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Awesome / Skin Game

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Par for the series in general, there were quite a few ridiculously awesome moments in this installment of The Dresden Files. WARNING: Unmarked spoilers below!

  • Butters, of all people, gets a series of Awesome Moments in this book. He's already a vanilla mortal who has been studying with Bob to the point that he can make a few simple magical trinkets—which is a feat on the level of a blind person teaching themselves to paint, because he doesn't have the magical senses that every other practicioner in the series has.
    • In this book, it transpires that he's stepped up his game and figured out how to make some more substantial gadgets—including potions like Harry used to use, bottled mind fog, and a magical, self-propelled skateboard—which he powers by releasing Bob into them, which is something that Harry never even tried. And he's not just the Chicago crew's Q—he takes his stuff into the field himself. Murphy herself has started calling him Batman, just because of his utility belt, and she implies that he's doing it because with Harry and Molly out of commission, someone has to be the wizard of Chicago.
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    • Although it eventually backfires on him, when he starts to worry about Harry's sanity, he manages to pull one over on the Warden of Chicago himself—by slipping a magical listening device into the cast he puts on Harry's arm.
    • At the climax of the book, with Harry out of commission and Charity in danger, he takes Harry's duster, powers it up by channeling Bob into it, and walks out to face the music, with no intention of surviving, just intending to buy some time for reinforcements to arrive. He tackles and headbutts Tessa, a Knight of the Blackened Denarius. Pretty good for someone who is still a vanilla mortal, and it's probably one reason why...
    • When Harry throws Charity the broken hilt of Fidelacchius, his throw misses... and bounces directly to Butters, who, with a combination of Butters' faith in Harry and good triumphing over evil, Harry's faith in him, and Michael's faith that the broken Sword of Faith still has power and purpose, manages to reforge a Sword of the Cross... into a lightsaber. Which he uses to break Nicodemus's sword like a toothpick, break the will of the Denarians' fanatical cultists, and force Nicodemus and Tessa to flee the scene.
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    • And unlike Murphy, Butters is accepting this as a permanent job. When Michael and Charity finish with him, he's going to be pretty much unstoppable - a magic-wielding Batman Jedi Knight of the Cross with an immortal spirit of intellect backing him up. Sanya has backup now.
      • Even his line is awesome.
      "Nice try?" Butters said, "Mister, where I come from there is no try."
  • When Butters takes up the Sword of Faith, Mouse has just finished up mopping up the mook squad, and leaps onto a van, fur blazing with blue and white light. Just the SIGHT of Mouse is enough to terrify Anduriel. Not Nicodemus, not the human. The Fallen's Master of Shadows wets his demonic pants at what Mouse has become.
    • Considering where Mouse has been living, and how he gains his powernote , Mouse could very well be approaching Archangel levels of ass-kicking - with none of those pesky limitations on whose ass he can kick that Uriel has. "Little Cousin" indeed.
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  • The final conflict shows Harry's fighting abilities have jumped several dozen notches.
  • When Harry's Long Game comes together and The Mole is revealed, turning a 4 on 2 beatdown - Harry and Michael against Nicodemus, Hannah/Lasciel, Ursiel, and Grey - into a fair fight with Grey revealing himself to have been Good All Along (or, at least, hired by Harry first).
  • Harry making the normally cool, reserved Nicodemus totally lose it in the vault by taunting him about having to sacrifice his daughter. When Harry uses psychological warfare, it can make even the most stoic villains break.
    • It should be noted that Nicodemus has had two thousand years to practice not only his stoicism but his manipulation, meaning he can probably see what Harry is trying to do and it still gets to him. On the flip side Harry's speech is completely merciless, taunting Nicky about how strong a relationship becomes after centuries of parenthood and how no amount of power is going to replace your own child. Harry continues to press Nicky's buttons with frightening accuracy, to the point where he starts to sound more like Hannibal Lecter than the slightly goofy pop culture nerd we know and love.
      • Also something of a Fridge Tearjerker, when you realize just how much Dresden loves Maggie, that the big goof can be that insightful as to what Nicodemus has lost, and outraged enough to resort to using those insights to completely demolish the man's ego. Dresden's brought down an entire nation to save his own girl, and what Nicodemus has done places him utterly beyond the pale in Harry's estimation: a Moral Event Horizon beyond all others, that makes demonic pacts or torturing the Archive seem like traffic offenses.
    • The absolute clincher comes with the final few lines, that finally break Nicodemus, that get through his years of discipline and determination by hammering home just who and what he sacrificed in the name of power.
    Harry: Do you remember? The first time you saw her? The first time she looked at you? Do you remember the change? That shift, when the whole universe suddenly tilted? Do you remember looking at her and knowing you would never, ever be quite the same person? Do you think the cup will do that for you?
    I don't know how you said it back in the day, but I'll bet you anything her first word was 'dada'.
  • The price Grey demands from Harry for his help. One. Dollar.
    • Also, all of Grey's shenanigans.
  • Before it goes to hell, Murphy's fight with Nicodemus.
  • Uriel allowing himself to be Brought Down to Normal to restore Michael to fighting condition. Specifically by entrusting Michael with his grace, a power source capable of unmaking Galaxies. Because he has that much faith in Michael's ability to do the right thing.
  • The rematch we thought we'd never get: Michael vs. Nicodemus. Michael, in Harry's own words, "goes all out"...and Nick has no answer. Two thousand years of swordmanship, thwarted by the Fist of God.
    • Even bigger: Michael first offers Nicodemus a chance to repent his sins, and Michael (it seems) almost convinces one of the most evil men to perform a Heel–Face Turn. Nicodemus has tortured to death Michael's friend and mentor, crippled Michael for life, and tortured and killed God knows how many other people, but Michael still honestly and truly offers the hand of friendship to Nicodemus, calling him "brother." Sometimes, the Awesome moment isn't violence, but the strength to offer a seemingly irredeemable man a second chance.
      • The fact that, despite his belief that everyone is redeemable, after Nicodemus turns down Michael's offer, Michael doesn't hold back at all. For the first time in the series, the Fist of God holds literally nothing back in his attempts to defeat his opponent, and it is terrifying.
  • Nicodemus uses the Grail to shield himself from attacks. Michael turns his sword away - he thinks that Holy Grail is too valuable to destroy. Harry doesn't, so he shoots right at Nicodemus. Who also does, and so he takes the bullet, urgently saving the Grail from Harry's hit. Apparently, using something you are not ready to lose as a shield against someone having no objections to destroy it, is not a wise idea.
  • Mr. Sunshine's reveal that his primary reason for the whole thing was trying to save the Squires. Made even better that he (mostly) succeeds.
    • This bears repeating. Uriel, one of the four Archangels and the greatest defender of mortal free will, risked death, or even Falling. Not to prevent some massive apocalypse. Not to prevent Nicci from getting his hands on the Holy Grail. Not for some large, world saving purpose that drove him to that desperate act. But simply to try and save the souls of Nicodemus' mooks.
    • Closely related: how Uriel convinced Michael to stop protesting the risk of an Archangel dying or Falling. Michael already knows one of his best friends is in a very precarious situation and that Nicodemus is after the literal Holy Grail, but what ends the discussion?
    Michael: Can you tell me what is at stake, that I should risk this?
    Uriel: A soul.
    Michael: Oh. You should have said that from the beginning.
  • Hades stops time to talk to Harry in private. Just because he just wanted to meet him and shake his hand, saying that he sensed they had much in common (i.e. doing an unpleasant job because somebody has to, overseeing a prison, owning big dogs that are far kinder than their reputation suggests). Seems Odin isn't the only god who is wild about Harry.
  • The way old Nick is taken down a much-needed peg or four, and the way Mab and Marcone and Hades utterly deconstruct his image as the badass master of manipulation and leave him in the mud.
  • After Nicodemus smashes Fidelacchius, he has Harry and Murphy fully beaten. Michael Carpenter offers to come out from behind his guardian angels if Nicodemus lets them go, and Uriel shows up to say this sacrifice isn't called for. Nicodemus then taunts Uriel repeatedly about how this is human free will and there's nothing he can do. And then:
    Nicodemus: The bargain was made. His word freely given. You cannot stop him from fullfilling it.
    Uriel: Correct, but I can help him to do so.
    • Butters comes sprinting around the side of the house, having retrieved Amoracchius from wherever it was hidden and pulling parts of the covering off. Michael pulls the Sword from the package without even looking. Michael the family man may enjoy his retirement, but Michael the Knight is something else, and the Sword clearly hasn't forgotten him.
    Nicodemus: You cheat!
  • Special mention goes to Hannah Ascher, whose fire magic makes a Fomor mook's head literally explode. Even Harry is impressed. Also, walking through fire and barely even getting signed, which even Harry, an incredibly powerful and quite skilled wizard by this point, admits would be well beyond him.
  • Harry's duel with the aforementioned Hannah Ascher is a perfect example of how experience and flexibility trump raw power. Harry's opponent, while being even greater pyromancer than him and boosted by Lasciel's Hellfire to the point a single hit would kill Harry, actually fails to land a single hit, as each time Harry retaliates with a counter-attack that hits hard, and eventually turns Hannah's own Hellfire against herself in a Defensive Feint Trap. With the added benefit of possibly trapping Lasciel in Hades' treasury for good. Even further, Harry takes pains to offer her mercy, and when she refuses, he demonstrates that even though she has better fine control over fire than he does, and probably greater raw power thanks to Lasciel, she's still way out of her league when it comes to actual combat skill.

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