Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 22

`I know you,' Case said, Linda beside him.

`No,' the boy said, his voice high and musical, `you do not.'

`You're the other AI. You're Rio. You're the one who wants to stop Wintermute. What's your name? Your Turing code. What is it?'

The boy did a handstand in the surf, laughing. He walked on his hands, then flipped out of the water. His eyes were Riviera's, but there was no malice there. `To call up a demon you must learn its name. Men dreamed that, once, but now it is real in another way. You know that, Case. Your business is to learn the names of programs, the long formal names, names the owners seek to conceal. True names...'

`A Turing code's not your name.'

`Neuromancer,' the boy said, slitting long gray eyes against the rising sun. `The lane to the land of the dead. Where you are, my friend. Marie-France, my lady, she prepared this road, but her lord choked her off before I could read the book of her days. Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead. But no, my friend,' and the boy did a little dance, brown feet printing the sand, `I amthe dead, and their land.' He laughed. A gull cried. `Stay. If your woman is a ghost, she doesn't know it. Neither will you.'

`You're cracking. The ice is breaking up.'

`No,' he said, suddenly sad, his fragile shoulders sagging. He rubbed his foot against the sand. `It is more simple than that. But the choice is yours.' The gray eyes regarded Case gravely. A fresh wave of symbols swept across his vision, one line at a time. Behind them, the boy wriggled, as though seen through heat rising from summer asphalt. The music was loud now, and Case could almost make out the lyrics.

`Case, honey,' Linda said, and touched his shoulder.

`No,' he said. He took off his jacket and handed it to her. `I don't know,' he said, `maybe you're here. Anyway, it gets cold.'

He turned and walked away, and after the seventh step, he'd closed his eyes, watching the music define itself at the center of things. He did look back, once, although he didn't open his eyes.

He didn't need to.

They were there by the edge of the sea, Linda Lee and the thin child who said his name was Neuromancer. His leather jacket dangled from her hand, catching the fringe of the surf.

He walked on, following the music.

Maelcum's Zion dub.

There was a gray place, an impression of fine screens shifting, moire, degrees of half tone generated by a very simple graphics program. There was a long hold on a view through chainlink, gulls frozen above dark water. There were voices. There was a plain of black mirror, that tilted, and he was quicksilver, a bead of mercury, skittering down, striking the angles of an invisible maze, fragmenting, flowing together, sliding again...

`Case? Mon?'

The music.

`You back, mon.'

The music was taken from his ears.

`How long?' he heard himself ask, and knew that his mouth was very dry.

`Five minute, maybe. Too long. I wan'~ pull th'~ jack, Mute seh no. Screen goin'~ funny, then Mute seh put th'~ phones on you.'

He opened his eyes. Maelcum's features were overlayed with bands of translucent hieroglyphs.

`An'~ you medicine,' Maelcum said. `Two derm.'

He was flat on his back on the library floor, below the monitor. The Zionite helped him sit up, but the movement threw him into the savage rush of the betaphenethylamine, the blue derms burning against his left wrist. `Overdose,' he managed.

`Come on, mon,' the strong hands beneath his armpits, lifting him like a child, `I an'~ I mus'~ go.'


The service cart was crying. The betaphenethylamine gave it a voice. It wouldn't stop. Not in the crowded gallery, the long corridors, not as it passed the black glass entrance to the T-A crypt, the vaults where the cold had seeped so gradually into old Ashpool's dreams.

The transit was an extended rush for Case, the movement of the cart indistinguishable from the insane momentum of the overdose. When the cart died, at last, something beneath the seat giving up with a shower of white sparks, the crying stopped.

The thing coasted to a stop three meters from the start of 3Jane's pirate cave.

`How far, mon?' Maelcum helped him from the sputtering cart as an integral extinguisher exploded in the thing's engine compartment, gouts of yellow powder squirting from louvers and service points. The Braun tumbled from the back of the seat and hobbled off across the imitation sand, dragging one useless limb behind it. `You mus'~ walk, mon.' Maelcum took the deck and construct, slinging the shock cords over his shoulder.

The trodes rattled around Case's neck as he followed the Zionite. Riviera's holos waited for them, the torture scenes and the cannibal children. Molly had broken the triptych. Maelcum ignored them.

`Easy,' Case said, forcing himself to catch up with the striding figure. `Gotta do this right.'

Maelcum halted, turned, glowering at him, the Remington in his hands. `Right, mon? How's right?'

`Got Molly in there, but she's out of it. Riviera, he can throw holos. Maybe he's got Molly's fletcher.' Maelcum nodded. `And there's a ninja, a family bodyguard.'

Maelcum's frown deepened. `You listen, Babylon mon,' he said. `I a warrior. But this no m'~ fight, no Zion fight Babylon fightin'~ Babylon, eatin'~ i'self, ya know? But Jah seh I an'~ I t'~ bring Steppin'~ Razor outa this.'

Case blinked.

`She a warrior,' Maelcum said, as if it explained everything. `Now you tell me, mon, who I nott'~ kill.'

`3Jane,' he said, after a pause. `A girl there. Has a kinda white robe thing on, with a hood. We need her.'

When they reached the entrance, Maelcum walked straight in, and Case had no choice but to follow him.

3Jane's country was deserted, the pool empty. Maelcum handed him the deck and the construct and walked to the edge of the pool. Beyond the white pool furniture, there was darkness, shadows of the ragged, waist-high maze of partially demolished walls.

The water lapped patiently against the side of the pool.

`They're here,' Case said. `They gotta be.'

Maelcum nodded.

The first arrow pierced his upper arm. The Remington roared, its meter of muzzle-flash blue in the light from the pool. The second arrow struck the shotgun itself, sending it spinning across the white tiles. Maelcum sat down hard and fumbled at the black thing that protruded from his arm. He yanked at it.

Hideo stepped out of the shadows, a third arrow ready in a slender bamboo bow. He bowed.

Maelcum stared, his hand still on the steel shaft.

`The artery is intact,' the ninja said. Case remembered Molly's description of the man who'd killed her lover. Hideo was another. Ageless, he radiated a sense of quiet, an utter calm. He wore clean, frayed khaki workpants and soft dark shoes that fit his feet like gloves, split at the toes like tabi socks. The bamboo bow was a museum piece, but the black alloy quiver that protruded above his left shoulder had the look of the best Chiba weapons shops. His brown chest was bare and smooth.

`You cut my thumb, mon, wi'~ secon'~ one,' Maelcum said.

`Coriolis force,' the ninja said, bowing again. `Most difficult, slow-moving projectile in rotational gravity. It was not intended.'

`Where's 3Jane?' Case crossed to stand beside Maelcum. He saw that the tip of the arrow in the ninja's bow was like a double-edged razor. `Where's Molly?'

`Hello, Case.' Riviera came strolling out of the dark behind Hideo, Molly's fletcher in his hand. `I would have expected Armitage, somehow. Are we hiring help out of that Rasta cluster now?'

`Armitage is dead.'

`Armitage never existed, more to the point, but the news hardly comes as a shock.'

`Wintermute killed him. He's in orbit around the spindle.'

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