The Dawn's Early Light

Chapter 2

Scott. Kurt, Marky, and Peter looked at Galen with intense shock as he collapsed onto the couch behind him, effectively dead. Peter looked heartbroken. Then he paused, blinked, and – another Peter popped into existence next to him. Time abruptly slowed for everyone else in the room. Then another Peter popped in next to the first two. Then two more.

This continued until there were fourteen Peters surrounding Galen's body. He was, of course, time-looped, multiple times. Peter #14 took charge. What follows here is in dialogue for readers' ease of understanding, but almost none of it was spoken aloud; a little was telepathic statements, and more was non-verbal: images of what each needed to do and when.

"#5, keep the blood flowing through his brain. #6 take the hemoglobin and re-oxygenate it. #12, teleport it from his jugular vein to his cranial arteries."

"#10, slow his heart and cut away the dead heart tissue from the base of his heart; #11 and #13, as he's doing that, regress the area to re-grow the heart tissue. #8, #9, same thing with the missing lung tissue."

"#1, vaporize the burnt liver tissue. #4. liver regeneration by retrogression. #2, you've got the esophagus. #7, work the diaphragm. #3, you and I are scrub nurses, to make sure they all have what they need. While we're doing that, we'll work up the mental image of muscle and skin regression needed to close him up. Go!"

With 14 Mikyvis at work, drawing energy from the environment to work their healing, the temperature in Conference Room #5 dropped markedly. Around Galen's body and the bevy of Peters, it began to snow. As Peters #3 and #14, joined by first one, then another, of the others, restored the chest muscles and skin, there was a sense of hope on the faces of the fourteen little identical towheads.

But Galen's body stubbornly refused to come back to life. Peter #14 placed his hands on Galen's chest, yelled "Clear!" and tried manual defibrillation. Nothing. He tried again. Then an orange glow began to surround the 14 instances of the time-looped little Mikyvis and the body of the boy he loved. The glow intensified. When it faded, only one Peter was left, standing in front of the recumbent body of Galen, with a shocked look on his face.

Galen sat up. He seemed to have been lying, and was now sitting, on a sort of marble bench, along the side of some kind of circular area laid out in paving stones in the middle of some kind of garden. He was wearing what seemed to be a short white linen skirt with a narrow strip of cloth running from one side of its waist diagonally up across his back and chest to meet at the opposite shoulder. The marble bench felt cool but not uncomfortable to his butt. "Hey, Galen," a familiar voice said.

Galen looked up. "Hi, Mikey," he said to the teenage boy in jeans, sweatshirt, and gold wings who was standing in front of him. "I guess this means I'm dead now, huh?"

"For now, yeah," Mikey agreed. "Listen, this is shaping up to be a very busy day, and I don't have a whole lot of time. And I'm going to need your help. So if you don't mind, let's get right down to it."

"Uh, yeah, sure. But...."

"Explanations later, if you still need them. For now, there's somebody here to see you."

Moving towards him was his mother, Sonya. "Mommy!" he cried out, standing up.

"I'm so sorry, baby," she said. "What we were doing at the Center seemed so important, helping so many people, and you seemed so mature, so self-reliant, I never realized...." However she had intended to finish that sentence we will never know, as she was cut short by an 11-year-old boy flinging himself at her, his arms wrapping around her in a hug. Wordlessly she hugged back, which made him tighten the embrace, seemingly trying to make up for months and years of neglect in one hug. "You know, you can come see me often," she said. "I'm so proud of what you're doing with Kurt, with what he's doing for all those kids."

"I was really hoping to go on helping him," Galen said wistfully.

"You..." Sonya began, but stopped short at Mikey's stern head-shake.

Suddenly there was a loud, resounding BONG!, as though someone had struck a gong, or a bell had been rung just once. Sonya stepped back from her son.

Mikey was smiling. "Look down," he said. Galen did so; he was now dressed in the suit and Clan cloak he had worn to the meeting. "Look inside your head," Mikey then instructed. Galen did so, and a growing sense of wonder spread across his face. "Now focus your attention on the room you were killed in," Mikey said.

Galen sat up on the couch. Peter was standing in front of him, his cousins-turned-brothers and uncle-turned-father at his side. "You're alive!" Kurt exclaimed.

Galen bounced up and embraced Peter. "You fixed me!" he exclaimed happily and lovingly.

"But you know what I did," Peter replied with a nervous look.

"Of course. But you promised me that we'd be together forever, and now we are!"

Peter grimaced. "Kyle is going to shit a woolly rhinoceros."

"Can Mikyvis do that?" Scott asked with a grin.

"If I ever do, you'll be the first to know," Galen replied with an impish smile.

"We'll be back soon!" Peter called out for them both, and the two Mikyvis teleported out.

While all this was happening, at the other end of the room Malinda had grasped the wrist of the Romulan "Kingsley" and squeezed. With her enhanced strength, the supposed chronometer, now exposed as a small disruptor generator, shattered. With the more-than-human strength from his Vulcan descent, the Romulan fought her off. Though Malinda was armed with not only energy and firearm-type weapons but also bladed ones, she made the snap judgment that it was important to if possible disable him from combat and hold him for questioning and trial, as opposed to injuring or killing him. Vance and Austin were together moving behind him to incapacitate him by back holds on his shoulders, arms and legs, while Becky and Bryan were closing on him, when Jonas, from across the room, fired his phaser. The Romulan slumped, unconscious.

"I used a heavy stun," he said more or less to Tilden. "You'll be able to read him through that, right?"

"We should be," Tilden answered. The 'We' of course meant himself and his clone-brother Todd. They moved to either side of the unconscious Romulan and began to try reading him.

Armbridge was shocked by the series of events just past, but like the practiced diplomat and politician he was, he recovered his aplomb quickly. "I do believe," he said in a sincere, urbane voice, "that I owe my life to you, young lady," addressing Malinda, "and your friends here. Do give some thought to how I can show you my appreciation."

He was not expecting what he got back. "Treat us like human beings!" Malinda demanded. "A lot of us in the Unit were fucked with by the Army. I was a five-year-old orphan when a general in the United States Army took me to use in experimental treatments for physiological enhancements to try and turn me into a super-soldier." She undid the last few buttons of her blouse; her large breasts sprung out, riding high on her chest. "Look at me!" she said. "Now, look me in the eyes. I look like every boy and man's wet dream, right? Well, I look that way because they made me that way. From my eighth birthday until we escaped, I was the troops' fuck toy. And because it amused them to make me a willing and enthusiastic sex partner, they enhanced my libido nearly a dozen times. I want to get laid right now so badly I can taste it – and I resent the idea that my country's sworn and commissioned military scientists messed with my body to make me feel that way."

She reached down and pinched off, between her thumb and index finger, a corner of the half-inch-thick maple side table alongside the chair behind her. "They enhanced my strength and agility too," she added. She chucked the piece of the table at Bryan as fast as she could; he grabbed it out of the air almost effortlessly. A flash, and her throwing knife was embedded up to its hilt in the couch next to Armbridge which Galen had been lying on. "And people don't know what to make of us," she concluded, "so they ostracize and reject us."

"Me too," Bryan said. He closed his fist tightly around the table corner Malinda had flung at him, and reduced it to sawdust and splinters. "I could beat you at any sort of fight, unarmed or with blades or blunt instruments, or any physical competition unless it's heavily biased in favor of your greater weight."

"I'm thirteen," he went on. "I can drive a jeep or an APV, could land a helicopter in an emergency – why should I have to wait until I'm 16 to get my license? And I certainly know whether I want to go to bed with Malinda, or Lexi, or Austin or Vance or Jonas, or you, Mr. Armbridge — and whether or not I want to marry any of you yet. If I killed somebody, or robbed a store, they'd call me an adult for the trial. But for the next five years, the law thinks I have no clue what I want out of life, or how to behave without a guardian holding my hand. But those selfsame bastions of the law could care less if I had a roof over my head or enough to eat, much less family. I've got family now, but that's because Vulcans and kids cared when so-called adult human beings wouldn't."

Austin took a turn. "I'm seventeen, with years of training to command. My wife Becky here is 15. We said our vows publicly before our community. We're married. But the old maid in a three-piece suit in the Box Butte County Clerk's office says we're not, because we didn't get his permission and fill out the right forms. And when I turn 18, they'll want to prosecute me for molesting a minor – my wife, that is."

He was wound up, and kept going. "You know, Malinda and Bryan talked about Army experimental enhancements. But it's even worse than that. There are a bunch of little kids the age of my daughter who owe their lives to a dead man. I said man but if you looked at him, you would have called him a seven-foot-five tiger standing on two legs. Kuan Ti was one of the kindest, gentlest people I've ever known, and at the same time one of the toughest fighters. And in the greatest tradition of noble behavior, he gave his life so that others might live. But ignorant people looked at him and called him a freak. Some of our brothers in arms have genes from, and look like, gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, panthers, cougars, raccoons, and badgers, And the United States Army is responsible for them too."

Harry went next. "My husband and I are fifteen. And we're a same-sex couple. That's two strikes against us in the eyes of some people. And your party, Mr. Armbridge, has a platform that calls for voiding our marriage and reinstating criminal sanctions on our having sex, married or not – because trying to get the votes of bigots means more to them than human rights."

Armbridge's mouth was agape in shock at what he was hearing. Now Scott took a turn. "My boyfriend is from Greece. Before we rescued him, he used to have to sell his ass to tourists to get enough money to eat. He slept on a pallet on the floor in an alcove off the kitchen of his brother's tiny house. He's bright, probably smarter than me. And our tax money went in foreign aid to Greece. How come there was never any money, nor any interest, in taking care of him?"

"Well," Armbridge said with evident relief at hearing something he could answer, "we're only one voice on the League, even if we are one of the Big Three Powers. We couldn't hope to pressure Greece into making any changes, at least not without Britain and Russia."

Harry chimed in again. "Every single one of us here is considered a member of the House of Windsor, because Prince Harry is committed as one of our brothers."

"And the Tsar swore brotherhood with Logan our clone progenitor earlier this week," Tilden added.

"You asked what you could do," Becky said sweetly. "Now you know."

At Andrews AFB, Air Force One stood briefly at the end of the taxiway while a VC-25 and a KC-135, both with exterior markings and transponders that purported them to be Air Force One, quickly taxied into place. Both had LED screens mounted on the sides masquerading as windows and showing actual scenes from previous flights. The real AF1 was detectable by air traffic controllers by an encrypted signature built into its transponder code; the two decoy planes would also be sending encrypted signatures as well, but not the right one. They would take off in random order; as it happened, today that order would be the VC-25, the real Air Force One, and the KC-135.

One by one they took off. The VC-25 banked and climbed, heading just east of north, seemingly en route to Dover or Philadelphia. Air Force One also banked and climbed, heading southwest across Alexandria and Fairfax County. It slowly banked to head west towards Dayton OH, where the President's first destination, Wright-Patterson AFB, was located. The KC-135 likewise banked and climbed, heading southeast towards Hampton Roads and the military installations in the Norfolk-Newport News-Virginia Beach area. Both decoy planes were supposed to later rendezvous with Air Force One at whatever became its present 'final' destination, until they were needed for decoy duty again.

As Air Force One crossed the line to overfly Fauquier County, Vice President Dick Cheney reached up and felt the back of his head, as though he had felt a sudden pain there.

Over Washington the strange shimmering intensified, then went away as the Romulan Warbird it had been masking decloaked. It fired its disruptor cannon banks at the VC-25 decoy "Air Force One", vaporizing the left wing. The pilot attempted to bank with what was left him, but could not keep the plane in the air. It came down in a shopping center in Prince Georges County just northeast of the district, taking out a Hardees franchise and several vehicles.

The KC-135 fared no better. The disruptor banks wiped out the entire rear half of the plane, and it fell from the sky, landing squarely on the Nice Bridge, which carries US 301 across the Potomac.

The pilot of the real Air Force One attempted to take evasive maneuvers as what was happening became clear to him. Meanwhile on board Vice President Cheney bucked and reared as he roared in pain. His brow, face, and hands turned darker and greenish, his ears developed points, his already stocky build became even more solid, and his neck swelled, though with the more casual clothing he had chosen to wear, it did not choke him as it had the fake Kingsley. Unmasked as a Romulan, he pulled a gun.

At that moment the first shot from the Warbird hit – a glancing blow that took a bite from the tailfin, and damaged the rear stabilizing tail-winglets. A Secret Service agent drew and fired just as Romulan-Cheney did. Both shots went wild, penetrating the plane's thin skin and causing it to depressurize. A second Secret Service man shot Cheney, or rather the Romulan who had been impersonating him. Three other agents hustled the President into an ejection pod for his own safety.

The pilot of Air Force One put the plane into a dive, causing the next shot from the Warbird to miss entirely. It did however incinerate most of a flock of Canada geese who chanced to be flying past at the wrong time. The Secret Service men pressed the 'emergency eject' button on the President's pod. The pilot banked and veered, planning to try to make it to the airport at Winchester VA.

He never got the chance. The next shot knocked him from the air. The plane fell from the sky, crashing into the mountainside at the north end of the Blue Ridge.

The first of four parachutes on Mr. Bush's emergency pod deployed, just in time to be vaporized by the disruptor beam that took down Air Force One. The second chute deployed, and the Warbird spent another shot vaporizing it. Then he had dropped below their line of sight, and the last two chutes did their job. But the pod still came down far too hard, into a snow-dusted field just beyond the right of way of Interstate 66. An insurance salesman, a trucker, and a housewife/mother of three who had been a nurse before starting her family stopped to see what the strange object parachuting down just off the highway might be.

While one gunnery crew was targeting and bringing down the three airplanes, others were firing on the government buildings around and near the heart of Washington. At the Pentagon, the roads leading in melted, then vaporized, and the open space surrounding it turned to blast class. But the building's shields held.

Similarly, at the White House, the shield protected the building. The edges of the blast and backwash from the beams hitting the field incinerated most of the Rose Garden, took out the guard shacks at the gates, and set several trees afire.


Along the Mall, nearly all the cherry trees were turned to ash. The reflecting basin vaporized.


The shields were also solidly protective of the complex of buildings around the Capitol, including the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court Building, and the various House and Senate Office Buildings, as well as the Capitol itself. In their Control Center under the south steps of the Capitol, the team from the Capital Security Administration responsible, among other things, for their maintenance, sighed in relief as the installations that were under their aegis held up under what was literally their test under fire. Although under the terms the Federation had imposed in licensing the technology to the US government, they had had a relatively free hand to do the job right, they had still been required to follow government procurement regulations, and some compromises inevitably had had to be made.

"We're getting a spike from the sensors at Treasury, sir," one of the techs said.

"Pull the camera feed from next door up on the monitor," his boss replied.

The tech did as instructed, and they watched the disruptor beam impact the shield over the Treasury Department building. "Feedback meter says shield generator is still within nominal limits," he reported.

Then they watched horrified, with a sense of 'this can't be happening,' as the disruptor burned through, the shield failing catastrophically. Blowback melted the camera feeding the monitor, and they never saw the disruptor lay open the upper floors of the building. In an old IT closet buried in the bowels of the building where one of the shield generators had been hooked up, the control circuit glowed as failing shield and beam combated each other, with the Hargrove Industries logo prominent on its surface. Then it slumped, melting and partially vaporizing.

At the White House, by and large the shields continued to hold. A burn-through took out part of the West Wing. Ironically, a firestorm from the Treasury building burnthrough swept down the underground tunnel connecting the buildings and ravaged the bunker under the White House.

In orbit, the Federation starships guarding Earth were caught on the horns of a dilemma. We can attack the Romulan ships, with a good chance of victory. But everything that is not a direct hit will be friendly fire destroying large parts of St. Petersburg, or Washington, or....

Ground-based phaser banks fired on the Warbird from a number of surprising places: an 'unused' hangar at Andrews; a car dealership detailing shop in suburban Maryland; the Mormon temple complex; the top floor of a mall at Tysons Corner.... The Warbird took them out with almost contemptuous ease.

The Pentagon shields flickered, then died. Within a minute the squat polygonal building was a mass of smoldering concrete, collapsed in on itself.

At Andrews AFB, what had been intended as the fighter escort for Air Force One had been incinerated as soon as they cleared the shield over the base, which for now continued to hold. This caused the flight commander to rethink his tactics. "Men," he briefed his fighter pilots, "going up against that Romulan bastard would be suicide. I do not doubt your willingness to give your lives to save our country if required to do so. But I will not order you to waste them. We will wait until he is engaged with something else, and then attack while he is distracted. Prepare yourselves for that."

A flight of ten planes scrambled from Dover AFB arrived. Seven closed with the Warbird and were promptly shot from the sky. The other three, equipped with Federation technology, held back, over two kilometers from the hostile spaceship. Gyrating crazily in an effort at evasive maneuvers, they fired phaser beams at the Warbird. However, its shields absorbed the beams, which were rather low powered owing to being mounted on Air Force fighters, with no evident damage. At the fighters' relatively small size and distance, they stood a chance of survival. However, a lucky shot took one of them out. The other two fought on, perhaps ineffectively, but at least showing America, and Earth, could fight back.

The five legislative office buildings were reduced to rubble. The shields at the Supreme Court and Library of Congress buildings continued to hold. The wings of the Capitol, where the Senate and House of Representatives were in session, went up. The Warbird brought a secondary photonics weapon to bear on the chambers to ensure no one survived. Then the Control Center saw no more, as it itself was the target of the great Romulan disruptor beams.

The Capitol rotunda proper survived almost unscathed. Almost. If you have ever seen the movie Deep Impact, the final scene where the President addresses the country from in front of a damaged Capitol should be etched on your mind. The great dome was damaged, not quite as badly as in the movie; it looked almost like a giant reptile had taken a bite out of it. But it held.

As the shields failed, down from the Warbird beamed a cadre of assault troops, the spearhead of the Romulan ground troops. Along with them, but set down at a variety of separate locations, were a number of what we would call irregulars, individual guerilla-like Romulans with specific tasks in mind. One of these set down inconspicuously next to an apartment building several blocks northwest of the Capitol, very carefully carrying what looked like a bowl of Jello. He moved with rapid and purposeful but careful steps toward his destination, another apartment building diagonally across from the nearby corner. The 'Jello' was in fact a gelled explosive easily produced on board the Warbird, but highly unstable. His mission was to emplace it at a strategic point on the foundation of the destination apartment building, where a Cabinet secretary, two Deputy Secretaries, and members of the Federal Reserve and Interstate Commerce boards held condos. A loud clap would then set off the explosive and bring the building down. He stepped carefully along the sidewalk, which tree roots and frost heaves had broken up and made quite uneven.

Unfortunately for him, the Longworth House Office Building's shields picked that moment to give up the ghost. The resultant flash blinded him. He misstepped, tripped, and fell. The Jello dish flew from his hand, and took out the near half of the building he had beamed down next to and was now passing by. It also turned him into air pollution – atomized eau de Romulan. As the debris settled, people began to try to climb out of the remaining half of the building.

Galen and Peter popped back into Conference Room 5 below the State Department building, each with an arm around the other's waist. With them was a boy of the same age and similar features to Todd and Tilden, but instead of their pale-gold hair, his was so light as to appear almost white. His blue eyes blazed; he was dressed in Clan cloak, sweatshirt and blue jeans. A holstered phaser on his right hip was his only evident armament.


"Are you two all right?" Kurt, Scott, and Jonas asked at the same time.

"Of course we are," replied Peter between giggles at the three-way simul-question.

"Hi, Toby!" Harry called out to the newcomer, who grinned a response.

Galen was solemn. He and Peter took turns describing the destruction they had witnessed, hovering out of phase above the city. "We've got to do something!" Galen finished.

"But how?" Jonas demurred. "We're cut off. The A.I.s can't see anything reliably; even satellite feeds are bollixed. The only way we can communicate is through Todd and Tilden."

A split second of eye contact between the two Mikyvis and the two Logan clones, and plans were made. "Can we borrow this?" Tilden asked Armbridge, indicating a Persian-pattern 6'x4' throw rug on the floor in front of one couch.

"Certainly," Armbridge answered, feeling singularly out of his element at everything that had happened.

"Okay, Til and I are going up on it," Galen amplified. At stupefied looks, he explained. "I'm going to levitate myself, Tilden, and the rug, which we'll be sitting on. It's protective coloration; if anybody sees two boys on a flying carpet today, they'll chalk it up to an illusion from the Romulans."

"I'll be observing refugees through these," Tilden went on, holding out his hand, into which Todd placed one of two sets of binoculars one of the A.I.s had teleported in. "CSNIC will be transporting refugees out as I focus on them. Galen will be keeping us flying, and monitoring the ship, to take us out of phase if they try to fire on us."

"Peter and I will be staying with you guys," Todd said, "me for communications and him for random Mikyvissery. Peter can teleport us all or take us out of phase as and when you go on the offensive."

"Toby agreed to come along," Peter added, "so we can split into two groups and both stay protected. He's got a fuzzymore."

"I didn't think he was old enough yet!" Ethan quipped. Toby blushed and giggled.

"So if Peter's somewhere else, Toby can shield us," Jonas thought aloud. "Just one thing though," he added, "that we learned from what happened to Adam Short in Montana: Charlie members, don't let a Romulan close in on Toby. He can protect the rest of us from energy or ballistic weapons. But he's vulnerable to things like slow on-hand knife attacks and frag grenades. Protect him, and he'll protect you."

Galen and Tilden vanished, along with their 'flying carpet.'

Peter turned to Malinda, whose blouse was still open. "Gotta cover up the boobage!" he giggled. A gesture, and her upper torso was clad in a chain-mail top with a thin pad separating metal from flesh.

"Thanks!" she said, delighted. "Talk about living out the stereotype!" she laughed.

Ch'karya strode down the sidewalk like a force of nature. The fleeing crowds were moving at right angles to him, toward the Potomac bridges, or in the direct opposite direction, to access a diagonal avenue out of town. He avoided them with practiced ease. The Warbird raining destruction onto Washington could mean only one thing, and that made his mission of utmost importance.

He arrived at the State Department building, to find its shields up. He pulled a device from his robe, and triggered it; the shield flared briefly near him. "Ch'karya son of Xonar seeks admittance," he called out.

"We are under attack," came Simpkins' voice back from the speaker above the door.

'Well, d'uh!' he thought, finding it ironic that his exposure to Earth's young people made this his spontaneous reaction. Aloud he replied, "I have information and resources of vital importance to this battle, for the use of Family Clan Short."

This took Simpkins aback. He had already ended up with egg on his face twice that day 0n issues regarding Clan Short. He had no desire to make it three times. "I will open a small gap in the shield. Be prepared to step forward on my word." A pause, then

"Now!" Ch'karya stepped through.

"Wait just inside the door for me to meet you and escort you to where they are," Simpkins instructed. Obediently Ch'karya went up the steps, in the door, and waited.

Simpkins led him down the same route that Strike Team Charlie had followed to get to Conference Room 5, and left him at the entrance to the room.

Malinda was just buttoning her blouse as the others watched, chuckling.

"Director McConnaghay!" Ch'karya called out. All eyes turned to him.

"You're not a Vulcan!" Todd exclaimed in shock.

To be continued