"250 Minutes, Chapter 1: The Gatherers": Sgt. Jim Duffy is on the verge of retirement, but late one night, he gets a call from dispatch. When he arrives at the scene, he comes upon a man trying to drown a young woman. He pulls his gun, and the attacker runs awa

Quote1 Your entire life has been consumed by whatever is happening to that girl. Your life... and your father's life before you. And all I'm doing is trying to make sense of the senseless, happy now? Quote2
Baron Winters

Night Force (Volume 3) #1 is an issue of the series Night Force (Volume 3) with a cover date of May, 2012.

Appearing in "250 Minutes, Chapter 1: The Gatherers"

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Synopsis for "250 Minutes, Chapter 1: The Gatherers"

Sgt. Jim Duffy is on the verge of retirement, but late one night, he gets a call from dispatch. When he arrives at the scene, he comes upon a man trying to drown a young woman. He pulls his gun, and the attacker runs away, leaving Duffy to rescue the woman. Cradling her in his arms, he takes her to the hospital.

Meanwhile, a Baron Winters looks over his Book of Night, hoping to glean some information about the girl who was found. Her name is Zoe Davis, an eighteen year old Carolina State student. Cursing, the Baron comments to his loyal pet leopard Merlin that the Book of Night is becoming less helpful to him with each passing year. However, this night, two of the members of his new Night Force have met. Another will join shortly, and one member will die - which is to be expected, at least by the Baron. Somewhere, something wrong is about to explode, and the Night Force will be needed to face it.

At the hospital, Jim Duffy is confused when he calls Emily at dispatch and she informs him that she did not give him the beach assignment. All the same, he saved someone. He enters the girl's room and demands to know who she is and who sent him to save her. He notices that she looks strangely familiar, but when he looks into her eyes, he sees something strange. The girl is haunted by thoughts of a cult of men wearing the skulls of animals as masks. In her mind, they plan to sacrifice her. Fortunately, she regains consciousness just before their blade pierces her skin. Elsewhere, Emily makes a call to somebody, revealing that she had made the call after all, at the request of Baron Winters to whom she owes three favours - and this was only the second.

Duffy tries to question Zoe about the attack, but she remembers things differently than they occurred. They are interrupted by a Doctor Levine, who wants to take some X-Rays. Duffy helps her into a wheelchair, but as they leave the room to follow the doctor, they find themselves in the study of Baron Winters. He welcomes them to Wintersgate Manor, ignoring their confusion. Suddenly, though, an alarm sounds from elsewhere in the manor, and with disbelief, the Baron looks to see who could possibly be intruding.

With their enigmatic host gone, Duffy orders Zoe to stay behind while he investigates. She refuses, and the pair of them cautiously step into the darkened hallways of the manor. Suddenly, they are attacked by what appear to be living shadows - an experience that Jim Duffy seems to have had before. He does his best to protect Zoe from the sharpened claws of the creatures, but it is only when the Baron returns to find them and uses some kind of magical ability to ward the shadows away.

They are given little time to discuss what just happened when two FBI agents, Corben and Ito, inform the Baron that they saw a serial killer named Simon Talman entering the manor. The agents order the three assembled to stay behind while they search the place. After a mere seven seconds, the Baron decides he should do some searching himself. With Merlin's help, he discovers the desiccated body of Simon Talman, and concludes that the forces he has been sensing are dark, and more powerful than either of them expected.

The agents appear and collect the body, warning that they know that the Baron is suspect in at least three dozen major crimes, and given that his manor is now a crime scene as well, he should stay put.

After the agents have left, Duffy enters the room and exclaims that he has called the local FBI office in the meantime, and there is no murder investigation going on. The Baron reveals that he already knows that the agents were fakes. In addition, Duffy has learned that they are no longer in Hilton Head, but in Georgetown instead. He demands to know how they got there, and the truth of their meeting.

Baron Winters glares at Duffy and explains that the truth is that Duffy's entire life has been consumed by whatever is happening to Zoe Davis, as was Duffy's own father's life. The Baron is merely trying to make sense of the senseless.

Meanwhile, in Wheeling, West Virginia, a Senator Greene is about to make campaign speech in front of hundreds of people. Backstage, one of his aids receives a mysterious phone call warning him to check the senator's car. The senator is in his car with a migraine. Shortly, the senator makes his speech, to great success. Somewhere, a group of shadowy figures watches the entire scene, worrying that an old woman in the audience - a gatherer - will need to be dealt with. As the senator is preparing to enter his car, the old woman has entered her own car, where her head is suddenly eaten by a horrifying monster.

Later, Duffy takes Zoe to a hotel, and promises to take her back home the next day. In the privacy of his own room, Duffy makes a phone call, and recalls just how long he's really been looking for Zoe Davis.


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