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.
Chapter 10: Decisions
"Impossible," Dr. Yamata muttered to himself as he restlessly paced back and forth in his cubicle. "Unprecedented." The cup of coffee in his hand had long since cooled but he still nursed it out of habit. What he'd seen at the track yesterday had validated one of the team's theories about how the AI bonded with the drivers, but the circumstances had been anything but ideal. There would be hell to pay now, since KITT had apparently chosen to bond with Mikayla instead of the operative that was intended for him. Nobody had thought to warn her either, although he suspected that she already knew.
Mikayla had needed minor surgery to remove the bullet from her arm, and was expected to be in the hospital for least four days. She was facing months of healing and physiotherapy after that. It was uncertain if she would regain full flexibility but she had youth and time on her side. KITT had argued to be allowed to remain in communication with her during her convalescence, which Ms. Knight had voluntarily approved.
Dale Cross was arraigned on charges of misuse of company funds, assault, and accessory to attempted murder. Tomlinson's investigation had found that it was Cross who'd hired Miller and Harrison. Miller bore a grudge against Mikayla and had been easy to manipulate into trying to get her out of the picture once her usefulness was at an end. The chase across town was a botched attempt to scare her into quitting, and when that was unsuccessful, they'd attacked the demonstration in the hopes of damaging the car and destroying her credibility. They hadn't bargained on KITT of course.
Senator Bellis had graciously extended his apologies even though he'd been unaware of the conspiracy. Harrison had masqueraded as his chauffeur in order to bypass security and enable Miller to gain access to the Knight Industries property. To atone for such a serious lapse, the senator offered his full support for further operations concerning KITT.
The company was in an uproar. With the loss of the Vice President, a prime engineering team in shambles, and a high-priced investment sitting idle, the Board of Directors was to convene the next day to discuss the division's future. It didn't look good.
Takumi's phone buzzed, and he found a text from KITT requesting his presence in the garage. He ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh, for a moment regretting the fact that the AI had been given the ability to tap into the cellphone network. Strident voices were audible before he even reached the door, and he walked into the middle of a verbal altercation between Tomlinson and the AI. "Dr. Yamata, would you kindly tell this ham-handed Neanderthal that I'm not to be used for joyriding?"
"All I asked was that we go to the track to practice," Tomlinson protested. "Didn't Mikayla herself say that I need to learn proper control?"
"It would be difficult to do so without her guidance," was KITT's rejoinder.
Takumi hollered, "Gentlemen, please!" and they subsided. "You're both right, but the fact remains that until Mikayla is able to return to work, we have to wait. I don't like it any more than you do, especially with the Board planning to decide all our fates."
"Do you know what Ms. Knight might say?" asked KITT. "She holds the key vote."
"Even the CEO can be overruled," Takumi said glumly. "We'll find out one way or the other tomorrow. In the meantime, do you two think you could at least try to get along?"
Tomlinson huffed out a breath and rested his gaze on KITT's scanner. "For Mikayla's sake, I will. I apologize, KITT. She'd want us to have an understanding."
The scanner swiped emphatically. "Yes, she would."
By her third day in the hospital, Mikayla was fidgety and wanted to leave. Her arm was beginning to heal cleanly and she'd been given strict care instructions. The highlights of her days were messages from both Takumi and KITT, who kept her apprised of developments at the office. Everyone was holding their collective breaths while awaiting the Board's findings. KITT missed her, but he was doing his best to reach a compromise with Tomlinson.
She was utterly surprised when, late in the afternoon, she was visited by a beaming Takumi and, of all people, Sarah Graiman. "Taki! Sarah!" she exclaimed as she clumsily hugged both of them. "I'm so happy to see you! Please say you've come to spring me."
"We have, and more," Sarah said, holding out an oversized shirt that could fit over her bandaged arm. "Once you're ready, have we a story for you."
It took a few uncomfortable minutes for her to struggle into her clothes and collect her personal effects, but she was relieved to sign the discharge papers and allow herself to be escorted slowly to the exit.
"Three of the Board members were ready to axe the entire program," Taki began with a wicked grin, "but the rest were onside. Especially after Ms. Knight called in her ace card."
"Which was me," Sarah confessed. "She thought that I should be a part of it, since I'd provided specialized information and access to the Foundation's records for the project."
"I thought FLAG was separate from Knight Industries," Mikayla said, confused.
Sarah nodded. "It is, but technically we're still KI employees even though none of us are on record as being such, and we're partially funded by KI money. Given all the work that the company has done, Jennifer and I made a proposal that benefits everyone." She opened the briefcase that she carried and extracted a file folder with the FLAG logo on it. "You and the Two Thousand are now part of the FLAG team."
"What?!" Her jubilant exclamation attracted the attention of several people in the hallway. Embarrassed, she fought to keep herself under control until they'd left the building and reached the parking lot. "You're creating another division?"
"Got it in one," Sarah confirmed with a smile, "and you'll be leading it."
Mikayla shook her head in disbelief. "I'm a scientist, not an administrator."
"That's why you can choose a team that you feel is up to the job," said Sarah as she handed over the folder. "And I think your KITT will be behind you all the way." She indicated the row of cars that they were approaching.
"My...?" Her voice failed. At the end of the row were parked two midnight black cars that seemed to absorb the sunlight. One was a Camaro 2SS. "KITT!" she cried as she loped the last few yards, ignoring the jolts of pain from her left arm. "Thank you for coming, buddy. I missed you." She leaned against him and patted his roof.
"The feeling is mutual, Mikayla," he said affectionately.
In the next second she realized who KITT's neighbour had to be. Slowly she turned, and tentatively placed her hand on the hood of the Mustang GT500KR. "Forgive my manners. I'm pleased to meet you, Knight Industries Three Thousand."
"Likewise, Dr. Ferrell." The smooth baritone voice was miles different from that of his 'father'. "Thank you for restoring the Two Thousand. It's exhilarating to have another family member to speak with."
"I think we're all family of a sort, KITT," Sarah said.
"Yes," both AIs agreed, their scanners flashing in unison.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind. Mikayla returned to the R&D facility once, to pack up her desk and say goodbye to the people she had worked with for so long. The spacious estate near Las Vegas was to become a FLAG office once again, and she and the team she chose were invited to move into permanent residence. The Rook, FLAG's mobile unit, was also updated and brought back into service, much to KITT's delight.
She knew exactly who she wanted, and they all joined her without reservation. Charles Davis would be director and liaison to both the company and the government. Alex MacGillivray was their software engineer. Brenda Walsh was their researcher and support technician. Mikayla herself was KITT's full-time mechanic, while Peter Tomlinson had agreed to be the official field agent. As for Takumi, he had been promoted to temporary Vice President of Knight Industries R&D until the department stabilized, and he couldn't have been happier.
Before leaving, Mikayla paid a visit to Jennifer Knight's office to thank her for helping to create the new path for her to follow. She also arranged to have a portion of her savings and a percentage of her future earnings to be put in trust for the care of her brother Devante. His most recent psychological evaluation had stated that he was recovering but there was a long way to go.
"I'm still not sure about this," Peter complained as he shuffled through his ID cards. They were riding in the back of the Rook as it trundled along the highway toward Tonopah and their first case. "I know the company prefers that agents divorce themselves from their past and take new identities. But what's with the chess theme? 'Peter Bishop' doesn't sound right."
"You refused both 'Queen' and 'McQueen'," Mikayla reminded him. "You said that they were too pretentious, even though you're the one who'll be moving around more than the rest of us." True to her word, she'd spent three months training him on KITT's handling and the use of the car's devices. In return, he'd taught her some basic stealth and hand-to-hand fighting techniques in case she needed to enter the field as his backup. She intended to take formal martial arts lessons soon. "You'll get used to it, I'm sure."
A chime sounded and KITT said, "Charles is calling."
"Put it up," Peter directed, and one of the mobile lab's screens brightened to show the estate's classic main office with the wainscoting and heavy drapery. "Hello, Charles, checking up on us already?"
The older man smiled. Now wearing a gray suit instead of a lab coat and jeans, he was hardly recognizable. "I assume you've looked over the mission summary. Are you ready?"
"We have, and we're ready to roll," Peter said confidently. He stuffed the wallet into his jeans pocket and slid into KITT's driver's seat. The motion was easier now after much practice. "Let's go."
"Good luck," Charles said, and cut the connection.
Mikayla patted KITT's hood as the ramp lowered. "Be careful out there, and watch out for each other."
"Will do," KITT responded, and Peter gave a thumbs-up.
The black Camaro backed down the ramp, and the instant its tires hit the pavement it accelerated to pass the semi and leave it behind. Its brand-new KNIGHT license plate glinted in the sun and the forward scanner swept back and forth eagerly. For the first time in many years, KITT felt content. He was back in the world with a new team, a new driver, and a trusted friend. The adventures that awaited were limitless.
Mikayla watched them go on the interior monitor and smiled to herself as she inserted the earpiece that was her constant connection to KITT. She hadn't finished her journey, not by a long shot. There was a lot more that she wanted to learn and experience, and this mission was a new beginning. In the spirit of looking forward, like Peter she'd also chosen to forsake her past. Her father was dead, she'd split with her mother years ago, and she could still visit Devante as a friend instead of a sister.
She proudly held up her new driver's license that read: Mikayla Knight.
Thank you to the following people:
My husband, as always, for his support.
My beta-readers Doc0517 and |||Bluebird|||
Glen A. Larson for creating the Knight Rider universe to play in.
A/N: I've always liked to hide pop culture references in my stories. In case readers missed these:
Chapter 3: Mikayla's Halloween costume is the character of Kiki from the Japanese animated movie Kiki's Delivery Service.
Chapter 4: Session Zero refers to a tabletop RPG term, where the game master holds a meeting to outline the ground rules for the campaign world so the players know what to expect.
Chapter 4: The character of Takumi is a name-drop for the protagonist from the Japanese street racing manga and animated series Initial D.
Chapter 5: The dialog of "Can you see me? Excellent. Next question: who am I?" reflects the opening scene of Person of Interest Season 2 Episode 1, another series featuring an AI.
Chapter 6: KITT's Nano-skin uses the same principle as shown in the 2008 Knight Rider pilot movie.
Chapter 6: The investigator 'Fox' Harrison is a nod to Harrison/Harry Fox, main characters of the 1984 series Crazy Like a Fox.
Chapter 6: The Senator Bellis character was inspired by Donald Bellisario, a TV producer and de-facto rival to Glen A. Larson.
Chapter 7: Shawn McCormick became Michael Knight's replacement during the events of the Knight Rider 2000 movie released in 1991.
Chapter 9: The mention of Russell Maddock is another nod to Knight Rider 2000. The character was responsible for KITT being dismantled.
Chapter 10: The 'Peter Bishop' alias is not to be confused with the character of the same name in the 2008 series Fringe.