Three hours of business and strategy talk later, Frank Santoro left the restaurant followed by Leonard.
As they exited through the door being held by their body guards, Max stood there with a satisfied smile plastered across his face. The wheels are now in motion on his grand plan. Once he gains control over New York’s underworld, he will be able to bring about chaos upon the city. From his interaction with Frank, however, it seems that it’ll be a harder job than he initially thought; Frank was very connected, so removing him from his current position within the underworld will prove very difficult.
Max walked towards the door and, as usual, Will grabbed his coat for him and put it over his shoulders.
"Thank you William. Here." Max grabbed $500 from his jacket pocket and handed it to Will. "Get Tania that bicycle she wanted."
Will was stunned. Max has always been very good to him and his sister. Maximilian Johns was the one that got them out of that harsh, unforgiving life.
He gave him a job at the restaurant and got him and his sister into an apartment in a good neighborhood for rent way below its value. He even pulled some strings to get Tania enrolled into a good elementary school.
Will has tried many times to refuse these gifts, always feeling shameful being offered so much by his saviour, but he learned long ago that it's useless to refuse what Max gives him because he would always strongly insist.
"I—" Will showed a thankful and slightly shameful look and accepted his generosity in the end. "Yes, I will. Thank you Mr Johns."
William was a loyal subordinate. The information he provides is always helpful to him, so Max decided to rewards him every so often. He also felt a little pity towards him—at such a young age he has to take care of his younger sister alone, against such a merciless world. Max felt slight admiration towards him for not cracking under the enormous pressure as most humans would.
Will was the only one to have known Max’s identity as the owner of the restaurant, before Frank Santoro announced it in front of the whole staff that is.
The FBI came to the restaurant many times seeking the owner’s cooperation with the covert operations they planned to conduct in the premises. The number of ‘elite members of society’ that dined there made the restaurant 'Noblesse' an attractive site for such operations.
Because of its clientele list, if an agent reaped something from such an operation at Noblesse, it was a sure way to catapult their careers at the FBI; for the sake of such benefits, many ambitious agents even offered rewards to the staff to reveal the name of the owner. When their enquiries didn't go anywhere, they started making threats and William’s criminal past gave their threats some substance.
Maximilian exited the restaurant and decided to head home. He walked through the busy streets of New York. Everyone in this city seems to have a constant sense of urgency to get from one place to the other; power walking through the pavement and the streets. Waves of pedestrians walking as one in a unified direction. It was a sight that had a weird sense of magnificence. It is unfortunate, however, that this is as far as human harmony extends, since they are divided in almost all other aspects of life.
Throughout the streets, crowds formed in front of electronic goods stores. Many people actually took the time from their hectic lives to concentrate on the news channels playing on the televisions, displayed against the windows of the stores. They watched on as censored clips of the Central Park incident were showed; their emotions changing from surprise, to disgust and then to fear as they saw blurred out dismembered body parts on the video.
A mere few hours passed since the occurrence of the incident, but it has already spread all over the city, and even beyond. Everyone has their own theories of who 'Black Wing' was, and reasons for his sudden appearance.
"What do you think the ERD is gonna do about this?” Two people within the crowd began theorising among themselves.
"I don’t know. But they didn’t do anything when 'The Instigator' wreaked havoc in LA. They just stood and did nothing; they’ll probably do the same here. They’re useless when it comes to major incidents like this one."
"You’re still on that!? It’s a myth man, that guy doesn’t exist, no one saw him. And even if he did exist, who’s to say that he’s an Enabled?"
"Come on man!" one of the men said, exasperated "There’s a lot of evidence in the dark web; retracted documents and buried CCTV footage and you’re still denying his existence? The Instigator is real! And he could be working with Black Win to control the two coasts!"
"Man, you’re as paranoid as ever," said the second man dismissively. "All we can do is just wait and see. Let’s see what the ERD does." They then continued to watch the news report.
"The ERD huh?" smirked Max.
Through his investigations of the various influential powers in New York, he found that the Enabled Relations Department is just as corrupt, or maybe even more so, as any other government agency. The ERD is on his ‘to deal with’ list. As for this 'Instigator' character, as the dark web is seldom reliable, Max is of the opinion that he is simply a myth.
As Max continued walking from neighborhood to another; he saw people living their peaceful lives, not knowing the calamity heading their way.
Suddenly, a phone rang from behind him. He naturally looked back towards the source, just as anyone would. Behind him was a small-framed woman fumbling with her phone, frantically trying to switch off the ringer. It struck him as somewhat of an odd reaction to a phone ringing, then—.
"Could it be…?" Max muttered to himself.
He wasted no time to leap out of sight and hide in a nearby roof.
The girl finally managed to turn off her phone; she then immediately looked towards where Max was standing but a second earlier.
Max was right, she had been following him. Through his many experiences in life, he learned how to spot odd behaviour easily.
"Damn it! Just how long has she been following me?"
Questions upon questions were swimming through his head as he saw this strange girl looking around trying to find him once more.
"Damn it Janine! I will kill you when I see you!" said the girl angrily in a low growl.
After a minute of just standing, the girl turned around and headed back to the direction she came from.
"I was careless" whispered Max to himself.
He didn’t believe anyone would find him so quickly so he wasn’t prepared. Fortunately, the girl was interrupted before she could follow him all the way to his apartment.
The discovery of the apartment wasn’t what put max at unease; discovering his identity however, would’ve proven problematic. Although he doubted whether many people had the resources Frank Santoro has, his "Maximilian Johns" identity can be discovered after some thorough research. The restaurant records should be safe; the apartment however, Max bought in haste. His real name was on the records of purchase and other records the estate agency held.
"Seems like it is my turn to pursue you, Miss."
Max began following the girl from rooftop to rooftop with the utmost care. He needs to find out what this girl knows.