It took Charley a long time to recover from finding out the truth about her brother. Everyone sat quietly around the table, waiting for Charley to say something. All Charley had been able to do was open the locket. Inside she found a picture of her parents on one side and a picture of Jayce on the other. It was too much, she had started to cry, and couldnt stop.
When she finally reached the point of not being able to cry anymore, she lifted her head to look at her bother. She was still having a hard time accepting what she had been told. Her older brother was a Martian Mouse, after a minute she started to laugh. She was thinking about how the guys were going to take this. When she was finally able to stop laughing tears were rolling down her face. "Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo, are going to freak when they find out my older brother is a mouse."
"It might not be such a good idea to tell them, at least not right off." Charley looked at her mother. "Why?"
"Theres a little misunderstanding between your brother and your friends." Charleys mother looked so serious, it made Charley stop. "What kind of misunderstanding?"
"Well get into that later. Right now you need to spend some time getting to know you brother, and your new sister." Charleys eyes popped. All Charley could think of was that the family was getting bigger by the minute. "Sister?".
"Well, Harley is your sister now, half sister I guess, but that doesnt matter, shes family and you need to spend sometime getting to know her, and you brother." Her mother had gotten up from the table. "Its late, and I was up early. You kids stay and talk, Im going up to bed. Charlene, why dont you spend the night here, theres no reason for you to make the drive back to town tonight."
Charley was overwhelmed by everything that was happening, and wasnt in a mood to argue. "OK mom." Her mother left the room and Charley could hear her footsteps going up the stairs. She turned to Centerline. "So explain this misunderstanding." Centerline looked at Harley, then shook his head. "All right."
The explaination took time, and Charley had lots of questions. By the time she understood what had happened it was pastmidnight.
"So if Ive got this right, only Stoker knows the truth." It had taken a long time to get to this point but Centerline was glad to have it out of the way. "Thats right. Not even Rimfire or my wife know what really happened."
"Poor Rimfire." Charley had come to grips with having an older brother who was a mouse, and even a sister. Finding out that Rimfire was her nephew took some getting used to. Modo was going to be surprised to find out the truth.
"From what mom has told me it sounds like Rimfires turned out OK. It was great to get to see a recent picture of him, he has sure grown." Centerline was very proud of his son.
"So how do we tell the guys about this?" Charley wanted to get things straightened out. She wanted to have her brother around so she could get to know him better.
"I dont know Charley, I doubt that they are going to be willing to listen to anything I have to say. Im not even sure they would listen to Harley." Centerline wasnt sure they would listen to anyone.
Modo had explained what he had learned from his sister, Centerlines wife, Rimfires mother. She had told Modo more than Stoker had told Rimfire, and she had told Modo the truth about what Vinnie had seen, a secret Modo had kept for many years. Rimfire wasnt upset about it, he would have been happier knowing only what Stoker had told him, but the complete truth did fill in some of the missing pieces. There was however still one piece missing, something Rimfire realized that Modo knew but wasnt saying. Everyone was being very quiet, sorting out their thoughts, and their feelings now that they knew how Centerline and his biker had come to be. Rimfire took the opportunity to get Modo alone.
"Uncle Modo, who was Centerline when he was Human? I know you know the truth." Modo was very quiet. "I shouldnt tell you Rimfire. Its only going to cause problems."
"Modo, he is my father, and it might help find him. I wont say a word to anyone else, but please." Modo thought about it for a few minutes, then he led Rimfire out the back door and closed it behind them to make sure that no one else was within listening distance.
"His name is Jayce Davidson." The blank look on Rimfires face made Modo realize that Rimfire didnt know Charleys last name. "Hes Charleys brother."
It didnt sink in for several minutes, "Charley? As in Charley who owns the Last Chance?"
"Yea." Modo wasnt sure hed done the right thing by telling Rimfire, but it was too late to worry about it now.
Rimfire was in shock. Charley was his Aunt, his fathers sister. Then a thought struck him, and he began to laugh. At first Modo thought he was hysterical, then realized he was laughing at something. "Whats so funny?"
"Wait till Vinnie finds out that Charley and Harley are sisters!" Rimfire couldnt stand up anymore and was lying on the ground in a heap laughing. The door opened and Stoker walked out. He looked at Rimfire on the ground laughing and looked up at Modo. "What so funny?"
"Nothing, nothing, I was just telling Rimfire about the last time we scaled Limburgers behind." Modo hoped Stoker would by it.
"Its going to be daylight in a few hours, well start looking for them then." Stoker was still watching Rimfire on the ground. "Must have been some story. Youll have to tell it to me sometime." Stoker turned and went back inside.
By the time Rimfire had recovered, he was was sitting with his back against a stack of old tires. "Uncle Modo, If you were back on Mars right now where would the first place youd go be?"
"Home, I guess." Modo didnt know what to make of Rimfires question.
"Ill bet you thats what Centerline would do too. Do you know where Charleys family lives?"
"Her mom lives a couple hours ride from here. But Rimfire, Centerline isnt Human any more what makes you think hed try to go home, if he can even ride?"
"If hes hurt all the more reason. Its the one place he knows. Its worth a try." Rimfire was convinced that it was worth a try.
"So what do we tell the others?"
"Nothing. Lets check this out on our own. Ive met Charleys mom." He stopped to think about it. "I mean my Grandmother." Rimfire was smiling. "And I bet she would take in a couple of lost mice if they showed up on her doorstep."
Modo wasnt sure about this, but Rimfire was right about Mrs. Davidson. If Centerline and Harley did show up at her house she would take them in. "All right. Ill tell the guys were going to take a ride together just for old time sake."
"Thanks Uncle." This was something that Rimfire felt he had to do, it was a family matter. Even if Centerline and Harley werent there, they might show up eventually.
Modo and Rimfire took off on Modos bike. No one had questioned their going for a ride together, Modo didnt get to spend much time with Rimfire. The night was fading into dawn when then arrived at Charleys mothers house. Modo pulled into the driveway and parked his bike.
"Looks like Charley is here. Thats her wrecker parked in front. Looks like we were wrong." Rimfire had gotten off Modos bike and taken his helmet off.
"Or were right. We wont know until we ask."
Rimfire had all ready started for the front steps. Modo followed his nephew
to the front door.
"Nephew, it late theyre most likely all asleep at this hour." Modo had reservations about waking up Charley and her Mother.
"The doors open and the lights are on, and I hear voices. Sounds like theyre awake to me." Rimfire started to open the screen door, Modo stopped him.
"We cant just walk into someone elses house."
"Were family Uncle Modo, and anyway if that is my father in there do you think hes going to hang around if he finds out youre at the front door?" Rimfire knew Centerline wouldnt want to fight with Modo, and would make a run for it.
"Your right, but if its not your dad, were going to have some explaining to do."
"Relax uncle." Rimfire was confident that Charley and her Mother would understand.
Rimfire opened the screen door and entered the front hall, Modo was close behind him. They followed the sound of voices to the back of the house. Rimfire stepped into the doorway of the kitchen to find Charley, Harley, and his father seated around a table.
Centerline looked up when he heard Rimfires gasp. He stood up so suddenly that the chair he was sitting on fell over backward. "Rimfire?"
Charley and Harley turned toward the kitchen door. Harley was up and across the room first. She had her arms around Rimfire and was hugging him so hard that he couldnt speak. Modo stepped into the doorway behind them. "Harley?."
Harley looked up and let go of Rimfire to hug Modo. "Modo, am I ever glad to see you."
Centerline stood his ground, he was not going to be run out of his families home. "Modo, Im not going to fight you. So just stay where you are."
"Its all right Bro, my sister told me the truth about what happened a long time ago. I know you arent a traitor."
Rimfire had been slowly crossing the room. He stood looking at his father. "I " Centerline grabbed him and held onto him. Rimfire had had about all the hugging he could stand for one day, but this was different. "Ive missed you son."
"So how about introducing me." Charley was standing with her arms crossed, looking at Centerline.
"Rimfire, this is, I mean Charley is.." Rimfire cut his fathers stammer short.
"I know, my Aunt, and her mother is my Grandmother, Ive already been through this a couple of times today, just please, no more hugging. Ive had enough for one day." Rimfire was sure some of his ribs were cracked.
"Thats all youve got to say? You find out Im your Aunt and my mother is your Grandmother and thats all youve got to say about it? Sheeez." Centerline laughed, poor Charley, all shes been though and now its old news.
"Modo, if you know the truth, then what about Vinnie, and Throttle?" Centerline was concerned about running into his Bros, if they didnt know the truth.
"They know most of it. Stoker and Carbine filled them in on some of it, I filled in the rest. They dont know who you are. Just how you came to be, and that you arent a traitor." Modo was still standing in the doorway.
"Stoker and Carbine are here too?" It seemed to Centerline that Earth was getting crowded. "So where are they?"
"Back at the Last Chance. Rimfire and I are here alone." Modo had move to lean against the door frame.
"So how did you even know we were on Earth?" Centerline was concerned, the blast should have destroyed the Transporter and any trace of where they had ended up.
Rimfire was smiling as he explained. "Stoker and I were checking out what the Sand Raiders were doing at the lab where you and Harley used the Transporter to escape. When they dug up the remains of the Transporter, Stoker and I took the control panel from them. Kickstart worked out where it had sent you."
"And so you just decided to come after us?" Centerline was surprised.
"That was Carbines call." Rimfire suddenly remembered the letter his mother had given him. "Oh, mom gave me this for you." Rimfire handed Centerline the letter and photos his mother had given him on Mars. Centerline opened the letter. After reading it and looking at the photos Centerline walked out to the back porch still holding the letter and photos. He didnt notice his bike sitting at the top of the basement stairs as he passed it. The bike rolled quietly into the doorway blocking anyone from following. Rimfire had started after his father, but stopped as the bike moved into the kitchen. "Uncle Modo, now what?"
The bike was just sitting in the doorway, half way into the kitchen. It weapons were still retracted. Harley answered Rimfires question. "I wouldnt push it Rimfire, Centerlines bike has been very defensive of him lately. If we keep our distance it will be OK." Harley hoped she was right.
Rimfire slowly approached the bike, he wasnt ignoring Harleys advice, he just wasnt going to let things go any farther. "Bike, remember me? Its Rimfire, Centerline use to take me for rides on you when I was a kid, remember?" The bike was letting Rimfire approach. Modo moved to back up his nephew. The bike pulled out its weapons and trained them on Modo. "Uncle, let me handle this. Just back up real slow." Rimfire was only a few feet from the bike, and was still moving toward it. Modo backed up. "Be careful Rimfire."
Rimfire reached out his hand and touched the bike, it backed away from the touch as first, but then let Rimfire closer. "Good bike. Calm down. No one is going to hurt Centerline." The bike slowly retracted its weapons "Lets go outside." As the bike backed out the door onto the porch Rimfire followed.
Centerline looked up when he heard the screen door open. When the bike had backed onto the porch, Centerline saw Rimfire standing in the door. "Bike, come here." Centerline got up and walked down the stairs to the back yard, his bike followed. Centerline sat down in the grass. His bike circled around him and settled in behind him facing the house. Centerline leaned back against the bike, and looked at the beginnings of the Sun rise. Rimfire walked out to where his father was sitting and sat down facing him, his back to the Sun rise. "My bike must have heard your voices and come upstairs to investigate. Its been more independent than usual lately." Centerline was watching the Sun rise, it was the first one he had seen since they had gotten to Earth.
"I guess it must have been a shock finding out about Chrome." Rimfire was plucking blades of grass.
"I have a daughter Ive never touched, never kissed. Ive lost so much of my life, I promised myself it wouldnt happen again. When you were young I was there all the time. Now Ive missed three years of my daughters life, something more I have to thank Mace for."
"Youll get the chance to make up for it when we go back to Mars."
"True, but Mace, and the Plutarkians, have cost me too much. A debt I plan to repay." And big time crossed Centerlines mind.