— Rod Valienté on the Greens's hidden secret
A young pioneer's life
In 2040, Dan was living the perfect pioneer kid life in Hell-Knows-Where on Earth West 1,397,426. Born in one of the numerous remote worlds of the Long Earth, he has never seen the Datum and dreams of becoming a twain driver.
Around March 2040, Sally Linsay, an old friend of Dan's father came to the family house to talk with Joshua about the various incidents between trolls and humans spreading across the Long Earth while Dan was at the town's hall, helping to set up the school's play, titled "The Revenge of Moby Dick".
After the school play, Sally told Dan's parents that she needed Joshua to go in front of Congress to try to help create a protective bill for trolls. Joshua and Helen, after a night of consideration decided to bring all the family to Valhalla and maybe give Dan a chance to see the Datum at least once in his life.
It took the Valientés and Bill Chambers, another of Joshua's old friend, only few hours to cross around three thousand Earths and reach Valhalla on Earth West 1,400,013. There, they were greeted by Thomas Kyangu and met up with Sally Linsay, who disappeared the morning after the school play.
Valhalla being a transport nexus where you can catch a ride to the Datum often had huge twains flying above the city, much to Dan's excitement.
Thomas drove them around in his buggy and brought them to the Healed Drum, the best hotel in Valhalla according to him, where he booked them rooms for three weeks. Sally, thinking there were just supposed to catch a twain ride snapped at Joshua who explained that they were here to look for a school for Dan and, of course, the younger member of the Valienté family didnt know about it.
Sally choose to step away anyway and vasnished into thin air with her stuff.
The Free School
The next morning, Thomas came to pick up the Valienté to drive them to the Free School, located in another district of Valhalla. There they were welcomed in the office of Jacques Montecute, the headmaster of the school, and Roberta Golding, a pupil.
They talked about the concept behind Valhalla, a city being sustained by combers like Thomas, and Happy Landings, a place both Jacques and Roberta originated from and that Joshua first visited in 2030.
After that, Jacques gave Dan a tour of the school while Joshua and Helen went to get a coffee at the cafeteria.
Aboard the Gold Dust
They stayed three more weeks at Valhalla to get Dan used to go to school there and finally boarded the Gold Dust, a luxury appointed twain linking Valhalla to Datum Earth, with Sally and Bill. Being Dan's first long-haul, his parents were worried about how he would react to the trip since he had a phobic uncle and even if his father was a natural stepper but Dan didn't show any sign of nausea. Helen insisted that Dan was accompanied at all time by at least one of his parents or Bosun Higgs, a junior crewmember appointed by the Captain. The ship's crew gave Dan a tour of the ship and the Valientés, thanks to Joshua's fame, even dined at the Captain's table.
The crash of the Pennsylvania
As the ship crossed the Mine Belt to pick up some ores, they encountered the Pennsylvania, a twain that got wrecked because of a dust storm some eighty thousand steps West of the Datum. Quickly, the crew of the Gold Dust and the other twains of the fleet organized themselves to form a rescue party, including Bosun Higgs. After some efforts, they asked for volunteers from the passengers, to Helen's sorrow.
Without any surprise, Joshua and Sally volunteered and around three hours later, Joshua found himself trapped inside the Pennsylvania's envelope. He got rescued by Bosun Higgs and Sally and got extracted of the wreck with a cable wrapped around his ankle. Helen and Dan saw the whole thing from the wheelhouse of the ship. The incident made the news and ended on the outernet. Sally stepped away, grinning, as everyone's attention was on Joshua.
Back to the Datum
Sally got back to the Gold Dust before it reached the Datum. As the passengers disembarked, they were led to an immigration hall where their luggage was searched and they had to go through a full whole-body scanner. Dan, never having experience anything similar before, was wide-eyed.
As everyone finally passed all the security checkpoints, they stood on the outer hall waiting for a cab when a man approached them. When he got close enough, he reached in his bag and took out a metallic blade. Sally grasped Dan and stepped away with him as Joshua, who put himself between the man and his family, was stabbed above the right breast. He passed away as Helen knocked out their aggressor.
After the incident at the immigration hall, Helen was in custody for assault. In the meantime, Joshua, Dan, Sally and Bill at Monica Jansson's place on Madison West 5 before Joshua and Bill's meeting with Senator Starling.
The trolls are gone
In May 2040, Sally and Monica managed to help escape a couple of trolls from the GapSpace facility where they were held prisoners and the news was all over the outernet. In the same time, as the incidents between humans and trolls multiplied across the Long Earth, the trolls started to leave en masse all the Earths with a significant human presence.
Three weeks after Sally's stunt, Lobsang summoned Joshua to meet him at a transEarth facility on the outskirts of Madison West 10 even if the two of them haven't talked to each other for ten years as Joshua was mad at Lobsang for not preventing the Madison bombing.
The garden party
In September 2040, after Joshua, now missing his left hand and wearing an antique prosthetic hand instead, came back from his quest, the trolls shyly started to show up in numbers again. For the occasion, Lobsang and Agnes decided to throw a garden party on their troll reservation in Madison West 11 that the Valientés attended on September 8th.
Dan, hanging out by the barbecue where Lobsang and Nelson Azikiwe were cooking, was wearing a twain driver uniform and playing with the other kids.
Then suddenly, an airship materialized on top of Lobsang and he left his ambulant body, leaving it lifeless. Soon cellphones started to ring and people were stepping out of existence one by one.
After the Yellowstone eruption, he went back to live to Hell-Knows-Where with her mother while Joshua, feeling like he had to land a hand to help evacuate, went to the Datum. All the time his father spent far from his family was the final straw for Helen, to the point where they separated just before the events of The Long Mars.
In 2045, during the events of The Long Mars, now aged thirteen and already taller than Joshua, he still lived in Hell-Knows-Where and saw his father from time to time.
Rod the comber
Between 2045 and 2052, Dan decided to use his middle name and to be called Rod. He managed to become a twain driver for a while but the evacuation of the Datum as its climate became worst followed by the decaying of the Long Mississippi didn't provide much opportunities anymore.
After his career as a twain driver failed, Rod became a comber.
Joshua's fiftieth birthday
His father met him on the porch and thanked him for coming and also for helping him on his jaunt : cross a hundred thousand worlds to the Datum in a single day.
Rod told him that he still haven't seen the ride he got for the two of them but wouldn't say more except that it wasn't a twain.
Then his mother and his grandfather came out to greet him and ushered them inside the house. In the house's main room, a table was filled with food.
Rod started to say that his mother shouldn't have done that but got scolded by Jack for not even taking the time to go see Aunt Katie and her girls, who were looking up to Rod the twain driver.
Rod replied that he wasn't a twain driver anymore and that he was here only for his father. Helen replied that even if he wasn't spending the night or didn't take the time to see his family she could still provide him with food for their journey.
She got them to sit down and eat and they started to discuss the news of Helen's relationship with Ben Doak. After a heated debated about love and how it was different to find it on the Datum, Rod told his mother that he would be there for the wedding and added that being related to the famous Joshua Valienté helped to get messages easily.
When they were full of cookies and sugar, father and son left the house behind and headed for the river, where Rod's grandmother's grave was.
In a clearing next to the river, Rod had landed a small airplane. After taking care of their luggage and having strapped themselves to their seats, Rod used built-in tablets to take the plane into the air.
Rod didn't make it step away as he was swallowing anti-nausea pills. When his self-medication was done, he stepped away. During the trip from Earth West 101,754 to Earth West 3,000, father and son tried to connect but their view of the Long Earth were so different that almost every topic ended up in an argument.