Too Nice for Such Brutality
Blood! So much blood! The kindhearted half-Genie's resolve is tested by matchless brutality of a real, not family-friendly Hell while unending hordes of rabid beasts test her battle mastery. The titular heroine of "Shantae and Pirate's Curse" has to go through Extermination Day Campaign of Brutal DooM v 21.
( ｡◕ シーンブレイク ◕｡)
A Wrong Turn
"Whew, that was easier than I had feared," Shantae said wiping sweat from her brow. The huge cavern was still echoing with the rumble of Dagron's fall, the massively misspelled monstrosity having been proven no match for the nimble girl in a red belly-dancer outfit.
Granted, dodging the huge flail on the tip of the monster's tail gave a few harrowing near misses, and reaching the flapping dragon — misspelled, remember? — required clever maneuvering and acrobatics, but in the end the boss fell, whipped into unconsciousness with the girl's impressive ponytail of full, shiny purple hair.
And she still had about half of her supplies left, from food to healing potions and auto-potions to one-use scrolls of bubble and super pike ball: her magic genie half having had been ripped out of her, she now had to rely on items, just like any other humans.
There was one last rumble from the conveniently placed abyss shrouded with haze of reddish glow, sparks of glowing-hot ashes floating up on an updraft of hot air. Was there real lava down there? Shantae was mildly curious, because, to be honest, all the "lava" she encountered so far looked more like molten resin: near-transparent orange goo with bubbles visible under its surface as they were making its way up.
Sighing, the girl trudged towards the exit, psyching herself for a long, arduous trip back: the dungeon she was currently in, the Oubilette of Suffering, was hidden deep below the Village of Lost Souls, which was itself tucked away in the darkest recesses of the Mud Bog Island. And each of these three stretches was choke-full of strong monsters. Stone golems big and small, all kinds of tar creatures, archers and bugs firing their deadly volleys... Not to mention the Village itself, swarming with Grim Reapers and abnormally strong Nagas.
To think of it, that Village dungeon felt... A bit otherworldy, Shantae thought as she, with a practiced motion, dodged a stream of flame erupting from an unassuming floor plate. Unsurprising, being a place where souls resided, the entrance blocked by a strong guardian. Wait, she thought jumping over billowing flames to latch onto an uncomfortably hot iron chain. Did that make this dungeon, being even deeper and, well, much hotter, Hell? She climbed up the chain jumping onto adjacent one to dodge a four-leaf of spinning blades. Oh. That made too much sense for comfort. Especially considering the epithet "of suffering". She climbed up onto a ledge leading to a long corridor that ended with a drop to a narrow platform surrounded with the boiling not-lava. Unfortunately, backtracking was too easy to distract from uncomfortable thoughts, even as Shantae jumped down to the platform, simply jumping over two small golems who morphed into invulnerable balls trying to ram her.
The ever-present smell of sulfur wasn't helping.
Gliding over a deadly hot expanse on a magical pirate hat, the girl had a sinking suspicion that the fancy, incomprehensible word "oubilette" meant simply "earth prison". So, "the earth prison of suffering", or, in less fancy words, Hell. Or wait, she heard once that the number of hells was infinite, each radically different. Still... She involuntarily remembered her every misdeed. Not that she wasn't trying her best to be nice, but... temper. Yeah. It was sometimes so hard to refrain from hitting certain irritating someones!
Suddenly, the girl froze at a junction. Were those sounds of a Tinkerbat scuttling beyond that corner? To think of it, after each boss battle so far there was a Tinkerbat with a map to the next island! Dashing towards the corner, she rounded it... Only to find a dead end, the corridor ending after some distance in a blank wall.
Squinting in suspicion, she entered the dead end, her steps light and cautious. Traps...? None. Hidden doors...? Unlikely. But the stones of the floor seemed weakened. Aha! Without much ado Shantae pulled the pirate scimitar out of her subspace pocket to mount it, pogoing on the oversized blade tip down. After a couple hits, the floor gave way plunging her into a spaceous hall.
Shantae blinked in surprise. Not only was there no trace of a Tinkerbat, this room was unlike anything she encountered before. The walls were deep, rich crimson encircled in irregular net of thick golden veins, illuminated brightly with five tall bronze torches, one in each corner of the hall. The ceiling and floor were green marble, now sporting a hole and a pile of rubble accordingly.
There was nothing else here except a small round dais in the center, resembling a giant wrought iron button with crimson top.
Shantae approached cautiously to poke at the mysterious object with the scimitar. It wasn't giving and appeared solid. The red top looked like leather, an unfamiliar symbol of a five-pointed star embossed into it. Maybe it was a platform to float up or down...? She whipped it with her hair. No reaction, it wasn't suddenly turning over to show its spiky underbelly. So, a pressure plate, then? She tried pushing with the scimitar but it wasn't giving. What if she put her entire weight on it?
Shantae stepped onto the alleged pressure plate, wary in case it fell away under her weight.
A sudden reddish flash blinded her, her body spasming from electric discharges that rolled across it with a sound not unlike running water.
Shantae jumped back, taking a combat stance, only to bump her back against rough stone wall. But there shouldn't be a...! Then the stench hit her like a physical blow. Oh merciful spirits, carrion and sulfur and rotting fish with a dash of clogged public lavatory on a hot day...
Gagging, the girl took a frantic look around. She was in a modest-sized hall carved out of bedrock, illuminated with a single torch. There was a magical circle where she had been warped to, its orange lines fading rapidly until it disappeared to nothingness. Leaving only roughly hewn stone floor.
That was no button! That was a warp platform!
Panicking, Shantae began the Zombie Caravan warp dance, the only one she could still recall, only to realize she had no Genie magic anymore. No transforming into a monkey or an elephant. No warping out.
Gulping nervously, the indomitable girl pinched her nose shut and began exploring. It just wasn't in her nature to despair, even as fear of unknown was clawing at her. At least it was cool here, or at least felt so after the oppressive heat of the Oubilette.
There were two corridors leading out of this hall. She listened carefully, holding her breath. One was silent, but there were faint noises from the other one, like something tearing wetly. Shivering, the former half-Genie decided to check the silent corridor first. It ended shortly with a stone slab, scratch marks showing it was obviously a door, but there were no means of opening it.
Exhausting all ideas of where a hidden switch could be, Shantae was forced to check the other corridor. This one was making a turn at a right angle, faint light and the disturbing sounds coming from beyond the bend. Dreading of what she'd see there, the girl cautiously peeked across the corner.
This corridor ended in a small room, most of it occupied with a large stone altar and a huge, horned... person? standing in front of it, their back turned towards her. The massive creature was more than twice her height, its upper torso resembling a man ripped with muscle, the animalistic legs covered with darker fur having their knees backwards, ending in massive hooves instead of feet.
This... This was not good. The altar, multitude of candles atop it the only light source, was soaked in blood, the dark red liquid dripping viscously down its sides. The horned creature was arranging something on the altar, tearing and pulling and placing carefully. Were these... chunks of meat...? And... guts...?
And then she saw bodies on the floor, shrouded with darkness. Men and some sort of spiky apes, all mutilated horribly, shredded and gutted!
The sound of Shantae parting with her lunch was enough to attract the horned creature's attention. It turned around, its face a sneering snout, something between a goat and a boar with thick horns of a ram. Seeing the girl, it let out a deafening, inhuman roar, its eyes glowing with primal hatred, its bloodied hands beginning to glow green.
Weak from shock, she still had enough presence of mind to dodge a bolt of green flames that clipped the corner to explode against the other wall in a wave of scorching heat, leaving a glowing hot patch on the rock.
Shantae gulped, backing away into the hall where she would have to stand her ground. That blast was... powerful. One hit, and she'd be done for. Backing to the center of the hall, she took a combat stance, bouncing nervously on the balls of her feet. The hall was suddenly so small it was claustrophobic. Heavy clops were coming closer. Deciding this was wrong time to hoard supplies, the girl downed her last bottle of Super Monster Milk, a faint purplish glow surrounding her. Then she used one scroll of Super Pike Ball, three magical projectiles appearing to begin orbit her. Please, please let this be enough!
The towering monstrosity was content to be approaching in an unhurried walk as it rounded the corner. Up front, with better illumination, it looked even more fearsome, the massive muscles of its torso rippling, its eyes conveying only one thought: rip and tear.
Unable to withstand the fear of anticipation any longer, Shantae attacked first, closing in because her only weapons were her hair and the pike balls. There was no room to gain momentum for the unstoppable scimitar dash and she was convinced that using the pirate pistol would only insult the boss, enraging it further.
Because this mass of physical prowess and dreadful killing intent couldn't be anything but a boss!
Making one testing slash at its leg — she'd only be able to hit its torso if she jumped — Shantae slid back as the monstrosity retaliated with a mighty swing of its clawed hand trailing green flames.
That, too, would be one-hit kill if it connected. Wary, the girl surveyed her handiwork. Her hair only left a small cut bleeding green blood while the effects from the pike balls weren't even visible in the dark fur.
Keeping her distance invited more green bolts the creature started flinging with gusto. Dodging was hard, these moved very fast, faster than any magical projectiles she dealt with before. The only saving grace was its slow wind-up creating a predictable delay. She could dodge with surety, if she waited until the last split-second. She had never fought something so blatantly deadly before! The strongest monsters of the Sequin Land could hurt her if they connected, some even badly, but never before had she faced anything able to end her with a single hit.
The icy electricity of hair-raising terror singing in her veins, Shantae steeled herself as she closed in again. The enemy anticipated her, swinging its right arm. She slowed down for a moment to let it pass, massive like a spiky battering ram whipping past her face. She then closed the distance to whip twice before retreating, the retaliatory swing missing her wide.
It wasn't really hard, this brute was relatively slow and utterly predictable, and she had some room to maneuver. If only she wasn't scared so much, one botched dodge was all that separated her from joining that pile of broken bodies!
Half a dozen whips later — each one was a dance with death, consisting of closing in, dodging the retaliatory swing, closing in for real, then sliding back — the creature was wounded, grunting in pain but still attacking relentlessly. She tried to exploit their difference in height, crouching low and whipping at its lower legs. It retaliated by stomping, the stone chips flying from its hoof stinging her bare skin as she dodged barely. Still, she was slowly but surely chipping its health away, more and more green blood marring the dark fur of its legs, dashing in and out, dancing around the hall.
Then, she accidentally hit the monster where one should not hit boys. He doubled over, clutching at his groin with both hands and roaring loudly.
Shantae paused in embarrassed indecision. Ooops. Should she just keep...?
And then her opponent straightened up and renewed his assault with all ferociousness of a rabid bear. What had been a deadly but slow opponent before, turned into a relentless engine of destruction, flinging green fire non-stop, left, right, left, right, actually running after her, swinging too fast for her too get a hit in when she tried getting close, sometimes even lobbing his fireballs point-blank.
Shantae's breath grew ragged, her body soaked with sweat, her muscles burning. Everything she got was only enough to stay barely ahead of the incoming death. She tried closing in, only to dodge by the skin of her teeth, losing balance and almost botching her next dodge. The limping, bleeding boss was showing no signs of slowing down, driven by homicidal rage!
She was at the precipice of despair, her dodges growing sloppy, only her luck saving her. The Super Monster Milk and Super Pike ball were going to run out any moment now.
It was do or die.
Roaring back her desperate challenge, she closed in and began circling the beast, twirling and sliding and twirling again, taking horrible risks with each step, the clawed hands swishing so close the fire wreathing hem actually hurt. Still, the orbiting spiky balls were hitting her opponent. The next swing was coming in too fast, she ducked realizing with despair she couldn't backslide like that, doomed to fall to his next swing, but she hair-whipped anyway, tensing in anticipation of the deadly strike...
That never came. The the monstrosity let out a bleating rattle and collapsed listlessly, its body giving out on it, its meaty arms limp, its maw opening to show mismatched teeth, goatlike incisors next to canine fangs.
Shantae sat down to rest her back against the wall, gulping the stinky air greedily, her hands shaking. What sort of dungeon was this? Where was it? At least, she have defeated its boss, it was just bad luck to warp right into its room. Yeah.
After catching her breath — she'd eat something to replenish her energy if not for the reek — Shantae stood up reluctantly to explore the altar room. Because the switch to open the door had to be there.
The sight wasn't any less grisly the second time around. The parts and pieces on the bloodied altar were arranged with macabre artistry. Some sort of magic diagram? Doing her best not to look, Shantae glanced around studying the walls. And here it was, to the right of the entrance, a big metallic skull in the roughly hewn stone wall. Pushing it resulted in its eye-sockets glowing softly with yellow light, a grinding noise reaching from the corridor.
Hurrying to leave the dreaded boss room, Shantae threw all caution to the wind. Passing quickly through the hall with the dead boss, she ducked under the slowly ascending slab to breathe in the fresh...
The air here still stank, just differently. Carrion and lavatory, weaker but no less vile. Smothered by the coppery, overpowering smell of blood.
Caught by surprise, Shantae froze, stopping among dense brown foliage. Then she slowly, cautiously moved meaty brown leaves aside.
Dark, almost black clouds crawling moving slowly across a dark crimson sky. Steep hills and crags overgrown with uniformly-brown jungle shrouded in ominous twilight. A ways down, tall brown grass and reeds growing out of still pools and channels of red liquid that just couldn't be water.
And silence. So oppressive and total it was ringing.
"Where the hell am I?" the half-Genie blurted. Then it hit her.
( ｡◕ シーンブレイク ◕｡)
A.N.1: So here you have it, the first chapter of the thing that should never been. Also, if you just played Doom (2016) and wonder why monsters look and act wrong... Well, I use Brutal Doom canon. It's a great modernization mod for Doom II (1994) so of course many monsters look different and have different move sets: despite all upgrades it keeps faithful to the spirit of a game that is 22 years older. None of the heavy hitters is able to jump, for starters, while some monsters are just plain nastier, on the level of "kill it NOW or you're screwed!"
( ｡◕ シーンブレイク ◕｡)
A.N. #2: In January 2020 I decided to retcon this fic a bit normalizing power levels. The realistic approach (mostly compared to Doomguy's melee attacks) led to me accepting the factor of 2.5 when converting between PC and BD. So Shantae's hair does 8x2.5 = 20 damage, her pistol does 5x2.5= 12 (the same as one SMG bullet), her kick and scimitar-assisted goomba-stomp do 10x2.5 = 25
For comparison, Doomguy does less damage (5 quick jab, 10 punch, 20 follow-up finisher) but he doesn't overcommit either, able to disengage much faster.
In this case, we have Squid Savior Shantae who never upgraded her health, but with 3 starting hearts (12 HP) as per Risky's Revenge, HGH DLCs and Seven Sirens. In BD that equals 30 HP. If we had classic PC Shantae with all heart holders collected, her 10 hearts (40 HP) would be equal to Doomguy's default 100.
Still any combat is a terrible gamble between glass cannons (as is most everything in BD), everything is decided by who notices their enemy first, who hits first. Timing and reaction are paramount. Shantae could down an imp in 3 hits who in return kills her in two. Shantae kills any zombie in two hits, any zombie kills her in one shot/burst (especially true for shotgun guys who inflict atrocious amount of damage).
Most bosses of PC have 400 HP (1000 in BD terms), slightly below your average baron but significantly higher than a knight with his 500 HP (200 in PC terms)
So, the retconned fight, game mechanics wise
Shantae: 30 hp, dmg 20 (37 with Super Monster Milk buff) - guaranteed one-hit kill
Hell Knight: 500 hp, dmg 40..60 (50 ranged) - 14 hits to kill (or slightly more if her buff wears out). In PC terms, he has 200 HP and inflicts 16..24 damage hand-to-hand and 20 via fireball. Ironically he had only around a 100 hp left when she made him go apeshit.