R.C. Hayes has settled into his job with the FBI, and put behind him the strange incident that ended his military career. But when he and his partner are sent to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana to look into a murder, events take an unsettling and eerily familiar turn. R.C. struggles to solve the case as deaths pile up around him and as the situation takes a decidedly unnatural cast. With the help of a mysterious new ally, he may finally come to terms with what happened to him long ago—and enter a strange new career he is uniquely suited for. Provided he can survive the incursion of supernatural elements into his supposedly safe and mundane world.
I chose Aaron Rosenberg's Incursion because it achieves something few series novels manage. It draws ancient legend, social consciousness, and fast-paced adventure into a taut tale that not only stands on its own merit, but provides a wonderful introduction to an intriguing new series – the Novels of the O.C.L.T. – David Niall Wilson
"Incursion is a fantastic supernatural story that has plenty of action and mystery to keep me turning the pages."–Paperless Reading
"Powerful, creative and intelligently written."–DJP on Amazon
"Rosenberg demonstrates a wild imagination and clever storytelling in a book suitable for YA and adults alike."–Phil Giunta on No Small Bills
"Aaron Rosenberg has that rare quality of making other writers read his work and earning their undying hatred because he’s coming up with stuff they wish they’d thought of."–Peter David, New York Times bestselling author, blurb on No Small Bills
It took them several hours to get up to the range, and they had to hike the last leg after the terrain got too tough for their car—R.C. made a mental note to request off-road capabilities for any similar assignments in future. By the time they got close they could follow the flashing lights and the sound of raised voices straight to the scene.
Apparently the local law was here in force.
"Hold it right there!" A man in a police uniform got in their path as R.C. and Nick emerged from the trees and strode toward the logging camp. Except the camp itself was empty. The police tape and flashing lights and people were all gathered back and to one side of it. "This area is off-limits!" The man was young and fit, R.C. noticed, and had sturdy hiking boots under his uniform pants. Smart. His tone was strong, authoritative, without being mean, but R.C. didn't have time for niceties.
"Not to us," he replied, flashing his badge. "FBI. Where's your boss?"
The young patrolman turned to let them past, and pointed at a man in the center of the commotion. R.C. followed the gesture.
"Excuse me, sir?"
The man who turned at his call was average height, stocky, and blond, with reddish skin that said he'd seen too much sun and a wispy mustache probably supposed to make him look more intimidating. "Ah, you must be the Feds." His voice wasn't any more impressive, pleasant and mellow and a little hoarse.
Probably from shouting at the burly men surrounding him, several of whom R.C. recognized.
"That's right." He gave the police officer his patented "I'm a nice guy but I'm also a Fed, don't mess with me" grin. "Special Agent Hayes and this is Special Agent Frome. You must be Detective Couture's boss."
"I am, at that." He offered a hand. "Police Captain Roy Moran, pleased to meetcha."
"Captain." R.C. shook hands with him—the captain's grip was firm, at least—and then turned his attention to the black-bearded man glaring at them both. "And you must be Rick Marshall. I didn't get your name the other night, but your boss told it to me when I visited him yesterday."
If being identified fazed him at all, Marshall's scowl didn't show it. "Yeah, so what? You gonna do something about this, or you gonna be just like the rest of these tin stars?"
Tin stars? "Well, let's talk about it and see." R.C. felt a hand on his arm and turned.
"I'm going to poke around," Nick told him quietly. "It's been a few hours, but we might still get lucky, find some fresh tracks or something. Keep them occupied?"
"You got it." He glanced down at her. "Be careful. Whoever this guy is, he's a damn good shot, and we're in his playground."
"I know. But at least this time I'm better prepared." Nick grinned and raised one foot, tugging the cuff of her pants up to show off the hiking boots there. She'd remembered to slip into them today to keep from ruining her good shoes any more than she already had.
He bit back a comment about her showing some leg and just nodded instead.
He also did his best not to watch as she slunk off into the woods. Just friends, damn it. Just partners and friends.
"Now, let's get this all sorted out," he said instead, turning back to Marshall and the captain and the others. "First off, where's the body?"
"'The body' has a name, Jeff Landis," Marshall snapped. "He's one of my guys, has been for three years now. And he's right over there."
There was a draped form on the ground next to some trees a few yards away, two more uniformed cops standing guard over it with rifles in hand. R.C. stepped between them, knelt, and flipped back the sheet. The man staring up at him was definitely Caucasian, tanned and weathered with short brown hair and sideburns, and definitely dead. He had a ragged hole in his throat, right where his carotid had been—but nothing jutting out but jagged, bloody flesh. "Where's the arrow?"
"Over here," one of the tribal police replied, nudging something with his foot. R.C. sidled across. It was a match for the others they'd found, and out of the plastic he could better appreciate the artistry that had gone into its fashioning. Whoever had made these was a master craftsman, and they were as beautiful and graceful as they were deadly.
"What's it doing away from the body?" he asked. "Who removed it?"
"I did," Marshall answered, stepping around the captain to confront R.C. across the roots and leaves and trampled grass. "I got to him first and yanked it out, but it was already too late. He died on me." Now R.C. noticed the blood spattered across the foreman's arms and chest and neck.
"You idiot." He kept his tone mild as he rose to face the bearded logger. "That arrow is evidence, and you messed with it. It could have had the killer's fingerprints all over it, but know we'll never know." He shook his head. "Still, your friend was dying and you acted on instinct. Can't really blame you for that." He registered exactly what the other man had said. "Wait, you said you got to him first? So you saw him get hit?"
"Hell yeah, we all did," Marshall answered. "We were all here together and suddenly Jeff gulps and freezes. Then he just topples over."
"What were you doing here in the first place?" This time R.C. did let a little steel seep into his voice. "There's a cease-and-desist on your operation, and the camp itself is a crime scene. You were trespassing." Or close to it, since the body was actually some forty feet from the camp's edge.
"It's our stuff!" Marshall snapped back. "We didn't want no greedy redskins making off with any of it!" Now R.C. realized that many of the loggers carried hunting rifles, though they were keeping them low and sticking to the shadows so as not to draw attention to the fact.
He shook his head. "So you and your men came back out here, armed, to a place where several people had died already? And then you're surprised when one of your own becomes the next victim?" At least that confirmed that the loggers weren't behind the deaths—why would they shoot one of their own if they were? And he still didn't see any signs of a bow among them.
"You think we're just gonna back off?" Marshall's face was turning red, and his brows had dropped so low they were starting to hide his eyes. "This is our camp, our gear, our livelihood! Nobody's gonna run us off, and what's a few dead locals to us, anyway?" His big, scarred hands bunched into fists. "But now they killed Jeff. Now it's personal."
"Now you're all under arrest," R.C. replied sharply, reining in his own temper. "For obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, and whatever other charges I can come up with to throw at you." He nodded to the officers, who started to move forward, and then reached for his own pistol when the loggers began to raise their rifles. "Is this going to have to get ugly?"
Fortunately, Marshall wasn't completely stupid—R.C. had been counting on that, figuring Douglas was too canny to put a man in charge if he couldn't think things through. Which was a good thing, since there were at least as many loggers here as tribal cops, and he wasn't sure they could actually follow through on his threat to arrest them all if they decided to resist. "Now, hold on a second." Marshall raised both hands, fingers splayed, and the glare he sent back over his shoulder made his men pause and lower their weapons again. "Nobody wants to cause trouble here. One of our friends is dead, we're a little riled up, but that's all. We want this guy caught as much as you do. And we didn't actually set foot in the camp—we were just patrolling around it, standing guard."
"Then back off," R.C. warned. "Get your men out of here, and stay clear. I will find who's doing this, and I will bring them to justice, but if you get in my way again I'll take you down, too." He held Marshall's gaze until the bearded foreman looked away.
"Fair enough." Marshall turned his back on R.C. and summoned his men with an impatient wave. "Let's go, guys. Leave the Fed and the cops to do their thing." He glanced back at R.C. "But if you don't settle this, we will." The warning was calm, which worried R.C. It wasn't a threat, it was a promise.
He just nodded, though. "I'll take care of it."
"You really gonna let them go?" Captain Moran asked as the loggers began slipping away into the woods. "Those boys could be trouble."
"Could be," R.C. agreed, "but do you really want to haul them all in?" He laughed at the look on the other man's face. "It's not like I have a jail, Captain—you and your officers would have to handle them, not me." He shook his head. "I think I made my point. They'll stay out of our way." At least for now. He just hoped they could find something before the loggers got impatient and took matters into their own hands. There was no telling who they might go after.
His eyes flicked to the dead body again. "This is the first time one of the loggers has been killed," he mused aloud. "Why?" He turned to see what Nick thought—and realized she wasn't there.
And it felt like she'd been gone for a long time.
"Nick?" He started away from the camp and further into the woods, listening for a reply. "Hey, Nick!"
He took a few steps, and suddenly he was in among the trees, their towering heights and waving branches cutting off the light and casting him in near darkness even though it was early afternoon. The downed leaves and branches muffled sound, making it feel as if he'd stepped into a different world, dark and drowsy and quiet.
Until a piercing scream split that heavy silence.
The thunder crack that followed galvanized R.C. into a run. He knew from far too much experience that it wasn't thunder he'd just heard.
It was gunfire.
He hurtled headlong into the woods.