- "Boy, I'm like them huge fuckin' lizards, you know? Had themself two goddam brains, one in the head an' one by the tailbone, kept the hind legs movin'. Hit that black stuff and ol' tailbrain jus' kept right on keepin' on."
- —Dixie to Case
McCoy Pauley aka Dixie Flatline or just Dix is a famous computer hacker who was one of the mentors of Case.
Description[edit | edit source]
As a construct, Dixie was not sure if he was sentient, as he was a bunch of ROM and would not be able to write a poem, but it feels like he is sentient. He said that his existence didn't feel like anything, and compared it like the phantom sensation of an amputated member. Whenever Case communicated with him in the cyberspace, Case felt an odd feeling like "someone reading over your shoulder". Whenever he joked, he released an unpleasant laughter sensation that Case felt in his spine.
Bio[edit | edit source]
During the War he and Elroy ended up in a POW camp in Siberia where they stayed more than a month; he remembered when Elroy still felt a phantom itching on his amputated thumb. Dixie was implanted a surplus Russian heart. After the war he refused to replace it, as its particular beat gave him a sense of timing.
He became a "redneck jockey". He was jacked and larking around at the Rio heavy commerce sector. He picked up a white cubical shape 3 levels higher. He jacked up there and made a pass. From its dense ICE he realised it was an AI. Jacked out, he told his computer to look it up in the Turing Registry, its mainframe owned by Frog company. Like crazy, he returned eager to try to hack it. Hitting the first strata, the Black ICE burned him. His joeboy "smelled the skin frying" and pulled the trodes off him. Being flatlined, it was how he earned his nickname. The grapevine of the hacker scene and in the Gentleman Loser (GL) said that he managed an unspecified impossible feat, maybe a Brazilian payroll net. Despite and because of his legendary status as the "Lazarus of cyberspace" the cowboy elite of the GL shunned him out of superstitious awe.
He met Case in the GL, and trained him in Miami. He even showed the tapes of his EEG to Case. Before his death, Sense/Net paid him a lot to save the contents of his mind onto a ROM and stored it in their library vault in the Sense/Net Pyramid. He died of heart attack when the Russian implant failed him.
After death[edit | edit source]
Case connected the construct to his computer, after slotting some ice, and jacked in the matrix. The construct was like the sensation of someone reading over his shoulder. Dixie spoke with a directionless voice and remembered Case, but couldn't remember any events before. Case disconnected and reconnected the construct, and when Dixie reappeared he didn't remember the previous discussion. Case said about jacking his ROM personality matrix into the bank with sequential, real time memory, and told him that he is a ROM construct now. Dixie first guided him to a Copenhagen academic grid in order to hijack Bell Europa and sleaze over to London grid and access Armitage's database. Flatline chanted to him some digits, which Case punched on his deck (it took three tries).
Dixie was stored in Case's Hosaka computer and in the meantime he figured out he was dead. From Zion Case connected to the matrix near the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority pyramid. Asked about his situation, Dixie said that it didn't feel like anything, and he was bothered by the fact that nothing bothered him, comparing it to Elroy's phantom itch. He asked Case as a favor to erase him when everything is over.
While on Marcus Garvey Case jacked in and asked if he ever tried to crack an AI, and Dixie told him about the cube that fried his brain and earned his nickname. Case asked him what about looking at an AI in Berne and Dix said they could do if he isn't afraid to die. Case took them to the Swiss banking sector, and Berne. Dix guided him upwards. They reached a simple cube of white light, and Dix warned him that despite its simple appearance, touching it would be lethal. Case approached and Dix observed the cube surface seething with faint internal shadows, meaning that it sensed their presence. As Case punched forward, a gray circle formed on its face and Dix ordered Case to back off fast. Still, the circle detached as a sphere after them; even as they plunged down a twilit shaft of Swiss banks in max reverse it gained on Case. Dix ordered him to jack out but it was too late, and the AI accessed his brain.
When Case returned, he was asked about Chinese virus programs such as Kuang Grade Mark Eleven which Dixie didn't know a lot of things, but confirmed that a military icebreaker could cut an AI, as told by Case. Case told him that Wintermute was linked to the AI that flatlined him, and wanted his opinion about its motives to burn itself, and get him to shaft Armitage; Dixie said that they can't get a handle on an AI's motive, being no human; he pointed out that although he is a bunch of ROM, it feels like he is sentient, releasing his ugly laughter, and unlike an AI he would not be able to write a poem; he found amusing that a company owns its "brain" and knowledge, but that its "thoughts" have Swiss citizenship. He pointed out that there is no distinction between an AI's moves and its parent company's, but the moment they gain autonomy, the Turing Police wipes it. Finally Case slotted the virus for Dixie to scan its instruction face; after a few secs Dixie said it can crack a military target in some hours, or an AI, "unless you got a morbid fear of dying". With that Case noted that sometimes he repeats himself and Dixie said it's his nature.
Case again accessed Dixie having attached a simple phone link to the Hosaka computer, and his voice was heard through the computer's voice chip, without the carefully engineered accent. Case asked him to punch his way in the Intercontinental, ride in on his phone and do their records to locate Molly's whereabouts. It took him a few minutes to screw their security net deep enough to discover that she was registered as "Rose Kolodny". After some time he found a nightclub that strangely had some weird ICE around it; he got the address and left without leaving a calling card. Case thanked him, telling him to tell the Hosaka to tell Maelcum to disconnect the modem.
The following day the Hosaka patched into a twin bank on Armitage's ship and Flatline knew that the Turing Police caught Case. He made the computer asking for him. Soon Case came to Garvey and Maelcum told him to check "what th' ghost say". Case connected again at the Sikkim sector and told him that Wintermute killed the cops. Dixie warned that more will be coming and probably are listening this grid sector; so Armitage says to make the run now. With a speed and accuracy that Case envied, he executed an intricate series of jumps, and brought them to the Freeside coordinates. He warned Case that Tessier-Ashpool core data is protected by ICE generated by their 2 AI's, comparable to the military, and if he approaches, their tracers will notify the T-A boardroom. Case for a moment offered to bail out, rescue him and let the Turing care, but Dixie reminded him that he would rather check out the Kuang that Armitage had brought him. Indeed, this was enough to change his mind; he loaded the Kuang and jacked in again; as the program unfolded in an enormous form above them, blotting out the void. Dixie said "Big mother". He rented 20" on a little pink box, a commercial unit near the ICE. He told Case that the Kuang is a slow virus that will make them invisible.
Soon after Case had another encounter with Wintermute and Dixie notified him that he was flatlined for 5 seconds.
Later, when the virus grew bigger, Dixie punched them up over the strata. Case noticed a shark in its core, and Dixie said that it is its sting, and they will ride it when the virus interfaces with the ICE. Case confirmed to Dixie that indeed Wintermute has some password switch, that overrides his control hardwiring. Dixie told him that the virus has more time yet and Case jacked out.