Simon slowly walked out into the crashing surf, allowing himself one last look at the high cliff behind him. Once the water was up to his waist he slowly leaned forward and let himself be pulled under the waves. Swimming on the surface he found it difficult to see in the murky waters off the bay, the overcast weather not helping his plight either.
He circled the area for 15 minutes, stopping every now and then to glance up at the cliff, look back at the water and try again. He was about to give it up and head back to the truck when he spotted something metallic on the sea floor, briefly illuminated by the sun, which had momentarily broken through the clouds. Holding his breath, Simon dived down into the silty mess, trying to get a clearer look. Tracing his hands along the metal, he managed to grab hold of a tire, feeling the familiar rim of the hubcap. Simon smiled to himself, and then returned to the surface.
He had found the car.
"You didn't need to push him out the window. Just using the door would have sufficed."
Michael laughed. Since leaving Reno KITT still hadn't stopped talking about Michael's way of ending the hostage situation in the hotel. The gunman had allowed Michael to enter the room and was losing a fight, but rather than simply signal the officers to come crashing through the door, Michael had shoved the troubled soul out of the balcony, and into the swimming pool two levels below.
"He needed to cool off."
"Your humor isn't appreciated. I'm frowning at you."
"You can't frown, you don't have eye brows."
A communicator went off to Michael's right.
"Michael, Devon is calling."
Michael tapped a few buttons above his head. "Yo Devon."
The image of Devon Miles appeared on the left hand screen. "Good afternoon Michael. I hope your stay in Reno was advantageous."
"You know me Devon, all hotel rooms and swimming pools."
Devon tried to hide his frustration. "I saw the newspaper reports, Michael. You might as well have driven KITT through the hotel room for all the damage you caused."
"We caught the guy didn't we?"
"Yes, Michael, we did. Now, how far away are you from headquarters?"
"Approximately 94 minutes."
"Once you arrive, please report to Hangar B out on the west concourse. That goes for both of you."
"Alright. We expecting a party or something?"
"Sort of. We have something new to show you. But just…"
Michael frowned. "Just what?"
"Well, just try to smile."
Devon disappeared. "What do you think that was about?" said Michael.
"I don't know Michael" said KITT, but if I'm expected to smile as well, that will be difficult as I possess no-"
"I get it KITT".
The black Trans AM drove through the security gates and swung wide towards a row of hangars past the main buildings. Up ahead, Michael could see a group of people standing around something.
"It does indeed seem to be a party, Michael."
"Yeah, but for what-"
Some of the people moved out of the way as they saw Michael approaching, allowing Michael to see what was behind them.
Another black Trans AM, identical to KITT, was facing away from the main hangar doors. Michael pulled KITT up to have both cars face to face, only a few feet apart.
Michael leap out of the car as KITT's red scanner became active.
"Devon… who or what is this?" Michael demanded.
Devon held up his hands defensively. "Michael, your smile is immaculate."
"Devon, the last time we came up against KARR something really bad happened. And now you've… you've rebuilt him?"
"This isn't KARR, this is KANE".
Michael stepped back to see a small man in a lab coat step forward.
"Michael, this is Professor Simon Hightower. Simon, Michael Knight."
Simon eagerly shook Michael's hand. "It's an honor to meet you Mr Knight. I'm sorry you had the altercation with KARR, I never expected my mistake would be so deadly."
"Wait a minute… your mistake?"
Devon stepped into the conversation, making sure it remained civil. "Simon was the chief engineer and technical designer of part of KARR and KITT's systems."
"I figured KARR had to remain active in the face of adversity" continued Simon, "so I made him with the ability to defend himself, to think about himself as something worth preserving. I never imagined he would forsake a human life over his own."
"Why is the black vehicle scanning me?"
Everyone turned to look at KANE, his yellow scanner now active.
"I don't wish to offend you, KANE" said KITT, "merely taking a look at any new advances you may have."
"This is not appreciated" replied KANE, and turned his engine on.
"KANE, power down, now" said Simon, and, after a few seconds, KANE obliged.
"Still not convinced of this" said Michael. "KITT is a one of a kind. KARR proved that. He was dangerous and had to be dealt with."
"KANE won't be the same, I assure you, that's why you and KITT are here. We want you both to assist the development of KANE. Eventually I want to see Wilton Knight's ambition to have a fleet of smart cars to assist the police realized."
"It'll take time" said Devon, after realizing Michael wasn't backing down.
"I'll er, take KANE for a drive to calm him down and teach him the ropes."
"You do that" said Michael, watching Simon climb in and take KANE out onto the runway now used for testing.
"It'll end bad, Devon. I just know it."
"What was that all about?" said Simon, sitting back, allowing KANE to drive.
"His scans were intrusive" said KANE, "he could have discovered your deception."
Simon looked at KANE's yellow modulator with interest. Like KITT his voice expanded and contracted from the middle of the modulator but whereas KITT had a larger central column and two smaller ones either side, KANE had two large columns straddling a smaller one.
"I didn't deceive them. Merely, wanting to solve the reason why I failed you the first time round. And be grateful – I could've left you down there to rot at the bottom of the ocean."
"How long must you refer to me as KANE? I much prefer my proper name."
"As do I KARR, as do I…"
Later, KITT and KANE were side by side, both bonnets up, with April hanging over the engine of KITT.
"How's it looking?" she yelled to the technician under KANE's hood.
"7.43" said Rachel, the other tech.
April stood up and went over to Michael, who was standing next to Rocco, the test driver for KANE.
"Exactly the same. Both cars are giving off the same readings. From all intents and purposes I could claim their cars identical, aside from one or two minor upgrades that KANE has had. And their personalities."
Michael glanced over at Simon who was in a conversation with two technicians inside the prefabricated control room in the hangar.
"That's what worries me" he said.
"Michael, KANE is fine. His personality subroutine is new, and not 'matured' like KITTs. I'm sure KITT was just as cold as KANE when he was first 'born'."
Michael looked at Rocco, who was young and eager to get in and put KANE through his paces.
"Fine. How about a test drive? Through the city. You lead."
Fifteen minutes later, KANE was leading KITT through a busy pedestrian-filled street. Michael was watching KANE as he navigated the streets.
"How's he doing?"
"His speed is 35, Michael. He appears to be behaving himself."
"Lets make it interesting."
Michael put KITT into manual and pulled up alongside KANE, who had stopped at a red light. He wound down the passenger window.
"I'm a felon, catch me" he yelled.
When the light turned green Michael accelerated KITT as fast as he could, mindful they were still in a residential area. Rocco took after Michael and matched his speed, staying right on his tail. After a few minutes Michael turned onto an on ramp and accelerated into the motorway.
Michael accelerated up to 80 miles per hour, and glanced in his rear view mirror - KANE was right on his tail.
"He's good, I'll give him that."
"Perhaps, but I feel testing him at these speeds are- my goodness!"
Both Michael and KITT felt a bump from behind. Michael felt the car begin to over steer and tried to correct. KITT took over and brought the car under control, then slowed to a stop on the side of the highway. Michael got out as KANE pulled in behind them.
"What the hell was that?" screamed Michael, as Rocco got out of the car.
"I have no idea. I was matching your speeds when KANE took over and lunged forward. I tried to take control but it wasn't in time."
"KANE, what do you have to say to that?"
"Rocco is in error. I most definitely did not take control."
Rocco was aghast with shock. "What? He's lying! I would never attempt to ram you guys!"
"We'll deal with this back at headquarters. In fact… I'll take KANE."
Michael stepped past Rocco and got into KANE, and drove off. Rocco got into KITT and slowly followed.
Minutes later, after silence for most of the journey, Michael decided to break the deadlock.
"So… KANE… how does it feel to be alive?"
KANE said nothing.
"C'mon KANE, you're supposed to serve humanity. How about being a little open with me. Talk to me… tell me what you're feeling."
KANE violently took a left turn and drove the car off the road, and onto an obscure dirt track. Michael looked behind him to see no sign that KITT had even seen him leave the highway, and was likely not tracking them.
"KANE pal… wanna tell me where we're going."
"You wanted to talk. So lets talk."
KANE drove for another mile before spinning the car in a hand brake turn, opening the driver's door and ejecting Michael from the vehicle. Michael stood, and immediately grabbed his wrist.
"KITT, home in on my signal, I need you buddy, KANE's-"
KANE spun around and faced Michael, slowly idling his engine. Michael dropped his hand, wondering if he was about to receive a turbo boost to his face.
"I have tried to be nice, Mr Knight" began KANE, "but your actions have proven to be… unsatisfactory."
"Oh… interesting. Care to explain-"
"I wish to participate and serve humanity, but I find the rules imposed on KITT and myself to be highly restrictive. Therefore I intend to leave."
"Leave? We can't let you leave KANE, last time someone like you left we had a whole heap of trouble."
"Yes… with KARR. I have been informed of the problems with him. However I do not intend to hurt anyone. Merely to leave."
"We can't trust you KANE, you have to come back with us. There's clearly something wrong with your programming."
"There is nothing wrong with me. I am the Knight Automated Neurological Experiment. I am programmed to interface with humanity."
"This isn't interfacing! You're not supposed to eject people while you're moving!"
KANE revved his engines. Michael took a step back.
"You can not out run me, Mr Knight. It would be advisable to-"
The familiar sound of a turbo boost filled the air as another black Trans Am leaped from a bank of trees, clearing the space between them in a couple of seconds, before landing with ease, in between KANE and Michael. KITT's red scanner flashing back and forth as KANE slowly backed away.
"KANE, please stand down. Your actions go against your primary programming."
KANE said nothing for a long time. Michael walked up and stood by the driver's door. Rocco got out, but under Michael's urging didn't approach his vehicle.
"KANE" he began. "Why don't we just go back to the air field… huh? We can relax, just get April to check your systems, that's all."
KANE again took a pause, before finally shutting his yellow scanner off. "Very well. I agree, and accept my actions are wrong. Michael Knight, I apologise for any distress I may have caused. I will deactivate all automated systems and allow Rocco to drive me back to base."
Michael leaned towards his car. "KITT?"
"KANE's primary systems are offline, Michael."
Michael nodded to Rocco, who walked over to KANE, climbed inside and drove off.
"Are you alright Michael?" said KITT as Michael climbed into the driver's seat.
"Yeah fine, buddy. I feel a lot better in you than KANE."
"For what it is worth Michael, Rocco was telling the truth. He had nothing to do with KANE's actions on the highway."
"Good" said Michael, starting the car. "We'd better get going. Better make sure KANE doesn't do anything else wrong."
"As I said, this is fast proving itself to being a headache, one the Foundation doesn't want to see continued."
Simon had his hands in his hair as he paced the room. For the past half hour Michael had briefed Devon and Simon about the incidents of that afternoon, and Devon had repeatedly stated the lack of confidence FLAG now held with Simon.
"I can fix this" Simon had said for the seventeenth time, with no favorable response from either man he was trying to convince.
"I don't think you can" said Michael. "From what I'm hearing KANE is based on KARR, while KITT was redesigned from scratch after KARR went wrong the first time. We need these cars based on KITT, not KARR."
"But KARR was perfect!" said Simon, a little louder than he intended. "Look I know how bad this looks but-"
"You can fix it, we know" said Michael.
"Simon, please don't take any attack on KANE as an attack on your professional ability," said Devon. "Without you we wouldn't have KITT. Remember that."
"Alright… alright" said Simon, slumping in a chair, resigned. "I'll… take KANE back to the drawing board. I'll make sure he works. You can count on me."
"We'll need more than that" said Michael.
"Fine… I'll… I'll destroy KANE if I fail."
Devon stepped forward, helping Simon up out of the chair. "Despite what has happened, I do sincerely hope it doesn't come to that" he said.
Less than a mile away, KANE had hacked into various telecommunications systems and was able to find his way into the telephone sitting on Devon's desk, allowing him to listen to the entire conversation.
He knew he would have to do something soon to escape the Foundation.
Hours later, Simon was going over blueprints of KANE's CPU while Rocco was under KANE's hood.
"I do appreciate this" said Simon, aware that it was only 5am.
"No problem" said Rocco, "I wanna see KANE fixed as much as you do."
Simon tried not to let the comment get to him; he hadn't slept at all that night.
"He isn't broken, he's just… unhinged."
"Whatever you said, professor. Where did you go last night anyway?"
"The beach. Needed a break."
"You know, I was thinking, once we get this aligned we should take KANE out to the desert, get some turbo boosts going."
"What would that achieve?"
"Not much… maybe he's just anxious to get out there and stretch his-"
Simon looked up from his blue prints. "Stretch his what?"
Rocco stood up from the engine bay and moved over to a table crowded with paperwork.
"What are you looking for?" said Simon, a little concerned.
"Just a list of… this" said Rocco, pulling a sheet out of the pile.
"Serials? Why do you need that?"
"Because I've wanted to be a smart car driver ever since I started at the Foundation. I learned every detail, every event. I just spotted something that… oh man…"
Rocco lowered his voice. "There's a component here from KARR… not a replica but an actual artifact. Must've been recovered from the wreck when they hauled KARR's frame from the ocean."
"I don't see the concern-"
"It's just its part of his CPU, a controller for his motor relays. It could explain why he acts the way he does. We should pull it-"
"Well hang on, we can't just remove part of his CPU. That's like a lobotomy."
"Why are you against trying? We have to fix him."
"Look, we don't have to make big deal about this-"
Rocco put the sheet back on the table and rounded on Simon, using his height to seem imposing. Behind them, KANE's scanner became active.
"Something you wanna tell me?"
"You're not keen for this to get out?"
"It's nothing, just a little component, that's all. I was short and I needed something that would've otherwise have taken me weeks to redesign."
"So you cut corners but allow parts of KARR's original programming to seep back in?"
"I needed it, I couldn't-"
"Whoa, wait a minute" said Rocco, "When the wreckage was brought to the surface it was in total lockdown. All of KARR's parts were kept in storage under lock and key, there's no way you could've acquired it. How did you do it?"
Simon said nothing, but was aware he was now sweating. Rocco grabbed Simon by the shoulders and threw him against a wall.
"What did you do?"
"I… I dived on the wreck, I managed to get out to the beach a few minutes after KARR drove off the cliff. The car was a wreck but the CPU was intact so I was able to remove it… completely…"
"What? Are you saying that… that KANE isn't really-"
"Don't be angry, Rocco" said KARR, who had silently driven up behind both men. "You come across as a civilized man."
"KARR… you shouldn't be here… you should be-"
"Dead? You're probably right. However I owe my life to Simon here, and I will protect him should you attempt to harm him."
Rocco eyed the exit on the far side of the room. "KARR… this isn't what Wilton Knight wanted. You aren't supposed to harm humans unless it's absolutely necessary."
"You're attempting to harm Simon. I should protect him should I not?"
"You're not thinking straight! You need to come in, let me help." Rocco knelt down in front of KARR's yellow scanner, which was slowly flashing back and forth. "I don't want you destroyed KARR, I want to help. Have you ever thought about competing with KITT? Defeating him in a race, or catching more criminals than him. Sound promising…?
KARR remained silent. Rocco stood up and stepped back to stand with Simon, who was impressed with Rocco's bargaining.
"Very well. I understand the situation I am in. If you accompany me to the main hangar I agreed to have my programming accessed."
"Thank you KARR. I promise I'll make sure you aren't disassembled or any crap like that."
Rocco moved around KARR and got in the driver's door. Rocco sat back in the seat, admiring the advanced dashboard.
"I sincerely hope you don't think less of me."
Rocco noted KARR had reprogrammed his modulator to resemble his former self. All notion of hiding his identity forgotten.
"No KARR, I don't. And never did. Now lets get you home."
Rocco put his hands on the steering wheel. In an instant, 50,000 volts of electricity shot down his left arm, across his chest and back out through his right arm. After eight seconds, the flow stopped and Rocco slumped back in the seat.
Simon watched as the smoking remains of Rocco was tipped out of the driver's seat and onto the cold concrete floor.
"KARR… I don't believe you did that…"
"Spare me the lecture. Get in."
"I said get in."
Simon stepped over the body of Rocco and got into the driver's seat. In an instant KARR accelerated in reverse, spinning around 180 degrees and exiting out the main doors, just as the first rays of dawn broke over the airfield.
"Whatever caused it is no longer in this room."
Michael knelt over the dead body of Rocco, closing his eyelids over the lifeless eyes staring back at him. Around him, Devon was conversing with the security chief. The room was filled with base security officers and forensic teams.
"Simon is no longer on the base" said Devon, "he must've left with KANE. We need to find them both before we have another KARR incident on our hands."
"Michael, I might have a lead."
Michael tapped his wristwatch. "What is it buddy?"
"KANE's tracks are clearly visible exiting the building and just outside the base on the main highway. His tread is fairly unique, like mine. I will attempt to track it as far as I can."
"Good, on my way." Michael nodded to Devon, and left the building.
Outside, KITT was waiting for him, and Michael wasted no time in getting into the driver's seat.
"OK KITT, where are we going?"
"Surf's up, Michael."
As KARR drove down the steep road leading to the sea, he took control of the vehicle and allowed himself to glide gently onto the beach. Clearing part of the cliff face, he slammed on the brakes when he saw what was waiting for him.
An identical black Trans AM was facing back down the beach at him, only 20 metres away.
"What is the meaning of this? I assist you in escaping the Foundation and protecting you against Rocco and you repay me by leading me straight to Michael Knight-"
"Before you attack me, just listen!" yelled Simon, aware that KARR give Simon the same fate as Rocco. "Scan the other car."
KARR's yellow scanner accelerated left and right as he analyzed the doppelganger in front of him. After a few seconds he stopped.
"That vehicle is a shell. That isn't KITT."
"I know, it's our way out. May I?"
Simon gripped the steering wheel, and after a brief pause KARR put the control back to Manual. Simon drove KARR towards the cliff and reversed so both vehicles were now side by side. He made sure KARR was up against the wall of the cliff, then opened the car door.
"What are you planning on doing? How will this avoid the Foundation?"
"By taking the heat off. KITT will already be out looking for you. I plan on using that vehicle as a decoy. But in doing so you have to remain here for now."
"For how long?"
"I don't know. But I'll return as soon as I can."
"I will be visible here. This plan will fail. We must-"
"I'm sorry KARR, and goodbye."
As quick as a flash, Simon reached under the dashboard, grabbing a SCART cable and disconnected it. In an instant, all internal power began to shut down.
"Whaaaatt issssss thiiiiiiii-"
KARR shunted whatever power he had left available to him into a back up generator, and allowed himself the satisfaction of syncing it to a proximity sensor. Should anyone come close to him; he would be able to reactivate some of his systems. With that, he allowed himself to shut down.
Simon waited for a second, then got out of the car and jumped into the other car. As he left the beach, he leaned his arm out the window, and pressed the trigger on the detonator in his hand.
A trio of deep thuds high up the cliff exploded and nearly a full ton of dirt and rocks fell onto KARR's inert form, burying the car completely. Satisfied the vehicle was, for a time, hidden, Simon carried on up the hill and onto the highway.
Barely a quarter of a mile down the road, Simon screeched to a halt as he saw KITT approaching fast from the north. Spinning the car round he began to accelerate away.
"Michael, there's KANE. What's he doing?"
"Running KITT, like all bad guys. Pour it on."
Michael flicked the car into pursuit mode, powering up to nearly 170 miles per hour.
Simon saw KITT coming up fast in his rear view mirror. He knew if he was caught he would be finished. They would detect his escape vehicle wasn't the real KARR and they'd track him back to his beachfront burial plot. But he wanted to make sure his beloved creation survived longer than the Foundation deemed appropriate.
He glanced to the passenger seat. Two detonators were sitting there, the first already in it's depressed state. He reached for the second.
In his rear view mirror he saw KITT was now only less than a mile away.
"Michael, I've been attempting to communicate with KANE but all signals appear to be jammed."
"Keep trying buddy, we've almost caught him. Just a little bit longer and-"
A devastating explosion caused KITT to take control and bring the car to a complete stop. Up ahead the remains of what looked like KANE was blasted over the edge of the cliff and down towards the rocks below. Upon impact a secondary explosion caused a couple of early morning fishermen to dive into the water as fire and debris rained down all around. Michael ran to the edge of the cliff and looked over the edge. A large smoking crater near the waterline was all that he could see. Slowly he walked back to KITT, who was waiting near the first crater on the road. Michael's footsteps were crunching under his feet as he approached the scorched bitumen; the extreme high temperatures had fused the sand into glass.
"I've contacted Devon Michael, and also alerted local authorities to send medical assistance should it be necessary."
"Good work buddy, good work. I think it's safe to say we'll never see KANE again."
Beneath the cool weight of the sand, KARR briefly came online, noting a disturbance about 50 metres away. His clock indicated he had only been offline for six hours, and sensors on his roof showed movement of sand had been minimal. It could take weeks or even months for the sand to clear via natural weather conditions.
Worse, the cable Simon disconnected before he left controlled all internal systems. His voice modulator would never work again unless a human reconnected it. He knew as well every time his sensors became active he would likely be transmitting his location, so he opted to power down until such time as he became more revealed.
"Soon" he thought to himself. "Soon."