— Monica Jansson
The Linsay house
In 2015, a little before Step Day, Monica was still a simple police officer in the MPD and was investigating the remains of the burned-out house of Willis Linsay (wanted for questionning over suspected arson, incitement to terrorism and animal cruelty) with her partner Clancy.
There, she found, sitting on the mantelpiece, Linsay's Stepper prototype with the instructions to finish it (rough draft of the diagram that was uploaded on internet earlier). She finished the Stepper box and tried it to find herself Stepping to Earth West 1. It took her a moment to realize what happened and that, soon enough, kids around the world would finish building their Steppers as well. She managed to get back to the police station on Datum Earth when calls upon calls about missing people arrived.
She started to go find the missing kids and found some of them in the hospital who told her about one particular kid called Joshua, calmer than the rest, who lead them back home.
It didn't take her long before she found Joshua bringing the last stranded kid back home with him. Afraid of being seen as a Problem, Joshua panicked and stepped without his Stepper box, under the eyes of Monica.
Six months after Step Day, Jansson was tasked to be the lead in every investigations related to the Long Earth by Lieutenant Jack Clichy. This is why her colleagues started to call her 'Spooky' Jansson not long after.
Within a month after this interview, she went to the Home to meet with Joshua, aged fourteen, and asked for his help. She always kept an eye on him, like when men with badges showed at the Home and tried to send him to sleep and take him away, she made the mayor interfere (his son being one of the kids Joshua helped on Step Day) to get rid of them.
In 2030, now a lieutenant, she watched closely the rise of Brian Cowley's Humanity First movement and was at ground zero the day of the Madison bombing took place. She's the one who spotted Rod Green (known to be a Humanity Firster) among the crowd and saved his life by Stepping away when the bomb exploded.
Incident at the Gap
The Valientés' visit
She wanted Joshua to go before the Datum Senate and help draw a protective bill for trolls. When they arrived at Datum Earth, they were assaulted by Philip Mott, a Humanity-Firster. This ended with Joshua being stabbed with a stake and Helen, Joshua's wife, being held up for assault because she knocked out their assailant.
While Helen was still in custody, Joshua, Dan, Bill and Sally went to stay at Monica's, now living in a house in the outskirts of Madison West 5, to wait for their appointment with Senator Starling that Monica helped to set up using her connections.
After the Madison bombing in 2030, she insisted on jumping back and forth between the Low Earths and the Datum to help and contracted a leukaemia because of the radiations and as a result, her mantelpiece was filled with bottles of medecine. Also, the sapphire ring that Joshua found in 2030 on Earth West 1,617,498 was also resting on a hook above the mantelpiece.
The new Thelma and Louise
When Helen was freed, she was put on house arrest at Monica's. Sally, who disappeared somewhere before Joshua's meeting with Senator Starling came back to Monica's but Joshua was away visiting the Home and Helen was somewhere talking to lawyers and cops.
Monica and Sally having the place to themselves, Monica started to tell Sally how she tried several times to recruit Joshua, aged fourteen at that time, seven months after Step Day over a cup of coffee. Then when she asked Sally what were her plans next, when this one replied she was heading to the Gap to help the trolls, Monica expressed that she would have liked to go with her.
Sally, having heard a lot from Joshua about how Monica is the kind of person that make things right, invited her to come despite her illness. Monica, reticent at first since she's not supposed to be too far from a hospital, agreed anyway.
It took them a week to travel across two million Earths using the soft places and they stopped a dozen of steps of the Gap, at the footprint of the GapSpace facility, near the Irish sea coast on a late May day. Sally started to realized how difficult for Monica to travel through the soft places but she never complained. The two partners in crime spent the night by a campfire discussing about the Gap and wait until dawn to resume their journey.
They reached the GapSpace facility and were greeted by an explosion. Monica, who was in the world next door when the Madison bombing occured, was quick to react and pushed Sally to the ground, layed on top of her and covered herself with the hood of her jacket. The explosion turned out to be just an incident with a liquid oxygen storage tank.
When entering the facility, they quickly realized that there was no security at all and that the all setup looked amateurish. A man in his fifties wearing a blue jumpsuit, who introduced himself as Frank Wood, greeted them and asked them what they were doing there. Monica flashed her badge and claimed to be a police officer. Frank deduced that they were there for the trolls and told them to go see Gareth Eames in the administration block. Sally, sensing that Frank had an eye for Monica, tasked her to distract him while she was sniffing around despite the fact that Monica was a lesbian.
The trolls are gone
While Sally was gone, Frank, a real space enthusiast, gave Monica a tour of the facility were trolls could be seen working. He showed her some of the projects they were currently working on, like a space shuttle adapted with twain technology, and told her about his life before Step Day and how he got recruited by Gareth Eames when he was just a bus driver on Cape Canaveral. Their talk got interrupted when a man came to seek Monica with a message from Sally: "the trolls are gone."
When Monica joined Sally in the administration block, she learned that the trolls had reached a tipping point about humans and were withdrawing from all the Earths with human colonies on it. Sally brought her to a place with the words "space jail" where Mary the troll from the video and her cub Ham were held prisoners. Our two heroines used Monica's skills at picking locks to help the trolls break out.
Unexpected encounter at the Rectangles
While Mary and Ham were looking for water, food and shade in this arid world, Sally went hunting. Lost in her thoughts about the reptilian civilization that used to live on this Earth, she sensed too late that she was being hunted. When she spun around, she came face-to-muzzle with a wolf-like creature that could stand on its hind legs, speak English, knew her name, were wearing a kind of utility belt with a ray gun and were expecting their arrival.
Sally, Monica and the trolls were brought to the Earth the beagles, the wolf-like creatures, come from which is only a couple of dozen steps West of the Rectangles. This world, Sally could sense, was full of trolls. Their captors didn't visit them for a week because they were waiting for the ruler of the place to come back so our little group, whose Steppers were confiscated, made themselves comfortable and waited.
A week after the Rectangles, the beagle, who introduced himself as Snowy, came to visit them with a kobold, Finn McCool, already known to Sally, to get them and bring them to his Den, the beagles' equivalent of cities, the Eye of the Hunter since his leader, the Granddaughter named Petra, returned.
A cart drawn by big birds and ridden by Li-Li, who is the equivalent to a doctor, came to pick them up. On the way, Li-li told them they were lucky that Snowy found them since some beagle hunters only bring back heads or ears. When the beagles were distracted by some rabbits, Sally had a chance to inspect the ray gun that Snowy was wearing at his belt and realized that it wasn't functional.
The Eye of the Hunter
Finally, they were brought to the Eye of the Hunter. As they got closer to the city, they started to smell the beagles more and more. Sally wondered if it was their way or adorning themselves, with scents. The city itself was a cluster of wooden buildings not more than a storey high surrounded by a moat. In the streets of the city, they saw beagles walking upright, living their everyday lives, herding cattle, leading group of trolls while puppies are playing on all fours.
The cart came to a stop in front of the Granddaughter's palace, a building bigger than most but not but drab to human eyes since there were no paint, no wallpaper or any decorations humans would expect from that kind of place. Li-li went inside to request an audience and came back to tell them they would be received immediately.
Petra, was waiting for them sitting in a patch of grass in the middle of a large chamber, surrounded by her counselor Brian, a pair of guards armed with stone-tipped spears and ray guns and a real dog, an Alsatian, from Datum Earth.
Monica quickly spotted that Petra was wearing a gold ring set with sapphires around her neck, just like the one Joshua found at the Rectangles ten years ago and were sitting above her mantelpiece right now. Under Finn's instructions, the two women had to show submission to Petra, which consist of lying down on your back on the ground with your arms and legs in the air.
After this quick humiliating gesture, Petra interrogated them and asked the reason about their presence there, Sally told her they were there to bring Mary and Ham to safety with the other trolls. The beagle princess then expressed her hate for humans because of how they transformed their Earth's wolves into submissive and dumb companions.
Why prompted why she should keep them alive, Sally replied, to Monica and Finn's astonishement, that she could get them more ray guns. Monica, who used to be a cop, quickly made the connection between the sapphire ring, the Rectangles and the ray guns. After some consideration, Petra left the chamber with her dog on her heels and left our heroines alive to fight another day.
Monica, Sally and Finn were brought to a suite at one end of the palace, the place was comprised of a communal area with a central hearth and small rooms that could be close with a leather flaps. After each of them settled down in a room, Monica and Sally met up in the communal area to talk about the next steps.
The beagles, it turned out, were not the kind to keep their prisoners in jails since the wolf inside them would relish to hunt the people who'd try to escape, even stepwise. Sally argued that their work there were far from over and they needed to try to establish a better relationship between the humans and the beagles and also try to convince the trolls to come back.
For that, she first needed to get her hands on Joshua's ring and leave Monica alone, to show that they were not running away. Monica agreed to cover for Sally even if she felt anxious about being left alone there.
Their talk got interrupted by Brian, Petra's counselor, who invited them to dine with him. Brian, to whom humans, kobolds and elves are the same, had made prepared food that kobolds selected before since the beagles like more raw food. He admitted of being unusual for a beagle and that he cherished novelty, other points of view. Our trio discussed about the beagle and humans societies, religions and histories over dinner. Monica, feeling sick at the view of Brian sucking blood from rabbits embryos, excused herself and went to rest in her room.
Joshua and Bill
Three weeks after their meeting with Petra, Sally had the time to retrieve Joshua's ring that he brought along with him aboard the Shillellagh while looking for the trolls for Lobsang and come back to the beagles homeworld.
Knowing that Joshua were boung to notice the disappearance of the ring sooner or later, she spun it to her advantage and told the beagles about the arrival of an emissary of great power. Sally got Monica settled at the Rectangles to wait for Joshua and brief him on the situation before bringing them to the beagles's Earth.
It took a while but Joshua finally noticed the ring's disappearance and understood that he had to go to the Rectangles. When he arrived with Bill at the Rectangles, they saw Monica dressed in green-olive coveralls standing on silvery emergency blankets and waving at them.
She quickly briefed them about the beagles, the deal that Sally made with them and about how she also foresaw the possible arrival of Joshua. The three of them stepped to the beagles homeworld and were welcomed by a dozen of beagles. It turned out that Sally made the beagles believe that Joshua was some kind of emissary from the humans' ruler.
After a brief introduction, Snowy ordered two beagles to grab Joshua, who didn't have time to react, and pin him to the ground. Joshua lost consciousness as Li-Li was stapling him in the back.
Sally, who promised Petra new ray guns had been stalling while waiting for Joshua to show up. She thought that when he would show up they would manage to get away with the trolls without having to hand over the weapons. Unfortunately, she didn't plan that Joshua would get stapled.
In the end, Joshua would be allowed to talk to the trolls only when Sally would return with the weapons and would serve as a hostage to make sure Sally and Monica wouldn't run away.
Back to the Rectangles
Monica, Sally and Finn made for the Rectangles while Joshua and Bill would stay on Earth West 1,617,524. Sally told Monica to get aboard the Shillellagh and run away but she refused since she thought that Joshua was there partly because of her since she knew him since he was a boy.
Sally produced Joshua's ring out of nowhere and asked Finn to show them the way. The kobold took the ring in his hand, spun it and the ring, still spinning, rose into the air and flew to the base of the big temple-like building were it buried itself.
After a short wait, a whole section of the valley floor sank out of sight to reveal a ladder cut into a stone wall. Finn warned them that they only had eight minutes before the tomb would seal itself shut again.
Monica, being already sick since the Madison bombing, volunteered to go fetch the weapons in the radiactive building. She clamb down the ladder, took her flashlight out and entered a low corridor, too low for her to stand upright, and went in a random direction to finally end up in a room filled with racks and racks of ray guns.
The temple sealed again, Monica was sitting on the dirt, shivering despite the heat, next to a heap of weapons she could bring back. It was at that moment that Finn told Monica and Sally to head back to the beagles and say goodbye to Joshua.
Joshua's in trouble
To Monica and Sally's surprise, Petra had planned to give Joshua a honorable death when the deal was over. They all rushed to save Joshua and managed to delay Snowy, who was hunting Joshua, with the help of Finn's walkman.
In the end, Petra only wanting a trophy, Snowy and Li-Li took off Joshua's left hand and said they would bring it back to their leader saying that his head was too bitten off to be a good trophy.
By September 2040, the trolls were slowly coming back across the Long Earth. At this occasion, Lobsang and Sister Agnes decided to held a garden party at the transEarth facility that serves as a reservation for trolls. Monica refused to go at first but Agnes came to visit her in person at the convalescent facility she was staying at on Madison West 5.
Now more sick than ever since she's been exposed to the radiations during her stunt to get the ray guns, she told Agnes that she was worn out from her journey. Agnes told her that she was a guest of honour and asked Lobsang to set up a little summer house for Monica on Madison West 11 so she wouldn't have to step anywhere.
The garden party was held on September 8th, Monica came out of the summer house and were soon joined by Agnes followed by Sister Georgina and Sister John who were tasked to take care of her and see to her every need. The small group, in search of Joshua, headed to the barbecue area where Lobsang, wearing an apron, where cooking the food with Nelson Azikiwe.
Joshua, now wearing a prothestic hand and here with his wife and kid, hugged Monica before telling her about how he had flipped the bird before Snowy and Li-Li got into his left hand and that it was now hanging on a wall of Petra's palace.
They were interrupted by the arrival of Frank Wood who was looking for Sally. Due to Monica's illness, Frank didn't recognize her at once but was evidently pleased to see her. Helen, saying that she saw Sally around the group of trolls who were singing by the lake led them in that direction.
Frank, noticing how Monica had trouble to walk, offered her his arm. She thanked him and told him she was gay. The retired pilot, however, invited her to dinner and she accepted.
As they reached the group of trolls, they saw that Mary and Ham were among them. Ham, upon seeing Monica, ran in her direction fo hug her legs but was intercepted by Joshua because of Monica's fragile state. Sally, was hanging around the trolls with Jacques Montecute and Roberta Golding, both from Happy Landings and just back from the now famous East Twenty Million mission with the Chinese.
Sally immediately asked the reason of Frank's presence and he told them he was there to thank them for how they handled the situation at the GapSpace facility and how it helped him and his colleagues to get back their moral bearings.
As Frank was launching to one of his fanboy rant about space, Monica felt suddenly that the noise was too much for her and was lead away by Agnes, Sisters Georgina and John and Frank.
They were watching the unpoiled lakes of this footprint Madison when a commotion started behind them. They turned around to see that an airship has materialized on top of Lobsang and that he has left his ambulant body. Soon cellphones started to ring and people were stepping out of existence one by one.
It was the first day of the Yellowstone eruption.
Mike quickly briefed her on the situation and told her that, even if Madison was thousand of miles away from Yellowstone, there were already refugees there on the Datum.
As she sat next to Sister John while Frank when to get coffee and was looking at images of the eruption were broadcasted on the news, Monica drifted to sleep.
She woke up as Mike, the Sisters, Frank and a man looking like a doctor decided to move her to the Home. She stayed awake long enough to learned that two more eruption vents had opened since last time.
Drifting in and out of sleep, she woke up next in the Home. She was attended by Sister John and saw that her medecine has been moved from her convalescent home to this room. Another doctor showed up and told her about the medication but Monica cared only about the eruption.
After the doctor left, Frank was allowed in and they both sat watching the news. The whole caldera was opened up now and its cloud was visible from Denver to Salt Lake city. She felt asleep again while Frank was holding her hand and just after hearing that Joshua and Sally went to the Datum to lend a hand.
When she woke up again, it was the third day of the eruption. With an oxygen tube in her nose and hooked to an automated medecine dispenser, she was now too weak to move and could only muster the strength to move her head.
The caldera's cloud was now spreading to Canada and Mexico and people were stepping by millions, dwarfing the massive exodus in the early years after Step Day. She fell asleep again mumbling weakly about the evacuation procedures she thought of when the Madison bombing incident occured.
On the seventh day, the eruption stopped and the fifty miles wide caldera, emptied of magma, collapsed. As some Sisters stepped to witness the aftermath on Datum Earth, Frank tried to wake up Monica but her hand was cold.