24-42 was intensely focused on her weight-lifting the next day.  Suzie’s suggestion of a rest day had been agreed upon, so the group had decided that a weight circuit would be fun, and they had taken over one of the gymnasiums.  A few of the members of Team B42 had woken up and decided to watch their fellow Experiments work out through the gym windows.

“YAY! Team spirit!” The ever-hyper Suzie cheered them on as she too joined the work out (with considerably lighter weights).

“Is she always this upbeat?” Daniel turned to M42 between stations.

“She tries.” M42 replied.

Henna meanwhile was struggling with one of the weights machines.  

“Maybe you need to set it to a lower weight?” Alexis looked over, trying to be helpful.

“I guess.”  Henna looked downcast, made worse by a snort from Tytus.  M42 frowned at him as he headed over to help Henna out.

“You’re very far behind 17-42.  You’re going to need to put in a lot of work to catch up to the others.  It’s amazing you’ve made it this far.” He said bluntly as he adjusted the machine.  

Henna looked thoroughly miserable at this.  It was made even worse when M42 insisted on hanging around “coaching” her as she tried to complete the circuit.

“WILL YOU LAY OFF HER ALREADY YOU JERK!” Alexis finally screamed after twenty minutes of it.

“Watch your tone Experiment! I’m Commander of this Team, and I will run it as I see fit!  If 17-42 can’t handle the pressure I will have her removed!” M42 barked back.  Henna couldn’t take it any more and ran out of the room.  Alexis and H42 tore after her, while 24-42 glared at the Major.

“You might be in charge, but that doesn’t give you the right to treat Henna like that!” She roared.

“Henna?” M42 frowned. “Her designation is 17-42.  She is NOT Henna Ainsley anymore.”

“You know our names?” Tytus asked.

“We’ve both been briefed on who you once were.”  M42 answered.  “But you are not those people anymore.  Your pasts have been wiped away, you are Experiments, nothing more.”

“We’re still human!” 24-42 cried.  

“Oh are you just?” M42 turned to face her.  “Do you know what the Exposure did to you?  Do you know what it’s changed about you?”

24-42 knew what it HADN’T changed, and that was her sick temper.  It was cold and methodical once stirred, only resorting  to all-out rage once other methods of vengeance had failed.  It was her greatest weakness, and it took every bit of her to swallow the chilly anger back.

“None of us have pasts, and the only future we have is the Hero Improvement Program.  Accept that, and stop trying to cling to the lives you left behind.” M42 said coldly.  “You chose this.”

With that, he turned to the others. “Let’s resume.”  

“But Major-,” Daniel began.

“That’s an ORDER, Experiment.” Was the barked reply.

The exercise continued in cold silence until the hour was over.

“He’s such a PRICK!” Alexis snapped as they walked down the corridor back to their lodgings.  “I’ve only known him 24 hours but ARGH!!!”

“Tell me about it.” 24-42 was still smarting from the earlier confrontation.  It was taking everything she had not to start plotting revenge against the Major.

“He’s just a stickler for rules, once you get to know him he’s actually pretty good to have on your side.” Suzie tried to pour oil on the troubled waters again.

“How CAN you defend that?!” Alexis cried.

“He does have a point, I do need to improve.” Henna said in a small voice.

“Yes, but shaming you in front of the team wasn’t the way to go about it!” Alexis insisted.  “Not to mention his lecture afterwards about using our ID numbers and forgetting our names.”

“I think he had a point there though.”  24-42 said.  “We’re not those people anymore.”

“YOU might not be.  But my past is why I’ll do my best here.” Alexis turned on her.  “I signed on to protect my little brother.  To save his life.  I’m not letting that go so easily.”

“I’m here because I have a debt to repay society. That’s my motivation.” Henna added.

“And I’m here because it’s my destiny to protect my country.” Suzie finished.  “We’re all here for a reason.”

24-42 scowled and walked into the lodgings, the door sliding shut behind her.

She headed straight to the fridge and got a tub of caramel almond ice cream and a large spoon.  If there was one thing that cured her spirit it was ice cream, cats and rubbish television. It was nice that they were allowed to watch TV from the outside world.  It was good to not be totally isolated.

Soon she was laughing at some stupid reality TV shows, while the cats tried to bite her feet.  There was a loud ringing at the door which she got up to answer.

“We’re gonna get M42 back, wanna join us?” Daniel grinned at her.

“You’re what?” 24-42 asked.

Tytus held up two towels and a bundle of clothes.

“He’s in the gym shower at the moment, we’re going to leave these in the middle of Training Ground 6.” He grinned.

24-42 looked out of her door.  The whole team was there, minus Suzie and M42.

“This is the most petty, childish and spiteful thing I have ever come across.  I love it!”  24-42 giggled.  “Where’s the Captain?”

“We didn’t want her blabbing to the Major, you know how she’s so friendly to everyone.” Alexis piped up.

“Fair enough.” 24-42 grinned.  

“We’re going to sit in the lunchroom and watch the show from there, it’s got a view straight out onto the ground.” Tytus said as they headed out.

“Whose idea was this?” 24-42 asked.

“Tytus.” Henna and Alexis answered together.

“I figured.  You’re a conniving little sod aren’t you?” 24-42 looked at him.  She didn’t trust him one bit, even if he did antagonise the Major.

“How do you think I got so far in my chosen field?” Tytus said with a slimy smirk.

“Ruining peoples lives?” 24-42 scowled.

“If there wasn’t a demand, then I wouldn’t supply.” Tytus shrugged.

“You pathetic scumbag.” 

“Takes one to know one.  I’d love to know what you did though, must be pretty awful if you can’t tell us.” Tytus smirked at the sudden colour in 24-42s cheeks.

“Shhhh!” Henna hushed them as they got to the lunchroom.  They all grabbed some snacks from the machines as Tytus laid the clothes out on the ground and sat down where they would have the best view of Training Ground 6.

M42 sighed as the warm water slid down his back over his cybertronic arm and leg.  The Experiments were unruly, and it annoyed him no end.  What were they THINKING getting civilians in to do this?  Why couldn’t they have hand-picked trained soldiers who’d be more easy to control?

He knew the answer of course (money) which only made him angrier.  He resolved to put each and every one of those pests in line, starting with those loudmouths 15-42 and 21-42.  Then he’d deal with 17-42 and 24-42.  16-42 had a military background, which showed.  He was by far the easiest to deal with, a quick talk about the use of old names would fix him.

He turned off the shower and ran his hands over his head, flicking the water out of his short hair.  He walked out of the shower and went to grab his towel.

Not there.

He spun around, looking frantically for his things.  “No, NO! I can’t have lost it!” 

He flew out of the room, scaring some assistants who were walking past.

“WHERE IS IT?”  He grabbed the nearest one.

“W-where’s what Sir?” The young assistant stammered.

“MY GUN!” M42 roared.

“S-sir…we s-saw the Ex-experiments run off…with your th-things…” One of the other assistants said, terrified.

“WHERE?!” The Major rounded on him.

“T-training Ground 6 Sir.” The assistant replied.  “S-sir, you realise that you’re-,”

The butt-naked Major thundered off towards Training Ground 6, where the Experiments were watching.

“He doesn’t look embarrassed at all…he actually looks quite panicked.” 24-42 noticed as the others started howling with laughter.

Daniel looked at the Major, who was desperately searching through his clothes.  “You’re right.  I wonder what’s up.” 

The pair watched M42 closely.  Finally, he found what he was looking for – a small Colt .45 revolver.  Breathing a sigh of relief, the Major picked up his things and walked to his lodgings, not bothering to cover himself.

“I wonder how he became a Cyborg, and why he was so worried about his gun.” Henna watched him leave the Training Ground.

“At least he’s not cybertronic where it counts.” Alexis nudged 24-42, who went bright red.