— Paul Spencer Wagoner
The Next are a new species, a highly intelligent form of humankind.
They possess an extra gene complex that expresses itself physically in new structures in the brain, allowing a better connectivity between neurons.
Next can breed with humans but their offsprings will be Next babies.
Next babies are bright enough to be able to invent their own language, with grammatical rules, when they're trying to express themselves. The older ones integrate what the babies invented in their language in return. As a result, the Next language, called quicktalk, evolves at a fast rate after each new integration.
Most of the Next can trace back their ancestry to places where humans and trolls have been living together for a long period of time (sometimes centuries) like Happy Landings. As a result, a selection occurred between those who are able to live with the trolls and the others. The Next are the fruit of this selection in a greater human intelligence.
Next have no visual art and litterature, lacking the ability to be immsersed themselves in the imaginary.
Outbreak of common sense
Most of the early testimonies showed young people who were relatively calm given the various situations they faced.
It is believed that a big crisis like the Yellowstone eruption was enough to trigger a dormant gene or traits that would only express themselves under stress.
In 2045, Lobsang, who has deduced the necessity of the appearance of a better mankind years before, asked Joshua Valienté to find this new species. This is why, in the spring of 2045, Joshua visited the Home to get in touch with Paul Spencer Wagoner, a bright boy he met at Happy Landings in 2031.
After a brief discussion around a coffee in downtown Madison West 5, Paul brought Joshua to a stepwise secret location to meet other Next like Greta, Janet and Indra and told him about his species. Since most Next have been institutionalized and most of them descend from Spencers or Montecutes (Happy Landings names), it was not hard for them to find each others. Their talk was interrupted by the sudden apparition of stepping police officers who got them into custody.
In May 2045, the USS Eugene A. Cernan found the wreck of the USS Neil A. Armstrong I on Earth West 182,674,101. There the crew encountered a group of Next, led by David, who were responsible for the wreck of the ship, and were keeping Captain Sam Allen captive. After discovering what happened to the Armstrong I's crew, they put the Napoleons into custody and resumed their journey to Earth West 250,000,000.
At the end of August 2045, the Armstrong II and the Cernan arrived at Datum Earth, back from their journey. Seeing what the Napeleons were capable of decided the government to put together a 'Special Contingency Task Group' to discuss the potentiel threat posed by the Next. They ultimately authorized the use of a weapon of mass destruction and sent the Armstrong II and the Cernan to Happy Landings, one the incubators for Next. This decided Roberta Golding, one of the Next working for the Cowley administration, to ask for the help of Nelson Azikiwe.
Nelson contacted Joshua Valienté, who in turn contacted Sally Linsay, back from her jaunt to Gap Mars. Together, they helped the Next inmates of the Pearl Harbor facility to escape to Happy Landings through the soft places.
When the Armstrong II and the Cernan reached Happy Landings, the Next ran away. It was later discovered that they claimed a stretch of the Long Earth, that they baptized the Grange, that was uninhabited and now serves as a kind of reservation where the Next can be between themselves and left in peace. Only the Next know where it is exactly located.
Years after facing the threat of being bombed by the US Navy, the Next were still living at the Grange among themselves.
Many philosophical divergences appeared between the Next concerning the humans. Some wanted the Next to not intervene while on the other hand there was the Greening, the idea of restoring humans to their wild state.