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By Dawn's Early Light

By Dawn's Early Light

4.3 9
by David Hagberg

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From the USA Today bestselling author of Joshua's Hammer and High Flight

On the Bay of Bengal a civilian research vessel witnesses a submarine fire a laser into the sky. Before they can process what they see, the sub blasts them out of the water and captures the lone survivor.

Immediately, one of the United States spy


From the USA Today bestselling author of Joshua's Hammer and High Flight

On the Bay of Bengal a civilian research vessel witnesses a submarine fire a laser into the sky. Before they can process what they see, the sub blasts them out of the water and captures the lone survivor.

Immediately, one of the United States spy satellites becomes inoperative, and seemingly disappears. With the United States blind, Pakistan plans to announce their presence as a nuclear threat with an attack on India that would leave millions dead.
The only witnesses to the plan, and the only ones to know that the bomb is small enough to be dropped from an aircraft, are a CIA insertion team, headed by the President's own brother, former Navy SEAL lieutenant Scott Hanson. Their knowledge may prevent a nuclear holocaust, but they've been captured and tortured.

Thrust into the action is Commander Frank Dillon, Jr., commanding officer on the American nuclear sub Seawolf, together with a team of SEALs. Their mission is to get them back safely. But with the world on the brink of war, getting out may be the greatest challenge of all.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hagberg takes a hiatus from the hair-raising adventures of CIA agent Kirk McGarvey (The Kill Zone; Joshua's Hammer; etc.) to offer this gripping, Clancyesque cat-and-mouse sea chase featuring a state-of-the-art U.S. nuclear submarine and an enemy sub of unknown origin. In the Bay of Bengal, the crew of an oceanographic research vessel witnesses a submarine fire a laser into the sky; moments later, they're blasted out of the water. Meanwhile, in the Pakistani desert, four Navy SEALs, including Scott Hanson, the U.S. president's brother, covertly watch the test of a small hydrogen bomb. They manage to get a message to Kuwait City and shoot down a Pakistani helicopter before being taken prisoner and tortured. The president and his staff conclude that the sub in the Bay of Bengal fired the laser to damage a U.S. spy satellite and thereby prevent surveillance of Pakistan's preparations to unleash a nuclear strike on India. Cmdr. Frank Dillon Jr., skipper of the nuclear sub Seawolf, is ordered to launch a team of Navy SEALs into Pakistan to rescue their captive teammates. When a highly placed spy in Washington betrays the mission, the Seawolf is diverted back to the Bay of Bengal to try to stop the mystery submarine from again disabling the spy satellite, now scheduled for repair by a team of astronauts. Superb pacing moves well-drawn characters toward nuclear brinkmanship, and the slight surplus of military nomenclature and government agency alphabetese is easily overlooked in this spellbinding read. (Aug.) FYI: Including the 15 titles Hagberg wrote pseudonymously as Sean Flannery, this is the 31st novel by the former Air Force cryptographer. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Having spent perhaps a week novelizing at mach-speed the script of Schwarzenegger's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, former Air Force cryptographer Hagberg abandons his long-running Kirk McGarvey series (The Kill Zone, 2002, etc.) and rests momentarily for a fresh attack on international technothrills while hatching plots for McGarvey's new role as director of the CIA. This outing features Lieutenant Scott Hanson, younger brother of US President Gerald and an ex-Navy SEAL, who now works special ops for the CIA and is checking up on bombs being developed by Pakistan, a country set on becoming a major world power. The story kicks off when a US spy drone is shot down by a Pakistani laser beam and a Pakistani submarine sinks a civilian research ship out studying sharks in the filth-ridden Bay of Bengal. Survivors of the sunken ship have knowledge vital to the US. The McGuffin is an easily transported small nuke that-for starters-threatens India with wide carnage. Certainly up-do-date and action-driven, but one very much for the men, especially those hungry for Hagberg's tons of techno-fact.
From the Publisher
"Superb pacing moves well-drawn characters toward nuclear brinkmanship . . . in this spellbinding read."—-Publishers Weekly on By Dawn's Early Light

"Up-to-date and action driven . . . tons of techno-fact."—-Kirkus Reviews on By Dawn's Early Light

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By Dawn's Early Light

By David Hagberg

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2003 David Hagberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8301-3




Even three hundred kilometers offshore from Calcutta, in three thousand meters of water, the sea was stained brown by garbage. The 197-foot oceanographic research ship Eagle Flyer made her way slowly to the northeast, roughly parallel to India's east coast, wallowing in the long, oily swells.

Marcella Wallner, a slightly built, plain, almost tomboyish looking blonde, had not been able to sleep despite the air-conditioning in her cabin. The sun was just rising on the horizon and already the outside temperature was one hundred degrees Fahrenehit. But she wasn't tired. She had been out here studying sharks for almost two months with another month to go, and she was still excited. This was exactly what she wanted to be doing, skippering a research vessel, in exactly the right part of the world, the Indian Ocean.

She had sent the night watch below, and sat in the pilot's chair, propping her tiny boat shoes on the compass binnacle. Dawn was her favorite time of the day, when the world was as fresh as it would get; quiet, clean, brand-new like a first love. She chuckled aloud.

Someone came onto the bridge from the research center behind her. She saw his reflection in the window glass. "I thought that I was the only one who couldn't sleep," she said.

"What was so funny?" her chief scientist, Dr. John Simensen, asked. The crew called him Long John because of his tall, lanky frame. Marcella thought he was attractive. They had been sleeping together for the past two weeks.

"I thought maybe I was going crazy. It's going to be hot today, the air stinks, the ocean is like a cesspool out here and I'm loving it."

"You are crazy," Simensen said. He kissed the nape of her neck and she shivered. "But the rest of us are crazy too. Any hits on the side-scan overnight?"

"I didn't check." A common belief was that sharks never slept. If that were the case they would be detected by side-scan sonar in roughly the same numbers twenty-four hours a day, unless something else was going on. But it wasn't true. Sharks were just like every other animal; they slept. They even took catnaps — or shark naps.

With their side-scan sonar on, actually there were two units, one on each side of the ship, and recording as they moved slowly through the water. They were searching a swath of ocean a hundred meters on either side of the ship to a depth of one hundred meters. The sharks were easy to pick out by their distinctive shape and characteristic cruising patterns.

But they picked out other objects as well: Japanese fishing floats and nets, waterlogged debris that cruised a few meters beneath the surface, and other marine life. The ocean from just under the surface of the waves to a depth of one hundred meters or more was a very busy place.

The water here was as polluted as any deep ocean spot was in the world, so they were also collecting shark specimens for Mote Marine in Sarasota, Florida. Sharks did not get cancer no matter how terrible their environment was, and no one could figure out why. Maybe they produced a special antibody, maybe it was something genetic, or perhaps in their feeding habits. The answer, if it could be translated into something useful for humans, would win someone the Nobel Prize. At thirty-nine years old and newly divorced, Marcella was happy as a clam to be right in the middle of such an operation, and to be sharing it with an interesting, bright, vibrant man.

She chuckled again.

Simensen started to go back into the research center, but his attention was diverted out the windows to port. "What the hell." He took a pair of binoculars out of the rack and raised them to his eyes.

Marcella sat up and looked to see what had got his attention. The air was hazy. The horizon was an indistinct blur against the ripple-free swells. It took her a moment to pick out the dark, rectangular object jutting out of the water.

"What is it?" she asked.

"It looks like a submarine," Simensen said.

Their first officer, Art Anselmo, stepped through the hatch, a pair of binoculars hanging by a strap around his bull neck, the habitual unlit cigar in his mouth, his khaki shirt already sweat stained at the armpits. "That's exactly what it is. Have they tried to contact us?"

Marcella looked up at the radios. All of them were on and switched to VHE channel 16, or single sideband 2182 kHz, the standard calling and distress frequencies. "No."

"How long have they been out there?" Anselmo demanded. He was agitated.

"I just spotted it," Simensen said. "Who are they?"

"Not one of ours," Anselmo said, studying the submarine's sail. Her deck was still submerged. He was a retired navy chief and he knew that he should know this type of boat, but he couldn't dredge it out of his memory. He'd been an aircraft wrench aboard a carrier, not a CIC punk. But suddenly he did know. It was the Russian boat. A Kilo class.

At that moment an intense, extremely narrow beam of sharp green light shot at an angle from the top of the sail, stabbing the sky like a stationary lightning bolt, then was gone.

"Holy shit," Simensen said. "Was that what I thought it was?"

"If you were thinking laser, you might be right," Anselmo replied. He snatched the SSB handset from the overhead and switched frequencies to the guard channel that the Seventh Fleet had used the last time he was out here eight years ago.

Marcella had never seen him like this in the three years they had worked together. He looked frightened. "What the hell is going on, Art?"

"I don't know for sure. But I think that might be a Russian sub, and it's possible that she fired a laser weapon at something. Maybe a spy plane."

"One of our airplanes?"

Anselmo shrugged. "I don't know."

Marcella stared at the submarine's sail, a sick feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. "If that's true, then it could be we're in the wrong part of the ocean at the wrong time."

"Get us out of here right now, Marcie," Anselmo said, careful to keep his manner controlled. "Best possible speed back to Calcutta. We might be able to outrun the bastard if she tries to chase us. She's not a nuke."

Marcella turned to the ship's controls, switched the autopilot off, jammed the twin throttles full forward to their stops, and hauled the wheel hard to port, the big ship heeling over as she accelerated.

"The sub's about eight or nine hundred yards out, can you angle the port side-scan sonar to see that far?" Anselmo asked the chief scientist.

"I think so," Simensen said. He dragged his eyes away from the warship, glanced at Marcella, and hustled back to the research center.

Anselmo keyed the handset. "Any vessel in the United States Seventh Fleet, this is the research ship Eagle Flyer. Any vessel or aircraft of the U.S. Seventh Fleet this is the U.S. documented research vessel Eagle Flyer, calling securité, securité, securité." It was the international distress call one step below a Mayday. "We have spotted what appears to be a Kilo class submarine, without numbers or markings, that has just fired what we believe was a laser pulse skyward. Our position is eighteen degrees fifty minutes north; ninety-one degrees thirty minutes east."

The ship came around to a course almost due north. Marcella locked the wheel, grabbed a pair of binoculars, went out to the starboard side, and scanned the horizon off their quarter, spotting the submarine's sail just as it disappeared beneath the surface.

She ducked back inside. "She just submerged, Art."

Anselmo nodded tightly. "Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité, any vessel or aircraft in the U.S. Seventh Fleet, this is the U.S. documented research ship Eagle Flyer. Our position is eighteen degrees fifty minutes north; ninety-one degrees thirty minutes east —" He glanced over at the instrument cluster. "We're making twenty-five knots on a course of two niner five degrees."

Simensen skewed the side-scan sonar to its shallowest angle, allowing them to see more than one thousand yards out. He raised the gain on the computer monitor in time to make out the bulk of the submarine, which was heading down. An instant later a small object was ejected from the bow of the sub. It seemed to hover for a second or two before it made a wide sweeping turn and headed directly toward the Eagle Flyer.

Simensen reared back so fast that he almost fell on his ass. "Holy shit," he mumbled. He hit the key for scale and when the numbers came up he turned and bounded forward to the bridge. "They just fired a torpedo at us," he shouted.

Marcella turned toward him, her mouth open in disbelief. But Anselmo switched the SSB to the emergency guard frequency. "How long to impact?"

"Maybe thirty seconds."

"Sound the abandon ship alarm," Anselmo ordered Marcella.

"Can't we outrun the torpedo, or get out of its way or something?" she demanded in desperation.

"No," Anselmo said. He keyed the handset. "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. This is the U.S. documented research vessel Eagle Flyer. Position eighteen degrees fifty minutes north; ninety-one degrees thirty minutes east. We have twenty-seven POBs, repeat, twenty-seven POBs. We have just been fired on by an unidentified submarine —"

Marcella looked at Simensen and shook her head. She could not believe that this was happening. They weren't at war with anybody. They were a goddamned research ship looking for sharks.

She reached up and hit the klaxon alarm and then got on the ship's PA. "All hands, all hands, this is the captain. Abandon ship! Abandon ship!" She could hear her amplified voice booming throughout the boat. Goddamn the bastards, it wasn't fair.

Anselmo was calling the Mayday, and he reached up and grabbed a handhold to brace himself.

Marcella did the same, and Simensen braced himself in the doorway.

"All hands, all hands, this is the captain. Abandon ship, abandon —"

A tremendous explosion lifted the stern of the Eagle Flyer completely out of the water, driving her bows beneath the surface.

Marcella was flung forward, her body smashed into the control panel and then catapulted through the windshield toward the oily swells. Her last thought before she passed out was to wonder if the red ball she was seeing down a long tunnel was the explosion at the stern of the boat, or the rising sun.


A dozen pictures-in-picture on the big screen in the pit showed real-time images downlinked from the U.S. constellation of intelligence gathering satellites. The screen's in-motion wallpaper showed a Mercator projection of the earth with the current tracks of all 327 spy birds. One of the pictures had gone blank ten minutes ago, and despite Air Force Tech Sgt. Donald Day's best efforts, he wasn't able to restore the downlink.

A quick diagnostic on the Ku band, as well as a sideband of the 440 MHz channel, indicated that the Jupiter satellite was up and functioning on the most basic of levels; she was producing electricity from her solar sails to charge her batteries, though the voltage indicators he was looking at were fluctuating strangely. He didn't think he'd ever seen anything like it. But Jupiter was no longer producing product, nor was she responding to any commands from ground control.

Sergeant Day slid to an adjacent console facing the big screen and brought up the Astronomical Database out of NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain. There were no unusual solar flares predicted or observed that would affect the bird. He did a quick diagnostic on three other satellites to make sure he wasn't missing something, perhaps a meteor shower in the region. Two of them were the CIA's KeyHole series, the third was a GOES around twenty-four-thousand miles out in a geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean. All three satellites were functioning with nominal ranges.

Next he dialed up Space Command's database of orbiting junk. Everything larger than an orange from hundreds of space missions that had been left behind either by accident or on purpose was plotted on a continuous basis until their orbits decayed and they burned up in the atmosphere. There was nothing closer than five miles in an orbit thirty miles higher than the Jupiter.

Finally he brought up the NRO's own schedule of outages due to maintenance routines in case he had missed the NTO (Notice to Observers) when he had come on duty a couple of hours ago. But the daily log was blank for this satellite.

He slid back to his own console and got on the Autovon link to Col. Tom Leonard, the Jupiter program's night duty mission commander.

"This is Kermit Control. I'm showing a failure of JayBird four at approximately zero-zero-sixteen zulu."

"Stand by," Colonel Leonard said.

Sergeant Day looked up at the big board. This was the third satellite in as many weeks to go bad. Coincidence? He sincerely doubted it. But what the hell was going on?

"I'm showing the same thing," the colonel said. "Rerun your diagnostics, and then pull up the last frame numbers. I want to know what she was looking at the exact moment she stopped transmitting."

"Yes, sir. I'll have that done in the next few minutes."

Colonel Leonard prepared the flash message for the Jupiter program's end users, which included the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Five minutes later Sergeant Day phoned back with the confirmation that JayBird four went down at 0013 GMT, at a set of orbital coordinates that put her over the Indian Ocean just as dawn was breaking there. This information along with the last several images taken by the satellite were transmitted to the Jupiter program as updates to the original flash traffic.

Forty-five minutes later Colonel Leonard's red phone from the CIA's Directorate of Operations next door chirped, and he picked it up.

"Jupiter Control."

"For Christ's sake, tell me that it's not happened again, Tom," his friend Preston Luney, who was pulling night duty on the technical means desk in the DO, said. They had gone through the Air Force Academy together, and had served on a half dozen assignments during their careers. Leonard had continued in the air force while Luney had resigned his commission. Ironically they ended up working next door to each other.

"You're seeing what I'm seeing," Leonard said. "That makes number three."

"Well, it's no coincidence. We've got a team on the ground in Pakland depending on that feed. What else can we put in position, and I mean pronto?"

Leonard had anticipated the problem and the request. He had dialed up every satellite that could possibly be swung into position to cover the gap left by the out of commission JayBird. "It's slim pickings, Press. The best we can do is move Albatross-seven up there. The satellite was one of the older KH-11 series. "But it'll take at least twenty-four hours, and the angle will be real low."

"Okay, do the best you can," Luney said. "What about the last frame?"

Leonard had the last image that the satellite had produced up on his monitor. "What do you mean?"

"Was that an external event, or was the bird already heading into failure mode?"

The image was normal except for a green spot in the middle of the frame. "We think it was a laser strike from a surface source."

"Shit," Luney said. "I was afraid you were going to say something like that."


Interservice Agency chief of internal security for the depot, Col. Gonde Harani, put down the telephone with a surprisingly steady hand despite the decision he had to make. But he had a job to do, a responsibility to Pakistan.

The countdown clock showed T-minus seventeen minutes and a few seconds. At this point a specially modified Fokker 27 transport was at ten thousand meters about two hundred kilometers up range and heading for the drop zone. The weather was right, the American Jupiter satellite was blind, and the test was a go.

The television images transmitted from the surface one hundred meters above the control room showed a panoramic view of the desert to the west toward the distant border with Iran, and to the south toward the Sihan Mountain range, which was a dark blue smudge on the horizon. This was the most isolated spot in all of Pakistan; far enough from the Indian border so that there would be no possibility of a misunderstanding, and far enough from Islamabad that there would be no prying eyes until the test was completed.

One hundred twenty-seven handpicked personnel here and at the four front-range observation bunkers were geared up for the drop. Colonel Harani guessed that each of them was either thinking of Allah or was pissing in his pants, or both.

After this morning the entire world would be compelled to look upon Pakistan in a new light. The respect would be so immeasurable that even the new government in Islamabad would be able to do little except go along with the new order of things. Little Pakistan would be feared, especially by her neighbors, especially by India, whose army would never again be a threat.

Even the presidents of the United States and Russia, and the premiers of Great Britain and China, would be forced to concede that the dominant force in this region was Pakistan, not India.

Dar el Islam was an ideal whose time had finally come around again. It wouldn't be like Osama bin Laden's warped version of the teachings of Muhammed, but Islam would rise again to the greatness that it once knew.

But not this morning.

Girding himself for what he had to do, Colonel Harani got to his feet and threaded his way down three tiers of computer and control consoles to the test director's position, manned this morning by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Karas Phalodi. Harani was a short, slender, diffident-looking man, especially next to the general, who at six-three was huge by Pakistani standards.


Excerpted from By Dawn's Early Light by David Hagberg. Copyright © 2003 David Hagberg. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David Hagberg is a former Air Force cryptographer who has traveled extensively in Europe, the Arctic, and the Caribbean and has spoken at CIA functions. He has published more than twenty novels of suspense, including the bestselling High Flight, Assassin, and Joshua's Hammer. He makes his home in Vero Beach, Florida.

David Hagberg is a New York Times bestselling author who has published numerous novels of suspense, including his bestselling thrillers featuring former CIA director Kirk McGarvey, which include Abyss, The Cabal, The Expediter, and Allah’s Scorpion. He has earned a nomination for the American Book Award, three nominations for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and three Mystery Scene Best American Mystery awards. He has spent more than thirty years researching and studying US-Soviet relations during the Cold War. Hagberg joined the Air Force out of high school, and during the height of the Cold War, he served as an Air Force cryptographer. He attended the University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he now lives with his wife Laurie in Sarasota, Florida.

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By Dawn's Early Light 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting book by a good author. If you like military suspense then this is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ME6135 More than 1 year ago
David Hagberg is a very good writer because he has lived the life that he is wrriting about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an absolute thriller. Every page was packed with action, fast paced, and full of interesting characters. It was hard to point to the main one. The personal who serve on board the submarines are truly a special breed of men. There are no words to describe the bravery of the navy seals. They jump right into the "belly of the beast" without hesitation. I would have liked the exposure of the traitor who was leaking information and putting lives at risk. Also, after reading through 800 plus pages, only to have the author leave you hanging on a cliff on the last page. Wondering who these new characters are and what dangerous activity they are about to commit. Are they friends or foe. I hate when this happens, leaves me with an unsettled feeling, therefore, I'm only giving it four stars.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Worth reading, moves fast. Could be more detailed for those who appreciate the technical aspect of submarining but a good read.