The sky above the port was the color of television… tuned to a DeaD channel…
He settled the black terry sweatband across his forehead, careful not to disturb the flat Sendai dermatrodes. 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 closed his eyes... Found the ridged face of the power stud and jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix.
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.
The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games... 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 warplanes.
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...
And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face…
A. I. Interface
Wintermute had won, had meshed somehow with Neuromancer 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.
Wintermute was hive-mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built something 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…
`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 whole show.'
`That what 3Jane's mother wanted?'
`No. She couldn't imagine what I'd be like.' The yellow smile widened.
`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 Yeheyuan.
`I talk to my own kind.'
`But you're the whole thing. Talk to yourself?'
`There are 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 to answer.'
`Oh,' Case said. `Yeah? No shit?'
And then the screen was blank...
- William Gibson