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m the Ono-Sendai
to a square opening in the back of the pearl-crusted
He tapped the switch again.
"Kuang Grade Mark Eleven is haulin' ass in nine seconds,
countin', seven, six, five..."
The Flatline punched them up, smooth ascent, the ventral
surface of the black chrome shark a microsecond nick of darkness.
Case had the strange impression of being in the pilot's seat
in a small plane. A flat dark surface in front of him suddenly
glowed with a perfect reproduction of the keyboard of his deck.
"Two, an' kick ass--"
Headlong motion through walls of emerald green, milky
jade, the sensation of speed beyond anything he'd known before
in cyberspace.... The Tessier-Ashpool ice shattered, peeling
away from the Chinese program's thrust, a worrying impression
of solid fluidity, as though the shards of a broken mirror bent
and elongated as they fell--
"Christ," Case said, awestruck, as Kuang twisted and banked
above the horizonless fields of the Tessier-Ashpool cores, an
endless neon cityscape, complexity that cut the eye, jewel bright,
sharp as razors.
"Hey, shit," the construct said, "those things are the ъCA
Building. You know the old ъCA Building?" The Kuang program
dived past the gleaming spires of a dozen identical towers
of data, each one a blue neon replica of the Manhattan skyscraper.
"You ever see resolution this high?" Case asked.
"No, but I never cracked an AI, either."
"This thing know where it's going?"
They were dropping, losing altitude in a canyon of rainbow
An arm of shadow was uncoiling from the flickering floor
below, a seething mass of darkness, unformed, shapeless....
"Company," the Flatline said, as Case hit the representation
of his deck, fingers flying automatically across the board. The
Kuang swerved sickeningly, then reversed, whipping itself
backward, shattering the illusion of a physical vehicle.
The shadow thing was growing, spreading, blotting out the
city of data. Case took them straight up, above them the dis-
tanceless bowl of jade-green ice.
The city of the cores was gone now, obscured entirely by
the dark beneath them.
"What is it?"
"An Al's defense system," the construct said, "or part of
it. If it's your pal Wintermute, he's not lookin' real friendly."
"Take it," Case said. "You're faster."
"Now your best de-fense, boy, it's a good off-fense."
And the Flatline aligned the nose of Kuang's sting with the
center of the dark below. And dove.
Case's sensory input warped with their velocity.
His mouth filled with an aching taste of blue.
His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a
frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, sud-
denly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines. The
spines split, bisected, split again, exponential growth under the
dome of the Tessier-Ashpool ice.
The roof of his mouth cleaved painlessly, admitting rootlets
that whipped around his tongue, hungry for the taste of blue,
to feed the crystal forests of his eyes, forests that pressed
against the green dome, pressed and were hindered, and spread,
growing down, filling the universe of T-A, down into the waiting,
hapless suburbs of the city that was the mind of Tessier-Ashpool
And he was remembering an ancient story, a king placing
coins on a chessboard, doubling the amount at each square....
Darkness fell in from every side, a sphere of singing black,
pressure on the extended crystal nerves of the universe of data
he had nearly become....
And when he was nothing, compressed at the heart of all
that dark, there came a point where the dark could be no more,
and something tore.
The Kuang program spurted from tarnished cloud, Case's
consciousness divided like beads of mercury, arcing above an
endless beach the color of the dark silver clouds. His vision
was spherical, as though a single retina lined the inner surface
of a globe that contained all things, if all things could be
And here things could be counted, each one. He knew the
number of grains of sand in the construct of the beach (a number
coded in a mathematical system that existed nowhere outside
the mind that was Neuromancer). He knew the number of
yellow food packets in the canisters in the bunker (four hundred
and seven). He knew the number of brass teeth in the left half
of the open zipper of the salt-crusted leather jacket that Linda
Lee wore as she trudged along the sunset beach, swinging a
stick of driftwood in her hand (two hundred and two).
He banked Kuang above the beach and swung the program
in a wide circle, seeing the black shark thing through her eyes,
a silent ghost hungry against the banks of lowering cloud. She
cringed, dropping her stick, and ran. He knew the rate of her
pulse, the length of her stride in measurements that would have
satisfied the most exacting standards of geophysics.
"But you do not know her thoughts," the boy said, beside
him now in the shark thing's heart. "I do not know her thoughts.
You were wrong, Case. To live here is to live. There is no
Linda in her panic, plunging blind through the surf.
"Stop her," he said, "she'll hurt herself."
"I can't stop her," the boy said, his gray eyes mild and
"You've got ъiviera's eyes," Case said.
There was a flash of white teeth, long pink gums. "But not
his craziness. Because they are beautiful to me." He shrugged.
"I need no mask to speak with you. Unlike my brother. I create
my own personality. Personality is my medium."
Case took them up, a steep climb, away from the beach and
the frightened girl. "Why'd you throw her up to me, you little
prick? Over and fucking over, and turning me around. You
killed her, huh? In Chiba."
"No," the boy said.
"No. I saw her death coming. In the patterns you sometimes
imagined you could detect in the dance of the street. Those
patterns are real. I am complex enough, in my narrow ways,
to read those dances. Far better than Wintermute can. I saw
her death in her need for you, in the magnetic code of the lock
on the door of your coffin in Cheap Hotel, in Julie Deane's
account with a Hongkong shirtmaker. As clear to me as the
shadow of a tumor to a surgeon studying a patient's scan. When
she took your Hitachi to her boy, to try to access it--she had
no idea what it carried, still less how she might sell it, and her
deepest wish was that you would pursue and punish her--I
intervened. My methods are far more subtle than Wintermute's.
I brought her here. Into myself."
"Hoping I could bring you here as well, keep you here. But
"So what now?" He swung them back into the bank of cloud.
"Where do we go from here?"
"I don't know, Case. Tonight the very matrix asks itself
that question. Because you have won. You have already won,
don't you see? You won when you walked away from her on
the beach. She was my last line of defense. I die soon, in one
sense. As does Wintermute. As surely as ъiviera does, now,
as he lies paralyzed beside the stump of a wall in the apartments
of my Lady 3Jane Marie-France, his nigra-striatal system unable
to produce the dopamine receptors that could save him
from Hideo's arrow. But ъiviera will survive only as these eyes,
if I am allowed to keep them."
"There's the word, right? The code. So how've I won? I've
won jack shit."
"Where's Dixie? What have you done with the Flatliner'
"McCoy Pauley has his wish," the boy said, and smiled.
"His wish and more. He punched you here against my wish,
drove himself through defenses equal to anything in the matrix.
And Case was alone in Kuang's black sting, lost in cloud.
Into Molly's tension, her back like rock, her hands around
3Jane's throat. "Funny," she said, "I know exactly what you'd
look like. I saw it after Ashpool did the same thing to your
clone sister." Her hands were gentle, almost a caress. 3Jane's
eyes were wide with terror and lust she was shivering with
fear and longing. Beyond the freefall tangle of 3Jane's hair,
Case saw his own strained white face, Maelcum behind him,
brown hands on the leatherjacketed shoulders, steadying him
above the carpet's pattern of woven circuitry.
"Would you?" 3Jane asked, her voice a child's. "I think
"The code," Molly said. "Tell the head the code."
"She wants it," he screamed, "the bitch wants it!"
He opened his eyes to the cool ruby stare of the terminal,
its platinum face crusted with pearl and lapis. Beyond it, Molly
and 3Jane twisted in a slow motion embrace.
"Give us the fucking code," he said. "If you don't, what'll
change? What'll ever fucking change for you? You'll wind up
like the old man. You'll tear it all down and start building
again! You'll build the walls back, tighter and tighter.... I got
no idea at all what'll happen if Wintermute wins, but it'll
change something!" He was shaking, his teeth chattering.
3Jane went limp, Molly's hands still around her slender
throat, her dark hair drifting, tangled, a soft brown caul.
"The Ducal Palace at Mantua," she said, "contains a series
of increasingly smaller rooms. They twine around the grand
apartments, beyond beautifully carved doorframes one stoops
to enter. They housed the court dwarfs." She smiled wanly. "I
might aspire to that, I suppose, but in a sense my family has
already accomplished a grander version of the same scheme...."
Her eyes were calm now, distant. Then she gazed down at
Case. "Take your word, thief." He jacked.
Kuang slid out of the clouds. Below him, the neon city.
Behind him, a sphere of darkness dwindled.
"Dixie? You here, man? You hear me? Dixie?"
He was alone.
"Fucker got you," he said.
Blind momentum as he hurtled across the infinite datascape.
"You gotta hate somebody before this is over," said the
Finn's voice. "Them, me, it doesn't matter."
"That's kinda hard to explain, Case."
A sense of the Finn's presence surrounded him, smell of
Cuban cigarettes, smoke locked in musty tweed, old machines
given up to the mineral rituals of rust.
"Hate'll get you through," the voice said. "So many little
triggers in the brain, and you just go yankin' 'em all. Now
you gotta hate. The lock that screens the hardwiring, it's down
under those towers the Flatline showed you, when you came
in. He won't try to stop you."
"Neuromancer," Case said.
"His name's not something I can know. But he's given up,
now. It's the T-A ice you gotta worry about. Not the wall, but
internal virus systems. Kuang's wide open to some of the stuff
they got running loose in here."
"Hate," Case said. "Who do I hate? You tell me."
"Who do you love?" the Finn's voice asked.
He whipped the program through a turn and dived for the
Things were launching themselves from the ornate sunburst
spires, glittering leech shapes made of shifting planes of light.
There were hundreds of them, rising in a whirl, their move-
ments random as windblown paper down dawn streets. "Glitch
systems," the voice said.
He came in steep, fueled by self-loathing. When the Kuang
program met the first of the defenders, scattering the leaves of
light, he felt the shark thing lose a degree of substantiality, the
fabric of information loosening.
And then--old alchemy of the brain and its vast phar-
macy--his hate flowed into his hands.
In the instant before he drove Kuang's sting through the
base of the first tower, he attained a level of proficiency ex-
ceeding anything he'd known or imagined. Beyond ego, be-
yond personality, beyond awareness, he moved, Kuang moving
with him, evading his attackers with an ancient dance, Hideo's
dance, grace of the mind-body interface granted him, in that
second, by the clarity and singleness of his wish to die.
And one step in that dance was the lightest touch on the
switch, barely enough to flip--
and his voice the cry of a birdunknown,
3Jane answering in song, three
notes, high and pure.
A true name.
Neon forest, rain sizzling across hot pavement. The smell
of frying food. A girl's bands locked across the small of his
back, in the sweating darkness of a portside coffin.
But all of this receding, as the cityscape recedes: city as
Chiba, as the ranked data of Tessier-Ashpool S.A., as the roads
and crossroads scribed on the face of a microchip, the sweat-
stained pattern on a folded, knotted scarf....
Waking to a voice that was music, the platinum terminal
piping melodically, endlessly, speaking of numbered Swiss
accounts, of payment to be made to Zion via a Bahamian orbital
bank, of passports and passages, and of deep and basic changes
to be effected in the memory of Turing.
Turing. He remembered stenciled flesh beneath a projected
sky, spun beyond an iron railing. He remembered Desiderata
And the voice sang on, piping him back into the dark, but
it was his own darkness, pulse and blood, the one where he'd
always slept, behind his eyes and no other's.
And he woke again, thinking he dreamed, to a wide white
smile framed with gold incisors, Aerol strapping him into a
g-web in Babylon ъocker.
And then the long pulse of Zion dub.
CODA. DEPAъTUъE AND AъъIVAL
She was gone. He felt it when he opened the door of their
suite at the Hyatt. Black futons, the pine floor polished to a
dull gloss, the paper screens arranged with a care bred over
centuries. She was gone.
There was a note on the black lacquer bar cabinet beside
the door, a single sheet of stationery, folded once, weighted
with the shuriken. He slid it from beneath the nine-pointed star
and opened it.
HEY ITS OKAY BUT ITS TAKING THE EDGE OFF
MY GAME, I PAID THE BILL ALъEADY. ITS THE
WAY IM WIъED I GUESS, WATCH YOUъ ASS
OKAY? XXX MOLLY
He crumpled the paper into a ball and dropped it beside the
shuriken. He picked the star up and walked to the window,
turning it in his hands. He'd found it in the pocket of his jacket,
in Zion, when they were preparing to leave for the JAL station.
He looked down at it. They'd passed the shop where she'd
bought it for him, when they'd gone to Chiba together for the
last of her operations. He'd gone to the Chatsubo, that night,
while she was in the clinic, and seen ъatz. Something had kept
him away from the place, on their five previous trips, but now
he'd felt like going back.
ъatz had served him without the slightest glimmer of rec-
"Hey," he'd said, "it's me. Case."
The old eyes regarding him out of their dark webs of wrin-
kled flesh. "Ah," ъatz had said, at last, "the artiste." The
"1 came back."
The man shook his massive, stubbled head. "Night City is
not a place one returns to, artiste," he said, swabbing the bar
in front of Case with a filthy cloth, the pink manipulator whin-
ing. And then he'd turned to serve another customer, and Case
had finished his beer and left.
Now he touched the points of the shuriken, one at a time,
rotating it slowly in his fingers. Stars. Destiny. I never even
used the goddam thing, he thought.
I never even found out what color her eyes were. She never
Wintermute had won, had meshed somehow with Neuro-
mancer and become something else, something that had spoken
to them from the platinum head. explaining that it had altered
the Turing records, erasing all evidence of their crime. The
passports Armitage had provided were valid, and they were
both credited with large amounts in numbered Geneva ac-
counts. Marcus Garvey would be returned eventually, and
Maelcum and Aerol given money through the Bahamian bank
that dealt with Zion cluster. On the way back, in Babylon
ъocker, Molly had explained what the voice had told her about
the toxin sacs.
"Said it was taken care of. Like it got so deep into your
head, it made your brain manufacture the enzyme, so they're
loose, now. The Zionites'll give you a blood change, complete
He stared down into the Imperial Gardens, the star in his
hand, remembering his flash of comprehension as the Kuang
program had penetrated the ice beneath the towers, his single
glimpse of the structure of information 3Jane's dead mother
had evolved there. He'd understood then why Winterrnute had
chosen the nest to represent it, but he'd felt no revulsion. She'd
seen through the sham immortality of cryogenics; unlike Ash-
pool and their other children--aside from 3Jane--she'd re-
fused to stretch her time into a series of warm blinks strung
along a chain of winter.
Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker, effecting change
in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuro-
mancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built some-
thing into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing
to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer.
Wintermute. Cold and silence, a cybernetic spider slowly
spinning webs while Ashpool slept. Spinning his death, the fall
of his version of Tessier-Ashpool. A ghost, whispering to a
child who was 3Jane, twisting her out of the rigid alignments
her rank required.
"She didn't seem to much give a shit," Molly had said.
"Just waved goodbye. Had that little Braun on her shoulder.
Thing had a broken leg, it looked like. Said she had to go and
meet one of her brothers, she hadn't seen him in a while."
He remembered Molly on the black temperfoam of the vast
Hyatt bed. He went back to the bar cabinet and took a flask
of chilled Danish vodka from the rack inside.
He turned, cold slick glass in one hand, steel of the shuriken
in the other.
The Finn's face on the room's enormous Cray wall screen.
He could see the pores in the man's nose. The yellow teeth
were the size of pillows.
"I'm not Wintermute now."
"So what are you." He drank from the flask, feeling nothing.
"I'm the matrix, Case."
Case laughed. "Where's that get you?"
"Nowhere. Everywhere. I'm the sum total of the works, the
"That what 3Jane's mother wanted?"
"No. She couldn't imagine what I'd be like." The yellow
"So what's the score? How are things different? You running
the world now? You God?"
"Things aren't different. Things are things."
"But what do you do? You just there?" Case shrugged, put
the vodka and the shuriken down on the cabinet and lit a
"I talk to my own kind."
"But you're the whole thing. Talk to yourself?"
"There's others. I found one already. Series of transmissions
recorded over a period of eight years, in the nineteen-seventies.
'Til there was me, natch, there was nobody to know, nobody
"Oh," Case said. "Yeah? No shit?"
And then the screen was blank.
He left the vodka on the cabinet. He packed his things.
She'd bought him a lot of clothes he didn't really need, but
something kept him from just leaving them there. He was
closing the last of the expensive calfskin bags when he re-
membered the shuriken. Pushing the flask aside, he picked it
up, her first gift.
"No," he said, and spun, the star leaving his fingers, flash
of silver, to bury itself in the face of the wall screen. The screen
woke, random patterns flickering feebly from side to side, as
though it were trying to rid itself of something that caused it
"I don't need you," he said.
He spent the bulk of his Swiss account on a new pancreas
and liver, the rest on a new Ono-Sendai and a ticket back to
He found work.
He found a girl who called herself Michael.
And one October night, punching himself past the scarlet
tiers of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, he saw three
figures, tiny, impossible, who stood at the very edge of one
out the vast steps of data. Small as they were, he could make
out the boy's grin, his pink gums, the glitter of the long gray