No Days for Knights
“Just give up and come quietly, Sauner,” Michael Knight glared at the lanky man he was currently grappling with.
“Do you really think it’ll be that easy, Knight?” Frank Sauner managed to throw the Foundation operative to the ground, then took off running for the door of the warehouse he had been using for a base of operations.
“Get back here!” Michael forced himself back to his feet, but a massive explosion rocked the warehouse and threw him back down. Why did the bad guys like to blow stuff up so much? Now not only was he sore, but all of the stolen tech in the warehouse was in bits.
“Michael!” with a crash, Kitt came careening through the warehouse’s wall and squealed to a stop beside his partner, “Are you alright?”
Michael coughed and used Kitt as support to stand back up “I’m fine. A little battered, but fine,” He dropped into the driver’s seat tiredly and fingered the large burn hole in his favorite red sweater. Another shirt in the trash.
“I see that Frank Sauner managed to escape,” Kitt smoothly shifted into reverse and left through the same hole he had created upon entry. As soon as they were out, the warehouse shuddered and collapsed.
“I hate that guy,” Michael muttered darkly, taking hold of the wheel as Kitt switched to Normal cruise, “He steals pretty much everything from the Foundation laboratories, and now we can’t even catch him.”
“I cannot pick up on the vehicle he used to escape,” Kitt commented, “It seems we will have to wait for him to make the next move.”
Michael sighed,” Well, let’s get back to the Foundation. Maybe Bonnie found something useful.”
“One can only hope.”
It was around 2 am when Michael fell asleep at the wheel. Kitt carefully reclined the seat, then checked their coordinates. At their current speed it would take at least another day to reach the Foundation’s headquarters, even on the little-used backroad they were following. Deciding that a few hours’ rest wouldn’t hurt anyone, Kitt pulled off the road and began putting his systems into recharge.
It was a mark of how tired the two were that neither noticed the small device that had been slipped into Michael’s pocket.
Several miles away, Frank Sauner was sitting in front a computer screen, an evil grin on his face. He had spent months working his way into the inner circle of Knight Industries technicians, secretly stealing technology to sell all the while, only to be found out and faced with arrest.
But the days of running from the Foundation’s precious agent were coming to an end. The device he had planted in Knight’s jacket had just sent a message saying it was ready. Car and driver were finally asleep, so it was the perfect time to strike. Frank pressed the activation key.
In Kitt’s cabin, a bolt of electricity struck the dash. Gauges and dials went crazy, and Michael arched in his seat as the electrical charge hit his body as well. Then, abruptly as it had begun, it stopped and the interior of the car was dark once more.
Frank snarled and slammed his fist on the small desk. On the screen in front of him a message flashed obstinately.
: ERROR NO DATA DOWNLOADED:
“What do you mean ‘no data downloaded’?” Frank typed furiously, but there was no response from his device. Obviously, the electrical charge it had channeled had also melted it in the process.
It had been a relatively simple plan. All the device had to do was create a large electrical charge so that the AI could be wirelessly downloaded while its defenses were off-line. And it had failed.
Wait. Frank took another look at the short bytes of information that had managed to transfer. The download had worked, the AI simply hadn’t been sent to his computer. But if the car no longer housed the AI, where had it gone? Well, wherever it was, Frank would get it. An AI that advanced would fetch a hefty price in any market.
Michael became aware of himself slowly, like coming out of a fog. He felt strange, as though he was on the gas at the dentist’s office. It was that floating feeling, like his body didn’t exist, only his mind. It was a pleasant feeling.
But it couldn’t last. As awareness returned, Michael could feel an almost tangible stream of information running as an undercurrent to his thoughts. Curious, Michael concentrated on the information stream. Almost immediately, there was a rumble and the familiar sound of Kitt’s engine starting.
Shocked, Michael opened his eyes.
“What is going on?!” he exclaimed, the engine turbine cycling higher.
Though he had fallen asleep in Kitt’s cabin, now he seemed to be in the desert, his peripheral vision fading in and out of clarity. Even more statistics flashed to the front of his mind. Wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure, latitude and longitude. Things he definitely shouldn’t know, but somehow did.
Though he still couldn’t feel his limbs, Michael attempted to jump to his feet. The engine roared louder and he shot forward, moving at an incredible speed only a foot or two from the ground. A cactus approached rapidly, causing proximity alerts to flash across his vision.
Suddenly, the full enormity of the situation hit him. Michael forced himself to calm down and slowly drifted to a stop. With a soft turbine whine, the engine shut off. It seemed impossible, but somehow he was in Kitt’s body.
Ten minutes later, Michael had managed to figure out enough about the advanced processors he currently inhabited to switch cameras to the interior view.
It was a familiar sight. The body of Michael Knight was reclined in the driver’s seat, chest rising and falling in slumber.
“Kitt?” Michael asked cautiously. He noted interestedly that his voice hadn’t changed, only acquired a metallic edge, “Kitt, buddy, is that you?”
There was a groan, and the man shifted restlessly.
The first thing that occurred to Kitt was that something wasn’t right. He tried to perform a systems check, but the function wouldn’t engage.
Kitt turned on his optical sensors and was greeted by a tinted, translucent pane that offered up a dim view of the sky. He started and suddenly found himself moving up and forward. The view changed, and now Kitt was looking at a glossy black surface adorned with multicolored buttons.
“My dash?” Kitt flinched when he heard his voice. It sounded like Michael’s, only a little higher in pitch with a hint of the accent Kitt always denied having. Slowly, Kitt directed his gaze downward. Instead of the comforting view of dirt beneath his tires, he was looking at a human body.
“Kitt?” Michael was now rather concerned. Upon waking, the man had sat straight up and stared at the dash for several minutes. Now he was looking at his hands in fascination, curling and uncurling his fingers.
At the sound of his partner’s voice, Kitt looked around, but did not see Michael, “Michael?” he asked softly, “What happened to me? Why am I human?” he paused, “And why does my voice sound so different?”
“I don’t know what happened to us, Kitt,” Michael admitted, “And your voice is different because you’re using my vocal chords.”
“I’m . . . in your body. And you’re in mine?” Kitt was now staring at the voice box his partner’s voice emanated from, “We need to call Bonnie.”
“She’s going to kill me,” Michael moaned. Whatever happened, Bonnie always thought it was all his fault, “Um, you should probably dial the Foundation, pal. I don’t know how to do it from here.”
“Alright,” Kitt gazed at the myriad of buttons decorating the dash, “How?” Kitt had never actually seen his own dash before, and though he had a schematics of his own body in his databanks, he suddenly found himself unable to access that information.
“The stuff for the phone is all on the ceiling.”
Kitt looked up, then raised a shaking hand to dial. He missed the first couple times, hand-eye coordination not being something he’d ever practiced before, but finally managed to call Devon’s office.
Michael shivered mentally. He could actually feel the call connecting in some distant part of him. It was strange, to say the least.
Devon’s office appeared on the vidscreen, Michael seeing the video link as a small box in the corner of his vision.
“Michael, my dear boy, how are you?” Devon asked anxiously, “Have you captured Frank Sauner yet?”
“Ah, no,” Not the for the first time, Michael was glad that Devon couldn’t see their end of the communications link, “But that’s why I called. Could you have the Semi come and pick us up? Me and Kitt have encountered some . . . problems.”
“Michael, what have you done to Kitt now?” Bonnie’s voice suddenly took over the conversation. Obviously, she had been listening in on one of the mansion’s other phones.
“Kitt is fine, I swear,” Michael insisted. There was no point in trying to explain what had happened over the phone, “Can you just come meet us?”
“Well alright then,” Devon was back on the phone, “If you drive to meet us, we can be there in four hours. We’ll see you two then,” And with that, the connection ended.
Michael gave an electronic sigh, “Well, now we get to try and drive. You want to have a go at it, Kitt?”
“You don’t want to drive?” Kitt was surprised. Michael almost always insisted on driving, at least on shorter trips.
“Well, at the moment, I’m not really sure how,” Michael said a tad sheepishly, “I’ve figured out how to switch between interior and exterior views, and that’s pretty much it.”
“Okay, but you’ll have to tell me where everything is.” Kitt glanced around the car interior again.
“You don’t know?”
“I’ve never seen my own dashboard before,” Kitt sounded embarrassed, “I . . . I can't seem to remember where all of the functions are located.”
“It’s alright, Kitt,” Michael reassured his partner, “First things first. The power button is to the right of the steering column . . .”
It was fortunate that the stretch of road they were on was absent of other drivers, because it took Kitt nearly twenty minutes to become comfortable enough with driving to maintain a constant speed.
For Kitt, it was incredibly nerve-wracking to keep a constant pressure on the foot pedal, and eye on the many dials and gauges, and his hands steady enough to keep driving straight ahead.
For Michael, it was the most incredible thrill-ride ever envisioned. Fifty-five seemed twice as fast when one was only a couple feet off the pavement.
As they drove, Kitt got a crash course in the location of all the buttons on the dashboard. Then, of course, they tested everything.
Several computer functions, like the IGP, had been damaged by the electrical charge, but most of the mechanical ones seemed to work fine.
The first thing Michael insisted they test was the Turbo Boost. Big surprise there. It wasn’t perhaps the smartest idea, however. As soon at the button had been pushed, a dozen different formulas flashed into Michael’s mind. Wind speed, arc length, trajectory, thrust power, angle of launch. Unfortunately, Michael had no clue what to do with all of this information, and they launched with an undetermined trajectory.
They hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity, both partners in similar states of horror, before crashing back down. Michael winced internally as his prow impacted pavement, then dropped back onto four wheels with a thump.
“Let’s not do that again,” Michael commented wearily, damage reports beginning to appear. The nosecone itself was fine, having been protected by the MBS, but several circuits had been jarred loose by their landing.
“Agreed,” Kitt unclenched his fingers and tried to get his borrowed body to relax.
Just as Devon had predicted, they reached the semi in the early-afternoon. Kitt managed to drive up the ramp without killing anyone, then the two partners sat in silence, unsure of what to do next.
After about a minute, Kitt opened the door and looked down at the metal floor of the semi as though it were a black hole about to swallow him up. Though Kitt wasn’t being as vocal about it, he was having just as much trouble coping with his new body as his partner was. Walking was a whole new challenge Kitt wasn’t entirely sure he was up to.
“Ah, Bonnie. Could you help me?” Kitt asked, trying to maneuver his legs out of the car.
“Is there a problem, Michael?” Bonnie seemed concerned as she lent down to help Kitt stand, “You sound different.”
Kitt didn’t respond as he focused all his thoughts on remaining upright. Not wanting to crush Bonnie, he leaned instead on his partner’s roof.
When he was reasonably certain that he wasn’t about to fall over, Kitt spoke, “The problem is that I’m not Michael.”
“What?!” Bonnie backed away slowly. When one worked for a foundation as unusual as FLAG, one learned that even ridiculous statements such as this should be treated with a reasonable amount of caution, “You had better not being playing a joke on me, Michael Knight.”
“It’s no joke, Bonnie,” Michael spoke this time, tone serious, “That’s not me, it’s Kitt. Something happened to us last night, and we switched bodies.”
Bonnie gaped openly for a moment, then composed herself, “You’re not kidding, are you?”
“Not in the slightest,” Kitt wavered unsteadily as he attempted to balance on human feet, “Now, could you help me over to a chair? I’m not sure I can hold this position for much longer.”
Fifteen minutes later, Bonnie had confirmed their story, as unbelievable as it was, with an in depth CPU scan and was forced to admit that Michael was indeed inhabiting Kitt’s processors. Kitt himself had been helped over to the office section of the semi and was currently enjoying his first-ever sandwich.
“You alright, Pal?” Michael yelped when Bonnie slammed the hood shut.
“The human body over there is fine, and Kitt is fine in it,” She said sternly, addressing the flickering scanner on the car’s prow, “It’s the car body you need to worry about. How did you manage to shift the transmission out of alignment?”
“Turbo Boost,” Michael replied meekly, quite aware that Bonnie had complete control of him as long as he was in this body.
“Even Turbo Boost shouldn’t’ve done this much damage!”
“It does when you don’t select an angle of launch,” Kitt commented blithely, mouth full of sandwich.
Bonnie was so furious that Michael feared for his life. Normally when faced with this sort of anger he would crack a joke and beat a hasty retreat. However, Bonnie was currently poking around under the dash with very pointy tools. Humor was probably not the best idea.
“Well, it appears that the two of you will need to get accustomed to your current bodies until you can be switched back,” Devon’s voice came from the kitchenette where he was pouring tea for himself and Kitt.
“How long will that be?” Kitt carefully accepted his teacup, then imitated Devon by blowing softly on the hot drink.
“I don’t know,” Bonnie admitted, shutting the driver’s door a tad harder than necessary, “I haven’t been able to figure out how this happened. And without that information I cannot even begin to build something to switch you two back.”
“Great,” Michael muttered, “that means going after Sauner like this, doesn’t it?”
The rest of the trip back to the Foundation was spent getting a feel for their new bodies. There certainly wasn’t anything better to do during the five hour drive.
In the office area, Devon was patiently helping Kitt walk around. It was a rather difficult task considering that the unsteady person was larger than their helper, and the two ended up on the floor more than once.
Michael wasn’t really faring any better. Bonnie was supervising him as he attempted to activate various functions and scanners. Occasionally, Michael would manage to engage an entirely different system than the one he was supposed to, necessitating the use of laser restraints to hold him in place. It wouldn’t do at all to have Michael reverse out the back of the semi, or forward for that matter, while trying to run a routine scan.
When they arrived at the Foundation, Michael felt confident enough to back out of the semi himself, Kitt following slowly.
“So what now?” Michael asked engine idling softly.
“Now you come with me to garage bay three,” Bonnie stated, sitting down in the driver’s seat, “I have more repairs to do, as well as some mathematical programs to rewrite.”
As they drove off, Devon put an arm around Kitt’s shoulders and steered him towards the mansion, “Let’s get you changed out of those clothes. It looks like Michael has been wearing those for days.”
“I think he has,” Kitt looked down at his burn-riddled red sweater. Michael would be disappointed to see the shirt go.
“Will you feel comfortable in Michael’s room, or should I have another room prepared for you?”
“I don’t think that Michael has anything that he would object to me seeing,” Kitt commented as he looked around the mansion with interest. He knew the floor plan of the mansion but, for obvious reasons, had never been inside. The variety of tasteful art and displays were fascinating.
When the door to Michael’s room opened, Kitt was surprised at how bare it was. The room could’ve belonged to almost anyone. There was nothing of his partner inside, save for two photographs displayed on the dresser against the far wall. A four-poster bed dominated the main part of the room, sheets hardly slept in, evidence of how little time Michael actually spent at FLAG headquarters. A door at the far end of the room led to a small, attached bathroom, and that was it.
Devon dug around in the dresser for some suitable clothing for Kitt to wear, while Kitt took the opportunity to look at the two photographs. He recognized one as the “family” photo they had taken two years ago after their first mission. Bonnie, Devon, and Michael were kneeling next to him, a big grin on everyone’s faces. Kitt smiled and looked at the other. It was at least ten years older than the first, and Kitt knew no one in it. Well, there was one face that seemed familiar. Kitt searched his memory banks, and finally came up with an answer. Michael Long, his partner’s former identity. But then all of the others in the photo must be Michael’s family. They all looked happy, Michael proudly displaying his LAPD badge on his chest. There was a caption written across the bottom- Graduated Police Academy 1973.
“Kitt?” Devon looked over, a fresh shirt and pants in his arms, then paused when he saw Kitt looking at Michael Long’s old family photograph. Technically, Michael was not supposed to have anything that could link him to his former identity, but Devon had decided to look the other way for the photo as long as it stayed safely in the mansion.
“Oh, thank you, Devon,” Kitt turned his attention away from the photographs, then attempted to shrug off his leather jacket like he had seen Michael do so many times before. Unfortunately, shucking a jacket in this manner is not the easiest thing in the world to do, and Kitt managed to get tangled with his arms behind his back.
Devon chuckled when he saw Kitt’s predicament and tugged the jacket off, “Now, will you be alright showering and dressing yourself?”
“I believe so, yes,” Kitt replied, taking off his ruined shirt.
“Good, then meet me in my office when you’re done,” And with that, Devon walked out.
Kitt stood in the center of the room for a moment, then continued to undress. For humans, this was routine. Every night they stopped at a hotel, Kitt watched Michael do the exact same thing. He could handle this.
Down in garage bay three, Michael was bored out of his mind. Bonnie had shut off every tactile sensor in his body so that she could dig around under the hood, leaving Michael to just sit.
“What does Kitt do all day?” Michael wondered aloud, not for the first time.
“Solve fractal equations mostly,” Bonnie replied absently, grunting as she slid a component into place, “Sometimes he reads.”
“He reads?” Michael tried to imagine Kitt reading a book, but couldn’t, “How?”
“There is a digital copy of several thousand different novels in his databanks. If you look, you can probably find them.”
Eager for something to do, Michael went searching.
It was strange to have one’s mind hooked up to a supercomputer. Kitt’s mind consisted only of his personality and memory banks, all other files had remained in his processor and were free for Michael to access. If he could figure out how, of course.
A freshly washed Kitt sat in Devon’s office, typing furiously at the computer in the corner as he tried to figure out Sauner’s next possible move. Though he had complained that doing it this way was inefficient, Kitt was much faster than even Bonnie.
If he were truly human, he would be considered a computer genius.
Devon watched the computer screen over Kitt’s shoulder, but wasn’t really seeing the information displayed. It was so strange to watch Kitt doing and saying things in Michael’s body that the real Michael Knight would never do. It was almost like those few months after Michael had first woken in the hospital bed, when Devon had to remind himself that this easy-going young man was not the criminal Garthe Knight that he so resembled.
“That’s interesting,” Kitt’s fingers suddenly paused on the keyboard as he reread what was displayed on the screen.
“What have you found?” Devon looked, but didn’t understand the data Kitt was so interested in.
“I’m looking at Bonnie’s repair logs,” Kitt said, not bothering to explain how he had gained access to such classified information, “Apparently, my systems registered a significant electrical shock at 4:13 am. That’s not long after I shut down for recharge last night.”
“So after you went into recharge someone, presumably Sauner, hit you with an electrical weapon of some sort.”
“Which somehow switched our bodies,” Kitt frowned as he leaned back, “But we still don’t know what kind of weapon it was, or what it was originally intended to do.” As he said this, a piece of metal fell out of his jacket pocket.
Devon picked it up and handed it to Kitt, “Well, this may answer at least one of those questions.”
“How could I have not noticed this,” Kitt berated himself as he peered closer at the little device. It was half-melted and appeared non-functional, but perhaps they could still glean some information from it.
Kitt cursed his current lack of analytical programs and stood up, “We need to go give this to Bonnie.”
When they reached the garage, Bonnie set the device aside to look at after she finished repairs. She was on a roll at the moment, and didn’t want to be distracted. Nearly every mathematical system in Kitt’s systems had to be re-written so that Michael could understand them. Not a difficult job, just time-consuming.
Devon went back up to his office, and Kitt dropped onto the battered old couch Michael had dragged into the garage a year and a half earlier. The ripped and faded old thing had led to a rather interesting argument between Michael and Bonnie.
“How are you, Michael?” Kitt reached out a hand and brushed the glossy black surface of what used to be his door panel.
It took Michael a couple of minutes to respond to his partner’s inquiry, “Oh, hey buddy. I’m doing fine, I guess.”
“Why did it take you do long to respond?” Kitt asked curiously. Was Michael having trouble with his audials?
“I was reading.”
Kitt visibly perked up, “Really? What?” He didn’t have any of Michael’s usual trashy dime-store novels in his databanks, which meant that his partner was actually reading a good book for once.
“Moby Dick,” Michael admitted a tad sheepishly.
Kitt allowed himself a soft laugh, “ ‘Call me Ishmael’’ Hmm?” he joked, referring to the case where that very phrase had saved Devon’s life.
“Kitt, come look at this!” Bonnie suddenly yelled across the garage. Obviously, she had gotten around to analyzing Sauner’s device, “Look at this,” she pointed at the string of data displayed on her computer’s screen, “It was too melted to know what it’s original purpose was, but it is sending out a signal. It’s faint, but I’ve managed to pinpoint it to this general area,” She hit a couple keys and a map appeared on a screen, a red circle blinking in the upper left corner, “It’s about ten miles northwest of the warehouse where we tracked down Sauner last time.”
“Alright!” Michael whooped, “Let’s go get him, buddy!”
“Not so fast!” Bonnie stepped right in front of Michael’s nosecone and glared down at his scanner sternly, “You two aren’t going anywhere!”
“What, why?” Michael pouted, momentarily forgetting that Bonnie had yet to re-attach his processor to the car’s functions.
“Because you’re not ready. Kitt can barely walk,” Bonnie pointed a finger at Kitt, who wobbled and fell back onto the couch, “And if you try to Turbo Boost you’ll most likely kill yourself. Now we can track Sauner, and we should have at least a week before he tries to make another move based on his previous strikes. Michael, you’ll be practicing on the test track with me, and Kitt will be learning human fighting techniques with Devon.”
Both partners gulped nervously. It was going to be a long week.