Armitage is (apparently) the main patron of the crew in Neuromancer. Formerly a Green Beret named Colonel Willis Corto, who took part in a secret operation named Screaming Fist. He was heavily injured both physically and psychologically, and the "Armitage" personality was constructed as part of experimental "computer-mediated psychotherapy" by Wintermute which is actually controlling the mission.
He has a cropped brown hair and his blue eyes were pale glitter, almost bleached. His face has blandly handsome, inexpressive features, a tanned mask like a combination of the past decade's leading pop media, as offered by the cosmetic boutiques. In this manner he resembles Wage. Combined with his beyond-normal eyes, his face looks like an artificial mask, an unusual blankness.
He is no taller than Case, but he has a military posture with a broad chest, muscular and hairless, his stomach flat and hard. He wore an angular gold ring of the Special Forces and a heavy gold bracelet on his wrist.
In the Sprawl he is seen with a somber Italian suit without his Special Forces earring.
When he travels he prefers big hotels near airports. Molly noticed that he has no personal life when he is alone; he ust stares at the wall until he starts doing his job. He maintains a private database in the London grid of the matrix.
During the war he lost his eye, legs and most of his jaw, which however were reconstructed and replaced by the government after the war. Despite this, Case recognised him in an old image just from the eyes.
As Willis Corto he was the leader of a team trained for an operation involving cyber warfare even 3 years before the War.
During the War, as a colonel, he led the Screaming Fist operation in Kirensk, flying a Nightwing microlight. They were devastaded by unexpected Russian defenses, EMP and lasers. With his console man dead, his craft fell down. He was one of the few survivors who comandeered a Soviet helicopter and reached Helsinki only to be shot. Finnish paramedics sawed him off the twisted debris, seriously crippled, having lost his eyes, legs and most of his jaw.
The war ended 9 days later, and Corto was shipped to a military facility in Utah. 11 months later a Congressional aide found him there and told him the political developments, with a Congressional investigation focusing on Screaming Fist. He offered him a total repair and cosmetic work. Corto said he was read to testify, but the aide explained that the trials were televized and they needed to reach the voters.
5 months later Corto was now repaired with new legs and eyes, and was extensively rehearsed to a fake testimony provided by a Congressional cabal. It was designed to save particular portions of the Pentagon infrastructure, and the careers of 3 officers responsible for the suppression of EMP reports about Kirensk. He testified in Washington and the trials were over.
Template:Quote In a cool September day he was in an M Street restaurant with the aide explaining the terminal dangers involved in "talking to the wrong people". Understanding that he is "unwanted" now, Corto strangled him with his right hand in the restaurant.
Then he disappeared, but there were vague and fragmentary police reports, corporate espionage records, and news files about him. He worked for corporate defection in Lisbon and Marrakesh, but loathed the scientists and technicians he was involved with, becoming obsessed with the idea of betrayal. In Singapore he got drunk and beat a Russian engineer to death in a hotel and set fire to his room. In Thailand he was an overseer of a heroin factory. In California he worked as an enforcer for a gambling cartel. In the ruins of Bonn he was an assassin. In Wichita he robbed a bank.
In France he was caught without identification and taken to a Paris mental health unit, diagnosed as schizophrenic and became catatonic. He was sent to a government institution near Toulon where he became an experimental subject for cybernetically-assisted cure of schizophrenia. He was one of the randomly selected patients provided with microcomputers and encouraged, with help from students, to program them. He was the only succes in the entire experiment, and was cured.
He hired Molly Millions. She noticed that Armitage became rich suddenly and keeps becoming riches, but doesn't know on what he is up to. She noticed that nobody in the Screaming Fist had the name or face of Armitage. While in Los Angeles he told her to get ready for Macau. While there, he crossed over into Zhongshan. Next day they where in Chiba City.
He took an interest in Case, watching and tracing his moves, also for each of his aliases. Building up a detailed model of his suicidal moves, and running the skim through some military software, they projected that he will kill himself within a month, and his pancreas will fail within a year. Molly was told to track and fetch him.
Within 2 months Molly brought him Case in his Chiba Hilton suite. Seeing him, Case threw against him his cup of coffee which Armitage easily dodged. Armitage said he knew everything about him, and offered to correct his neural damage. He offered the revolutionary technology to an unnamed clinic which performed the surgery on Case, putting them 3 years ahead of the competition.
Together they flew to Europe. while in Amsterdam he left the pair for some cryptic foray. back in the Sprawl, he showed up with a calf suitcase, and revealed to Case that he is dependent on him as he has installed mycotoxins in his organism. Then he supplied them with equipment necessary for their job: an Ono-Sendai Cyberspace VII; next year's most expensive Hosaka computer with a Sony monitor; disks of corporate-grade ICE... Armitage had only waited for Case's approval of each piece. Molly persuaded him to hire the Finn as their tech. But when he left to his hotel, the two went secretly to the Finn in order to be scanned for implants and discuss about their mission, Dixie Flatline's construct, Sense/Net and Peter Riviera, and the mystery behind it and Armitage, instructing him to research.
For the operation of stealing the construct, Armitage had Case to study and map the Sense/Net ICE within a week. It took him 9 days instead but Armitage couldn't hide his satisaction. The extraction operation ended up more chaotic that he expected with Molly injured, and when the Panther Moderns leader Lupus Yonderboy came to the loft to receive his payment, Armitage (wearing a an expensive-looking trench coat with dark glossy folds) complained about the events and that he still doesn't have the object Molly stole. Case insisted that he should pay him nonetheless. Lupus semi-threatened him saying that "Mr. Who" would rather pay well if he doesn't want to become "Mr. Name".
Suddenly, he notifies the pair that they must leave for Istanbul, where Terzibashjian has tracked Peter Riviera and read off flight numbers and departure times, telling Case that the Finn will bring his equipment. In the Hilton Istanbul he calls them one morning before the arrival of Terzibashjian. Case meanwhile had learned about his past and says that they must discuss about it, to which Armitage replies that he already knows more than he needs.
After the capture of Riviera, he was waiting the pair in their room and said Case to get ready to pack, handing him a brochure to Freeside. He reassured him that Riviera was fine and Finn already left for home. He prodded Case in the chest, reminding him that the sacs already wear out. He pressured Riviera to join their team.
After booking their flight, they were in the lobby of the Hilton. Armitage, his trenchcoat draped over his shoulders like a cape, stood in the entrance of glass-walled gift-shop where Riviera was browsing. 3 Japanese tourists bustled into, nodding politely and smiling to Armitage, who crossed the shop as fast as he could, to stand beside Riviera. Riviera turned and smiled.
On the THY liner to Paris, they sat together in First Class, Riviera and Armitage sitting on the aisle. Molly threatened Riviera when he started doing tricks with hallucinations, Armitage ordered him to stop.
As the novel progresses, Armitage's personality slowly disintegrates. He soon believes that Case is his subordinate during Screaming Fist, and attempts to escape imagined Russian forces using the escape pod on the Marcus Garvey. He is killed when he ejects into space with the airlock still open.