[Cut to new barracks. There is one large bed in the room, built like a low platform. Yiren and Zhang Xi walk in]

Zhang Xi: Hm... this is clean enough. [He tosses his bedding on the bed. Yiren follows him and looks dismayed]

Yiren: What? One bed? How are four people supposed to sleep on that?

Zhang Xi: Hey, comrade, you are here to serve in the army and not a classy gentleman. [Eyes her up and down] Although... aside from that scar on your face, you do look decidedly delicate. Why did you join the army?

Yiren: A hero never asks the why and wherefore of his failures. What about you? Why did you join the army?

Zhang Xi: Um... that isn't important. [Slaps her on the shoulders, making her flinch slightly] The past is in the past.

Yiren [shrugs off]: Keep your hands to yourself. I hardly know you. I'm going to sleep on the other end. [She walks to the other side of the bed to lay out her bedding, but Zhu You walks in and tosses his on the opposite end first]

Zhu You: I'm sleeping on this end.

Yiren: Hey! You're being unfair! I was here first.

Zhu You: So what if I'm being unfair. What are you going to do about it? [Flexes his biceps a couple of times]

Yiren [defensive]: What do you think you're doing?

Zhu You: You tell me what you think I'm doing. [Sees Jili enter so he gets to his feet] Teacher...

Jili: You sleep over there [points to the far end], you (Zhang Xi) sleep over there [points next to Zhu You], and you (Yiren) sleep on this end. [Points to the near end. Yiren looks relieved at the situation]

Zhu You: Um... Teacher, where are you going to sleep?

Jili: I'm going to sleep next to Yu Xiong. [Yiren's eyes open in horror at the thought of sleeping next to Jili]

Zhu You: Teacher, let me help you undo those laces. [He starts tugging at Jili's bootlaces, then resorts to using his teeth]

Jili: Ow! Why did you bite me?

Zhu You: I'm trying to undo your laces. [Yiren watches the scene with dismay and chagrin]

[Cut to field of trees the next morning. Yiren is sitting against the trunk of a tree with her head back and her mouth agape, looking as if she had a sleepless night. Zhang Xi comes over with the usual straw in his mouth and waves his hand in front of Yiren's half-opened eyes, but she doesn't respond. He then wiggles the straw and tickles her mouth, but she sleepily swats it away thinking it is a fly. Zhang Xi gets a mischievous look in his eyes]

Zhang Xi [whispering]: You're drooling. [Starts yelling to everyone around] Ahoy! Baby is napping and drooling all over herself! [Yiren jerks awake and wipes her mouth, then glares at Zhang Xi]

Yiren [gruffly]: What drool?

Zhang Xi [teasingly]: Boy, you are gullible. I was only making it up and you fell for it.

Yiren [shoves him]: Stop bothering me. Get out of here. [She leans back against the tree to resume her catnap]

Zhang Xi: You know, you've been sleeping a long time already. Were you busy last night on the prowl?

Yiren [annoyed]: What's it to you? [Grumbles and gets up to sit somewhere else. Fortuneteller jumps down to chat with Zhang Xi]

Fortuneteller [sighs]: Yu Xiong has it made; he can fall asleep just by laying his head down. The rest of us sit around for hours and get nowhere. Boy, it's boring.

Zhang Xi: It's boring?

Fortuneteller [points to straw]: Is that tasty?

Zhang Xi: Go ahead, nibble it and see.

[Meanwhile, Zhu You is sprawled out on the ground with a bowl and a pair of dice]

Zhu You: How about we play a few rounds of dice. It'll help the time pass more quickly and another day will be over.

Old Recruit: That wouldn't be good. General Hua forbids us to gamble.

Zhu You [annoyed]: What is Hua Mulan going to do, take away our food rations? Why are you so spineless?

Old Recruit: I can't afford that. If it weren't for the food rations, I would never have left home to join this godforsaken place. [Zhu You shoves him away impatiently]

Zhu You: Come on, let's play.

[Zhang Xi and Fortuneteller are still chewing on the same straw. The scene is reminiscent of the "Lady and the Tramp" where the two dogs are eating spaghetti]

Fortuneteller: If we continue in this way we'll become statues.

Recruit: Well, that would be better than intensive training, wouldn't it?

Another Recruit: Better my foot!

Recruit: What do you mean by that?

Another Recruit: True, we'd be a bit worse for the wear, but the most exciting thing we do around here is eat and wait for the shit to come out after.

Fortuneteller: Could you please not use such dirty language?

Another Recruit: Oh, like you never have to take a shit.

Zhang Xi: Oh, he does all right. He just doesn't use his mouth. [When the joke finally sinks in, Another Recruit looks very embarrassed and swats at Zhang Xi] You did it again! Boy, does it smell!

Zhu You: Are you guys going to gamble or not?

Zhang Xi: We're having enough fun since the general isn't making us train. We don't need to rub her nose in it, do we?

Zhu You: Fine! If you won't gamble, then I'm heading to the village to find someone to gamble with! [He starts to storm off but one of the recruits restrains him]

Recruit: You'd better not get in trouble.

Zhu You [frustrated and throws his bowl on the ground]: AARGG! If we keep this up I will go crazy! I've got an idea! Each of you, let me punch you three times.

Recruit: Why are you almost going crazy?

Zhang Xi: Yeah, you're already crazy. Why should we let you punch each of us three times? You have to let us do the same to you, too. How about it?

Zhu You [furious]: You're asking for a beating, and I'm going to give it to you! [He swings at Zhang Xi but misses and instead deals a punch to Fortuneteller's left eye]

Zhang Xi: Hey! How come you're always picking on people?

Fortuneteller [holding his eye]: Come on fellows, we're all in the same boat together. We should think of something to help pass the time, that's the.[He faints]

[Cut to barracks. Zhang Xi and Yiren are drinking out of cups, though I'm not sure if it's wine or water]

Yiren [scolding]: You, you, you! Don't drink so much! What if we lose?

Zhang Xi [scoffing]: Those old folks only have three teeth left, how could we lose?

[Recruit walks in with news]

Other Recruit: So what did you find out?

Recruit: I have it all planned out. The old man who arranged for our living quarters here is the youngest person we'll be competing against. [The recruits all laugh at this news]

Another Recruit: So he's old enough to be my father?

Zhang Xi: Who wants to hear this? The important thing is how are they going to entertain after this competition? [Yiren comes over for a closer listen] Like maybe the pretty village girl who is the youngest daughter-in-law of Master Yang?

Other Recruit: Or if there are pretty young ladies serving chicken and ducks. [The men start salivating at the thought, though Yiren looks a little lost] Oh boy! We'll have a grand time tomorrow! [Yiren tries to slink away while the other recruits are cheering and celebrating]

Zhang Xi: What did I tell you? Didn't I set things up well? Comrades! Shine your boots well, for tomorrow we'll kick some ass!. [The recruits all dance around excitedly chanting like rabid soccer fans looking forward to a match, while Yiren tries to distance herself]

[Cut to village commons. Mulan is practicing her martial arts with about a dozen villagers. She leads them in a series of steps, calling out each move one by one. The next scene shows her sitting down on a bench and pouring a bowl of tea. Jili sits down next to her]

Jili: Those folks did really well. They're a sight better than those pathetic losers we have.

Mulan: You should talk. You used to be one of them.

Jili [protesting]: I don't count. If you get down to it, I'm a lot older than any of them are. Of course I can't keep up.

Mulan: There's nothing that's easy in this world. Your problem is you don't try hard enough.

Jili: Just trying hard isn't enough sometimes. Are you saying that once we get to the training fields and compete we need to rely only on me for each of the skills?

Mulan [shortly]: Don't bother me now.

Landlord: General Hua. [Mulan stands up] These people are very fortunate to get the chance to train under your guidance.

Mulan: Master Zhang, you are too kind. I didn't have anything else going on, anyway.

Landlord: Aren't you training any more?

Mulan: Er..my men have been training for a long time. I'm letting them rest a bit.

Landlord: Oh, I see. I'm sure each of your recruits is well trained and will do you proud.

Mulan: You're too kind.

Landlord: Thirty years ago, a group of mountain bandits came and attacked our village. We learned from the local troops some basic martial arts skills to help defend ourselves. When I was watching my younger brethren practicing with you earlier, I started itching to join them. I don't suppose, General Hua, that we could have a friendly match? It would be an excellent way to gain some glory for my younger brethren, plus it would give us older fellows a chance to test out our old joints. [Mulan and Jili look alarmed at the suggestion and immediately protest]

Jili: Oh no! We can't do that.

Mulan: That's right. My recruits may be younger, but they are still fairly green and untrained.

[Fortuneteller and some other recruits join in the conversation]

Fortuneteller: Uncle, since you suggested it, how about we have a friendly competition between soldiers and civilians? General, ma'am, will you grant us this wish, to have a sparring match between friends? [The other recruits second this suggestion, while Mulan thoughtfully purses her lips and thinks a bit, then gets a shrewd look in her eyes]

Mulan: If I agree to this, you must remember, you asked for it.

Fortuneteller: Well, we've long since bored ourselves to death here. We promise not to harm a hair on their heads.

Mulan: All right, I'll grant this request. [Jili looks worried but Mulan obviously wants to teach her charges a lesson and hopefully wake them up]

[Cut to village commons where the competition has been set up. An older man of about fifty to sixty years old is standing and awaiting the first competitor. The recruits are doing a group cheer. Yiren confidently announces she will go first]

Yiren: Let me. [She walks over and throws a wild punch at the older man, who nimbly dodges her, then grabs her shoulder and flips her, making her crash onto the ground, knocking her wind out. Mulan cringes in embarrassment at the sight. The next soldier, Fortuneteller, does not fare any better against another villager. One by one, each of her recruits is soundly thrashed by the older villagers. Mulan tries to close her eyes to the sight. General Ma, who is also watching, walks over to pour salt on her wounds]

General Ma: General Hua, this competition has truly opened my eyes. This is only chatter, but I'll be honest with you. You'd best pull back these soldiers. The day of the big competition, they'll just serve to entertain the Emperor a bit. If we put them into the army, they'll only hinder us.

Mulan: Thank you for that commentary, General Ma. However, victory and defeat are a soldier's life. I wouldn't read too deeply into today's events.

General Ma: When generals meet it is to compete. Or would you rather lose? I for one do not have as big a heart as you. [Salutes] I bid you luck when you wish it and if you lose may you lose often. [Mulan glares at him. General Ma turns to his soldiers] Let's go! [They walk off. Mulan is seething with rage and finally storms off]

[Cut to one of the barracks they are using temporarily. Mulan walks inside, still irate over what has just happened. Jili follows closely behind her]

Jili: Mulan, I know how you must be feeling right now. I know you are very upset. Let it all out. Go ahead, let it all out. Don't keep it all bottled up inside, or else you'll make yourself sick. Go ahead. Let it out. [Mulan nods, takes a deep breath, then hollers loud and long. Jili hurriedly pats her back] That's enough.

Mulan: But you told me to let it out.

Jili: If you keep it up, we'll both be deaf.

Mulan [pouting]: So what? We've already lost all the face we could possibly lose. What else is there to fear? [Sighs in frustration] But now that the whole village knows the caliber of my recruits, how can we stay here? Jili, when the recruits return, tell them to pack up and we'll head back to camp.

Landlord [from outside]: General Hua! General Hua! [Hearing voices, Mulan hurriedly hides behind one of the roof columns. The Landlord and several other relatives come in and kneel before Jili. We see each of them is carrying a basket of goods. Jili, at a loss for words, drags Mulan out to meet them. She reluctantly appears] General Hua, we wish to give you a token of our esteem.

Mulan [insisting they rise]: Elderly Sirs, you don't need to do this. [They all rise and thank her]

Landlord: General Hua, you are truly a rare soldier. You have treated us with such respect. We are all advanced in years, in the autumn of our lives, and our skills and strength are diminished from our glory days. Your recruits deliberately allowed us to defeat them. It allowed us to reminisce about the days of our youth. General Hua, we owe you a debt of gratitude and we will never forget what you have done.

Mulan [sheepish]: Actually, Elderly Sirs, what you saw was no show. They really are that bad.

Landlord: You needn't be so polite. Your skills and abilities are legendary; is there anyone who hasn't heard of your fame? [Jili looks to Mulan; both try to put on a smile for form's sake] Your generosity has gladdened our hearts. We have brought these vegetables for you to eat.

Mulan: You really are too kind.

Landlord: No need for such courtesy. We'll take our leave now. [They bow and leave the room. Jili is holding the baskets they have left behind. He digs into one and finds a cooked chicken leg, which he happily starts to gnaw]

Mulan: Jili, they thought we were just being nice and let them win. Now what?

Jili: This is tasty. Isn't this even better? We don't have to hurry back to camp. [Mulan shoves him slightly in frustration] Do you want a bite? [She shakes her head. At this moment, the recruits slowly troop in. They look ashamed and defeated]

Zhang Xi: General, ma'am, we apologize.

Mulan: Forget about it. Don't you think I already know the level of your skill? Have you eaten yet? The villagers just came by and dropped off a lot of food. Let's share it all amongst us. [The recruits look at each other in guilt and shame. Zhu You drops to his knees before Mulan]

Zhu You: General, ma'am, please train us! We don't want to be known as useless cowards anymore!

Zhang Xi [drops to his knees]: General, ma'am, please train us! Please teach us the way! [One by one, the remaining recruits all do the same, leaving only Yiren standing. Seeing everyone else is on his knees, she hurriedly follows. Mulan is dumbfounded at the sight. She looks to Jili. He smiles slightly, then joins the other recruits on his knees. Mulan is warmed at the thought and gives a slight nod]

[Cut to barracks when everyone is asleep. Yiren is sleeping curled up against the wall when she is awakened by the sound of a horse neighing next to her (it's Jili's broomstick horse, which he sleeps with for some odd reason). A couple of recruits come charging in the door, waking everyone up. They shout and holler for everyone to get dressed and prepare for the start of lessons. There is a great flurry of activity. Mulan peeks in from the door and smiles at the sight]

[Cut to practice fields. Mulan is demonstrating sword fighting skills to the amassed recruits. She starts with one sword, then goes on to use two swords. She demonstrates a wide range of moves and jumps. The recruits watch with expressions bordering on awe. When she finished, she hands the swords to Jili, who then leads the recruits in their training sets. Mulan watches them with great satisfaction]

[Cut to barracks after practice. The recruits limp inside with great fatigue. Each is moaning from bruises and other assorted aches and pains. They sit down wherever convenient and try to stretch out aching muscles]

Mulan: Well done, everyone, you can rest now. I'm going to the kitchen to see if our meal is ready. [She heads out the door. Jili staggers over to where Fortuneteller is sitting]

Jili: Do you want to go wash your face?

Fortuneteller: Esteemed One, I'm too tired to move. Please, help yourself. [Jili sashays out the door to the washroom next door. Yiren comes over to Fortuneteller with a puzzled expression on her face]

Yiren: Comrade, why did you call Su Jili "Esteemed One?"

Fortuneteller: Master Su knows what has been and what will be. What else should I call him?

Yiren [skeptical]: He knows the past and the future?

Fortuneteller: You don't believe me? He knew my family's history. He accurately predicted each event that happened to me recently even before it happened. If he hadn't said that if I joined the army I could resurrect my family's former glory, I wouldn't be here today.

Yiren [walking off]: Didn't Zhu You say he understood the secret to winning at gambling? Liu Xiangzi (Fortuneteller) says Su Jili can predict the future. Is Su Jili really that capable?

[Cut to another room. One recruit is helping the Old Recruit apply some medicine to a wound on his hand]

Recruit: Why weren't you more careful? [The Old Recruit cringes in pain at the sting of the medicine. The other recruits tease him about his lack of pain tolerance. Zhang Xi comes over and takes a closer look at the bottle of medicine the recruit is using]

Old Recruit: I never thought that I could crawl on the ground for that long.

Zhang Xi: I never thought I could box well enough to knock the wind out of someone's sails. Even if I don't stay in the army, I can probably get a job working aa a guard. I won't have to scratch a living on the streets anymore.

Recruit: I've got something even better! If I improve my skills, I won't have to worry anymore about that tigress I have back home! [The recruits all laugh at this joke]

Zhu You: You know, I think we should make soundly routing General Ma's recruits our main goal. Do you all agree?

Recruit [sitting next to Zhu You]: I may not be a ding-dong, wait, that's not what I meant, I mean, I may not be a great general like he is, but I won't stand for someone insulting me like that.

Zhang Xi [sneering]: They spit on us. Comrades, we have to exert ourselves! We must defeat them! Then it'll be our turn to spit on them! We'll drown them in our saliva! [Loud cheers. Yiren is standing away from the other recruits and looking worried]

Yiren [muttering]: What am I going to do? These fellows may not look like much, but they seem to be a very tight-knit team. They may pose a threat to Cousin's troops. To preserve his victory, I have to think of a plan. I need to think of a plan... think of plan.

[Cut to Mulan's quarters at night. She is sitting at a table reading a book when she hears a knock at the door]

Mulan: Come in. [Jili walks in and shuts the door behind him]

Jili: Reading military books? [Mulan nods] Actually, you really needn't bother. They may be a lot more focused than they were before, but you know what their limitations are.

Mulan [still reading]: As long as they are willing to try their best, I will teach them everything I know.

Jili [protesting]: But... but... I'm afraid you'll be wasting your time. Out of the six groups, ours is the weakest. In fact, I'll be satisfied if we don't lose too badly.

Mulan [puts her book down]: Do you know why you haven't risen above the menial post of Kitchen God even after all these years?

Jili [sitting down]: You don't need to tease me.

Mulan: To know yourself is the most important step. With that knowledge, you will succeed at anything you try. You're biggest failure is you start things with grand predictions of success but you don't follow-up and finish things. Who did everything in his power to make sure I met my quota for new recruits? And you want me to lower my sights now and give up?

Jili: I don't want you to be disappointed. The higher you dream the harder the fall will be when you fail.

Mulan: The fact that they're trying their best pleases me more than anything.  Whether we win or lose is beside the point.

Jili: Well, that's true.

Mulan [smiling]: So... are you able to handle it?

Jili [stands up]: As long as you're happy and as long as you are pleased, I will bear with it to the end! I can take anything! I'm not afraid! I'm.. .[He suddenly realizes he has said too much, so he shuts his mouth. Mulan smiles at him tenderly] Well, you already know that it's because of you that I got banished to the mortal realms. I don't have any excuse for doing things halfway. I ought to start finishing what I started.

Mulan [puts a hand on his hand, making him start]: I know you're looking after my welfare. But now that you're a mortal, you have to start thinking about yourself. Find a good girl to marry so I can stop worrying about you.

Jili: I think you don't need to worry about me. You'd best go back to reading your military book. [Mulan nods and resumes reading. Jili turns to go, but he has a most woebegone look on his face as he leaves]

[Cut to Second Prince's quarters in the palace. The Second Prince is sparring with a soldier using swords, but it doesn't take him very long to dispatch the soldier. He snarls at him in anger]

Second Prince [scolding]: How can you be my bodyguard if you're skills are only as good as those of a three-legged cat? Guards! Drag him out! See to it that he never does anything again! (Euphemism for executing him?) [The other guards take the fallen soldier outside. There are a few bodyguards still remaining. The Second Prince resumes a fighting stance] Next! Who will spar with me next? [The remaining guards hang their hands and don't budge. This enrages the Second Prince] What's the matter? Are you afraid of dying or are your skills that poor? Come on! Come on! [A eunuch comes running in and bows before the Second Prince]

Eunuch: Your Highness. [The Second Prince puts his sword down angrily in frustration. The eunuch starts scolding the soldiers] You see how you've irritated the Second Prince? What are you standing there for? Get on your knees and apologize! [The guards hurriedly kneel and ask the Second Prince for forgiveness]

Second Prince [snarls]: Humph! Get out!

Eunuch: Didn't you hear his Highness? Get out! Out! Out! Out! [The guards scurry out the door, leaving only the Second Prince and the eunuch]

Second Prince: How is that task I assigned to you? Have you completed it?

Eunuch: Your Highness, don't worry. I have already sent spies to find out more about each of the six generals.

Second Prince: So which one is in the lead right now?

Eunuch: It should be between Li Liang and Ma Zhong (i.e.- General Ma).

Second Prince: And what about Hua Mulan?

Eunuch [scoffing]: Hua Mulan? She can't even be mentioned in the same sentence.

Second Prince [smiling slightly]: She's really that lousy?

Eunuch: Your Highness, perhaps you don't know that she recently took her troops to a local village to train. The villagers arranged a martial arts competition and would you believe that her troops couldn't even defeat a pack of old men? Talk about shameful!

Second Prince [chuckling]: If such an embarrassing thing happened, doesn't that prove Hua Mulan has no eye for quality recruits?

Eunuch: Isn't that the truth? Although... perhaps they don't want to continue their losing ways. The past few days they've been training with great enthusiasm.

Second Prince: Junk is still junk. No matter how much training you give it, it can only become more polished junk.

Eunuch: Your Highness, you've hit the nail on the head!

[Cut to field outside village. Mulan's recruits are jogging in formation. Zhang Xi still has a straw in his mouth, while Fortuneteller is still calculating fortunes on his fingers even as he jogs. Jili is towards the front, though soon he falls further behind and looks like he is jogging in place. All the other recruits pass him by. Mulan walks over]

Jili [muttering]: My goodness, they are running so quickly.

Mulan [eyes him]: Are you tired?

Jili: No, I'm not tired. If I run a little faster I'll catch up to them shortly. [He starts flailing his arms even faster, though he is still going no where. Mulan walks around and then gives him a swift kick in the rear. He topples forward to the ground, but he still is moving his arms and legs as if he is running in place] I will catch up to them. I just have to run faster.

[Cut to forested part of land near village. Mulan happily greets Li Liang]

Mulan: Brother Liang, I take it there isn't very much going on in the capital?

General Li: Oh, nothing much. I just came by to see you. [Looks over her recruits] It's amazing what a change of scenery will do. It seems to me they've improved a lot. [Mulan smiles proudly at his praise]

Mulan: Actually, there is hidden reason for this sudden change. I'll tell you all about it in a bit. [They walk off in another direction. Jili and Yiren are both watching from behind a fence that is made of posts. Yiren hurries to follow her Cousin, but Jili finds his head is stuck between the posts. He tries several times to pull himself loose, but finally resorts to tugging on Yiren's coattails as she hurries by]

Jili: Hey, comrade, can you help me out? I'm stuck. [She whirls around impatiently after unsuccessfully trying to break away and plants her foot in Jili's face to give him a hard shove. He pops free and she goes dashing away. Jili is sprawled on the ground with a shoe print on his face] Well, at least now I know what shoe size you wear.

[Cut to a small gazebo, where Mulan and General Li are chatting. Mulan is sitting on the railing while General Li is pacing around]

General Li: So that's what happened. No wonder I thought someone had switched troops on you.

Mulan: I suppose this is what they call shaming people into bravery?

General Li: Seeing how things stand now, I think I can stop worrying about you.

Mulan [teasingly]: Have I caused you to worry all this time?

General Li: Of course I'm worried. A lone woman amongst a large group of men. What husband wouldn't be concerned? I came here on purpose to check up on you and see if you have done anything wayward.

Mulan [pouts]: Hey! What are you talking about?

General Li: Who told you to refuse my initial offer (of picking recruits from his group)?

Mulan: Well, you're nice to me for the sake of good karma.

General Li [chuckling]: Silly wench.. .be careful your troops don't see you like this, or else you'll never be able to maintain discipline with them.

Mulan: Oh, they're too far away to see anything.

General Li: Well, it's getting late. I need to head back.

Mulan: By the way, has Yiren returned yet from the home village?

General Li: No, not yet.

Mulan: Then that means Popo is home alone for much of the day. You should try to spend more time with her.

General Li: Yes, I'll do that. [Puts his hand on Mulan's shoulder] You know, Mulan, you treat my mother pretty well. One day, she'll awaken to the fact that you're a pretty good daughter-in-law.

Mulan: Even if she never realizes that, all I want is to have a clear conscience on my part. [They both walk back to General Li's tethered horse. He hops on]

General Li: Take care, Mulan. [Mulan nods; General Li kicks up the horse into a gallop and heads back to the capital. Mulan looks wistfully at his retreating figure]

[Cut to temporary barracks. Yiren pops her head inside the door to see if anyone else is around. Seeing the place is empty, she tiptoes inside and shuts the door behind her. She heads to the pile of bedding and clothing bundled in the corner and proceeds to scatter the contents everywhere. Next she goes to the table where she adds wine to the water jug's contents. Yiren then continues scattering each soldier's bundle, stopping to misplace one recruit's smelly shoes in another recruit's bedding. She grins in glee at the thought of the havoc she is wreaking]

[A short while later, the other recruits return to the barracks. They walk inside and are shocked at the mess]

Zhang Xi: Hey, what happened here? [Seeing Zhu You grab a mail shirt from the floor, he reaches over and grabs it, too] That's my shirt!

Zhu You [annoyed]: What do you mean it's yours? This is mine! [They start tugging back and forth]

Zhang Xi: Wait, so you're going to try to hit people again? [The recruits end up tussling with one another, shouting accusations and soon brawling in earnest. Yiren peeks in from the window and tries to hold in the overwhelming urge to laugh]

[Later, Mulan is pacing back and forth lecturing the combatants. Zhu You and Zhang Xi both sport bruises on their faces]

Mulan: What is the most important rule we have in the army? Jili, tell them.

Jili [snaps his fingers and starts to rap]: Love and care for your comrades as you would yourself.

Mulan: Well spoken. [Turns to the recruits] Look at yourselves. Every one of you has a swollen face and bruised mouth. Moreover, your injuries were not caused by the enemy but by each other! Have you no shame?

Zhu You [protesting]: Wait a minute.[Points to Zhang Xi] He started it when he took my mail shirt!

Zhang Xi [snapping]: Well, you threw my belongings all over the floor!

Zhu You [angry]: Zhang Xi, I've put up with this long enough. I'm going to fix you but good today!

Zhang Xi [taunting, he presents his cheek]: Well, go right ahead! Hit me!

Mulan [sternly]: That's enough! I don't care who is right and who is wrong. I want the two of you to apologize to each other. You are to forget this ever happened. [Zhang Xi and Zhu You turn their backs on each other] Apologize!

Zhu You and Zhang Xi [both mumbling]: I'm sorry.

Mulan [annoyed]: Can't you do that with a better attitude?

Zhu You and Zhang Xi [pasting on fake smiles]: I'm sorry.

Mulan: Okay. Go and clean up your things. [The recruits head out the door. Jili walks over]

Jili: Mulan? [Mulan holds up a hand and directs him out the door. He grins and walks out. Mulan sits down with a sigh. She turns towards the door and sees Yiren sneaking by]

Mulan [sternly]: Yu Xiong! [Yiren starts at Mulan's voice and hurriedly stands up straight] What are you doing?

Yiren [walks inside]: Um.nothing much. I went to the village for a walk and returned in time to see you scolding them. I didn't want to interrupt.

Mulan: You'd best go with them.

Yiren [hurries out the door]: Hai! (Don't know why she uses a Japanese term, but it means "yes.")

[Mulan watches her leave but something has aroused her suspicions]

[Cut to training area with an obstacle course. Mulan is leading her troops, but Zhang Xi and Zhu You are still taking every chance they can to jostle with each other]

Mulan: I want everyone to split into groups, with four men to a group. You will help each other cross to the other side of this net. [She directs their attention to a large net suspended from the trees, about twenty feet high] Hop to it!

[Four people at a time try to climb the net. Zhang Xi and Zhu You keep trying to shove each other, stepping on each other's fingers and toes and even biting ankles. Yiren and another recruit are both struggling to climb the net, but all the motion of the bickering pair causes everyone to fall off the netting and land on their backs. Mulan and Jili are watching with great chagrin]

Zhu You: You dare pull on my pants?! I'm going to wipe the floor with you! [He starts to brawl with Zhang Xi again. Mulan just shakes her head in disbelief]

[Cut to washroom later that evening. Zhu You is sitting down and fanning himself. Zhang Xi walks by and starts teasing him]

Zhang Xi: You're still trying to cool off? It's all your fault, you pig, that made a mess of everything.

Zhu You [stands up]: Well, if you hadn't pulled my pants I would have been the first one to climb across that net!

Recruit: What do you mean you would have been first? You were stepping on my shoulders to get up higher! You have no shame!

Zhang Xi: You are inhuman!

Zhu You: General Hua never said we couldn't step on each other.

Yiren: If you ask me, everyone here is a pack of selfish fools. You can forget hoping someone will help someone else out. [Some recruits start protesting] Well, am I wrong?

Old Recruit: In future, each of us will focus on improving himself, then we'll see whose the best.

Zhang Xi and Zhu You [scoffing]: You and what army?

Recruit: I'm not scared of you guys.

Zhu You: You think I'm scared of you? [He, Zhang Xi, and a couple other recruits all start brawling again, but Jili steps between them and separates the combatants. Everyone instantly quiets when they spot Mulan right behind Jili. She glares at all of them]

Mulan: Are you quite finished? You are like a plate of scattered sand. How do you expect to triumph in battle and work together? If you don't want to keep getting called useless cowards, then you're going to have to learn how to work as a team. You have to help each other for the common good. Is that clear?

Zhang Xi [muttering]: If I have to work with that pig then I'd rather not win.

Zhu You [lunges for Zhang Xi but Jili restrains him]: Who are you calling a pig?

Zhang Xi: I was saying you are a pig. [Jili continues to hold back Zhu You]

Mulan [sternly]: Zhang Xi, what did you say?

Zhang Xi [mumbling]: Nothing.

Mulan: Now, I want everyone to go inside and sleep! Now! [The recruits quietly gather their things and retire to the barracks]

[Cut to field outside. It is shining with a ghostly glow from the moon shining on the snowdrifts. Yiren is walking through the snow and holding a small pigeon in her hands. She keeps looking over her shoulder to make sure no one has followed her]

Yiren [petting the pigeon]: Good bird. Good bird. Hurry and take this letter back to Aunt so she will know the glad tidings about Hua Mulan's men making a pretty example of themselves. [She kisses the bird on the head, then releases it. A blur flies through the air. It is Mulan jumping to catch the airborne pigeon. She lands on her feet and snatches the letter from the bird's leg]

Mulan: Want to run? Not that easy! [She attacks Yiren and grabs her face, managing to peel away the fake scar she has on her cheek. Mulan looks at the fake scar in her hand in great surprise] Yiren?!

[Cut to Mulan's quarters. Jili is dragging Yiren inside and scolding her the entire time]

Jili [shoves her roughly]: So it was you that stirred up this hornet's nest amongst the recruits! You deliberately set this all up! Now tell us why you joined the army and for what purpose?

Yiren [snaps]: Keep your distance! What are you trying to do, take a sample?

Jili [livid]: I wouldn't take you if you were delivered to my doorstep! Do you honestly think I'd ever want to do something like that which is guaranteed to bite me? Tell me! Why did you dress as a man and join the army? [Puts a hand on her shoulder, which Yiren shrugs aside with a contemptuous sniff. She turns her back on Jili and Mulan]

Mulan: Jili, don't you know she won't tell you?

Jili: How about we kick her out of the army? Or hand her over to the military police for prosecution?

Mulan [shakes her head]: You're wrong on both counts. I'm going to keep her here. [Yiren loses the smug expression on her face and stares at Mulan in some fear]

Jili [shocked]: You want to keep her?

Mulan: If we kick her out, I'll be short one person and I won't meet my minimum quota anymore. [Yiren resumes her smug expression. Jili starts nervously pacing]

Jili: But... if you leave her here, she'll just hinder and sabotage all our efforts!

Mulan: Don't worry. I'm sure Yiren will not do anything underhand anymore.

Yiren: You think sweet-talking to me will make me stay? Dream on! Since you've discovered my disguise, there's no reason for me to stay here for more punishment. I intend to leave immediately. Even if you drag me to the magistrate for questioning, you can't do anything to me. After all, didn't you also dress as a man to sneak into the army? [Turns to leave, but Jili blocks her way]

Mulan: Since I was the first woman to dress as a man and sneak into the army, there is precedence so you won't get in a lot of trouble for that. However, with this letter in my hand, that's quite another story. You didn't join the army out of patriotism, but because you wanted to sabotage things. The punishment for this is comparable to that for a traitor. [Mulan holds the letter in front of Yiren's face. She tries to grab it but Mulan whisks it aside]

Yiren [with false bravado]: Humph! So what? I was only joking. What's the big deal?

Mulan [sternly]: Do you think military affairs are something for you trifle with? Moreover, you tried to sabotage morale and the army's effectiveness, and I have proof of this. You think a simple "But I was only joking" will pardon you?

Yiren: Fine. If you have the balls then send that letter to the authorities. Go ahead and turn me in! [Sees Mulan isn't responding, so she smugly turns around and sits on the bunk] If anything happens to me, Aunt will never forgive you.

Mulan [sweetly]: She doesn't forgive me now. However, Brother Liang and I were married under Imperial decree. Do you think she would dare try to kick me out of the house? [Yiren starts glaring at Mulan]

Jili: If things were up to your aunt, then you should have been Mrs. General Li. Why do you need to play all these games? [Yiren is so angry and scared she is speechless]

Mulan: I almost forgot. Now that you mention your aunt, that letter you sent to her was to report your success. That means she is at the minimum an accomplice. Heck, she might even be the ringleader. [Yiren blanches at the thought that her aunt will get dragged into this] Jili, do you think I should do the right thing and turn in this relative, in spite of our blood tie?

Jili: Absolutely! Even if you told Li Liang he wouldn't blame you, because this is something that deals with the greater good.

Mulan: Exactly. Since she hasn't given me any quarter, then I will show her no mercy, either. Besides, I'm not the one that did wrong. Even if we fall flat on our faces at the upcoming competition, all I need to do is present this letter to the Emperor and explain what happened.

Jili [eyes light up]: Mulan, you've got a great idea! Leaving her in the army not only will ensure we meet our numbers but means she will have to suffer through grueling training with the rest of us. You want to prevent her from sabotaging our efforts in the competition. We'll use your plan and send her off to the authorities. [Turns to Yiren] Do you think that if your aunt ends up in jail with you she will still love you?

Mulan: Jili, you needn't waste any more breath talking to her. Prepare two horses right now. I will personally escort her back to the capital.

Jili: Yes, ma'am!

Yiren [jumps up]: Stop! I won't go!

Jili: That is not for you to decide. You better go clean your butt and get ready to spend a long time sitting in jail.

Yiren [livid]: Hua Mulan! [Her face crumples into tears] Cousin-In-Law, I know it's all my fault. Please don't send me to the authorities. How about if I promise to do anything you say from now on? [Mulan looks as if she is about to nod when Jili pulls her aside]

Jili: Don't listen to her. If you raise a tiger at home sooner or later it will bite you.

Yiren [shoves Jili aside, sending him sprawling]: I won't! [Starts looking very contrite] I swear, Cousin-In-Law, that I will never deliberately harm you again.

Mulan: Well, since you put it that way, you can stay.

Jili [standing up]: Mulan! You trust her?

Mulan: I don't trust her; I trust this letter. Yiren, if you don't want to go to jail, you'd best behave yourself here. In all our future training, if you show me the slightest lack of enthusiasm, you know what I'll do.

Yiren: I know. [Jili pulls out the fake scar and approaches Yiren. She flinches when he gets near her face] What are you doing?

Jili: Put this back where it came from. [Yiren reluctantly sticks the fake scar back on her cheek, then follows Jili out the door. Mulan smiles to herself at this triumph]

[Cut to barracks. Jili shoves Yiren inside and points to the bunks]

Jili: Go and pack up your things. [Yiren starts collecting her belongings without a word of protest. Zhang Xi and Zhu You wake up from the noise]

Zhang Xi [sleepily]: Why are you collecting your bedding in the middle of the night?

Jili: From this night on, he's going to stay in the lumber room.

Zhu You: Teacher, why does he get to lumber room?

Zhang Xi: Yeah, why?

Jili: Yu Xiong, aren't you going to tell them? [Yiren turns to speak, but can't think of anything to say] If you don't say anything, then I'm going to tell them.

Zhu You: Let Teacher tell us then.

Jili: Okay. I'll tell you why. Remember how the barracks were in disarray a couple of days ago? And remember how all the recruits were pointing fingers at each other? [Sighs] Did you know who did it? [Yiren tries to stop Jili from saying anymore, as she can guess what direction he is heading, but he ignores her] Up until today, we still have this sore spot in our hearts from all the suspicions. Do you know who the culprit is? It's him! [Points to Yiren. Zhu You grabs Yiren by the nape of the neck and drags her over]

Zhu You: So it's you, you little scoundrel! Why did you spread all that ill-feeling amongst everyone? [Yiren tries to run away but Zhu You starts gripping harder] If you don't tell us then I swear I will skin you alive! [Yiren bolts and tries to hide behind Jili. Zhu You and Zhang Xi end up chasing Yiren around the table. Jili finally manages to step between them just as Zhu You is about to hit Yiren with a bowl]

Jili: Think before you act. [Yiren stays next to Jili and vigorously nods her head]

Zhu You: Okay. [He sets down the bowl] Teacher, everyone was getting along pretty well but after we had that fight, that camaraderie was shattered. Don 't you think that is worth getting mad about? [Jili nods his head. Yiren is looking very frightened] If I don't skin you alive tonight I will never get over this anger! [He rolls up his sleeves. Yiren shrieks in fear]

Zhang Xi: Exactly! It took us such a long time to decide to wholeheartedly train and wipe away the stain of cowardice. I'm going to skin you alive!

Yiren [screams and hides behind Jili again]: I'm warning you, you better not get any ideas! I'm actually a wo. (the word for "woman" is "nuu; note the rhyme in the next sentence)

Jili [interrupting]: I don't care if you're Empress Luu! This is the Sui Dynasty now, so you have no status! [Turns to Zhu You and Zhang Xi] This knave often claims he has high social standing and wields great clout. He says he is the eighteenth generation directly descended from the Han Dynasty's Empress Luu.

Zhu You: I spit on that! If you were the Emperor himself and did this I would give you no quarter! I'd still work you over! [Turns to Jili and politely bows] Teacher, could you please step aside? Let me get at that knave and teach him a lesson! [Lunges for Yiren, who runs off screaming. They again start running a circle around the table. Jili manages to stop them yet again]

Jili: Remember, think before you act.

Zhu You: Okay.

Yiren [whimpering]: I beg you, keep them away from me.

Jili [whispers to Yiren]: Now you know the effects of sabotage.

Yiren [defensive]: Hey! If they harm me and we can't meet our quota, everyone will look bad.

Jili: You have a point. [Turns to Zhu You and Zhang Xi] I think we have to talk about this like civilized people. Let's sit down. [Everyone takes a seat at the table] Well, it all happened like this. Have either of you heard of an illness called sleepwalking? [Both shake their heads]

Zhu You: Teacher, what is sleepwalking?

Jili: Sleepwalking is when you get up and wander around even though you are sound asleep. But when you wake up you have no recollection of what you did or where you went.

Zhang Xi: There really is such a thing?

Jili: There are all sorts of odd things in this world. Your comrade was just lucky enough to suffer from this ailment. [He reaches over and pulls Yiren on to the seat next to him]

Zhang Xi: Well, that's a pity. How did you find out?

Jili: Um... I didn't discover this. General Hua found out. The past few days while everyone was bickering and stupidly fighting, she suspected there was a spy in our midst, so she kept up her guard and watched everything. That's how she discovered a huge secret.

Zhang Xi: What huge secret?

Jili: General Hua kept following him and then do you know where he went?

Zhang Xi: Where?

Jili: He went towards the outhouse and carried around cowpies in the road. [Everyone laughs out loud at this, even Yiren. She immediately sobers when she remembers she is the butt of the joke]

Zhang Xi: So what did the general do next?

Jili: General Hua said to send him to live in the lumber room so he won't disturb anyone else.

Zhang Xi: But if you send him to the lumber room he can still get out and wander around. Won't you be back to square one?

Jili: No. I will lock him inside the lumber room with a stout chain so he won't have anymore nighttime excursions.

Zhu You: What are we to do if we ever catch him out?

Jili: Easy. Just hit him on his temple like so. [Demonstrates by rapping Yiren's head with a knuckle, making her cry out] As long as he cries out he'll be fine.

Zhang Xi [raps Yiren also]: That's a good idea! Rapping him on the head won't kill him. Besides, it's much better than letting him tote cowpies.

Jili: Well, it's getting late. Go back to sleep. [Pats Yiren on the shoulder] Come on, finish collecting your things. [He steers Yiren to the bunks, while Zhang Xi and Zhu You continue to tease each other]

Zhang Xi [pretends to hold a cowpie]: Hey, take a sniff of this.

Zhu You [makes faces]: Eww.just thinking about handling cowpies makes me sick to my stomach. I want to vomit.

Zhang Xi: Vomiting is good. It will help you lose some weight.

Zhu You [eyes him narrowly]: What did you say?

[Cut to lumber room. Jili leads Yiren inside. She is carrying her bundle of bedding and her other clothing. There is a bed against one wall and several sacks of stores leaning against other walls. Yiren takes her bundle and drops it on the bed. Jili jingles the chains and smirks at Yiren]

Jili: Miss Yu, please bear with us for this short period of time.

Yiren: Su Jili, don't get too smug about this. I will get you back sooner or later!

Jili: Wow. You will take revenge on me. I'm sooo scared. Who has been helping you out recently, eh? If I hadn't told a few little white lies do you think you would have gotten off the hook so easily just now? Hua Mulan has given me the responsibility of teaching you martial arts. If you offend me at any time I will say a few words to her and I guarantee you and that precious aunt of yours will both have to clean your butts to prepare for jail. [Yiren turns away in a huff] Miss Yu, do you need to use the outhouse? I am going to lock the door otherwise.

Yiren [scared]: You're really going to lock me in?

Jili: How can I not lock you in? Prevention night and day will not keep spies at bay. How can I sleep well at night otherwise?

Yiren [livid]: Fine, Su Jili! You big damned fool! We shall see!

Jili [calmly]: That's okay. I'm leaving now. [He saunters out the door and starts to chain it shut]

Yiren [whimpering]: Aunt.

[Cut to field the next day. Mulan's recruits are standing in a row as she gives them instructions]

Mulan: You have bickered amongst yourselves for many days in a row. From now on, no holding grudges. You must all help each other and diligently train and practice together. Is that clear?

Recruits [in unison]: Yes, ma'am!

Mulan: Yu Xiong, aren't you going to come up and apologize to everyone? [Yiren tries to protest but she quails under Mulan's glare. Yiren gingerly steps forward and turns to the recruits]

Yiren: I'm sorry.

Yu Xiong: No problem. You are ill, so how can we blame you? [Tries to keep a straight face] However, next time you need to find a career are you going to pick a cleaner one? Don't continue to ferry around cowpies, okay? [The recruits all start laughing out loud at the joke]

Mulan: Alright, I want everyone to do some jogging to warm up.

Recruits: Yes, ma'am! [They file off and start jogging with Yiren pulling up the rear. Jili skips over to Mulan's side]

Mulan [smiling slightly]: Amazing you thought of sleepwalking. I tip my hat to you.

Jili [chuckling]: Well, as the Kitchen God I saw many strange things. This way, we can continue on smoothly. Having Yiren move to the lumber room to stay will help defuse the other recruits' animosity towards her. They will also stop picking on her this way. [He smiles smugly]

Mulan [chides him]: Don't be too sure. You did a good job this time. Well, aren't you going? [Tilts her head in the direction of the other recruits] Well? [Jili goes to catch up with the other recruits. Mulan chuckles slightly as she sees him leave]