53 I'm Already Dead


Steam escaped his mouth as he exhaled, as he stretched into his new Form - a hybrid between his Base Form and Form II.

The jagged scales covered the entirety of his arms and parts of his torso before climbing up to his face and partially wrapping around it. The partially serrated claws that his fingertips elongated were retractable and seemed sharp enough to cut virtually anything.


They receded into his fingers, now looking like unusually sharp nails.

'I need to figure out the changes due to the serum and my limits', he thought as he felt slightly overwhelmed by the changes. It was as if he'd gained access to a whole new biological system of his body and that wasn't that far from the truth. He'd vividly felt Extremis forming something like a 

'But before that, I really can't go out looking like this', he sighed as he transitioned back into his Base Form while his clothes grew out of his skin.

Moreover, due to Extremis having an innate sense of optimisation and drive for perfection, he now looked like the second coming of Adonis. A faultless chin, an exquisitely proportioned physique and a jawline that seemed to be able to cut metal. His Peter charm had been exponentially multiplied and he had no idea how to explain how.

'Well, here goes nothing', he shrugged, tapping into the seemingly endless ball of energy in his core and suffusing his entire body with it. This time, instead of heating the body, he focused on shaping it, moulding it like clay.

"Urgh...", a small sound of discomfort escaped his mouth as his body glowed red-hot for a few moments, lighting up like a human torch. Like a psionic blacksmith, he then slowly mentally hammered his body into whichever shape he desired.

Half a minute later.

"Better", he said, now looking just like he did before the serum. Sure, he was still exceedingly handsome, but he no longer looked like an incarnation of Apollo.

The chrysalis had already dissipated into microparticles due to it no longer being a part of his body, thus the room was back to being dusty and old, albeit a bit more cracked and broken along the floor.

He quickly grabbed his backpack before kicking down the door.

'Now, which idiotic supervillain is attacking the Sanctum Sanctorum?', he thought amused, soundlessly leaping down the building and racing towards Forest Hills. 'But first, I need to meet Aunt May and sneak out of the house. Only if she knew.'


"Can we go in now?", a beautiful blonde groaned in boredom as she reclined on a wooden bench. She was dressed in a skin-tight red and black spandex bodysuit while a golden disk hovered over her outstretched fingers. Her teammates who were dressed similarly seemed used to her antics.

The man who stood with his back turned to her on the empty street turned around with a scowl on his face. Dressed in an unusually fancy suit, the man looked like he'd just bunked his very own wedding. A large, well-trimmed orange beard covered most of his facial features, but the angry frown that graced his pudgy face was very evident.


He slammed his gold-lined cane on the floor with annoyance before leaning on it quite heavily. His large gut was evidence enough of his poor health.

"Jennifer! This is the sixth time you have asked this despite my repeatedly telling you that we must wait for the White Queen's signal", he said with disdain.

"But it's been sooo long~~!!", she complained, kicking her feet like a young kid. Well, given her stature, she was a teenager but she didn't seem to act like one.

"Manuel, shut her up", the man looked at the similarly dressed, lean boy next to her. He seemed to have a perpetual poker face while a long, wrapped package sat next to him.

Manuel nodded while Jennifer sat up in a panic.

"Hey! Hey! I'll be silent! I swear!", she said, waving her arms in a panic, the golden disk dissipating into thin air, but her protests were in vain as Manuel snapped his fingers, making her eyes go almost zombie-like.

"There was no need for that", her second teammate complained. He was a gargantuan man who stood 6'6 tall and was almost as wide as a car door - the red and black spandex barely wrapping around the sea of muscles that was his body. He was just a boy who'd recently hit puberty a couple of years ago but already looked like the winner of a bodybuilding competition.

"Are you questioning your Bishop, Beef?", the well-dressed man glared at the muscled man.

"I wouldn't dare to, Bishop Leland", Beef gulped as a heavy pressure slammed onto his shoulders, making him bow.


A silent alarm blinked on Leland's futuristic watch, making him stand up straight before leaning heavily on his cane.

Manuel, Beef and Jennifer immediately stood up, the blonde's eyes now regaining their former light. She didn't seem to remember that she'd been mindfucked a couple seconds back.

"The Queen has given us the signal. Look alive!", Leland grinned looking back at the kids, who, other than the stone-faced Manuel, looked incredibly excited.

"Finally! It's almost been half an hour", Beef grumbled cracking his knuckles.

They all turned their attention to the architectural marvel before them. It was a blend of Gothic and Victorian influences, standing out like a sore thumb in the relatively ordinary street. Ornate pillars flanked the grand entrance, where an imposing wooden door, embellished with esoteric patterns, guarded the threshold.

The teleportation device they'd taken to the street had scared off the civilians and alerted the authorities but those were minor inconveniences. Once they destroyed the building, they would be out in no time.


[ ATTENTION! This is the NYPD! For everyone's safety, please surrender peacefully. ]

Multiple helicopters filled with both police officers and SWAT operatives alike slowly came into view as numerous guns lay trained on all of them. The faint sound of police sirens in the back became far louder as armoured vehicles pulled up on either side of the street.

"Ah! Here they are", Leland smiled before looking back at Jennifer. "Roulette dear, could you make us a bit luckier?"

"Yes Bishop", Jennifer nodded hurriedly, conjuring four golden discs that she promptly shot at everyone, including herself. They disappeared into everyone, altering their probability fields and making them just a bit more luckier.

[ This is your last warning! If any one of you so much as shows an inkling of your superhuman powers, we shall stop being so cordial! ]

Leland frowned and was just about to smash the helicopters on the ground when his vision was engulfed by a...telephone pole?


Manuel da la Rocha had never felt emotion for he was too busy manipulating the ones of others. Thus, the telephone pole that came barrelling toward the Bishop only made him raise an eyebrow.


The pole was yanked from the air and slammed into the road before it could touch the Bishop, cracking the ground and suffusing the air with dried tar.

Not even half a second later, a black blur shot toward the Bishop once more, probably hoping to take advantage of the chaos. Unfortunately, the Bishop was not to be underestimated as the object was similarly slammed into the ground, kicking up more dust and debris.

"Ah! there you are!", the Bishop chuckled once the smoke cleared, revealing the familiar figure of the hero that'd singlehandedly reduced the crime rate of one the most populated cities in the world. Only this time, he was without his dreaded clawed mask.

An angled chin, sharp nose, deathly pale skin, white hair, medieval-esk leather armour with shoulder and wrist metallic guards, and deep grey eyes that betrayed no anxiety. There was no mistaking him.

It was The infamous Ghoul. The man, or monster, who could regenerate from almost anything.

"We expected you", Leland chuckled, wiping the sweat from his brow while breathing far more heavily. Owing to his poor health, using his powers in quick succession was extremely burdensome.

He then looked at Manuel who stared back at him with his usual poker face. He used to emulate the emotions of others to fit in, but he'd stopped doing that once he was taken in by the White Queen. He liked to be himself now.

"Take care of him, will you? Beef, the police are all yours", the Bishop said as the police continued to scream at them. Too terrified to engage but too righteously angered to retreat either.

Manuel nodded and picked up the long package next to him while Beef grunted and dashed toward the police cars who unloaded magazine after magazine into the man in vain. He was a mini-hulk in that sense.

"Show me your neck", Manuel muttered, as he turned his attention to The Ghoul who was still kneeling, pressed onto the road by the Bishop's powers as he pulled the clothes off the package, revealing a bright red katana whose hilt he grasped.

{ You came prepared, I see }, a monstrous, inhuman voice sounded in his ears as The Ghoul eyed the blade. Did he recognise it? Wasn't this one of the most secret and powerful weapons of the Inner Circle?

Manuel sighed and walked toward the kneeling figure while raising the blade in the air. He wanted to get this over with.


He snapped his fingers while looking into Ghoul's grey eyes.

'Suicidal thoughts', he whispered into the man's mind, watching in satisfaction as those grey eyes widened in shock. People bent so easily to his will.

'Now, for the finale', he smiled, preparing to bring the blade down.


Manuel almost dropped the blade in shock as a giant explosion rang in his ears. He looked up in confusion, seeing Beef smashed into the road in a giant crater with the iconic figure of Ghost-Spider standing over him.

"Can you stop playing around and help?", she said in an annoyed voice.

'Help? Oh shit!', Manuel's heart skipped a beat for the very first time in his life as he looked down to find those deep grey eyes staring back at him with amusement.

{ Sorry. I'll be right there }, The Ghoul muttered as he slowly stood up, his muscles popping as he towered over Manuel. He could even hear the Bishop's exclamation of surprise as The Ghoul disregarded his powers as though they were an annoyance.

"Stay down, you fiend! Manuel kill him already!", the Bishop huffed in pain as he multiplied the pressure on the Ghoul tenfold.


Beautiful patterns of cracks spread on the already-trashed road as the very gravity demanded everything and everyone to stand down.

Cars turned to pieces of scrap metal, trees cracked, turning to paste, and metal fences creaked and bent, but the Ghoul continued to stand ramrod straight, as though the pressure might as well have been equivalent to wearing another set of clothes.

"B-but I did!", Manuel stuttered before gathering himself and snapping once more, attempting to turn the Ghoul into a mindless zombie.


"Kill yourself!"





Manuel stumbled back, his sweaty palms making the red blade clatter to the ground as The Ghoul stepped forward, looking at him with a mix of pity and disdain.

"Why won't you listen!", Manuel spluttered, his heart beating to the point of exploding. His powers had never failed him before. "They always listen! Why won't you kill yourself?! WHY?!"

Sweat lined his face as he waited for an answer. Was this what fear felt like? Was this what all his victims felt like when he hijacked their minds? When he made them kill themselves?

The Ghoul merely picked up the red blade, admiring the katana for a few seconds before looking into his eyes.

{ I'm The Ghoul, you fool }, he said matter-of-factly, placing the Muramusa Blade on his shoulder. { I'm already dead. }


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