Knight Rider and all associated characters (except mine) are owned by National Broadcasting Company and Universal Studios. All persons described herein are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. Copyright infringement is not intended.
by Sailor Chronos
Chapter 1: First Steps
"Such an ungrateful child!"
Her mother's exclamation echoed off the walls of the small kitchen, and was so sudden that Mikayla staggered back a step, feeling betrayed. "Who's really being ungrateful, Mother?" she retorted. "You're the one who tried to hide my acceptance letter to Caltech!"
"That's a private college. Did you think that money grows on trees? It's past time that you found an appropriate job. You've been tinkering long enough." The woman stood back with her arms crossed over her chest, now ignoring the kettle that had been put on to boil a few moments earlier.
"It's not tinkering, Mother, it's progress. Besides, I have the scholarship grant and the rest of the tuition's already been taken care of. Why won't you understand?" This confrontation had been a long time coming, she realized in that instant. Her mother had never liked her career choice.
"Taken care of?" Her proud disposition was beginning to crack. "What nonsense are you spouting?"
"My inheritance and racing prizes were put in a trust–"
"Damn that grandfather of yours!" her mother exploded. "It's his revenge for your brother being–"
Mikayla furiously barged into her mother's personal space. She refused to compromise when her beloved brother was involved. "Leave. Devante. Out. Of. This."
"I would if you'd have enlisted in his place to carry on the family tradition!" The arrogance had returned.
"Enlisted?" she scoffed. "Hasn't this family suffered enough on the military's behalf? It's time to go in a different direction."
"Your father wouldn't have–"
"DAD'S DEAD!" Silence settled on the room for a few seconds as Maria Ferrell's expression briefly changed from anger to shock at such an outburst from her normally even-tempered daughter. "He was killed in a frivolous war that benefited nobody other than lying, money-grubbing politicians," Mikayla continued bitterly. "And then you had the nerve to encourage Devante to emulate him! He came back so broken that you had to have him institutionalized."
Her mother's dark eyes flashed with indignation. "How dare you!"
"That's the truth! It's not my problem if you don't want to hear it. I've always respected our family's military legacy, but it's not for me. I've wanted to be an engineer since I was a kid." She whirled and headed for the door to her room.
"You come back this instant, young lady!" her mother growled. "You will reconsider or I'll disown you."
Such a threat might have given pause to many other young people, but not her. Not after everything that had happened. With her hand on her doorknob, she said flatly, "Then I guess you'll have to disown me."
Maria turned her back and switched the kettle off.
It was a beautiful spring day when the newly-minted Mikayla Ferrell, Doctor of Engineering, looked up at the staid façade of the Knight Industries, Inc. Los Angeles office building. The warm breeze ruffled her shoulder-length black hair. This moment was part of a lifetime's dream.
At the age of five she'd discovered a box of her grandfather William's collection of VHS tapes and watched footage of the first Alternative 2000 cross-country race. Begun in 1983, it was an annual showcase for vehicles that ran on non-petroleum-based fuel sources, and the sponsors would donate to alternative fuels research.
Her interest in the race and the cars involved in it had her asking incessant questions to her adored granddad, who at the time was a partner in an auto mechanics business. He had visited her family's home frequently, sometimes passing by directly after work wearing overalls and smelling of grease. It was he who'd encouraged the young girl to pursue her passion.
At first Maria had allowed it, thinking of it as no more than a mere pastime. But everything changed when her husband Allan was killed during a military deployment when Mikayla and her older brother were teenagers. Her dislike deepened when William had introduced Mikayla to someone he knew, who raced cars as a sideline. As soon as the girl had gotten her driver's license, she quickly rose from mechanic to test driver to racer. Maria's objections were overruled by William who rightfully pointed out that a car racer assumed less risk of injury than an active duty soldier.
Plus, Mikayla had become extremely good at it, and William wisely had invested the prize money she'd won into a trust fund, with a requirement that she use it for her college education. His foresight had been a huge boost.
Unfortunately, now the family was irrevocably split due to her mother's stubbornness. Not long after the horrible argument over the acceptance letter, Mikayla had moved out of her mother's home and into residence at Caltech, effectively ending their relationship.
Mikayla shook her head to clear it. Now wasn't the time to get maudlin. She had to ace this interview in order to take the next step in her journey. There were many companies that specialized in electronics and automation, but Knight Industries was one of the most prestigious in the country, and she'd set her sights on it some time ago.
She walked up to the main door and pulled it open. Now she would see if the past four years of graduate studies had been worth it.