SB3 - Seven Deadly Shins

The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he only had himself to blame.

"Tennis."

"No, not understand scoring."

"It's ok, very few do."

"Also not have enough fingers."

Still, after years, there were a number of physiology issues that he still had no idea really what made him tick, or conceivably stop ticking.

"Racketball"

"Is that game played by gangsters?"

"No, they tend to play things like Go Fish. Usually it's with cards, but sometimes with cement"

So he told Salad Barbarian that he should consider taking up a sport, and they headed over to the Coach Dave's Used Sports Dugout.

"Badminton"

"Salad Barbarian tell Coach Dave?"

"No.. no that's just the name of the sport."

"Dressing Lad sure? Salad Barbarian not see thumb hole. Seem like pretty bad mitten to Salad Barbarian"

"No, Barbarian, it's not a mitten. It's a racket."

"Dressing Lad not kidding. Look at price Coach Dave charge for broken mitten."

"Put the thing back and let's keep going."

That was five hours ago, and still the big green dope still hadn't made up his mind.

"What this used for?"

"Squash."

"Ooh, that sound like sport Salad Barbarian could get into."

The moment passed rather quickly, thanks in part to the angry scream emanating from the counter. "You want HOW MUCH??"

Coach Dave (or the local store's equivalent, who looked more like a teenager stuffed into a fat suit rather than the kindly grizzled coach featured on the commercials), tried his best to calm down the young woman. The fact that she nearly towered over "Coach Dave" didn't exactly help him gain an upper hand. "Look, lady, I'm just telling you the price. All the stores in town are selling them for that much. We've got no choice."

"You mean to tell me" the well muscled woman punctuated her sentiment with vicious jabs into his padding, "that every store in town is selling shin guards for four hundred thousand dollars, A PIECE!?"

"No, Shin World is selling them for four-fifty. Apparently, they don't pass their savings on to you."

The woman gave a short scream of frustration, turned on her heel and marched out of the store. "Couch Dave" winced and was momentarily thankful that the foam in his suit was absorbent.

"Are you serious? Shin guards are going for four hundred grand?" Dressing Lad asked the store keep.

"Yeah, actually, she took it fairly well. I had a whole field hockey team go non-linear on me this afternoon. That's why I decided to put the suit on."

Dressing Lad let out a sigh of relief, "Oh, Thank God. " then quickly tried to cover for himself, '...that you don't have to wear that all the time."

"Oh it's not too bad." The clerk said looking at his over stuffed arms. "It's not as flexible as my Kelly Dewclaw outfit, but then...", the clerk's voice trailed off as the thought that maybe too much information had just passed leapt into his mind.

"If Salad Barbarian play squash, will squash have hard time using big fly swatter?" The Barbarian stared at the racket as unknown thoughts played out in his head. "Salad Barbarian not think squash even have hands."

Dressing Lad took advantage of one non-sequitur to derail conversation back on track. "So... why the sudden price jump for shin guards?"

The clerk flashed a grateful smile. "Uh, I'm not sure. I know that all of the various shin guard companies were recently taken over."

"They were?"

"Yeah, it was big news in the sporting equipment circles, didn't you hear about it?"

Dressing Lad gave the clerk a stare that should have spoken volumes about how much he followed the exciting world of used sporting goods. Apparently the clerk was unfamiliar with the language. "Oddly, No." Dressing Lad added flatly.

"Yeah, I forget who bought them all, but he owns or holds controlling interest in every single major shin manufacturer in North America. He also somehow managed to convince the local governments to raise tariffs on imported shin guards to the point where no one will bring them in. Heck of a racket."

"Salad Barbarian thought other big fly swatter thing racket." The Leafy Legionnaire interrupted. He was ignored.

Dressing Lad looked at one of the shin guards left by the previous customer. Once he tore himself away from the excessive number of zeros on the price tag, he looked for the manufacturer's label. "Dr. Knee-vil?" he said incongruously.

"What mean In-con-grooo... In-con-growy-ouslyous?" Salad Barbarian fumbled.

Dressing Lad glanced at the Barbarian, "It means I don't believe what I just read."

"Dressing Lad should believe. Dressing Lad much better reader than Salad Barbarian. Dressing Lad not get lost in script."

"What?" the clerk looked increasingly confused.

"I've found that if I ignore him, I wind up taking a good deal less aspirin." Dressing Lad confided.

The clerk simply nodded, even if his confusion level stayed the same.

"Still..." Dressing Lad said as the mystery began to build, "why would anyone try to corner the market on shin guards?"


-- on? Are we on? I can't see the light. You sure?

PEOPLE OF BOLTING, I AM

now look, I can see the monitor and you can barely see me. I told you you need to bring the camera down more.

Because I can't strike terror into the populace if all they can see is the tip of my head bobbing around on the bottom of the screen like that. Bring the camera down or no extra batteries. That's better.

PEOPLE OF BOLTING! Your Attention! I Am Dr. Knee-vil, and as you've undoubtedly noticed by now

Hey! My face is up here! Will you PLEASE bring the camera up? THANK you. Now, where was I?

People of Bolting... I am Dr. Knee-vil.. cornered the market.. all must fear and obey.. Wait I didn't get that far did I? Dammit! It's impossible working with you.

Right, forget the script! Look, I'm the bad guy. You can't stop me. Make me your leader or I'll bring this city to it's knees!

Oh what now?

Look, I paid for a full half hour in this studio. I can't help it if your crummy equipment will only let me override three quarters of the channels in this burg. I've had to do that stupid script five times. Ok, ok, fine, we're leaving, but I'd better get my deposit back!

Dressing Lad continued to look at the TV. It had since returned to yet another rerun of "My Little Pony: The Final Conflict", but like much of Bolting (on an apparently rotating schedule) he stood trying to determine what it meant. "Was it me, or did Dr. Knee-vil look like…"

"Spuddy Buddy!" Salad Barbarian practically screamed in glee when he recognized his adversary, Arnold Swartzentater, the oversized spud that had tried to deep fry City Hall. On brick at a time, mind you, but deep fry it none the less.

Salad Barbarian dropped into full hero character with a nearly audible thud. He pointed dramatically at the TV where Cherry Treats sprayed mutant zombie Little Ponies with an AK-47. "Spuddy Buddy very dangerous foe! Salad Barbarian's course clear. Salad Barbarian must defend good citizens of Bolting from torturing tuber. Salad Barbarian, To Action!"

The clerk barely managed to avoid getting a squash racket through his head as the Barbarian cast off his merchandise and strode toward the door.

"Barbarian? Hang on!" Dressing Lad yelled angrily as he ran to catch up with the Cabbage Commando.

The Barbarian cocked back his arm and prepared to throw open the automatic sliding door. Fortunately, for both the door and the owners of Coach Dave's, the door proved slightly faster and the Barbarian stumbled out into the street.

"Barbarian!? Look we don't have the foggiest idea where to even start looking for ARRRGH!!!"

Dressing Lad's more energetic and abbreviated version of Arnold's name came about after a knee high, club-bearing robot had whacked him violently on the shin. Dressing Lad dropped to the curb and held his throbbing leg.

"Dressing Lad! What ARRGH!" the small robot had turned it's attention toward the Barbarian, before zipping off to target other citizen's shins. Within minutes all of the previously standing individuals along the street were holding their legs and shouting things that would have increased sales of soap had their mothers been present. Well, provided they were not lying next to them screaming the same things.

Dressing Lad started to get back up. "What the heck was that ARRGH!" Seemingly out of nowhere another robot, or maybe even the same one, had again whacked him briskly on the shin. Dressing Lad was once again on his side holding his other leg.

"Salad Barbarian think Salad Barbarian know how Spuddy plan on taking over."

"Yeah, no shin." Dressing Lad grumbled.

"What news Commissioner?" Salad Barbarian asked Sheriff Gordon, who slowly shook his head and didn't bother correcting the hero. Gordon's eyes simply glared at Salad Barbarian above his desk.

It was not a normal look for Sheriff Gordon, but neither was the fact that everyone in the police station were shuffling around on their knees. Dressing Lad and Salad Barbarian didn't question why, mostly because they too had entered shuffling along on their knees.

"So the robots are getting in here too?" Dressing Lad did ask.

Sheriff Gordon nodded. Yeah, we've tried everything to keep them out, but somehow they find their way in. The only places we know of where those damn things don't attack is in our patrol cars and in the bank vault."

"Don't you have some body armor or shin guards?"

The sheriff sighed heavily, "Budget cuts. Simpson tried to duct tape phonebooks to his shins, but the robots just hit harder. As far as we can tell, they are some sort of shin based seek and destroy mission. Sorry guys, but that's all I've got."

"That's it?" Dressing Lad asked in a surprised voice.

"We'd have more, but they're in the upper file cabinet drawers."

Dressing Lad kneeled in place for a few moments, thinking furiously. "Sheriff? Who do we contact at the Mall?"

"You sure this is going to work" Sheriff Gordon asked.

"No." Dressing Lad replied honestly, "but it's the best idea I've got right now." He called up to the Barbarian. "You all set up there."

The Barbarian kneeled on top of several steel shipping containers that had been welded together. He held one wall apart and peeked inside. "Salad Barbarian think people nearly done. Good. People leaving now. "

The sound of arc-welders at work played out from the rear of the containers.

"Ok Barbarian, if this works, we'll have one chance to get it right. You sure you're up for this?"

Salad Barbarian gave his toothiest grin and held up his thumb. He was ready. Dressing Lad silently nodded to the Sheriff who barked an order into his radio and then quickly shuffled out of the way. Dressing Lad took position just outside of the containers. "On the count of three, Barbarian. You can count that high right?"

"That number that come before twenty?"

"Yes. One… Two… THREE!!"

The Barbarian's muscles flexed as he lifted the front of the container lid over his head. Inside were thousands of mannequin shins, or full legs, or half torsos, depending on what could easily be pulled out of storage. Dressing Lad cupped his hands to his mouth and yelled in a falsetto, "Oooh, look at my sexy unblemished shin. I sure hope no shin whacking robot suddenly..."

The container rang as hundreds of shin-bots showered their clubs in a ringing plaster catastrophe. Dressing Lad managed to grab hold of one of the robots as it fought against him to join it's brethren in a Buttafuocco-esque orgy. Dressing Lad found the off switch and yelled up. With a grunt the Salad Barbarian slammed the container wall back down sealing the robots within.

"You think that's all of them?" The sheriff yelled from behind his cruiser.

"Only one way to find out." Dressing Lad yelled. "Hey Barbarian, jump on down and take a look at this."

"Okey-dokey" The Green Guardian easily leapt down and landed squarely on his feet. Dressing Lad thumbed the robots switch and it whirred menacingly at the Barbarian. Dressing Lad again switched off the robot. Seconds later, the container wall rang again as the robots attempted to bash their way through the reinforced steel and onto the Barbarian's legs.

"Robots have good beat, but Salad Barbarian can't dance to it."

Dressing Lad stood up. "I think that pretty much answers the question, Sheriff."

Sheriff Gordon was not as trusting, and took more time standing. Just to make sure that his overly bruised shins wouldn't suffer any longer than needed. "What do you make of it?" He asked.

Dressing Lad turned "Well, it's cheaply crafted, imported, runs off of eight D Cell batteries, appears to be Mac compatible, and..." He flipped the robot over "has a return address."

"Dressing Lad? Why warehouse all tippy?" The Barbarian asked as he tried to keep leaning over.

"Ignore it, it's just a camera angle." Dressing lad continued to monitor a small tracking device, turning to keep the top LED lit. He carefully made his way along the carefully lit corridor, past large props hastily stolen from 1960's superhero parody shows. Eventually Dressing Lad stopped as all four of the LEDs blinked in unison. I think I've found the source. It's right here, in the middle of these large... concentric... circles.

With a deafening ring, a huge metal cage dropped down upon the heroes. A piercing, familiar laugh soon followed as a short, oblong shape filled a doorway. "Ah, so you've played directly into my little trap."

"Salad Barbarian think Spuddy Buddy have poor spatial skills. Trap kinda big."

Arnold, or Dr. Knee-vil or whatever he happened to be calling himself simply stared at the Barbarian. He looked to Dressing Lad and in a very casual voice asked "So tell me, are there any days you wake up and think to yourself, you know, a couple of bottles of Round Up and I'd be a happy man?"

Dressing Lad sighed and shrugged. "Used to. Doesn't work."

"Pity." Arnold replied.

"Plus bars too far apart." The Barbarian observed as he walked around the outside of the cage. He tapped the top of one of the bars, "But full of fizzy goodness." A jet of soda sprayed out of the top.

"Damn you warehouse shopping values." The terrible tuber cried, then quickly realized that his supposed captives weren't. He quickly struck a series of martial arts poses.

Dressing Lad was failed to be impressed. "Oh give it up Arnold"

"Dr. Knee-vil."

"And that too. Look, it's not even that good an alias. You're not whacking people on the knee, your hitting them on the shin. Might as well call yourself Dr. Harm-pit or something."

The Barbarian giggled.

Arnold looked defensive. "That may be true, but I have mastered an ancient martial art that you do not know..."

"Oh really...", Dressing Lad deadpanned.

"Yes. Shin-toe." With potato sharp reflexes, Arnold kicked both Dressing Lad and the Barbarian squarely on their much abused shins. They both dropped to the floor as Arnold ran laughing from the building.

Dressing Lad moaned loudly before yelling out "You idiot, that's a religion!"

Sheriff Gordon tried to console Dressing Lad. "Look at the bright side kid, we've rounded up his robots, so they won't cause any more harm. Plus, turns out the spud never bothered paying taxes so the government dropped the ban on shin guards. Soon this town will be awash in poorly constructed Eastern Arminian protective gear and young girls can once again beat each other with sticks and still wear skirts the next day. All told, it's been a good day."

Dressing Lad simply grumbled darkly.

"You not Teletubbies!" Salad Barbarian struck the top of the TV, "Salad Barbarian want to learn about isolinear conduction!"

"Hey you big green lug, be careful! We can't afford to buy another TV this we.. " Dressing Lad's voice trailed off as he saw what was on the TV instead of the happy guides to advanced electronic theory and porridge. It was Arnold.

At least he seemed to have better control over the camera.

"Fear me again, citizens of Bolting! I stand before you, or next to you, or slightly above you if you happen to be at a sports bar, but I DIGRESS! I am here with my newly acquired army of specially programmed robo-whackers. Mwah-ha-ha! They have been specifically trained to attack only organic things, so your oh so clever ploy will fail you!"

The camera panned out to show that not only was the army of robots rebuilt but there was also significantly more of them.

"YES! Their single minded ruthlessness will not be so easily avoided. Unlike their weak predecessors, these will find their target and keep attacking until their batteries are drained. And with this switch I will activate them."

He pressed a button on a remote and a chorus of whirling clubs rose behind him. With growing menace he again looked deep into the camera, an evil smile played upon his face. "And thanks to the advice of my dear foe, I will no longer be known as Dr. Knee-vil, which I couldn't get business cards for anyway. Behold your newest Lord and Master. For I am Mr. Shinister! Mwah-ha-ha!!"

A thousand red lights flicked on, one robot at a time. They began to move. Unfortunately for Arnold, it was not toward the town residents. "Yes.. uhm, go my robot slaves, and brutally attack shins, for I.. Mr. Shinister..." The robots continued to advance.

It was then that Arnold realized the change of moniker really wasn't such a good idea. "Oh... dear..."

There was much thwacking.

Followed by Teletubbies, which made the last upset person in the room very happy.

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