Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 18


She missed it by a fraction. She nearly cut it, but not quite. She went in just right, Case thought. The right attitude; it was something he could sense, something he could have seen in the posture of another cowboy leaning into a deck, fingers flying across the board. She had it: the thing, the moves. And she'd pulled it all together for her entrance. Pulled it together around the pain in her leg and marched down 3Jane's stairs like she owned the place, elbow of her gun arm at her hip, forearm up, wrist relaxed, swaying the muzzle of the fletcher with the studied nonchalance of a Regency duelist.

It was a performance. It was like the culmination of a lifetime's observation of martial arts tapes, cheap ones, the kind Case had grown up on. For a few seconds, he knew, she was every bad-ass hero, Sony Mao in the old Shaw videos, Mickey Chiba, the whole lineage back to Lee and Eastwood. She was walking it the way she talked it.

Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool had carved herself a low country flush with the inner surface of Straylight's hull, chopping away the maze of walls that was her legacy. She lived in a single room so broad and deep that its far reaches were lost to an inverse horizon, the floor hidden by the curvature of the spindle. The ceiling was low and irregular, done in the same imitation stone that walled the corridor. Here and there across the floor were jagged sections of wall, waist-high reminders of the labyrinth. There was a rectangular turquoise pool centered ten meters from the foot of the stairway, its underwater floods the apartment's only source of light -or it seemed that way, to Case, as Molly took her final step. The pool threw shifting blobs of light across the ceiling above it.

They were waiting by the pool.

He'd known that her reflexes were souped up, jazzed by the neurosurgeons for combat, but he hadn't experienced them on the simstim link. The effect was like tape run at half speed, a slow, deliberate dance choreographed to the killer instinct and years of training. She seemed to take the three of them in at a glance: the boy poised on the pool's high board, the girl grinning over her wineglass, and the corpse of Ashpool, his left socket gaping black and corrupt above his welcoming smile. He wore his maroon robe. His teeth were very white.

The boy dove. Slender, brown, his form perfect. The grenade left her hand before his hands could cut the water. Case knew the thing for what it was as it broke the surface: a core of high explosive wrapped with ten meters of fine, brittle steel wire.

Her fletcher whined as she sent a storm of explosive darts into Ashpool's face and chest, and he was gone, smoke curling from the pocked back of the empty, white-enameled pool chair.

The muzzle swung for 3Jane as the grenade detonated, a symmetrical wedding cake of water rising, breaking, falling back, but the mistake had been made.

Hideo didn't even touch her, then. Her leg collapsed.

In Garvey,Case screamed.

`It took you long enough,' Riviera said, as he searched her pockets. Her hands vanished at the wrists in a matte black sphere the size of a bowling ball. `I saw a multiple assassination in Ankara,' he said, his fingers plucking things from her jacket, `a grenade job. In a pool. It seemed a very weak explosion, but they all died instantly of hydrostatic shock.' Case felt her move her fingers experimentally. The material of the ball seemed to offer no more resistance than temperfoam. The pain in her leg was excruciating, impossible. A red moire shifted in her vision. `I wouldn't move them, if I were you.' The interior of the ball seemed to tighten slightly. `It's a sex toy Jane bought in Berlin. Wiggle them long enough and it crushes them to a pulp. Variant of the material they make this flooring from. Something to do with the molecules, I suppose. Are you in pain?'

She groaned.

`You seem to have injured your leg.' His fingers found the flat packet of drugs in the left back pocket of her jeans. `Well. My last taste from Ali, and just in time.'

The shifting mesh of blood began to whirl.

`Hideo,' said another voice, a woman's, `she's losing consciousness. Give her something. For that and for the pain. She's very striking, don't you think, Peter? These glasses, are they a fashion where she comes from?'

Cool hands, unhurried, with a surgeon's certainty. The sting of a needle.

`I wouldn't know,' Riviera was saying. `I've never seen her native habitat. They came and took me from Turkey.'

`The Sprawl, yes. We have interests there. And once we sent Hideo. My fault, really. I'd let someone in, a burglar. He took the family terminal.' She laughed. `I made it easy for him. To annoy the others. He was a pretty boy, my burglar. Is she waking, Hideo? Shouldn't she have more?'

`More and she would die,' said a third voice.

The blood mesh slid into black.

The music returned, horns and piano. Dance music.

C A S E : : : : :

: : : : : J A C K

O U T : : : : : :

Afterimages of the flashed words danced across Maelcum's eyes and creased forehead as Case removed the trodes.

`You scream, mon, while ago.'

`Molly,' he said, his throat dry. `Got hurt.' He took a white plastic squeeze bottle from the edge of the g-web and sucked out a mouthful of flat water. `I don't like how any of this shit is going.'

The little Cray monitor lit. The Finn, against a background of twisted, impacted junk. `Neither do I. We gotta problem.'

Maelcum pulled himself up, over Case's head, twisted and peered over his shoulder. `Now who is that mon, Case?'

`That's just a picture, Maelcum,' Case said wearily. `Guy I know in the Sprawl. It's Wintermute talking. Picture's supposed to make us feel at home.'

`Bullshit,' the Finn said. `Like I told Molly, these aren't masks. I need 'em to talk to you. 'Cause I don't have what you'd think of as a personality, much. But all that's just pissing in the wind, Case, 'cause, like I just said, we gotta problem.'

`So express thyself, Mute,' Maelcum said.

`Molly's leg's falling off, for starts. Can't walk. How it was supposed to go down, she'd walk in, get Peter out of the way, talk the magic word outa 3Jane, get up to the head, and say it. Now she's blown it. So I want you two to go in after her.'

Case stared at the face on the screen. `Us?'

`So who else?'

`Aerol,' Case said, `the guy on Babylon Rocker,Maelcum's pal.'

`No. Gotta be you. Gotta be somebody who understands Molly, who understands Riviera. Maelcum for muscle.'

`You maybe forget that I'm in the middle of a little run, here. Remember? What you hauled my ass out here for...'

`Case, listen up. Time's tight. Very tight. Listen. The real link between your deck and Straylight is a sideband broadcast over Garvey's navigation system. You'll take Garveyinto a very private dock I'll show you. The Chinese virus has completely penetrated the fabric of the Hosaka. There's nothing in the Hosaka but virus now. When you dock, the virus will be interfaced with the Straylight custodial system and we'll cut the sideband. You'll take your deck, the Flatline, and Maelcum. You'll find 3Jane, get the word out of her, kill Riviera, get the key from Molly. You can keep track of the program by jacking your deck into the Straylight system. I'll handle it for you. There's a standard jack in the back of the head, behind a panel with five zircons.'

`Kill Riviera?'

`Kill him.'

Case blinked at the representation of the Finn. He felt Maelcum put his hand on his shoulder. `Hey. You forget something.' He felt the rage rising, and a kind of glee. `You fucked up. You blew the controls on the grapples when you blew Armitage. Haniwa's got us good and tight. Armitage fried the other Hosaka and the mainframes went with the bridge, right?'

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