((AN: Eeeeyup, seems I've fallen hard down into another fandom. x3 I've been in it and loving it for a good while, only a matter of time before I started throwing out some fanfic ideas, I imagine.
So, many of you know that I'm an animation lover; and that includes old-school animation. That's what attracted me to Bendy and the Ink Machine, the only horror game to date that I've played through many times myself; I love the aesthetic behind it (heck, I love the aesthetic of the time period itself, what can I say?). One day at work my imagination was suddenly hitting me hard: what if a certain famous old-school toon were to stumble into the studio (or a version of it, at least)? I never thought I'd write a crossover, but this one was too much fun thinking up not to give it a try. x3
I've been watching a lot of old cartoons as of late, and even as a kid I've seen a lot of Betty Boop (so I'd hope I have her character down well here, and you'll see lots of references to the history of the Fleischer Studio toons). I've written a lot of serious fics, but I think it's about time I tested out my humor on a serious fic with a fair amount of the good ol' fashioned swing. x3
Enjoy, and if you guys like this little foray, I'll put up more chapters. I've got three written so far, and I do know where I'm gonna go with this one, and it'll probably be somewhat short, so I'll be trying hard to finish it; again, if people would like to see where it goes. =)
Something to probably note beforehand, this won't be like reading a walkthrough of the game itself; the toon-world version of Joey Drew Studios is like a mirrored version with some changes. It affects the madness of the real-world studio and vice-versa, thus the toons themselves are involved, but not really the ink-monster people, with tiny exceptions.
Let's see how they get themselves out of this jam, shall we? x3))
The Toon World, like any other world, has its dark corners that hide alongside the eternal light, energy, and happiness in which it was built. Many of them are acknowledged; after all, a good story has to have its unscrupulous side, and the toons know this in spades. Even those dark spaces have its own silver linings and humor.
But there is a place that many of the residents are cautious to talk about; a sprawling underground, basically like the slums of the universe, known by many names: the Defunct, the Lost Place, the Land of the Forgotten, the Faded...where toons that have been forgotten, hadn't experienced laughter from the Real Side for so very long, lose their energy and their power and go to live out their eternal lives in solitude.
It isn't all dreary (and they certainly make sure it isn't); many toons are remembered again and revitalized. But, all do realize that someday it may be their fate to end up on that side of the proverbial tracks. And when they do, they just learn to make the best of it.
And then, for a very unlucky few, whose names in the real world were ground into dust along with their creators over time...they are practically imprisoned there, never to know again the happiness and memories they brought to those that watched them work.
Even still, there are toons who just don't like to give up on them.
There was one who was somewhat familiar with the Defunct; she'd gone down there once before to rescue her oldest co-stars. And that's when she heard about the darkest corner, where true evil was said to reside, a haunted store of memories and regrets.
She'd been warned about it, of course. But, as was always true to her character, curiosity overruled her sense. Even more so, her desire to find the toons that she'd heard about in the good old days, if only in passing.
And, well...Betty Boop wouldn't be herself if she didn't at least take a peek.
"...Oh dear...what a dreary place..." Betty murmured to herself as she exited the taxi (who sped off like a racer once she paid the fare), and found herself facing the outside of a large, blocky building. It looked very nondescript and gray (to be expected in the Black n' White side of town), rather like it was placed there from the real world. It lay in a secluded, empty street with no other buildings, and so the quiet was already disconcerting. It wouldn't have been much to see, except for the giant sign on the front: Joey Drew Studios, a name accompanied by three stylized film reels, set up in a once-grandiose fashion...now rotting and pretty much about to fall off its base.
It was told that the building was connected to another small toon world...now since hidden away, like its residents.
The young (appearing) toon woman had a shiver crawl up her spine as she opened the creaky gate and approached the building, clutching her bag tighter as the familiar smell of ink filled the air, not even a moment before she reached the door. She knew that smell well; heck, she was made of it herself, as were many of her friends in the old days. But this ink...it almost had a feel to it like ink from the real world. Like the legendary inkwell used by her Uncle Max...but with something more. She couldn't quite describe it, but it made her wince a little.
She took a breath and looked the place over once more, her hands on her hips. "Well, I've been in some situations before, but this might just take th' cake. Me oh my...still, I gotta at least see. I always wanted t' meet the Joey Drew toons...welp, here goes nothin'..."
With that, Betty took a hold of the door's handle and pushed it inward, stepping carefully through the threshold as the hinges creaked and echoed across the corridor.
The quiet of the inside was overtaken by the sound of old, creaking wood. Betty cautiously looked around as she closed the door behind her and stepped through a hall laden with several posters of old cartoons. Her hand would briefly touch over the paper, and she could practically feel its age. She glanced over each of them with interest, only referencing some of the main characters in the early days: Boris and Bendy. Both of whom she hoped to meet at some point in this venture, although for the moment, things looked very empty.
Once inside the main hall though, Betty couldn't help but notice the sound and sight of ink dripping from a few corners, as if a portion of the upstairs had been flooded with it. The whole of the building seemed to have a thrumming pulse, and curling about here and there were pipes that were just streaming the blackened liquid like a life force.
"Oh dear...ink spills everywhere...I probably shouldn't've worn my ol' skirt..." she muttered and, with a little flick of her fingers as she pulled on the edge of the garment, extended it to transform into a pair of black dress pants instead, as well as taking a stylish gray coat out from behind her to put on. "Oh, that's much better. At least th' ink won't show on 'em. Now let's see..."
The toon woman kept walking along, curious as a kitten while observing the insides of what seemed like quite the extensive little cartoon studio. There were open cobweb-lined doors filled with shelves of reels and projectors, plenty more posters lining the wall...even animators' desks with lots of cute little pictures...none of which, sadly, moved. Betty was quite used to living in a world where everything had a dash of life. But there seemed to be none here, even a trickle.
"Helloooo!" she called out as she came to a bit of a crossroad. "Anyone home?"
Nothing answered but the creaking wood, the echo of her voice, and more droplets of ink. With a few frustrated tsk sounds, she kept moving until she spied a very curious sign.
"The Ink Machine? Hm, now there's somethin' ta see..." she hummed, following the signs to what seemed like the studio's biggest attraction now. Carefully stepping over a dirty pipe and peering around the corner, though, Betty certainly wasn't prepared for this thing.
It was a convoluted machination about as big as the room it was in, suspended by heavy iron chains and spewing ink from a pump into several large pipes that made up a sprawling underbelly to depths unknown. This thing was the heart of the place, the source of the pulse, and with each beat, more shudders crawled across her body. She forced herself to step away from it, clutching her bag close.
"Oohoohoo..." she shivered, "And here I thought I'd seen the strangest machines, but that...oh dear...I do hope I can find out what happened to the toons of this place. This whole thing needs an explanation!"
Taking her walk back to a bit of a trot, Betty wasted little time in searching the next rooms; only employee break areas and more storage closets to be found.
But every so often, she'd think that she'd hear something, or see it out of the corner of her eye: a movement, a figure, a shadow...a glimpse of someplace familiar and yet not...but it would always be gone when she turned.
"This really isn't funny," she said aloud, starting to grimace now with impatience as she pulled her coat tighter about herself. "I better find someone here with some answers, or I swear..."
And then, she had to stop cold as she peered around the darkest corner, gasping as she covered her open mouth.
Lying on a slanted slab like that of an operating table, arms and legs bound to it, was a toon...but one that looked for all the world lifeless, with "x"-shaped eyes to boot...and worse, a chest pried open to reveal an inky black hole. No doubt about it, the black and white canine-looking figure wearing naught but a pair of suspenders looked an awful lot like Boris the Wolf, from his posters.
Betty couldn't stop her shivering, her head shaking as she took a few steps toward the figure. "No...oh no...oh nononono...oh how terrible...who'd do this? And how? In all my days, I can't imagine..."
Quivering, she started to reach out to touch the wolf's gloved hand, just to see if it was even the tiniest bit responsive.
And before Betty could even get close, she heard him groan.
"EEK!" she squeaked, backing away several more feet, her back to a wall as the figure came to life (to an extent) and wiggled the fingers of his gloves, mouth open in an almost breathless voice.
"...Wh...Who...Who's...there?" Boris rasped. "S-some-one...p-please..."
Betty came out of her frozen posture slowly, blinking as she gulped loudly and took a few cautious steps forward. A'course, he's a toon, they can't die...but he MUST be in a world a' hurt. "H-hey there...can ya hear me?"
The wolf's ears turned to her voice, but he seemed to have trouble seeing her. "I-I...can...a bit. P-please...whoever...y'are...if y'can...help..."
She was almost instantly up at his side, laying a tentative but comforting hand on his wrist. "Yeah, 'course I'll help ya darlin'...what can I do?" she asked, briefly glancing around the room. The only things that she seemed to see were tools that wouldn't have been of any help, and she certainly wasn't going to grab the black-stained wrench on the nearby table.
Boris's fingers wiggled again, desperately now. "I-ink...just...need...ink..."
Betty nodded, but as she started to turn for the door, she paused. There was plenty of ink around...but how was she going to bring any back to him? It would take hours to find, let alone fill, any wells that would help those wounds.
Then, she snapped her fingers as an idea came to her. "Oh, of course...so glad I brought this with me now..."
Boris could only hear what was going on, but even in his terribly-pained mind, he was curious to hear that she seemed to be rummaging through a bag for something big. And indeed, she was, pulling out a large and very special inkwell.
"This ink belonged to Uncle Max," she explained as she set it on the ground and began to fill a large fountain pen with it. "It should be just the thing. Just hold on tight, deary, I'll getcha fixed up." I hope, she added on like a little prayer as the pen lightly tapped the edge of the well.
Boris could only nod weakly and cringe, bracing as he heard a lever pulled. Holding the fountain pen like a fire hose, Betty let loose the black concoction.
It was just one big splatter, enough to cover the wolf in her creator's special ink that had brought life to her friends and herself...but as it covered his form and seemed to leave a shiny sheen, it thankfully looked to be doing the trick.
The ink then seemed to seep straight into the bound wolf, like he was a sponge soaking it up for dear life. When his face emerged, he took a deep, long gasp of breath, like he'd been waiting to do so for years. The last of the ink sealed his chest. Good as new, there he indeed was: Boris the Wolf, of Joey Drew Studios.
His eyes, no longer signifying that of a deathly toon, blinked open tiny pie-cut dots that instantly focused on his savior, who was putting the giant pen and inkwell back into a little handbag like it was nothing.
Betty gave him a smile as she looked back to his face. "Oh, there we go...you alright now?"
The wolf blinked a few more times to make sure that he was seeing what he was seeing...and then, he gave out a loud laugh. "I...I'm okay! I...I-I-I'm back! I...I can't feel no pain! You! Y...Y'saved me, oh, thank ya, thank ya so kindly...!"
Then, he paused and had to gape, realizing just who he saw in front of him. "Gee whiz, I know you! Yer Betty Boop, ain'tcha, or are my ol' eyes failin' me after so long?"
As always upon being recognized, Betty had to give a shy giggle and a wink. "That's me! Good ol' Betty Boop-oop-ee-doop, whoop!" she enthusiastically gave her spiel with a theatrical wave. "An' you gotta be Boris...I've seen you from yer posters comin' in."
The wolf, almost oblivious to the fact that he was still bound to the table, shyly stuck out his tongue. "Eeyup, that's me alright! 'Course, I ain't no star like you...but gee, what in th' world are you doin' here?" He gave a sad grimace and tilted his head. "Y'can't belong to th' Land o' th' Forgotten...you still got your toon...grabbin' anythin' superpower thing."
Betty giggled. "Hammer-space, they call it. Yeah, y'got me...well, I heard about this place, an' I had ta come see...after all, I never met you guys, an' you were pretty famous for a while. But, uh...lookin' around now..." she gave another cautious glance with a roll of her eyes, considering the darkness in which they still resided, "I'm guessin' you've been through some hard times."
The wolf let out a breath that seemed like it wanted to turn into a laugh, and only became a harsh sigh. "Lady, y'don't know th' half of it..." His ears drooped. "This place...it's no place fer someone like you, or anybody. It's dangerous!"
"Oh yeah, I've been warned," she waved her hand, "An' yet, here I am! It's been scary so far, but I still wanna help you guys! Oh, dear me, I should prob'ly help ya outta that table..." she started mumbling as she unbuckled the straps. Boris watched with perked ears and eager twitches of his gloved fingers until he could move his arms and legs again. When he was finally all free, he leaped from the table and landed with a bit of a wobble; he felt it would take time to get used to walking, but at least...at least he was out.
There was a quiet moment when he just looked at his arms and legs, moving and shaking his feet one by one, before getting a big grin on his face and turning to the other toon with tears welling up in his eyes. "Can't believe it...'m actually okay...you're a real swell gal, Miss Boop!" he cried and lifted her up for a giant bear hug and spun her around, his laughter almost unending. "Real swell, how c'n I ever repay ya?"
"Ohoho my!" Betty giggled with surprise and patted him on the head. Now that she got a good look at the wolf, he was fairly tall and lanky; with the dark spots on his cheeks, he almost reminded her of Koko the Clown, with a dash of Goofy in there too. "Well I'm only happy t' oblige, Mr. Wolf; an' you can just call me Betty. But now, won'tcha tell me exactly what happened to this place?"
Boris let out one more happy sigh and deflated a little, politely letting the lady down again. "You just call me Boris. An' well...I could, but...it's a long 'n sad story," he admitted, rubbing his arm.
"Aw...well, I got time! Like I said, I'm here ta help ya! Please tell me what happened...and while we're at it, we can find any a' yer other toon co-stars."
His head tilted a little, touched by her sincerity. "Well gee; yer really as sweet as they always said ya were. Not many people ever gave this big ol' hungry wolf a chance. Sure, I'll help...s'the least I could do after what ya did fer me. I oughta be around t' protect ya from the lurkin' dangers down on th' lower floors anyway."
Betty hummed. "That would be a big help. Let's go then...where are yer other friends? I thought I'd at least meet Bendy; he's the star, ain't he?"
The taller toon made sure to keep up with her as they walked along the corridor, back toward the main entrance to the studio. "Yeah, he is; Bendy th' Dancin' Demon, they call 'im. But, sadly...he disappeared, long time ago. I think he might still be in this place, I just don't know where..." he glanced up in thought and scratched the side of his head. "But I do know where Alice might be. If anyone knows where Bendy is, it could be her."
Betty glanced up at him questioningly. "Alice? Who's she?"
"Oh, Alice Angel!" Boris smiled. "She made up our trio a little later on inta th' cartoon. You'll like her; she's much like ya, a lovely singer an' dancer. Could have a temper sometimes, but still pretty nice. She was the first of us with a real voice actor when the cartoons went thataway."
"Oh, she does sound like a treat!" Betty gave a little excited clap. "Don't think I ever heard a' her before though."
Boris grimaced a little. "Yeah, y'prolly wouldn't've. There was always talk that she'd be as popular as Bendy, maybe more; they even tried t' give Alice her own episodes. But, sadly, she didn't get that popular...at all. Broke 'er heart a little, but she kept at it, an' Bendy an' I still liked 'er, even if they'd fight over the spotlight some."
At that, Betty certainly felt for the poor girl. The exact same thing happened when she eventually outshone her co-star Bimbo the dog; but her popularity soared, and he had ended up here in the Land of the Forgotten for a time. She was still so very grateful that he'd never held any grudge against her for it.
"Well, I certainly can't wait t'meet 'er, and Bendy. Hope we do find him."
"Hope so too...t'be honest...I'm rememberin' things now that make me doubt we'll even be able t'save them," he whimpered. "I got nothin', an' you..." he seemed to brighten up a little then. "Well, you were actually able t' save me...you still got your toon abilities. So maybe...maybe there is a chance we can snap 'em out of it!"
"There's always a chance, honey!" Betty encouraged with a little pat on his shoulder. "Just believe in it!"
"Eh, that's what Mr. Drew always said...dunno if I do believe it. But considerin' things, I'll certainly try."
"Now there's the pep I'm lookin' for," said Betty with a swing of a fist through the air.