Chapter II

Marie Elisa Pines glanced at her sleeping daughter through the rear-view mirror. They were two hours into the 13 hour drive north from Piedmont to Gravity Falls, and after an exhausting barrage of questions about her missing brother, Mabel had finally worn herself out and fallen asleep in the back seat. Marie had done the best she could to answer, but what really caused her anguish in her heart was that she just didn't know. She didn't know why Dipper was in Gravity Falls, or how he had gotten so far north, or why their family home looked like it had been effectively been abandoned, she just didn't know. And it was eating her up with worry. She sighed and looked out her window. A light rain had started to fall, and the pitter-patter of the rain falling on their windshied was rather soothing. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"He's alright, honey." her husband said. "That Wendy girl is is a good kid. Heck, the way the kids describe her, she kinda reminds me a little of you at that age."

Despite it all, she smiled. He could always read her. Hell, she knew he was just as worried as her. "I know, Edd. I know. I'm just..." She ran a hand through her hair. "What the hell is he doing up there, Edd? And how did he get there? Two and a half hours ago he was in his room studying for his math final."

Eddward Pines glanced at her. "I don't know sweetie. But I'm sure there's a logical explanation." The moment Marie had hung up with the Cordoury girl and had informed him where his son was, they had quickly loaded up into his old Cherokee. His very dusty Cherokee, with faded paint and a dead battery. Luckily they had a few spare car batteries in the garage, for just such an occasion. However, the dead battery wasn't it's only problem. His wife had deduced and managed to replace the fuel pump in about twenty minutes, and they were off. He probably could have figured it out himself, she had taught him quiet a bit, but they were in a rush, and she was the mechanical genius in the family. Astrophysics was more his thing.

He turned his eyes back to the road. This was going to be a long drive.

The Mystery Shack

2nd June 2023

"So...Dipper..."

The young man glanced up at his red haired companion across the kitchen table. She had a determined look in her eyes, a look that implied she would not stand for anymore stalling, that she wanted answers, and she wanted them now.

He sighed. "Alright Wendy. Where do you wanna begin?"

Wendy arched her brow. "Well, let's start with the fact that I've somehow been sent through time to the year 2023. That's like, 5 years from my now. What happened? Can I get back?"

Dipper raised his hand. "Ok, first, you haven't been sent through time. There was no time machine or anomaly that hurled you into the future. This is real time. You can't go back to the point you...disappeared because...well you can't. I'm not an expert on time travel, but I do know that you going back will cause a paradox, and we can't have that."

Dipper took a sip of the soda he had sitting on the table. "As for why you were gone, well..."

He turned his head and glanced out the window. He said nothing for a long moment, trying to gather his thoughts.

"You weren't the only one I lost."

Wendy was taken aback by the ragged edge his voice took. He cleared his throat and turned back to her.

"You may have noticed I'm alone here."

Wendy nodded. "Yeah man, I did. You said Soos was in Wyoming, but where's Mabel? Or Stan and Ford?"

Dipper let out a heavy sigh. "Stan passed away about two years ago. Quietly in his sleep. Lost Ford almost six months after that. He threw himself into his work after Stan, and I guess everything caught up with him. He...had a heart attack. They're buried outside, if you didn't see."

Wendy did recall seeing head stones outside, but at the moment she hadn't put any significance on it. But now...tears threatened to spill from her eyes. Her old boss, a man she really looked up to was gone. And she didn't get to say goodbye. She hadn't known his brother as well, but he was always friendly whenever she was at the counter, giving pleasant conversation as he paused moving between the secret basement and the great outdoors.

A tear did manage to escape, and that really was all it took for the dam to burst. She didn't understand. Not any of it.

Here was her friend, almost a year older then her now, and apparently already used to living on his own. Both his Grunkles had passed, and his parents...his sister...

Wendy hadn't asked about Mabel yet. She was scared of the response. She hadn't seen her, but with the way Dipper acted when his mother called...well she had a pretty good idea.

Whatever had taken her had taken Mabel and his family as well.

Dipper raised his head and gazed at the ceiling. "Here, let me start at the beginning..."

5 years earlier

Piedmont California

26 May 2018

Dipper usually enjoyed Algebra. Really he did. But as he stared at the repeating numbers and letters, his frustration with his current teacher became more and more pronounced. He could understand him wanting to show his work. But right now he had them rewriteing the entire equation every time they changed something to it. This went beyond being a simple memory exercise and crossed into pointless, almost sadistic, busywork.

Eventually he stretched at his desk, before standing and heading out his room and down towards the kitchen for something to drink.

"Hiya, bro!" A highpitched, girly yell screamed at him from the living room.

Altering his course, he stuck his head through the doorway an spied his sister sitting cross-legged in front of the coffee table, while his father, opposite her, stared intently at the chess bored positioned between them.

Teaching Mabel chess, in Dippers opinion, was an exercise in futility, but Eddward Pines was determined to ensure his daughter understood the basics. Why, he didn't know, but Dad never did anything without a reason. It might simply be he'd wanted to spend more time with her, although no one could say the Pines patriarch was distant or inattentive of his little girl. She had him wrapped around her finger, and everybody but him knew it. Even Uncle Ed had cracked a joke about it, and, to be fair, he was a bit...dense.

Dippers eyes narrowed at the board. ''Dad?" He asked.

Mr. Pines never looked up, but he responded. "Yes, Dip, what is it?"

"You're losing."

His father said nothing for a long moment, and then sighed in exasperation. "I know."

"I don't understand. How are you losing?"

His father finally looked up at him. "It makes no sense. Her moves are completely random, yet they've effectively blocked every strategy I've employed." His fathers gaze swung back to the board, helplessly. "It doesn't make any sense."

Mabel grinned happily. "Dad promised me ice cream if I won." She proclaimed proudly. "I think we'll go to Farrell's."

"That's gonna be expensive." Dipper laughed. His dad groaned in defeat.

With a grin at his sister, Dipper turned and proceeded into the kitchen. Grabbing the jar of peanut butter, he had just set himself up to make the best PBJ ever when the phone rang.

Dipper glared at the handset mounted to the wall, before letting out a groan and answering it.

"Hello?" he asked, keeping the annoyance out of his voice.

The gruff, no nonsense voice of Dippers uncle, Eddy Palmer, came out of the receiver. "Hey there, squirt. I needa talk to your dad."

Odd, Dipper thought as he shouted out to his dad. Usually Eddy (while he was his uncle, through marriage to his moms sister, he always felt weird putting the title before his name) would joke around a little with whichever twin answered the phone. Despite portraying a serious, focused persona, Eddy was quite funny and loved messing with his young niece and nephew.

When no response came from the living room, Dipper put down the he reciever and trecked across the kitchen and into the living room.

No one was there.

His fathers and sisters game still sat, layed out on the coffee table, but said family members were no longer seated playing. The room was empty, except for a weird white, ashy dust beginning to settle on everything.

Curiously, Dipper ran a finger through it. It was fine, very fine, to fine to just be average dust, and Dipper wondered if perhaps his father had brought some weird work home with him, and Mabel had accidentally destroyed it. Perhaps they went to get a vacuum?

Dipper hurried back towards the phone.

"Sorry, Eddy, I'll have him call you back in a minute, ok?"

The phones dial tone was all he heard.

Weird, he thought as he hung up. He contemplated finishing his sandwich, but his curiosity over the fine powder prompted him to seek out his family.

But they weren't in the hall grabbing the vacuum. A quick search of the downstairs revealed it to be empty, and a tendril of apprehension wormed it's way into Dippers heart. He raced upstairs.

"Mom?" He called as he entered his parents room, wondering if perhaps the others had stepped out.

It was empty. And the same, powdery dust covered the room.

Alarm bells went off in Dippers head. Enough dealing with the supernatural told him something was not right, and that his family was possibly in trouble. A hasty search of the rest of the second floor confirmed it. No one was in the house.

He was alone.

The Mystery Shack

Present Day

"I called nearby relatives first." Dipper stayed tiredly. "Neither of my aunts or uncles picked up. They were...gone too."

Wendy sat in stunned silence as Dipper told his tale. Finding himself all alone as half the world disappeared at the snap of a finger. It was all so unbelievable.

And she had too. She had disappeared to dust along with billions of others. She had died.

"Anyway," Dipper continued, "besides you, Gravity Falls was mostly spared. I think Soos and his family were safe because of the unicorn border, but I can't begin to tell you how people were chosen. The only other person here who...vanished was that guy Tad Strange. So I guess the town got off pretty lucky."

Dipper looked out the window. "Other towns didn't though." He glanced back at her. "You know Sleepy Peak? That town 20 or 30 miles north of here with all those summer camps?"

Wendy nodded. She had visited the small town with her dad when he journeyed up to discuss a logging contract. She remembered a weirdo with buck teeth in a Boy Scout uniform or something trying to flirt with her.

"Well apparently the whole town was wiped out. Only three people left. Two camp counselors and a camper. Her parents were gone, so I guess they just kinda adopted her. I mean, everyone was running around like chickens with no heads trying to figure out what the hell happened, no one cared to make it official. They actually live here now. Guess they didn't wanna hang around a ghost town."

Dipper stood and moved towards the fridge for another Buzz Cola. Wendy didn't even register his movement.

"When things calmed down a little, reports started flowing in from all over." Dipper continue as he opens his soda with a loud hiss. "Apparently the cataclysmic event that wiped out the population was triggered in Africa. Officially, it was a madman with a lotta power had some type of doomsday device. The government never disclosed specifics, but from what I've learned...well, this guy was apparently not from Earth."

And now there were aliens. This story's just one curveball after another, Wendy thought. She jumped slightly, surprised when Dipper reach over and put his hand tentatively on hers. She idly wondered when he sat down.

"Hey, you ok?" He asked, concern written all over his face.

Wendy opened her mouth, and closed it again. She glanced at the floor. "I don't know."