Title: Inishiative Time Period: Before Genre: Humor Characters: Mara Jade, the Emperor, nameless Captain Guessing: Character: Mara Jade; Action: Baking a Cake; Location: Star Destroyer Inishiative She was six. He was.... six hundred at least. Possibly older. In her mind, it didn't matter. Every time the Emperor looked away from the screen where he was reading the report about her training progress, she flashed him a grin. Somehow, it seemed to deepen the lines around his mouth and over his brows. She had been chastised many times to "stop fooling around", "behave like an adult" or the like by her various teachers. Usually, Mara did a good job looking sullen and gloomy. But today she had managed an extraordinary feat. She had found all the ingredients for Uulja cake by raiding almost all the kitchens on board the Star Destroyer she was currently on. Recently, she had overheard the Emperor in conversation with Dark Vayda. She had only heard parts of it, but that was enough. "Soon," the Emperor had said, and "The time has almost come", "I look forward to..." and "... will be mine." Clearly, the Emperor's Life Day was near and he was very excited. Mara had no money, nor many own possessions. There was nothing she could give him for his Life Day, unless she made something herself. Her teachers would approve of her.... what was it called....inishiative? Of course the Emperor was not happy about her grinning. Maybe he wanted to keep his Life Day a surprise and was worried she had found out about it and would tell everyone. Finally, the "dibreefing" was over and she had some free time. The captain had allowed her to use his kitchen. She found all her supplies there, neatly stacked. Mara Jade needed no recipe. She simply mixed everything in a bowl using a fork, then put the somewhat patchy dough inside a backing pan - shaped like the Imperial Insignia - and shoved the cake into the oven. She had no idea which setting would be good, so she pressed some buttons randomly. Her teachers had told her to trust the Force, so she did. It went well. For a while. After ten minutes, she noticed that smoke was coming out of the oven. That did not seem correct. As she opened the oven door, the Captain burst into the kitchen unit. "Mara, what's going on? Why didn't you wait with cooking until I was back?" He looked worried at the smoke, which was escaping through the now open oven door and curling up towards the ceiling. A moment later, it triggered the fire alarm. Quickly, he rushed over, turned the oven off, hastily grabbed two mittens and pulled the cake out. He placed it on a plate. Mara stared at the cake. It was crispy black on the outside, but wobbled in the middle. The Captain was rapidly talking into his commlink. The klaxon was turned off. He glared at her. "See what you did there? You almost started a fire." Mara gazed up at the Captain. A sudden change come over his scowling face. He sighed. "It wasn't so bad. You did well on your own." The Captain ran a hand through his hair and glanced around in his kitchen. "I will bake another cake, okay? And show you how to do it." Luckily the Captain had all the ingredients there, no need to go to various kitchens. Mara wondered if she shouldn't have told him about her plan in the first place. That might have been much easier. Using the mixing unit this time, the new dough became rather smooth. After the dough was placed inside the oven, they settled down in front of the Holonet. Halfway through the second episode of Little Soldier, the Captain looked at her, clearing his throat. "So.....," he approached slowly, "who are you baking a cake for?" Mara considered. Was this a "state secret"? But then again. she was talking to a captain. She stood up on the sofa and whispered into his ear. The captain smiled broadly. The next day, Mara was inside the Emperor's chambers when the Captain requested an audience. As expected of her, she stood beside the Emperor silently and without hunching. Her teachers called this "attention". The Captain was holding her cake on a silver platter with one hand and a long, slender bag in his other hand when he came in. As they had agreed to the day before, she asked the Emperor for permission to step forward and to speak freely. He granted it, frowning deeply. Maybe he was angry because he hadn't received any gifts yet. Quickly, she took the cake from the Captain and gave it to the Emperor. "Happy Life Day." She beamed. The Emperor leaned back in his throne. Mara had never seen his eyes open so wide. Next, the Captain stepped forward and offered his best wishes and the best wine from his family estate. The Emperor was silent. Then he suddenly leaned forward, smiling benevolently. "Come here, my child." He petted her head. "Thank you for your gift. You may go now and take the day off." "We won't have a party?" Mara was a bit disappointed. She never got to go to any parties. "You will go to plenty of parties once you are older," the Emperor told her, as always knowing what she was thinking. "Now go." She saluted and left, knowing the "I'm busy with work" tone of voice. The Captain stayed behind. "Well done," the Emperor commented. "It was my pleasure." "What is your assessment of her actions?" The question surprised him a bit. The Captain straightened his back even more. "She shows remarkable initiative and planning skills for her age. She got the ingredients by asking in several kitchens, thereby hiding her goal well. Her desire to give a Life Day present to His Majesty shows her deep devotion." "She got the day wrong." The Emperor actually seemed very unhappy about this part. Bravely, the Captain soldiered on. "I would be rather worried if she had found out about our campaign against the rebels. She drew an appropriate conclusion from the information she was given." The Captain was sweating now. Thankfully, the Emperor did not punish him for speaking so boldly. In the end, he was released. Bowing deeply, the Captain made his retreat. Maybe he should hint around Mara that his own Life Day was in two days. __________________________________________________________________ Sorry for the confusion, guys. Here's my first guess. Critique is always welcome!