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Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:57pm

Hilton peered out his dust covered lenses. Wiping the clutter from his glasses the old man almost got back on his transport. At the last moment he noticed the old familiar gates of the Stomping Grounds. They were half buried in mud and sand. Enough that he could just hop over the wall of the obstructed entrance. Waving the pilot on, he picked made his way up the small dune and over the SG walls.

The sight on the other side was breath taking, but not in that "Welcome Home" kind of way. Everything was buried. Buildings, bodies, Duncadian tanks?

"What the hell?" Hilton mumbled to himself.

Making his way back to his room, the scientist found his trusty old creation sitting on the bed. Gesualdo turned and saw his father in the doorway. Instead of the greeting he'd expected, Hilton received an almost audible grunt. Closer inspection revealed that the giant had taken quite a beating recently. His demeanor had also taken a blow. With a sigh, Gesualdo stood, motioned to the door and started making his way through the battered corridors of the SG toward the meeting.

"What the hell?" Hilton felt like he'd asked the question a thousand times in his brief time back.

Another merc heading down the hall filled Hilton in on the situation about the mutants, the mind swap, the bankruptcy, and the new CO.

"What do you mean, 'Where were you?'" Hilton scowled at the young reploid. "When the Iron Hand Tournament went to hell-in-a-handbasket, I was in the handbasket. It took a bulldozer to open up the waiting room's entrance. I was in there for three days with that irritating young rocker, The Bass Master. What a terrible name. What a terrible reploid."

"How'd you get back?"

"I had to do some unsavory things in Dopplertown and I don't want to talk about it."

A few moments later Hilton recalled the young reploid's story about trying to fix the mind swap. "You idiots called Sion Laiken? SION ...ING LAIKEN?" the old man fumed. "He's the most worthless hack of a scientist in this whole compound!" After a a few breaths, he inquired about Gesualdo's temperament.

"He ended up in Shade's body."

"And..." the old man was looking for something more conclusive.

The giant stopped directly in front of his creator and opened his mouth.

The young merc smirked, "He could talk."

With a grunt and a heavy step, Gesualdo turned back around and plodded toward the meeting.

"And apparently his body was taken over by a new-hire at the loading dock. Could barely function in that huge body and flipped his lid when he realized his new body was mute."

Hilton chuckled to himself. "I see."


Leaving the meeting, Hilton seemed to be back in the swing of things and excited about his new vacation plans. From atop the giant mute's shoulders he asked, "Ready for the beach, old boy?"

Gesualdo stopped, removed the small, old man from his shoulders and scowled.

"What the hell is it this time?"

From his overalls, he pulled a piece of paper from Damien. He'd been assigned to guard the base with Auger. While the two massive, old machines had become good friends over the years, he'd been looking forward to the vacation.

Hilton couldn't contain his laughter.

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