caught his attention. His fingers danced across display screens, taking in everything and nothing. Vectors and delta-v expenditures coalesced, solved, and then shifted into command decisions, like clouds on a windy day. Those who didn’t know how Oswald processed the ballet of war assumed he hadn’t heard if he didn’t immediately reply in the rapid-fire parlance of military battle-tongue. Those who knew better, waited.
“Command, Tactical. Roland pegs our new friends as Proximan Type-12 fast assault starships. MCC concurs.”
“Roger that, Tactical,” Oswald said. “They’ll try to rush us before we jump, and they dropped in far enough away to give themselves time to recover.”
“I’m always impressed with the accuracy of their jump insertions, Colonel.”
“We’ll get there someday, Aux.”
“Command, Tactical,” Karpov said.
“Twenty-three? That means we’re about to have hundreds of missiles and billions of pieces of shrapnel up here. Not sure all the MCCs on Earth can track that.”
Oswald could hear the nerves in Karpov’s voice. It wasn’t often the tactical officer’s tone held anything besides sarcasm or pointed indifference. However else Oswald felt about Karpov, the man was Roland’s bellwether. If the man who had survived three destroyed ships got concerned, everyone got concerned.
It was too early to give up; the numbers hadn’t resolved.
There might not even be twenty-three starships in SOLCOM. There were only nine, including the other two escort squadrons, in the area to protect Roland. They’d need to rely on the orbital defenses. Statistics weren’t Oswald’s specialty, but the odds didn’t seem all that great.
“This orbit’s going to be messy for the foreseeable future.” Oswald tried a casual laugh that he hoped didn’t sound forced. “But the wheels are in motion. I suspect as soon as target vector envelopes are plotted, Ana— General Khadem will have everyone expend their ordnance ASAP.”
He also suspected his squadron was not going to make it to the jump threshold intact. As if to make the point, the tactical display bloomed with red RDV indicators, rapid delta-v. At this range they’d be missiles and drones; the railguns and point defense grids would come later.
The lines stretched out in crimson webs from the Proximan force, the SDF defense posts, the Earth guard escort squadrons, and the missiles tucked in among Oswald’s squadron.
Oswald’s eyes glazed over as his mind processed the data on a level something below consciousness. Oswald adjusted delta-v and trajectory values, the slight motions of his fingertips in the gloves translated to the display on his visor. Roland’s projection track snaked around as the navigation computer recalculated each option.
The number of incoming RDVs from the Proximan force was too low. They were holding back to see which way Roland’s squadron would vector. There was no way to avoid the enemy attack envelope; they were too well positioned and there were too many of them.
But they might be able to spread out the attack, maybe only get hit by twenty missiles instead of fifty.
A Bite of… A.R. Kavli
Q1: Why do you write?
Like many writers and artists, I’ve always felt a compulsion to create. Stories have always rummaged around in my head, gaining momentum like an avalanche, and the only way to get any peace was to let it out in some form. When I was younger, this was what largely led me into role playing games. Soon, I only really enjoyed the game if I got to be the story teller (director, game master, dungeon master, etc.). Not only because I felt I crafted better stories and characters, but also because my rolls were always terrible and my player characters always died stupidly. I was the guy whose warrior could never hit the orc and the thief who could never pick the lock or disarm the trap. But it was mostly because I enjoyed writing the stories. Really.
Currently I’m aiming at making a serious career out of writing. My first published book experience fell flat, leaving me feeling it could never really be more than a hobby. That was largely due to my ignorance about marketing. The extent of my marketing knowledge was a one page PDF my publisher emailed me. Now, thanks to the growing indie movement and many teachers out there, I’m going to focus on authorship as a business. My dream is to make a living from my writing alone. I know if I spent as much time writing as I do working for the man, I could get a lot accomplished. I have a ton of stories waiting in the wings.
Q2: How much of your writing is autobiographical?
While I don’t write myself as a character, the characters I write do have many of the same thoughts and concerns as I do. I love the quote by PD James― “All fiction is largely autobiographical and much autobiography is, of course, fiction.” My time in the Navy colors my military sci-fi writing. I did a lot of neat things that not one in a thousand have done. I’ve also seen, in the military and corporate environments, utter foolishness that has feed the cynicism of me and my characters. As a parent, I am subject to the normal fears common to parents in all places and all times. I have an upcoming novel that deals with an old man dealing with the death of his middle-aged daughter. His memories, his fears, and his shortcomings are very similar to my own as a father and husband. It makes me the characters very real and relatable; to me at least. I hope to others as well.
Q3: What time of day do you write best?
Remember that married with four kids bit? I also work full-time as tech support in one of the largest telecom companies in the known galaxy. That makes it hard to find regular writing time. We’re fortunate enough to be able to provide the children with opportunities, but it really cuts into the time and money. I could edit all my books for what I pay for cheer-leading costs alone! I know that I write best in the morning, but that’s when I’m doing the go to work thing. Lunch hour has been given over to writing for me, but when I sit down and get still in the middle of the day, I find my self dozing quite often. What started as an hour’s worth of writing turns into thirty minutes or less sometimes. But I still slog through, making up on weekends and writing catch-as-catch-can. Most of my writing is done on my tablet with a wi-fi keyboard for that reason.
A.R. Kavli is a US Navy veteran, author, gamer, and lover of sci-fi and fantasy. His first published works were with gaming companies, and his first novel was published in 2011 by a now defunct publishing house. A.R. lives with his wife of 23 years and 4 children in Middle Tennessee.