Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 19

He jacked in.

`Hey,' the construct said, `ol'~ Peter's totally apeshit, huh?'

They seemed to be part of the Tessier-Ashpool ice now; the emerald arches had widened, grown together, become a solid mass. Green predominated in the planes of the Chinese program that surrounded them. `Gettin'~ close, Dixie?'

`Real close. Need you soon.'

`Listen, Dix. Wintermute says Kuang's set itself up solid in our Hosaka. I'm going to have to jack you and my deck out of the circuit, haul you into Straylight, and plug you back in, into the custodial program there, Wintermute says. Says the Kuang virus will be all through there. Then we run from inside, through the Straylight net.'

`Wonderful,' the Flatline said, `I never did like to do anything simple when I could do it ass-backwards.'

Case flipped.

Into her darkness, a churning synaesthesia, where her pain was the taste of old iron, scent of melon, wings of a moth brushing her cheek. She was unconscious, and he was barred from her dreams. When the optic chip flared, the alphanumerics were haloed, each one ringed with a faint pink aura.


`I'm very unhappy with this, Peter.' 3Jane's voice seemed to arrive from a hollow distance. Molly could hear, he realized, then corrected himself. The simstim unit was intact and still in place; he could feel it digging against her ribs. Her ears registered the vibrations of the girl's voice. Riviera said something brief and indistinct. `But I don't,' she said, `and it isn't fun. Hideo will bring a medical unit down from intensive care, but this needs a surgeon.'

There was a silence. Very distinctly, Case heard the water lap against the side of the pool.

`What was that you were telling her, when I came back?' Riviera was very close now.

`About my mother. She asked me to. I think she was in shock, aside from Hideo's injection. Why did you do that to her?'

`I wanted to see if they would break.'

`One did. When she comes around -if she comes around -we'll see what color her eyes are.'

`She's extremely dangerous. Too dangerous. If I hadn't been here to distract her, to throw up Ashpool to distract her and my own Hideo to draw her little bomb, where would you be? In her power.'

`No,' 3Jane said, `there was Hideo. I don't think you quite understand about Hideo. She does, evidently.'

`Like a drink?'

`Wine. The white.'

Case jacked out.

Maelcum was hunched over Garvey's controls, tapping out commands for a docking sequence. The module's central screen displayed a fixed red square that represented the Straylight dock. Garveywas a larger square, green, that shrank slowly, wavering from side to side with Maelcum's commands. To the left, a smaller screen displayed a skeletal graphic of Garveyand Haniwaas they approached the curvature of the spindle.

`We got an hour, man,' Case said, pulling the ribbon of fiberoptics from the Hosaka. His deck's back-up batteries were good for ninety minutes, but the Flatline's construct would be an additional drain. He worked quickly, mechanically, fastening the construct to the bottom of the Ono-Sendai with micropore tape. Maelcum's workbelt drifted past. He snagged it, unclipped the two lengths of shock cord, with their gray rectangular suction pads, and hooked the jaws of one clip through the other. He held the pads against the sides of his deck and worked the thumb lever that created suction. With the deck, construct, and improvised shoulder strap suspended in front of him, he struggled into his leather jacket, checking the contents of his pockets. The passport Armitage had given him, the bank chip in the same name, the credit chip he'd been issued when he'd entered Freeside, two derms of the betaphenethylamine he'd bought from Bruce, a roll of New Yen, half a pack of Yeheyuans, and the shuriken. He tossed the Freeside chip over his shoulders, heard it click off the Russian scrubber. He was about to do the same with the steel star, but the rebounding credit chip clipped the back of his skull, spun off, struck the ceiling, and tumbled past Maelcum's left shoulder. The Zionite interrupted his piloting to glare back at him. Case looked at the shuriken, then tucked it into his jacket pocket, hearing the lining tear.

`You missin'~ th'~ Mute, mon,' Maelcum said. `Mute say he messin'~ th'~ security for Garvey.Garveydockin'~ as 'nother boat, boat they 'spectin'~ out of Babylon. Mute broadcastin'~ codes for us.'

`We gonna wear the suits?'

`Too heavy.' Maelcum shrugged. `Stay in web 'til I tell you.' He tapped a final sequence into the module and grabbed the worn pink handholds on either side of the navigation board. Case saw the green square shrink a final few millimeters to overlap the red square. On the smaller screen, Haniwalowered her bow to miss the curve of the spindle and was snared. Garveywas still slung beneath her like a captive grub. The tug rang, shuddered. Two stylized arms sprang out to grip the slender wasp shape. Straylight extruded a tentative yellow rectangle that curved, groping past Haniwafor Garvey.

There was a scraping sound from the bow, beyond the trembling fronds of caulk.

`Mon,' Maelcum said, `mind we got gravity.' A dozen small objects struck the floor of the cabin simultaneously, as though drawn there by a magnet. Case gasped as his internal organs were pulled into a different configuration. The deck and construct had fallen painfully to his lap.

They were attached to the spindle now, rotating with it.

Maelcum spread his arms, flexed tension from his shoulders, and removed his purple dreadbag, shaking out his locks. `Come now, mon, if you seh time be mos'~ precious.'


The Villa Straylight was a parasitic structure, Case reminded himself, as he stepped past the tendrils of caulk and through Marcus Garvey's forward hatch. Straylight bled air and water out of Freeside, and had no ecosystem of its own.

The gangway tube the dock had extended was a more elaborate version of the one he'd tumbled through to reach Haniwa,designed for use in the spindle's rotation gravity. A corrugated tunnel, articulated by integral hydraulic members, each segment ringed with a loop of tough, nonslip plastic, the loops serving as the rungs of a ladder. The gangway had snaked its way around Haniwa;it was horizontal, where it joined Garvey's lock, but curved up sharply and to the left, a vertical climb around the curvature of the yacht's hull. Maelcum was already making his way up the rings, pulling himself up with his left hand, the Remington in his right. He wore a stained pair of baggy fatigues, his sleeveless green nylon jacket, and a pair of ragged canvas sneakers with bright red soles. The gangway shifted slightly, each time he climbed to another ring.

The clips on Case's makeshift strap dug into his shoulder with the weight of the Ono-Sendai and the Flatline's construct. All he felt now was fear, a generalized dread. He pushed it away, forcing himself to replay Armitage's lecture on the spindle and Villa Straylight. He started climbing. Freeside's ecosystem was limited, not closed. Zion was a closed system, capable of cycling for years without the introduction of external materials. Freeside produced its own air and water, but relied on constant shipments of food, on the regular augmentation of soil nutrients. The Villa Straylight produced nothing at all.

`Mon,' Maelcum said quietly, `get up here, 'side me.' Case edged sideways on the circular ladder and climbed the last few rungs. The gangway ended in a smooth, slightly convex hatch, two meters in diameter. The hydraulic members of the tube vanished into flexible housings set into the frame of the hatch.

`So what do we --'

Case's mouth shut as the hatch swung up, a slight differential in pressure puffing fine grit into his eyes.

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