Team Knight Rider - Season Two
Chapter Three: Superfuel
It was evening by the time they reached Cape Canaveral. Domino managed to gain them clearance onto the base and a meeting with their military head of security, who was in charge of all military officers guarding the space center. Kyle, Trek and Jenny traveled inside Dante and Domino as they drove through the various military guard gates to the main operations building and parked outside in the visitor's parking lot. As soon as they entered, a handsome man in his mid-thirties wearing an air force uniform and short-cropped blond hair walked over to meet them.
"Adam?" Jenny asked as soon as she saw him.
The man turned to her in puzzlement, then his face cleared and he smiled broadly.
"Jenny Andrews," he said aloud, greeting her warmly, "I should have known I'd be seeing you here. Mike told me you joined Team Knight Rider."
Jenny smiled, then turned to the others.
"This is Major Adam Brooks," she told them, "He trained with my older brother, Mike."
"I guess I don't have to introduce myself anymore," Adam said, shaking hands with the others, "Welcome to the Kennedy Space Center, also NASA headquarters. I apologize that Major General Cooper couldn't be here, but he had other important matters to take care of."
"That's all right," Kyle said, "I trust you understand why we're here."
Adam nodded gravely.
"Yes," he said, "That lovely-sounding woman on the phone told me about what's been going on."
Jenny smiled and the other two exchanged knowing glances.
"Don't worry," Adam told them, "I've alerted all our men to be on the lookout for both James Arthur and Guillermo Muerto. I've also stepped up security on the base."
"Do you have any idea why they would be here?" Kyle asked him.
"I just may," he told them, "A month ago NASA was contacted by Dr. Rivers. He asked to allow him to test his Superfuel on one of the space ships to see if it would work just as well under zero-gravity conditions. NASA refused, since testing of the Superfuel hadn't yet been completed. Apparently Dr. Rivers was upset at their refusal."
"You think the Superfuel was brought here so they could put it in the space ship's fuel tanks before the launch tomorrow?" Trek asked.
"It's a possibility," Adam acceded, "Although the motive for this is unknown, since I heard Dr. Rivers has recently been murdered."
"It's still the most likely explanation," Jenny said, "I mean, why else would they bring it here?"
"OK," he said, "Maybe someone else had their own reasons for wanting the Superfuel on that space shuttle. For now that's what we'll focus on."
"We have security detail on the shuttle already," he told them, "They'll remain there until the launch tomorrow. We also have cameras and sensor equipment set up all around the base."
"Good," Kyle said, "But knowing James it might not be good enough."
Adam told him, "I understand your experience with this criminal, Mr. Stewart, so I understand how concerned you are about his presence here. I assure you we of the military share your concerns. This mission is of the utmost importance not only to America but to many other nations as well. Not only that, but eight men and women including two Americans will be on that shuttle. We're not taking any chances on their lives. So why don't you trust us to take care of things inside this base, and you can take care of things on your own outside."
Kyle smiled and nodded politely.
"Sure," he said, exchanging glances with Trek.
"Why don't I take Jenny and show her our security precautions," Adam suggested, "You two are welcome to remain on the base as long as you wish. You're also invited to watch the launch tomorrow from the spectator area designed for personnel and astronaut families."
"That would be fine," Kyle said.
Adam smiled and nodded, then turned to Jenny.
"Jenny?" he asked.
Jenny glanced at Kyle.
"We'll catch you back at SkyOne," Kyle told her.
Jenny gave him and smile, then joined Adam. Kyle and Trek watched as the two of them walked away.
"Boy," Trek spoke up, "Those military types are full of themselves, aren't they?"
"Don't forget, Trek," Domino told him, "Jenny used to be one."
"I meant everyone except her," Trek amended.
"But you're right on one thing," Kyle said as they walked outside towards the cars, "He's definitely overestimated his defenses. So far James has proven he can infiltrate high-security areas and pose as personnel. Not to mention the fact he somehow acquired Beast's override code, maybe even those of the other cars."
"That's a scary thought," Dante said as Kyle and Trek climbed in, "A criminal having control over me."
"Sort of like AI mind-control," Trek chuckled.
"Who would want to take over Dante's mind?" Domino asked.
"Funny," Dante said, "I was just about to say the same of you."
"So," Trek said as they drove off the base, "What are we gonna do now while Jenny pals around with her army buddy?"
Kyle told him, "We have some questions to answer."
"Like who hired James and Muerto?" Trek asked.
"And how James managed to steal the Superfuel," Kyle added, "and the motive for killing Rivers and bringing the Superfuel to the launch."
"Not to mention what they plan on doing with it," Trek supplied, "I mean, does he plan on just walking up and dumping the Superfuel into the shuttle's gas tanks?"
Kyle shook his head.
"Who knows what methods he'll use," Kyle said, "Fortunately, we know what he looks like. We also know that if he tries anything, it'll have to be tonight."
"Let's just hope Major Adam has the base as secure as he says he does."
"Jenny'll be able to give us all the details on that when she gets back," Kyle said.
"And until then we do the boring work, right?" Trek asked.
Kyle grinned and glanced at him.
"Think of it as solving a mystery, and expanding your knowledge," Kyle told him.
Dante and Trek both snorted.
"Yeah, right," Dante said.
* * *
Jenny and Adam strolled side by side, both with their hands clasped behind their backs.
"There are security cameras on the space craft itself," Adam was telling her, "We have armed men patrolling the area in six minute intervals, as well as four officers stationed at the only access gate to the launch pad."
"Looks like you have it all covered," Jenny remarked as they passed one of the patrols.
Adam grinned at her.
"We like to make sure all options are covered," he told her, "The military doesn’t leave anything to chance. Or don’t you remember?"
Jenny elbowed him playfully in the ribs.
"It wasn’t that long ago," she reminded him, "I still remember all my training."
"I was getting a little worried," he admitted, "I thought maybe all that breezy government work was making you soft."
"You don’t have to worry about that," Jenny told him, "I can still take you any day."
"It doesn’t seem that long ago," he told her, "that you, me and your brothers were all playing those military games with water guns and water balloons."
"I remember," she said, "My team always beat your team."
"That’s only because you had Stu on your team," he defended himself, "Not to mention you spent every day shooting at that cardboard` target you put on that tree in your backyard."
"Hey, you practiced too," she told him.
"But not with a Major General helping me along," he said.
Jenny smiled, remembering how her father had always encouraged her and helped her in her competitions.
Adam’s face turned serious as he looked at her.
"He was pretty disappointed when you left," he told her, then added, "We all were."
Jenny frowned and nodded.
"It’s not like I abandoned it," she told him, "I’m still fighting bad guys. Just on a different team."
"Still," he said wishfully, "it would be nice to have you back. We could go practice at the paintball range."
"Just name the time," she warned, "I’ll whip you like I did before."
He gave her a small smile.
"That wouldn’t be so bad," he told her in a quieter voice.
Jenny looked away. Adam sighed.
"I miss you," he finally admitted.
She looked at him.
"I miss you too, Adam," she told him, "We had some good times, and we were through a lot together. You’re like one of my brothers."
Adam grunted at that. He hesitated before he continued.
"I hope we always stay friends," he said.
Jenny put a hand on his arm.
"We will," she promised.
He smiled at her. She smiled back.
"Uh, Jenny, Hon," Domino spoke up, "I don’t want to interrupt your reunion with that handsome Major, but Kyle’s starting to get antsy."
"Tell him I’m leaving soon," she told her car.
Jenny and Adam stopped walking and faced each other.
"Guess this is probably the last time we’ll be alone before you leave," Adam said, then added hopefully, "Unless you’ll be staying longer."
Jenny shook her head.
"Once this mission is over, we’re on our way," she told him apologetically.
"You’ll have to visit again sometime when you’re on leave," he told her.
"I will as soon as I can," she promised.
They both hesitated, then moved forward to hug. It was slightly awkward, and Jenny found that strange since it had never been awkward before. When they parted, Adam kept his hands on her arms for a moment as he looked at her.
"Remember when you were eight?" he asked her, "I told you that you’d grow up to be ugly and have warts on the end of your nose like the wicked witch of the west?"
"Yes, I remember," Jenny told him, "and I believed you. I was so worried my mother finally had to set me straight."
Adam smiled, then looked at her admiringly.
"I’m glad I was way off," he told her.
Jenny’s smile dropped as she looked up at him.
"Um, I had better go," she said a moment later, feeling nervous.
She backed away, and they lost contact.
"I’ll see you tomorrow then, at the launch?" he asked.
"Bright and early," she told him.
They smiled at each other, then Jenny turned to leave. She could feel Adam’s eyes on her back the whole way.
"Looks like Major Brooks has a crush on you," Domino spoke up slyly as Jenny climbed in.
"What are you talking about?" Jenny asked her, "He’s just a friend."
"He was just a friend," Domino reminded her, "Things may have changed since you were kids."
"That’s nonsense," Jenny insisted, "Yes, we’re close friends and we care about each other a lot, but that’s it."
"Sure it is," Domino humored her, "You could tell by the way he was ogling you."
"He was not ogling me!" Jenny told her firmly.
"Whatever you say," Domino told her, "Go ahead and live in denial. But we both know the truth."
Jenny shook her head, trying to ignore the feelings she had been having ever since Adam had complimented her, and still not quite believing that her childhood friend, who she thought of as a brother, had actually flirted with her.
* * *
Late that night, only a few hours before take-off, the NASA base was under heavy guard. Two armed men in uniform guarded the gate leading in to the launchpad area, with two more men in the guardhouse nearby. Lights illuminate the whole area. Another pair of military men made their rounds around the circumference of the launch area. Everything was safe and secure.
The two guards at the gate watched as the lone man in the NASA uniform approached with confidence. As soon as he neared the gate, the guards moved to block his path.
"What's your business here?" one of the guards asked.
"I'm here to check the tanks," the man told them, "We were told that someone might try to tamper with them, so I was sent to make sure everything is OK."
"Do you have id and clearance?" the guard asked.
The man reached into his pocket and handed the guard his tags and work order. While that guard inspected his documents, the other one looked closely at the man. He appeared to be in his thirties, with bushy jet-black hair, a perfect triangle goatee, and a mole on the left side of his neck. He in no way fit the description of the criminal suspected to attempt to interfere with the launch. After a few moments the guard gave the man back his papers.
"You're clear," the guard told him, moving away so he could pass.
"Thank-you," the man said, smiling.
He passed through and went straight for the fuel tanks. As soon as he reached them he used an access code to open them up. Then, looking around first to make sure no one was looking, he took three vials full of dark brownish-bronze liquid from beneath his shirt and began pouring.
As soon as he was finished, James replaced the now-empty vials under his shirt and closed up the fuel tanks once more. Then, satisfied, he whistled lightly as he left the launch pad area.
* * *
Kyle and the others got up at a very early four a.m. that morning in order to be present for the six o'clock launch scheduled for the new space station. Even though Erica had objected dramatically the day before about getting up so early, she eventually caved in and agreed as long as she wasn't expected to be in a good mood.
"I hope you ordered coffee," Erica said as soon as she entered the garage that morning where the others were gathered.
"Uh, Clayton should be bringing some down soon," Kyle promised.
"Good," Erica said, "He better bring at least five for me."
Erica climbed onto Kat and leaned her head on her arms, which she leaned against Kat's handlebars.
"I hope you don't plan on sleeping on our way to the launch," Kat told her.
"Why not?" Erica asked, raising her head, "You can drive."
"That's not the point," Kat said.
"Erica," Kyle told her, "Stay awake. This is important."
"We got a call from Mr. Buttons at Alverton Chemicals this morning," Kyle informed them, "Apparently they continued testing the Superfuel and found something unexpected. It seems that under normal conditions the Superfuel works perfectly. But otherwise it's highly unstable."
"What abnormal conditions make it unstable?" Jenny asked.
"The amount of Superfuel stolen only works properly if it’s added to just the right amount of regular fuel, no more than 700 gallons," Kyle told them, "Any more and it causes changes in molecular covertness."
"Ah, I think you mean molecular cohesion," Trek amended.
"Right," Kyle said.
"Rocket fuel tanks have much more than that in them," Duke said, "That means if that stuff gets into the fuel tanks and the ship takes off, the tanks will explode."
"Not to mention kill eight people," Jenny said.
Kyle told her, "I think you better get hold of your army buddy and let him know about this."
Jenny nodded and left.
"Do you think the guy who's behind this knows about the Superfuel's instability?" Trek asked Kyle.
"I wouldn't count it out," Kyle said, "Maybe his goal is to ruin this mission for some reason."
"Or maybe he has a beef with those NASA guys," Beast suggested.
"We should get over there right away," Kyle said.
He and the others went to their vehicles and climbed in. Then Kyle and Dante led the way down the ramp leading off SkyOne and towards the NASA base.
* * *
"So what did he say?" Kyle asked Jenny when they met up at the spectator site.
Jenny's expression was serious and negative looking as she answered.
"I told Adam everything," she told him, "And he agreed to check on it, but as long as there's still no evidence the space ship has been tampered with, the launch is still on. In fact final countdown is in just a few minutes."
"But someone could have snuck in and done something without anyone knowing," Trek said.
Jenny shook her head.
"Major General Cooper's men and NASA employees have already run an extensive inspection of all the equipment, including the fuel tanks. Nothing has been reported abnormal," she told them, "Security was tight last night. There have been no intruders into the launch area."
Kyle nodded and looked around.
"I just hope your friend Adam is right," he said.
"You can ask him yourself," Jenny told him, "He's up in the spectator tower with the General. We've all been invited to join them."
Kyle swept his arm out towards the tower.
"Lead the way," he told her.
Jenny led the way up to the tower where Adam stood with two other military men and an older more decorated man in his fifties.
"You must be the rest of Team Knight Rider," the older man, presumably Cooper, said to them as he moved to meet them.
"Major General," Adam told him, "This is Kyle Stewart and his team."
Cooper nodded to them, not offering his hand to shake.
"A pleasure, I'm sure," he said, "Major Brooks tell me you have some doubts about our security prowess."
"Not exactly," Kyle told him, "We're just concerned that this criminal who has the Superfuel seems to have the necessary skills to pull a job like this with no one the wiser."
"Well, our security cameras have been on this launch site since yesterday afternoon," Cooper told them, "And my men have been patrolling that area all this time. No unauthorized person has gotten in or out of that area. I can guarantee it."
Suddenly Kyle got an idea.
"What about authorized people," Kyle asked.
Cooper frowned for a moment as he looked at Kyle, then turned to one of his men.
"Lieutenant, get me a list of all the authorized personnel admitted to the launch pad in the last ten hours."
The man disappeared out the door. Only a few minutes later he returned with a printout that he handed to the General, just as the final countdown for take-off was commencing. The General read them, then raised his head to address the TKR team.
"Only three authorized NASA personnel were admitted to the launch area last night," Cooper told them, "none of whom fit Arthur's description. Two of them were Adrienne Clark and Scott Wilson, both NASA technicians who entered at five-oh-six this morning to check on the spacecraft. The other was James A. Reinthurst, who is also a member of NASA. He entered at four-ten this morning to check on the fuel tanks."
Immediately the five TKR members all exchanged similar glances.
"Even Erica could figure that out," Dante spoke up.
"Stuff if, chrome-face," Erica said irritably.
"James A. Reinthurst?" Trek asked skeptically, "As in James A-R-thur?"
Cooper and Brooks glanced at one another with puzzled expressions.
"That's him," Kyle told Cooper urgently, "That's James. You have to call off the launch."
Just then they all looked out the window as the noise from the lift-off reached them. Slowly the spacecraft climbed into the air.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," Cooper said solemnly, "It's too late."
They all watched and waited as the craft slowly rose higher and higher into the air, expecting it to explode at any time. The eyes off all in the tower were glued to it, and each was silent. Then, as the spacecraft soon disappeared up through the clouds and inevitably into space, Kyle and the others frowned and took on puzzled expressions as the expected did not occur.
"What happened?" Duke asked.
"Nothing, obviously," Beast replied promptly.
Cooper picked up a red phone and put it to his ear.
"How is the ship doing?" he asked.
They all waited as he received his answer. Cooper showed no change in emotion as he nodded seconds later and hung up the phone.
"The ship is 100% OK," Cooper told them, "Absolutely nothing has gone wrong, and they're entering into orbit as we speak. Looks like you were wrong, Mr. Stewart."
Kyle and Jenny exchanged glances at this. Kyle gave the General a polite grin.
"It looks like I was," he admitted, "Sorry to worry you."
Cooper gave him a smile and look of great superiority.
"Think nothing of it," he said, "You're still young in your command, and I'm sure you have much yet to learn. There was no harm done."
Trek and Duke glanced at one another with both surprised and apprehensive expressions.
Kyle looked at him for a moment before responding.
"Yes, well, thank-you for your time," Kyle told him, "But we should get going and continue our search for James."
"I understand," he told him, "Good fortune in capturing your criminal."
"Thank-you," Kyle told him, then turned to go.
"I hope our paths cross again, Sergeant," Cooper said to Jenny, then added, "I mean, Miss Andrews."
"So do I, General," Jenny told him, shaking his outstretched hand. She then turned to Adam.
"I'll walk you out," Adam told her.
So Adam and the five TKR members walked out of the tower and over to their cars.
"I'm sorry you weren't able to catch your criminal," Adam told them as he stood with Jenny beside Domino, "I'm sure you'll manage to get the Superfuel back somehow."
"Gee, thanks," Trek said as he and Erica climbed into their combo car.
"Don't worry," Kyle assured the military man, "I still have a few leads to work on. We'll catch him."
Adam nodded, then turned to Jenny.
"It was nice seeing you again, Jenny," he told her sincerely, "You should really visit more often. I never realized how much I missed you until I was transferred here."
"Oh, keep this one, Jenny," Domino told her, "Not only is he cute, but he's a gentleman."
Jenny smiled nervously while Kyle and Duke exchanged glances and rolled their eyes. Adam frowned in puzzlement as he stared at the sports car.
"Is that your car?" he asked, "Domino? That voice sounds familiar."
"Nice talkin to you again, Major," Domino told him in her sexy voice.
Adam smiled hesitantly, staring strangely at the car.
"Don't mind her," Jenny said, "It was nice seeing you again too."
"Next time you visit, give me some warning," Adam told her, "I'll arrange for some off-time."
"I will," Jenny promised.
The two of them hugged like old friends, and were both smiling when they parted.
"I'll be seeing you, then," Adam said, backing away.
"Bye, Adam," Jenny said.
Adam smiled widely at her, turned to the others and nodded, then turned and marched back to the OPS building.
"Can we go now?" Dante asked.
Moments later they were all back on the road.
"Dante," Kyle asked, "do you have that information for me yet?"
"Yes, Kyle, I do," Dante replied, "And you were right."
"Right about what?" Duke asked.
"Is there something you haven't told us, Kyle?" Trek asked.
"There is an outgoing flight from Cape Canaveral, destination Cuba leaving in twenty minutes," Dante reported, "A Mr. Nick Rawlings is on the passenger list. When I cross-referenced this flight with the one that James and Muerto took out of San Francisco, Mr. Rawlings was on the same flight."
"Good work, Dante," Kyle said, "Let's head for the airport."
"Wait a minute, Kyle," Erica asked him, "Why are we going to the airport again?"
"Wait, I get it," Duke said, "You think this Nick Rawlings guy is actually Dr. Nick Rivers."
"And that Rivers faked his death and then had the ambulance he was supposedly in destroyed so no one would find out," Trek picked it up.
"You mean Dr. Rivers hired Muerto to stage his murder and hired James to steal his own invention?" Jenny asked.
"I think Rivers organized this whole thing so he could use the Superfuel on the space flight," Kyle told them.
"You mean to get them back for rejecting his proposal for a test in outer space," Erica said.
"Not only that," Trek said, "He probably had some scientific reasons to use his Superfuel on the ship, too. He is a scientist, after all."
"Dante," Kyle said, "can you call ahead to airport security and let them know we're on our way?"
"I'm on it."
* * *
Inside the small Cape Canaveral airport terminal, a small skinny man carrying a large black suitcase looked mighty conspicuous as he made his way past the crowds of people and airport staff towards his departing gate. The man looked uncomfortable in his jeans, plaid shirt and base ball cap, and he was constantly rubbing his eyes. Hardly anyone paid him any mind, however, since they all had their own worries to think about.
He saw his gate and headed straight for it, squaring his shoulders and trying to appear calm and relaxed. He stepped into line behind the other passengers waiting to get on their flight to Cuba. A honeymooning couple stood right in front of him, both reluctant to lose contact with the other. Ahead of them stood a family of four, with two preteen girls fighting over the window seat already, their parents vainly trying to hush them up.
Eventually the line moved forward and the man found himself stepping up to the counter to be greeted by a polite young woman with a smile on her face and a bun in her hair.
"Hello," she said in greeting.
The man nodded curtly and handed her his ticket.
"Mr. Rawlings?" she asked.
The man nodded, wishing he were already on the plane.
"Just a moment, please," she said.
The man waited, assuming the woman was getting his boarding pass. She glanced at someone behind him and seemed to nod. The man frowned. Suddenly a hand landed on his shoulder. The man yelped and turned around to see a wiry man in his early-thirties looking down at him with little amusement.
"Dr. Rivers, I presume?" he asked.
Nick Rivers began to sweat. His hand gripped the suitcase tighter.
"You don't look so good," the man continued, "Would you care to come with me?"
"Do I have any choice?" Rivers asked in a defeated voice.
Kyle shook his head.
"I'm afraid not."
* * *
"So you did hire James to steal the Superfuel and take it to the launch site to use on the space station fuel tanks," Kyle accused their captive only an hour later.
Dr. Nick Rivers nodded miserably, his thin form slouched down in the chair he was seated in. Kyle, Duke and Erica all stood around him, while Jenny and Trek, as well as other authority figures, waited outside the interrogation room, watching through the one-way window.
"But I only did it because I was asked to," Rivers told them in a pleading voice.
"You mean someone else was behind this?" Kyle asked.
"I was contacted about a month ago by this man," Rivers told him, "He never told me his name. He just said that if I went along with his plan, he'd set me up for life. He'd give me a new identity, and I could have my own lab and do my own experiments after everything died down. It was him who hired Morto to fake my death. I was following his plan the whole time."
"And you have no idea who this guy is?" Erica asked.
Rivers shook his head solemnly.
"What happened to James and Muerto?" Kyle asked him.
"Muerto left as soon as he was paid, I guess," Rivers told them, "I never saw him again after we landed. As for James, I don't know what happened to him. He was supposed to check-in after he put the Superfuel in the station's fuel tanks, but he never did. He just disappeared."
"What about what happened to the Superfuel?" Duke asked, "According to your tests, that Superfuel should have blown up the space station just a few seconds after it took off."
This time Rivers' expression was puzzled.
"I don't know what happened," he admitted.
Just then an officer came into the room carrying three small canisters of dark bronze liquid.
"We finished going through his suitcase, and found these," the officer said, putting the canisters in front of them.
Rivers' puzzlement increased as he stared at the canisters of Superfuel.
"That's impossible!" he exclaimed, "Those should have been in the fuel tanks. They must have been switched around somehow."
"Who would do that?" Kyle asked, "And why would they be in your suitcase?"
Rivers shook his head, frowning.
"I don't know," he told them, "Someone must have switched these canisters with ones carrying regular fuel. I don't know who, since they were with me the whole time. Except when they were in the airplane storage area."
"You checked your Superfuel?" Erica asked incredulously.
"Well, I couldn't bring it aboard with me," Rivers told them.
"Do you know where either Muerto or James might have gone?" Kyle asked Rivers.
The scientist shook his head.
"I don't know all that much about either of them," he confessed, "Morto never talked a lot, and Mr. Arthur wasn't around all that much. Neither of them talked about themselves or what they planned on doing after this job."
"So there's nothing else you can tell us?" Kyle asked.
Rivers shook his head helplessly.
Kyle then straightened up and nodded at the officer, who then grabbed the handcuffed Rivers and led him away. Seconds later Kyle and the others joined Jenny and Trek out in the hallway.
"So no leads to either James or Muerto?" Jenny asked.
Kyle shook his head.
"Looks like they both got away clean," he said.
"At least we got Rivers," Trek said, "I mean, guys like that make all scientists look bad."
Kyle didn't look satisfied, however.
"Compared to people like James and Muerto, not to mention the guy behind all this," Kyle said, "Guys like Rivers are small fry. He was just being used."
"Too bad he never knew what his boss' name was," Duke said.
"Cheer up, Kyle," Dante told him, "I'm sure we'll get another crack at him."
"I hope so."
Kyle then moved to lead the way out of police HQ. Each person climbed into his or her own vehicle and began their drive back to SkyOne. TE
* * *
Next up:#4 Valley of Eden - you won’t want to miss it!