Author's Notes: Written in response to a comment made by LoverofSilverHairedBishies: "Someone should write a crossover between TF and KR." She was the one to introduce me to both the 2007 Transformers movie and the 2008 remake of Knight Rider, so it's a rather fitting tribute. It's also her birthday present.
This is the first crossover I've ever managed to write to completion, so I hope people enjoy it! The fic is set after both the TF2007 movie and season one of KR2008, but before Revenge of the Fallen.
Disclaimer: I own neither Transformers nor Knight Rider.
One of These Knights
The SSC had seen many improvements since it had come under new management, many of which were purely aesthetic. It had a new couch, a sliding pole, and a whole slew of colorful decorations. But perhaps the best new addition to the complex was currently being put to use by Billy and Zoe.
"Ha! Got you again," Zoe crowed, clapping her hands together.
"Lucky shot," Billy said, looking sullen as he reached into the goal to retrieve the little ball Zoe had shot into it. Then he issued his challenge: "Best in ten."
"But I already beat you ten times," Zoe said cheekily.
"Okay, fine… best out of thirty."
"You've got a lot of catching up to do."
"Are you two playing foosball on the job again?" Sarah asked, entering the room.
"Yes," they both answered in unison, then went back to concentrating on their game. Sarah shook her head and approached their workstation, just to check on things.
"What the…?" She started, looking up at the main screen. "Guys, really; shouldn't you be paying a little more attention?"
"What's the matter?" Zoe asked, scoring one last goal before heading over herself.
Billy stared at his little team in disgust for several seconds before joining them as well. Mike came downstairs. He was toweling his hair, having just taken a shower.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"We're getting a signal, but it's not for us. The frequency must've gotten scrambled; we just intercepted part of it," Billy said, typing rapidly as he sank into his chair.
"What does it say?" Sarah demanded.
A series of glowing blue nonsense-symbols appeared on the main screen.
Everyone turned to Zoe.
"Don't look at me! That's not any language I've ever seen."
"It's not Chinese?" Mike asked.
Zoe rolled her eyes.
"That looks nothing like Chinese," she informed him.
He held up his hands.
"Can you guys decode it?" Sarah asked, squinting at the text.
Mike wondered briefly why she wasn't wearing her glasses. He hadn't been kidding about the sexy-librarian thing…
"I can try," Billy muttered, already entering it into several search databases to see if they could at least pinpoint what language it was.
"Access denied… these are top-secret government files," Zoe murmured. "They're the only match, and we can't get at them."
"Can't you just hack them?" Mike insisted.
"No way; are you nuts?!" Billy yelped. "The feds would be all over us within seconds!"
"Well, what about the signal's origin?" Sarah asked. "Is it traceable?"
"Checking… Hey, I think I've got something!" Billy said.
They all peered at the map he brought up.
"The middle of the Mojave Desert? That seems a little sketchy," Zoe said, frowning.
"We've got no way to tell if it's something dangerous," Sarah said. "Maybe we should just ignore it…"
"No way," Mike countered. "It's too suspicious. KITT and I should do a little recon work."
"Recon only," Sarah warned him. "We don't want anyone knowing we got that transmission."
"Sure thing. Should be a cinch."
He headed for KITT's driver's side door.
"Famous last words," Zoe muttered.
"Ten bucks says he gets in and out without detection."
"Oh, you're on, loser boy."
"Oh man," Mike muttered, staring out through the windshield. The spot the signal had originated from was a large stretch of empty desert. Although it was a fair distance away from the interstate, the smoke from the wreckage Mike was now looking at had been clearly visible even before they'd left the main road.
"There appears to be no one here," KITT said, scanning the area. "Many of the smoldering objects look as though they may have been targets."
"Targets?" Mike repeated. "What kind of targets?"
"Judging by their remains, they were most likely archery targets."
Mike looked at him incredulously.
"I don't know what they were shooting with, but I'm going to bet it wasn't arrows," he grumbled, getting out to survey the area better. There were tire tracks in the sand, as well as footprints, but there were no shells on the ground that would indicate gunfire. Mike approached the nearest of the targets to check what might have set it alight. No sooner had he knelt to study the debris than KITT alerted him through his earwig.
"There is a vehicle approaching. The man inside is armed. The truck itself is… strange," KITT said, sounding perplexed, which Mike didn't like one bit. Sure enough, a black GMC Topkick pulled up seconds later, and the driver stepped out. Based on his getup, he was clearly military. However, he didn't have his weapon in hand.
"Hey there," Mike greeted him, keeping his hands visible.
"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," the man told him. "This is military territory – private property."
"Sorry, man," Mike said. "I saw the smoke and came to check it out. Thought there might've been an accident."
"Well, that's very conscientious of you, but I've got it under control. Nobody's been hurt here."
They stared at one another for a moment, then Mike shrugged.
"All right. I'm going."
He turned and went back over to KITT
"You get anything about this guy?" he asked as he sat behind the wheel again.
"Major William Lennox, U.S. Army."
"He connected to anything we might want to know about?"
"He was involved in an incident in Mission City, Nevada less than a year ago, for which he was awarded several honors, including the rank he currently holds."
"What kind of incident?" Mike asked as they backed out and headed for the main road again.
"I cannot be sure; the files are highly classified."
Mike grumbled under his breath.
"I'm starting to get real sick of classified stuff."
"I'm sorry, Michael."
"Not your fault, KITT. It's just annoying."
They reached the interstate and were heading back to home base when KITT suddenly placed an image onscreen from one of his rear cameras.
"Someone appears to be following us."
Mike glanced from the camera footage to the rearview.
Mike waited as KITT scanned several databases.
"His name is Samuel Witwicky. He is a high school student."
"A senior, to be precise."
"What's a kid doing following us?"
"I don't know. However, the yellow Camaro he is driving is strange in the same manner as the military truck we encountered earlier."
"Adjective. Unusual, extraordinary, or curious—"
"Strange how, KITT? How are they strange?"
"They are abnormal somehow. They are more difficult to scan than normal cars, for example."
Mike was about to make a comment on how KITT was a pretty strange car himself, but lost that train of thought as the Camaro suddenly came up alongside him and then, picking up speed, cut him off. Refocusing on this new problem, Mike swerved easily around the Camaro, then placed several car-lengths between them. But the teenaged driver seemed to have taken that as a challenge, as the bright yellow car was suddenly all he could see in the rearview. A moment later, it was right alongside him, keeping pace.
"A challenger appears," he said, rolling his eyes.
"Michael, I do not recommend provoking him. There is something very strange about the Camaro," KITT warned him again.
"Please, KITT; he's practically still in diapers. Besides, you keep saying that, but you still haven't really explained what kind of 'strange' it is."
"It appears to be more than just a car."
"Very helpful," Mike grumbled, speeding up further. The yellow eyesore kept up without trouble.
Mike's eyes narrowed.
"KITT – attack mode."
The car shifted around him, and he stepped on the gas the moment KITT told him, "Transformation complete," ramping up to 100 MPH and leaving the startled-looking teen, gaping, behind them.
"Better luck next time, kid," Mike snickered.
His amusement died instantly when the Camaro appeared behind them again, gaining on them rapidly. He did a double-take.
"The Camaro is driving itself," KITT informed him, which became apparent a split-second later as the teen's hands clutched his seatbelt instead of the steering wheel.
Sarah's image appeared on the main screen.
"What are you doing?!"
"Trying to ditch some race car."
"You said you weren't going to antagonize them!"
"Noooo," Mike drawled, "I said I wasn't going to 'engage' them. Nobody's using weapons."
"Then why are you in attack mode? Just let him pass you!"
"No way! Besides, as far as I know, this kid isn't connected with that military guy. He's just a teenager."
"Actually, Michael, he is connected with him," KITT cut in.
A picture appeared onscreen of a very disheveled-looking version of the young man in the Camaro.
"Further research indicates that he was also involved in the incident in Mission City."
"Mission City?" Sarah asked. "I saw something about that on the news."
"Officials have told the media that there was a traitor within the military stationed nearby who tried to escape capture in a fighter plane. The resulting dogfight caused significant damage to the city," KITT informed them.
"That sounds a little contrived," Mike said, still keeping an eye on the Camaro, which was hot on their trail. The driver, who was no longer driving, seemed to be hollering at the dashboard.
"KITT, I need you to try and read the guy's lips."
"I'll do my best," KITT replied.
There was a pause as Mike and KITT continued barreling down the interstate, swerving around an increasing amount of traffic as they got closer to the city.
"…That's odd," KITT said suddenly.
"What?" Sarah asked.
"The driver appears to be saying, 'Bumblebee, are you crazy, you're going to get us killed,' but this seems to make little sense."
"Who names their car 'Bumblebee'?" Zoe asked from beside Sarah, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
"Someone Mike should probably ditch," Billy cut in. "That car sounds like bad news, and at this rate it's going to follow him all the way here."
Mike saw his chance to take Billy's advice approaching rapidly in the form of three eighteen-wheelers occupying each of the lanes ahead of them. He gave control back over to KITT.
"Game's over, pal," he said, addressing the teen chasing them. "KITT, Turbo Boost."
Mike was pressed back into his seat as they careened through the air. They sailed cleanly over the blockade of trucks, leaving their pursuer stuck behind with no way around them. Mike grinned smugly, taking the wheel again.
"That we do, partner," KITT agreed.
Back at the SSC, Mike lounged on the couch as Sarah prompted KITT to look for a connection between the signal they'd gotten and the Mission City incident. Meanwhile, there was a bet that needed settling.
Zoe grinned smugly and held out her hand to Billy.
"Pay up," she said.
Billy slapped the $10 bill into her palm, rolling his eyes.
"They didn't even fight…"
"Hey." Zoe held up her hands defensively, clutching the bill between two fingers. "You were the one who phrased it. You just said 'without detection'. They were definitely detected."
Billy moved his hand like a mouth, mocking her, and she smacked him upside the head. Mike had just about dozed off when a series of beeping noises directed everyone's attention to the main console.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Billy yelled, sliding his chair back to the desk. Zoe was close behind.
"What's going on?" Sarah asked, leaving KITT and leaning to look over their shoulders.
"Someone's hacking us!" Billy's voice went up an octave as his hands scrambled madly over his keyboard.
"This is impossible," Zoe said, also typing at a frantic pace. "They've gotten past all of our security firewalls in under a minute!"
Billy had gone pale and his eyes were wide.
"They're going to get everything… I have no idea how to counter this!"
"KITT!" Sarah barked. "Can you tell where the hack is coming from?"
"Negative. The hacker is off-site, within a 100 mile radius, but I am unable to pinpoint their exact location."
"So what do we do?" Mike snapped.
"I don't know!" Billy said tersely.
"We've got to cut the power," Zoe said, getting to her feet.
"Again?" Billy whined. "You're going to axe the hard lines again?"
"We have no choice," Zoe said, retrieving the axe she'd used during the nanovirus attack.
"Allow me," Mike said, taking it from her and making his way to the mainframe. He swung the axe and cut the lines in one clean sweep, then smashed the circuit breaker for good measure. The room was plunged into darkness.
"KITT, headlights, please," Sarah said, exasperated.
The front half of the room lit up again with a blinding glare. As Billy cringed and turned around, Zoe casually grabbed a pair of sunglasses out of her desk drawer and put them on.
Mike picked his way back across the room.
"Was the hacker able to get any files in their entirety?" he asked, directing his question to KITT.
"It appears that they managed to get almost all of our files in their entirety."
Everyone froze. After a lengthy pause, Billy finally managed to speak.
"If I may make an observation," KITT went on, "the signal from the hacker was almost identical to the signal we intercepted earlier from the Mojave Desert."
An array of blue symbols flashed across his windshield, and they did, indeed, resemble the earlier transmission very closely.
"You think that Lennox guy is behind this?" Mike questioned.
"There is a strong possibility."
Mike's cell phone began to ring. He glanced at Sarah, then at the phone.
"No name, no number."
"Answer it," Sarah said. "KITT, try to trace the call."
Mike flipped the phone open and put it to his ear.
"Hello," an oddly familiar male voice responded. "I tried to call your land line, but it appears to have been disconnected."
"Yeah, well, we had a bit of an emergency. Who is this?"
"The emergency you just had."
Mike glared at the phone for a moment, then motioned the others to stay quiet as he put it on speakerphone.
"The data we just extracted from your system is very interesting, indeed. Very valuable, too. I imagine you'll probably be wanting it back."
"I imagine you're calling to offer us a way to get it back," Mike said peevishly.
"You're quick on the uptake," the man said, clearly amused. "So let's cut to the chase, shall we? Five hundred billion."
"Five hundred billion what? Rolls of toilet paper?" Mike asked. "We'll get right on that."
"Very funny!" the man said. "But very wrong. Five hundred billion dollars. Cash. We have your bank account balance, so we know you have it."
"Why not just extract the funds yourselves, then?"
"The account number was one of the few things you managed to keep from us when you cut the hard lines," the man replied flippantly. "Besides; it's more fun this way."
"When and where?" Mike asked.
"Tomorrow evening, eight o' clock." He gave them a pair of coordinates that Sarah quickly scribbled down.
"Plenty of time for you to make copies of the data," Mike pointed out. "What guarantee do we have that you won't just take the money and use our data against us anyway?"
"If you don't deliver the ransom, we'll definitely use it against you. At least this way, you have a fifty-fifty chance, right?"
The man laughed as he disconnected the call. Mike closed the phone and stared at it in disgust.
"KITT?" Sarah asked.
"I'm sorry, Sarah. I was unable to trace the call. The signal was being jammed somehow."
Everyone stood very still for several moments, thinking hard. Zoe finally broke the silence.
"That guy sounded like Billy."
"He did not!" Billy protested.
"Yeah, he really did," Zoe said.
"What are we going to do?" Sarah cut in. "Just hand over the money and hope for the best? We have no idea who these people even are."
"Or what they want," Mike put in. "But I bet we can find someone who does have an idea. KITT?"
"Is there any way you can pinpoint that Major Lennox's location?"
"I will attempt to do so now. But Michael, the voice on the phone was not his."
"I know. But even if it's not him, that signal from the hacker is the same as the signal we intercepted from his location. What are the chances that they're unrelated? It was a rhetorical question," he added as KITT started to break down the percentage.
"Major Lennox is in Tranquility, Nevada," KITT said.
"Let's go pay him a visit, then," Mike said, heading for the driver's side door.
"Be careful," Sarah said. "We'll start patching things back up here, but in the meantime our resources will be limited. We don't want them getting whatever they missed the first time. Oh, and Mike?"
"Next time you have to cut the hard lines, don't knock out the electricity, all right? They're not even related."
Mike opened his mouth to retort, thought better of it, and instead simply waved her off as he sat in the driver's seat. Zoe, Billy, and Sarah turned KITT's platform around, then slowly, manually opened the chamber doors. KITT took off down the tunnel.
"Do we always have to get into my lack of technical proficiency? Seriously," Mike groused.
"Well, Michael, if you had paid more attention during training, perhaps we would not always have to 'get into' it."
"…Do you always have to side with Sarah?"
"No," KITT said. "But she is usually right."
They were back on the interstate, and Mike looked around. KITT's GPS indicated that they were about five miles from Tranquility.
"Hey, isn't this the same area where we ran into him earlier? He didn't go far…"
"No, he didn't. And we have a problem," KITT said matter-of-factly.
"What kind of a problem?"
KITT displayed the rear camera view on the windshield.
It was the Camaro again.
"That kind of a problem."
"This guy again? He needs to get a new hobby. Unless…" Mike sped up and swerved around a Jeep. "You don't think that high school kid is the hacker, do you?"
"While it is entirely possible, it does not seem likely," KITT informed him. "His grades in school are only slightly better than your technical proficiency."
Mike stared at the dashboard.
"Harsh, KITT. Very harsh."
"Sometimes the truth hurts, Michael."
Mike shook his head, then checked the rearview. As predicted, the Camaro had once again given chase.
"All right; I'm done playing this game," Mike said.
He pulled off the road to the blaring of car horns, and KITT transformed into his 4x4 mode to compensate for the lack of traction. The Camaro followed them just as expected. He led their pursuer down the steep ridge and continued deep into the woods below until he was sure they were out of range of the highway.
"Keep the EMP generator ready, just in case," he said as they rolled to a stop in a clearing. He stepped outside. The kid in the Camaro did likewise.
"Why are you following me?" Mike asked him, point-blank.
"Well, y'see, that's a really good question," the teen said, casting a perturbed look in the direction of his own car. "Kind of wish I knew that myself."
"So, what; your car is following me, against your will?"
The teenager obviously hadn't pre-planned an explanation.
KITT's voice was suddenly in his ear.
"Michael, the Camaro is trying to transmit a signal to me in the same unknown language as we picked up in the desert and from the hacker."
Mike narrowed his eyes at the kid, who grimaced.
"So… uh… your Mustang turned into a truck. What's up with that, huh?"
"What is your Camaro transmitting to my truck?" Mike countered.
The other paled.
"Bee!" he said loudly, and for a split second, Mike thought he was freaking out over insects in the woods, until he remembered Billy and Zoe's car name discussion.
"Answer the question," Mike said warningly.
"Look, I, uh, asked you first! Right. And your car transformed, okay? So are you – I mean your car – is your car an Autobot or a Decepticon?"
Mike stared. There was an awkward pause.
"Neither of these words holds any definition to me."
"Neither," Mike responded on KITT's behalf.
"Oh… is KITT the car-truck's name?"
Mike resisted the urge to smack himself in the forehead.
The Camaro suddenly came to life, the engine revving without the driver inside. There was a brief pause, and then Mike was staring, dumbfounded, as the car unfolded into a very large, very eerily familiar type of robot.
"No!" the teenager yelped, jumping in front of the giant yellow robot as if he could protect it. "He's friendly!"
"Michael?" KITT queried, the blast ready but not yet deployed.
Mike stared the boy down.
"Well, last year my dad made a deal with me that if I raised two thousand dollars and got three A's in school, he'd buy me a car—" He started rambling, but 'Bee' crouched closer to their level and cut him off. The voice that came next was strange and disjointed, like a series of words plucked from different recordings, and only some of it came from what constituted the robot's mouth.
"I am an autonomous robotic organism from the planet Cybertron. You can call me 'Bumblebee.'"
"Right. Bumblebee," Mike said, still recovering from a horrible flashback to KARR's rampage. "Michael Knight. Human, from the planet Earth. You can call me 'Mike.'"
"And I'm Sam," the teenager put in, raising a hand in greeting.
"It is nice to meet you, Mike." The robot spoke again in its strange combination of voices. "I'm sorry for following you."
"Lennox thought it was suspicious that you came to our firing range. Ironhide said that your car didn't respond normally to his scanners," Sam explained.
"That's the name of the truck Lennox was with when you met him."
"There're more of these guys?" Mike asked incredulously, motioning to Bumblebee.
Sam and Bumblebee nodded and gave him a moment to let it sink in.
As if on cue, the Topkick from earlier came skidding into the clearing and, after depositing its passenger on the ground outside, folded out to become a much more sizeable robot than its yellow companion. It pointed its two massive cannons one each at Mike and KITT.
"Whoa, easy!" Sam hollered. "They're friendlies! As it turns out."
"The 'bot does not respond to our transmissions," Ironhide said gruffly.
"Yeah, and the driver's been poking around our business," Lennox added. "You get any information out of them?"
"We were getting to that," Sam said meekly, still motioning at Ironhide to lower his weapons, which the larger robot did with obvious reluctance.
Bumblebee spoke again, addressing Mike in the form of a song from the radio: "So why are you running away?"
"Hey," Mike said defensively, "we weren't 'running.' I thought you were trying to race us."
Sam caught the new arrivals up on the situation, and then he and Lennox glanced between Mike and KITT with interest.
"So… if your car can transform, but it's not a Cybertronian, what's the deal?" Lennox asked.
Mike hesitated, and Sam suddenly looked understanding.
"Man, if you're worried about giving away some big government secret, we're the biggest government secret there is; y'know, extraterrestrials and all that. So… we won't tell if you won't, yeah?"
Mike eyed them all warily.
"There's still one question I need answered." When all parties nodded, he went on, "Was it you who hacked our computers and called about the ransom?"
Sam glanced at Bumblebee with a bewildered expression. Bumblebee shrugged.
"Seeing as he spent all that time chasing you, when hacking into your computer to see who you were probably would've been a lot faster, I don't think it occurred to him," Sam translated; the robot seemed to have something wrong with his voice.
"Fair enough," Mike finally relented. "Maybe you can help us figure out who did it, then. The hacker's language was the same as the one we picked up from your 'firing range' yesterday."
"You keep saying 'we' and 'our'," Sam said. "So is there someone else in the car or not?"
"Something like that," Mike said, then half-turned to address KITT over his shoulder. "All right, KITT; time for the big reveal. Switch to normal mode and display the hacker's transmission on screen."
KITT did as instructed, going from 4x4 to Mustang before their eyes. Sam looked something between confused and triumphant, probably because he'd been right about KITT transforming but wrong about him being an alien robot. The blue characters of the hack signal played across the windshield, mirrored so that they could see them from outside. Ironhide crouched closer to look at them, then leaned back.
"This is Cybertronian," he said pensively, "but it has no meaning. It is what you might call 'gibberish'."
"So what, it's a prank?" Mike asked. "They stole all our data!"
"This is very strange," Ironhide said.
"There's that word again…"
KITT's voice suddenly emitted from behind Mike, very much not through his earwig.
"Michael, communications with the SSC are back online. Sarah wishes to speak to everyone."
"Hey, the Mustang can talk!" Sam said.
"Yes," KITT said patiently. "My name is KITT. It is nice to meet all of you."
He brought Sarah up on screen.
"Which one of you said that the signal was gibberish?" she asked, cutting right to the chase.
Ironhide leaned into her range of sight and gave a bit of a wave.
"Is there any way that you can determine where the signal originated from?" she asked; Mike had to give her credit for managing to contain her shock, though he could see it in her eyes.
"Only if this 'hacker' transmitted the signal directly to KITT," Ironhide said. "I would need to access the same channel that was hacked."
"In that case…" Sarah took a deep breath. "Mike, I need you to bring your new friends back to the SSC."
"That's a lot of new people seeing the place," he pointed out.
"We don't have time to distrust them. We need to know who we're dealing with. We've been through enough situations like this to know that ransom trade-offs don't always go exactly as planned."
"Right. Okay, everyone; we're going on a field trip."
"Who are you people?" Lennox asked suspiciously, and Mike noticed he was looking at his tattoo.
"Allies," Mike answered. "Come on; I'll lead the way. We'll explain everything when we arrive."
As soon as they'd all passed through the chamber doors, Mike climbed out of KITT and addressed their guests.
"All right, this is the place. Uh…"
He turned to Billy.
"I need you to let this Ironhide guy look at your computer."
"Yeah, sure; which one's Ironhide?" Billy asked, looking mistakenly at the two people who had gotten out of their respective vehicles.
The Topkick and Camaro transformed into their robotic forms. Zoe and Billy gaped at them. Sarah looked more surprised now that she was seeing them in person, but her fascination with them seemed to override all else. Mike could see she was in scientist mode.
Ironhide stepped forward, carefully picking his way around the center of the room, then knelt as close to Billy's level as he could get. Billy looked like he was about to faint.
"That would be me," Ironhide said, answering Billy's question. "And you are?"
"B-Billy Morgan," he stuttered, eyes wide.
"Good to meet you, Billy Morgan. Let's have a look at this signal you received."
"Sure. Be my guest," Billy said, skittering around to the far side of his desk to give Ironhide better access to the computer console.
Zoe, meanwhile, approached Sam and the others.
"Hey, cutie; what do they call you?" she asked coyly.
"I'm Sam," Sam answered.
Zoe looked perturbed.
"Not you. I was talking to the robot."
"Oh. He's Bumblebee."
"I take back what I said earlier," she said, turning to Sarah. "The name does kind of fit."
"What is this place?" Lennox asked. "And what's with the talking car?
"We call ourselves the Foundation for Law and Government," Sarah said, "or FLAG, for short. We used to be a subdivision of several branches of the U.S. government, but we've since declared autonomy. As for KITT…" She glanced at him fondly. "He's a super-advanced AI built to help us carry out our purpose."
"And what purpose would that be?"
"To protect those citizens who are victimized by criminals who operate above the law."
"So you're basically a group of vigilantes," Lennox said, looking uneasy.
The four in question glanced at each other.
"I guess so," Mike said, shrugging. "But like Sam over there said – we won't tell if you don't."
"I've located this hacker of yours," Ironhide suddenly spoke up. "The signal was transmitted from a building sixty-three miles northeast of here."
"All right," Mike said, cracking his knuckles. "Time for plan B. We're going to get these guys before the ransom drop time that they specified."
"Hey, do you mind if I ask what that transmission we picked up from you was," Billy asked Ironhide. "Y'know… the one we intercepted by accident?"
Ironhide frowned as Bumblebee played a laugh track.
"It was nothing important," he said, sounding vaguely defensive.
"Wait, wait. What's so funny, Bee?" Sam asked, his interest piqued.
"Message from Star Command," Bee said through his radio. "You're in big trouble, mister!"
"Stow it, Bumblebee," Ironhide snapped over the repeated laugh track.
"Was it Optimus?" Sam asked. "It was, wasn't it? What'd he say?"
"I bet I can guess," Lennox said, trying but failing to hide a grin. "He probably said not to shoot things so close to the highway, because we'd be seen."
"You can speculate all you want," Ironhide grumbled.
"Leave the poor guy alone," Zoe said, sympathy in her voice. Billy stared at her incredulously.
"We can drag it out of him later," Mike agreed. "Now that we know where our files are, we need a plan for taking them back."
Their plan was straightforward. Mike would infiltrate the building, locate, with KITT's guidance, their files, steal them back, and destroy whatever they were using to hack FLAG's database to begin with.
It had taken a lot of convincing, but the Autobots, as they called themselves, had finally relented when he and the others told them that they couldn't get involved. The pair seemed to be quite disturbed that the hacker knew their language. Ironhide had said that he suspected that the Decepticons was responsible for it somehow. After making him explain what Decepticons were, Mike had been forced to promise that if he found any evidence of Cybertronian presence, he would inform them via KITT so they could move in to take care of it.
Which was reasonable, Mike figured, if these Decepticon things were anything like KARR.
He exited KITT at the top of a ridge overlooking the building in question. From the outside, it looked like any old warehouse, but KITT's scanners indicated that the inside was set up much like an apartment building, with multiple rooms on either side of two main hallways that ran the length of the building and that eventually intersected a corridor running along the width.
"What's their security look like?"
"It is fairly lax, externally," KITT said. "There are cameras along the perimeter, but I have already seen to looping the recordings in the surveillance room."
"Good plan. How many people?"
"There are only about ten. However, they are all armed. There are two particular rooms that are being guarded, which my scanners cannot penetrate. There are no internal cameras to access inside of them, either. They are on opposite ends of the building."
"I'd be willing to bet that one of them is where our info's hiding," Mike muttered.
"The chances of that are very high."
"And what are the chances that we pick the right one on the first try?"
"All right." Mike checked over his gear one last time. "Here goes nothing."
He made his way quickly down the embankment, then dashed for the wall of the building, pressing his back to it as he headed for the nearest door.
"Locked or unlocked?" he asked under his breath.
"The door is unlocked."
Mike raised his pistol with his right hand and slowly eased the door open with his left. He ducked through and was met with no resistance.
"So far so good. KITT, where am I headed?"
"Follow the hallway straight until it intersects with another. But be careful, Michael; there are people in several of the rooms on either side of you."
He crept slowly down the hallway, ears alert for the sound of turning doorknobs. He reached the intersection.
"The third doors on both your left and right lead to the impenetrable rooms. There is a second door on the far side of each but there are two men standing guard there."
"So they're basically identical."
"That is correct."
"Great. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…"
"Michael, aren't you a little old for children's counting games?"
"You're never too old for eeny, meeny, miny, moe, KITT."
Mike glanced down the hall to the left, then the right, then the left again, and then the right again as he sang the rest of the rhyme in his head.
"Left it is," he finally decided and made a quick but quiet sprint down the hall. "Bet this one's locked…"
He tried the handle just to check. To his surprise, it opened. He immediately raised his gun as he pushed the door open. The room was dim and appeared to be empty. He made his way inside and shut the door carefully behind him.
"KITT? You still there?"
Silence. Whatever was sealing off the room from KITT's scanners also seemed to be jamming the earwig. Mike moved to the computer console that was the only source of light in the room and wiggled the mouse to get rid of the screen saver.
For a split second before the screen blinked on, the monitor reflected the rest of the room quite well, and it was that which allowed him to see the dark figure of someone hiding on the crossbeam above him. Then something hard and distinctly boot-like collided with his head, and he fell, unconscious, to the floor.
Mike came to propped up in a chair in a pitch black room. He was too disoriented to tell whether or not he'd lost his earwig. As he regained some measure of a grip on consciousness, he could tell he wasn't alone. Logic followed that it probably wasn't safe to try to talk to KITT.
Footsteps approached him, slow and deliberate. The figure attached to them flicked on a light directly over Mike's head and momentarily blinded him. Just as his vision began to clear, the person in question grabbed him by his hair and yanked his head back, forcing him to look up.
He stared blankly at a mirror image of himself.
"Hello, Michael Knight," his own voice said to him, even though he hadn't opened his mouth.
Mike decided it was better not to answer. When he didn't reply, the other took a step back.
"What do you think?" his evil twin asked, motioning over his visage. "Pretty accurate?"
"You look nothing like me," Mike said with forced amiability. He was rewarded with a punch in the mouth. "Punch nothing like me, either. But you're going to make it real obvious who's who if you bruise up my whole face."
This didn't seem to deter the other much, as he socked him again.
"It's not going to matter, since your friends won't make it in to see you. They've been instructed to come with the ransom as planned, and when they do, they will be killed on sight. Followed closely by you."
"I highly doubt that will go quite the way you want," Mike muttered, thinking of KITT.
"If you're concerned that your super-car is going to thwart our operation, you needn't be. We know all about it and that was part of the bargain."
"They wouldn't make a trade like that. I'm worth much less than the car," Mike scoffed.
"Better to give us the car than let us keep the schematics for it and KARR," his double intoned.
The thought made Mike grimace despite himself.
"I knew you'd understand."
"You know what I don't understand?" Mike put in, trying to keep him distracted. "Who are you guys?"
"Don't tell me you've forgotten," the other said, looking at him oddly as he paced back and forth tauntingly in front of him. "You remember Halloween, don't you? It is your favorite holiday, after all…"
Mike did remember, although he'd been watching the events from over the ocean at the time.
"If you already knew who we were well enough to clone us or whatever you've done, what did you need to hack us for?"
"Because," the other said, "it's easy to steal an identity and easy enough to imitate another person. But a super-advanced AI weapons system in the form of a car? That's much trickier. Now…"
His double stopped pacing and pivoted to look at him.
"I don't suppose you're going to cooperate and tell me how you got in here…?"
"Door was open," Mike said cheerfully, and he got a punch to the gut for his honesty.
"Didn't think so."
His double abruptly turned the light off, and Mike was left disoriented again as his eyes tried to adjust to the sudden darkness. He heard the other's footsteps retreating to the right and heard him mutter something to someone – presumably a guard – standing near the door. Then everything was silent.
Now that he was alone, he began the process of acquainting himself with his situation as captive as best he could in the dark. His hands were tied behind his back with what felt like simple rope, and his feet were free. However, an attempt to stand quickly highlighted the fact that his chair was bolted to the floor. He decided that if that doppelganger of his came back, he'd make sure to trip him if he started pacing again.
"KITT?" he hissed under his breath. "If you can hear me, now would be a good time to say so…"
There was silence. He couldn't even hear the guards breathing, although as his vision began to adjust, he could tell they were there. He tilted his head from side to side for good measure, but he didn't feel the earwig anymore. Realizing they must have confiscated it while he was unconscious, he made a few more futile attempts to break free, then resigned himself to waiting for a better opportunity to present itself. If nothing else, they were most definitely going to regret leaving his legs untied.
Mike must have dozed off eventually, as he was jolted awake by the sound of a scuffle somewhere to his right and the unmistakable noise of a taser in use. A moment later, someone was behind him, fumbling with the ropes at his wrists and muttering expletives under his breath.
"They sent you?" Mike hissed as he realized who had come to his rescue.
"These guys don't know about me 'cause I'm not part of your government… company… thing," Sam explained in a harsh whisper as he struggled to untie him. "So there's no doppelganger to deal with."
The ropes fell away, and Mike leapt to his feet. Rubbing his wrists in annoyance, he turned to face Sam.
"What about Lennox?"
"He's standing by in case we need backup. He's got a lot more at stake if he gets caught here, though. Compared to me, I mean. He's not authorized to be on this mission."
Mike turned on the lamp over their heads and looked around, taking in their surroundings. There were two doors in his immediate line of sight. One was the one Sam had come through; the two guards he'd dispatched with the taser were beginning to stir next to it. The other, he had no idea where it led, but there were no guards standing by it, at least on the inside. The room itself was empty but for the chair and the lamp.
"Don't suppose you've got an earwig for me?" he asked hopefully.
Sam fished around in his pockets and finally produced the tiny lifeline, which Mike took with relief.
"Michael. It is good to hear you. Are you all right?"
"Never better," he said. "Tell me we have a clear path from here to wherever they're storing our info."
"It's never that easy," Sam mumbled, holding the taser he'd used on the guards at arm's length as if he thought it would injure him. Mike rolled his eyes and snatched it away, then walked over to the guards, who were just getting up. He gave them each a good whack with the butt of the taser, and they were out like lights.
"KITT, we can't leave without disabling the source of the hack and getting our files back," Mike said. It was payback time.
"Sarah would prefer it if you came out for now and think of a plan for that later."
"We're already here," Mike insisted.
"Wait, what's this 'we' stuff, huh?" Sam protested, his voice squeaking ever so slightly. "I thought this would be sort of an in-and-out deal."
KITT was silent for a moment, and Mike wondered if he was going to press the issue.
"Yes, you are already there," KITT finally agreed.
"So, just for the record, you're agreeing with me?" Mike asked.
"So sometimes Sarah's not right?"
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Burn," Sam muttered, and Mike rolled his eyes, shoving the taser back into Sam's hands and searching the fallen guards. They each had a pistol on them, which he divested them of.
"You have been moved into the room on the right side of the building that mirrors the one you entered on the left. Audio sensors are able to penetrate, but I will not have a visual on you until you step out into the hallway," KITT informed him.
"So my hunch that the files are being stored in that computer in the left room was right," Mike said, motioning Sam over to the door. "That sounded more confusing aloud than it did in my head."
"There is no one in the hallway," KITT said.
"Then it's time to go."
"What direction are we headed?" Sam asked.
"What happened to not wanting to be included in the 'we' thing?" Mike countered.
"I thought it would be safer to go with you than try to get back to the exit alone, probably," Sam admitted.
"Fine; let's go. KITT?"
"To your left, as before."
Mike opened the door and he and Sam raced quickly but quietly down the hall.
"The next door is the one you entered last time."
"Then I'll be careful to keep an eye on the ceiling."
Mike tried the handle; this time, it was locked. He gave Sam a gentle shove behind him, then fired one of his acquired pistols at the doorknob. Fortunately for them, the pistol had a silencer on it, and the shot made minimal noise. He tried it again; the door opened smoothly.
He and Sam darted inside, weapons raised, and were met with an empty room. Mike immediately looked upward, but this time it was for nothing. There really seemed to be no one there.
"Getting cocky now that they think they've got a prisoner," Mike murmured. "Shut the door, would you, Sam?"
Sam did as he'd asked as he moved toward the now-familiar computer console. He shook the mouse, bringing up the main screen. It was open to a folder that held what were obviously FLAG's files. He was immediately prompted for a password.
"KITT, get me Billy."
"Crap, Mike; Sarah's gonna wring your neck when you get back here," Billy greeted him.
"Yeah, well, better make it worth it, then. I can't access our stuff without a password."
"What am I supposed to do about it?" Billy asked crossly. "I can't see what you're looking at, and I don't even want to think about what'd happen if I tried to hack into their computer."
"Come on, Billy! If you were going to steal someone's secret files and hold them for ransom, what password would you put on them?"
There was a long, awkward pause, then Billy said, "I can assure you that that's not the password they're using."
"Well what do I do, then?" Mike asked, frustration growing. Sam was pacing around nervously between the two doors, listening at each of them and then pacing some more.
"How big is the hard drive?" Billy answered with his own question.
Now that he mentioned it…
"Actually, this computer is a laptop."
"Good. Just grab the whole friggin' thing and bring it back with you."
"Sounds like a plan."
Mike yanked the power cord and the USB mouse. He immediately regretted it.
The laptop snapped closed, just barely missing his fingers. With an electronic whirring sound, it folded out of itself, becoming a human-sized robot which quickly lunged for the door they'd entered from. Sam let out a startled yell as it knocked him over in its haste to get out.
"Shit!" he and Mike said in unison as it got out the door. An alarm began to sound.
"KITT, we have a problem!" Mike said, taking off after the miniature 'bot. He saw Sam out of the corner of his eye, scrambling to follow him.
"Michael, an alarm has been triggered. There are several armed personnel converging on your location."
"I know! But the computer with our data on it is alive!"
"Tell Bee and Ironhide that we've got a Cybertronian in here!" Sam hollered as they rounded a corner after the robot.
They pulled up short as they were faced with a row of gun-barrels. The robot had transformed back into a laptop and was now cradled in the arms of Mike's duplicate, who looked thoroughly un-amused. Mike was forced to drop his pilfered weapons, and Sam appeared to have lost his taser when the robot bowled him over.
Now that they were at a stand-still, Mike had time to notice the gunmen. They were each the spitting image of former employees at the SSC. Before he had time to process that completely, his double dismissed all but two of them, one to keep a gun pointed at each him and Sam. They backed Mike and Sam back into the room where the computer had been. Once there, the doppelganger dismissed them, too, and when the three of them were alone, he spoke up.
"It seems that you've found our talented little friend," he said, patting the laptop. "He's been quite the hard worker since he warmed up to us."
"What'd you do, huh? Torture him until he did what you asked?" Sam asked, sounding angry.
"Something like that," the man said, grinning none-too-pleasantly.
"Was that who hacked our computer, then?" Mike asked the obvious, sizing up the situation.
"Of course. He's a pretty fast little bugger."
"Where'd you find him?" Sam asked.
"I don't suppose a kid like you watches the news," the man said derisively. "There was an incident in Mission City about a year ago that the government tried to cover up. This guy was wandering around the city limits when I showed up to check it out for myself. We trapped him easily enough, then brought him back here to work toward our cause. Looks a whole lot like KARR, doesn't he?"
This last was directed to Mike, who didn't reply. He was listening intently for any sign that KITT had dispatched the cavalry and as the seconds ticked by, it became increasingly apparent that he'd done no such thing.
"If he's so much like KARR, what'd you need our files for? You could have just studied your new friend, there."
"You still haven't figured it out, have you?" The man sighed, shaking his head as he deposited the laptop back on the table where it had been before. An arm reached out from the keyboard area and plugged the power cord back into itself before retracting again. "In order to move on with our project, we have to put a stop to yours."
"Sorry; I'm not down with that idea," Mike said, taking advantage of his clone's turned back to jump at him. He quickly paid back the punches that he'd received earlier, but the other recovered easily and began to fight back in earnest.
Their fight escalated to the sounds of Sam entreating them to knock it off. The other had him by his shirt collar and Mike's fist was an inch from his face when they both froze, then turned slowly to look at Sam, who had recovered his taser and was pointing it in their general direction.
"I'll shoot you both if I have to," the teen said nervously.
"If you shoot the wrong one of us first, we're going to have a real problem on our hands," Mike said.
"Yeah, and what are you going to do with both of us down for the count?" his double added.
Sam hesitated for a moment, clearly trying to guess which one was the real Mike.
"I know," his duplicate said, suddenly. "Let's ask KITT."
"What?" Mike yelped. Then he remembered his missing earwig. He realized that the other must have it in his own ear.
KITT's voice sounded.
"Sam, aim to your right."
The other tried to dodge, but Sam managed to get him first. The shock sent him to the floor. Mike wiped his forehead with his sleeve. Sam looked at him nervously, but when he didn't try to attack him, he slumped in relief.
"Thanks, KITT," Mike said.
"How'd you know which one was the real Mike?" Sam asked. "I thought you couldn't tell who was where while we were in this room."
"I can't," KITT said. "I simply utilized Michael's method."
"You played eeny, meeny, miney, mo?" Mike snapped. "Man…"
"We've got to get this little guy out of here," Sam said, pointing to the laptop.
"Yeah? How do you propose we do that?" Mike asked. "He tried to bite my hand off before."
"I don't know…"
They approached the desk carefully from two sides, preparing to grab it, when all of a sudden the alarm from earlier went off. Mike spun around just in time to see his duplicate grab the taser out of Sam's too-relaxed grip and turn it on him. The other grabbed Sam and held the taser to his head.
"Step away from the computer," he said darkly.
Mike did so, glaring at him as the other door burst open. The room was flooded with former and current FLAG employees, all of them armed.
"Now…" the fake Mike began, but his voice was drowned out by the unmistakable sound of an engine.
The far wall exploded in a shower of debris as Bumblebee and Ironhide plowed headlong through it, both in their vehicle modes. They transformed as Mike's clone ordered his associates to open fire on them, but they put into effect some sort of magnet, drawing all the weapons – including the doppelganger's stolen taser – up into the air.
Bee put one of his own guns to the fake Mike's head.
"Another one bites the dust," came from his radio.
Sam scuttled out of the way to go stand by Mike as Ironhide trained both of his cannons on the former gunmen behind them.
"I told you things weren't going to go the way you wanted," Mike informed his double. "Now, I think it's about time you told us who you all are."
But the man only grinned at him as he moved a disturbingly familiar neon green pill to the front of his mouth and bit down. Mike whirled around just in time to see that the rest of the room's occupants had done the exact same. They all slumped as one to the floor.
"They have all terminated themselves," Ironhide said, sounding slightly disturbed. "Why would they do that?"
"To keep all their information secret," Mike said grimly. "There is something really messed up going on here."
Bumblebee moved, now, to the laptop on the desk, and spoke to it in an unintelligible series of beeps, clicks, and other noises. The robot transformed cautiously out of its alternate form and said something back. KITT arrived a moment later with Major Lennox in tow, the latter of which was on his phone. From the snatches of his half of the conversation that Mike could hear over Bumblebee's – and now, Ironhide's, too – conversation with the little laptop 'bot, he was talking to his higher-ups about a clean-up/cover-up operation.
Mike wandered over to KITT.
"How come you didn't send them in the first time Sam yelled for them?" he asked, motioning the Autobots. "We could've been killed!"
"If they had entered the building near the hallway where you were at the time, the ceiling would have collapsed, potentially killing you, Sam, and everyone else inside," KITT explained calmly. "This way was much safer."
"Well, would've been nice to tell us that," Mike groused.
"Your doppelganger still had his earwig in," KITT said. "He would have heard our conversation."
Mike mulled that over for a moment, then slumped into the driver's seat.
The end result of Major Lennox's phone call was that the laptop robot – whom Zoe had affectionately dubbed 'Keystroke' – was released into the custody of FLAG, since he contained all of their data. Bumblebee and Ironhide had apparently linked up with him somehow and taught him how to understand their speech, and although he wasn't much of a talker himself, he turned out to be quite the diligent little office worker.
He also played a mean game of foosball, as Billy was quickly learning.
"Not again!" he yelled as the little soccer ball clattered into his goal. "Katie! Lisa! Defense! Come on!"
Zoe grinned cheekily and gave Keystroke a high five.
"There's just no helping some people," she said with mock sympathy, and the robot nodded in agreement.
Mike and Sarah watched in amusement as the ball was put back into play, only to end up in Billy's goal all of three seconds later, much to his very vocal chagrin.
The main computer beeped suddenly, and Sarah turned to check what was going on.
"They're here!" she announced, starting the sequence to open the hangar doors.
Ironhide and Bumblebee drove inside, and Sam hopped out. The brunette girl in Bee's passenger seat waved to them.
"Ready to go?" Sam asked.
"Sure thing. Do we have enough seats?"
"Yeah, as long as someone doesn't mind sitting in Bee's backseat…"
"I will," Zoe volunteered.
Billy climbed up to join Lennox in Ironhide's shotgun seat, and Mike and Sarah, who was holding Keystroke in his laptop form, situated themselves in KITT. The three vehicles left the SSC and headed for the Mojave Desert.
"Think you can beat him, KITT?" Mike asked.
"We will see," KITT answered. "I have never seen Ironhide's cannons in operation, and so I cannot be entirely sure."
"I still can't believe I let you guys talk me into letting them have a shooting contest in the first place," Sarah muttered, shaking her head. "Boys will be boys…"
"It's not just a shooting contest," Mike protested. "They're going to teach Keystroke how to shoot, too."
"That's even worse."
The laptop chirped at her as if in admonishment and she sighed.
"This is going to be a long day."
End Notes: The title, for anyone curious, was inspired/taken from "One of These Nights" by The Eagles. I wanted to make it resemble the KR episode titles, and also, it's a pun on the fact that there are multiple Michael Knights in the fic. Bumblebee's radio-speech is from, in order of appearance, Hoobastank's "Running Away," Buzz Lightyear, Full House, and Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust.