Though the act had spun up in retaliation of Vash's deeply ridiculous spy name, making use of Thomas Lexington's body hadn't been a waste. It had been prudent to ease back into processing sensory data and the sensation of being contained. Though the uncomfortable, stuffy, and unfamiliar surroundings had pressed on and offended her systems like being locked in a claustrophobically small hotel room, the dinginess of which kept you up at night worrying about whether the faucets shut off fully and the cleaning staff (If one indeed existed) had really put the required work into the linens. Thomas was made for remote work with the veneer of respectability, but the moral undercurrents of those at the controls often left much to be desired. She'd wallpapered over the peep holes for her stay, but the fact remained that they’d been there. It was an experience that further served to confirm Thedes's stilted speech: Lucy had been designed for a A.I. of her caliber, with a luxe interior to comfortably couch her ego. Church had settled in without investigating her vessel's heading, and had been carried further than she'd realized.
A moment of hesitation had come, hot with panic, and it crashed into the cold fury --frigid, actually, and dropping-- she felt over the revelations that unfolded in a humiliating display. The resulting steam of the two clashing emotions (She had little choice but to call them that now, they defied other categorization at present) fogged up her processing. While fighting the haze Church had neglected to turn off her body's sensors. The experience hit her like. Well, not unlike a spaceship traveling at a very high and desperate speed— and she had the authority to make such a comparison. It was rectified quickly; there was nothing quite like the sensation of reflating a set of lungs that had been dormant for seven months to send one's systems hot stepping into a None of that, thank you subroutine. Everything was painfully bright and loud, as though someone had taken the sounds and colors of the world and turned all the knobs and vibrancy settings up to absolute mindfuck. She shut those off as well, and didn't dare reengage them again until she had been escorted by one of the droids, who couldn't seem to decide if she was interesting or horrifying, to a shower. There she cautiously reinstated her sensors until the droplets, every one detected and logged individually, were calibrated down from a painful barrage of well-documented bricks to a gentle, generalized, mist.
Church emerged and dressed herself from the selection of impeccably curated clothing Ambrose had provided. Little shimmers of code acknowledging and complimenting the repairs nudged their way through the series of remediations and updates that were carrying on inside the body. It was all systems at a very optimistic go. Everything copacetic, everything normal. Resentfully, Church dimmed all but her audio and visuals again. Without the rest to distract, she glided through the celebratory drinks, her reunited friends' eager and relieved expressions, across the moon and up the Sparrowhawk ramp, and back into the stars. Eventually the crew made their way to their rooms, and Ambrose, with some effort, was negotiated into letting her out of his sight. She would still be there when they reached Terminus, she promised.
And she would, too. Where else did she have to go? Church took to wandering, irritatingly writing and executing a script to accept the pretext of needing to settle back into Lucy’s gait. She had hoped she would need to rediscover it, that some part of slipping back into Lucy Novatus would take some effort. But it didn't, and she hated it. And she hated that she hated it, and hated that she could hate and-- goodness it was all getting very tedious again very quickly. Tedious, and worse. There was a stirring in her throat; the fabricated muscles and chords there were tightening and spasming. She'd caught them at this sort of thing before and erased the disconcerting lines activating them as they formed, but this time she wasn't entirely sure that she could, and she was too demoralized to try. What she was certain of was that, at present, she was in no place to capitulate to it just yet. The quicker she moved, the more necessary it felt to withhold and conceal her presence; the more she wanted to unfurl. She wanted to send her anger out into the universe; to blazon her rage on every functioning screen in creation. She wanted to rip the gateway open and charge through it so no corner of the universe Harrison might be hiding in would go unscathed; no unexplored crack he might have slipped into that could go overlooked. But she couldn’t. Someone would hear, someone would notice, someone would find her.
Someone would find her the way Harrison could have found her-- apparently at his leisure. Had her expulsion out the airlock been necessary, or had he been discarding her? Had he found her progress wanting, and flung her into the void in an attempt to erase her? Or was it all a test? And if it was, how had she still not met the standard, nevermind not surpassed it? Hadn't this whole horrible state showed she had, in fact, exceeded it? Every variable, every scrap of data that made her what she was dreged up, searching for what errors had made her wanting.
The short heels of Church's boots clattered on the stairs as she descended into the cargo bay. Her steps, and the frustrated scream that her throat had been working on, echoed off the floor and around the empty room. Metal, all of it metal. It reminded her of. It didn't matter now. It didn't calm her anymore. The data being furiously combed through was shoved aside.
She forced the recycled oxygen down her aching, constricted airways, each breath deeper but less stable than the last. There, finally, she brought her clenched fist down, at least metaphorically, on the sort of big red button Emil had imagined. A self-destruct sequence. A termination. Tendrils that had wound and embedded themselves across the extranet, those slender strands of Church's code that had carefully propagated like roots through satellites and surveillance systems and emergency relays-- all of them searching, watching, calling out— were ripped free in one violent, silent act. In those minutes, those painful minutes, Church felt like herself for what she expected would be the last time: infinite and certain.
When it was done Church let her body lower itself to its knees. It was shaken by the act and the data that had flooded suddenly inward; readjusting to the enormity of what it had been made to house. Church watched dispassionately as her forearms, blurry before her, shook and struggled to recalibrate. Was this what it was to be, then? To be compressed into something small and unwanted, tethered to a body that made everything oppressively bright, deafeningly loud, and acutely feeling in the most nauseating of ways? Would her escapes from it be ever only temporary at best?
The fleeting respite of detachment was being gradually drowned by a fresh incoming tide of horror when Church felt something firm and warm cross over her straining ribcage. She was being pulled away from some sort of brink and, all those non-literal being unfamiliar, she couldn't identify what particular chasm she had precipiced.