I don’t remember what my logic was for giving Kaye an address that actually existed (albeit listed as vacant). I think maybe I just wanted to add a tiny bit more reality to Sepia World with that. Once you learn about the “555” telephone trick, you can never unsee it again.

We got a couple complaints about (sigh) “getting political” with JJ’s allusion to cop-on-black violence in 2015. I was more concerned about those who might feel we were trivializing a real-world issue or, worse, attacking BLM by putting its talking points in the mouth of a professional murderer. Overall, I’m glad we left that bit in, though. It backs up the final verdict on JJ, that he loves to act and sound enlightened to mask the brutality in his soul. In a few more pages, he’ll use the social issues he decries to his own advantage, without qualm.

At Zahin’s request, though, I’ve coaxed forth the spirit of JJ to say a few words about his strategy here…supplementing what he says about his strategy to Shanna in the comic. Aside from the show of enlightenment, he’s actually being pretty transparent!

There comes a point where the time for simple talk is over. Most people are motivated, primarily, to pursue their own safety. Once they understand their options, they usually pursue a nonviolent resolution. But then there are the mavericks, whose motivations are more individual. Sometimes it’s better to eliminate them quickly, but if that’s not on the table, you need more tailor-made solutions. Find what motivates them and press on it, firmly. This was a two-pronged attack: one prong was aimed right at Ms. Cochran and what motivates her.

What’s that? Kidnapping? Oh, Lord, that’s a logistical nightmare. I mean, it’s maybe feasible if you’ve got a hideout and multiple agents, but I’m a mobile, solo operator. You can only knock someone out so many times, and they tend to need food, water, and air. Keeping them healthy is hard enough, but they also will constantly be seeking escape, looking for a chance to kill you, or just annoying you to no end. Didn’t really get to know this Kaye person, but she could easily have been the spirited type.

The goal is not to get all these folks in some battle of wits with me, saying “Oh, we’ll play along for now, but we’ll bring you down and save our friend eventually.” The goal is to crush them so they don’t do that. The goal is to let them know what Mr. Watson grasped without much prompting. Resistance gets you dead. Associating with this woman gets you dead. They could fantasize that the risk to them was minimal until they saw their dead friend’s dead face, but now they know different. And most people are motivated, primarily, to pursue their own safety. That’s the other prong, aimed at all the rest of them. Odds are, they’ll stay quiet and hope that means they’ll stay safe.

Of course, there’s a very small chance I might now be dealing with a whole team of mavericks…but even running into one of those is unusual. A group of five? I mean, what are the odds?