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Книга Neuromancer. Содержание - 4

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`Obviously makes sense to somebody,' he said. `Somebody big.'

`Don't let me hurt your feelings.' She grinned. `We're gonna be pulling one hardcore run, Case, just to get the Flatline's construct. Sense/Net has it locked in a library vault uptown. Tighter than an eel's ass, Case. Now, Sense/Net, they got all their new material for the fall season locked in there too. Steal that and we'd be richer than shit. But no, we gotta get us the Flatline and nothing else. Weird.'

`Yeah, it's all weird. You're weird, this hole's weird, and who's the weird little gopher outside in the hall?'

`Finn's an old connection of mine. Fence, mostly. Software. This privacy biz is a sideline. But I got Armitage to let him be our tech here, so when he shows up later, you never saw him. Got it?'

`So what's Armitage got dissolving inside you?'

`I'm an easy make.' She smiled. `Anybody any good at what they do, that's what they are,right? You gotta jack, I gotta tussle.'

He stared at her. `So tell me what you know about Armitage.'

`For starters, nobody named Armitage took part in any Screaming Fist. I checked. But that doesn't mean much. He doesn't look like any of the pics of the guys who got out.' She shrugged. `Big deal. And starters is all I got.' She drummed her nails on the back of the chair. `But you area cowboy, aren't you? I mean, maybe you could have a little look around.' She smiled.

`He'd kill me.'

`Maybe. Maybe not. I think he needs you, Case, and real bad. Besides, you're a clever john, no? You can winkle him, sure.'

`What else is on that list you mentioned?'

`Toys. Mostly for you. And one certified psychopath name of Peter Riviera. Real ugly customer.'

`Where's he?'

`Dunno. But he's one sick fuck, no lie. I saw his profile.' She made a face. `Godawful.' She stood up and stretched, catlike. `So we got an axis going, boy? We're together in this? Partners?'

Case looked at her. `I gotta lotta choice, huh?'

She laughed. `You got it, cowboy.'

`The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games,' said the voice-over, `in early graphics programs and military experimentation with cranial jacks.' On the Sony, a two-dimensional space war faded behind a forest of mathematically generated ferns, demonstrating the spacial possibilities of logarithmic spirals; cold blue military footage burned through, lab animals wired into test systems, helmets feeding into fire control circuits of tanks and war planes. `Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...'

`What's that?' Molly asked, as he flipped the channel selector.

`Kid's show.' A discontinuous flood of images as the selector cycled. `Off,' he said to the Hosaka.

`You want to try now, Case?'

Wednesday. Eight days from waking in Cheap Hotel with Molly beside him. `You want me to go out, Case? Maybe easier for you, alone...' He shook his head.

`No. Stay, doesn't matter.' He settled the black terry sweatband across his forehead, careful not to disturb the flat Sendai dermatrodes [14]. He stared at the deck on his lap, not really seeing it, seeing instead the shop window on Ninsei, the chromed shuriken burning with reflected neon. He glanced up; on the wall, just above the Sony, he'd hung her gift, tacking it there with a yellow-headed drawing pin through the hole at its center.

He closed his eyes.

Found the ridged face of the power stud.

And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes boiling in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information.

Please, he prayed, now --

A gray disk, the color of Chiba sky.

Now --

Disk beginning to rotate, faster, becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding --

And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of his distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arms of military systems, forever beyond his reach.

And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face.

Molly was gone when he took the trodes off, and the loft was dark. He checked the time. He'd been in cyberspace for five hours. He carried the Ono-Sendai to one of the new worktables and collapsed across the bedslab, pulling Molly's black silk sleeping bag over his head.

The security package taped to the steel firedoor bleeped twice. `Entry requested,' it said. `Subject is cleared per my program.'

`So open it.' Case pulled the silk from his face and sat up as the door opened, expecting to see Molly or Armitage.

`Christ,' said a hoarse voice, `I know that bitch can see in the dark...' A squat figure stepped in and closed the door. `Turn the lights on, okay?' Case scrambled off the slab and found the old-fashioned switch.

`I'm the Finn,' said the Finn, and made a warning face at Case.


`Pleased to meecha, I'm sure. I'm doing some hardware for your boss, it looks like.' The Finn fished a pack of Partagas from a pocket and lit one. The smell of Cuban tobacco filled the room. He crossed to the worktable and glanced at the Ono Sendai. `Looks stock. Soon fix that. But here's your problem, kid.' He took a filthy manila envelope from inside his jacket, flicked ash on the floor, and extracted a featureless black rectangle from the envelope. `Goddamn factory prototypes,' he said, tossing the thing down on the table. `Cast 'em into a block of polycarbon, can't get in with a laser without frying the works. Booby-trapped for x-ray, ultrascan, God knows what else. We'll get in, but there's no rest for the wicked, right?' He folded the envelope with great care and tucked it away in an inside pocket.

`What is it?'

`It's a flipflop switch, basically. Wire it into your Sendai here, you can access live or recorded simstim without having to jack out of the matrix.'

`What for?'

`I haven't got a clue. Know I'm fitting Moll for a broadcast rig, though, so it's probably her sensorium you'll access.' The Finn scratched his chin. `So now you get to find out just how tight those jeans really are, huh?'


Case sat in the loft with the dermatrodes strapped across his forehead, watching motes dance in the diluted sunlight that filtered through the grid overhead. A countdown was in progress in one corner of the monitor screen.

Cowboys didn't get into simstim, he thought, because it was basically a meat toy. He knew that the trodes he used and the little plastic tiara dangling from a simstim deck were basically the same, and that the cyberspace matrix was actually a drastic simplification of the human sensorium, at least in terms of presentation, but simstim itself struck him as a gratuitous multiplication of flesh input. The commercial stuff was edited, of course, so that if Tally Isham got a headache in the course of a segment, you didn't feel it.

The screen bleeped a two-second warning.

The new switch was patched into his Sendai with a thin ribbon of fiberoptics.

And one and two and --

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