“They caught up with you,” Drin says woodenly.
The little girl tosses tangled hair out of her eyes, a gesture Drin does not recognize, a gesture that feels like it must be habit for her, the girl herself. Dance’s word rings in his ears: mudang.
Emma, he thinks, might know what Dance is talking about.
Emma; and Wojohowitz—General Wojohowitz—called her Watson.
“Damn right, they caught up with me, son,” says the General. “Not too many moons after Watson here did the thing she does so well, and you and your little posse disappeared. Hope you’ve been keeping your big mitts off the ‘Phone, like we talked about before I died.”
Drin takes a startled step backward.
“The ‘Phone’s bad?”
“Of course the ‘Phone’s bad, son. How do you think they put me down?”
“He’s been very careful,” Dance says suddenly, mildly, in a tone Drin is not quite sure he’s ever heard before.
Well, Dance is reasoning with a ghost, he thinks.
“Lieutenant Navarre was born careful, soldier,” says the General. “But something out there trumped his ‘careful,’ so my recommendation,” and this voice is coming out of the little girl, this sound like steel wool riding over scratched and abraded metal, “my recommendation, Corpsman, is that you sit this goddamned conversation out.” The General laughs again; the sound is immediately interrupted by a sharp, barking cough. “Listen up, son. The dead do not customarily take time out to advise the living. Follow me?”
Dance, subdued and none too steady on his feet, just nods.
The little girl’s mouth opens on harsh consonants, almost coughing them out, a lighter higher voice overlaid atop that of the General.
Dance wobbles, clutches with a yelp at his middle, and falls to his knees.
Emma’s mouth opens.
“Who,” she says, voice rising, “the hell are you?”
“Why, Watson,” says the little girl, “you’ve hurt my feelings.”