Well, here is the end. It's short, but I think I've ended the tale on an ideal high note...
Part II - Chapter 6
"...Latest reports indicate that the lava flow in upper Wyoming will not be a threat to residents or travel in the area. With the south-easterly winds sending the ash back over Yellowstone National Park, the impact on the local area is expected to be minimal. Scientists from the National Geological Institute are continuing to monitor the lava flow, and will issue warnings when required. A statement from the Institute states that the ruptured flow is doing its work and relieving the pressure that had built up underneath Yellowstone.
"So far the only casualties even suggested are those of the crew of the Juggernaut that terrorised Los Angeles a few days ago. Reports are sketchy at best, but it appears that the Black Knight Car lured the Juggernaut into the area where the lava flow was predicted to run. While so far the car itself has not been seen since, Scientists studying the flow have reporting sighting the remains of an extra-ordinarily large vehicle in the flow. If true, then the whole Eastern Seaboard can breath easy."
Archangel turned to face the others in the hanger, a satisfied smile clear on his face. "As you confirmed Garthe's death and Goliath's destruction, I think we can be proud of ourselves once more."
Bonnie looked a little down. "But you got no recognition..."
"Publicly, maybe." Archangel stroked his moustache. "But we did where it counts." His face shifted into a more serious look. "The President wanted to award Airwolf a medal for her rescue of KITT and the Knights."
The gathered pilots looked stunned, and Michael Knight was no less shocked. KITT however felt a surge of pride for his aerial friend.
"Is that even possible?" Rivers asked.
Archangel nodded slowly, his eye focused on KITT. "Seems there was a prescient. Another AI was recognised as a US citizen a little over nine years ago." He reached down and pulled out a slim case from his briefcase. "I think you should be the one, String." He said holding it out.
String was still for a long moment, before reaching with slightly shaky hands.
"The nature of our work does mean there can't be any official recognition or ceremony, of course." Archangel continued as String lifted the lid. "But the award will be listed in the records."
String didn't hear a word, his gaze locked on the medal within the case. Slowly he stood, turned, and walked over towards the primary helicopter. The others followed as he opened the commanders door and settled in the seat. For a moment his eyes wandered over the controls and displays, before he reached in and removed the medal from its velvet bed. Reaching out he pressed the medal against the forward console, in a small patch of bare metal between the Commanders and Counter-Measures chairs. A small 'thunk' marked the impact: the traditional pin had been replaced with a magnet. As he withdrew his hand the medal gleamed in the light.
"Congratulations Airwolf." He said, voice thick with emotion.
Then he made a salute.
One by one, the other former military officers saluted too.
Deep in her core Airwolf was touched. Overcome with signals and patterns she couldn't comprehend, she didn't know what to say.
Thank you. Just... I... Thank you
Later that day the group slowly broke up. Michael had already contacted RC3, and the kids would be home in a day or two. The others had also contacted their kids, bringing them back to them.
As they passed through the checkpoint once more, Michael grinned as he looked at KITT's vocal display. "So... Will you call her, or she'll call you?"
"Really Michael, it's not like that."
"Really, since it seems to me that you two are getting very close."
"Bonnie, would you please rein your husband in?"
Bonnie looked across at Michael, a smile on her lips. "Oh I don't know KITT. I'm pretty interested in the answer myself."
"The things I put up with..." KITT bemoaned. However he was already looking forwards to when he and Airwolf shared a network...
Much later that night Airwolf hovered in the air... or what passed for air up at fifty thousand feet. She'd only been up this high a couple of times, but the view was incredible. It was right on the edge of space here, the curvature of the Earth clearly visible. Now, with the sun gone over the horizon, the blackness of space settled around her, cloaking her in its embrace. Far, far below the still erupting flue and lava flow was a dark red streak on the land, while to the south and east were great swathes of lights. Above and all around her was space, its depths almost perfectly clear.
Yet, despite the vista all around her Airwolf's attention kept on drifting back to that same small area in her cockpit... to the medal attached to her forward console. Every time she looked at it a surge of... something, pulsed through her central processor.
Airwolf knew that she was not human, not really equipped to handle what she was feeling. She had been built as a machine, a killing weapon. And yet, she was so much more...
Perhaps, in time, she would be able to understand herself more.
Perhaps... more time with KITT would help.
She chuckled as she eased back on the collective, allowing herself to sink back down to Earth.
She intended to spend more time with KITT anyway...
Her nose tipped forwards and as her speed increased, her distinctive howl resounded over the whole of North America...