Author Topic: Harry's murders of Non-humans! (Cold Days spoilers)  (Read 29166 times)

Offline Xandarth

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Obviously we have not seen an in-book example of this, but the way they are written lends itself to this exact scenario being "possible". The DV magic-effects-scale does not take intent into account. Any magic that kills - even if the intent of the spell was benign - irreversibly turns a practitioner into a warlock, inless it was self-defense. If Harry were to come across a person freezing to death, and use a spell to light a fire to warm them, but that fire subsequently causes a building to ignite and kill a homeless person inside, he's irrevocably tainted.
I think you are mixing up the Laws and their enforcement here.

I don't think a single break of the law irrevocably damages the soul causing someone to be a warlock for ever. I imagine, just like most things in life, that different people's souls have different levels of resistance to breaking the laws. The White Council has a zero tolerance policy because there isn't a hard and fast rule as to how many people you can kill / mind rape / zombify / etc. before you irrevocably attempt to use that sort of magic to solve all of your problems.

The problem is that even with mundane tasks the more often you act in a certain way, the harder it is to modify that behaviour later. Just ask any gambling addict. Add in the fact that in the Dresdenverse you can't use magic you don't believe in, and the subconscious self-justification of appalling behaviour is already a factor the moment you cast the spell.

Just look at Molly. The first time she used her mind magic, she slightly altered her female friends mind to make her not use drugs with the self justification that she was protecting her baby. The second time she used it was on her boyfriend, but along with that benign self justification she also fed in her rage at him cheating on her and so she caused far more damage to him.

Then a few years later, she is obviously still of the opinion that mind magic isn't so bad so long as your intentions are right and she has a crack at Luccio's head with the self justification that she's only searching for traitors. But yet again, we know that Luccio is having a torrid love affair with Dresden and that Molly has a massive crush on him. Surely the first person she should have checked was Morgan, to see if he was actually a traitor or not, but instead she leaps straight in to the mind of the woman dating the man she loves a few hours after finding out Luccio is Harry's lover, knowing full well that this has lead to irreparable brain damage to everyone she has ever done this to.

There's no real closure on this either. Even after Harry has told her that she has just put both of their heads on the chopping block, she's still trying to convince him that she was justified in doing so because she has found actual evidence of someone else playing with Luccio's mind. Clearly, Molly is still headed down the slippery slope to becoming a warlock, however she's not there yet. She doesn't mind alter everyone whenever it's convenient for her needs. Only whenever she feels like a jilted lover. She's not at Grevane's level where he is so used to murdering people and turning them into zombies that he does this without even thinking of other solutions to his problems, but she's clearly on her way.

I wonder if the new Winter Lady will be as law abiding as she has been or if now she has diplomatic immunity from the Wardens if a new spate of mind altering will occur.
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Offline cass

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I wonder if the new Winter Lady will be as law abiding as she has been or if now she has diplomatic immunity from the Wardens if a new spate of mind altering will occur.

Possibly the only silver lining in this in terms of Molly's mental health and wellbeing is that she won't be able to, by and large.  She can't touch regular ol' humans unless they are affiliated with the Court.  So, changelings, etc.  (Whether the Council considers them mortal enough to count for breaking the Laws is up for debate, but I suspect yes.)  She could try mind controlling the sidhe, but I bet that until she gets up to speed, even that won't fly-- the sidhe excel at illusion-type enchantments and mental manipulation.

Offline peregrine

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I don't think a single break of the law irrevocably damages the soul causing someone to be a warlock for ever. I imagine, just like most things in life, that different people's souls have different levels of resistance to breaking the laws. The White Council has a zero tolerance policy because there isn't a hard and fast rule as to how many people you can kill / mind rape / zombify / etc. before you irrevocably attempt to use that sort of magic to solve all of your problems.
...
I wonder if the new Winter Lady will be as law abiding as she has been or if now she has diplomatic immunity from the Wardens if a new spate of mind altering will occur.
Also, while the first violation doesn't do it, the WC just doesn't have the resources to mentor people to prevent followup violations, and it's only in rare cases like Harry and Eb that do that.

As for Molly, I imagine that while there's a tricky situation, Mab probably won't want Molly just slipping back into her bad habits, they could cause more problems for her than it's worth.

Offline LordDresden

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Obviously we have not seen an in-book example of this, but the way they are written lends itself to this exact scenario being "possible". The DV magic-effects-scale does not take intent into account. Any magic that kills - even if the intent of the spell was benign - irreversibly turns a practitioner into a warlock, inless it was self-defense. If Harry were to come across a person freezing to death, and use a spell to light a fire to warm them, but that fire subsequently causes a building to ignite and kill a homeless person inside, he's irrevocably tainted. The argument that he "inherantly believed that the homeless person should burn to death" falls apart since it was an unintended consequence, but the law and its rationale in the DV are absolute. He's a warlock and must die. Whether he feels remorse and that remorse messes up his mind, or if he simply chalks it up to "bad things happen and there's nothing you can do, but at least the freezing person's life was saved, so its a wash" is immaterial.

No, not quite so.  That's why the Council does have trials for Law breaking.  Circumstances do matter, esp. self-defense, but they take a really, really hard line on them (And human nature being what it is, politics matters.  Wizard A might be let off for the exact same actions that Wizard B gets nailed for, in the borderline cases, because of that.)

In the case of the fire, for ex, the Council would consider the circumstances.  Should the wizard have seen the risk of the fire getting out of control?  Were they in a situation where the fire getting out of control was freakily improbable?  That does matter, even to the Council.  After all, any use of magic sets in motion chains of events that sooner or later, somewhere or other, bring about a death that wouldn't happen, just as all actions do, even if only years later and after hundreds of links in the chain of events.

But the Council is hard-assed about it, precisely because they want Wizards to think carefully and act carefully with their power.  Think before you cast, and don't throw your power around trivially.  If you make a fire to warm a cold person, make sure it's inside a circle of rocks or on concrete, and don't do it in a tinder-box firetrap of a building.

The Council isn't nice about this...but where there's a lot of power things aren't always nice. 

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But my point is that this has nothing to do with administration of justice. The WC does not execute wizards who have killed via magic as punishment or as a cosmic scale balancing. They do so because the person has become an irredeemable monster who will do nothing but inflict more suffering on others exponentially. Mortals have the concept of Justifiable Homicide. If a criminal is hurting someone and you take action to save the victim even if your won life is not in danger, but in the process the criminal dies, that's justifiable homicide. Do so with magic, and you need to die. That's according to Eb and has nothing to do with right and wrong.

True.  The Laws of Magic are less like law-enforcement in the usual sense, and more like a prophylatic measure.  Think of isolating a carier of a deadly, hyper-contagious disease away from human contact, with or without consent.  It's not fair, it may not be right that this person who did nothing wrong gets this treatment, but it may also be necessary.


Offline LordDresden

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When he's laying down the law to the winter court:
My voice echoed throughout the whole chamber as clearly as if I’d been using a PA system. “All right, you primitive screwheads. Listen up. I’m Harry Dresden. I’m the new Winter Knight. I’m instituting a rule: When you’re within sight of me, mortals are off-limits.” I paused for a moment to let that sink in. Then I continued. “I can’t give you orders. I can’t control what you do in your own domains. I’m not going to be able to change you. I’m not even going to try. But if I see you abusing a mortal, you’ll join Chunky here. Zero warnings. Zero excuses. Subzero tolerance.”
I paused again and then asked, “Any questions?” One of the Sidhe smirked and stepped forward, his leather pants creaking. He opened his mouth, his expression condescending. “Mortal, do you actually think that you can—” “Infriga!” I snarled, unleashing Winter again, and without waiting for the cloud to clear, hurled the second strike, shouting, “Forzare!” This time I aimed much of the force up. Grisly bits of frozen Sidhe noble came pattering and clattering down to the ice of the dance floor.


When I first read this I did a mental double-take. Harry committed murder there. Seriously, he straight up murdered a sapient being for the crime of disagreeing with him, and somehow it's okay because it was a Sidhe, not a human. And nobody calls him out on it. There have been other instances of speciesism in the series, but this takes the cake.

Did he commit legal murder?  No.  Mab gave approval.

Morally, Harry is in extreme danger, and he knows it.  Not long before he did that, he was musing about the danger of power corrupting, one little step at a time.  At the time he was thinking about the moral risk of sex with Sarissa, even with consent, under the peculiar circumstances, but it applies more generally.  Harry isn't unaware of the danger.

The problem is that it's also true that Harry probably really does have to behave that way, and do things like that, to enforce what authority he has in Winter.  Not enforcing his authority is suicidal.  Literally.  He very probably does have to be the Alpha Monster to keep the other monsters at bay.  Does that make it OK morally?  Not necessarily.

Note that we saw something similar in the short story Even Hand.  What Harry did that Sidhe noble, John Marcone did to a prisoner who started to waste his time with empty bravado.  The situation is not entirely similar, of course.  Harry was less in a position of power relative to the others than Marcone was to his prisoners, Marcone had more options available.  In each case, though, both men (who are very similar in some ways, psychologically, though they spin in oppositely) issued an order or asked a question, with either a stated or implied threat of death in the even of non-compliance, and then enforced that threat.

By declaring mortal 'off limits' around him, Harry hopes to protect them and himself from traps using mortals, the way Maeve tried to use Sarissa.  If the Winter Fae know that the moment they even try something with a mortal to get at Harry, he'll immediately go to DefCon 5 and nuke them on the spot, it provides an incentive not to make that attempt in the first place.  That helps avoid things like somefae grabbing Karrin or Butters or Billy and using him/her as a tool in a play against Harry...or so he hopes.

Since the warning has already been issued, Harry doesn't have to concern himself with things like boundaries or the fae claiming that he's just plucking Karrin's eyes out and it's no concern of Harry's, the warning's already in place so Harry doesn't need an excuse to act.  The fact taht it's a capital offense means that a fae has at least what should be a good reason to think carefully before trying anything 'clever'.

Harry has allowed himself to be put into a position where he may literally have no options other than behaving immorally or dying.  It's the latest link in a long chain of bad consequences stemming from a long chain of bad choices going back to his 16th year, and his ill-advised deal with Lea.  It was compounded by later bad choices, especially in Death Masks.  As Uriel keeps trying to pound into him (and is starting to penetrate), bad choices tend to give bad results.

The situation Harry (and Molly) are in now is also glaring proof of the wisdom of Bob's warning to Harry, way way back in Summer Knight, that wise mortal avoid getting mixed up with the Sidhe.  At all. For any reason.  Note that this is also the traiditional view of the Fae in myth and legend.

Did Harry take a step closer to corruption at the party?  Almost certainly.  Was it as  big a step as it could have been?  No, because his options really were limited.  But it was a step.

« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 05:40:14 AM by LordDresden »

Offline Xandarth

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Possibly the only silver lining in this in terms of Molly's mental health and wellbeing is that she won't be able to, by and large.  She can't touch regular ol' humans unless they are affiliated with the Court.  So, changelings, etc.  (Whether the Council considers them mortal enough to count for breaking the Laws is up for debate, but I suspect yes.)  She could try mind controlling the sidhe, but I bet that until she gets up to speed, even that won't fly-- the sidhe excel at illusion-type enchantments and mental manipulation.
Unfortunately, you are forgetting one very important mortal she can use magic on.

He's probably the reason she first started playing around with magic that could alter peoples minds and make them do things they normally wouldn't do. After all, I bet it's the most common reason for warlocks to start using mind magic. The mantel would also be prompting her to use any method at her disposal to control him, and also be prompting her to have sex with him, which would fit in very well with her own subconscious desires. She's probably thought about using mind magic on him every time she has used it on someone else, although she probably lives in denial about that being the reason she worked out how to use mind magic.

If she starts playing with mind magic again, Harry will be her intended victim, and she will use it to try and make him love her.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 09:14:11 AM by Xandarth »
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Offline ebliss1

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No, not quite so.  That's why the Council does have trials for Law breaking.  Circumstances do matter, esp. self-defense, but they take a really, really hard line on them (And human nature being what it is, politics matters.  Wizard A might be let off for the exact same actions that Wizard B gets nailed for, in the borderline cases, because of that.)

This I would dispute. We have heard from Harry and from Bob and from Eb that the WC has a policy of One-and-Dead for a reason - and that reason is that the effects are immediate and irreversible. Self-defense is only slightly marginal, and even doing so gets you the Doom of Damocles for life.

For all other offenses, there is a no-strikes policy. Molly would have been executed had political circumstances not aligned in just the right way. There is no jury deliberations or defense attorneys or mitigating circumstances or "degree of offense" sliding scale considerations. After a couple of millenia of experience, the White Council has observed and set policy that reflects the reality of the DV: step one toe over the line toward The Dark Side and you are full-on Sith Lord.

Jim has created a pretty black-and-white set of rules in his universe.

Mortal on mortal killing/mind control is of zero concern magically.

Magic on mortal killing/mind control is Ultimate Evil and condemns the perpetrator to Sithhood.

Magic on Supernatural killing is of zero concern magically.

Magic on Supernatural mind control (binding and compulsion) is Ultimate Evil and condemns the perpetrator to Sithhood.

These are essentially analogues to Real World differences in laws among countries. PDA in the US is of zero concern. PDA in Saudi Arabia is a crime. Killing (non self defense) in most countries is a crime punishable up to death. Killing for honor is of no concern in Afghanistan. Etc. As with the Real World analogues, we may not agree or understand the laws, but that doesn't make them any less binding. Jim's laws are the same in that regard. When he offed the Sidhe noble, he was not in his country. He was in Mab's country, and in her country, the Queen's Knightis required to respond to such confrontations with immediate and deadly force. When in Rome...
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Offline cass

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Unfortunately, you are forgetting one very important mortal she can use magic on.

He's probably the reason she first started playing around with magic that could alter peoples minds and make them do things they normally wouldn't do. After all, I bet it's the most common reason for warlocks to start using mind magic. The mantel would also be prompting her to use any method at her disposal to control him, and also be prompting her to have sex with him, which would fit in very well with her own subconscious desires. She's probably thought about using mind magic on him every time she has used it on someone else, although she probably lives in denial about that being the reason she worked out how to use mind magic.

If she starts playing with mind magic again, Harry will be her intended victim, and she will use it to try and make him love her.

Not forgetting so much as hoping that she'll be in enough mortal terror of Mab (Harry is, after all, Mab's chosen knight, not Maeve's, Molly's or the Winter Lady's) not to try it.  And Mab certainly didn't interfere with Slate until it had become apparent that he was irredeemably warped. Even then, she didn't whammy him, she imprisoned him.  All of which is probably wishful thinking on a grand scale....

We don't know that the mantle will be spurring Molly to control Harry, though-- certainly, Lily never seems to try to control Fix (whether it's because she doesn't have to is certainly debatable).  Maeve certainly exerted direct control over Slate through the use of the snowflake brand, but maybe Slate in SK was so far gone into the mantle that she needed to.  That brand seemed to me to be nothing so much as a particularly cruel shock collar.

Offline Xandarth

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Mab has control freak written all over her, look at the way she manipulates Dresden into doing what she wants. All of Dresden's urges in CD revolve around domination, taking what you want by force and other predatory instincts. Molly's mantel would probably translate that desire to control or possess everything into magically enforcing love on Dresden because that's the method she already desires.

That said, I'm expecting with all Jim's focus on Free Will that this will be an issue Molly has to overcome (mirroring Dresden's fight against his own dark nature) rather than an unavoidable fate in much the same way Dresden will. Would be a nice role reversal if after she had confronted her own demons, Harry was the one to start losing to his mantel and have her mentor him on dealing with his own demons.

Also on the Lilly - Fix thing remember Summer is a herd beast mantel (the stag or doe) and winter is a predator (wolf). Completely different pack dynamic.
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Online Mira

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  What is going to be interesting I think is the sexual tension between the Winter Knight and his Lady..   We know how Molly feels about Harry.  Harry on the other hand has been in denile as to his sexual attraction to her.  He says not, but what he has noticed and described when describing her is not exactly indifferent.  There is an interesting line, where once again being around Molly gets a rise..  He is quick to dismiss it as the Mantle talking, but is it?  I know, I know he has to work though stuff with Murphy first.. However at some point I predict at the very least there is going to be at least a physical event between them and who knows what the fall out from that is going to be.

Offline Xandarth

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Yeah, there is definite unresolved sexual tension between the two.

I'm pretty sure the women Harry's made the most sexual comments about so far are: Mab, Lara, Molly and (odd one out) Andi. Typically the first time he meets one of them in any book (and often every other time they are in the same room as him) he has to go into detail about how great he thinks their bodies are. Then in Mab or Lara's case he has to remind himself they are evil and in Molly's case he reminds himself that he can never go there because of [insert excuses]. Followed by him checking out their arse again anyway or giving a detailed description of how Molly's nipples are noticeably pierced. 

His description of Corpsetaker in GS was also a strange look into his psychology. He starts of saying she is UGLY!!! (It's not spelled correctly without the three !!!), yet by the end of the paragraph has decided she must have been really attractive when she was younger. He's obviously got a thing for bad girls that he's in denial about. Not sure how his Andi fixation fits into that theory but there's a girl who needs to ask a certain Native American Senior Council member how to take her clothes with her when she shape changes.

None of the women he's had a relationship with (or Karrin) get this treatment and he typically just sticks to height and hair colour when describing them and never really sexually objectifies them. In Karrin's case he typically drops in a line of her looking like someones favourite aunt or being a midget. Maybe he's just being respectful to his ex's / mothers of his children / old boss while writing his memoirs but it's kinda jarring at times. Luccio even gets topless and he barely comments on it, unlike when Maeve, Molly, Andi, etc. get their kit off.

If he only sexually objectifies women he doesn't respect then what does that say about Molly? Or Andi for that matter? If he's not actually sexually attracted to Luccio, Susan or Karrin why on earth are they the only women he forms (or is strongly contemplating) sexual relationships with? It's really quite a bizarre element of the story telling.
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Offline the neurovore of Zur-En-Aargh

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I'm pretty sure the women Harry's made the most sexual comments about so far are: Mab, Lara, Molly and (odd one out) Andi. Typically the first time he meets one of them in any book (and often every other time they are in the same room as him) he has to go into detail about how great he thinks their bodies are. Then in Mab or Lara's case he has to remind himself they are evil and in Molly's case he reminds himself that he can never go there because of [insert excuses]. Followed by him checking out their arse again anyway or giving a detailed description of how Molly's nipples are noticeably pierced. 

Being particularly consciously aware of someone doesn't have to mean choosing to drool over them.

I don't think his reactions with Molly are sexual interest, I think they are Molly continuing to push herself into Harry's awareness in way he's not actually comfortable with, and the discomfort itself makes him more conscious of her than of women he is comfortable around.

As for Mab and Lara, they are inhuman predators adapted to using superhuman attractiveness as a hunting strategy, so Harry being that aware of them makes sense.  (It seems pretty clear from Harry's comments that many DV women have the same scale of reaction to Thomas for the same reason, whether he wants it or not.)

Of course, Harry's attachment to the whole idiotic "guys don't talk about feelings" thing means he isn't being anywhere near as analytical here as would help him make sense of the situation.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 09:48:42 PM by the neurovore of Zur-En-Aargh »
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Online Mira

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If he only sexually objectifies women he doesn't respect then what does that say about Molly? Or Andi for that matter? If he's not actually sexually attracted to Luccio, Susan or Karrin why on earth are they the only women he forms (or is strongly contemplating) sexual relationships with? It's really quite a bizarre element of the story telling.
  I wouldn't go that far.  Harry was aware and often made mention as to how sexy Susan was and Elaine as well for that matter, but they were never mere sex objects to him.  I think a lot of the way he describes women has to do with Harry's shyness around women, his inexperience, and yeah, on the subject of Molly he is confused.    He is aware that Andi is good looking, but I don't think he is attracted to her.  Murphy is weird because he is attracted to her on several levels, but at the same time not all that physically attracted,  as you say, she is the wholesome girl next door who happens to be tough as nails.  Molly just confuses the hell out of him, up until now his glands are telling him one thing about her, but because she is the little girl of one of his best friends he refuses to go there.   One has to wonder though, if Molly were not the daughter of Michael and his student, would he have bedded her by now?  Molly is no longer Harry's student..
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 05:20:53 AM by Mira »

Offline LordDresden

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This I would dispute. We have heard from Harry and from Bob and from Eb that the WC has a policy of One-and-Dead for a reason - and that reason is that the effects are immediate and irreversible.

No.  Just no.

Nobody has claimed that the effects are always immediate and irreversible.  What has been claimed is that the risk of going further is big enough that high levels of risk are involved, hence the 'sponsor policy'.  The Council knows perfectly well that most warlocks don't instantly devolve to insanity, it takes time.

The trouble is that the path downhill is easy, stepping off of it is hard.  The Council knows that, too.

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For all other offenses, there is a no-strikes policy. Molly would have been executed had political circumstances not aligned in just the right way. There is no jury deliberations or defense attorneys or mitigating circumstances or "degree of offense" sliding scale considerations.

It was also political considerations that brought about her near death.  Molly's trial was not typical.

Offline LordDresden

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Yeah, there is definite unresolved sexual tension between the two.

Agreed, it's been there since she was a teen for Molly and in recent years it's becoming mutual, and Harry is reluctant to admit this to himself for various reasons, some of them good reasons, some purely Harry-baggage.

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I'm pretty sure the women Harry's made the most sexual comments about so far are: Mab, Lara, Molly and (odd one out) Andi. Typically the first time he meets one of them in any book (and often every other time they are in the same room as him) he has to go into detail about how great he thinks their bodies are. Then in Mab or Lara's case he has to remind himself they are evil and in Molly's case he reminds himself that he can never go there because of [insert excuses]. Followed by him checking out their arse again anyway or giving a detailed description of how Molly's nipples are noticeably pierced. 

Yeah, but that set doesn't go together.

Very nearly all males and many women automatically have that reaction to Lara, it's imposed from outside.  About the only way Harry could avoid reacting to Lara that way would be active use of magic or maybe certain drugs. 

Which is not to say he doesn't find Lara the human being attractive, because he clearly does.  But that overwhelming lust is independent of that.

Likewise, Mab is a special case, esp. now that he is the WinterK.  That attraction there is only partly sexual, though it's easiest to express in that form.  It's a mixture of awe, terror, respect, revulsion, admiration in the abstract (the way one can admire the beauty of a tornado or a shark), and ordinary desire for a beautiful woman mixed in.

His attraction to Molly, OTOH, is purely human.

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His description of Corpsetaker in GS was also a strange look into his psychology. He starts of saying she is UGLY!!! (It's not spelled correctly without the three !!!), yet by the end of the paragraph has decided she must have been really attractive when she was younger. He's obviously got a thing for bad girls that he's in denial about. Not sure how his Andi fixation fits into that theory but there's a girl who needs to ask a certain Native American Senior Council member how to take her clothes with her when she shape changes.


His comments about Andi are simply based on the fact that she's exceptionally hot.  There's no particular mystery to it.