TEAM KNIGHT RIDER - SEASON 03 (premiere)
Chapter One - Day of Doom One
The underground garage was a bit cramped and dimly lit, but provided adequate room for the operation taking place. A prototype 2001 Trans-Am sat in the middle of the room with its hood up. Mechanics hovered around it making small alterations and checking all the equipment built in. The sleek, fast-looking car was black and shiny and exuded power. And it was missing only one thing to complete it.
"James, Dr. Lugae," Charles Stewart spoke to them through a communications link on the control panel in the garage, "It’s time to insert the CPU."
James picked up the CPU sitting on a workbench and brought it over to the bare front end of the Trans Am. Lugae then took the CPU from him and inserted it inside the hood, making attachments to integrate it into the vehicle. As soon as he was done, Lugae backed away wordlessly, and James shut the hood.
"James," Charles told him, "Activate him, now!"
James went to the control panel and started typing in commands. As soon as he finished, the Trans Am’s engine started and revved, and KITT’s characteristic red pulse started flashing across the front.
"It’s working!" Charles exalted, "Excellent. Now that James has opened the gateway for us, there’s nothing that can stop me from accomplishing what I spent years dreaming of."
KITT idled his engine and opened up the driver’s side door.
"James," Charles told him, "It’s time for you and KITT to complete your first mission in Pittsburgh."
James climbed in through the open door and settled into the driver’s seat. KITT closed the door behind him. Moments later James and KITT sped out of the garage past startled mechanics. Charles Stewart’s exuberant voice spoke up as soon as they were gone.
"At last!" he said, speaking to no one but himself, "My ultimate plan is finally being set into motion!"
* * *
SkyOne broke through a layer of clouds as it ascended into the air. Inside, its passengers were all bustling about with their respective duties. The garage was particularly busy. Besides the team of mechanics working to keep the vehicles in tip-top condition, the human members of Team Knight Rider were also present, along with their two FBI associates. They had spent the past five days poring over small leads and the minutest amount of information they could scrape up on Charles Stewart, but they had still not found the man’s hideout. Neither him, James, Dr. Lugae or even KITT had appeared since they escaped from Charles’ old hideout a week ago.
"We’re running out of time," Kyle told them all as they gathered around the cars, "Charles and Lugae will have KITT back online soon, if they haven’t already."
"If none of them show themselves," Jenny told him, "then we won’t have anything to go on."
"Jenny’s right," Scott agreed, "All we’ve been doing all week is chasing dead ends."
"And what do you suggest we do, Mr. Smart Guy?" Kat asked him. From her tone she didn’t expect a good answer.
"I suggest we call in reinforcements and sweep all the areas Stewart ever holed himself up in," he started, "I also think we should round up any witnesses who ever saw him to get all the information we can. Maybe some of them have something we can work on."
Kyle regarded him calmly and waited a moment after he finished before responding.
"First of all," Kyle told him, "this is my case, no one else’s. I’m letting you help us. So that means I call the shots. Second, there will be no reinforcements, no army sweeping any areas. I don’t want to warn our enemies we’re on to them. Third, any and all witnesses have already been questioned and have told us all they can. We will not bother them any further. Is that clear?"
Scott gazed at him for a moment before nodding slowly.
"Crystal," he replied.
Kyle nodded at him, and they retained eye contact for a few seconds longer.
Duke and Trek, and Jenny and Erica all exchanged glances. Kyle had been in a really bad mood for the whole week, ever since finding out that startling information about his father and brother.
"So what do we do?" Annie asked impatiently. The past week had affected her greatly too. She cared a lot for James, and since she now knew he was a good guy, she felt even more for him and was anxious to get him back. She and Kyle were quite the pair, both more than a little emotionally involved in the case. Amazingly enough, they had both retained their rationale.
"It would help if FLAG would give us those files on KITT," Erica spoke up.
"I’m working on it," Trek mumbled over from atop Plato.
"I don’t understand why they don’t just give us the files," Duke said, "I mean, aren’t we on their side?"
"KITT’s files are highly classified documents," Kyle reminded them, "Only four people were ever allowed access to them. Two of them are dead - Devon Miles and Wilton Knight. The other two are unaccounted for."
"You mean Michael Knight?" Jenny asked.
"And Bonnie," he added, "She was KITT’s mechanic. She retired 7 years ago. No one has access to her whereabouts. Not even anyone at FLAG knows where she is."
"So they say," Duke said pointedly.
"That’s all right," Beast spoke up, "Our boy genius here will get us those files."
"If he’s such a genius, what’s taking so long?" Erica asked, then called over to Trek, "Hey! Einstein Junior! Where are those files you promised us?"
"It’s not that easy," Trek answered distractedly, "These files are more protected than the Pentagon."
Scott and Annie both frowned.
"How would you know that?" Scott questioned.
Trek stopped his work to glance up impishly.
"Uh, educated guess?" he said.
Scott and Annie exchanged glances.
"Keep working Trek," Kyle told him, casting a glance at the two suspicious FBI agents.
Clayton walked into the garage then rolling in a small cart covered with large silver mugs.
"Irish Mocha Cappuccino anyone?" he asked.
"I would love some," Scott said, grabbing up a mug.
The others also took one. Jenny took two and passed one to Annie, who looked like she could use it. She sipped it gratefully. Kyle took a huge gulp out of his and finished it in seconds. Clayton watched with a frown as Kyle deposited the empty mug back on the cart.
"Thanks, Clayton," he told the chef absently.
"Did you even have time to taste it?" the chef asked, shaking his head and pushing his cart away.
"What you need," Dante spoke up, "is a nice long nap - until maybe tomorrow morning."
"No time for that," Kyle replied shortly.
"Kyle," Domino told him, "you’ve hardly gotten any sleep this past week. You’ve got to get some rest or you’re going to burn yourself out."
"I’ll rest," Kyle told her, "when we catch my father and get my brother back. OK?"
"Maybe we should have Clayton switch to decaf," Dante muttered.
Kyle ignored him.
"Hey! I got it!"
Trek glanced up at them all excitedly, then back down to his screen. They all moved to gather around Trek and his eccentric motorcycle as the protected files on KITT appeared.
"It gives detailed information on KITT’s micro-processor," Trek told them, "His CPU is ten times more powerful than any of our cars, with way more memory and thought processing capabilities. He’s basically our cars to the nth degree. No weaknesses."
"He’s got to have weaknesses," Scott said.
"I agree," Annie said, "I mean, Stewart will probably put him into another car. That car will have weak points."
Kyle wasn’t so sure.
"Maybe," he said, "but don’t underestimate him. He’s not just gonna put KITT in any old car. My guess is he already had a vehicle planned this whole time. He probably even designed it himself. Whatever kind of car it is, it’s guaranteed to be just as tough if not tougher than our cars."
"Oh, the commendations we get!" Dante said sarcastically.
"Well, if you don’t think we’re up to it," Domino told him sulkily, "then we don’t have to help."
"That’s not what I meant," he told them, "I’m just saying we have to be prepared for the worst."
"So you’re saying KITT in his new body could be even more dangerous than KRO was?" Duke asked.
"Count on it," Trek told him, "KITT was the best. Nothing stopped him."
"Then why was he scrapped?" Erica asked, "Just because his driver disappeared?"
"Essentially," Kyle admitted, "Michael Knight was the only one that KITT could be paired with. KITT wouldn’t accept anyone else. It was a part of his programming so inherent not even his creator could alter it. Once Knight was gone, KITT was basically stuck in the scrapheap."
"So how did he get on board SkyOne?" Jenny asked, "He didn’t carry himself."
Kyle shook his head.
"No one knows how or why he got here," Kyle told them, "Not even any of my superiors know. KITT was supposed to have been disassembled and kept in locked, guarded storage. How he got out is a mystery."
"But regardless of how he got here," Duke said, "We still got a good fight ahead of us if Stewart unleashes him."
"Wait a minute," Erica spoke up, confused, "If no one could get KITT to even let someone else drive him back then, how do we know he will now? Can’t he just say no and drive off?"
Trek shook his head.
"KITT managed to alter his own programming so he’d accept no commands from anyone except Michael Knight," Trek told her, "He altered his own codes so no one could override him."
"That’s where James comes in," Kyle finished, "He’s the Codebreaker. The only one in the world besides Michael Knight himself who can gain access to KITT’s programming it, and subsequently alter it. That’s why Charles wanted him so badly."
"Not only that," Kat told them, "but with James, Stewart can access anything."
"And with both James and KITT at his command," Domino added, "He’s got a very powerful duo."
They all acknowledged this soberly. They weren’t looking forward to fighting two beings that, in their right minds, were actually on their side.
"Unfortunately," Jenny said, "we probably won’t be able to do anything until they make their first move."
"I don’t know whether this is good news or bad news," Dante spoke up, "but it looks like they just made their first move."
They all turned eagerly to Dante.
"What is it, Dante?" his driver asked.
"There’s just been a report of a robbery in progress at the US Steel Corp. in Pittsburgh," he informed them, "It has been determined the thief is a young man fitting James’ description, driving a black Trans Am."
"That’s him," Kyle said firmly. He spoke into a com-link, "JP, head for Pittsburgh, pronto!"
* * *
Kyle, Trek and Annie rode in Dante to the Steel Corp. By the time they arrived, James and KITT were already long gone, and police were covering the scene. Kyle led the way to the front lines where two police officers were questioning the man in charge.
"Excuse-me," Kyle spoke up, not bothering to wait until they were finished, "I’m from the Foundation for Law and Government. Sorry to interrupt, but we believe we know the man who committed this robbery. We’ve been after him for some time and it’s important we catch him as soon as possible. I’d appreciate it if you could tell us all you can."
The police officers didn’t look too happy at being interrupted, but the foreman of the Steel Corp. was friendly enough.
"Sure thing," he replied, "I want this guy caught, too. That Adamantium-DI he stole was worth a lot of money. It’s very important we get it back."
"Adamantium-DI?" Trek asked curiously, "You mean the liquid Adamantium amalgam?"
The man nodded.
Trek gave Kyle a look.
"Some officers are inside looking over the security video of the theft right now," the foreman continued, "You’re welcome to take a look."
Kyle looked at Trek and nodded. Once Trek was gone, Kyle turned back to the man.
"Can you tell us anything significant about the theft?" he asked, "Maybe why they would want the Adamantium?"
The foreman scratched his chin.
"Like I told these two," he said, "The Adamantium was only developed a month ago. It was brought here to be tested. There was only a very little, but Adamantium is the strongest metal in the world, even more than diamonds. Once the liquid bonds to any surface, it hardens and is virtually impenetrable. The military was thinking of using it on its tanks and armor. The President was even thinking of using it on Air Force One. It was supposed to be kept hush-hush. I don’t know how anyone knew it was here."
Kyle and Annie exchanged glances.
"Is there anything else?" Annie asked, "About the man?"
The foreman shook his head.
"Nothing much besides what’s on the tape," he told them, "He never said anything or hurt anyone. Looked a bit young to be involved in this sort of thing, but then again they’re getting younger and younger these days. It was strange. He seemed to know all the access codes to the vault. And that car of his - wow! That thing had lasers and missiles coming out of its wazoo. Acted like more of a tank than a car."
Kyle nodded unhappily.
"Thanks a lot," he told the man. The foreman nodded to him, then returned to the policemen. Kyle and Annie returned to Dante to wait for Trek.
"I’m guessing no good news," Dante said.
"Good guess," Kyle replied.
"Unless we catch him, Stewart is just going to keep using James to commit his crimes," Annie said, "Sooner or later this case is going to be out of our hands."
"I know," he said, "I know. James and KITT got clean away, though. No one knows where they went. Hopefully someone will spot them soon so we can get an idea of where they’re heading."
Trek returned a few minutes later with a videocassette in his hand.
"It’s our man, all right," Trek said, "Looks like KITT is back and better than ever. It only took them twenty minutes to get in and out with the liquid Adamantium."
"Why would they steal that?" Annie wondered.
"My guess is they plan on using it on KITT," Trek told them, "I mean, there’s barely enough to cover him. They couldn’t use it for anything bigger."
Kyle nodded in agreement.
Kyle looked down at his watch. Jenny’s miniaturized visage appeared on the face.
"What, Jenny?" he asked.
"James and KITT were just spotted heading west toward Cleveland," she told him.
"We’re on our way."
* * *
The sleek black Trans Am drove at a speedy 210MPH as it raced along the highway toward Philadelphia. Its driver sat immobile in the passenger seat. He wasn’t driving. He was leaving that to the car. A large steel trunk sat in the back. Having completed their first mission ahead of schedule, James and KITT raced to their second.
KITT turned off the main highway on the outskirts of Philadelphia and onto another one, less used. Moments later they reached the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. The gates to the station were closed and guarded by two armed men. Both saw the black car as it raced to the entrance, and both noticed almost right away that it wasn’t slowing down. The two naval officers ran out of the guard shack and raised their weapons at the approaching vehicle. As the car reached the gate and crashed through easily, the two men fired. But it was futile. The bullets only ricocheted off.
James was calm and KITT silent as they made their way through the base to the hangar. Though many shots were fired at them as the base went on red alert, KITT was undamaged. He crashed through the hangar doors and sped right to an awaiting C-37A STOL. The flight crew flung themselves out of the way to avoid getting run over as KITT drove onto the open ramp leading into the aircraft.
As soon as they were in, KITT used his rear lasers to fend off any attacks as James climbed out. Three mechanics were inside the craft, and were surprised when James appeared. Before they could make a move, James pulled out his gun and aimed it at them.
"Leave," he told them firmly.
The men hesitated only a moment before they hurried away down the ramp. As soon as they were gone, James pulled the lever retracting the ramp. He then made his way to the cockpit and sat in the pilot’s seat. Moments later he had the engine started and was driving the aircraft out into the open onto the runway. Armed naval officers, trucks and jeeps soon surrounded the craft. Bullets hit the steel shell of the STOL, but since it was armored they never went through. Before anyone could stop them, James had the plane in the air and was gone.
* * *
This time it was Annie who was feeling frustrated. TKR had just heard about James and KITT stealing the STOL in Philadelphia. Meanwhile they had been wandering around in Cleveland chasing thin air.
"I should have known better," Kyle said, leaning his hands against Dante’s hood, "That tip was probably just a diversion. He was leading us away from his real target."
"He didn’t waste any time," Duke commented, "Stealing a STOL from a Naval base only three hours after breaking into the Steel Corp."
"Yeah, and he broke his record," Trek said, attempting humor, "It only took him thirteen minutes to steal the plane."
Erica whacked him on the head.
"It makes sense in a weird way, though," Jenny said, "No one would expect him to commit another theft only a few hours after the first one."
Kyle turned around and leaned back against the gray Expedition, rubbing his temples with one hand.
"Domino?" he asked.
"The air station tracked the STOL as far as Arkansas before the tracking system went dead," she reported.
"So they’re heading southwest," Scott said, stating the obvious.
"We’ll head in that direction for now," Kyle said. He then started shaking his head.
"What’s wrong, boss?" Trek asked.
They all looked at him with concern.
"Nothing," Kyle said shortly, then continued, "It’s just I should have figured this out sooner. I mean, I saw all the signs. It was right there in front of my face."
They all looked confused.
"What was?" Duke asked.
"Him!" Kyle replied.
"You mean your father?" Jenny asked.
"I should have recognized him from the beginning," he told them, "He kept leaving all these little hints. I just never picked it up."
"Don’t be so hard on yourself, Kyle," Beast told him, "This guy duped us all."
"Beast is right," Jenny told him, "There was no way you could know Mobius was your father."
Kyle nodded reluctantly, though he still looked upset.
"I just thought I’d let you know," Dante spoke up, "That a large aircraft was just spotted over a small village in New Mexico."
"Do you think it’s another distraction?" Erica asked.
"It is possible they could be there," Dante told them, "New Mexico is on the path the STOL was taking."
"It’s all we’ve got," Kyle decided, "We’ll go there, then split up and see if any of the people there can tell us where the plane went."
* * *
When they landed in New Mexico, they drove out to the village and split up. Kyle and Annie split off from the others, and Scott again insisted on being with Jenny, which left Duke, Trek and Erica as the last group.
"You don’t happen to speak Spanish, do you?" Scott asked her as they strolled through town.
"She doesn’t," Domino spoke up, "but I can always translate for you."
"Domino," Scott said, "you’re so much friendlier than the other cars."
"I aim to please," Domino responded.
Scott and Jenny both smiled. Scott stuffed his hands in his pockets and matched Jenny’s pace.
"You’re, uh, boss seems to hate me now," he told her.
"Kyle’s just under a lot of pressure," Jenny said, "Besides, he doesn’t really like outsiders coming in to help. He only agreed to let you in because Annie insisted."
"Well, that makes me feel better," Scott said with sarcasm.
Jenny responded quickly.
"I didn’t mean it that way," she told him, "I mean, you’re a big help. And Annie really needs you."
"Yeah," Scott agreed, "She’s taking this really hard. I mean, I had worked with her for three years before the James Arthur case, and I had no idea what was going on between the two of them until she told me a couple weeks ago."
"I’m sure she had her reasons," Jenny said.
"Personal reasons," he said, "They always get you into trouble."
Jenny looked at him, realizing where this line if thinking was going.
"Maybe it’s not such a good idea for Kyle to lead this mission," Scott continued, "Talk about it being personal. Both his father and his brother are involved. He’s got to be more than a little emotionally involved. You said yourself he’s under a lot of pressure."
Jenny shook her head.
"That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be leading this mission," Jenny told him firmly, "Under all circumstances, he’s probably the best person for the job. He knows his father better than anyone, and he’s one of the best agents I know. If anyone can finish this mission successfully, it’s him."
Scott regarded her speculatively.
"You like him a lot," he asked, "don’t you?"
"We’ve all been through a lot together," she told him, "I’m just as close to Kyle as I am to the rest of the team."
"So does that mean there’s no romantic feelings between you?" Scott asked eagerly.
"Absolutely none," Jenny replied without hesitation.
"So you’re saying I have a chance, right?"
Jenny looked straight ahead and grinned.
"About one in a million," she said, walking ahead of him.
Scott watched her go, then smiled even deeper and quickened his pace to catch up.
* * *
Kyle spotted Jenny and Scott out of the corner of his eye. They were speaking to an elderly couple sitting on their dilapidated front porch. He and Annie had just finished questioning a small group of women putting out laundry, with no luck. Kyle walked close beside Annie, who had a look of both determination and weariness on her face.
"He talked about you a lot, you know," Annie suddenly spoke up.
"What?" Kyle asked, turning to her.
"James," she explained, "Back when I was with him, he talked about you and Team Knight Rider. Sometimes I thought he was obsessed with you, especially when he got us onto SkyOne, just to meet you. That’s the real reason he did it, by the way. He just wanted to actually see you. I didn’t understand why, back then, but now I’m sure it was because he knew you were his brother."
"Everything he did makes sense now," he said, "Why he wouldn’t kill me. Why he helped us back on SkyOne. Why he said he needed me."
Kyle breathed out heavily. Annie put a hand on his arm.
"You’ll be able to catch up with him soon," she told him, then added, "Just as soon as I’m finished with him."
They both smiled. Kyle patted her hand, and she removed it shortly. They both suddenly felt better.
"I just wish I’d known about him sooner," Kyle said, "If I’d just had some clue, I’d have been able to track him down years ago."
Annie shook her head.
"There was no way you could know," she told him, "Both Stewart and James himself did their best to hide his existence. It’s only because they’ve willingly come out into the open that we’ve come so far."
Kyle hesitated before he spoke again.
"I never really knew what it was like to have a sibling," he admitted.
"You’re lucky," Annie told him jokingly, "I have a little sister who’s a pain in the butt."
"Somehow," he said, "knowing what I know now of James, I have a feeling he’d have been a pain in the butt too."
Annie smiled and nodded in agreement. They came into view of Jenny and Scott again, and she watched as Kyle’s grin turned into a frown as his gaze fell on her partner.
"I guess I should explain to you about Scott," Annie told him.
"What do you mean?" he asked her.
"He can be a bit bull-headed sometimes," she told him, "Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great agent. It’s just he likes to do things his way. He likes being in control. Plus he’s really protective of me. He has been since we were first partnered together. We’re good friends. When I told him about James, he was pretty upset, because at the time we both thought James was a criminal. But Scott knows how I feel about him now, and he wants me to be happy. He’s kind of like the big brother I never had."
Kyle looked at her and smiled.
"You don’t have to defend him to me," Kyle told her, then added, "It isn’t just his attitude that bothers me, anyway."
Annie looked up at him.
"What else?" she asked.
Kyle hesitated. Annie kept her eyes on his face thoughtfully.
"It’s Jenny, isn’t it?" she asked.
Kyle didn’t reply. Annie finally turned away.
"Scott’s just like that," she told him, "He likes flirting with women. It’s nothing you have to take seriously."
Kyle smiled back at her.
"I know," he told her, "I’m not worried about it."
"Liar," Dante accused.
Annie smiled, and Kyle just grinned and shook his head.
* * *
James watched calmly as Dr. Lugae and his helpers finished implementing the newly acquired liquid Adamantium-DI. The liquid metal bonded and hardened against KITT’s already strong outer shell within minutes of being applied. The doctor, who never spoke or expressed any emotion on his pale, wrinkled face, nodded to James as soon as he was finished. James nodded back.
"Report, KITT," he said.
"The Adamantium-DI has bonded to my exterior successfully," KITT replied.
"Excellent!" Stewart exclaimed. His shadowy wheelchair-bound figure could be seen on a monitor in the garage.
James turned to his father.
"Time for another mission," Stewart told them, "James, KITT, I need you to fetch something for me. And I need it right away. It’s time to put stage two into action."
* * *
From what they could glean from the helpful villagers, the STOL landed somewhere in the San Juan Basin. The team drove out there inside Beast and Dante since the other vehicles weren’t designed to make that drive in the mountains. They drove for over an hour looking for the aircraft. Scott and Jenny were driving with Duke and Beast, while the others were all in Dante. Jenny and the others had made sure not to put Scott and Kyle together since they were both getting on each other’s nerves.
"Anything yet, Dante?" Kyle asked.
"I’m getting strange readings all around," Dante reported, "Something in these mountains is messing with my sensor equipment."
"Same here, Kyle," Beast spoke up.
"Couldn’t it just be regular interference?" Annie asked.
"No," Dante replied, "Our equipment is designed to work properly even in mountain areas. This is something else."
"Can you pinpoint where it’s coming from?" Kyle asked.
"It’s coming from somewhere west of here," Beast told them.
"Isn’t that straight ahead?" Erica asked.
Trek looked at her.
"How did you know that?" he asked.
Erica shrugged and smiled.
"Maybe I’m smarter than you thought," she told him.
"Or maybe you took a peek at that compass in the back seat," Dante said.
Trek smiled. Erica frowned.
"Can’t you ever keep your mouth shut?" she asked the car.
They kept driving. Duke, Jenny and Beast all had to put up with Scott’s doubts of finding anything out there. They drove for another 45 minutes before they found something.
"Kyle," Beast spoke up, "I have something straight ahead. It’s a building, just over that bluff."
They all stopped short of the bluff. The people then all jumped out and climbed up to the edge of the rock. As soon as they peered over, they could see a large bunker at the bottom of the hill. There were no guards outside, and no visible security precautions. A barely used dirt path could be seen running away from the bunker behind the base of a small mountain. Tire tracks lined the path.
"Any sign of the STOL?" Kyle asked.
"No," Dante replied, "There is no aircraft anywhere nearby."
"What about inside the bunker?" Duke asked, "Anybody in there?"
"There’s some sort of barrier around the place our sensors can’t get through," Beast said, "It’s just like the one back at the CSI lab."
"This must be it," Kyle said, "We have to go in."
"You want all of us to go in?" Jenny asked.
Kyle shook his head.
"Just me, you, Annie and Duke," Kyle said, then added, "And Scott. Dante, Beast, you start working on that barrier."
"What do we do?" Erica asked, indicating herself and Trek.
Kyle glanced at them.
"Watch our backs," he told them, "And keep in contact."
Erica and Trek exchanged glances as the others hurried down the slope to the bunker.
"So basically he meant we just sit on our butts and wait for them to have all the fun," Erica said.
Trek shrugged, taking a seat on a small flat rock.
"You don’t have to sit on your butt," he told her.
Erica made a face at him.
* * *
Kyle led the others down to the bunker. After a quick circle of the building, they found only one entrance - a steel door on the opposite side. They all gathered around it.
"There’s not even a lock we can pick," Annie said.
Duke regarded the door speculatively, then went right up and turned the knob. The door opened easily. Duke glanced back at them and smiled.
"Stewart has a habit of leaving his doors unlocked," he said.
Jenny smiled. Kyle just nodded to Duke and led the way inside. The bunker was dimly lit inside. There was only one narrow hallway they came to. Both directions led to a single steel door.
"Which one first?" Jenny asked.
Suddenly the door to their right opened and four men popped out. They all carried AK-47’s and pointed them at the five intruders.
"Looks like they’ll be making that choice for us," Duke said as they all raised their hands.
"Move it!" one of the men ordered, herding them towards the opposite door.
The room the five prisoners were brought to was large and looked like a mini garage. A large monitor sat on the other end of the room. Kyle and the others noticed Dr. Lugae was present, standing next to the monitor. He had his hands folded in front of him and was facing them with a blank stare. A familiar figure appeared on the monitor seconds later.
"So," Stewart said, "you’ve found me again. And in record time, too. Unfortunately for you, as you can see, I was well prepared. However it does look like I’ll have to move my operation elsewhere."
"Where are James and KITT?" Kyle asked.
"Concerned about your little brother?" Stewart asked, "How caring of you, Kyle. I’m sorry to say he and KITT are not here right now. They’re off doing me a little favor."
"What kind of favor?" Kyle asked suspiciously.
"Oh, nothing they can’t handle," Stewart said evasively, "Now, as for you, I can’t have you tearing apart the country looking for me again. And I certainly can’t leave behind the evidence I was here."
Duke frowned as Kyle narrowed his eyes. Dr. Lugae then moved to a storage locker and pulled something out of it. The device was relatively small. There was a number display on the front. The others recognized it immediately.
"C4 has been placed all throughout this bunker," Stewart told them, "This bomb will be set to go off in one hour. The good doctor and these gentlemen should be able to have everything packed up and be long gone by then. Gentlemen?"
The men started herding them away. Kyle resisted and kept his gaze on his father.
"I can’t believe you!" he seethed.
"Believe it, Kyle," his father told him.
Kyle glared at him as he was shoved out of the room. They were taken to a small cell-like room and manacled to the wall with the same magnetic cuffs they’d been bound with twice before.
"This is starting to get old," Duke commented as his wrists were magnetically sealed to the wall.
The bomb was placed on the floor directly in front of them, most likely just to tease them. As soon as the armed men left, Kyle and the others struggled futily to free their wrists.
"Beast?" Duke spoke up, talking towards his wrist-com.
There was no reply.
"That barrier is cutting off communication," Jenny said, "We can’t contact the others for help."
"This is just great," Scott complained, continuing his fruitless struggle.
"Save your energy," Kyle told him, "Our only hope is that Dante and Beast de-activate the barrier."
"It took them almost two hours to do it last time," Duke said, "Now we have only 56 minutes."
"They’ll do it," Jenny said with confidence.
Suddenly just a moment later the cuffs dropped heavily to the floor. The five of them all stared down at them in surprise.
"Dante?" Kyle asked into his watch.
"You didn’t think we could do it that quickly, did you?" Dante asked.
"How did you do it?" Duke asked.
"Simple, Duke," Beast said, "They used the same type of barrier here as the last one. It only took a few minutes to find the same frequency and deactivate it."
"Speaking of deactivating," Scott said, crouching down beside the bomb.
Kyle and Duke crouched down next to him, and the three of them examined the device.
"Looks like it’s wired for tampering," Scott said.
"Can it be stopped?" Jenny asked.
Scott and Duke worked together to remove the housing and inspect the innards of the bomb. They picked apart the wires. As Kyle, Jenny and Annie watched, Duke pulled out a pair of wire-cutters from his back pocket as Scott separated a green wire from the rest of the bunch.
"Here goes nothin’," Duke said as he slipped the wire in between the blades.
He glanced up at Kyle, who nodded. As the others held their breath, Duke squeezed the handle and cut the wire. Silence ensued. They all watched as the digital display froze. They were about to relax, but then the numbers blurred before them and grew smaller and smaller.
"Uh-oh," Duke said.
"We have about two minutes before this goes off," Scott told them, "We have to get out of here."
Kyle nodded, and they all stood and hurried out the door.
"What about Lugae?" Jenny asked as they made their escape.
"No time for him," Scott told her, urging her forward.
They exited the bunker and spilled out into bright sunlight. As soon as they cleared the building they ran back up the slope they’d come down to join Trek, Erica and the cars.
"What happened?" Erica asked them.
"There’s a bomb in there that’s gonna go off at any minute," Duke told them.
"Nice job, Duke," Beast told him.
"Don’t bug me!" Duke warned, pointing a finger at him.
They all flattened themselves against the hard, rocky ground as they peered over the edge.
"I have some bad news, Kyle," Dante spoke up, "While you were busy tampering with the bomb, a STOL landed just a hundred yards beyond that mountain. And a vehicle has exited it and is on its way here now."
They all looked with dread as a black Trans Am appeared on the dirt path and headed right for the bunker.
"Can’t we stop him?" Annie asked with concern.
"Not without getting ourselves killed," Scott told her.
They watched as KITT drove right into the bunker through a hidden garage entrance. Only a few short seconds later, the bunker disappeared in a cloud of fire and smoke. Scraps flew from the blast site in all directions. One hunk of metal landed on Beast’s hood.
"That’s gonna hurt in the morning," Beast muttered.
As soon as the explosion was over with and the debris started to settle, the seven humans all picked themselves up off the ground and dusted themselves off. The moment Annie saw the leveled bunker she started sobbing. Jenny and Erica went over to her to comfort her. The others also looked morbid. Kyle gazed evenly at the destruction, then looked down and closed his eyes.
Duke, Scott and Trek immediately descended down the slope toward the wreckage. Kyle and the others soon followed, including Beast and Dante.
"Anything?" Duke asked, scanning the wreckage.
"Not a lot," Beast said, "That bomb didn’t leave much behind."
Jenny led Annie inside Dante while the others stayed outside.
"We have to find them," Kyle finally decided, "Alive or dead."
"Uh, Kyle…" Dante started.
He was cut off when a pile of wreckage suddenly started to move. They all turned to see chunks of metal and pipes shaking and being knocked aside. Seconds later KITT broke free of the debris and drove out into the open. The car’s body was scuffed, but undamaged. He stopped just short of the team.
"It’s KITT," Duke remarked.
"Kyle, James is still inside," Dante spoke up, "And he’s OK."
Kyle face revealed his relief. But then he frowned as KITT revved his engines and advanced on them slowly.
"Everyone, inside the cars!" he told them.
They all hurried to the vehicles as KITT fired his lasers in their direction. One laser hit Dante’s side panel, leaving an ugly black scar.
"And I just got a wax the other day," Dante lamented.
"Evasive maneuvers," Kyle ordered.
KITT released two of his missiles, one at each of the vehicles. One hit Dante directly on his grill. His hood popped up at the impact, and the passengers inside were thrown back in their seats. The missile aimed at Beast hit him on his side, knocking him over in a sideways somersault. He landed back on his tires and settled there. Luckily his three passengers were all buckled in.
"You OK, Jenny?" Beast asked with concern.
"Just take him out, Beast," Jenny replied.
"My pleasure," Beast replied.
Beast sent one if his roof rockets at KITT. The rocket hit the Trans Am dead on. After the explosion, they all looked and saw not so much as a scratch.
"They must have already used the liquid Adamantium on him," Trek guessed, "That’s how they survived the bomb blast."
"Try aiming for the tires, Dante," Kyle said.
"I can’t Kyle," Dante said, "That missile knocked out my weapon systems. Not to mention all the other systems it destroyed."
"Beast," Kyle said, "It’s up to you."
"I got it, Kyle," Beast replied.
Beast sent his second rocket at KITT’s tires. KITT didn’t even try to move out of the way as the rocket hit. KITT’s front tires burst and deflated. Duke smiled.
"We got him," he said.
But then the tires miraculously re-inflated and KITT advanced on the two injured vehicles. The wonder-car fired a high-powered rocket at Beast and struck the monster truck on the left front end. The impact sent the truck careening into the side of a large boulder. The right side window was shattered, and the left tire was shredded.
"I can’t take much more if this," Beast warned.
Luckily KITT halted his attack and instead of finishing them, turned around and sped back toward the STOL. The seven bruised people gingerly climbed out of the two vehicles to survey the damage.
"Well," Duke commented, "Neither of you will be winning any beauty contests anytime soon."
"Very funny, Duke," Dante replied, "I hope you know that with the damage we have sustained, you’ll be lucky if we can drive you out of here in time to make breakfast in the morning.
"Are your AI chips OK?" Trek asked.
"They’re fine," Dante said.
"Can’t say much for the rest of you, though," Erica said.
"At least James is OK," Jenny said, looking at Annie, who had by now had completely hidden any sign she had been crying.
"Yeah," Duke said, glancing at Kyle, "There’s still a chance we can get him back."
"We’ll contact the other cars and get them to track the STOL while we head back," he said.
Trek peered inside Dante’s hood and coughed at the steam and smoke billowing out.
"So what’s the prognosis?" Erica asked him.
"We may have to get out and push if we come to any relatively steep inclines," Trek told them, "Otherwise, they should be able to drive back, but no faster than 5MPH."
"That’ll take days!" Erica exclaimed.
"It’s either that or walk," Trek offered.
Duke glanced around at each of them.
"Anyone got a deck of cards?"
* * *
On to Part Two