The wolf’s fur was speckled with drops of blood that had beaded on it like rain. The gravel in the alley shone in the half-light from the distant street lamps. The wolf’s muzzle, a little shorter and broader than I had seen on Wild Kingdom, was drawn back, black lips from fangs striped white and red like peppermint…
Harry is really into wolves, isn’t he. I think he’d be the type of furry who wasn’t into the fucking or even maybe bothering with a fursona but just wanted to get eaten by other people. Thank god he’s never seen the internet.
Realizing it doesn’t make sense Harry is paying attention to this, we’re told that the reason he’s staring is because his plan doesn’t involve eyesight:
I thrust my hands into the beast’s pelt as he went for my throat, and wormed my way down between his forelegs with my buttocks, fingers digging, until I felt what I was looking for-the sharp metal edges of a belt buckle, down against the skin, almost flush to the surface.
Ripping it off turns him back into the awkward redhead, who’s still in his FBI uniform.
This raises a very interesting question, I think. Is the reason they keep their uniforms because it makes more general sense how they’ve been able to avoid detection, or because something the author read about suggested it, or because it’d be way too gay to have pulled the belt off and gotten a naked guy out of it?
We had naked Harry last time, but maybe hero nudity is okay while other people being nude at him is terrifying. Curious what nakedness will occur in later books now.
Harry then kicks the kid in the crotch and then grabs him by his “big ears” (did a redhead run over your dog or something Butcher come on now) and decides to slam his skull into the ground a bit. Somehow this ends with him “not struggling” in a way that is distinct from being dead, which we know only because he and Tera promptly have a fight over how she ought to kill him.
They were closing in around him like a pack of sharks around a wounded dolphin
Or like a pack of dolphins around a wounded shark.
Tera explains that it is Wolf Law that anyone who harms The Pack must die and man this is familiar. Like, you know the YA scifi dystopia? Before that it was all let me tell you about the noble wolf and their honor and shit.
It is kind of funny because Harry’s like, uh, maybe get the injured people help now? And Tera’s all nope can’t let saving their lives get in the way of avenging them, it is The Way of The Wolf and The Pack. Showing that evidently the transformation does do weird things to the brain, all of the wolves are all YES LET US LET OUR FRIENDS DIE DUE TO HOW MUCH WE CARE!!!!
Maybe it’s that in wolf form, the author’s switched to thinking of them like he does Tera, a mysterious Other. He had a pretty good bead on human behavior back when it was a wolf ripping people apart – he had cops retreating to drag away someone even though that person was long past saving rather than firing harder to avenge them, while here we have the wolves thinking they’d rather avenge the living even if it means leaving them to die.
I stood up slowly, to my full height. “I understand,” I said in a very low and even voice, “that you do not want to make me any more angry than I already am.” I met Tera’s eyes and stared, hard.
See this should be good but it’s not different than how he always acts. A character who knows he can scare people and tries his best not to make what he says count for any more than any other person for most of the book suddenly pulling rank like this would mean he viewed this as even more important, that when it came down to it there were things he valued enough to use any means, even ones he found distasteful, to accomplish.
When your character practically gets off doing this all book, it’s not so meaningful.
Harry’s reasoning, incidentally:
“There’s been enough killing. Take him out now, and you’re no different than he is.”
“Wrong,” Tera said. “I would be alive, and he dead.”
Also a whole host of other reasons but I appreciate you probably just want to get on with the killing.
But look, no. Someone doing something and the other person doing the same thing back to them in response aren’t the same thing. At worst, the second person committed a lesser offense. Harry, you’re a guy, you like being objective and rationalist rather than dumb women with their emotions, so let’s put this in math terms.
Say the bad thing had a value of n. Doing it back to the person then has a value of n–y. If n is very large, like torture, then n–y is still pretty bad. The smaller the n, the more likely n–y approaches zero.
Now, sometimes the bad thing was done a whole lot before the other person does it back. So now it’s x*n on the one side and n–y on the other. And so we see that if someone tortures somebody else for years, then it’s still pretty okay to torture them for a day and doesn’t make you exactly as bad, even though it’s still pretty bad overall because torture.
(And, of course, we have to consider future n values. So if a person will do x*n again unless the second person does it back and that’s their motivation, then you should subtract x*n from the n–y on the other side. This is how it can become a good thing to kill someone to stop them from killing a whole lot of people, but becomes greyer if your n would be very large while the other person’s n and/or x is small. Torturing someone to prevent them from mildly annoying thousands of people, for example.)
Therefore, FBI guy here would get (number of victims)*(murder)+(number of victims)*(maiming) as his score, which we compare to Tera’s (murder)-y score and we can see his is significantly higher. He is objectively different, specifically worse, than Tera, according to this math I just laid out, therefore fact.
Also her motivation bears no resemblance to his and she’s literally not even a human being and really there are many, many problems with the comparison.
But Harry actually has a pretty cool response of “Not if you cross me, you won’t be.” which again, marred by the fact he’s enough of an asshole to do this all the time but ignoring that, to go back to the n of above, threats can produce a good score when they’re the only thing that works to prevent a worse bad thing.
Tera agrees and actually manages to save face – I think she may be the only one this book who knows how to do that.
“As you wish, wizard,” she said. “We don’t have the time to waste fighting one another. The rest of his pack is coming. And we have wounded to tend to.”
See, she phrased it as if the problem wasn’t the outcome but that she wasn’t willing to spend the time in the conflict at all, and then brought up the point he was just arguing for as something that deeply concerns her and is a factor in her decisionmaking. Good job, Tera! Do remember to kill him later, though.
Harry asks for transportation and Tera tells one of them to change back.
The she-wolf shivered
The mere fact she’s another species covered in fur without any sexual differentiation Harry can make out and he doesn’t even know what she looks like matters not. She was identified as female and so she is a she-wolf as opposed to a wolf like everybody else.
lanky, dark-blonde girl I had seen in the department store a few days ago, sans all the black leather.
My hypothesis that the spellwolves keep their clothes solely so Harry isn’t wrestling a naked guy is already accuring evidence.
Then the others turn back. The boys make a jacket litter for one of the remaining wolves and Tera picks up the other one.
Harry turns to the FBI guy.
I hunkered down beside him and slapped his face until his eyes rolled open.
Don’t ever do this. The very definition of true unconsciousness is that you don’t react to stimuli, and whacking someone in the head more is just increasing the chances they don’t wake up. This is yet another thing that’s from movies.
Also don’t smash someone’s head into the ground in the first place unless you’re not really concerned with them waking up again.
Harry aims a semiautomatic at him because guns are cool and demands he answer questions. Harris somehow can understand what’s happening and speak normally and even think up responses like “If you kill me,” he said, “Denton won’t stop until you’re dead.” which is really not what you should expect from someone who not only was unconscious but long enough that they had time for the conversation and wolf collecting and whole lot of slapping.
Harry, though, points out that he’s already going to get killed so you know, whatever. But then he decides now is the part where the detective explains everything.
I figure that first night, Agent Benn was reaching into her jacket to touch the belt and tear Murphy’s head off, when she got mad. But she managed to remember not to do it in time and drew her gun instead. Right?”
And this is some okay plotting. We were told way back when that Benn hesitated then continued, which is weird for something as impulsive as drawing her gun at all.
Harry asks what power they bargained with, but we know so little we have no idea why it’d matter, so when the guy says he doesn’t know, eh, who cares?
Because the plot makes no sense, the FBI guy has to take over the explanation.
“It was all about Marcone. Denton wanted to take him down.”
“You mean kill him.”
His eyes flickered up to me. “He told us there was no other way to get to him. That he was doing more to poison this city than anyone alive. And he was right. Marcone’s bought enough influence in this town to stay clear of city police forever, and he carries weight on the national level, too. The bureau has had more than one investigation on him called off. He’s untouchable.”
“So you planned to use the belts to kill him.”
He nodded. “But there would be evidence. No one would believe he’d just been mauled by wild dogs. There would be a full investigation, forensics, the works.”
Look, if he was torn apart by something, does it matter if people think it’s wild dogs or some sort of wild dog related gang hit or it’s an unsolved mystery forever? There’s still nothing leading back to you! He’d be dead and Murphy’d think werewolves and then nothing would’ve come of it because she only got desperate enough to call Harry in after days of killings last month and then the killings restarting this month! And if she had called Harry, he’d have just shrugged and said yeah werewolves and wrote an essay on types and they still would never have solved it.
Instead their brilliant plan is to try to pin it on the Streetwolves.
Murder of a criminal figure by persons with a wolf motif. No one would bother to check the figures on that one.
I’m pretty sure they’d have noticed the part where there was no sign whatsoever of the murder weapons. Look, it’s not like they were called Streetgazelles or something, where it’s a weird enough animal to be into that yeah, blaming them for the apparent gazelle-hoof tramplings is reasonable. The reason this is a book about werewolves and Harry won’t shut up about how perfect and beautiful they are is because people like wolves a whole lot and like thinking about being like wolves.
And we get one more dangerous group off the street.”
“Yeah, Roger, except that they’d be innocent of that particular crime. Did you think of that? Innocent like those other people who died the nights around the full moon last month.
I still don’t understand why it matters if you convict the murderer of a different person’s murder. It doesn’t make it exactly as wrong as killing a person who never committed any murders.
Either because of the concussion or the gun aimed at his face, the FBI guy doesn’t contest this point and just explains that as someone who tried coke this one time, spellwolving is way better.
“I think I’m starting to see. Denton didn’t tell you about that part. About how your thoughts are influenced. He probably didn’t know himself. And when you’ve done it once …”
Is Harry just trying to bait him with this? Who knows, but the guy goes for it, rambling about how it is literally addiction and how they didn’t even mean to kill anybody.
The thing is, this is magic. These guys seem barely more coherent than MacFinn. If they say they can’t control themselves and can’t stop, that should count as not guilty by insanity.
That said, he may be lying.
We started off with criminals. Some gangsters dealing drugs. We were just going to scare them, but it was too much. They screamed and ran and we were after them, and … We killed them.
So first the plan is to turn into wolves and do extra killing to frame the Streetwolves, but now it’s about being Batwolfman but they tripped into killing people.
“Denton said that we could salvage it. He said that we could pin those killings on the Streetwolves as well.
Okay but how was Plan A: Let Everyone See Giant Wolves meant to work? Why is your desperate attempt to salvage whatever the hell you were doing the only one that’s a coherent plan?
Was the original idea something like, no one will believe Marcone was just killed by wild dogs, so we’ll have a bunch of wild dog sightings, and then people will believe he was killed by wild dogs? Because that is Harry-grade stupid.
Harry points out the next plot hole, which is that they already had a wolf patsy and yet they went to go frame MacFinn too.
He said there was someone else we could also set up to take the blame, to be certain we’d be in the clear. That he had the man for it.
But this would only work on someone who knew about magic, and someone who knew about magic would know that this meant there was a third party around who sabotaged the circle to frame him.
This could’ve worked! The timeframe just needs to be rearranged. Maybe the reason Benn is on a hair trigger around Murphy is because they tried blaming the Streetwolves and she insisted they actually find the “murder weapon” if they’re going to convict, and they pick up that she figures it’s legitimately werewolves and isn’t going to accept some apparently ordinary people, so they’re all fuck fuck fuck and then the leader’s like OKAY GOOD NEWS I FOUND A WEREWOLF TO FRAME! which is why it’s much less thought out than the Streetwolves part, and they only just tore up MacFinn’s circle, which is also why he didn’t have time to fix it because supposedly the guy’s had a whole month to consider his options.
Canarywolf here keeps singing, explaining that then they left MacFinn to murder people, and holy shit how hard is it to realize you need to leave town before moonrise, what is wrong with you MacFinn.
That’s when we went after that slime Marcone’s business partner, and wasted the bastard and his goon.”
Why not Marcone? You know the guy is super powerful why are you saving him for last and ensuring he can muster resources for this?
Canarywolf goes on to explain their leader knows he’s running a pack of idiots, so he just took all the belts for the month.
He’d held out better than anyone. And my God, poor Benn was so far gone, it was like she wasn’t even human anymore.
Yes yes, women, so easily corruptible and sensually evil.
“And then you killed Marcone’s bodyguard at the Varsity.”
Harris’s eyes flared. “Yes. You should see his record. The things we know he did, but that we can’t get
through a court. My God, Dresden, he had it coming.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Who are we to judge?”
Harry they are literally the FBI, THAT IS IN FACT THEIR JOB.
“Who are we not to?” Harris demanded. “The power was in our hands. We had a responsibility to use it for the good. To do our jobs.
Yes, thank you.
There are many (many many many) issues with the manner they went about it, but the part where they killed people who had opted out of our regular legal system is not it. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
Here, I’ll even helpfully label each action:
Deciding to kill bad people with wolf powers: good.
Accidentally killing less bad people with wolf powers: bad.
Trying to use the killings to take out another pack of killers: good.
Framing an innocent guy: really bad.
Getting lots of innocent people killed as part of framing the innocent guy: super, super bad.
The guy just does the “we’re on the same side and you should help us!” temptation thingy, but Harry is never actually tempted so who cares. To further how this isn’t even a real dilemma, Harry says:
“I don’t agree with your methods.
With setting people up to take the blame for your killings.”
Harry they killed lots of people maybe that should be the primary issue?
We are now solidly on board the nonsense train now, though.
“Like MacFinn has never killed anyone. Hell, he’s a murderer now, isn’t he? After that scene at the police station, anyone would be convinced he was a killer.”
Like what the fuck is even being argued here.
Harry reminds him that “wow we did a fucking great job framing him” is maybe not the most convincing argument to make to a guy who just complained about framing people, the the FBI guy is apparently tired of being in this damn book and says that fuck you for poking around in the first place and also pretty soon his buddies will come out and eat Harry so shoot him already, and no, not some sort of reverse psychology because anyone trained to deal with people aiming guns at them should’ve learned that if you tell people to shoot you they do in fact shoot you.
But of course, ~just like in movies~ saying that doesn’t lead to the guy getting shot. Instead Harry, being a dumbass, asks why he was sent to poke the Streetwolves and reminded the goal was to get him killed. They’ve just been hanging out waiting for the gang to finish the job.
before MacFinn went after Marcone.”
“How’d you know about that?” I asked.
Harris snorted. “Marcone told us. The snake called asking for police protection.”
I almost smiled. “Did he get it?”
“Hell, no,” Harris answered me.
So he’s untouchable because all the police are in his pocket, but also he can’t get one thing he asked for when we know he’d offer anything to get it.
The guy now explicitly says he seriously wants out of this stupid book and shoot already, and Harry says NO IF I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS PLOT GETTING DRAGGED OUT FOREVER SO DO YOU FUCKER!!! and refuses, instead blathering on and on about how he’s going to set up a murder date at Marcone’s at moonrise and to tell them to be there, and blah blah here’s how I know you guys are planning to be there which kind of defeats the point of telling someone to shot up to kill him then and also gets rid of any possible element of surprise.
“Why tell me?” the kid asked. “Why warn us?”
I stared down at him for long seconds before I answered him in a quiet voice. “Because I don’t like what you’re doing. What you are. You aren’t using the power you’ve been given. It’s using you. You’re turning into animals. You’re using savagery and fear to try to uphold the peace. Now it’s your turn to see what it’s like to be afraid.”
“I hate how you’re using power to make people afraid, so I’m telling you to make you afraid. Incidentally, if Tera did this to you it’d also be wrong.”
He whines about wanting his belt back, which I think is strong evidence that what he said above wasn’t about playing victim in the hopes Harry would let him go but legitimate addiction, and Harry suggests that instead he go lock himself up someplace.
His face whitened, and he took a step toward me. I pointed the gun at him, and he froze, his hands balling into fists. “You won’t get away with this,” he said, his voice thick with tension.
“Moonrise,” I told him, then turned on my heel and walked quickly from the alley
but not quick enough to avoid him jumping on my back and biting out my throat to regain the belt why the fuck did I think turning my back on someone who was nearly ready to jump me even with a gun aimed at his face would work.
But no apparently the guy just sits there and watches as Harry makes off with his infinite super-crack dispenser.
Tera appears to do more of the noble wolf stuff and be all offended about how real animals are great.
“They have not become animals.” She looked over her shoulder, her eyes narrowed. “Animals do not do what they have done. Animals kill to eat, to defend themselves or their own, and to protect their territory. Not for the joy of it. Not for the lust of it.” She looked back up at me. “Only humans do that, wizard.”
I grimaced, but couldn’t really refute her. “I guess you’re right.”
You can’t refute her because you’re an idiot. You have a fucking cat, Harry, you should be getting a reminder of animals killing for fun every time you come home.
Aside from the fact many predatory animals play with their food, male animals also often enjoy murdering babies so they can sex up the mom. One theory behind a lot of dolphin/porpoise interactions the animals remind them of their own babies, which is why they like to rape them to death. And while some types of communal animals have females sharing childrearing, if there’s a limiting factor on how many offspring can be raised you’ll see females killing other babies, like ostriches rolling eggs out of the nest.
Tera then asks if he’s going to save her boyfriend.
“I’ll try,” I said. “But I can’t let his curse claim any more lives.”
She nodded, her eyes dark. “He would want it that way. He thinks of others before himself.”
Except for his failure to off himself this whole time.
Given the curse, it sounds like there should be some sort of force preventing him from dying before he has a child, but that really hasn’t been a factor in this at all. There’s also no sign he tried very hard to avoid people after his circle was broken – he definitely didn’t try just locking himself in, because there’s no damage to the house itself, and he also refused to go back home to whatever other circles he had or even just drive out to a less populated area.
“He sounds like a good man.”
Sure, but we have more to go on than just her word, and everything else about him seems the opposite.
Harry then says that the FBI people are corrupted and can’t stop killing, probably, so I guess I’m going to need to get very human.” which would appear to mean finding it joyous and lustful to kill them, because Tera agreed that killing to defend self, others, or stuff was acceptable animal behavior.