Hi everyone, MoV here with Chapter Five. Enjoy!

THE ESTATE

Observation Report: 456-BS3-24G8

Date: 21 May 2011

Objective: Discovering the interest of the demon Frederick von Halkenstein with observation subjects 267 and 268, Nikolai Petrov and Afton Lovelace respectively.

Background: In the early hours of 21 May 2011, von Halkenstein, a rank 7 demon, went to the living space of human subjects Afton Lovelace and Nikolai Petrov. Without invitation, the demon entered their home and interfered in their mortal lives, making himself visible and firing a round into an unknown assailant. He then, against protocol, offered the humans his name and told them that he is there to save their lives, from what, I am unsure, These particular subjects are seemingly beyond what would be seen as important to a demon such as Frederick. Subject 267 is a writer from Russia and 268 is an engineer from England - neither have accomplished anything significant in their lives. Their lives should have been worthless to von Halkenstein It is of great interest why he wants to save them.

My ears were ringing…the blast from the stranger's gun was like thunder in our open studio. I tried to focus my eyes on the man, but he was blurry to me, as though he was almost not really there, like I was looking at him in a dream. I thought for a moment that perhaps we were being robbed and the shot simply missed us…and I misheard him, that he had said that his name was Frederick and he was here to take our lives, not save them. He stared at the window a while before turning to us. I sat completely still, as though any movement would make him see me. He didn't have one, but two guns…one an old-style pistol with an ivory handle that he shot, and the other hung from his hip and was a big and nasty looking thing that looked as though it could blow a hole in the wall. He lowered the gun and then held his hand up in a sort of mock wave to comfort us.

"Are you both alright?" Neither of us said anything, "Can you speak? Are you hurt?"

Afton peeled his arms from around my chest and it wasn't until he moved away from me that I even realized he was holding on to me, "Um…yes, just in shock…considering there is a man in our apartment shooting out our windows." He scratched his head a little bit, cocking it to the side, "Are you going to hurt us?"

For a moment, he looked surprised, almost hurt even, like Afton had said something horribly offensive. He tucked his lovely pistol into a second holster he wore across his chest and under his arm like detectives in television dramas, "What? No, I'm not going to hurt you…I am here to help you. You were about to lose your lives tonight, you know. You should be thanking me…not being so rude as to assume I am going to hurt you. People nowadays."

"Oh, I'm sorry if I was a bit skeptical of a random stranger shooting people in our apartment." Afton said, with sarcasm and attitude. Frederick cocked an eyebrow and crossed his arms. He looked sinister in the darkness of the apartment, the only bit of him we could see was from the moonlight struggling to get through our aged windows. Afton must have been reading my mind because he got up to get the lights, with little fear walking past Frederick to do so. Honestly, in that moment, I really had no fear of the stranger in our apartment…I felt that if he wanted to kill us, he could have done so one-hundred fold by then.

"What…" I finally found some courage to speak. For the second time that night, I had displayed my cowardice, leaving Afton to take charge and act, "What was that thing?" I got up out of bed and walked cautiously to the window to see where it had gone as Frederick spoke.

"That thing is-" I gasped, cutting him off. The creature, head blown to bits, was laying down on the sidewalk in the middle of Telegraph. It's blood had begun to ooze out and into the drain gutters, grotesque pieces of it's brain glittered across the pavement in the moonlight, along with glass from our window. I covered my mouth and backed away from the window and I heard Frederick cock his gun, "What? Is the shit-stain still breathing?" He walked over to the window and pushed me out of the way, looking over the balcony and blinking a couple of times, "Shit…you had me worried, kid. I thought the thing survived. Normally a bullet to the head from Beauty here gets the job done…but sometimes they are a little trickier and I have to use the Beast to take them o-"

"Are you inSANE?" I said, rubbing my eyes and looking back over the balcony, "There is a person lying in the middle of the sidewalk! We need to call the police or something! People are going to see it! They're-" Frederick shook his head and put his hands up.

"Damn, calm down…no one is going to see it…" He said with ease as Afton walked over to take a look at the carnage, "Both of you, come here…" We both looked back down to the street to see a woman walking with her dog. As she got closer to the body, she gasped a little and picked up her dog and just when I thought I would hear a scream, I saw her walk around the glass, saying something to the effect of "damn kids breaking bottles…" and she just kept walking. What in God's name is going on…There had to be a logical explanation for all of this.

"Okay…nothing is making sense," I heard Afton say as I walked back to the bed, "What is going on here? Who are you and what the fuck was that thing!" I looked up at Frederick, who smiled a roguish grin and took off the dirty brown jacket he was wearing, throwing it over a chair.

"That thing…is a defector." He said as if he was just telling us the weather, "That one was in a bad state…most of them don't look like that. He was obviously going through a withdrawal…" Frederick walked over to our refrigerator, pulling out one of Afton's beers and cracking it open. He took a swig from it, wrinkling his nose a bit at the quality.

"A withdrawal from…what?" I asked, thinking some sort of weird drug…I was not expecting him to say…

"Blood." Again, as though this is something that we should already know. Afton actually laughed a second, probably from sheer disbelief at what he was hearing, "You find something funny, sticks?" That made Afton frown a bit…he hated being called skinny, and it was even worse coming from an obvious lunatic.

"Blood." I said, flatly, "Like vampires."

Frederick made an audible groan and took another swig of the beer, "No, not like vampires. These aren't your rank and file garlic-allergic, wooden-stake fearing, daylight-avoiding vampires from your pathetic monster movies. And they sure as hell not your Edward Cullen sparkling sissies either. These queer creations you have come up with are pathetic, you know." I felt myself personally offended for a moment, as though he was blaming me for the characterization of vampires, "No…they're nothing like your vampires other than they drink blood. These creatures…they're addicts, they're weak and pathetic creatures. Normally, they look like you and I…but when they are going through withdrawals, they turn into what you saw tonight…nasty and starving predators who rip their victims to pieces in order to get a fix…"

I felt my stomach drop into the floor. I remembered what Afton said about what Georgina looked like…that she had been torn open. None of this could be real…none of this could be the truth…And neither Afton nor Frederick seemed to find any of this to be outrageous and disturbing. Afton talked to Frederick calmly, listening to him explain about how the creature was killed - with bullets through the brain, not stakes through the heart, though he said it would have worked just as well, if a bit messier. All the while, he was leaning back in a chair. In the light, he looked more like an outlaw than anything else - he was in a white t-shirt and dirty, torn jeans. He had tattoos all over his arms and neck, up onto the sides of his face…but they were not art pieces like Afton's, but rather one continuous tribal design. The straps of his holsters were made of brown leather, dirty and old, and his knuckles were scratched and raw. But he was handsome, nonetheless, a strong face and fit body…he looked as though he lived on the land, his shaggy hair fell into his eyes. His eyes…they were strange, they didn't look real. Maybe it was the color, which I thought to be blue but were more of a purple color that I had never seen before. The most interesting thing about him, no matter how handsome, was the necklace he wore. It was a bizarre, twisted piece of metal, dainty but severe. It was thrown together, as though he made it himself, with pieces of thin wire and chain twisted to hold small crosses of both gold and silver. There were maybe thirty or more crosses, of different sizes and quality hanging from the necklace, the longest chain hanging down to his belly button. I wanted to ask him about it…but Afton was busy talking about the creatures…the defectors.

"These defectors…" Afton said, snapping me out of my trance, "They don't seem weak. That thing…really hurt our friend tonight."

"You mean killed your friend tonight." He said, with no sympathy or gentleness.

"No, we mean hurt." I snapped, "She is alive…she left the hospital a couple of hours ago and went home." Frederick shook his head.

"Oh? Well, that just isn't true. People don't live after being attacked by a starving defector. Normally, they rip open the abdomen, removing the organs to use the empty body as a drinking basin. Or, they tear the throat out…but that is as less popular way to bleed someone because they lose a lot of blood in the initial spray and every drop counts." He was so matter-of-fact, so uncaring, that I couldn't help but yell, while pulling at my hair.

"You're wrong!" I yelled, walking over to pick up my phone, "She messaged me in the middle of the night, telling me that she was alright. Frederick took the phone from me and began reading through the text messages she sent to me. I noticed the corner of his mouth curl a bit at the content…I forgot they were somewhat revealing of my sex life. Or rather, the sex life I wished I had.

"Alright, so these are from her phone number. Nothing seems weird about them?" He asked, looking up at me for validation, "I mean…is it common of your friend to talk this way? It probably seems so, but there isn't a slight difference. Something not quite right?" I sat down to think about what he was saying. And I thought about the messages Georgina had sent me in the night and in the long time we had been friends, I had heard her say no less than probably twenty times, how one of her biggest pet peeves was the overuse of acronyms or unintelligent abbreviations. Like, "omg" or "thx" or "dtf"…I never knew her to use them. And I thought, because I was tired and because she said she was drunk, that maybe she wasn't herself. I was more right than I had imagined. And I think, that I wanted her to be safe and well so badly that I ignored all of the bad feelings that both Afton and I felt when Detective Price had told me that she had been discharged. We both knew that she could not have survived.

Frederick noticed the look on my face and his voice became more sympathetic, "Yeah - I thought so. Listen…it's late and I'm sure you're both tired. Why don't you try to get some sleep and we can talk more in the morning. This is a lot to take in, I'm sure." Afton made a bit of a snort at the idea, but I could see he was exhausted.

"It's okay," I said, rubbing my eyes a bit, "We can sleep in shifts. You go first and I'll stay up with our friend here." I simply assumed he was going to stay. And for some reason, I wanted him to, even though I didn't completely trust him. Partly because I wanted him to keep us safe with those guns of his and partly because I had a thousand more questions for him. Afton hesitated to sleep for a moment and then gave a little nod, walking over to the bed and turning out the lights.

Frederick and I sat in silence for a good half hour as Afton fell asleep. It wasn't that I wanted our conversation to be a secret to him, but I felt he had gone through more than enough that evening. So much more than I had. I don't know if that is really true or if the trauma of the night was the same for both of us - surely I felt like I was about to collapse, but I cared for him. I wanted him to be okay. Once I heard the light breathing of his slumber, I turned and looked at Frederick, who was thumbing through one of our magazines and drinking another beer I don't remember him getting up to get.

"Who are you?" I said, quietly, so as not to wake up Afton and Frederick stopped what he was doing and set the magazine down. "I don't…understand anything that is going on tonight and there is no way that you just happened to show up here. You knew we were in danger…"

"Yeah, I did know." He cocked his head a little bit, "It is going to take you some time to understand everything that you are going to go through now, Nikolai." I felt a little shock at hearing my name…I never told him my name, "What you saw tonight, you weren't supposed to see. And now you have some pretty nasty people to deal with. But the good news is, you're safe here in this apartment. I kind of lied a bit…your silly movie vampires aren't completely off." I assumed he was talking about how vampires could not enter a place without being invited, "But they possess all of the weaknesses and none of the strengths. No super human powers…just an addiction for feeding on blood. They do get lazy during the day - but that is more because it is easier to hunt at night and so they've evolved to be nocturnal, and not because they have some inherent weakness to sunlight."

"If they are so weak…" I said, trying to understand him, "Then why should I be afraid? Why can't we just call the police or tell someone if our guns and weapons would be effective on them?"

"Because it is more complicated than that. The Defectors - they know they're weak. They've always known that. And in fact, there was a time when and extermination policy was put into place to get rid of them, branded them with the title 'Defectors' as they had defected from decent and moral society. But…what they lack in physical strength, they make up for in charisma. They formed something called the Estate, a highly exclusive community where they now operate amongst the top members of society - they are your governors, your socialites, your mayors…they are your rich and famous. It is very easy to exterminate people who don't matter…it is a lot harder to get rid of the most notable people in a community."

"But that doesn't make any sense…" I said, trying to be as open-minded about what he was saying, "If they are the most visible people in society…how do they kill people? I mean sure, I can see the rich getting away with more up to a certain point. But if they truly had to survive on drinking blood, then wouldn't someone notice a lot of people going missing around the Defector?"

"Ah, and this is where it gets tricky." Frederick said, and I couldn't help but think to myself, THIS is where it gets tricky? "Defectors aren't the only things that exist outside of human sight. You have been blinded from a whole second world, kid, which is completely interlocked with yours but that you have been taught to disbelieve. Aside from the Defectors, another group, Doppelgangers, were on the short list of creatures to be exterminated, because they could not be tracked and their actions could not be regulated. The Estate offered them safety in return for service."

"What…what kind of service?"

"Farming service. Your police officers? Most are Doppelgangers. And what they do is they drive around and pick up transients, hookers, drug addicts…people society wouldn't miss, and bring them into the gated communities of the Estate, where these people are harvested for their blood over the course of weeks or months until they die. And if they make a mistake, take someone who is missed, they just replace them with one of their own and the untrained eye would never know the difference. They get more accurate as time goes on and they can assimilate the memories and mannerisms in the native environment of the host. Your…detective tonight. He was one. And now he, and the Estate, know that you saw one of their mistakes."

"I have one more question for you." I said, beginning to understand more and more the crazy story he was weaving, though I don't know now if I quite believed it then, "You keep mentioning extermination and rules and regulations…who regulates this?" He laughed a little bit and looked at me like I should already know.

"Who? Are you serious?" I shook my head and looked at him, ignorantly, "God, of course."

"….God." I said, suddenly going from being very warm to Frederick to thinking he was an evangelist loon, many of which lived in Berkeley, counting down the days to the Rapture. I was no atheist…I was a God-fearing person. I had been raised in a strict Orthodox family and went to church my entire life. But this… "You want me to believe that God, our Lord, regulated the extermination of blood-sucking monsters and their shape-shifting companions." He laughed a little bit, shaking his head at my disbelief.

"Boy, you have more to learn than you know. You think you know what God is? You only know what you have been lead to believe. I'll show you what God is…" And with that, he pulled out his gun and shot into empty air. Afton jumped out of bed like he had just…well, heard a gunshot since the cliché is actually true in this case. It was as though his bullet exploded into a feather pillow - white feathers, clean and full, floated all around, hitting the ground in little bursts of light. And sitting on it's knees, clutching it's arm, was a creature. No, not a creature, an angel, it's eyes covered by a white cloth. Hanging from it's ear was one of the crosses that hung around Frederick's neck. I looked from the angel, who held it's arm in pain to Frederick who had a wicked grin on his face, to Afton…who had just woken into a new chaos. And I just sat there, wide-eyed, wondering what the HELL was going on.

Circumstance: It seems that the human subjects were attacked by a lost Defector who was going through violent withdrawal and the demon thought it his purpose to save their lives. Why, I do not know, but because they now have seen both Frederick and a member of the Estate, they have become of prime interest to the Guardians of Destiny. It is our purpose to make sure that the human species does not become aware of the Unseen, for it would mean the extinction of all other types of species by human weaponry. We cannot allow the demon to have his wicked way with the human subjects. I will continue observation of the subjects until given direct orders to interfere, though I cannot promise unscheduled interference due to discovery by the demon of my presence. It does seems strange that, for such a powerful demon, he has not sensed me ye . . .

Thanks for reading! See you next time!