Dresden Files Fool Moon Ch34

Harry then promptly wakes up to Murphy hovering over him and begins to whine about being shot.

“It’s all right,” I said. “I forgive you.” I thought it very generous of me, appropriate to the last moments of a man’s life.
Murphy blinked at me. And then stiffened. “You what?”
“Forgive you, Murph. For shooting me. Your job and all, I understand.”
Murphy’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “You think …” she said. Her face twisted with disgust and she sputtered for a moment, and then spat to one side. She began again. “You think that I thought you were one of the bad guys, still, and I shot you because you wouldn’t surrender?”
I felt too weak and dizzy to argue. “Hey. It’s understandable. Don’t worry about it.” I shivered. “I’m so cold.”
“We’re all cold, moron,” Murphy snapped. “A front came through about the same time they threw us in that freaking pit. It must be below forty, already, and we’re wet besides. Sit up, El Cid.”

Let’s recap quickly:

Murphy and he hung out and discussed how she was pretty sure this wasn’t his doing. Murphy and he worked together to deal with it. Murphy and he set off to try to deal with/distract the ragemonster.

Harry then assumes Murphy’s appeared because she’s randomly decided to arrest him in the middle of a mobster’s property with an unkillable ragemonster stalking them?

Here’s the thing – imagine Murphy wasn’t there in the pit. Imagine that she heard that her FBI buddies, you know, those people who hate Marcone even more than usual, had headed out to personally provide protective custody to Marcone because everybody, even VILE WASTES OF FLESH THAT SHOULD BE PURGED FROM THE EARTH I WANT TO FUCKING TEAR OUT HIS FUCKING THROAT deserves our very best effort in keeping them safe ^_^

Maybe she just figures they’re going to do the shittest protective job in human history and that actually does bug her, maybe she thinks that they’re convinced the killer’s going to show up and thinks they can’t handle it alone, but she decides to head over and is close enough to hear some of the last firefight. When she appears in front of Harry, he has no idea where she came from and they didn’t just have multiple conversations regarding him not being a criminal and how they had bigger concerns anyway. Their last interaction was her saying he was arrested so it actually makes sense that’s what Harry would assume. Also, she hasn’t just been face to face with the ragemonster mere minutes ago so it’s semi-reasonable she wouldn’t be expecting it to jump her.

Anyway, what she was actually doing was shooting Denton who was sprinting over to brain him with a tree branch and she wanted him to duck so she’d have a clear shot. Pretty contrived but it’d have worked if she’d just shouted “get on the ground” once and Harry had chosen to stay standing and throw the amulet, rather than that extended dialogue where she had time to say “Denton’s behind you!” when Harry didn’t immediately respond.

Of course Murphy manages an absolutely flawless headshot: a neat hole in his forehead, right in the middle so it’s hard to believe that she actually needed him to duck for fear of hitting him.

Oh, also she patched up that naked woman. Tera West. Even when someone knows her name and has no need to use a description to refer to her, it’s just really important you know that no, after being mauled horribly, Tera continued to not have clothing materialize from nowhere onto her body.

But anyway, Harry can’t really be wrong, so Murphy decides it’s sime to overreact and stalk off because she’s so offended but it’s okay because none of the noises actually have meaning. Haha, she thinks she’s people!

She snorted at me over her shoulder. She snorts well for someone with a cute little button of a nose. “You didn’t think, Dresden,” she said, flipping her hair back from her eyes. “Dramatic death scene. Noble sacrifice, right? Tragically misunderstood? Hah! I understand you, buddy. You’re such a pompous, arrogant, pretentious, chauvinistic, hopelessly old-fashioned, stupidly pigheaded …”
went on in graphic detail and at great length about me as she walked away to call the police, and an ambulance, and it was music to my ears.

Things get a bit confused after that – it seems she comes back because she’s there to help him collect the wolf pelts and they burn them immediately in a stinking fire made of tree branches which means that in the rain they lit a fire of green wood despite Harry supposedly being all out magicwise. Also apparently he can’t throw them in despite being able to rip it off earlier, because that way he needs Murphy to do it for him because he’s so tragically scarred by his experiences, just like Frodo! He appreciated most how she didn’t ask questions because like hell he was going to say anything useful. Then they went to the funerals of each other’s friends – Murphy’s longterm partner who was willing to support her even when he disagreed and even when it meant nothing but aggravation from other cops, and that chick whose bloody tits Harry appreciated. Also, Harry makes a big point of this being a thing friends do even though didn’t he know Carmichael enough to go to the guy’s funeral, especially after he died a hero and also it being Harry’s failures that got him killed?

Oh yeah also Hendricks totally wore a vest and is okay.

I felt absurdly cheered when I saw him alive. All things considered, can you blame me?

Yes.

Marcone called me a few days later and said, “You owe me your life, Mr. Dresden. Are you sure we can’t talk business?”
“The way I see it, John,” I told him, “you owe me your life. After all, even if you’d cut yourself free, you’d have just fallen down into the pit and got eaten up with the rest of us. I figure you thought your highest chances of survival were in freeing me, the wizard who deals with this kind of thing, to handle it.”
“Of course,” Marcone said, with a note of disappointment in his voice. “I’d just hoped you hadn’t realized it. Nonetheless, Harry-“

This exchange makes no sense except for shippiness.

Marcone is continuing to tell Harry he super wants him around and express disappointment when Harry turns him down. He continues to display no threatening characteristics at all despite being a mob boss Harry keeps flipping off.

Also, here’s a thing to consider – apparently, Marcone was safe.

MacFinn was in the pit but Marcone wasn’t a pile of chewed bones, therefore he couldn’t reach the guy.

He was in danger because the FBI’s plan was to cut the rope and drop him into the pit, but with them gone he was fine.

And more…with him above, MacFinn was contained. Had Harry left and returned in the morning, they’d likely both have still been alive. And had Harry restrained Denton and left to take him to the police, Denton wouldn’t have been shot. It was his decision to go back rather than deal with Denton that led to the deaths of two people.

Anyway, a proper character here would point out Harry survived only because Marcone saved his life from the FBI guys originally (and also those gang idiots before then) and then distracted MacFinn long enough for Harry to deal with the FBI, and also was the only one smart enough to do the pit+bait plan that apparently would’ve worked perfectly and did contain MacFinn for a while. So yeah, Harry totally owes him his life and I don’t think it’s saved by helping out Marcone once.

But then, that’s likely not what Harry thinks either, because we know he told Murphy that Marcone was awesome for helping get them free. What’s really going on?

“Don’t call me Harry,” I said, and hung up on him.

Yeah.

Meanwhile! Rodriguez is fucking awesome and came back to film the whole thing.

from less than fifty yards away with a pretty good zoom lens and special light-sensitive film. The light from my amulet illuminated the scene rather dramatically without really showing many details. You can only see my back, and it looks like I’m swinging a glow stick around, and then throwing it at the monster, which can be seen only in shadowy detail as something large and furry. At the point where I released the spell, there’s a burst of static about a second long, where the magic messed up Susan’s camera, even from that far away.
In the film, the static clears and you can see Murphy shoot Denton off of my back, just before he brains me with his club. Then she spins around like Rambo, jumps out of the way of the leaping furry something-or-other, and empties the rest of her clip into the thing out of reflex.

…which didn’t happen when Harry recounted the scene originally. I think the book thinks that it covered this by saying there were flashes of light and thunder, but Harry’s watching closely enough to see every detail of MacFinn’s death and yet can’t tell Murphy’s shooting?

Possibly everything that he “sees” after he throws the amulet is him hallucinating as he passes out. Fits pretty well, actually – his eyes are closing but he registers the gunshots as “thunder” then pictures the lightning flashes because those go with thunder, then goes under completely and stops having anything to do with reality as he fantasizes that MacFinn understands why he had to do a bad thing and it was okay and he’s forgiven.

And indeed, Harry makes no mention of what happens after in the version of the tape. He probably doesn’t want to consider how well it matches.

Anyway, so Rodriguez gets so much attention and her video is played constantly for two days and everyone’s all MURPHY IS THE GREATEST HERO EVER and she even gets a proper name plate!!! Good things happening to people who actually deserve them!

The weird thing was that the film just vanished after two days. No one knew what happened to it, but the film technician in the room with the exclusive WGN Channel Nine videotape disappeared, too, leaving only a few scattered and low-quality copies.

Hey kids!

Remember how I talked about “film” last book? Well, movies also used to be made of many “film”-type pictures stuck together. Every time they were used, either to view directly or to copy, they would wear out slightly. Old people may talk of watching blurry, high-generation anime “tapes” – which is to say, a VHS (Video Home System) tape was originally placed in a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) and used to record while an anime show was playing, then the tape was physically brought to America. This would then be the “master” copy. Playing it would allow you to also make a new copy, but each time you did so, the master would degrade and so the image on the copy would also degrade. These copies would be passed around and people would use them to make still more copies, and from those copies would be made new copies and then one day people figured out you could transfer them onto computers and make the pictures digital, and today you can watch a million anime series with lines so sharp you could cut your eyes on them.

Oh, also TV stations would broadcast their images through the air, kind of like wireless internet! Like wireless internet, the broadcast suffered interference, but rather than just dropping the connection all the time it meant the image would be fuzzier than the original, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. (This is why you’ll see TVs with black and white dots called “static” sometimes in shows or other media, that was what happened when the TV couldn’t make out any signal.) If you were to put a “VHS tape” into your “VCR” while receiving this “broadcast”, you could “record” the image your TV was receiving, but that image would be much lower quality than the original tape.

And the limit of damage control for these recordings were things like trying to clean off literal dirt that might be stuck to this physical medium made of actual literal tiny pictures strung together or keeping it in climate-controlled areas so that the natural degradation that happened even when left alone would be slower than normal. Nothing could be done to actually repair the images.

This is how it makes sense that a “videotape” disappearing means having only “low-quality copies” remaining rather than perfect duplicates distributed throughout every corner of the internet with people working to enhance them for better viewing while people all over the world discussed it.

The past was terrible is my point.

Anyway, after it’s taken experts chime in to say it was obviously a hoax anyway.

Harry pontificates that lots of people just refuse to accept the supernatural is real, including somehow the federal government because we all know how governments are always the last to know about massive conspiracies.

But I’m thinking that if anyone in the government did believe, they would just as soon not have had proof of the existence of werewolves and the instability of a local FBI agent showing at five, six, and ten.

Harry then continues to talk about the film’s disappearance and not consider at all what happens when you add “the government had reason to get rid of this tape” to “the technician at the time was never seen again”.

Who cares about government-mandated hit squads to keep the supernatural secret, his girlfriend totally got a promotion at the Arcane, a big raise, and a guest slot on the Larry King show, plus a few other places. She looked good doing it, too, and made people think. She’s getting her column syndicated.

Sounds like we know who’s going to “disappear” next!

Maybe, in a few hundred years, people might actually be willing to consider what was real in the world with an open mind.
But I doubted it.

Yeah, humans really don’t want to believe in magic and definitely not when there’s objective proof of it for once.

Harry refuses to talk to her though, because he’s so upset she saw him so far gone into being a monster that I might as well have been one because we have to be clear this is just him being noble but he definitely wasn’t actually a monster just something else.

That said, we get a rare good relationship model in books – she respects his space but sends him flowers and pizza occasionally.

Tera was badly injured, but recovered thanks to her own reversion to human form, and Murphy’s quick first aid.

Yeah the book doesn’t even try to explain how turning human helped, it just did okay.

We could say that since shapeshifting was stated to be about how you imagined it, you can imagine your body as less wounded and with each shift you’re a little less messed up, especially if you’ve got good enough pain tolerance to temporarily blot out injuries. Unfortunately it was a plot point that Harry could recognize the injury in her human form as the smack on the head he gave a wolf (and she then kept it through multiple shifts), and if she can’t even handle bruising, there’s no way she could’ve knit together a mauled body with shapeshifting.

“I wished to tell you that what you did was necessary.

Except for if Harry hadn’t gone back, in which case a confused MacFinn would’ve found himself wet and cold in the bottom of a pit with a very annoyed Marcone dangling overhead.

slipped the cloak off. She was naked, with a few new, wrinkled scars.

Again, we know she’s naked. Also, “new”? Not sure I recall it ever being mentioned she had other scars to compare them too, and it’s not like Harry didn’t get a good look at her body.

She explains this is bye, she’s going back to her family, who are at the great mountains in the Northwest and also “her kind” don’t call on phones.

All those people shapeshifting into wolves, and I had never once considered the possibility of a wolf shapeshifting into a person.

Weirdly, while the reverse werewolf thing was obvious with the eyes and the weird behavior originally, she actually makes more sense as a nature spirit by this point. Her “true form” doesn’t really seem to be the wolf if she reverts out of it when injured after we’ve just seen every injured/dying human revert to human, she also displays the same grace in each form that’s better than anyone else rather than being more clumsy as a human, she’s oversized for an actual wolf, she doesn’t have any wolfy behaviors, she views shapeshifting humans as kin, she knows about wizards, she doesn’t have any opinion on dogs… A wolf smart enough to look human is also a wolf smart enough to go to places you can’t legally shoot them, so her statements about losing so many people work better if they’re nature spirits getting slowly bulldozed into oblivion. I guess if she’s a wolf wizard and the series has decided already that wizards live for ages, she could remember the days we were shooting every wolf in sight and that could’ve traumatized her pretty badly, and could also explain why she’s so skilled with a human form despite how she seems to have little interest in human stuff.

Anyway, time to whine about how his life being awesome is so hard:

The Alphas decided that I’m about the greatest thing since sliced bread. Which isn’t exactly the most thrilling thing in the world for me. They asked me to a camp out with them, which I reluctantly attended, where all dozen-odd young people swore friendship and loyalty to me

Harry then says that why yes, the publisher did just agree to a series:

When I took some time to think about all that had happened, I couldn’t help but think that the last several months had been a little too crazy for coincidence. First, a power-drunk warlock had appeared out of nowhere, and I had to duke it out with him in his own stronghold before he murdered me outright. And then, Denton and his people showed up with enchanted wolf belts and raised hell.
I never had found out who exactly was behind the warlock who showed up the previous spring. Black wizards don’t just grow up like toadstools, you know. Someone has to teach them complicated things like summoning demons, ritual magic, and clichéd villain dialogue. Who had been his teacher?
And Denton and company had shown up six months later. Someone had provided them with those belts. Someone had warned Denton that I was dangerous, that I or someone like me from the Council would go after him. And by telling him that, they had pointed him at me like a gun, determined to kill me. I’m not much of a believer in coincidence. Could it have been one of my enemies on the White Council? One of the beings of the Nevernever who had come to hate me? I was on the list of a number of nasty things, for one reason or another.

I much prefer the idea that Stormpants was a self-made man, and it’s pretty obviously what he originally wrote given the guy’s wife lays out how he got into this and how it involved zero mentors and Harry didn’t think that was at all odd. But it’s all worth it for what follows and us finding out just who is behind everything:

“You know what?” I told Mister one night in front of the fire. “Maybe I’ve finally gone around the bend, but I think someone might be trying to kill me.”
Mister looked up at me, his feline features filled with a supreme lack of concern, and rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

feline
rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

Then he thinks that no, he’s just being silly and he should go distract himself go out with distraction Rodriguez and stop thinking being paranoid so he forget about it reaches for the phone.

Mister batted at my hand approvingly.
“Or maybe I’m just too stupid to get out of trouble’s way, eh?”
Mister rumbled a deep, affirmative purr in his chest.

The real question we end on:

What is Harry’s “cat” and how many will die when its plan comes to fruition?

20 Comments

  1. Gust says:
    It looks like you forgot the read more.
  2. illhousen says:
    “The past was terrible is my point.”

    Ah, yes, I remember that time still. It was terrible.

    “I much prefer the idea that Stormpants was a self-made man, and it’s
    pretty obviously what he originally wrote given the guy’s wife lays out
    how he got into this and how it involved zero mentors and Harry didn’t
    think that was at all odd.”

    Hm. On the one hand, the retcon does explain why Victor von Onewizardindustrialrevolution is, well, one wizard Industrial Revolution: he isn’t, he just had a good mentor.

    On the other, it’s still a retcon, which is ungood, plus it’s just so much more noir to assume that shit like that simply happens every couple of months. You have warlocks learning a couple of spells and going Carrie, people bargaining with fae and becoming rage monsters because fae find it amusing, other people just getting straight up possessed by stray spirits and demons, some asshole releasing a rapist spirit, etc.

    What we have now, the idea that the cases are connected and have one mastermind behind them, is closer to standard for fantasy simplification of reality. Here, bad things have an origin you can punch in the face and stop all evil at once. It may be tough, it may require sacrifices on your part, but it’s still ultimately a one act that brings an end to bad things happening and makes a world a better place.

    If there isn’t a mastermind, if bad things happen for thousands of reasons and are endemic to the world as a whole, well, then our heroes would have to live with them. Doing their best day after day with the knowledge that the problems will never stop, they can only be stalled for a time.

    That’s much closer to reality and, I think, much more interesting to explore.

    That said…

    “feline

    rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.”

    HOLY SHIT. That is, indeed, a surprising yet so very plausible reveal, it almost makes it up for everything bad we’ve said about these books.

    However, there is a question: what is Mister’s plan? It couldn’t be killing Harry, of course, because he can smother Harry in his sleep anytime he wants (or steal his breath away if we go with folklore cats), so what is he after?

    1. Roarke says:
      Harry isn’t Mister’s target. He’s clearly a tool. Whenever something bad goes down and Harry gets involved, he tends to suffer the least out of anyone present. Mister is creating problems for Harry to ‘solve’ in his own collateral damage-inducing way.
    2. Farla says:
      so what is he after?

      The books work on the assumption that Harry’s a generally helpful force, but people sure don’t do every well around him and he’s not particularly nice about any of it.

      One option is he’s just tilting things generally worse – maybe without Harry, people ask for help from different magic users, ones less powerful but more decent and far less lazy. Maybe things just don’t go down the sleazy Harry route and instead, while Kim doesn’t want to go to Morgan because she knows he’ll want to know what’s really going on, she finally does for lack of other option, Harry type options and so she doesn’t die and the circle holds MacFinn and Morgan heads after the real killers the next day. Or maybe it’s just that, without a wizard, when Tera finds MacFinn they both run instead of sitting down at a campfire to answer Harry’s questions until the police arrive. Maybe Mister is behind the very fact someone as unmotivated and lazy as Harry is also somehow a magic powerhouse causing people to keep going to him for help he won’t give.

      The other option is there’s some sort of long game here. Black magic seems to drive people crazy fast, so maybe, if you want a long-term source of evil in the world, you have to carefully nurture it. You want someone proud enough to keep refusing the temptation without needing any help from ethics or morality. Look at how Harry spent this whole book constantly mentioning that technically he could legally kill everyone involved with magic YAY FUN when last book he kept saying that killing with magic was just fundamentally horrible and he never ever wanted to and no one should ever want to. Last book he had issues with women. This book, he’s getting laid and isn’t as obsessed as a result, and yet he seems to be more generally nasty to them. Last book he did feel upset about the deaths that were happening and some, if not enough, responsibility, this book he doesn’t even pretend to think it’s actually anything to do with him. He’s not so loudly terrible in this one but he’s just much, more worse of a person, as if he’s being corrupted.

      And there is the fact he’s no longer got anyone watching him for signs of being a dark wizard, so if there was some corruptive evil force, it’d now have much more leeway…

      1. illhousen says:
        Hm, I was thinking about the possibility of corruption. In the previous book, Harry researched the death spell, which is apparently a bad thing. This time around he used a wolfbelt, which may have lingering effects on his psyche. Granted, the latter was a long shot, but there were plenty of opportunities for Harry to either get the belt or kill “inhuman” people with magic, which would probably all play into Mister’s plan.

        Then there is a sudden appearance of Bill Cipher, which, of course, couldn’t be a coincidence. He’s probably in cahoots with Mister: Mister handles external affairs and orchestrates various situations for Harry to get into, while Bill works with Harry’s mind from the inside and guides him in the right direction.

        The biggest issue here is that Harry could have died a few times during this stuff, but then, the risk isn’t that great due to him being a powerhouse, plus there could be other people like him being manipulated, so one of them is almost guaranteed to be corrupted enough to do whatever the plan is.

        1. Roarke says:
          Maybe when Harry’s out of gas and needs to tap into his Sueness to pull one more 9th-level spell out of his ass, it’s actually Mister supplying the power.
          1. illhousen says:
            That would actually be consistent with how sponsor magic works in the RPG, and the consequence is that a sponsor can compel the indebted character to behave in a certain way. Depending on the type of sponsor and the exact relationships, compel can take form of a direct order or a subtle influence where the character – as opposed to the player – doesn’t even realize there is any mental influence.

            So, from that perspective, orchestrating as many situations where Harry has to rely on his ass to provide a solution as possible is actually a good plan.

            1. Roarke says:
              You know, it’s probably a two-man con. You have Mister providing the power and subtly influencing Harry to be lazy and arrogant, then you have Bob providing just enough knowledge so Harry won’t suicide into actual threats. Bob is also conditioning Harry to work with unsavory types and slowly loosening what passes for Harry’s morality.
              Reply
              1. illhousen says:
                Three men, unless subHarry is Mister in disguise.
              2. Farla says:
                Bob’s also good for making Harry feel more moral than he is. “I refused Bob’s offer of a cool thingy if I just allowed something bad, so I’m a good person already and can afford to slack off a bit.”
  3. Nerem says:
    Harry used magic to murder people, and it didn’t count. I see.
    1. Roarke says:
      It was Morgan’s week off.
  4. Roarke says:
    feline
    rolled over so that I could rub his tummy.

    In the words of a great bard: DUN DUN DUNNNNN

  5. Socordya says:
    just like Frodo
    Originally read that as Frollo, and it made me weirdly happy.

    What is Harry’s “cat” and how many will die when its plan comes to fruition?
    I think it might me the féline equivalent of Tera: it would explains why it’s only very vaguely similar to a cat, the same way Tera is only vaguely wolfish.

    1. Farla says:
      Hm. And the two never meet, probably because Tera would recognize it!
  6. Bethany says:
    To be fair, I once had a housemate whose cat loved having her tummy rubbed (when it was her idea, of course) and rolled over to ask for it — and was very annoyed if you did not respond immediately to her tummy-rubbing demands. She didn’t even do the thing cats do where they grab your hand and nip at it when they’ve had enough tummy-rubbing, as she pretty much never nipped about anything and also pretty much never got enough tummy-rubbing. So it’s unusual, but it does happen.
    1. illhousen says:
      Is your housemate still alive and not evil?
      1. Bethany says:
        Yes, and the cat (a very sweet calico) lived a long and normal cat life before passing away a few years ago.
    2. Farla says:
      I find a lot of cats actually like it, but they have to be chill/trusting enough not to freak out, and you usually have to teach them it’s okay. I can do it to my fat pudding cat as long as she’s mostly asleep, for example.

      It’s particularly weird for a presumably intact male because those fight constantly and are super in favor of everyone else getting neutered, to the point they try to do it even to cats you already neutered, so he should be super on edge about getting touched anywhere in the vicinity. On the other hand, if Harry did somehow manage a second of responsibility between pouring coke into his cat’s bowl and neuter his pet, it’s more plausible he’d be chill about it.

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