Saturday, December 17, 2016

Taking It to the Top!

Post by Special Guest Professor Elevator follows.

Being a crook with a theme is a tough road, even on Zaonia. Why would people do it? Hubris, ego, obsessive compulsive disorder, and Dunning Kruger Competency Syndrome all come to mind. I will discount those because those reasons lead to a brief career and a long fall interrupted by a short rope.

In my case, as is typical of my imitators (I say imitators because really, I have no peers), I have a message to get out. The Tech Knights are a bunch of Fascists who restrict technology for their own enrichment. Every time I pull a job off I want everyone to know who did it, to see how ineffectual that band of militaristic handymen are. That's my message. If you use it please give credit.

Being a name criminal mastermind can be a benefit. Everyone knows what you're capable, in my case a lot. You get the first pick of henchmen, people leave your territory alone, I even get favorable deals when I subcontract part of an evil scheme (more about that later). You also have victims cooperate much more with you. You see when your gang is well known they take pains not to murder or commit other atrocities. When that happens your victims realize that you will not hurt them if they cooperate and the cooperation fairly flows.

I chose my sobriquet after a stint in civil engineering. What can I say? Elevators make modern cities possible. They also make for marvelous misdirection. You make your getaway waving as the doors close, climb out the escape hatch and rappel or ascend by rope, leaving those dumb flatfoots earnest police and guards to force open the doors at the lobby only to see an ingenious booby trap waiting for them. That never gets old.

A word about themes: don't get too caught up in or choose too narrow a focus. I advise anyone planning their crimes around the number Pi or animatronic dolls to seek professional help. It's too easy to tell where you'll hit next. In my case any building with a lift and a payroll will do to make the rent and pay the minions. It makes me hard to predict.

As for me, my theme relates mostly to nicknames and of course my robot: the Elevated Man. My hench-crew is named after floors and other building areas. Okay I did try mounting hypnogogic projectors in several elevators to try some spontaneous brainwashing. That was not one of my better ideas.

Minions are your bread and butter. Treat them well. You might have to kill one early on to show the rest who the alpha is though I never did. People were far more obedient after being invited to a game of catch with the Elevated Man but then he does throw them pretty high and sometimes misses. It is best for your minions to love and fear you. Fear will make a man kill for you but only love will make them capable of dying for you. People from the lowest rungs of society, those who have known only the brutality of prisons and other institutions, can respond well to kindness and fairness. Sometimes all it takes is a relaxing game of catch to break the ice.

The old trope of a minion admitting failure to his lord and master and being killed for it is grossly overblown. This sort of extreme reaction is counter productive. At the very least you are out a minion, one you've probably invested a lot of money, training and time in. More to the point you just killed a man who showed you loyalty. He returned to tell you of this failure and give you notice to let you perform damage control. Many a timely warning from a lackey has gotten me to clear out in the nick of time.

Killing minions for failure also insures that some will leave, sabotage or betray you. Would you want to work for someone like that? I am very tolerant of failure due to outside events or unexpected consequences. Sometimes a busload of cops breaks down in front of the bank you're robbing for example. I thank everyone for a good try and we get together to try to plan better for next time.

I am not as forgiving  of incompetence and especially cross about disloyalty. After all if you don't like the job why are you here? It turned out one guy was only there for the ice cream machine. I got him out of there fast. Never mind the details.

Loyal lieutenants are worth their weight in jewels and official pardons. Another silly myth has us masterminds disregarding them, nay abusing our loyal lieutenants when they deliver bad news. My lieutenants were picked for intelligence and initiative. The trick is to pick people who not merely smart enough to replace me but people who are smart enough not to try. I take their reports seriously.

A vital note: plan for your career in crime. I was a civil engineer for years. I mapped or installed a number of escape routes, safe houses and bases. Make sure your people, logistics and intelligence is all set up before you announce your new career. It's much more expensive to buy abandoned real estate when you're already on the ten most wanted list. The people who just go off one day and rampage never get very far.

When seeking loyal, intelligent minions try looking in odd places. Intelligence is rarely rewarded with riches and fame in this life (ask the guys compiling jump tapes at the starport). I found Lobby in a carwash and Mezzanine working a switchboard (Dr. Switchboard was really pissed about that coup.)

One of the surest signs you are indeed a name criminal is others imitating your work. I encourage this. It means less police on my tail, more feet muddying of the waters should I ever face trial and possible loyal minions I might recruit. This encouragement does not extend to theft of my brand name. The Lift Gang and the Escalator squad learned that. Before you start up make sure you're not stepping on anyone's toes. Those of us on the wrong side of the law have to coexist.

If the authorities are left scratching their thick skulls and muttering, "How did we miss the clues?" you did it right.