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 1: Anchors Awry
The summer sun rose above the treetops and bathed the sand-coloured stucco of the tile-roofed Palladian mansion. Its red-bricked circular forecourt began to shimmer as the last of the night's dew evaporated. Birds chirped lazily; a sparrow alighted on the roof of the sleek black Camaro 2SS that was parked in front of the building, picked up an errant seed that had fallen there, and flew away.
Michael Knight, Director of the Las Vegas branch of the Foundation for Law and Government was doing some long-overdue reviews of memos from the Knight Industries Board of Directors. He disliked bureaucratic affairs with the intensity of a volcano, but his executive assistant Kathy Cunningham tried to make it as painless as possible for him, to his eternal gratitude. What he preferred was to evaluate potential cases for his team and to support their work as they endeavoured to make a difference.
He'd just finished countersigning a stack of reports when the other four team members bustled into his office. "You all look like you're mighty pleased with something," he observed.
Software engineer Alex MacGillivray grinned. "A bunch of my friends are planning to go sailing on Lake Mead this afternoon," he said, his Scottish accent more evident in his excitement, "and we wanted to know if, one: we could go, and two: if you wanted to come along."
Michael straightened in his chair, his face showing interest. Boating was one his favourite pastimes.
Brenda Walsh cringed. "Alex, you goofball. Why didn't you tell us that before I rearranged the schedule for my research workshop? I don't do boats: I get seasick."
Mikayla stared at the shorter brunette. "No wonder you don't like to ride in the Rook. The motion bothers you."
"I've a solution," Peter suggested. "Brenda and I can go to Boulder Beach while Alex and Mikayla go sailing, then we can all meet up afterwards."
Brenda regarded the blond FLAG field agent coyly. "Why, Mr. Bishop, I'd be delighted!"
Michael stood up with an eager expression, but Kathy held up her hand. "As much as I hate to remind you, you're committed to having dinner with Mike and Sarah."
With a sigh, Michael said a bit sheepishly, "Yeah, I remember. They've been asking for some time, and I don't want to let them down." He didn't see his son and daughter-in-law nearly often enough. "Go on then, and have a good time," he said, smiling. The team worked hard and deserved a day off once in a while – something that he rarely got when he had been a field agent. "Just as long as you're in top shape for tomorrow. I've a new assignment for you."
It was decided that Alex and Mikayla would take Alex's car, while Peter and Brenda would drive KITT. That way, rather than sit in the marina's parking lot all afternoon, which would've bored him, KITT could explore the park area if he wanted to and still be within comm-link range.
The Nevada Yacht Club was a sprawling facility comprised of several large piers that jutted out into the lake, protected by artificial breakwaters. Alex waved as he spotted a group of four people waiting at the foot of the main walkway. "Hey guys! This is my co-worker Mikayla whom I've been telling you about."
"Oh, the grease monkey," said a willowy, dark-haired young woman in a dismissive tone.
"Dierdre, stop it," Alex said with a scowl. "I don't know why you're even here; you don't like sailing."
She shrugged insolently. "I'd much prefer to be at the resort in Tahoe, but Daddy's in Vegas for a business conference and insisted that I do something as befits me."
Introductions were brief. Rob Singer was an electrician and the owner of the boat that they would be sailing on; with black hair, muscular build, and confidence in his manner. Jay Montague was a computer technician; he was tall and athletic with curly blond hair. The other woman in the group was somewhat shy and half her face was hidden behind a brown mane; she identified herself as Sophia, Rob's wife, and she was a schoolteacher.
Mikayla eyed Dierdre for a moment. Everything from the woman's attitude to her clothing screamed wealth, and a memory clicked in. "Pardon me, but is your father Earl Leopold, owner of Leopold Styles?"
"Yes, indeed," Dierdre said with a false smile. "You're smarter than you look."
Mikayla smiled back similarly. "I had friends at Caltech who were fashion-mad."
"Caltech? That second-rate place?" Dierdre asked. "Stanford has better facilities."
Rob cleared his throat. "If you ladies are done with the one-upmanship, let's be off. We're here to have fun, not to argue." He led them all onto the pier and stopped at a slip, indicating a large white-hulled sailboat with a red sail cover. "Welcome to the Appalachia. She's a C&C 33-2 with a Yanmar 20 horsepower diesel engine. I'll warn you that this won't be a total leisure cruise; I expect you all to help out when I ask for it."
That afternoon, Mikayla learned a great deal about sailing terminology, the safe operation of a watercraft, and how much work it entailed to own one. Almost everything had its own name: the bathroom was called the head, the kitchen was the galley, and even each rope had a separate designation. It was just as impressive that Rob and his wife both held full time jobs and still had the time and energy to manage a boat. His explanation was that the harder one worked for something, the better it was to enjoy. She could certainly agree with that, given how hard she'd worked with KITT.
After sailing for a little over an hour, they anchored the boat in a pleasant bay with water so clear that one could see the sandy bottom. Most of them went swimming while Dierdre lounged on the deck. To Mikayla's annoyance, she repeatedly had to dodge Jay who kept questioning her about her personal life while trying to tickle her or grab her limbs underwater.
Eventually she got fed up and clambered back onto the boat. "Stop being so handsy," she told him firmly when he followed her. "I'm not interested, and I have a boyfriend." Picking up a towel, she retreated to the forward bunk to dry off and change back into her street clothes, not wanting to unintentionally entice him any further. Why were some men so horribly behaved? When she rummaged in her carry-bag for her hairbrush, she noticed instantly that her cellphone was missing. Muttering an expletive, she returned to the main cabin to see both Dierdre and Jay poking at her phone, trying to figure out the passcode.
"I want my phone back right now!" she said loudly, and then called, "Captain Rob, we have thieves aboard!"
Rob stomped down the from the cockpit. "You two, hand it over."
"Seriously?" Dierdre grumbled. "It's just a phone."
"I don't tolerate people going through others' gear without permission," Rob said severely. "This is my boat and what I say goes. Give it back." When Dierdre grudgingly handed the phone back to Mikayla, Rob continued, "You're both to stow yourselves in the cockpit for the rest of this trip so I can keep an eye on you. Step out of line and you won't be sailing on this boat again. Am I clear?"
"Perfectly," said Jay through clenched teeth. Dierdre tossed her head scornfully and climbed up to the cockpit, with Jay behind her.
Rob faced Mikayla and sighed. "Sorry about that."
"Thanks for the save," she said gratefully. "This is actually my work-issued phone. I'll have to be more careful with it." She put it securely into a pocket.
The remainder of the excursion went more smoothly, until the boat was on its return approach to the marina. Alex and Sophia were on deck preparing the equipment for docking, Rob was at the wheel, and Mikayla was watching over the sullen-looking Dierdre and Jay.
Then Mikayla's phone rang. Automatically she pulled it from her pocket, and she had only a split second to note that the call was from Peter when Dierdre lunged across the cockpit and swiped the phone from her. "Hey, what's the big deal? Give me that!" she said as she tried to take it back.
Jay leaned forward and knocked her hand away. "How does a cold clam like you get a job at Knight Industries?" he jeered, and Mikayla realized that he must have recognized the chess piece symbol on the phone case. After all, it was one of the biggest electronics corporations in the western states.
Meanwhile Dierdre was staring at the phone in shock. "Peter?" she whispered before turning the phone around and shoving it accusingly at Mikayla. The contact photo was of Peter lounging on KITT's hood. "Your boyfriend is Peter Tomlinson? He's supposed to be dead!"
Mikayla blinked. Dierdre had known Peter? This could be problematic. Few people outside of FLAG knew that the field agent had changed his surname when he'd started working with them. Legally, Peter Tomlinson had been declared dead after disappearing over a year ago. It was believed that the former cop had suffered a mental breakdown after being shot during a negotiation gone wrong, and had later traveled into the wilderness and committed suicide. No body had ever been found. "His name is Peter Bishop and he's a co-worker," she said flatly. "He probably just looks a bit like someone you knew. Now give me that; it might be important!" She grabbed for the phone but Dierdre tossed it to Jay, who proceeded to juggle it back and forth in his hands as he grinned mischievously.
"Knock it off, guys!" hollered Rob. "I need to concentrate on navigation right now."
Alerted by the yelling, Alex began to make his way back to the cockpit.
"Give… me… my… phone!" insisted Mikayla as she eyed Jay's movements, trying to anticipate a moment where she could snatch it.
The phone began to ring again. This time the contact photo was a close-up of a red scanner bar: the caller was KITT. Mikayla made a desperate attempt to grab the phone but Jay threw it back to Dierdre, who with an evil look, chucked it into the water.
Alex clambered into the cockpit then, and Rob ordered, "Bring us in!" as he handed control of the boat over to him. Then he rounded on the two miscreants. "I fail to understand why you were so hostile toward someone you hadn't met until today. Not only did you insult her and steal her phone – and you probably just cost her a week's pay with that little stunt – but you harassed her as well. Don't think that I didn't notice." He glowered at them. "I'm calling security and I'm having you both banned from the club."
"Pff. That suits me fine," Dierdre said, unconcerned.
Jay glowered and said nothing.
As soon the boat was securely docked, Rob handed Mikayla her carry-bag and excused her from the remaining chores so she could make a statement to the officers that were waiting on the pier. Fortunately, it didn't take long, and then she slowly walked toward the parking lot, knowing that she'd have to wait for Alex to finish up so they could leave. She was tired and disappointed, thinking that it might have been better if she had gone to the beach with Peter and Brenda. Her fun day out had been ruined by a pair of idiots for no apparent reason.
Well, not entirely no reason. It was clear that Dierdre had been prejudiced against her from the moment they met, due to her career choice, her ethnicity, or both. Jay was not only an enabler but a lech. It disgusted her. She wondered if Alex had been aware of his friends' attitudes or not. Probably not, or else he wouldn't have invited her.
"Hey!" a voice called from behind her. "I have something to say to you!" He followed up with an insulting phrase.
It was Jay, the last person she wanted to speak to right now. How was he even there? He was supposed to have been held by security! Perhaps he somehow eluded them? Quickly she assessed the situation. Running was chancy: Jay was more athletic than she was and might be able to chase her down. Fighting was an option, but she preferred to do that only as a last resort. Dierdre had deep-sixed her phone so she was unable to call for help. Even if she could, by the time someone got here Jay would've had plenty of opportunity to do whatever he was planning. She turned toward him, dropped her bag, and slowly slid her right leg back to settle into a ready stance. "Listen Jay, I've already said that I'm not interested. Would you please leave me alone?"
He glared at her as he walked closer. "I'll bet so you can go back to your 'boyfriend'. What does he have that I don't?"
"Kindness and respect," she retorted. Those qualities applied to both Peter and KITT, so it worked either way. "In any case, he's waiting for me, so just shove off."
Without a word, Jay grabbed her shoulders and tried to force a kiss on her. Immediately she kneed him in the groin. As any man would, he released her with a grunt and doubled over in pain. She followed up with a full-strength kick to the stomach, and he collapsed face first onto the ground. Not taking any more chances, she ran.
Incredibly, he was able to force himself upright and pursue her. Nobody should be able to get up after that! Was he invulnerable? No, she thought ruefully, only KITT was invulnerable. She had a head start over him though… until her foot slipped on a patch of gravel and she stumbled, losing her stride. In the next second he clutched her from behind, pinned her arms to her sides, and tried to lift her feet off the ground.
Instinct took over. "KITT, I need you!" she yelled, surprising herself. Her call had been automatic, even though as far as she knew, he was still at Boulder Beach with Peter and Brenda. He would never hear her, and never know.
The jet-like roar of a powerful turbine engine sounded in the distance, followed by tires screeching on asphalt, and a black Camaro 2SS came charging across the parking lot in a blur.
Jay was absolutely horrified when he saw the driverless car bearing down on them like a rampaging bull. His grip loosened, and that was all Mikayla needed. She stamped on his foot and lurched forward, which was enough to cause him to release her. The car slid to a stop mere inches away, and when its driver's door opened, she dove into the cabin. The door closed as soon as she pulled her legs in, whereupon the car peeled out, leaving Jay coughing in the dust.
"Are you all right?" KITT asked anxiously.
"Yes," she gasped as she hauled herself into a proper sitting position in the driver's seat. "Thank you so much, KITT, you're a lifesaver. I'm surprised that you're even here." Out of habit she fastened her seatbelt even though she could feel the passive restraints engage.
"I missed you," he admitted shyly, and then continued, "Peter and Brenda wanted to see some of the museums in Boulder City, so I came here in the meantime."
"That's so sweet, KITT," she said, amazed.
"Thank you," KITT said, his voice still slightly tense. "I couldn't reach your phone, so I used Alex's phone signal to determine where the boat was."
"You are a wonder, my dear," she said and ran one hand along the dashboard. "My phone was thrown overboard, and the boat's owner punished those responsible. I thought that was the end of it, and didn't expect that Jay would try something like what he just did. He'd been coming on to me all afternoon and wouldn't take no for an answer." She sighed in disillusionment and leaned back in the seat. "I hoped that this trip would be an opportunity to learn something new, but it just had to end badly."
"It's not your fault," KITT assured her. "Such behaviour is inexcusable. I've seen similar things happen far too many times. I'd have thought that by now, human attitudes would've improved."
By this point they'd reached the main road but Mikayla still felt too shaken up to drive. She patted her lap with one hand, which was her usual signal to KITT that he could maintain control. "In some ways they have, but in others, no. I think there will always be people who believe that they can use their strength, wealth, or power to get what they want."
KITT said, "I consider myself fortunate that I worked with honourable people and learned much from them."
Despite herself she chuckled. "Wasn't Michael a womanizer? That was the rumour anyway."
"Not really. He was extremely charming, and did romance many women, but he only slept with a very few. And he always treated them with respect. So does Peter."
She lapsed into silence for a minute, as the mention of her colleague's name had started her thinking again. Earlier she'd found it necessary to lie to Jay and say that someone was waiting for her. It would've been nice if Peter had actually been there. But the first thing she'd done when she got into difficulties was to call KITT. That showed how much she trusted the AI over anyone else.
"If I said or did something that offended you, I apologize," KITT said. He'd noticed her pensive expression.
"KITT, you have nothing to apologize for," she assured him. "I was thinking about something else just now."
There was a brief hesitation. "May I ask what about?"
She swallowed and then made a decision. "Before I answer that, please find a safe place to pull over. I'd rather us not be moving."
"Very well." He slowed the car and found a small parking area.
Mikayla knew that response. It was his standard phrase whenever he was reluctant or upset. She hoped that what she was about to say to him wouldn't make him feel worse. "Lately we haven't been able to talk much, with your being out on cases and all. I'm still trying to understand what you and I have. I do like Peter, and we both know that he reciprocates those feelings. But in the end, any relationship between he and I would be extremely difficult to maintain simply because of particular aspects of his job."
"You're referring to his seduction of women, and sometimes having sex with them."
"Yes, that," she said with an exasperated jerk of her head. "Believe it or not, I could actually accept that, as long as I knew that he was careful and his emotions weren't involved."
KITT asked astutely, "Shouldn't you be discussing this with him?"
"Yes, and I will, but I wanted to talk to you first. Because this is all still new for us, and it's a bit frightening sometimes." She clammed up, uncertain of KITT's reaction.
"I also find it somewhat daunting," he said quietly, but with little animosity, which was a relief. "That shouldn't prevent us from talking about it. Aren't partners supposed to communicate with each other?"
"You're right. Even if we might not have the right words, it's better to talk than not." As she gazed at his voice modulator, she undid the seat belt and leaned forward to wrap her arms around the steering wheel as she usually did to "hug" him. "When Jay grabbed me, I knew I could easily defend myself, but the first person who came to my mind, the person that I wanted most in that moment to be there, was you. And you were, because you'd already thought to come for me. I couldn't have asked for better." After a brief pause, she requested, "KITT, please do something for me: turn off the interior camera." When she saw the camera light fade, she half-rose from the seat and leaned over the steering column. "Thank you," she whispered, and then placed a kiss on the modulator cover.
As he'd done before, KITT concentrated on that point of contact and turned off his sensors, allowing himself to just feel. Now he knew why she'd asked him to turn off the camera: when humans kissed, they usually closed their eyes. She wanted to give him a similar experience.
When she sat back, the camera light snapped on again, and she smiled at him. "I love you, KITT."
"I love you too, Mikayla." He started the car's engine. "We should meet up with the others before they wonder where we are."