seems like there's a show every night — ii

Mabel blinks extra hard, just in case her eyes are messing with her. But, nope, that's definitely Grunkle Ford up there on the projector, trench coat on and tech in hand. It looks to her like the photograph was taken in Portland, which makes her wonder who took it.

Given how shocked Brendan looks, she doesn't really suspect him. Still, she feels a little better when he instantly proclaims his innocence.

"It wasn't me!" he hisses. "I swear, I didn't even tell my mom about him!"

Mabel believes him; he's gone out of his way to not tell his family anything at all. "How'd they know?"

"I don't know! I guess Chortley could have told them, but he's such an idiot he can barely string two sentences together; he's not even a part of the West Coast Were Council, nobody talks to him if they can help it…"

Mabel's attention is drawn back to the murmuring crowd and the stage below when someone stands up at the left edge of the room. With a start, she realizes it's the Multi-Bear.

"I know this human," the Multi-Bear rumbles. "He and his family thwarted an extradimensional threat last summer. What proof do you have that he's a threat to any of us?"

"Yeah!" a manotaur bellows from somewhere in the middle of their group (Mabel doesn't know as many of their names as Dipper does). "That's Destructor's uncle!"

"They can be queen-stealing jerks, but we're over it," a gnome yells out. Mabel can't see him, but it sounds like Jeff.

"I appreciate the input of the Manotaur High Council and the Gnomish Pact," Rothes says with a weary manner that suggests he does not, in fact, appreciate their input, and never has. He addresses the Multi-Bear in a more respectful tone: "Based on the information we currently have, I don't believe that Dr. Pines is malevolent or intentionally targeting non-humans. Regardless, his research has the potential to harm our communities."

"I remind the Conclave that it is not our way to meddle in human affairs," the Multi-Bear says.

"And I remind the ursine gentleman that we prefer humans to not meddle in our affairs," Rothes says in mild rebuke. "I appreciate that, as a resident of the valley, you've made your peace with Dr. Pines, and that speaks well of his character. But his research has the potential for impact far beyond Gravity Falls. Can you honestly say that you fully understand what he's trying to accomplish?"

"He's attempting to formulate a unified theory of Weirdness," the Multi-Bear answers.

Another stir passes through the room. Rothes looks genuinely surprised by the Multi-Bear's level of insight. "He told you this?"

"He did. I won't claim to know every detail, but I do know that he's gone farther than anyone before him in understanding this valley and all things related to it. His knowledge has already saved us once. He deserves our support, not our opposition." With that, the Multi-Bear sinks back into his enormous seat.

Rothes shuffles his papers, looking like some of the wind has been taken out of his sails. "This is new information… The Conclave should take this into account when considering the severity of our response—"

"Now wait just a minute," someone else shouts. The attention of the crowd turns to a tall, thin man with a shock of white hair. Mabel can't see his face too well from this distance, but he looks pale and haughty.

"George Genneby," Brendan whispers. "He's not in charge of anything, but he's from a really respected vampire family."

"The Multi-Bear may have many heads, but he only gets one vote," Genneby says snidely. "Since when do we tolerate humans studying us? This man should desist or be forced to!"

A good portion of the crowd is making noises of assent. Mabel worries that it's a majority, but it's hard to tell.

"We can always count on you to suggest force, Genneby," another man says, standing up to face him. He has a commanding voice, matched by an air of authority that's apparent even from a distance.

Brendan shrinks against the stone floor, inching back from the ledge.

It takes Mabel a moment to parse his reaction. "Oh gosh, is that—"

"Yeah," Brendan says in a strangled whisper. "My dad."

Downstairs, things are getting equally tense. "Cager. How utterly unsurprising to find you defending humankind," Genneby drawls.

"We have to live with them. Even you must acknowledge that," the Cager patriarch replies.

"On the contrary—you must live with them. After all, we can always create more vampires. It seems you werefolk mostly excel at creating more humans," Genneby says snidely, backed by a chorus of snickers from his cronies. "Why, there may not be any of you left before long…"

"You aren't that lucky, Genneby," Brendan's dad snorts. A wave of laughter rises from his side of the room.

Mabel's attention is pulled from the verbal sparring below when Brendan's hand clamps on her arm. "We gotta get out of here," he says, eyes wide.

"What? But—"

"They're supposed to vote at the end, but they're going to call a vote now!" Brendan tells her. "They'll turn off the projector and turn up the lights and everyone is going to stand to be counted!"

Mabel gets his point. Their ledge is a nice hiding place, but the second it's not so dim in here is the second someone at the far end of the seating below or in the balcony wings spots them. Maybe Brendan wouldn't get in too much trouble, but she's a human, and as much as she wants to know what the Conclave is going to decide, getting caught isn't going to do Grunkle Ford any favors.

She starts scooting backwards. "Time to cheese it before I end up in cave-jail!"

They quickly make their way to the hall that leads to the entrance. Brendan grips her hand and makes her slow down, the two of them walking as nonchalantly as they can back through the antechamber. The two guards glance up curiously as they pass, but don't try to stop them.

Outside, the woods seem bright compared to the cave, her senses overwhelmed by the color and warmth of the summer forest. They hurry back down the path and don't relax until they're in town again, stopping on one of the main throughfares and ducking into an alley to catch their breath.

"What do you think they're going to do to Grunkle Ford?" Mabel says worriedly.

Brendan just shakes his head. "I don't know. But I swear I didn't tell anyone. Like, I didn't even think it was a thing, you know? It didn't even occur to me that the Conclave would care…"

"They had a picture of him in Portland," Mabel recalls.

"It can't be Chortley. That dude, figuring out how to work a digital camera? Forget it." Brendan frowns, thinking. "They had to know you guys were going there. It's not like he had 'paranormal researcher' on his shirt. They already knew, they were following him. The Multi-Bear said… he said that your uncle saved everyone?"

Mabel exhales in apprehension. "Oh, gosh."

She sticks her head back out into the open street, making sure there's no one close by. Between the 'Never Mind All That' initiative and the strangers in town, it's a dicey prospect talking about Weirdmageddon. It's clear that at least some of the Conclave heard about Weirdmageddon already (duh, some of them were here for it), but it must not be common knowledge if Brendan doesn't know.

"Yeah, so…" Mabel says, turning back to Brendan and taking a deep breath. "There was this evil triangle guy named Bill who was a demon or at least people said he was a demon and he had this prophecy for a bajillion years that I never heard but I guess was a thing, so he spent forever trying to get into our world and become three-dimensional because for some reason that made him crazy powerful, and then last summer he finally did it after tricking a bunch of people—including me, and everyone says it wasn't my fault but it still kinda feels like maybe it was—and the whole valley went bananas, like super monkey bananas, and I was in a prison bubble and Soos was in folk songs and we all got together and built a giant robot and it sort of worked until it didn't, and then my grunkles figured out how to beat Bill but Grunkle Stan almost lost his whole mind. But we won."

Brendan's face is blank as he absorbs this. "…His name was Bill?"

Mabel waves her hands dismissively. "He's totally deadsies. But maybe that's how they know!"

Brendan looks like he's going through some serious realizations. "There was a meeting," he says distantly, brow furrowed in thought. "Dad left in a big hurry. That was… last September? If there was something supernatural that dangerous, then they would have had an emergency session. Wait, you went to prison?"

"Sort of. It was a magic bubble that was supposed to be a good dream to keep me trapped but ended up being a nightmare." Mabel worries a lock of hair in her hands, feeling overwhelmed. "We gotta tell Grunkle Ford. He'll know what to do. Oh, geez, what are the Conclave going to do?"

Brendan shrugs. "Ask him to stop? But, like, stop or else."

"Or else what?"

"I don't know," he says uncomfortably. "At least they aren't allowed to kill humans anymore."

Mabel blanches. "Kill?!"

"No, no, they can't," Brendan hastens to restate. "Not nowadays. That's the kind of stuff idiots like Genneby want to bring back, even if he won't say it."

"Who knew vampires and werewolves were such enemies!"

"Not all the vampires are like that. Most of them are pretty stuck up, but they aren't actually evil. People like Genneby want to bring back the bad old days when humans and paranormal communities fought all the time, because he's a moron—humans usually won. And that was back when there weren't that many people, period. If we start warring with humans again, we'll get wiped out and it won't even be a real fight."

"Yeah… I kind of see why Grunkle Ford is a problem," Mabel says.

Brendan runs a hand through his hair, looking concerned. "I know he's not trying to mess things up for us, but…"

"Grunkle Ford will know what to do," Mabel says again, her confidence unshaken.

She takes out her phone and opens her contacts, calling Grunkle Ford. It rings once, twice, and then… nothing. The line goes dead and the call ends. She tries again, and this time it doesn't ring at all.

She takes the phone from her ear and glares at it. "What the heck?"

"What's wrong?" Brendan asks.

"I can't get through."

Brendan glances at his phone. "I got no signal. That's weird. Isn't there a cell tower in town?"

Mabel tries one more time. When it results in the same lack of connection, she puts her phone away and narrows her eyes in determination. "Come on, we'll go back to the Shack and tell him before it's time to meet up with everyone!"

They leave the alley and start moving quickly through the town, headed for the woods and Gopher Road.

"How long do we have?" Pacifica asks.

Dipper checks his watch. "About an hour or so."

"We can get one at lunch," Pacifica decides, turning away from the funnel cake vendor.

Wandering the fairground is cool and all, but Dipper does wish that Pacifica were slightly less calorie conscious. It's not good for him to eat whatever he wants today, he agrees on that point, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun. Still, there's a lot to see and plenty of kiosks to browse. Waiting until lunch time to eat also preserves what little money he has.

It's a bright, warm day at the festival, crowds of people milling beneath a cloudless blue sky. Pacifica is almost as bright as the sun in her tie dye shirt, an ensemble which, earlier in the day, resulted in a lot of smug looks from Pacifica and a grudging 'you were right' from Dipper. Impossible as it seems, she can pull off tie dye. She looks like a carefree flower child, albeit one with unusually piercing blue eyes. (It's still not her best look, though.)

The festival is sufficiently large that they haven't run into anyone they know, which is an oddity in the valley. Dipper is continually expecting to run into one of the many townspeople that he is, at minimum, at least peripherally aware of, but it's been nothing but unfamiliar faces. It's a nice change of pace.

They're approaching yet another t-shirt stand when Dipper's phone begins buzzing in his pocket. He checks it; it's Great-Uncle Ford. He puts the phone to his ear and is greeted by a harsh burst of static, making him recoil.

"Geez!" He frowns at his phone and raises it again, making sure it's further away from his tender eardrum. "Great-Uncle Ford?"

"Dipper!" Ford's voice breaches out of the heaving static. He sounds distant, despite the fact it also sounds like he's shouting. "Can you hear me?"

Dipper gestures to Pacifica and steps off the main path, walking around the side of the t-shirt stand so that he's in the space between two tents. He plugs his other ear with a finger, which doesn't help as much as he was hoping it would.

"Sort of," he says loudly. "What's going on?"

The entire first part of Ford's next sentence is swallowed by the white noise. "—on the same frequency! I'm tracking anomalies high in the—…—even gravitational, though slight—…—seen anything like it! It's in—-…—a signal! You must— …now! Dipper? You—"

The phone disconnects before Dipper can reply. He tries calling back, but it's no good. His phone now has zero bars.

He turns to his girlfriend. "Pacifica, can you—"

"I just tried," she says, giving her phone a frustrated look. "What did he say?"

"I don't know, but it sounded like something is wrong." Dipper looks at the time again, then tucks his phone away. "I think I should go check…"

Pacifica doesn't appear eager to leave but tilts her head in reluctant acquiescence. "Can we get back before lunch?"

"Yeah, if we hurry."

Dipper isn't sure where all the exits are, but has a general idea of where they came in. They head that way, threading through the throng. Dipper periodically checks his phone, hoping the interruption in service will be short-lived. The little 'x' indicating a lack of signal remains stubbornly in place. Hadn't Ford said something about a signal? Dipper begins to wonder if his great-uncle's call is related to what's happening with the cellphones. Maybe Ford is tracking some manner of interference.

He pauses at an intersection, unsure of which way to turn.

"It's that way," Pacifica says, pointing.

He's about to follow her direction when he feels his phone buzz in his pocket. His momentary relief at the return of cell service is dashed when he sees that his phone still has zero bars. If he's right about the interference, then something must have slipped through—he has a single text from Great-Uncle Ford.

Ford: Incoming

Dipper doesn't fully understand what that means, but he doesn't have to. He grabs Pacifica's arm and looks frantically for anything solid enough to serve as shelter. The festival disappoints, being made up of tents and stands and trailers, and the nearby metal siding of a hot dog vendor will have to suffice. Dipper pulls Pacifica behind the trailer and ducks down with her.

The seconds tick by. Nothing happens.

Her face is very close to his, giving him an excellent view of the dubious expression she's favoring him with. "Okay, this is weird even for you," she says.

Dipper was certain a minute ago; now he's beginning to doubt his interpretation of Ford's text. "Great-Uncle Ford said something was incoming!" He checks his phone, but there are no new messages. "Huh. Maybe he meant back at the Shack. Well, I guess we have time to warn everyone—"

The sound that silences him is like ten simultaneous thunderbolts, an immense booming that crushes all other sounds and sends him reeling. He covers his ears and looks upwards—the sky is still as clear and blue as ever.

That's when he sees something else up there, plunging towards the festival.

Author's Note

I've been getting some comments regarding the length of the story, specifically that it's crazy long and this is either impressive or daunting. I will readily agree that the work is longer than the average fanfiction, but given the prevalence of oneshots and unfinished works, I imagine fanfiction length averages out to somewhere around a thousand words. Part of the issue is the setting of expectations, for which I bear the blame.

For a point of comparison, I'll use the Harry Potter series just due to its popularity. Part one of this story, chapters one to fifty-six, is roughly 120,000 words. This is slightly longer than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Part two, chapters fifty-seven to one hundred and twelve, is approximately 190,000 words, or a bit shorter than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. By the time it's finished, it will likely be the same length or a little longer.

Even taken together, the whole story isn't of incredible length. Wikipedia's list of longest novels begins at a minimum of 500,000 words (Les Miserables, for example, clocks in at 545,925 words). I think the problem here is that I've labelled what are essentially two novels as 'parts.' This was a mistake. These are two books which comprise a single overarching story, not two parts of the same book. Or, to follow in the footsteps of the source material, two seasons.

I'm going to change 'part one' and 'part two' to 'book one' and 'book two' to make it clearer that there's a demarcation between the two current halves of the story. I chose not to separate the books because it's easier for me that way, especially on FFN which doesn't have a series function, but they are still distinct works.