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Фантастика. Фэнтези
   Зарубежная фантастика
      William Gibson. Neuromancer -
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me?" "If you say so," said the construct. "Who are you?" "Case." "Miami," said the voice, "joeboy, quick study." "ъight. And for starts, Dix, you and me, we're gonna sleaze over to London grid and access a little data. You game for that?" "You gonna tell me I got a choice, boy?" "You want you a paradise," the Flatline advised, when Case had explained his situation. "Check Copenhagen, fringes of the university section." The voice recited coordinates as he punched. They found their paradise, a "pirate's paradise," on the jumbled border of a low-security academic grid. At first glance it resembled the kind of graffiti student operators sometimes left at the junctions of grid lines, faint glyphs of colored light that shimmered against the confused outlines of a dozen arts faculties. "There," said the Flatline, "the blue one. Make it out? That's an entry code for Bell Europa. Fresh, too. Bell'll get in here soon and read the whole damn board, change any codes they find posted. Kids'll steal the new ones tomorrow." Case tapped his way into Bell Europa and switched to a standard phone code. With the Flatline's help, he connected with the London data base that Molly claimed was Armitage's. "Here," said the voice, "I'll do it for you." The Flatline began to chant a series of digits, Case keying them on his deck, trying to catch the pauses the construct used to indicate timing. It took three tries. "Big deal," said the Flatline. "No ice at all." "Scan this shit," Case told the Hosaka. "Sift for owner's personal history." The neuroelectronic scrawls of the paradise vanished, re- placed by a simple lozenge of white light. "Contents are pri- marily video recordings of postwar military trials," said the distant voice of the Hosaka. "Central figure is Colonel Willis Corto." "Show it already," Case said. A man's face filled the screen. The eyes were Armitage's. Two hours later, Case fell beside Molly on the slab and let the temperfoam mold itself against him. "You find anything?" she asked, her voice fuzzy with sleep and drugs. "Tell you later," he said, "I'm wrecked." He was hungover and confused. He lay there, eyes closed, and tried to sort the various parts of a story about a man called Corto. The Hosaka had sorted a thin store of data and assembled a precis, but it was full of gaps. Some of the material had been print records, reeling smoothly down the screen, too quickly, and Case had had to ask the computer to read them for him. Other segments were audio recordings of the Screaming Fist hearing. Willis Corto, Colonel, had plummeted through a blind spot in the ъussian defenses over Kirensk. The shuttles had created the hole with pulse bombs, and Corto's team had dropped in in Nightwing microlights, their wings snapping taut in moonlight, reflected in jags of silver along the rivers Angara and Podhamennaya, the last light Corto would see for fifteen months. Case tried to imagine the microlights blossoming out of their launch capsules, high above a frozen steppe. "They sure as hell did shaft you, boss," Case said, and Molly stirred beside him. The microlights had been unarmed, stripped to compensate for the weight of a console operator, a prototype deck, and a virus program called Mole IX, the first true virus in the history of cybernetics. Corto and his team had been training for the run for three years. They were through the ice, ready to inject Mole IX, when the emps went off. The ъussian pulse guns threw the jockeys into electronic darkness; the Nightwings suffered systems crash, flight circuitry wiped clean. Then the lasers opened up, aiming on infrared, taking out the fragile, radar-transparent assault planes, and Corto and his dead console man fell out of a Siberian sky. Fell and kept falling.... There were gaps in the story, here, where Case scanned documents concerning the flight of a commandeered ъussian gunship that managed to reach Finland. To be gutted, as it landed in a spruce grove, by an antique twenty-millimeter can- non manned by a cadre of reservists on dawn alert. Screaming Fist had ended for Corto on the outskirts of Helsinki, with Finnish paramedics sawing him out of the twisted belly of the helicopter. The war ended nine days later, and Corto was shipped to a military facility in Utah, blind, legless, and missing most of his jaw. It took eleven months for the Congressional aide to find him there. He listened to the sound of tubes draining. In Washington and McLean, the show trials were already un- derway. The Pentagon and the CIA were being Balkanized, partially dismantled, and a Congressional investigation had focused on Screaming Fist. ъipe for watergating, the aide told Corto. He'd need eyes, legs, and extensive cosmetic work, the aide said, but that could be arranged. New plumbing, the man added, squeezing Corto's shoulder through the sweat-damp sheet. Corto heard the soft, relentless dripping. He said he preferred to testify as he was. No, the aide explained, the trials were being televised. The trials needed to reach the voter. The aide coughed politely. ъepaired, refurnished, and extensively rehearsed, Corto's subsequent testimony was detailed, moving, lucid, and largely the invention of a Congressional cabal with certain vested interests in saving particular portions of the Pentagon infrastructure. Corto gradually understood that the testimony he gave was instrumental in saving the careers of three officers directly responsible for the suppression of reports on the building of the emp installations at Kirensk. His role in the trials over, he was unwanted in Washington. In an M Street restaurant, over asparagus crepes, the aide explained the terminal dangers involved in talking to the wrong people. Corto crushed the man's larynx with the rigid fingers of his right hand. The Congressional aide strangled, his face in an asparagus crepe, and Corto stepped out into cool Washington September. The Hosaka rattled through police reports, corporate espionage records, and news files. Case watched Corto work corporate defectors in Lisbon and Marrakesh, where he seemed to grow obsessed with the idea of betrayal, to loathe the scientists and technicians he bought out for his employers. Drunk, in Singapore, he beat a ъussian engineer to death in a hotel and set fire to his room. Next he surfaced in Thailand, as overseer of a heroin factory. Then as enforcer for a California gambling cartel, then as a paid killer in the ruins of Bonn. He robbed a bank in Wichita. The record grew vague, shadowy, the gaps longer. One day, he said, in a taped segment that suggested chemical interrogation, everything had gone gray. Translated French medical records explained that a man without identification had been taken to a Paris mental health unit and diagnosed as schizophrenic. He became catatonic and was sent to a government institution on the outskirts of Toulon. He became a subject in an experimental program that sought to reverse schizophrenia through the application of cybernetic models. A random selection of patients were provided with microcomputers and encouraged, with help from students, to program them. He was cured, the only success in the entire experiment. The record ended there. Case turned on the foam and Molly cursed him softly for disturbing her. The telephone rang. He pulled it into bed. "Yeah?" "We're going to Istanbul," Armitage said. "Tonight." "What does the bastard want?" Molly asked. "Says we're going to Istanbul tonight." "That's just wonderful." Armitage was reading off flight numbers and departure times. Molly sat up and turned on the light. "What about my gear?" Case asked. "My deck." "Finn will handle it," said Armitage, and hung up. Case watched her pack. There were dark circles under her eyes, but even with the cast on, it was like watching a dance. No wasted motion. His clothes were a rumpled pile beside his bag. "You hurting?" he asked. "I could do with another night at Chin's." "Your dentist?" "You betcha. Very discreet. He's got half that rack, full clinic. Does repairs for samurai." She was zipping her bag. "You ever been to 'Stanbul?" "Couple days, once." "Never changes," she said. "Bad old town." "It was like this when we headed for Chiba," Molly said, staring out the train window at blasted industrial moonscape, red beacons on the horizon warning aircraft away from a fusion plant. "We were in L.A. He came in and said Pack, we were booked for Macau. When we got there, I played fantan in the Lisboa and he crossed over into Zhongshan. Next day I was playing ghost with you in Night City." She took a silk scarf from the sleeve of her black jacket and polished the insets. The landscape of the northern Sprawl woke confused memories of childhood for Case, dead grass tufting the cracks in a canted slab of freeway concrete. The train began to decelerate ten kilometers from the airport. Case watched the sun rise on the landscape of childhood, on broken slag and the rusting shells of refineries. It was raining in Beyoglu, and the rented Mercedes slid past the grilled and unlit windows of cautious Greek and Armenian jewelers. The street was almost empty, only a few dark-coated figures on the sidewalks turning to stare after the car. "This was formerly the prosperous European section of Ottoman Istanbul," purred the Mercedes. "So it's gone downhill," Case said. "The Hilton's in Cumhuriyet Caddesi," Molly said. She settled back against the car's gray ultrasuede. "How come Armitage flies alone?" Case asked. He had a headache. "'Cause you get up his nose. You're sure getting up mine." He wanted to tell her the Corto story, but decided against it. He'd used a sleep derm, on the plane. The road in from the airport had been dead straight, like a neat incision, laying the city open. He'd watched the crazy walls of patchwork wooden tenements slide by, condos, arcologies, grim housing projects, more walls of plyboard and corrugated iron. The Finn, in a new Shinjuku suit, sarariman black, was waiting sourly in the Hilton lobby, marooned on a velour armchair in a sea of pale blue carpeting. "Christ," Molly said. "ъat in a business suit." They crossed the lobby. "How much you get paid to come over here, Finn?" She lowered her bag beside the armchair. "Bet not as much as you get for wearing that suit, huh?" The Finn' s upper lips drew back. "Not enough, sweetmeat. " He handed her a magnetic key with a round yellow tag. "You're registered already. Honcho's upstairs." He looked around. "This town sucks." "You get agoraphobic, they take you out from under a dome. Just pretend it's Brooklyn or something." She twirled the key around a finger. "You here as valet or what?" "I gotta check out some guy's implants," the Finn said. "How about my deck?" Case asked. The Finn winced. "Observe the protocol. Ask the boss." Molly's fingers moved in the shadow of her jacket, a flicker of jive. The Finn watched, then nodded. "Yeah," she said, "I know who that is." She jerked her head in the direction of the elevators. "Come on, cowboy." Case followed her with both bags. Their room might have been the one in Chiba where he'd first seen Armitage. He went to the window, in the morning, almost expecting to see Tokyo Bay. There was another hotel across the street. It was still raining. A few letter-writers had taken refuge in doorways, their old voiceprinters wrapped in sheets of clear plastic, evidence that the written word still enjoyed a certain prestige here. It was a sluggish country. He watched a dull black Citroen sedan, a primitive hydrogen-cell conversion, as it disgorged five sullen-looking Turkish officers in rumpled green uniforms. They entered the hotel across the street. He glanced back at the bed, at Molly, and her paleness struck him. She'd left the micropore cast on the bedslab in their loft, beside the transdermal inducer. Her glasses reflected part of the room's light fixture. He had the phone in his hand before it had a chance to ring twice. "Glad you're up," Armitage said. "I'm just. Lady's still under. Listen, boss, I think it's maybe time we have a little talk. I think I work better if I know a little more about what I'm doing." Silence on the line. Case bit his lip. "You know as much as you need to. Maybe more." "You think so?" "Get dressed, Case. Get her up. You'll have a caller in about fifteen minutes. His name is Terzibashjian." The phone bleated softly. Armitage was gone. "Wake up, baby," Case said. "Biz." "I've been awake an hour already." The mirrors turned. "We got a Jersey Bastion coming up." "You got an ear for language, Case. Bet you're part Ar- menian. That's the eye Armitage has had on ъiviera. Help me up." Terzibashjian proved to be a young man in a gray suit and gold-framed, mirrored glasses. His white shirt was open at the collar, revealing a mat of dark hair so dense that Case at first mistook it for some kind of t-shirt. He arrived with a black Hilton tray arranged with three tiny, fragrant cups of thick black coffee and three sticky, straw-colored Oriental sweets. "We must, as you say in Ingiliz, take this one very easy." He seemed to stare pointedly at Molly, but at last he removed the silver glasses. His eyes were a dark brown that matched the shade of his very short military-cut hair. He smiled. "It is better, this way, yes? Else we make the tunel infinity, mirror into mirror.... You particularly," he said to her, "must take care. In Turkey there is disapproval of women who sport such modifications." Molly bit one of the pastries in half. "It's my show, Jack," she said, her mouth full. She chewed, swallowed, and licked her lips. "I know about you. Stool for the military, right?" Her hand slid lazily into the front of her jacket and came out with the fletcher. Case hadn't known she had it. "Very easy, please," Terzibashjian said, his white china thimble frozen centimeters from his lips. She extended the gun. "Maybe you get the explosives, lots of them, or maybe you get a cancer. One dart, shitface. You won't feel it for months." "Please. You call this in Ingiliz making me very tight...." "I call it a bad morning. Now tell us about your man and get your ass out of here." She put the gun away. "He is living in Fener, at Kuchuk Gulhane Djaddesi 14. 1 have his tunel route, nightly to the bazaar. He performs most recently at the Yenishehir Palas Oteli, a modern place in the style turistik, but it has been arranged that the police have shown a certain interest in these shows. The Yenishehir man- agement has grown nervous." He smiled. He smelled of some metallic aftershave. "I want to know about the implants," she said, massaging her thigh, "I want to know exactly what he can do." Terzibashjian nodded. "Worst is how you say in Ingiliz, the subliminals." He made the word four careful syllables. "On our left," said the Mercedes, as it steered through a maze of rainy streets, "is Kapali Carsi, the grand bazaar." Beside Case, the Finn made an appreciative noise, but he was looking in the wrong direction. The right side of the street was lined with miniature scrapyards. Case saw a gutted loco- motive atop rust-stained, broken lengths of fluted marble. Headless marble statues were stacked like firewood. "Homesick?" Case asked. "Place sucks," the Finn said. His black silk tie was starting to resemble a worn carbon ribbon. There were medallions of kebab gravy and fried egg on the lapels of the new suit. "Hey, Jersey," Case said to the Armenian, who sat behind them, "where'd this guy get his stuff installed?" "In Chiba City. He has no left lung. The other is boosted, is how you say it? Anyone might buy these implants, but this one is most talented." The Mercedes swerved, avoiding a bal- loon-tired dray stacked with hides. "I have followed him in the street and seen a dozen cycles fall, near him, in a day. Find the cyclist in a hospital, the story is always the same. A scorpion poised beside a brake lever...." "'What you see is what you get,' yeah," the Finn said. "I seen the schematics on the guy's silicon. Very flash. What he imagines, you see. I figure he could narrow it to a pulse and fry a retina over easy." "You have told this to your woman friend?" Terzibashjian leaned forward between the ultrasuede buckets. "In Turkey, women are still women. This one. . ." The Finn snorted. "She'd have you wearing your balls for a bow tie if you looked at her cross-eyed." "I do not understand this idiom." "That's okay," Case said. "Means shut up." The Armenian sat back, leaving a metallic edge of after- shave. He began to whisper to a Sanyo transceiver in a strange salad of Greek, French, Turkish, isolated fragments of English. The transceiver answered in French. The Mercedes swung smoothly around a corner. "The spice bazaar, sometimes called the Egyptian bazaar," the car said, "was erected on the site of an earlier bazaar erected by Sultan Hatice in 1660. This is the city's central market for spices, software, perfumes, drugs...." "Drugs," Case said, watching the car's wipers cross and recross the bulletproof Lexan. "What's that you said before, Jersey, about this ъiviera being wired?" "A mixture of cocaine and meperidine, yes." The Armenian went back to the conversation he was having with the Sanyo. ' Demerol, they used to call that," said the Finn. "He's a speedball artist. Funny class of people you're mixing with, Case." "Never mind," Case said, turning up the collar of his jacket, "we'll get the poor fucker a new pancreas or something." Once they entered the bazaar, the Finn brightened notice- ably, as though he were comforted by the crowd density and the sense of enclosure. They walked with the Armenian along a broad concourse, beneath soot-stained sheets of plastic and green-painted ironwork out of the age of steam. A thousand suspended ads writhed and flickered. "Hey, Christ," the Finn said, taking Case's arm, "looka that." He pointed. "It's a horse, man. You ever see a horse?" Case glanced at the embalmed animal and shook his head. It was displayed on a sort of pedestal, near the entrance to a place that sold birds and monkeys. The thing's legs had been worn black and hairless by decades of passing hands. "Saw one in Maryland once," the Finn said, "and that was a good three years after the pandemic. There's Arabs still trying to code 'em up from the DNA, but they always croak." The animal's brown glass eyes seemed to follow them as they passed. Terzibashjian led them into a cafe near the core of the market, a low-ceilinged room that looked as though it had been in continuous operation for centuries. Skinny boys in soiled white coats dodged between the crowded tables, bal- ancing steel trays with bottles of Turk-Tuborg and tiny glasses of tea. Case bought a pack of Yeheyuans from a vendor by the door. The Armenian was muttering to his Sanyo. "Come," he said, "he is moving. Each night he rides the tunel to the bazaar, to purchase his mixture from Ali. Your woman is close. Come." The alley was an old place, too old, the walls cut from blocks of dark stone. The pavement was uneven and smelled of a century's dripping gasoline, absorbed by ancient limestone. "Can't see shit," he whispered to the Finn. "That's okay for sweetmeat," the Finn said. "Quiet," said Terzibashjian, too loudly Wood grated on stone or concrete. Ten meters down the alley, a wedge of yellow light fell across wet cobbles, widened. A figure stepped out and the door grated shut again, leaving the narrow place in darkness. Case shivered. "Now," Terzibashjian said, and a brilliant beam of white light, directed from the rooftop of the building opposite the market, pinned the

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