Case watches Molly enter 3Jane’s lair. At the bottom of the stairs, Molly sees a boy on the diving board of a pool, a girl sitting with wine, and Ashpool’s corpse. She fires a grenade at the boy and darts at Ashpool, but the figures dissolve—they are Riviera’s holograms, meant to distract her as Hideo takes care of her. However, before Hideo even touches Molly, her leg collapses, and she falls to the floor.
Riviera creates illusions to distract Molly, which allow Hideo to attack her. Once again, although simply holograms, Riviera’s images have real-world impacts.
Riviera appears and restrains Molly, who is already debilitated by the pain in her leg. He searches her pockets and finds a packet of drugs. 3Jane has also appeared, and asks Hideo to give Molly something to keep her from losing consciousness and feeling too much pain.
Riviera’s drug addiction means that he can only focus on getting his fix, leaving 3Jane and Hideo to tend to Molly. This will prove a fatal mistake, as Molly works on winning 3Jane over.
Case jacks out. Maelcum stands over him, looking concerned. He tells Case he screamed a few minutes ago (when Molly collapsed). The Finn/Wintermute appears on a little monitor and tells Case they have a problem. He wants Case and Maelcum to go into Straylight after Molly. He knows that she’s in no state to finish the mission alone: kill Riviera, get the magic word out of 3Jane, and get 3Jane to say it to the head.
Case, feeling Molly’s pain through the simstim, cries out as though his own leg is breaking again. The simstim creates an empathetic connection between him and Molly; although he derisively called it a “meat toy” earlier in the novel, the simstim now helps him better understand another person.
Case resists—his job is to track and pilot the virus—but The Finn/Wintermute explains that the Hosaka has been totally overtaken by the virus, so if they take the Garvey to a dock in the Straylight, the virus will move from the ship into the Villa. Case and Maelcum will find 3Jane, get the word, kill Riviera, and get the physical key from Molly. Case can check on the virus’s progress by jacking into ports in Straylight.
Case is good at navigating technology, but he is not some action star. Like Wintermute, he prefers to operate behind the scenes in digital, not analogue, space. Still, he understands that without his hands-on help, the mission will not be completed and, more crucially, Molly might die inside the Villa Straylight.
Case jacks into Molly’s simstim as Maelcum navigates the Garvey towards Straylight. 3Jane is telling Molly about her mother, Marie-France, but then stops to ask Molly what her plan had been. Molly explains that she would have killed Riviera because of the show. She also would have tried to kill Hideo, because a man like him killed her partner, Johnny. Molly says she wouldn’t have killed 3Jane, whom she just wanted to talk to.
Molly is now driven by a desire for revenge and an deep-seated rage. She hates Riviera for embarrassing and offending her with his holographic performance, and she hates Hideo for reminding her of the man who killed her ex, Johnny, causing her so much emotional pain. For her, getting into Straylight was less about the mission and more about her personal grudges.
3Jane points out that Molly killed her father, which she knows because she watched it on a monitor. Molly explains Ashpool had killed one of 3Jane’s clones, which doesn’t bother 3Jane.
Molly sees the clone as a human being, and mourns her death. 3Jane either doesn’t see the clone as a human, or doesn’t care at all.
Riviera returns from some corner where he was shooting up. He tells Molly that Wintermute underestimated him, and that he is no longer participating in the mission, and smashes his glass of mineral water into her lens implant.
Case jacks out. Maelcum, will bring a gun to Straylight, just in case. Case checks on Dixie, who tells him the virus has made good progress. Case explains the plan: move the deck from the ship to Straylight’s custodial system, and let the virus take hold that way. Case returns to Molly’s simstim. Molly is unconscious, but still sends stimulus back to Case. 3Jane is upset that Molly is injured, but Riviera tries to argue he saved 3Jane’s life. 3Jane explains Hideo could have easily done that. She suspects Molly understands Hideo’s power, but Riviera does not.
Riviera’s personality makes his actions somewhat unpredictable, but in other ways he’s totally reliable. As a drug addict he can be counted on to shoot up, and as a narcissistic psychopath he can be counted on to underestimate others (even Hideo, which will prove a fatal mistake) and elevate his own importance. He broke Molly’s glass out of spite and sadism, and now is literally incapable of understanding why 3Jane is upset that he unnecessarily injured someone.
Case jacks out. Maelcum navigates the Garvey, which is still attached to the Haniwa, to the spindle of Freeside and Villa Straylight. He hooks the ships to a port, and they are suddenly overtaken by artificial gravity, as objects fall to the floor. It’s 7:30 P.M., and Case knows they only have an hour—the virus will be finished at 8:30 P.M., at which point 3Jane will have to speak the secret word to the automaton head. He and Maelcum gather their things and exit their ship.
Time is of the essence—8Jean will return soon, but more crucially, the virus must break through Straylight’s digital defenses at the exact same moment someone speaks the secret word, breaking through a physical defense as well. This is why Wintermute needs the help of humans, and cannot free itself.