Chapter 9: Tension builds

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The faces all still looked the same. They had a mixture of anticipation and eagerness etched on them, like makeup. It had only been a few days, but Max was once again standing in front of a media entourage. He found it hard to get used to the lights – a searing fluorescence accompanying his new position. These press conferences were a regular occurrence for any DA, but he was set to release another weighted brick or hot lead, as editors would call it. His tenure in power, a full day of misadventure had already produced an earth shattering speech, but another revelation was close to being revealed. These ghouls in front of him, albeit an unethical, often spineless minority already loved him. He was a daily walking headline to them.

Max massaged his fingers against the wood, waiting at the dais and watching the media still arriving. This press conference had been organised quickly, so tardiness was expected. They still had five minutes, before he was set to begin.

The clunking of steel followed a drone of voices as the journalists set up, allowing Max to watch them closely. They appeared normal enough with their tailored suits, fifty dollar haircuts and sun drenched skin. Anyone innocent could mistake them for honest, reliable civilians, but the new DA knew different. They had a cut-throat tenacity lurking under their skin and an unethical aura hovering over them, like a smog.

The field of journalism only recruited ambitious, unconscionable servants who would crucify their own kin to get an exclusive. Those of sound morals did not last long. They were sent packing by editors, who instead required soulless ghouls to seek out the truth, never flinching or wilting in their task to beat a rival to a story. There was nothing they would not do, whether it be breaking into a victim's house or pressing a widow for information to achieve their goals. Their moments of self-reflection involved no remorse, no judgement, just a burning resolve to reach the apex of their field. The Pulitzer Prize was their Everest and they would do whatever was necessary to achieve it.

For all their flaws, Max still needed them. They were the best way to get a message out to his own servants – the public, to stay up to date with much needed information. It was a conundrum for him. He hated having to rely on such immoral individuals who could turn from friend to enemy in seconds, but if he kept them close, provided them some regular ammunition, he could just earn a skerrick of loyalty. The trick was to always shift their attention elsewhere, so their searching eyes were never locked on him for longer than required. They could only smell blood in the water, if Max stopped providing them with sharks to hunt.

A cheer suddenly echoed through the air, before journalists parted and allowed Ben Roberts to walk through to the stage. Their envious eyes bathed him, mixed in with a level of hatred. He was the new "IT boy," an editor's dream, after he had uncovered Dover's illicit past. This man now had a looseness in his swagger, albeit a walk of superiority. He had obviously come to believe the latest glowing words of his colleagues. His fellow journalist's warm eyes met him, but a deep level of jealousy burned within them. He had proved them all fools by uncovering the year's largest story. They had been lambasted by their own editors for being out scooped and missing the golden egg.

His presence in front of them was insulting. If they were not so civilized he would be drawn, quartered and hung for public display, not because he had sinned, but because his every breath was now reviling to them. This man's actions had revealed their own insecurities and they all hated him for making them feel that way. He should be met by daggers in the back, but instead every journalist shook his hand and congratulated him, hiding their real feelings. These devils concealed their horns, instead presenting a phony halo, manufactured from deceit and grit.

"When is this thing starting?" he asked, a tinge of superiority in his voice.

Max's judging eyes watched him, knowing the real truth. This journalist was just a patsy. He had been hand fed this scoop, purely because he was young and naïve. They had wanted to hide its origins, only using him - an innocent pawn, because he would not ask questions. This was no wonder kid, no journalistic sourvant, just a profiteer. His egotism and arrogance surprised Max.

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