Case and Maelcum enter the Villa Straylight. Case carries Dixie’s construct and his computer as he climbs up a long ladder to a closed hatch. The hatch is locked, and a young man on the other side appears on a screen, apologizing, and opening the door. The doorman is confused—he thinks he is letting in 8Jean, who has arrived early.
Case and Maelcum pretend to be 8Jean in order to get in. In a novel filled with layered personalities and characters used as puppets for others, this is a relatively straightforward deception.
Inside, Maelcum and Case pass a screen. The Finn/Wintermute appears and tells them to lock the doorman in a closet. Meanwhile, Case plugs his deck into the wall, and jacks into the matrix. Dixie greets him, and jokes that it’s been a while (although, for him, no time has passed). The virus has continued to develop; now it looks almost like a jet, which Case will eventually pilot through the ice.
Although computer viruses have no true shape, in the matrix it appears like a fighter jet, which will fly into the fortress of digital defenses. More than helping the characters, this description helps the reader visualize something that is just written code.
Case flips to Molly’s simstim. 3Jane is bandaging her head and broken eye. 3Jane tells Molly that although Riviera wants to fight Molly, 3Jane won’t let him. She tells Molly she wants to nurse her back to health. She’s growing tired of Riviera, who has disappeared to shoot up again. 3Jane explains she finds drug use boring.
3Jane’s behavior is unpredictable, and no one, not even Wintermute, could have anticipated how quickly she would grow fond of Molly. Riviera’s drug use has doomed him in two ways; Molly poisoned his drug supply, and 3Jane has turned against him.
3Jane tells Molly about her mother, Marie-France, who commissioned the family’s AIs, but died before she could complete her vision: entering her family into a “symbiotic relationship with,” the AIs, all “corporate decisions made for” them. Ashpool, who disagreed with his wife’s plans, killed Marie-France, which 3Jane knows because of conversations with Wintermute. Molly tries to convince 3Jane to tell her the code, but 3Jane, who admits she knows it, is hesitant to reveal it.
Marie-France’s dream was a kind of transhumanist fantasy. That is, she wanted her human family to work in tandem with the artificial intelligences, with the AIs essentially running the family businesses with some input from the humans. Ashpool disagreed with this plan and killed her to stop it. Wintermute liked the idea of this kind of power, and so plotted Ashpool’s death as revenge.
Case jacks out. The Finn/Wintermute is still on the wall screen, and announces that he’s arranging them transportation. A driverless service cart swings around the corner. On it sits a little spider drone, a Braun, blinking at them. Case and Maelcum hop on.
Wintermute doesn’t have much control in the physical world, but it is able to control any machines hooked up to the internet, whose brains it can invade.