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Фантастика. Фэнтези
   Зарубежная фантастика
      William Gibson. Neuromancer -
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orism." Dr. ъamBali smiled. "There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is inately media-related. The Panther Moderns differ from other terrorists precisely in their degree of self-consciousness, in their awareness of the extent to which media divorce the act of terrorism from the original sociopolitical intent...." "Skip it," Case said. Case met his first Modern two days after he'd screened the Hosaka's precis. The Moderns, he'd decided, were a contemporary version of the Big Scientists of his own late teens. There was a kind of ghostly teenage DNA at work in the Sprawl, something that carried the coded precepts of various short-lived sub cults and replicated them at odd intervals. The Panther Moderns were a soft head variant on the Scientists. If the technology had been available the Big Scientists would all have had sockets stuffed with microsofts. It was the style that mattered and the style was the same. The Moderns were mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic technofetishists. The one who showed up at the loft door with a box of diskettes from the Finn was a soft-voiced boy called Angelo. His face was a simple graft grown on collagen and shark- cartilage polysaccharides, smooth and hideous. It was one of the nastiest pieces of elective surgery Case had ever seen. When Angelo smiled, revealing the razor-sharp canines of some large animal, Case was actually relieved. Tooth bud transplants. He'd seen that before. "You can't let the little pricks generation-gap you," Molly said. Case nodded, absorbed in the patterns of the Sense/Net ice. This was it. This was what he was, who he was, his being. He forgot to eat. Molly left cartons of rice and foam trays of sushi on the corner of the long table. Sometimes he resented having to leave the deck to use the chemical toilet they'd set up in a corner of the loft. Ice patterns formed and reformed on the screen as he probed for gaps, skirted the most obvious traps, and mapped the route he'd take through Sense/Net's ice. It was good ice. Wonderful ice. Its patterns burned there while he lay with his arm under Molly's shoulders, watching the red dawn through the steel grid of the skylight. Its rainbow pixel maze was the first thing he saw when he woke. He'd go straight to the deck, not bothering to dress, and jack in. He was cutting it. He was working. He lost track of days. And sometimes, falling asleep, particularly when Molly was off on one of her reconnaissance trips with her rented cadre of Moderns, images of Chiba came flooding back. Faces and Ninsei neon. Once he woke from a confused dream of Linda Lee, unable to recall who she was or what she'd ever meant to him. When he did remember, he jacked in and worked for nine straight hours. The cutting of Sense/Net's ice took a total of nine days. "I said a week," Armitage said, unable to conceal his satisfaction when Case showed him his plan for the run. "You took your own good time." "Balls," Case said, smiling at the screen. "That's good work, Armitage." "Yes," Armitage admitted, "but don't let it go to your head. Compared to what you'll eventually be up against, this is an arcade toy." "Love you, Cat Mother," whispered the Panther Modern's link man. His voice was modulated static in Case's headset. "Atlanta, Brood. Looks go. Go, got it?" Molly's voice was slightly clearer. "To hear is to obey." The Moderns were using some kind of chicken wire dish in New Jersey to bounce the link man's scrambled signal off a Sons of Christ the King satellite in geosynchronous orbit above Manhattan. They chose to regard the entire operation as an elaborate private joke, and their choice of comsats seemed to have been deliberate. Molly's signals were being beamed up from a one-meter umbrella dish epoxy-ed to the roof of a black glass bank tower nearly as tall as the Sense/Net building. Atlanta. The recognition code was simple. Atlanta to Boston to Chicago to Denver, five minutes for each city. If anyone managed to intercept Molly's signal, unscramble it, synth her voice, the code would tip the Moderns. If she remained in the building for more than twenty minutes, it was highly unlikely she'd be coming out at all. Case gulped the last of his coffee, settled the trodes in place, and scratched his chest beneath his black t-shirt. He had only a vague idea of what the Panther Moderns planned as a diversion for the Sense/Net security people. His job was to make sure the intrusion program he'd written would link with the Sense/Net systems when Molly needed it to. He watched the countdown in the corner of the screen. Two. One. He jacked in and triggered his program. "Mainline," breathed the link man, his voice the only sound as Case plunged through the glowing strata of Sense/Net ice. Good. Check Molly. He hit the Simstim and flipped into her sensorium. The scrambler blurred the visual input slightly. She stood before a wall of gold-flecked mirror in the building's vast white lobby, chewing gum, apparently fascinated by her own reflection. Aside from the huge pair of sunglasses concealing her mirrored insets, she managed to look remarkably like she belonged there, another tourist girl hoping for a glimpse of Tally Isham. She wore a pink plastic raincoat, a white mesh top, loose white pants cut in a style that had been fashionable in Tokyo the previous year. She grinned vacantly and popped her gum. Case felt like laughing. He could feel the micro pore tape across her ribcage, feel the flat little units under it: the radio, the Simstim unit, and the scrambler. The throat mike, glued to her neck, looked as much as possible like an analgesic dermadisk. Her hands, in the pockets of the pink coat, were flexing systematically through a series of tension-release exercises. It took him a few seconds to realize that the peculiar sensation at the tips of her fingers was caused by the blades as they were partially extruded, then retracted. He flipped back. His program had reached the fifth gate. He watched as his icebreaker strobed and shifted in front of him, only faintly aware of his hands playing across the deck, making minor adjustments. Translucent planes of color shuffled like a trick deck. Take a card, he thought, any card. The gate blurred past. He laughed. The Sense/Net ice had accepted his entry as a routine transfer from the consortium's Los Angeles complex. He was inside. Behind him, viral subprograms peeled off, meshing with the gate' s code fabric, ready to deflect the real Los Angeles data when it arrived. He flipped again. Molly was strolling past the enormous circular reception desk at the rear of the lobby. 12:01:20 as the readout flared in her optic nerve. At midnight, synch Ed with the chip behind Molly's eye, the link man in Jersey had given his command. "Mainline." Nine Moderns, scattered along two hundred miles of the Sprawl, had simultaneously dialed MAX EMEъG from pay phones. Each Modern delivered a short set speech, hung up, and drifted out into the night, peeling off surgical gloves. Nine different police departments and public security agencies were absorbing the information that an obscure sub sect of militant Christian fundamentalists had just taken credit for having introduced clinical levels of an outlawed psychoactive agent known as Blue Nine into the ventilation system of the Sense/Net Pyramid. Blue Nine, known in California as Grievous Angel, had been shown to produce acute paranoia and homicidal psychosis in eighty-five percent of experimental subjects. Case hit the switch as his program surged through the gates of the subsystem that controlled security for the Sense/Net research library. He found himself stepping into an elevator. "Excuse me, but are you an employee?" The guard raised his eyebrows. Molly popped her gum. "No," she said, driving the first two knuckles of her right hand into the man's solar plexus. As he doubled over, clawing for the beeper on his belt she slammed his head sideways, against the wall of the elevator. Chewing a little more rapidly now, she touched CLOSE DOOъ and STOP on the illuminated panel. She took a black box from her coat pocket and inserted a lead in the keyhole of the lock that secured the panel's circuitry. The Panther Moderns allowed four minutes for their first move to take effect, then injected a second carefully prepared dose of misinformation. This time, they shot it directly into the Sense/Net building's internal video system. At 12:04:03, every screen in the building strobed for eighteen seconds in a frequency that produced seizures in a susceptible segment of Sense/Net employees. Then something only vaguely like a human face filled the screens, its features stretched across asymmetrical expanses of bone like some obscene Mercator projection. Blue lips parted wetly as the twisted, elongated jaw moved. Something, perhaps a hand, a thing like a reddish clump of gnarled roots, fumbled toward the camera, blurred, and vanished. Subliminally rapid images of contamination: graphics of the building's water supply system, gloved hands manipulating laboratory glassware, something tumbling down into darkness, a pale splash.... The audio track, its pitch adjusted to run at just less than twice the standard playback speed, was part of a month-old newscast detailing potential military uses of a substance known as HsG, a biochemical governing the human skeletal growth factor. Overdoses of HsG threw certain bone cells into overdrive, accelerating growth by factors as high as one thousand percent. At 12:05:00, the mirror-sheathed nexus of the Sense/Net consortium held just over three thousand employees. At five minutes after midnight, as the Moderns' message ended in a flare of white screen, the Sense/Net Pyramid screamed. Half a dozen NYPD Tactical hovercraft, responding to the possibility of Blue Nine in the building's ventilation system, were converging on the Sense/Net Pyramid. They were running full riot lights. A BAMA ъapid Deployment helicopter was lifting off from its pad on ъiker's. Case triggered his second program. A carefully engineered virus attacked the code fabric screening primary custodial commands for the sub-basement that housed the Sense/Net research materials. "Boston," Molly's voice came across the link, "I'm downstairs." Case switched and saw the blank wall of the elevator. She was unzipping the white pants. A bulky packet, exactly the shade of her pale ankle, was secured there with micro pore. She knelt and peeled the tape away. Streaks of burgundy flickered across the mimetic polycarbon as she unfolded the Modern suit. She removed the pink raincoat, threw it down beside the white pants, and began to pull the suit on over the white mesh top. 12:06:26. Case's virus had bored a window through the library's command ice. He punched himself through and found an infinite blue space ranged with color-coded spheres strung on a tight grid of pale blue neon. In the non space of the matrix, the interior of a given data construct possessed unlimited subjective dimension; a child's toy calculator, accessed through Case's Sen:j dai, would have presented limitless gulfs of nothingness hung with a few basic commands. Case began to key the sequence the Finn had purchased from a mid-eschelon sarariman with severe drug problems. He began to glide through the spheres as if he were on invisible tracks. Here. This one. Punching his way into the sphere, chill blue neon vault above him starless and smooth as frosted glass, he triggered a sub- program that effected certain alterations in the core custodial commands. Out now. ъeversing smoothly, the virus reknitting the fabric of the window. Done. x x x In the Sense/Net lobby, two Panther Moderns sat alertly behind a low rectangular planter, taping the riot with a video camera. They both wore chameleon suits. "Tacticals are spray- ing foam barricades now," one noted, speaking for the benefit of his throat mike. "ъapids are still trying to land their copter." Case hit the Sim-Stim switch. And flipped into the agony of broken bone. Molly was braced against the blank gray wall of a long corridor, her breath coming ragged and uneven. Case was back in the matrix instantly, a white-hot line of pain fading in his left thigh. "What's happening, Brood?" he asked the link man. "I dunno, Cutter. Mother's not talking. Wait." Case's program was cycling. A single hair-fine thread of crimson neon extended from the center of the restored window to the shifting outline of his icebreaker. He didn't have time to wait. Taking a deep breath, he flipped again. Molly took a single step, trying to support her weight on the corridor wall. In the loft, Case groaned. The second step took her over an outstretched arm. Uniform sleeve bright with fresh blood. Glimpse of a shattered fiberglass shock stave. Her vision seemed to have narrowed to a tunnel. With the third step, Case screamed and found himself back in the matrix. "Brood? Boston, baby. . ." Her voice tight with pain. She coughed. "Little problem with the natives. Think one of them broke my leg." "What you need now, Cat Mother?" The link man's voice was indistinct, nearly lost behind static. Case forced himself to flip back. She was leaning against the wall, taking all of her weight on her right leg. She fumbled through the contents of the suit's kangaroo pocket and withdrew a sheet of plastic studded with a rainbow of dermadisks. She selected three and thumbed them hard against her left wrist, over the veins. Six thousand micrograms of endorphin analog came down on the pain like a hammer, shattering it. Her back arched convulsively. Pink waves of warmth lapped up her thighs. She sighed and slowly relaxed. "Okay, Brood. Okay now. But I'll need a medical team when l come out. Tell my people. Cutter, I'm two minutes from target. Can you hold?" "Tell her I'm in and holding," Case said. Molly began to limp down the corridor. When she glanced back, once, Case saw the crumpled bodies of three Sense/Net security guards. One of them seemed to have no eyes. "Tacticals and ъapids have sealed the ground floor, Cat Mother. Foam barricades. Lobby's getting juicy." "Pretty juicy down here," she said, swinging herself through a pair of gray steel doors. "Almost there, Cutter." Case flipped into the matrix and pulled the trodes from his forehead. He was drenched with sweat. He wiped his forehead with a towel, took a quick sip of water from the bicycle bottle beside the Hosaka, and checked the map of the library displayed on the screen. A pulsing red cursor crept through the outline of a doorway. Only millimeters from the green dot that indicated the location of the Dixie Flat line's construct. He wondered what it was doing to her leg, to walk on it that way. With enough endorphin analog, she could walk on a pair of bloody stumps. He tightened the nylon harness that held him in the chair and replaced the trodes. ъoutine now: trodes, jack, and flip. The Sense/Net research library was a dead storage area; the materials stored here had to be physically removed before they could be interfaced. Molly hobbled between rows of identical gray lockers. "Tell her five more and ten to her left, Brood," Case said. "Five more and ten left, Cat Mother," the link man said. She took the left. A white-faced librarian cowered between two lockers, her cheeks wet, eyes blank. Molly ignored her. Case wondered what the Moderns had done to provoke that level of terror. He knew it had something to do with a hoaxed threat, but he' d been too involved with his ice to follow Molly ' s explanation. "That's it," Case said, but she'd already stopped in front of the cabinet that held the construct. Its lines reminded Case of the Neo-Aztec bookcases in Julie Deane's anteroom in Chiba. "Do it, Cutter," Molly said. Case flipped to cyberspace and sent a command pulsing down the crimson thread that pierced the library ice. Five separate alarm systems were convinced that they were still operative. The three elaborate locks deactivated, but considered themselves to have remained locked. The library's central bank suffered a minute shift in its permanent memory: the construct had been removed, per executive order, a month before. Checking for the authorization to remove the construct, a librarian would find the records erased. The door swung open on silent hinges. "0467839," Case said, and Molly drew a black storage unit from the rack. It resembled the magazine of a large assault rifle, its surfaces covered with warning decals and security ratings. Molly closed the locker door; Case flipped. He withdrew the line through the library ice. It whipped back into his program, automatically triggering a full system reversal. The Sense/Net gates snapped past him as he backed out, subprograms whirling back into the core of the icebreaker as he passed the gates where they had been stationed. "Out, Brood," he said, and slumped in his chair. After the concentration of an actual run, he could remain jacked in and still retain awareness of his body. It might take Sense/Net days to discover the theft of the construct. The key would be the deflection of the Los Angeles transfer, which coincided too neatly with the Modern's terror run. He doubted that the three security men Molly had encountered in the corridor would live to talk about it. He flipped. The elevator, with Molly's black box taped beside the control panel, remained where she'd left it. The guard still lay curled on the floor. Case noticed the term on his neck for the first time. Something of Molly's, to keep him under. She stepped over him and removed the black box before punching LOBBY. As the elevator door hissed open, a woman hurtled backward out of the crowd, into the elevator, and struck the rear wall with her head. Molly ignored her, bending over to peel the derm from the guard's neck. Then she kicked the white pants and the pink raincoat out the door, tossing the dark glasses after them, and drew the hood of her suit down across her forehead. The construct, in the suit's kangaroo pocket, dug into her sternum when she moved. She stepped out. Case had seen panic before, but never in an enclosed area. The Sense/Net employees, spilling out of the elevators, had surged for the street doors, only to meet the foam barricades of the Tacticals and the sandbag-guns of the BAMA ъapids. The two agencies, convinced that they were containing a horde of potential killers, were cooperating with an uncharacteristic degree of efficiency. Beyond the shattered wreckage of the main street doors, bodies were piled three deep on the barricades. The hollow thumping of the riot guns provided a constant background for the sound the crowd made as it surged back and forth across the lobby's marble floor. Case had never heard anything like that sound. Neither, apparently, had Molly. "Jesus," she said, and hesitated. It was a sort of keening, rising into a bubbling wail of MW and total fear. The lobby floor was covered with bodies, clothing, blood, and long trampled scrolls of yellow printout. "C'mon, sister. We're for out. " The eyes of the two Moderns stared out of madly swirling shades of polycarbon, their suits unable to keep up with the confusion of shape and color that raged behind them. "You hurt? C'mon. Tommy'll walk you." Tommy handed something to the one who spoke, a video camera wrapped in polycarbon. "Chicago," she said, "I'm on my way." And th

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