Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 14

They followed the railing to an ornate iron bridge that arched over Desiderata. Michle prodded him with the muzzle of the Walther.

`Take it easy, I can't hardly walk today.'

They were a little over a quarter of the way across when the microlight struck, its electric engine silent until the carbon fiber prop chopped away the top of Pierre's skull.

They were in the thing's shadow for an instant, Case felt the hot blood spray across the back of his neck, and then someone tripped him. He rolled, seeing Michle on her back, knees up, aiming the Walther with both hands. That's a waste of effort,he thought, with the strange lucidity of shock. She was trying to shoot down the microlight.

And then he was running. He looked back as he passed the first of the trees. Roland was running after him. He saw the fragile biplane strike the iron railing of the bridge, crumple, cartwheel, sweeping the girl with it down into Desiderata.

Roland hadn't looked back. His face was fixed, white, his teeth bared. He had something in his hand.

The gardening robot took Roland as he passed that same tree. It fell straight out of the groomed branches, a thing like a crab, diagonally striped with black and yellow.

`You killed 'em,' Case panted, running. `Crazy motherfucker, you killed 'em all...'


The little train shot through its tunnel at eighty kilometers per hour. Case kept his eyes closed. The shower had helped, but he'd lost his breakfast when he'd looked down and seen Pierre's blood washing pink across the white tiles.

Gravity fell away as the spindle narrowed. Case's stomach churned.

Aerol was waiting with his scooter beside the dock.

`Case, mon, big problem.' The soft voice faint in his phones. He chinned the volume control and peered into the Lexan face-plate of Aerol's helmet.

`Gotta get to Garvey,Aerol.'

`Yo. Strap in, mon. But Garveycaptive. Yacht, came before, she came back. Now she lockin'~ steady on Marcus Garvey.'

Turing? `Came before?' Case climbed into the scooter's frame and began to fasten the straps.

`Japan yacht. Brought you package...'


Confused images of wasps and spiders rose in Case's mind as they came in sight of Marcus Garvey.The little tug was snug against the gray thorax of a sleek, insectile ship five times her length. The arms of grapples stood out against Garvey's patched hull with the strange clarity of vacuum and raw sunlight. A pale corrugated gangway curved out of the yacht, snaked sideways to avoid the tug's engines, and covered the aft hatch. There was something obscene about the arrangement, but it had more to do with ideas of feeding than of sex.

`What's happening with Maelcum?'

`Maelcum fine. Nobody come down the tube. Yacht pilot talk to him, say relax.'

As they swung past the gray ship, Case saw the name HANIWA in crisp white capitals beneath an oblong cluster of Japanese.

`I don't like this, man. I was thinking maybe it's time we got our ass out of here anyway.'

`Maelcum thinkin'~ that precise thing, mon, but Garveynot be goin'~ far like that.'

Maelcum was purring a speeded-up patois to his radio when Case came through the forward lock and removed his helmet.

`Aerol's gone back to the Rocker,'Case said.

Maelcum nodded, still whispering to the microphone.

Case pulled himself over the pilot's drifting tangle of dreadlocks and began to remove his suit. Maelcum's eyes were closed now; he nodded as he listened to some reply over a pair of phones with bright orange pads, his brow creased with concentration. He wore ragged jeans and an old green nylon jacket with the sleeves ripped out. Case snapped the red Sanyo suit to a storage hammock and pulled himself down to the g-web.

`See what th'~ ghost say, mon,' Maelcum said. `Computer keeps askin'~ for you.'

`So who's up there in that thing?'

`Same Japan-boy came before. An'~ now he joined by you Mister Armitage, come out Freeside...'

Case put the trodes on and jacked in.


The matrix showed him the pink spheres of the steel combine in Sikkim.

`What you gettin'~ up to, boy? I been hearin'~ lurid stories. Hosaka's patched into a twin bank on your boss's boat now. Really hoppin'~. You pull some Turing heat?'

`Yeah, but Wintermute killed 'em.'

`Well, that won't hold 'em long. Plenty more where those came from. Be up here in force. Bet their decks are all over this grid sector like flies on shit. And your boss, Case, he says go. He says run it and run it now.'

Case punched for the Freeside coordinates.

`Lemme take that a sec, Case...' The matrix blurred and phased as the Flatline executed an intricate series of jumps with a speed and accuracy that made Case wince with envy.

`Shit, Dixie...'

`Hey, boy, I was that good when I was alive. You ain't seen nothin'~. No hands!'

`That's it, huh? Big green rectangle off left?'

`You got it. Corporate core data for Tessier-Ashpool S.A., and that ice is generated by their two friendly AI's. On par with anything in the military sector, looks to me. That's king hell ice, Case, black as the grave and slick as glass. Fry your brain soon as look at you. We get any closer now, it'll have tracers up our ass and out both ears, be tellin'~ the boys in the T-A boardroom the size of your shoes and how long your dick is.'

`This isn't looking so hot, is it? I mean, the Turings are on it. I was thinking maybe we should try to bail out. I can take you.'

`Yeah? No shit? You don't wanna see what that Chinese program can do?'

`Well, I...' Case stared at the green walls of the T-A ice. `Well, screw it. Yeah. We run.'

`Slot it.'

`Hey, Maelcum,' Case said, jacking out, `I'm probably gonna be under the trodes for maybe eight hours straight.' Maelcum was smoking again. The cabin was swimming in smoke. `So I can't get to the head...'

`No problem, mon.' The Zionite executed a high forward somersault and rummaged through the contents of a zippered mesh bag, coming up with a coil of transparent tubing and something else, something sealed in a sterile bubble pack.

He called it a Texas catheter, and Case didn't like it at all.

He slotted the Chinese virus, paused, then drove it home.

`Okay,' he said, `we're on. Listen, Maelcum, if it gets really funny, you can grab my left wrist. I'll feel it. Otherwise, I guess you do what the Hosaka tells you, okay?'

`Sure, mon.' Maelcum lit a fresh joint.

`And turn the scrubber up. I don't want that shit tangling with my neurotransmitters. I got a bad hangover as it is.'

Maelcum grinned.

Case jacked back in.

`Christ on a crutch,' the Flatline said, `take a look at this.'

The Chinese virus was unfolding around them. Polychrome shadow, countless translucent layers shifting and recombining. Protean, enormous, it towered above them, blotting out the void.

`Big mother,' the Flatline said.

`I'm gonna check Molly,' Case said, tapping the simstim switch.

Freefall. The sensation was like diving through perfectly clear water. She was falling-rising through a wide tube of fluted lunar concrete, lit at two-meter intervals by rings of white neon.

The link was one way. He couldn't talk to her.

He flipped.

`Boy, that is one mean piece of software. Hottest thing since sliced bread. That goddam thing's invisible.I just now rented twenty seconds on that little pink box, four jumps left of the T-A ice; had a look at what we look like. We don't. We're not there.'

Case searched the matrix around the Tessier-Ashpool ice until he found the pink structure, a standard commercial unit, and punched in closer to it. `Maybe it's defective.'

`Maybe, but I doubt it. Our baby's military, though. And new. It just doesn't register. If it did, we'd read as some kind of Chinese sneak attack, but nobody's twigged to us at all. Maybe not even the folks in Straylight.'

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