The Element: Chapter 17


“This is the black diamond level buddy,” T said, “and there is no better way to play at this level than adding some danger. Not only does each team member have expert knowledge of the role, but they must be a catalyst in the Point-Man role. They must be capable of moving people to action. They must inspire under difficult situations, to get the team over the hump. The Point-Man makes the sale for the direction, convincing the team to move forward.”

Mission Casino Test

Team Leader: Coach
Point-Man: T
First Defense-Man: Freelance
Second Defense-Man: Test Drive
Rear Security: Rusty

T had guided the Team to a rear stairwell of the Penobscot Building in the business district of Detroit, Michigan.  They moved up a winding staircase with efficiency and silence. Just then Coach’s voice came over their ear-buds.

Penobscot Building

“Tapped into the security camera system, and your path is clear,” Coach said.
“Roger that,” T replied.

“Do you really think that a team meeting is best conducted during a live operation?” Coach asked.

T’s arm went up with a clutched fist that stopped the entire team.

“Floor 15,” T said.  “This is important, so don’t question the Point-Man.”

Freelance moved forward and dropped to one knee. His right hand dug into his jacket pocket and produced a lock-pick tool set. A quick swooping motion produced a click, and he moved back into position behind their Point-Man.

“Your target is office 1524,” Coach said.

The pitch black hallway was easily navigated with their night vision glasses. Arriving at office 1524, their was a lighted keypad to the right of the door.

“Coach,” said T, over her communication microphone. “I thought the door had only a manual lock?”

“They must have done an upgrade,” Coach said. “Get closer to it so I can have a look.”

All team members have high-definition optical web-cams built into their glasses, so T moved in for a closer look.

“Ah,” Coach said. “That is a T3 Trilogy lock. This model is stand-alone, battery operated unit. Once the door is opened, we can wipe our visit from the entry log. It can be programmed for a three to six digit access code.”

Freelance knelt downs on a knee again and produced a small bottle of white dye powder onto the numeric keys.

“White or Black powder?” Freelance asked. “I always get them screwed up in my head.”

“You can remember my friend,” Test Drive said with a reassurance that could make a pit-bull out of a poodle.

“Yeah, white powder is better on a chromed surface,” Freelance said. “I have a zero, a two, a four, a six, and an eight.”

“OK,” Coach said. “I am pulling up the data on the office’s occupant.  Birthday is February 24, 1968.  Try a six digit code of 02-24-68.”

After the code was entered, a click was heard from the lock mechanism. A quick twist of the handle and they were inside the office.

“What makes people use such obvious key-codes and passwords?” Rusty asked.

“Easy to remember, but also easy to figure out,” Coach chirped over the team’s ear pieces.

The team took up positions around the room.

“With the adrenalin pumping from this impromptu break-in,” T said, “we are going to discuss the high end traits of our Element, an Elite 5-Man Team. Ultimately, it involves the maturing of our relationship to the equivalent of a family. With that said, you are in the First Defense-Man position Freelance. What are your thoughts?”

“Let’s talk a bit about play,” Freelance said. “If we are a family, it’s development is created through play. We push the boundaries to determine the limit to the stimulus of play and what is considered aggression.”

“How does this relate to an Element?” T asked.

“The Element is not just a group of people that are good at socialization,” Freelance said. “We are great at socialization. These skills are developed no differently than children participating in rough-and-tumble play that brings pleasure to them and cements the bond with their playmates.”

“Are you suggesting that we sit around and tickle each other until we are in tears?” Rusty asked. “This might be a Human Resources Department discussion.

“No, this is not a physical thing,” Freelanced said. “It is about the development of ourselves as social beings and the development of our relationships with the team by playing nice so all will enjoy our missions together.”

“Nice analogy pumpkin, I mean Freelance,” T said.

“That is exactly what I am talking about,” Freelance said with exhilaration. “That little jab let’s me know that you care about me as a teammate.”

“OK, Second Defense-Man, you are up Test Drive,” T said.

“How can I top that one,” Test Drive said. “Let’s poke at Rusty’s favorite. Theory of Mind is much deeper than just a bunch of social interactions that lead to experience. Many experiences do not necessarily lead to an expert ability to know the common reactions of oneself or others. Choosing to participate in different experiences that are related will generate a more intuitive sense to understand the way we think.”

“So, we are talking about getting to know ourselves and others?” T asked.

“More than just getting to know,” Test Drive said. “We are developing our instincts to understand ourselves and others. Open the mind to idea that there is no right or wrong, only tasting for experiences. Not unlike wine, you will develop a pallet of what you prefer, and what you prefer may change with experiences. People do not know what they have missed until they taste what they have missed. Until then, they maybe content with where they are because it is all they know.”

“Now that you took my topic,” Rusty said, “I am forced into the cleanup role. I could get into high level listening, where we take listening to the level understanding. Most people feel like you are agreeing with them if you pause long enough to listen, and possibly repeat what they have heard back to the story-teller. Not so, but it is OK for others to think what they want to about your interest.”

“We have some very high level skills identified,” T said. “Now it is time for you boys to turn and face the wall.”

“What is this about,” Freelance asked.

“Just do it,” T said, “and don’t think about turning around.”

“Rusty, I can still see her,” Coach said. “Your glasses are still focused on your wife.”

T pulled a red dress from the closet, shed her black tactical clothing and quickly changed into the dress and put on high heels.

“OK, you can turn around,” T said.  “Sparkly shoes.  What do you think?”

“You look beautiful,” Rusty said, as he synched a bright red tie that perfectly matched his wife’s dress.

“What the heck is going on here?” Test Drive asked.

“We are going dancing tonight,” T said. “My friend works out of this office and she picked up my dry cleaning this afternoon. Rusty and I are walking out the front door, and you guys are going to lock up.  Don’t forget to clear the door lock log.”

“I thought we were a team?” Freelance said.

“We are, but that has nothing to do with dancing,” T said. “Chow boys.”

At the bottom of the steps, Rusty and T posed for a picture on the security system.  Of course Coach made a copy before deleting any evidence of the night’s mission.

Dressed UP

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