Chapter 19

Meanwhile, in a great city, a barrel chested hero stands overlooking his adopted home. His long cape flowing in the gentle breeze as he stands atop the highest building, ever viligant. Suddenly, his super hearing picks up the faint cries of someone in need! In a flash of inhuman speed he's off.

No big deal, this wasn't about him.

However in a nearby, albeit smaller town, a desperate call is made. A mighty signal light is lit to summon the one woman who can help them in this, their darkest hour. Unfortunately she's caught in cross-town traffic and we don't have time to wait around until she shows up, so we'll instead head to the suburb of Bolting, population 6,984.

Bolting, home of the mighty Bolting Middle School Frightened Ponies, Mrs. Fritter's All-you-can-eat Calamari House and Rubber Band Museum, and of course, a Starbucks.

"No, we're not going to try to convince the Mayor to install a signaling light."

"But, how mayor summon Salad Barbarian with out signaling light?"

"Oh, I don't know, how about … by cell phone!?"

"Cell phone not make for slick comic book cover."

"Oh will you get off of the comic book cover thing?" Dressing Lad nearly exploded. "Look, we've already spent way longer with those guys than any other hero or group for that matter. It's not a question of them getting annoyed with us. Didn't you notice the last cover mockup they did?"

"Bah, Salad Barbarian still not look heroic enough. Artist draw Salad Barbarian with scrawny chicken legs."

"The drew us as exotic dancers for sheep!"

"That too. You think artists not like us?"

"Not like us? Not like us? THEY HATE US!"

The dim light of revelation slowly flickered to life in the leafy head of the Garnish Guardian. "Hmm, Dressing Lad have point. Salad Barbarian have another meeting with artists. Dressing Lad call them for next Thursday."

Dressing Lad slowly pounded his head against the small café table until he heard a ringing.

"Dressing Lad should answer phone before headache make Dressing Lad all cranky again."

Dressing Lad sighed heavily and answered the phone. The initial greeting was a bit muffled since he never lifted his head off the table. "Yeah, this is Dressing Lad, what can we do for you? Oh, Hi Tom, what's the matter? Uh huh. Got it. Any hostages? Well, that's good. What time did he say? Uh-huh. Want us to drop by then? Ok, see you later. Want us to bring anything? Right, no foam. Ok, see you in a bit." He flipped the phone closed and replaced it back on his belt.

Salad Barbarian sat eagerly awaiting the exciting new mission. He sat for nearly a full minute ignoring all kinds of shiny objects, which was nearly exhausting to him. Finally, when the strain of it all was too much he poked the Lad.

"Huh? What? Oh, sorry. Just relaxing a bit" Dressing Lad said as he blinked back to the here and now.

"Well?" the Barbarian asked.

"Well what?" the Condiment Crusader replied.

"What Commissioner tell Dressing Lad?"

"Oh, apparently there's some sentient potato being that's claiming it wants to destroy humanity for crimes against its potato brethren. Claims it's going to deep fry City Hall at three this afternoon. The Commissioner wanted us to swing by so he can panic and froth, usual stuff really. Oh, speaking of which, can you get his latte? No foam."


"Commissioner, what can Salad Barbarian do to help?"

"Look, Barbarian, I keep telling you, I'm not a commissioner, I'm just the local sheriff."

"Sheriff? Commissioner not just 'sheriff'! Commissioner proud head of municipal police force, stoic silver haired face of law and order in mighty metropolis of Bolting. Strong willed leader of men who turn to Salad Barbarian only in times of utter crisis."

Sheriff Gordon looked to Dressing Lad, "Let me guess, Batman marathon on TV-Land last night?"

Dressing Lad's shoulders slumped a bit. "I had class late last night, when I came home, it was too late."

"I thought you said you hid the remote when you had late classes?"

"I forgot, I was running late."

"Well, it's better than when he watched that Green Acres Marathon, huh 'Arnold'?"

Dressing Lad just glared back at the sheriff. The Barbarian was rambling on about defending the rights of green peppers or maybe it was emperor penguins. Both the Sheriff and Dressing Lad knew better than to interrupt the Great Green Git when he was in full froth or heaven forbid, try to understand whatever he was rambling about.

So, instead, they got down to business.

"So what's the problem?" Dressing Lad asked.

"The mayor got a message this morning saying that City Hall was going to be attacked."

"Hmm, doesn't sound that unusual, who sent it?"

"We're not sure, the message was in a fortune cookie."

"Did you investigate the Chinese Restaurant staff?"

"We're pretty sure it didn't come from a restaurant."

"Why's that?"

"It was eight feet tall and fell out of the sky."

"Must have been a bit upsetting."

"Well, most of us weren't as upset as the mayor was when he realized whose car it landed on."

Dressing Lad just winced.

"Can we see the message and the cookie?"

"Sure."

Salad Barbarian was rallying the artificial fern to stand fast against the tide of evil-doing snack food distributors.

Dressing Lad tapped the Great Green Goliath on the shoulder to get his attention. "Barbarian? BARBARIAN? YO' BROCCOLI FOR BRAINS!"

Salad Barbarian stopped in mid-thought. It was one of the few that he had and it was a pity that it ran screaming from his mind. "Yes?"

"C'mon, we're going to go look at the cookie?"

"Ooh! Cookies!" Salad Barbarian said happily and followed Dressing Lad and the Sheriff.


Dressing Lad and Sheriff Gordon stood before the small mountain of broken cookie bits surrounded by yellow police tape. The pile rested on a previously expensive German automobile with "DA MAYA" on the license plate.

"Wow, how did you know it was a fortune cookie?", Dressing Lad asked Gordon.

"It was pretty obvious until the Mayor went a bit non-linear. Is that the lab report? Thanks Deputy." Gordon took the manila folder from his deputy and started leafing through it.

"Hmm, flour, water, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, nothing abnormal about it."

"Other than it was eight feet tall." Dressing Lad commented.

"Big cookie if tayfty!" the Barbarian sprayed.

Dressing Lad looked up to see the Barbarian holding a large chunk of cookie, which was missing a smaller, bite-sized chunk, presumably what the Lettuce Legionnaire was chewing. "Duff Dreffing Lad got milk?"

"Could you not eat any more evidence?" Dressing Lad dripped sarcastically and slapped the chuck of cookie out of the Barbarians hand. He turned back to Gordon, "What about the message."

Gordon indicated to the banner laying next to the car.

'A.S. say City Hall toasted when deep fried'

"Who's A.S.?" Dressing lad asked.

"My guess is as good as his." Gordon said as he looked to the Barbarian.

"Oh come on, it's got to be better than that."

"We seriously don't have a clue, but then, that's where we hope you two can come in."

"Oh, right, us, the superheroes." Dressing Lad said with a marked lack of enthusiasm. The thought of doing a stake out with the Barbarian again was less than appealing. "Do we have any idea when he's going to attack?"

"No, but.."

Suddenly Dressing Lad's question was answered for him. With a rumbling crash, a weird home grown robotic looking... well.. thing trundled it's way toward the City Hall. It elicited a pretty universal reaction from the assembled group as everyone stopped, stared, and slowly turned their heads to one side trying to figure out exactly what it was that was headed toward the City Hall.

It was part mechanical, part vegetable, and part something that looked vaguely like Play-Doh. A voice boomed out of it. "Mwah-ha-ha! Meet your fate meatlings as I exact my vengeance for all the unspeakable acts you've perpetrated on my green brethren!"

A giant claw reached out of the contraption and attached itself to a wall. With a slow groaning crunch, it tore a brick from the side of the building. From the other side of the mechanical beast, something looking very much like a home deep fryer swung out, smoking and popping. The thing dropped the brick into the deep fryer. After a few seconds, it turned the brick over and proceeded to deep fry the other end.

"Aw crap, this is gonna take all day." the voice boomed out as it tore another brick from the building.

The shock wore off a few of the deputies who drew their weapons and began firing at the mighty-ish machine. The bullets were either absorbed or deflected by whatever bit they happened to hit. "hey, Hey, HEY! Do you mind?" The voice boomed as the machine looked down menacingly, "I'm trying to cook a building here!"

"Uhm, Barbarian?", Dressing Lad prompted, "I believe that's your cue."

"What? Oh, yeah!" the Barbarian leapt into action, or more appropriately, leap on top of the pile of cookie crumbs. "Weird Machiney thing eat mighty Croutons of Justice!". The Barbarian drew his crouton shaker and began pelting the machine with Caesar Dressed bits of Liberty. They were substantially less effective than the bullets were. The Machine pulled free a third brick.

The Barbarian, realizing that the mighty Croutons had once again lived up to their deadly reputation, decided to go for a more direct approach. He walked over to one of the legs, drew back his arm and punched it.

That proved to be far more effective than any other action.

The leg snapped off and bounced off a wall. The force and sudden lack of limb threw the creation off balance. The 'arms' flailed about for a bit as the pilot tried to keep balance. Unfortunately for the Barbarian, his habit of switching off programs which discussed things like falling trees and ways to avoid them finally caught up with him. The Green Guardian stood his ground a tad longer than he really should have.

The machine crashed down hard on him.

"BARBARIAN!" Dressing Lad called out as he ran toward the downed hero.

"Broccoli warriors, to Arms!" the voice called and showered the faithful Condiment Crusader with broccoli crowns.

Dressing Lad leapt back and braced for battle, the inert broccoli did not.

Salad Barbarian groaned as he grabbed the large machine and began to lift it off of himself.

The Machine rumbled and sputtered to life and then began to head off at an alarming rate, Barbarian still stuck fast to one of the larger sections of Play-Doh.

Dressing Lad sprinted after the machine and his companion before he too was caught by one of the claws and held fast. The machine took off at a ferocious clip, and disappeared from sight.


"Barbarian?"

"Yes Dressing Lad?"

"Can you explain to me something?"

"Salad Barbarian, try. Go ahead."

"How exactly did we wind up chained to a wall in the dark sub basement of some building in an unknown location?"

"Salad Barbarian not sure. Probably has something to do with PEZ."

"Come again?"

"PEZ, small hard candy made in Germany. Come in lots of different flavors. Known mostly for character dispensers."

"How in the world could our capture and imprisonment have anything to do with a German candy maker?"

"Salad Barbarian not sure. May have something to do with International Candy Cabal based in Turkey."

"Barbarian?"

"Yes Dressing Lad?"

"Forget I asked."

For a few moments the two Guardians of the Grocery hung in silence and listened to the steady drip coming from the stone walls. Dressing Lad had no idea why evil criminal elements seemed to always prefer chaining heroes to cold dripping stone walls. Why couldn't they ever chain them to something more comfy, like a nice recliner, or even a broken in sofa?

"Uh oh."

"Huh, What's the matter Barbarian?"

"Nose itch."

"So, scratch it."

"Barbarian can't reach nose."

"So turn your head around and rub your nose against the stone."

"Hurrk, Unnng. No good. Salad Barbarian not able to turn head around. Can Dressing Lad reach?"

"Do you think I could reach?"

"Uhm, Salad Barbarian guess, …no?"

"Very good Barbarian."

"Barbarian get cookie?"

"Yeah, sure. Barbarian get cookie. Let me just free my fists from these unbreakable iron cuffs, reach into my non-existent magical cookie bag past the handy key that would get us out of this mess and produce a nice soft oven baked cookie for you."

"That-- sarcasm, right?"

"Yes Barbarian, that's sarcasm."

 

 

"Barbarian get another cookie?"

Dressing Lad thrashed against his chains trying to break free of them so he could pummel the Coleslaw Clod with his bare hands. He stopped when he heard the strangely familiar voice. "I'm afraid that those chains are more than strong enough to keep you in place, Dressing Lad."

The voice came from the darkened mouth of a stairwell.

"Fine," Dressing Lad spat out, " then undo me and I'll save you the trouble of having to kill the Great Green Moron yourself."

"You won't fool me Meatling." the voice replied calmly. "You and your treacherous lot have performed your last act of mass vegicide. I don't know how you brainwashed one of our own to your twisted ends, but your little victory ends here."

"Who are you?" Dressing Lad asked the darkness.

"Me, I'm merely a simple emissary for my kind. I am Tuber Superior, but you may call me…"

A shadow separated from the darkness.

A smaller shadow.

Lower.

Yeah, that's about it.

He stood about two feet tall, but only about eight inches of him was body… er, head.. er, well whatever the heck he was. He looked not a bit unlike a potato. Granted, a rather large baking potato with a number of thick green vines acting as arms and legs, and with a rather annoyed looking face looking out at them, but a potato none the less.

"Ooh! Mr. Spuddy Head!" Salad Barbarian said excitedly.

"What?" the Potato said.

"Salad Barbarian love Mr. Spuddy Head!" The Champion Cabbage giggled.

Dressing Lad closed his eyes, hung his head and sighed heavily. This was probably not going to go well at all.

"Salad Barbarian have Deluxe version, Mr. Spuddy Head! Not have same eyes though. You must be Super Deluxe Mr. Spuddy Head!" The Barbarian turned excitedly to his completely depressed companion. "Dressing Lad! Dressing Lad! Salad Barbarian get to stop by Toy Store and get new Mr. Spuddy Head like that one?"

"What!?" the Potato sputtered. "No, I'm not a child's toy, I am…"

"Ooh, this Mr. Spuddy Head walk and talk! Dressing Lad let Salad Barbarian get more batteries?"

"Listen you leafy twit, I'm not a toy! I'm a highly evolved form of vegetation just like you, I'm…"

The mighty green warrior started singing the commercials theme song."Mr. Spuddy Head, Salad Barbarian Buddy Head, Him you best friend tooooo!"

Dressing Lad may have started crying at that point.

The Potato started lashing at the Green Warrior to get him to shut up and be in awe. It wasn't really working, but the Potato wasn't about to give up. "NO! NO! NO! MY NAME IS ARNOLD SCHWARTZENTATER!"

The Barbarian mulled over what he had heard. "Hmm, Ar-nold Schwarrr, err, Ar-not Schzwhazzer… that hard for Salad Barbarian to say. Salad Barbarian call you 'Chip' instead."

The Potato, Arnold, was foaming. He climbed up the Barbarian's trunk so he could wrap his tendrils around the Barbarian's neck. "Chip? Chip!? ARE YOU A COMPLETE MORON!?"

Dressing Lad limply raised a hand and casually responded "Can I answer that?"

"Shaddap!" Arnold spat back.

"Ooh, Salad Barbarian think someone need to put on Happy Face."

Arnold just screamed, an impressive feat for a potato with presumed limited lung capacity. He began jumping up and down on the Barbarian's head "Will… You… Please… Just… Shut… Up!!!"

The Barbarian kept his mouth shut and started slowly humming the Spuddy Head theme.

Arnold decided that was close enough and crawled back down off of the Barbarian to attempt to return some semblance of decorum.

"Now, where were we?"

"You were saying something about how vegetables were superior to us 'meatlings'…" Dressing Lad said, his head still hanging low. He had a headache.

"Ah, right, thank you." Arnold said, regaining his mental bookmark. "I've spent my short time studying you, so called humans, and your atrocities to the vegetable kingdom. Why there are even some of your ilk that eat only vegetables and demand that others do the same. It makes me sick."

"Yeah, well, they tend to get a lot of crap from us too."

"True, obviously the saner inner-vegetable asserting itself. But I've made it my mission to end that cruelty. Consider yourself a Pioneer."

"I'm atwitter with anticipation." Dressing Lad mumbled.

"Ooh, that mean Salad Barbarian get cable?"

Arnold ignored the Barbarians comment. "You are going to be the first to experience what it's like to be a vegetable."

Dressing Lad lifted his head and started paying attention.

Arnold walked over to a large crate. "This crate contains a rare breed of brussel sprout. One that has been raised with a taste for human flesh. The Green One will be spared, but sadly, you, meatling, will not. I'll give you thirty seconds to make peace with whatever god has abandoned you." Arnold pressed a few buttons on the side of the crate, a faint beeping signaled the countdown. Arnold turned to look one last time at Dressing Lad before laughing and walking out of the room.

The timer counted down accompanied only by the humming of the Salad Barbarian. Dressing Lad tugged on the chains trying to escape the inescapable.

5..
4..
3..
2..


How will the Coleslaw Crusaders escape their horrible fate?

What kind of evil could a two foot tall potato wreak?

and what the heck does this have to do with talking geese?

Tune in next time for:

Batting for the Green Team
or
Three Strikes, and your Sprouts.

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