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Hasten Doom

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"So here we are once again," Baron Blade drawled. "Just you, me, and the end of the world."

He smirked, the scar on his face twitching in a pain that only fueled his inner fire. Legacy stood warily in the doorway, eyeing his nemesis with suspicion. They both knew that rushing in blindly was the hero's first impulse—and that acting on it would likely only get him killed. The Baron was wily. The Baron was the only man on Earth whose intellect was an ample match for Legacy's strength.

"Stand down, Baron," Legacy said in his booming voice, self-righteous and commanding as ever. "And step away from the doomsday device. You should know better by now."

"Is that so?" Baron Blade declined to put down the trigger. "By now you are the one who should know that I will never stand down. I am going to stand here until my plan is fulfilled!"

"That's where you're wrong. Your plan will go nowhere, and you're spending tonight in the Block."

"Bold words... for a man about to die." The Baron laughed, his voice deep and full of malice, proud Mordengrad accent coming through his every syllable. "You are wise enough to know you can't fight me here and now. My device nears activation. And your four pitiful teammates cannot reach it, defended as it is by the full force of my battal-"

"Five."

Baron Blade frowned. "Five? No, your four teammates. You are here, not there."

"Actually, I mean five," Legacy said matter-of-factly. "We brought our intern."

"You brought... what?!"

"Our intern," Legacy repeated, his voice patronizingly patient. "Devra Caspit. The hero Unity. She's an apprentice hero so we thought this would make good practice for her."

"Practice." The rising star of Mordengrad mouthed the word to himself, as though it was as unfamiliar as it was distasteful. "Practice... practice. Practice. Practice?!"

"Good. Your enunciation is getting better."

"PRACTICE?!" Baron Blade roared, suddenly a hurricane of genius and fury. "I am the man who can end the world on a whim! I am not practice for a mere fledgling hero! She will perish, and her death will be on your hands!"

Legacy raised an eyebrow. "...you say that every time about all of my teammates. None of them have died. In addition, if your doomsday devices did go off then they'd die anyway, so once again, I'm not sure how compelling that argument is supposed to be."

"THAT...is actually an intriguing point." Baron Blade paused, before his confused expression turned into another smirk. "Then you must realize you have only ACCELERATED the demise of Debra-"

"Devra."

"-of DEVRA Caspit, and the rest of your team! Their deaths will come more quickly than they would have already, and your own doom shall now be hastened!"

With a roar of triumph he slammed the trigger of his device. There was a still silence in the laboratory air, as the weight of the world's imminent demise settled over the room.

Legacy glanced down at his wrist as though expecting to see a watch there. "...this is a bit of a less bombastic apocalypse than usual, is it?"

"Yes!" the Baron shot by, grinning in glee. Then his face fell. "Wait. No. I—hold on a second."

Furiously he put down the trigger and grabbed a com device. "Mechanic! Report!"

A nasally voice crackled over the intercom. "I have a name, sir."

"MECHANIC!"

"Sorry, sir. What do I have to fix?"

"The tectonic plate implosion bomb!" the Baron shouted it through the intercom and then glanced awkwardly at Legacy who watched with a dispassionate gaze. "...I mean... the device of the coming doomsday, which will intiate it in a manner that remains unknown and shall be unrelated to tectonic plates!"

"Oh. Right. That." The mechanic's voice sounded tired. "Sir, that device isn't working."

"...what?" Baron Blade asked it quietly, his voice trembling with danger and disbelief. "Did you just have the audacity tell me my device isn't working? I ordered Legacy's doom hastened, mechanic! You are to hasten his doom right this moment!"

"Sir, with all due respect, you've tried to hasten doom too much."

"I beg your peasantly pardon, mechanic?"

"We told you the tectonic—I mean, the device couldn't be confirmed as operational for another month. But you just kept yelling at us to 'hasten' it over and over. I think it was 'hastened' too much and now too many crucial design errors have been overlooked."

"...you are telling me... after all this time... it's... DAM-"

Despite the immense outpouring of rage bubbling up from every fiber of the Baron's being, he bit his tongue. Any criminal mastermind worth his salt knew not to swear. Swearing was for the common, uncouth rogues.

"Do you need some more time?" Legacy asked, eyes drooping. "We could come back some other day."

"Silence, you!" Baron Blade turned his attention back to the com device. "Mechanic, pour your heart and soul into it! Work until it starts working! Give it every drop of blood and sweat you have!"

"I have my doubts whether blood and sweat will help, sir."

"MECHANIC!"

"Sorry, sir. I'll get started right away. We'll have this doom hastened in a—OUCH! WHAT THE—OUCH! NO! STOP HITTING—OUCH! NOT IN THE FACE!"

Baron Blade felt a spike of alarm. "Mechanic? Report! Report at once!"

"UNDER ATTACK! THEY'RE—OUCH! NO! NOT THE RAPTOR BOTS! NOOOOOOOO-"

There was the sound of static over the com for a long minute. Legacy was giving the Baron a very long and very flat stare.

"Alright, here we are!" an entirely different voice crackled through the com. They both recognized it at once as the voice of Meredith Stinson, the hero Tachyon. "Sorry it took so long but we're here with the doomsday device now and we're taking it apart as we speak and oh this is easier than we suspected. Hold on. Devra, take the phone thing."

"Hi!" an Israeli-accented voice crackled. "Is this Baron Blade? Just wanted to say, love the drab doomsday decor down here. Really gives off an end-of-days vibe."

Baron Blade grit his teeth. "Mock me at your own peril, Debra Caspit. Soon your entire world will be-"

"It's Devra, actually. It's got a V."

"SILENCE, YOU-"

He bit his tongue once more. Speaking the words in his mind right now would be uncouth, uncivilized, and unbefitting of his role as the ultimate victor over the whole world.

"Oh, wow," said Unity's voice. "Tachy just popped open the front of the device and all the parts inside came spilling out. You really put this one together hastily, didn't you?"

Baron Blade slowly lowered the com device from his face, meeting Legacy's stare with a cold, smoldering fury. Then he threw it at the smug superhero's face.

It broke into a thousand pieces. Legacy didn't blink.

"Enjoy your technical victory while it lasts, hero," the Baron snarled, backing away. "I will be back, and next time, all device components will be in full operation! I will not be bested! Your blasted line will fall, and I, Ivan Ramonat, will be remembered as the man to end all mankind!"

He dramatically produced a smoke bomb from his labcoat and threw it at the ground, an elaborate plan for sneaking away and escaping the platform already formulating in his genius brain.

The smoke bomb shattered on the ground, and rather than producing a room full of smoke, it just broke open and leaked gross gray liquid in a puddle all over the floor.

It... appeared... the chemical agent for smoke... hadn't been prepared in the right ratio. A... bit of an oversight.

Legacy looked down at the liquid, and then up at the Baron. "...that doom sure looks hastened."

Baron Blade, savior of Mordengrad, light of all humanity and ultimate victor over Legacy, didn't look up from the ground.

"...fu-"