Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 5

Neither, apparently, had Molly. `Jesus,' she said, and hesitated. It was a sort of keening, rising into a bubbling wail of raw and total fear. The lobby floor was covered with bodies, clothing, blood, and long trampled scrolls of yellow printout.

`C'mon, sister. We're for out.' The eyes of the two Moderns stared out of madly swirling shades of polycarbon, their suits unable to keep up with the confusion of shape and color that raged behind them. `You hurt? C'mon. Tommy'll walk you.' Tommy handed something to the one who spoke, a video camera wrapped in polycarbon.

`Chicago,' she said, `I'm on my way.' And then she was falling, not to the marble floor, slick with blood and vomit, but down some bloodwarm well, into silence and the dark.

The Panther Modern leader, who introduced himself as Lupus Yonderboy, wore a polycarbon suit with a recording feature that allowed him to replay backgrounds at will. Perched on the edge of Case's worktable like some kind of state of the art gargoyle, he regarded Case and Armitage with hooded eyes. He smiled. His hair was pink. A rainbow forest of microsofts bristled behind his left ear; the ear was pointed, tufted with more pink hair. His pupils had been modified to catch the light like a cat's. Case watched the suit crawl with color and texture.

`You let it get out of control,' Armitage said. He stood in the center of the loft like a statue, wrapped in the dark glossy folds of an expensive-looking trenchcoat.

`Chaos, Mr.~ Who,' Lupus Yonderboy said. `That is our mode and modus. That is our central kick. Your woman knows. We deal with her. Not with you, Mr.~ Who.' His suit had taken on a weird angular pattern of beige and pale avocado. `She needed her medical team. She's with them. We'll watch out for her. Everything's fine.' He smiled again.

`Pay him,' Case said.

Armitage glared at him. `We don't have the goods.'

`Your woman has it,' Yonderboy said.

`Pay him.'

Armitage crossed stiffly to the table and took three fat bundles of New Yen from the pockets of his trenchcoat. `You want to count it?' he asked Yonderboy.

`No,' the Panther Modern said. `You'll pay. You're a Mr.~ Who. You pay to stay one. Not a Mr.~ Name.'

`I hope that isn't a threat,' Armitage said.

`That's business,' said Yonderboy, stuffing the money into the single pocket on the front of his suit.

The phone rang. Case answered.

`Molly,' he told Armitage, handing him the phone.

The Sprawl's geodesics were lightening into predawn gray as Case left the building. His limbs felt cold and disconnected. He couldn't sleep. He was sick of the loft. Lupus had gone, then Armitage, and Molly was in surgery somewhere. Vibration beneath his feet as a train hissed past. Sirens dopplered in the distance.

He took corners at random, his collar up, hunched in a new leather jacket, flicking the first of a chain of Yeheyuans into the gutter and lighting another. He tried to imagine Armitage's toxin sacs dissolving in his bloodstream, microscopic membranes wearing thinner as he walked, it didn't seem real. Neither did the fear and agony he'd seen through Molly's eyes in the lobby of Sense/Net. He found himself trying to remember the faces of the three people he'd killed in Chiba. The men were blanks; the woman reminded him of Linda Lee. A battered tricycle-truck with mirrored windows bounced past him, empty plastic cylinders rattling in its bed.


He darted sideways, instinctively getting a wall behind his back.

`Message for you, Case.' Lupus Yonderboy's suit cycled through pure primaries. `Pardon. Not to startle you.'

Case straightened up, hands in jacket pockets. He was a head taller than the Modern. `You oughta be careful, Yonderboy.'

`This is the message. Wintermute.' He spelled it out.

`From you?' Case took a step forward.

`No,' Yonderboy said. `For you.'

`Who from?'

`Wintermute,' Yonderboy repeated, nodding, bobbing his crest of pink hair. His suit went matte black, a carbon shadow against old concrete. He executed a strange little dance, his thin black arms whirling, and then he was gone. No. There. Hood up to hide the pink, the suit exactly the right shade of gray, mottled and stained as the sidewalk he stood on. The eyes winked back the red of a stoplight. And then he was really gone.

Case closed his eyes, massaged them with numb fingers, leaning back against peeling brickwork.

Ninsei had been a lot simpler.


The medical team Molly employed occupied two floors of an anonymous condo-rack near the old hub of Baltimore. The building was modular, like some giant version of Cheap Hotel, each coffin forty meters long. Case met Molly as she emerged from one that wore the elaborately worked logo of one GERALD CHIN, DENTIST. She was limping.

`He says if I kick anything, it'll fall off.'

`I ran into one of your pals,' he said, `a Modern.'

`Yeah? Which one?'

`Lupus Yonderboy. Had a message.' He passed her a paper napkin with W I N T E R M U T E printed in red feltpen in his neat, laborious capitals. `He said --' But her hand came up in the jive for silence.

`Get us some crab,' she said.

After lunch in Baltimore, Molly dissecting her crab with alarming ease, they tubed in to New York. Case had learned not to ask questions; they only brought the sign for silence. Her leg seemed to be bothering her, and she seldom spoke.

A thin black child with wooden beads and antique resistors woven tightly into her hair opened the Finn's door and led them along the tunnel of refuse. Case felt the stuff had grown somehow during their absence. Or else it seemed that it was changing subtly, cooking itself down under the pressure of time, silent invisible flakes settling to form a mulch, a crystalline essence of discarded technology, flowering secretly in the Sprawl's waste places.

Beyond the army blanket, the Finn waited at the white table.

Molly began to sign rapidly, produced a scrap of paper, wrote something on it, and passed it to the Finn. He took it between thumb and forefinger, holding it away from his body as though it might explode. He made a sign Case didn't know, one that conveyed a mixture of impatience and glum resignation. He stood up, brushing crumbs from the front of his battered tweed jacket. A glass jar of pickled herring stood on the table beside a torn plastic package of flatbread and a tin ashtray piled with the butts of Partagas.

`Wait,' the Finn said, and left the room.

Molly took his place, extruded the blade from her index finger, and speared a grayish slab of herring. Case wandered aimlessly around the room, fingering the scanning gear on the pylons as he passed.

Ten minutes and the Finn came bustling back, showing his teeth in a wide yellow smile. He nodded, gave Molly a thumbs up salute, and gestured to Case to help him with the door panel. While Case smoothed the velcro border into place, the Finn took a flat little console from his pocket and punched out an elaborate sequence.

`Honey,' he said to Molly, tucking the console away, `you have got it. No shit, I can smell it. You wanna tell me where you got it?'

`Yonderboy,' Molly said, shoving the herring and crackers aside. `I did a deal with Larry, on the side.'

`Smart,' the Finn said. `It's an AI.'

`Slow it down a little,' Case said.

`Berne,' the Finn said, ignoring him. `Berne. It's got limited Swiss citizenship under their equivalent of the Act of '53. Built for Tessier-Ashpool S.A. They own the mainframe and the original software.'

`What's in Berne, okay?' Case deliberately stepped between them.

`Wintermute is the recognition code for an AI. I've got the Turing Registry [16] numbers. Artificial intelligence.'

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