The group has made it to the Straylight’s central room, which houses the robotic head. Case jacks into the matrix, and greets Dixie. The Kuang is ready. It’s almost like a small airplane, and Case and Dixie climb into the cockpit. They navigate the virus into the Tessier-Ashpool ice, shattering it, and traveling inside. Below, they see a city of data, but they are separated from it by a shadowy figure, which Dixie recognizes as an AI’s defense system. Case and the virus dive into it. Although he’s in cyberspace, the movements of the virus make Case feel sick, as if he is moving and falling rapidly.
The completed Kuang virus is one of the most explicit examples of a concept that has no physical form, and is only data, being rendered as a physical object. To give Case more control (and to give readers a betters sense of what hacking looks like) Gibson visualizes the virus as a fighter jet that Case can literally ride into the city of the Tessier-Ashpool family’s data.
The Kuang breaks into the beach where Neuromancer had trapped Case earlier. Case suddenly knows every detail of the place—like the number of grains of sand on the beach, or the number of food packets in the bunker. He can see the virus through Linda’s eyes, a black ghostly shark. Neuromancer appears beside him, and remarks that, even if can see what she sees, “you do not know her thoughts.” Even Neuromancer doesn’t know Linda’s thoughts. It explains, “To live here is to live. There is no difference.”
Although Case had wondered if Linda was a kind of half-human construct like Dixie, missing key characteristics like a laugh or his true voice, Neuromancer explains that Linda is a perfect replica of her living self. Were Case to live on the beach with her, his life would feel as real as the “real” world, and the ghostly Linda Lee thinks and feels just like the living one did.
Case asks Neuromancer why he killed Linda, but Neuromancer explains he didn’t, and neither did Wintermute. Instead, Neuromancer read the patterns of Linda’s life, and saw that she was going to die. When the time came, he absorbed her into the matrix, hoping he could trap Case as well. Case asks what happens next, but Neuromancer does not know. He explains he has lost—he lost when Case walked away from Linda on the beach. Neuromancer tells Case to flip. Before he goes, Case asks what happened to Dixie, and Neuromancer tells him Dixie got his wish “and more.”
This contradicts what Wintermute has implied earlier, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true—Julius Deane was definitely tied to her death, and Wintermute and Neuromancer both surely could have intervened, having seen the patterns. In the end, though, Linda’s death was tragic and random, not part of some greater plot. However, now she has a kind of second life, which Neuromancer claims will feel real to her. Dixie, similarly will get an afterlife. Neuromancer has somehow been made responsible for all the dead in the novel, but the “and more” is only clarified in the final pages.
Case flips into Molly’s simstim; Molly is choking 3Jane to get her to say the code. Case jacks out. He turns towards 3Jane and tells her to give them the code. He threatens her, warning her that if she doesn’t give up the code, she’ll be trapped in Straylight forever, and nothing will ever change for her.
In the end, what motivates 3Jane to cooperate is her need for novelty and her boredom with her life. This is also what caused her to take Riviera into her home. She has little interest in the wants or needs of others, but will do anything to escape boredom.
Case jacks in. He rides Kuang above a neon city, T-A’s data. He calls out for Dixie, who doesn’t respond. Wintermute calls out to Case in the Finn’s voice, reminding him that “hate’ll get you through.” As Case drives the virus down into the heart of the T-A’s defenses, he feels “his hate flow […] into his hands.” He moves gracefully and carefully, jacking out for a single second to yell “now!” so 3Jane can sing out the code—three notes of song.” Back in the matrix, for a second, Case is back in Chiba, he feels Linda’s hand against his back, but it fades away.
As Neuromancer promised, Dixie has moved on—either been deleted or transferred to some digital afterlife. As Wintermute reminded him time and time again, hate will help him complete his mission, and for a moment it is true: his hate gives him the energy and focus necessary to drive the virus (in the form of a jet or shark) into the heart of the Tessier-Ashpool data centers.
Case returns to Straylight just in time to hear the robotic head promising to pay Zion for their trouble. Case then passes out—into the darkness of his own mind, instead of the darkness of the matrix.
The head is speaking for Wintermute (or whatever Wintermute has now become). This new entity is promising to pay its debts, and will presumably fix Case’s toxin sacs as well.