Author's Note:

Okay, you have Historian1912 to thank for giving me the push to get this done. Without him, I might never have done this one, so this is dedicated to him.

Thank you to all of you that reviewed and favorited this little series! I sure never expected it be as successful as it's been!

==3. Where I Am==

I worked hard to get where I am today. Top of my class, recipient of the Gold Medal of Honor, copilot for Buzz Lightyear, best of the best. That's what me, and I'm not bragging, m'kay—these are just the facts.

The story behind those facts… well, that's a story worth telling. I remind myself of it whenever I'm feeling discouraged. I just say that, if I could get this far, I can do anything. It's almost true.

It was an uphill climb, all the way.

For starters, I'm a Tangean Royal. That means I should have a Tangean racial superiority complex. I have my mom to thank for my lack of that particular psychological disease—and my dad to thank for strengthening it. Not that he lacks that trait himself—nope, are you kidding me? He's at the top of the food chain, and he acts like it.

See, he's the King. That makes me a Princess.

The Princess, actually—the heir to the Tangean throne. Obstacle number two: I can't even keep my job forever, because as soon as my dad dies or steps down (and I wouldn't put it past him to pull that just to drag me home), I'll be crowned the Queen of Tangea. My career with Star Command will be irretrievably finished.

My dad was my biggest problem. When I first told him that I wanted to be a Space Ranger, he put his foot down. Mira, you're a Princess, blah, blah, blah… you're a Royal and therefore superior, yada, yada, yada… you'd get yourself hurt or killed…

But I'm just as stubborn as my dad—maybe even more so. I didn't give up, and after a year and a half of enthusiastic battle, Dad finally sat me down and looked me in the eye. "You're absolutely sure you want to do this?"

I leaned forward. "I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life."

He hugged me tightly, as if he was afraid I'd just disappear.

To this day, I'm still not sure why he let me go, especially since he's been trying to pull me back ever since. But he did.

He was almost crying when I boarded that transport, and I almost cried, too. We hugged, and he whispered, "Be safe."

"I will be. I promise."

I didn't see him again for another four months. I never thought I could be homesick for a planet that I'd once felt was stifling me, but I was. I missed my dad and my home something awful.

I cried myself to sleep that first night in the Academy.

So homesickness was another battle I had to fight, and it wasn't the only one by a long shot. I was the first Tangean and the first person of royal blood ever to enter Star Command. That got the media's attention, and I was constantly on the run from the cameras whenever I left the campus.

I also had to combat the opinions of my teachers and fellow trainees. People either looked at me with prejudice (seeing me as the representation of a racist people that made life difficult for anyone they came in contact with) or with awe (either of my ghosting powers or my royalty). I didn't break through that ice until the second semester, and it wasn't till the second year that I finally developed a couple of lasting friendships.

I was a lonely girl.

I was also an ambitious one, however—I had a goal, and I was going to reach it, come chaos or high water.

Buzz Lightyear had saved my planet and inspired me to become a Ranger. He was also The Best, and I was going to match his grades or die trying.

The sad truth is that, though Star Command Academy isn't a picnic, the majority of Rangers are pretty mediocre. Well, I'd be danged if I couldn't rise above that and show them what a Space Ranger was supposed to be.

That, of course, wasn't easy. Buzz had terrifically high grades, and I wore myself into the ground trying not just to match them but to beat them.

My hard work paid off. At the end of two years, our averages tied at 99. I didn't always match him in some courses, but I did beat him in others, setting impossibly high new records for future trainees to beat. I graduated at the head of my class with honors.

Even then, my journey wasn't over. Commander Nebula informed me that I was to be partnered with Captain Lightyear, after the death of his longtime partner Warp Darkmatter. He told me that he wanted me to give my next session on the training deck my all—Buzz would be watching.

I passed. I passed Level 9—Buzz Lightyear's level—when no one else did. And I beat Level 10, an unprecedented accomplishment. Not even the Great Galactic Defender ever came that far.

But my troubles weren't over.

Buzz was duly impressed with my performance but refused to take me on as a partner. He didn't want anyone to get hurt because of him, like Warp supposedly had. I was hurt and angry. I could take care of myself—couldn't he see that? Hadn't I just done the impossible—beat a level that not even he could pass?

Well, then came the whole Unimind thing. I came out of that more than a little shaken and definitely wiser, and I had a medal to show for it.

But I was also elated. I had faced down everything life had thrown my way and emerged stronger for it. I was invincible.

Of course, I had to learn the hard way that I wasn't, and I discovered that my journey still wasn't over. In fact, I found out that it's an ongoing thing, a road I'll be walking for the rest of my life.

Funny thing is, that doesn't scare me. Nope. It excites me.

I've been a Space Ranger for more than two years now. I'm no longer a Rookie. I've passed some very interesting bends in the road, and I see a couple more in the foreseeable future.

But I'm not scared.

I'm facing the future with my team at my side, and together, we can do anything.

Author's Note:

Woo-hoo, I finally get around to Mira's back-story! First time I've ever written her 1st-person POV, too.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all!

Please review!