Author's Notes: This is what I came up with on a three hour drive to my sister's wedding. : ) Standard disclaimers apply: Saban's characters used without permission. Also, "Top Gun" is borrowed from the movie without permission. The specs and designations of the zords were taken from the Cardzillion trading cards put out by Bandai. This takes place shortly after the Rangers have acquired their Ninja Powers. CR Oct. 1999
Behind her helmet, the Pink Ranger clenched her teeth as she glanced at her scanner. She hadn't lost the bogey.
The aerial game of cat-and-mouse had been going on for some time with neither fighter able to get the better of the other. Thus far, her evasive maneuvers had kept her out of the cross hairs, but Kimberly knew that couldn't continue indefinitely.
Time to see what this baby can do.
With her right hand, she threw a series of switches on the control panel; with her left, she threw the control rod forward. The Crane Zord's thrusters roared to life, and the agile machine shot ahead of her pursuer.
Ha! Eat my dust!
The Crane Ninjazord was easily the fastest, most powerful of the vehicles she had ever piloted. However, she had pulled up the onboard computer to check the specifications for the craft tailing her. It was more than twice the size of her vehicle, and had a top speed of Mach 7. The wing guns packed a lot of firepower. However, the size of the hardware was not the only consideration between who would win this contest; there was the skill of the pilot to consider.
Her move had put a little distance between herself and her foe, but her erstwhile pursuer would recover from her surprise all too quickly. She had to maintain her advantage.
Kimberly veered off towards the open desert, leading the bogey away from the more populated regions of Angel Grove. While her zord was more streamlined and agile than the ship on her tail, she still needed room to maneuver.
The Pink Ranger checked the scanner again. Her opponent was gaining on her once again. She slammed the controls forward, sending her zord into a sharp dive. The ground rushed up at her with dizzying speed, then she leveled out, hugging close to the desert floor. The agile craft rocketed across the sandy expanse at full throttle. The ground sped past her viewport in Doppler streaks of gold, brown, red and green.
The Crane raced over the terrain unerringly, following the contours of the land. However, where was the challenge in simply outracing her antagonist? Time to show this bozo what the littlest Ranger can do.
A quick visual scan provided Kim with the topographical feature she wanted: the mountains. A hard right had her barreling towards the rocky wall at breakneck speed. At the last possible instant, she jerked the throttle back, and the Crane's engines screeched in protest as she forced the machine into a steep climb. The g-forces slammed her hard into the back of her seat. I am going to be so sore when this is over.
Once she cleared the peak, she threw her zord into a stomach churning zig-zag course through the lofty summits.
Her pursuer, however, seemed decidedly unimpressed with the precision of her flying. He was still back there, as if Kim were running on straight track instead of an obstacle course. Suddenly, her sensors went off, alerting her to incoming fire. She rolled, avoiding the laser blasts.
So, we want to play rough, eh? she snarled. If her nemesis wanted to fight dirty, so be it. She kept her zord in a spin, and as she topped out of the spiral, she let loose her volley of answering fire, sending her trailer into evasive maneuvers. Stabilizers groaning, she righted her machine and surged forward, but she didn't want to lose her pursuer yet.
As she hoped, he recovered quickly from her unexpected strike and was once again close behind her.
Good, she reflected with a sly grin. It was time to abandon the obstacle course in favor of the maze.
Leaving the mountains behind, Kimberly piloted the Crane Ninjazord out into the desert again. This time, she was ready for the lethal rain of destruction assailing her from behind. She danced around it with almost casual ease... but with just enough lack of precision to make her opponent think he had her on the ropes. However, behind her helmet, Kim grinned. Before her on the desert floor was a great jagged maw... the landmark from which Stone Canyon had taken its name.
Coercing her engines into one more reckless climb, the Pink Ranger almost immediately reversed her trajectory, diving for the seam that split the sand until her zord was swallowed up by the rocky chasm.
This time, the scenery flashed by in streaks of brown, orange, purple, grey and black as she navigated the treacherous twists and turns. She focused her attention on the silvery ribbon of river unwinding in front of her. In the confines of the canyon, she could not afford any distractions, yet she spared a glance at her monitor.
Come on, you pesky pain-in-the-butt; follow the leader, she willed. If her foe was smart, he wouldn't venture into the canyon after her; he'd follow from above, firing down at her. However, she was counting on him being supremely confident about his ability to best one little girl with none of the other Rangers to bail her out.
Gotcha! she crowed as her scanner picked up a familiar blip. Even as she exulted in the small victory, sensibility swiftly overtook her. She was dangerously low on fuel. She should cut back on the throttle to conserve what was left; however, she had her antagonist right where she wanted him. He couldn't fire on her; if he missed, he'd be hit with the debris from the chasm walls. If he hit her, he ran the risk of being caught in the resultant fireball should he not be able to pull out in time, or if he flew through the fiery cloud, he would be blinded for crucial seconds and could wind up splattered on the canyon wall. None of the scenarios was acceptable, she knew; after all, he had to live to brag about his accomplishment.
She'd take her chances.
While Kimberly had never flown down the canyon, she had rafted down the river with her family. She knew that the farther upstream one went, the narrower the gorge became. Her opponent's greater wingspan would hinder his pursuit; he'd either have to abandon the chasm (which would be akin to admitting defeat since he took up her challenge) or he could retract his wings. That would cost him some maneuverability and wind resistance, but he could compensate by opening up his engines.
He opted for the latter.
Kimberly could almost predict what would happen. Her foe would pull his wings in little by little, calling her bluff, knowing he could fold his wings completely, whereas she couldn't. He'd wait for her to abandon the canyon first, then his maneuverability wouldn't matter. However, she had one more trick up her sleeve.
The walls were rapidly closing in on her. Already a slight miscalculation had caused her wingtip to sheer off an outcropping of rock. So much for Alpha's fresh paint job! she groaned, but it wasn't time for her surprise yet.
Closer... closer... Kim felt her muscles pulling taut as her own craft continued to run out of room... out of fuel. Another near-miss jarred the Ninjazord. She took deep, even breaths to steady herself. This was not the time to panic and overcompensate. If she lost control now, she'd wind up being the greasy spot on the floor of the ravine.
Her radio crackled to life.
"Give it up, Kimberly; there's no way you can get away from me now!"
That's what you think, she mused as she flipped the communications device off. Her pursuer had dropped off even more, but he hadn't given up the gorge.
"Now!" she shouted through clenched teeth and slammed the controls hard to the left. The engines groaned in protest and the shriek of over-stressed metal sounded loudly in her ears, but she had succeeded in flipping the Crane onto its side.
There was no way her opponent could duplicate her feat without out extending his wings fully, and there wasn't enough room to do that.
"All right!" the Pink Ranger cheered as the scrappy craft burst out of the far end of the canyon. Her scanners showed no sign of her pursuer. Pride at having evaded her opponent swelled within her; it was with immense satisfaction that she guided her Ninjazord back out to the open desert.
Kimberly landed the Crane on the flats in the shadow of the Command Center. Jubilantly, she scrambled out of the cockpit. Removing her helmet and shaking down her caramel colored tresses, the petite pilot examined her ship.
What do you know, I didn't even scratch the paint, she noted. With her inspection complete, she reclined against the landing gear and waited.
Ten minutes later, the Falconzord streaked into view. Tommy set his zord down next to hers with such precision that they rested wing tip to wing tip. However, when the White Ranger emerged and proceeded towards her, his steps lacked their usual confident gait.
"Well, Mr. Winged-Lord-of-the-Skies?" she challenged smugly.
"All right, you kicked my butt," Tommy admitted grudgingly.
"Oh, don't be such a spoil sport. After all, you're the one who claimed to have such an affinity for his zord that you could fly rings around me without even half trying," she snorted derisively. "Puh-lease! Affinity for zords... as I recall, the first time you were in command of the Tigerzord, it wound up flat on its back!"
"You don't have to rub it in," her boyfriend groused, his tone defensive. "Besides, you've only been flying the Crane as long as I've been flying the Falconzord; it should have been a tie."
"Duh! Think about it, Tommy. Your last two zords were ground vehicles; mine were aerial. I've been flying zords longer than you've been a Ranger!" Kim laughed.
Tommy groaned and raised his eyes heavenward as if in supplication.
Still laughing merrily, the Pink Ranger powered down. She assumed a jaunty stance and extended her left hand to Tommy, waggling her fingers to beckon him forward. "Hand it over, bub."
De-morphing, her counterpart shuffled forward and reluctantly placed his morpher in her hand. Smiling triumphantly, Kim tossed him hers.
Eyeing the image of the Crane on the coin warily, Tommy asked, "This is only for forty-eight hours, right?"
Kim studied the Falcon coin then gazed up at the zord. She could hardly wait! It was with an abundance of mischief sparkling in her eyes that she addressed her teammate's anxious query.
"The bet was for two days. Don't worry, Tommy; it won't be so bad. Besides, you'll look darling in pink!"