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 2: Old Friends
The tracking signal had come from an unexpected location: a verdant property just south of the Las Vegas city limits. It took no time at all to find out that the place was owned by the electronics giant Knight Industries, and the current tenant was a branch of a non-profit subsidiary known as the Foundation for Law and Government.
No sooner was breakfast done when everyone was on the job again. KITT grudgingly allowed Brenda and Alex to check over his systems while Peter spoke to the recovery team about their investigation of the Rook so far.
They'd been able to determine from a residual analysis that a type of plastic explosive had been detonated on the roof of the trailer. It had likely been shaped in such a way as to direct as much of the blast wave as possible downward, to maximize the effect on anything below. Peter was extremely lucky; had he not still been inside KITT's practically indestructible body, he would've been killed.
As they'd worked to retrieve all the debris, they'd noticed something out of place. Among the pieces were burned and melted bits of plastic of a type not contained within the structure of the trailer. That had led to the theory that the explosive hadn't been stuck to the trailer prior to its detonation. Instead it could've been landed there by a drone. Whoever had done this must have been observing the Rook's movements for some time in order to determine where it would be at that particular moment.
Peter was dumbfounded. Assuming the theory was credible, that meant that he and KITT had also been tailed. Frequently, wherever they were, the Rook was sure to be not far behind. They were dealing with someone who could be well aware of the Foundation's methods. If KITT was seen at the estate, everyone was in danger.
He activated his earpiece. "KITT, do you read me?"
"Loud and clear," was the AI's instant response. "I detect urgency in your voice, has something happened?"
"I spoke to the recovery team. Whoever did this had been following us. They knew our operation well enough to predict where we were going to be so they could engineer the explosion. From now on, until we catch them, use your nano-skin to disguise yourself. We can't jeopardize anyone else."
"Understood," KITT said grimly, and set his nano-skin to a standard blue Camaro configuration, noticing after the transformation was complete that he'd automatically selected Mikayla's favourite colour. "I suggest a complete overhaul of the network security as well as extra encryption on all communications."
"Good idea, please get Alex and Brenda on it right away." The second after he clicked off, his cell phone rang, and he irritably pulled it out of his pocket: it was the hospital calling. It took him a moment to wonder why the call hadn't been placed to the main line, and then he realized that with everyone occupied, it had been redirected to him. He put the phone to his other ear. "Foundation for Law and Government, Peter Bishop speaking."
Five minutes later he disconnected the call and strode toward the mansion, determination set on his face.
Were he human, KITT would've sighed in relief. He had tapped into Peter's phone conversation, something he normally wouldn't have done, but his worry for his friends was too strong. According to the on-duty nurse, Mikayla had briefly regained consciousness earlier in the morning. And despite the pain she was in, one of her first thoughts had been of him. It was gratifying. Part of him wanted to leave, to drive to the hospital and park outside the window of her room in the hopes that she would see him and be comforted. But that wouldn't serve any purpose at this point; he was needed more here.
Peter returned to the garage with an envelope in his hand. "Open up, please."
"Are we going to the hospital?" KITT asked hopefully as his driver swung into his seat.
"I wish we could, but no." He lifted the envelope into the internal camera's field of view. It was yellowed with age. "Kathy told me about a secret compartment in the office desk that was to only be opened in an emergency. I think this situation qualifies." He extracted a sheet of paper, also yellowed around the edges, and held it up. It was Knight Industries letterhead, dated 17th of March 2000, and bearing a flowing script that he didn't recognize.
KITT made a soft sound that seemed like the equivalent of a human taking a deep breath. "I know that handwriting," he said reverently. "It's Devon's. Accessing vocal samples." He then proceeded to read the letter, and a friendly baritone voice with a distinct and cultured English accent filled the cabin.
To the future Director,
As I write this, the world is changing – for the better or for worse remains to be seen. I was a close friend of Wilton Knight, the founder of Knight Industries and of the Foundation, and I shared his dream that one man can make a difference. Having served as Director since 1980, I have faced many trials and triumphs, the greatest of which was bearing witness to the incredible partnership between the Knight Industries Two Thousand and his driver.
Should by some chance the Foundation find itself without a clear course, my advice is to seek out Michael Knight. Reunite him with KITT, and you will have an unstoppable team who will carry you through any adversity. At his request, his current location has been erased from all databases, but those with the true spirit of a Knight will be able to find him.
It is my hope that the Foundation will continue its efforts to help those who cannot help themselves.
A respectful silence reigned in the car's cabin for a moment. Peter murmured, "He sounded like he was a very kind man."
"He was," KITT agreed in his own voice. "I knew him well; he was optimistic and generous, but could also be stubborn and opinionated."
"As much as I'd like to hear more about him, we need to find Michael Knight."
"I've already tried many times since Mikayla reactivated me," KITT confessed. "It's clear that he didn't want to be found because of the many enemies he made during his time with the Foundation. I assume that Russell Maddock, Devon's successor, knew where Michael was, but for an unknown reason I was never told."
"That might be why Mr. Miles wrote this," Peter said. "To leave some kind of clue that would help to find Michael." He reread the letter. "Those with the true spirit of a Knight. Could that refer to you?"
"It's possible, but I don't know where Michael is."
"But maybe you have the ability to find him." Peter skimmed the writing again, and then extended his arms so he could see the paper as a whole. His eyes landed on the letterhead and he had an idea. "The Knight Industries logo in the corner, see?" He held it up to the screen in the car's center console. Can you scan it and enhance it to find any details that aren't visible to the naked eye?"
"Right away, Peter." After a few seconds he reported eagerly, "There is a microdot hidden within the logo that contains an address."
Peter grinned and started the engine. "Let's get there, KITT!"
A variety of birds were chirping in the trees as Peter parked in the gravel driveway next to the nondescript log cabin. He exited the car a bit stiffly; it had been a long drive to reach the remote area. A well-used gravel path led around the house to a long dock that jutted out into a lake's blue waters, and an aluminum motorboat was tethered to the end.
With some trepidation he knocked on the front door. While he had never met the house's sole occupant, he had read all about him in the archives, and heard a great deal more from his partner. The man was effectively a legend. One that he hoped would help with the situation they now faced.
The door opened to reveal a tall, slender man with short graying curls, dressed casually in jeans and a polo shirt. He was much older of course, his face drawn from the passage of time, but his sea-blue eyes were alert and keen. "Can I help you?"
"Good day sir, my name is Peter Bishop. May we talk? It's rather important."
The man huffed softly. "Everyone has their own idea of important," he said as he looked Peter over. "What's important to me is my home and my car."
"What about the Foundation?" Peter asked bluntly.
Michael Knight blinked, stood stock still for a moment, and then his expression hardened. "No," he said in an unequivocal refusal. "The last time they asked me for help, a dear friend of mine died." He started to shut the door.
Peter quickly put an arm out and prevented the door from closing. "Two dear friends of mine are seriously hurt, and we need your help to catch the person responsible. Please, Mr. Knight. If you won't help me, at least consider helping someone else." He pointed out toward the driveway.
Michael reluctantly opened the door again. "There's nobody else who could change my mind."
Peter gave a slight shake of his head. "I disagree. Please come and talk to him."
"Him?" His curiosity piqued, he followed Peter out to the driveway where a blue Camaro 2SS was parked. The car looked new, and there was nobody sitting in it. "What is this?"
"Normal mode, please," Peter instructed.
The blue colour flickered and rippled, gradually changing to a reflective midnight black with racing stripes and a slightly elevated rear spoiler. A scanner bar at the end of the hood flared into life. "Hello, Michael."
"That… voice…" The astonished look on the man's face was priceless. "KITT?" Then he backed up a few paces, holding up his hands in a gesture of denial. "This is impossible. KITT's gone, he was dismantled years ago! What kind of twisted joke are you pulling?" He turned and began to stride angrily back toward the house.
Peter chased after him and caught his arm. "This is no joke. My colleague found his CPU and helped to build a new body for him. He might look different but this is the Knight Industries Two Thousand. See for yourself."
The car's driver side door opened. "Please, Michael. It's really me. Remember the time that my memory was damaged by an electrical surge? You climbed directly under the car to fix my circuits because you knew that I could never hurt you. What about the time that you were poisoned? I kept talking to you and telling bad jokes to keep you focused on living."
Michael Knight turned toward his old friend, moisture beginning to well up in his eyes. "There's only one person in the world who would know those things," he murmured. "It's really you, KITT?" He walked around the car and swung himself a bit clumsily into the driver's seat, which adjusted itself to his length. His face lit up as he immediately recognized the voice modulator above the gull-wing style steering wheel.
"Butch and Sundance, pal," KITT said quietly.
Michael wrapped his arms around the wheel the same way he'd done a thousand times before. "Right, buddy. Butch and Sundance."
With a relieved smile, Peter crossed his arms in satisfaction. "Are we good?"
The older man nodded, unashamed at the tears now streaking his cheeks. "Yeah, we're good."
He paced around the room, barely able to rein in his temper. The first part of the second phase of his plan had failed, due to an unexpected increase in the Foundation's security. The Knight car also seemed to have disappeared; there'd been no sightings of it since the previous evening. But there was more than one way to draw them out, and he would stop at nothing until they'd all paid for his family's suffering.