The silver beetles
In April 2052, Nikos, and his dog Rio, went to the old Poulson place to find baby shoes for Angie Clayton. The house, built by the founders of New Springfield, long gone now, was used as a swapping house. As Nikos was rummaging in a pile of junk in search of the baby shoes, he heard Rio yelp and the sound of wood crashing.
He went out of the house and went behing it to see was his dog was up to but fell into a cellar hole. Nikos entered the half-dug cellar to look for his dog but ended up facing a large group of silver beetles. Nikos, panicked, managed to injure a silver beetle with his flashlight and saw another silver beetle grab his wounded companion and step away, despite being in a cellar.
With beetles surrounding him on every side and closing in on him, Nikos try to step using his Stepper several times until the switch broke in his hand. With no other way to escape, he finally managed to step and ended up in the Planetarium.
As Nikos as taking in the scenery, a beetle came to him and made him lose consciousness to bring him back to Earth West 1,217,756. Nikos, scared, grabbed Rio and ran home. He came back three days later with his friends and showed them his discoveries.
In 2054, two years after the initial discovery of what was now named the Gallery and the Planetarium, the Abrahamses, an ederly couple with a three years old child, settled down in New Springfield. A few days after their arrival, Nikos agreed to babysit little Ben Abrahams as the newcomers went to a barn dance where they met Nikos's parents and Nikos's mother invited the Abrahamses for a Easter egg hunt the day after tomorrow.
The day of the hunt, on this late summer, Nikos woke up at dawn with his parents and met up with the Abrahamses outside the twain gondola they used as a temporary home. Together they stepped East to Earth West 1,217,755 where they hunted furballs and stole a big bird's egg from its nest.
Taking the grown-ups to the Gallery
As the years went on on Earth West 1,217,756, Nikos and his friends grew up and started to lose interest with the old Poulson house. His little sister Lydia and Ben Abrahams, on the contrary, spent all their time hanging out there as Nikos used to do a few years ago. Unfortunately for the younger residents of New Springfield, Agnes Abrahams, Ben's mother, noticed the silver bracelet that Ben was wearing around his right arm and learned that he got it from the beetles.
Eager to understand what it was all about, she requested Nikos to take her and her husband to the silver beetles the next morning. Nikos reluctantly complied and showed them around the place, showing them the Gallery, saying he named it after a picture of a museum gallery he has seen in one of his mother's picture books as a child. While exploring this underground cave, the Abrahamses guessed that it used to be an iron seam. When they asked Nikos about the beetles, he told them to turn around and they came face to face with one of them. Mrs Abrahams was frigthened by the sight of it but her husband reassured her.
George admitted that the beetle was nothing like he has ever heard of before and assumed it didn't come from Earth at all. The Abrahamses then asked Nikos what he was planning to do with the rocks he has brought with him in his pack. The young man replied that he swapped rocks in exchange for silver artifacts and proceeded with a demonstration.
Nikos held out a rock in his hand and the beetle seized it with one of his silver limbs, giving in return a silver pendant-like artefact. After the exchange, George asked Nikos where they could see more of these creatures and questionned him about the Planetarium. Nikos told them that they had to step there but the adults recoiled, saying it was impossible to step from a cellar unless the space was clear on the adjacent worlds. Nikos replied that it was a funny kind of step and that he had to show them how to do it but the Abrahamses also didn't bring their Steppers.
In the end, Nikos, holding hands with his two companions, stepped to the Planetarium. Nikos grinning, turned to them and ask them what they thought about it. Agnes, looking at her hands under this orange sky, started to shiver and was reassured by her husband.
After a some guesswork about where they actually were, Agnes asked Nikos to bring them home.
The USS Brian Cowley
Months later, the militaries showed up and a community meeting was held by the Irwin's principal home. Everyone was here, even Rio, now elderly and sleeping next to Nikos. Captain Boss, of the USS Brian Cowley, and Commander Jha, the ship's chief science officer, explained that there were there to try to understand what was happening to this world and if the shortening of the day, now only twenty hours, was related to the beetles' activity.
Boss tried to reassured the crowd by saying that the ship was big enough to evacuate everyone and their cattle but this idea was rejected since the locals refused to give up their homes. Oliver, Niko's father, voiced his disagreement and said that they were Americans, pioneers and not quitters. The militaries tried to calm things down and confessed that they didn't know what they were dealing with so evacuation was the safest course of action. At this moment, George Abrahams stepped up, much to everyone's bafflement, told them that the silver beetles were building a Dyson motor and asked to talk to the scientific staff.
After having briefed them about what he knew from his own investigation, George asked the kids to bring the militaries to the Planetarium where they set up a camp to study the silver beetles.
In January 2059, the day was now reduced to twelve hours, Nathan decided to take a selected group of passengers on a global expedition to show the extent of the damages caused by the silver beetles and what they had learned so far. Among the passengers were the famous Joshua Valienté, Sally Linsay, George Abrahams and his wife Agnes who proved to be androids, a long-lost copy of George back from the remote Long Earths, Nikos' parents as representatives of the locals and two Next, Stella Welch and Marvin Lovelace, summoned by George.
During this trip, the Irwins started to see the damages brought to their world for the first time and finally understood that the beetles couldn't be stopped even with nukes.
Stella Welch, one of the Next, stepped up and announced that this world was doomed but they had to prevent the beetles to spread to the other Earths by sealing this world off from the inside. For this, they would have to ask for the help of a young boy named Stan Berg, supposedly the strongest Next there was, but it meant that Stan would be sacrificing his life.
The USS Brian Cowley stepped away with its passengers as Stan Berg, Sally Linsay and George Abrahams stayed behind to save the Long Earth from the silver beetles and witnessed the Earth's destruction.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Long Utopia - Chapter 3
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Long Utopia - Chapter 4
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 9
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 10
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 11
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 21
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 22
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 38
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 45
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 47
- ↑ The Long Utopia - Chapter 51