Together Case and Dixie access Armitage’s data. Dixie scans the files, reporting they’re mostly “video recordings of postwar military trials,” featuring a man named Colonel Willis Corto. Case watches a video, and although the face is different, he recognizes Armitage’s eyes.
Case and Dixie begin to uncover the mystery of Armitage’s identity, realizing Armitage has another name—Corto. Although not quite human, Dixie retains the skills he had when he was alive.
Two hours later, Case jacks out. He had the Hosaka present a précis. Although it was full of holes, he has the main story: Willis Corto was participated in Screaming Fist, a mission to inject a new computer virus in a Russian interface. His plane was taken down by Russian guns, and although he escaped to Helsinki, he lost his legs, his eyes, and even his face in the crash. A congressional aid found Corto in a military hospital and promised to rebuild Corto so he could testify for a Congressional investigation (which, unbeknownst to him, was merely a cover up). Repaired with extensive surgery, Corto testified in Washington, but when he discovered Congress’s betrayal, he dropped off the map. He became involved in crime, and eventually appeared in a French hospital with a schizophrenia diagnosis. He was apparently “cured” with experimental therapy, and then disappeared.
Case has finally begun to uncover Armitage/Corto’s background. Armitage has spoken about Operation Screaming Fist, the code name for the operation Willis Corto took part in as a Colonel. However, Corto barely made it out of the war alive—and had to have a new body built in order to testify in front of Congress. Although still Corto then, his body and face were entirely new, the body and face Armitage now has. Case still doesn’t understand when or how Armitage appeared, but he can assume it was the result of severe trauma and mental illness that prevented Corto from fully functioning and required a more put-together mask of personality.
Back in the loft, Armitage calls and announces they’re going to Istanbul. Molly’s leg still hurts, but she has no choice but to take off.
Molly values her own life, but she values her job more. In this case, this means she prioritizes her commitment to Armitage over her own health.