Chapter 35: Beyond the Portal
The summer was going by quickly surprisingly, he couldn't tell if it was because he was didn't really care about time anymore or that he was actually enjoying his great-niece and nephew's company.
It had been thirty years since working on trying to open back the portal to get Stanford back. He had finally gotten his hands on the second journal, which to his surprise the little gremlin Gideon Gleeful had. And what was another surprise was that his great-nephew Dipper had Journal 3 and was using it to on crazy adventures, which included raising the dead.
Stan Pines was now a much older man in his sixties, him at the beginning of the summer agreeing to watch the younger twins for the summer. Christopher had told him that it suggested by their school for Mabel to run off her excess energy and to help with Dipper's terrible anxiety. Stan had to ask why his great-nephew Mason was being called "Dipper" and Christopher explained that it was a nickname from his birthmark that he been going by since he was five years old.
That morning though… that morning he had an odd feeling something was going to happen.
With the information from the other two journals Stan finally had the ability to open the portal. The moment he activated it he never thought it would ever happen, he watched in awe as the portal glowed a brilliant blue light, just like thirty years ago, as the symbols around glowed.
That morning he had caught the young twins going into the closet to try to play with his illegal fireworks that he had stolen. So, the responsible adult that he was he lit them for them as they practically set the front lawn on fire. To put out the fire he let the twins have a water balloon fight, and of course they would throw a couple at him.
Having them over for the summer was honestly one of the best times he had since he was a child with Stanford. He tried to act like he didn't care about them, to be the stoic man he usually was, to me mean and cold-hearted. However, seeing his great-niece and nephew reminded him so much of him and his own twin… He saw the energetic Mabel and she reminded him so much of himself as child. Seeing Dipper was like seeing Stanford, but more awkward and sweaty. But when he saw Mabel being creative and artistic, it was like seeing Stanford, and seeing Dipper being so protective of his twin and doing anything for her was like seeing himself with Stanford.
Ever since discovering that Dipper had the last journal he needed to complete the activation of the portal, he wanted to tell the younger twins about everything. Who the real Stanford Pines was, and how that there was so much wrong about Stanley Pines that he basically killed his identity off and no one really batted an eye about it. He wanted to tell them that even though he was a professional conman, although he lies so much through his teeth about so many things, he really cared for them. He loved his grandniece and grandnephew like children he never had.
Before he could even gain the courage to ask, he was slammed to the ground by special ops, arresting him. Dragged into the police station in handcuffs once again in his life, he was interrogated by the United States government, stating how they knew he had been running for years and that he a string of various identities he went by over the years. But each moment Stan had been in there, he can only think about the portal.
I have to be there when it opens… I HAVE to!
He had on a watch that had the countdown of the portal opening and also a countdown of when the gravitational anomalies would hit the town. He used the anomalies to his advantage to get out the FBI custody, him paying a taxi to drive the complete opposite way of the Mystery Shack, and him running to the Shack as fast as his old bones could carry him.
Once he made it to the Shack, he was breathless, seeing that the vending machine that led to the basement was wide open. His heart had dropped. There was no way those kids could've figured it out… but then again, they were a lot smarter than many people gave them credit for. He rushed down the stairs and frantically pushed the button that called the elevator.
Please… please, let me make it!
He looks at his watch, seeing that he has almost five minutes until the portal will be fully open. The elevator arrives and Stan rushes inside, once again pressing the button many times for it to go down to the very bottom. Once the elevator hit the bottom floor Stan had ran out before the doors were fully open, him only briefly glancing at the photo of Mabel and Dipper he had on the desk of where he spent countless nights.
"This all stops… now!" Stan heard Dipper's voice as he rushed into the room, seeing the twelve-year old boy with his hand hovering over the red button.
"DON'T TOUCH THAT BUTTON!" Stan screamed as loud as he could, him leaning on the doorway desperately trying to catch his breath. He then slowly walks up to them as he said, "Dipper, just back away." The boy's hand still hovered over the button. "Please don't press that shutdown button, you gotta trust me."
What his grandnephew then shrieks was like a slam to his heart.
"And I should trust you why!? After you stole radioactive waste? After you've lied to us all summer!?" Dipper screamed angrily, the angriest Stan had ever seen on the kid. "I don't even know who you are!"
Stan honestly couldn't blame the kid for what he was saying, they found out about him, it was bound to happen. "Look, I know this all seems nuts, but I need that machine to stay on! If you'd just let me explain-" he gets cut off by the sound of the watch beeping. "Uh-oh, oh, no! Brace yourselves!" he warns.
He, Soos, and the young twins were lifted off of the ground from the anti-gravitational anomalies. Stan had no idea how the rest of the town was handling this, and right now he couldn't focus on it. He started spinning in the air, as the computed stated that in thirty seconds – just thirty more seconds! - the portal would open.
Dipper screamed as he managed to grab something prevent him from flying everywhere. "Dipper!" Mabel's desperate call pierced through the intense and loud whirring of the machine. Her ankle was wrapped in a long cord and she was suspended in the air,
"Mabel!" Dipper screams above the noise. "Hurry! Shut it down!"
Mabel then proceeds to pull herself towards the shutdown button, the red button almost beckoning. Stan sees this and he immediately freaks out, him propelling himself from the wall to get to the button before her.
"No!" he shouts desperately. "Mabel, Mabel, wait, stop!" He was then tackled by Soos, causing him to yelp from the suddenness. The two then spun in the air. "Soos, what're you doing!?" Stan demanded as he tried to push the large man away. "I gave you a direct order!" He then hits him in the head as a desperate form of escape.
Soos then states, "Sorry, Mr. Pines – if that's your real name – but I have a new mission now! Protecting these kids!"
"Soos, you idiot! Let me go!" Stan furiously screams. He then feels another weight slam into him, Dipper's.
"Go!" Dipper shouts toward his twin. "Mabel, press the red button! Shut it down!"
Stan then pushes Dipper away from him, trying to be forceful, but not to hurt the kid. "No, you can't! You gotta trust me!"
"Grunkle Stan…" Mabel's voice tearfully broke out. Stan saw her tears bubble up from the anti-gravity, and it broke his heart to see the little girl cry. "I don't even know… if you're my grunkle!" Her voice then cracks as she adds, "I wanna believe you but-"
"Then listen to me!" Stan begged. "Remember this morning when I said I wanted to tell you guys something?"
"T-minus twenty seconds," the computer then states.
Some invisible force throws Stan, Dipper, and Soos to the opposite wall of the room. Stan hooked his arms into the pipes to stabilize himself. He watched as his great-niece hovered her hand over the red button.
"I wanted to say that you're gonna hear some bad things about me, and some of them are true, but trust me," Stan continued. "Everything I've worked for, everything I care about, it's all for this family!"
Dipper shouts, "Mabel, what if he's lying? This thing could destroy the universe! Listen to your head!"
"Look into my eyes Mabel! Do you really think I'm a bad guy?"
"He's lying! Shut it down NOW!"
A last form of begging escapes Stan. "Mabel, please!"
Mabel avoids eye contact for a moment, but then her gaze sees his. He tried as best as could to have her see in his eyes that he was telling the truth and that she needed to trust him. It was all he had… it was all he could do. It was up to her now…
"Grunkle Stan…" the small girl finally said after a long couple seconds of silence.
Mabel then raises her hands. "I trust you…" she states as she started floating upwards.
"MABEL, ARE YOU CRAZY!? WE'RE ALL GONNA-" Dipper's voice was the cut off as the machine whirred and clanged loudly, the blue light flashing as sparks of energy release from it.
A bright light flashed as the four screamed loudly, and explosion filling their ears. Stan felt himself being slammed into the ground as gravity forced him back to Earth. He groans as he rubs the side of his head. Debris fell from the ceiling, the machine lopsided as it was heavily damaged. Suddenly, a silhouette appeared within the portal, who seemed to be about the same build as Stan, and he had a trench coat flowing behind him with a gun strapped to his back, goggles and scarf covering his face.
The man stepped out of the portal. As he walked across the concrete floor he saw Journal 1 laying on the ground. He places a hand on the cover, a six-fingered hand, and he then slowly picks it up to put in his trench coat. He takes another few steps forward before stopping, seeing the people before him.
Dipper gasps, "What...? Who is that?"
Stan looks up to see the man, immediately knowing who it was. "The author of the journals…" he states.
The man then takes off the goggles and scarf, revealing an extremely similar face to Stan's, his five o'clock shadow thick and scratchy looking, his brown eyes hard.
"After all these years…"
Ford was putting the final touches on his Quantum Destabilizer. The isotope was ready, being perfectly stable. He had only one shot though. As much has he would love to use it on Magum, Ford hasn't seen of or even heard of him in the past twenty-nine years… and Bill was haunting his dreams more frequently.
In one dream that he came to Ford recently Bill was stating how he possessed a twelve-year-old boy. It made Ford sick to his stomach to hear that a demon possessed a child. Bill then stated that once he was done with the body that he was just going to fling it off the highest point in the town to make it look like suicide, just to have the kid's spirit in the mindscape forever.
He's getting stronger… and a lot closer to getting into Earth's dimension. I have to use this on him… I'm sorry Layla, I can't kill Magum right now… One day I will…
Ford had to go to shady parts of dimensions to get information on Bill Cipher that he needed. He had to find him, but he honestly didn't know where to look. A few beings in random bars and hotspots wouldn't tell Ford anything. At least until he had threatened with his gun and they blurted out "Nightmare Dimension".
"Nightmare dimension…?" Ford questioned to himself as he exited the premises. Ford then consults Magum's journal, maybe some information about it was there. He was practically an expert at deciphering the pages, he no longer needed to write out the symbols then each corresponding letter and so on.
"'The Nightmare Dimension. That's what they call the ruins of the dimension that had held the Hierarchy of Demons. Now it is filled with terrible monsters, some naturally born, and some mutated beyond recognition thanks to Dr. Bartek's research. Of course Bill would hole himself up in there, it's where the Axolotl cannot reach him.'"
Again. The Axolotl was mentioned.
But Ford didn't have time right now. He only had one shot on his Quantum Destabilizer, and he needed to use it wisely. In the back cover of the journal there was a map, a map of certain natural portals that connected to the Nightmare Dimension. He follows the map precisely, him going through dimensions that were now looking familiar to him. Once he finally made it to the portal that would lead him to Bill, he hesitated for a moment.
What if he couldn't kill him? What if he gets killed before he could do anything?
Ford shakes his head. No, he couldn't think like that, not now, not when he was so close. Ford takes a shaky breath and enters through the shimmer that lead to a world of nightmares.
All around him was nothing but a cold, inky blackness. The air felt so much different here, like it was electrified, making the hair on his face stand up on end. It was like once, a lifetime ago, the air had been filled with extreme power.
"Well, well, well!" a shrill voice echoes around him, just like in his nightmares. "Look who decided to come to me! It does save me the trouble of finding you, Fordsey."
"Shut the hell up, you demonic bastard!" Ford screams. His hand was hovered to his side, ready to grab his interdimensional gun to fight if he had to. "You know why I'm here."
"Ha!" Bill laughs, a shrill cackle. "Really, IQ? I thought we already went over this! You can't kill me!"
"Oh yes I can…" Ford stated smugly, a malicious grin on his face. "I can rip your molecules apart and spread you across the multiverse, a fate worse than death." He then grabs his gun, it now comfortably in his hand. "Want to test my theory?"
Bill then appears in front of him, him in a much larger size. The energy of the air must be enough to stabilize his mindscape form without it deteriorating. He didn't need a vessel, and he didn't need a physical form.
"Really, Sixer?" Bill asked mockingly, his eye rolling. "You've got to be kidding me-" He was cut off when Ford shot his interdimensional gun at him, hitting his eye. "AH! MY EYE!" he screamed. A red fire then glowed around Bill, illuminating the demons behind him. "You shouldn't have done that, Sixer… I'll enjoy ripping you apart!" He then snaps his fingers and the horde of monsters start running forward.
Ford couldn't possibly fight them all, he had to get to Cipher. Kill the boss and the minions would have no idea what to do. Ford dodges an attack, a pink fire blast from the one demon that had chased him and Layla before when she got poisoned. He could see Bill sitting on some kind of throne, his eye regenerating.
While he's distracted… I can get him!
Ford began running towards Bill's throne, but underneath him the floor raised and twisted. He was no longer right-side up, but inside running upside down. The path before him twisted and dipped, making it hard to navigate.
"How does it feel, Ford? To be alone with no one around you!?" Bill mocked. "Even your little girlfriend is dead, ha! She was a little wh-"
"SHUT UP!" Ford bellowed he fired his gun aimless towards him, the plasma not even making it close to him.
He was then tackled behind, but some odd creature that looked human but had extra limbs growing out from all over its body. An experiment by Dr. Bartek. Ford used his gun and put it right to the monstrosity's temple.
Dr. Bartek… he put his daughter here and now she is dead…
"I'll take you out of this misery…" Ford told the once human as he pulled the trigger, his voice laced with fury. Blood splattered onto the ground as Ford forced himself up from the ground, continuing to run to Bill. No matter how much he was tackled and attacked, he got right back up and ran. He had to get to Bill… he just had to.
Finally he had reached the end of the twisted path, it leading right up to Bill Cipher. Bill's eye was regenerated and it was a solid black with a red pupil. His triangular body glowed red and his limbs turned yellow.
"YOU THINK YOU CAN STOP ME, STANFORD PINES!? I JUST NEED TEN MORE MINUTES AND I CAN ESCAPE THIS DAMN, FLAT DIMENSION!"
"Ten minutes…!?" Ford gasped in shock. "What the hell do you mean!?" Then it hit him. "No…"
"That's right IQ! You really think your twin brother would just accept that you got thrown into another dimension!?" Bill shouted twistedly. "For thirty years he has been trying to open it, and now he has succeeded. Just nine more minutes, Sixer, and hell will reign on Earth."
Bill then snaps his fingers and fire starts to chase after Ford, he had no choice but to run. He couldn't fight Bill… he had to get to the portal when it opens so Bill couldn't…
THAT IDIOT! WHY WOULD HE DO THIS?! WHY WOULD HE IGNORE THE WARNINGS!?
As he heard Bill's cackle, Ford spun around and removed his Quantum Destabilizer from his back. He had one shot… if he got Bill right now it can all be over…
Bill was facing the opposite way, snapping his fingers left and right to have fire engulf the dead landscape of what used to be his home. His cackle filled the black void of the dimension. Ford aims the crosshair over Bill, it matching perfectly.
But before he could pull the trigger, an intense blue light illuminated behind him. He could hear shouts on the other side. It was starting to open. The time was running out. Ford had no choice, he had to go through, stop Bill from coming from the other side, back on Earth.
Ford quickly puts the Quantum Destabilizer across his back. He was going back the way he can in…
"WHAT?!" Bill screamed. "STOP HIM, YOU IDIOTS!" His army of monsters and demons began rushing at Ford, some getting dangerously close.
But it was too late, Ford was stepping though, his body tingling as the intense blue energy licked across his skin. Ford was so angry, he had an opportunity to destroy Bill and it was lost.
All because Stanley had to ignore his warnings and open the damn portal again.
"One," he heard the computer say.
He then steps full on through, coming back home the way he left it…
By going beyond the portal.
Author's Final Notes
I know this journey has abruptly ended, but that's how it was intended. We get what Ford's reaction was in "A Tale of Two Stans" and I couldn't possibly re-write that whole thing. In the final chapter we see how Stan was feeling about opening the portal, and we see how Ford was so close to defeating Bill but had to go through the portal before they could.
"Beyond the Portal" is a lead-up to the rest of the show and from those who had been reading "Cipher's Reign" and "After Cipher's Reign: Short Stories" they all take place in the same AU timeline.
Now, some people have been asking questions about the Bartek family, and who they are based on. Let's shed some light on that.
Dr. Bartholomew Bartek: The way this man came to be and the way he thinks is based off the character Dr. Lawrence Myrick from the movie "Extreme Measures" where he had killed homeless people with experiments trying to find a cure for paralysis. Except, Dr. Bartek is a lot more… mentally unstable because of his deals with demons and thus made him more insane. At some point he was trying to help people that were missing their limbs, to do the right thing in the wrong way, but his influence with the demons have clouded his mind and he got more gruesome with his experiments.
Layla Amelia Bartek: Some people asked where her name came from, if I got it from the song. Actually her name was based off the light-novel series "The Devil is a Part-Timer!" which eventually had been adapted to an anime and manga. The main female lead is named Emilia (pronounced just like Amelia), and she was a long-haired beauty that started out harsh but eventually softened. Layla's first name is based on Emilia's mother, the archangel Lailah. This is why Ford says that Layla looked like an angel to him. Her black hair color is based off of her own name as "Lailah" means "night" in Hebrew. Layla's personality is based off another original character I had made for the "Resident Evil" universe, named Leah S. Kennedy.
Thank you for reading as always! And make sure if you have been reading "After Cipher's Reign: Short Stories" to be on the lookout for a twist that will lead up to a different story!