[Cut to barracks. Mulan's soldiers are preparing for bed and shaking out their blankets. Mulan stalks in and taps Monkey on the shoulder roughly]

Mulan: Hey. Have you seen Su Jili?

Monkey: I haven't seen him.

Pudgy: What do you want him for?

Mulan [snapping]: I'm going to kill him! [She turns on her heel and stalks back out of the tent. Monkey and Pudgy look on in puzzlement]

Monkey: No, we just imagined that, right?

[Cut to Mulan in her new quarters. She looks grim-faced when she enters]

Mulan: That accursed thing! When I find you I'm going to skin you alive and break all your bones!

[Jili starts in terror when he hears her words. He is hiding under her table and his motion causes a chair to rattle. Mulan turns when she hears the noise and spots Jili but doesn't know who it is]

Mulan: Who is it?

Jili [whispering]: Some people say the most dangerous hiding place is the safest hiding place. How did she find me so quickly?

[Mulan starts to glare when she realizes it is Jili hiding under the table. She gives his butt a hard kick and continues to kick him, but he refuses to budge. She then grabs his legs and starts to drag him out but Jili keeps holding on to the table leg for dear life. Mulan finally manages to wrench him free and throws him head over heels onto her bed. She then starts to beat him up]

Jili [blubbering]: Hey, please stop!

Mulan [livid]: You damned bastard! I made a mistake always treating you as a brother and this is how you repay me? You made me look like a fool in front of Yu Chenen!

Jili [tries to soothe her]: I didn't mean to get you in trouble. I only meant to help you.

Mulan: Bull!

Jili: It's true! I was afraid you would be discovered and forced to be a camp prostitute…

Mulan: Don't give me that!

Jili: I wanted to help you, so I tried to find you a suitable husband. I mean, Yu Chenen is really a pretty fine fellow. He's heroic and full of vim and vigor. I think he's the best out of the bunch.

Mulan [still angry]: You're full of shit! I don't need you meddling in my affairs! [She throws a few more punches]

Jili [cringing]: You have to believe me…I really wanted to save you. I didn't want you to get discovered and end up suffering an shameful fate.

Mulan: If you really want to keep me from an shameful fate you will immediately forget whether I'm a man or a woman. All you need to remember is that I'm an honorable soldier, plus I'm your superior officer. That's all.

Jili [crawls toward her]: Boss…

Mulan: No more words! Even if I was discovered that doesn't mean I would have a horrible fate. I would probably only be kicked out of the army. I didn't act dishonorably. All I did was take my father's place in the army. As long as I can perform, what does it matter if I'm a man or a woman?

Jili [tries to grab her]: But…

Mulan [grabs his ear]: I'm warning you one last time. If I ever catch you messing around with the black arts again and doing stuff like this, I will cut off your ear! [Yells loudly in his ear then lets him go] IS THAT CLEAR?

Jili [whining and rubbing his ear]: I heard you…

[Cut to somewhere in camp. Jili is limping along and talking to himself]

Jili: Damn it all. How come I'm tired already? [He gingerly sits down on some straw. There is a bright light and Tianzao appears. Jili hurriedly stands up and greets him] Did Empress Wangmu send you here to give me a reward?

Tianzao [sighs]: In heaven above, it looks like the Jade Emperor has more clout. I finally see the light. He told me all about the wager he made with Empress Wangmu. [Jili starts to walk away but Tianzao stops him] Empress Wangmu was so happy when Hua Mulan got her lieutenant's commission she bragged a bit too much in front of the Jade Emperor. He sent me to ask you what
happened? Do you still want to get that high post in the Celestial realms?

Jili [pastes a smile on his face]: Please go back and tell his Majesty not to worry. This is a tactic called giving them some cutting them some slack before you reel them in. To make Hua Mulan suffer bitterly I need to first let her taste some goodness. Even though Empress Wangmu doesn't have as much clout as the Jade Emperor, she's still in charge of all the goddesses. Plus, she is in such good terms with Lulai Buddha, so I can't offend her. I'm afraid if I make Hua Mulan fail too blatantly she'll get suspicious; that's why my tactics are perfect for this situation. Understand?

Tianzao [nods]: I see now.

Jili: Good. Now could you hurry up and disappear? If people see me talking to the empty air again they'll think I'm insane.

Tianzao: I know. I'll report this to the Jade Emperor. I'll take my leave now. [Disappears and beams up to heaven. Jili paces a bit]

Jili [muttering]: What am I going to do? [Looks at his hand] My palm is Hua Mulan's flesh. The back of my hand is Su Jili's flesh. I can't harm either side. What am I to do? [The Outhouse Goddess materializes with a sly smile on her face. Jili jumps back when he notices her] What are you doing here? Why don't you get your butt back to the outhouse.

Outhouse Goddess: If you want to return to the immortal realms eventually you'll have to give up this habit of falling for mortals. Stop helping that damn wench Hua Mulan left and right. You need to quit always looking out for her.

Jili: I do things because Empress Wangmu gave me instructions. It's none of your damn business!

Outhouse Goddess: That's incorrect. You not only need to obey Empress Wangmu's orders, but you also have to listen to the Jade Emperor's instructions. [Jili looks at her in surprise] I overheard your entire conversation with Tianzao. You've accepted presents from two competing parties and now you don't know what to do, right?

Jili [sourly]: I'm not in a good mood right now. Please disappear, will you?

Outhouse Goddess [grabs his arm in a coquettish manner]: Brother Kitchen God…

Jili [jerking away]: What are doing, you damned bitch? Going into heat? Who are you to go into heat?

Outhouse Goddess: Bamboo goes with bamboo. Wood goes with wood.  If you're trying to find a lover, you should look in the immortal realms. [Starts to flirt] I ate one of Empress Wangmu's
Celestial peaches, plus my magical powers are quite great. If you were to take my hand in marriage, it would be the coup of the century for you.

Jili [cringing]: A coup for me? It'd be a coup for you! True, you're magical powers are quite eye-opening, but your foul smell is also quite eye-opening.

Outhouse Goddess [sneering]: So you aren't lonely? If you weren't lonely, would you have fallen for Hua Mulan? If you were to take my hand in marriage, I promise you I'll cure this affection of yours. Do you believe me?

Jili: If I were to take you as my wife, I'd be praying day and night for that affection to return.

Outhouse Goddess [playfully]: Brother Kitchen God…

Jili [steps back]: Keep away. If you don't stay away from me I'll go up to heaven and turn myself in. The celestial guards will come here to take care of you!

Outhouse Goddess [sternly]: So you admit to falling in love with Hua Mulan?

Jili: Yes. I did have feelings for her at one time. But now… now my entire focus in on my task at hand, and that's to discredit Hua Mulan. I intend to finish my mission and return to heaven to claim my high official post.

Outhouse Goddess [glaring]: Fine! We shall see then! [She disappears in a huff]

Jili [to himself]: I have to forget this crush. I have to forget this crush. If I don't fix this, that damned bitch (Outhouse Goddess) will fix me! [Looks at his hand again and flips it back and forth] Hua Mulan…Su Jili…Hua Mulan… Su Jili…

[Cut to a small collapsed hut. Mulan is walking with General Li]

Mulan: Several days ago I discovered this hut isn't terribly strong. I mentioned to the housing sergeant that we need to get it fixed immediately. He kept putting it off, though. Luckily, no one was inside when it collapsed, or that would have been a blow.

General Li: You can't blame him, though. We don't have enough funding for such things. A lot of places are old and in need of repair. He's like a housewife that doesn't have any rice to run the household.

[Mulan spots a small group of men approaching the gate to the camp. A couple of the men are on horseback]

General Li: Hm… it's the Crown Prince. [They both walk towards the royal party. General Li bows and salutes] Your humble servant greets you, your Highness.

Crown Prince: My father sent me to personally deliver this wine from the capital. It's not the best wine in the world, but it's better than nothing.

General Li [salutes]: Your Highness, military rules say no one in camp is allowed to ride a horse when within camp walls. I must ask your Highness to dismount.

Second Prince [barking]: How dare you! My brother is the Crown Prince and the future Emperor! Are you saying he can't stay mounted when on his own soil? [Turns to Crown Prince] Brother, ignore him.

[Mulan looks on in worry at the tension of the situation, but then is relieved when the Crown Prince dismounts]

Crown Prince [grinning]: Brother, we'd best obey the rules. If we make General Li mad, he might give my other side a black eye. Come on down.

General Li: Your Highness, you serve as an example to us all when you follow the rules. [Turns to Second Prince] Your Highness, would you please dismount also?

Crown Prince: Come on, dismount.

[Reluctantly, the Second Prince dismounts, but he scowls in displeasure. The party then walks inside the gates, leaving Mulan and General Li behind. Mulan walks to General Li, smiles, and gives him a thumbs-up sign. He smiles in response to her praise]

[Cut to Marshal's quarters. The royal party enter and the Marshal and his officers all bow in greeting]

Crown Prince [waves a hand]: You needn't follow all those fancy rules. You can all rise.

Marshal: Thank you, your Highness.

Crown Prince: Marshal Li, you may have no better in military ability, but General Li is your superior in sheer guts. He not only taught me a lesson a few days ago, but he even ordered me to dismount once I entered camp. [Colonel Yu's face falls as his jealousy starts to eat at his insides. General Li remains impassive. The Marshal starts to laugh along with the Crown Prince, but he
suddenly stops laughing] What are you laughing at? [The Marshal immediately goes stony-faced] Who gave you leave to laugh? [Sees the Marshal's face and bursts into loud laughter] I knew it! I knew you are all afraid of me! Only General Li here is unafraid of me! [Drags General Li aside]

General Li [salutes]: Your Highness, you are too kind.

Crown Prince [slaps him on the shoulder]: What a show! You've got balls!

[Cut to mess hall. General Li is walking towards the entrance and Mulan is right behind him. He has a straight face but Mulan is beaming visibly. They enter and all the soldiers suddenly stand and greet him]

Soldiers: General Li, sir!

General Li: You needn't be so polite. Sit down.

Soldiers: Thank you, sir. [They all go back to their meals. Mulan picks up a wine jug and hands it to General Li. She then picks up a second wine jug and awaits instructions]

General Li: We can start now. [He heads to once side of the mess and Mulan heads to the other. She approaches the table where Pudgy and Monkey are sitting and starts to pour wine into their bowls. They jump up in surprise and try to stop her]

Pudgy: Boss, let me do that.

Monkey: Boss, how can we let you serve us? Let me do that.

Mulan [shakes them off]: This is General Li's order. He said from now on, each officer has to take turns serving their men. [Fills Pudgy's bowl]

Pudgy: Thank you, Boss!

General Li: Lieutenant Hua, is there a problem.

Mulan [jerking upright]: There's no problem.

General Li: Good. [He continues to pour wine for the soldiers and Mulan then goes to pour wine for Jili. She notices Jili is staring at her chest while she pours his wine. Seeing this, she stands up straight and boxes his ear, making him cringe and breaking his reverie] Does everyone have some wine now? [Every soldier lifts a bowl of wine]

Soldiers: Yes, sir.

General Li: Well, then "gan bei!" (This literally means "drain your cup") [Jili takes a swig from his bowl and immediately spits it out
in disgust]

Mulan [concerned]: Su Jili, what's the matter?

Jili [grimacing]: This wine is awful! It's nasty! [Mulan takes his bowl and takes a sip. She promptly spits it out, too. General Li drinks from his own bowl and also spits out the wine]

General Li [puzzled]: This wine from the imperial reserves. How can it have turned into vinegar?

[Cut to Colonel Yu's quarters. He is sitting at his desk when Mulan returns with a stack of books. She hands them to him]

Mulan: Brother Yu, why did you ask me to fetch all those papers for you?

Colonel Yu: I've been trying to better divide up the responsibilities for the officers under the Marshal. This will allow each of them more autonomy to command as they see fit, making the most of each officers' strengths. [Hands a book to Mulan] Here. This is a list of officers and they're skills and experience. I want you to take it with you and mark up the ones you think would best suit for the criteria I have listed here. Return it when you are finished.

Mulan [turns away]: Why don't you just ask General Li instead? He has all this information in his head. The man has the most fantastic memory. He remembers each soldier's name and capabilities that he meets. [Colonel Yu rolls his eyes in annoyance] You'd save a lot of time and effort if you just asked him.

Colonel Yu [testily]: Li Liang's opinion may not be the most accurate assessment. [Sneers] You see him spending time with his men like comrades and raising hell together. If he's got so much free time why does he spend it that way? He's an incompetent fool with ulterior motives towards his men.

Mulan: I disagree. I don't think General Li is that kind of person. True, he spends lots of time with his men on equal footing, but when something comes up that requires leadership skills, he has no problem acting accordingly.

Colonel Yu [warningly]: This fellow is much deeper than you think; don't let yourself get fooled by his acting.

Mulan: First you say he's an incompetent fool. Then you say he's a very deep and sly person. So which is it?

Colonel Yu [in a huff]: The bottom line is, I don't want you to get so close to him. He can do you no good. [Gets up] Oh yes, you needn't go to train with the regular troops anymore.

Mulan [surprised]: Why?

Colonel Yu: I want you to learn astronomy and geography. I'm afraid you'll get too tired training with the rest of the men.

Mulan: You want me to learn astronomy and geography?

Colonel Yu: You think fighting a war is such a simple matter? You can't rely on just fighting skills and determination. Understanding astronomy and geography is a very important part of warfare. I'm sure with your intelligence and acumen, you'll learn quickly. (I'm guessing the astronomy is to figure out directions and time, while the geography is important for strategic

Mulan: Who is going to teach me? [Colonel Yu points to himself] You?

Colonel Yu: We start at the beginning. If you don't have anything better to do don't go to mix it up with Li Liang. [Hands a book to Mulan, which she accepts with a pout]

[Cut to temporary quarters in camp for the Crown Prince and his brother. They are receiving the Marshal and General Li. The two soldiers enter and salute]

Marshal: Your Highnesses, why didn't you announce ahead of time you would be visiting our camp? I would have gone to personally escort you.

Crown Prince: I've always been impulsive; when I think of something I rush ahead and do it.

General Li: Do you have any orders for your humble servants?

Crown Prince: I actually have something for General Li. [Starts to kneel] I wish him to accept me as his student and learn from him.

[The Marshal and General Li hurry to lift the Crown Prince to his feet. Not succeeding, they also kneel on the floor]

General Li: Your Highness, I'm not worthy of such an honor.

Crown Prince: But I want to learn and practice my martial arts skills with you, General Li.

General Li: Your Highness, we can talk about this after you rise.

Second Prince [grabbing brother's arm]: Brother, it's too hard to talk when everyone is on the ground. Get up and we can all talk this over.

Crown Prince [rising]: Alright. Well, you two must get up, also. [The Marshal and General Li salute, then also rise to their feet. The Crown Prince takes General Li aside] General Li, I wish to take you back to the capital with me, to serve as my personal training. You needn't bother with any other duties.

Marshal: Li Liang, it's a special honor that the Crown Prince looks upon you with such favor. Aren't you going to thank him?

General Li: Er…I'm sorry, your Highness, but I cannot accept your offer.

Second Prince: How dare you refuse! Li Liang, my brother has given you a generous offer to live in the royal palace. You think too highly of yourself!

Crown Prince [puts up a deprecating hand]: I'll give you three times what you're making now. Don't disappoint me.

General Li: Your Highness, it's not because of the salary that I'm refusing your offer, but out of concern for national security.

Crown Prince [puzzled]: What's that mean?

Second Prince: It's just a lame excuse!

General Li: The Tujue treaty we signed recently may or may not hold up. We'd best be on our guard all the same. Your humble servant wishes to stay and help protect Youzhou, at least until we get a clearer picture of the situation with the Tujue.

Second Prince: So, what you're saying is that without you, Youzhou cannot be safely defended. You're saying that no one else in the army knows how to wage a successful war and that everything would crumble if you were to leave.

General Li [bowing]: Your humble servant wouldn't dare make such a presumption. I don't think there is anyone in the army who surpasses my knowledge of the Tujue and the local terrain, though. I wish to offer my abilities to help defend my country, should war break out again. National security should be our prime consideration.

[The Second Prince tries to advance on General Li but the Crown Prince gets in the way]

Crown Prince: Well-spoken, General Li. I agree that national security should come first. That's all right. If you won't come to the capital to teach me, then I'll just come to stay in Youzhou and visit you whenever I can. General Li, I hope you can give me some pointers along the way.

General Li: I salute your concern for our country, your Highness. I will do my best to teach you what I know.

Crown Prince: That's great! When do you we start? There's no time like the present. Come on, let's start now. [Drags General Li out the door to a practice room, leaving the Marshal and the Second Prince behind]

[Cut to practice room. Only the Crown Prince and General Li are inside]

Crown Prince: Last time, you used some special kind of punch to give me that black eye. How about you teach me how to do that today?

General Li: Well, then let me demonstrate. [He goes through a short routine] Now you try it. [Crown Prince steps forward and tries to imitate General Li. His big deep sleeves get in the way. General Li steps forward and folds it back] Your Highness, this punch requires a fist facing this way. [He turns his fist] Also, it should be at the same level as your nose. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead. Now, the fingers of your open palm should be all together, like this. Okay, now try the whole thing again. [The Second Prince is looking in and smiling that devious grin of his while he sees his brother practice] Much better, your Highness. Make that punch a little higher. [They continue to practice together]

[Cut to Marshal's quarters later that day. The Marshal is talking to General Li]

Marshal: The Crown Prince has a naïve and headstrong temperament. Since he admires you so much, it would be good for you to get closer to him and hopefully influence him to mend his ways.

General Li: Actually, I don't think the Crown Prince needs persuasion to improve his behavior. He is of a generous nature. It's a good thing that's his true colors. I feel he will make a good Emperor.

Marshal: You don't think he's too undignified?

General Li: Well, who among us hasn't erred? Even the Crown Prince is going to make mistakes. He'll come around. We needn't rush him.

Colonel Yu [walking in]: Marshal!

Marshal: What is it?

Colonel Yu: Sir, I have a favor to ask of you.

Marshal: Go ahead and say it. [Colonel Yu eyes General Li significantly; the Marshal catches the look and dismisses General Li, leaving only the Marshal and Colonel Yu in the room]

Colonel Yu: I discovered there is a group of soldiers that are gambling in camp. Not only that, but General Li has been condoning it. [The Marshal looks alarmed at this news]

[Cut to mess hall. Jili is huddled with several other soldiers gambling. He is shaking something and chanting]

Jili: The skies above and the earth below, may the Jade Emperor and Empress Wangmu grant me a win! (This all actually rhymes, but I'm not going to bother here; you get the drift) [Jili throws something on the table. It is a coin. I think they are betting on which side the coin falls, whether heads or tails. All the soldiers are loudly cheering] All right! I won again! Pay up! Pay up!

[A couple other soldiers walk in and gruffly ask what is going on]

Jili [swaggering]: Hey, and which camp are you from? How dare you come here and interfere with our great Sergeant Huang's entertainment? Who do you think you… [Colonel Yu appears before Jili]…are?

[Cut to the barracks, where Sergeant Huang is getting his butt whipped with a limber switch. It is already bloody and he is crying for mercy. Jili is watching and cringing with each blow]

Colonel Yu: You know the rules against gambling in camp. How dare you break those rules! [Ignoring the pleas for mercy] Keep hitting him!

Jili [mincing forward]: Uh…Yu Colonel… I mean, Colonel Yu, I'm sworn brothers with General Hua (don't know why he's calling her that; she's only a lieutenant, but I think he's trying to give her lots of respect); you are sworn brothers with him, also. Then, that means that the three of us are all sworn brothers, right? Now, General Li always said that gambling for small wagers is
acceptable… and…and…[starts to stammer]

Colonel Yu [furious]: You dare hold General Li over me?

Jili [stammering some more]: But… but…there are so many generals that gamble in the army; why are you picking on us small cats to enforce the rules?

Colonel Yu: This problem has been going on for a long time in the army. Not only have people been ignoring it, but now they are compounding the problem by condoning it. If you (meaning Jili, Sergeant Huang) are willing to work with me on catching Zhou Dafu and company (there are three total), I will go talk to the Marshal about pardoning you. You can work off your punishments. Otherwise, the punishment is to have a hand chopped off. (This is a "traditional" way of punishing gamblers; cut off a finger or hand)

Jili [aghast]: We'll lose our hands? [Hurriedly hides his behind his back]

[Colonel Yu walks over to Sergeant Huang. The soldier has stopped whipping him.]

Colonel Yu: Zhou Dafu and company may be generals, but they are guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer when they gamble. The army cannot tolerate having such men around. That's why I have to get rid of them, do you understand?

Sergeant Huang [kneeling before Colonel Yu]: Yes, sir! I understand fully!

Colonel Yu: Then are you willing to cooperate?

Sergeant Huang [limps to his feet, with Jili's assistance]: I'm willing! I'm willing! [He winces at the pain of his bloody butt]

Colonel Yu [turns to Jili]: And how about you?

Jili [surprised]: I don't even know those people you mentioned, nor have I bet or borrowed money from them. [Colonel Yu suddenly grabs his arm and looks at Jili's hand] Hey!

Colonel Yu [dangerously]: Do you wish to keep your hands?

Jili [scared]: I want to keep both my hands and feet. Everything.

Sergeant Huang [to Jili]: Comrade, we may not have gambled with those three generals, but if you want to keep your hands, we'd best cooperate with Colonel Yu and do as he says.

Colonel Yu: Su Jili. I'm giving you one last chance. Are you in or out?

Jili [hemming and hawing]: Um… well, um… [Sees Mulan walk in] Boss! [He scampers over. Mulan is looking grim, with her eyes on the ground, when she stands at attention before Colonel Yu] Please save me!

Colonel Yu [sternly]: Lieutenant Hua, I did not give you leave to enter.

Mulan: Er…I have something to talk to you about, but I don't know if now is a good time.

Colonel Yu [to his soldiers]: Take these men and put them in the brig for now. [The soldiers start to drag out Sergeant Huang and Jili. Jili is loudly protesting]

Jili: Boss, you have to save me! They are going to chop off my hands and feet!

Mulan [snapping]: It's your own damn fault! I told you to quit gambling! You should have listened to me!

[The soldiers leave and only Mulan and Colonel Yu remain]

Colonel Yu: So what did you want to talk about?

Mulan: I've already interrogated the troops in camp here and they all say they haven't gambled with General Zhou, nor have they borrowed money from him.

Colonel Yu: Oh? Then these three are definitely amazing men. They have somehow gotten all these damned fools to cover for them regardless of the consequences. But "no's" are not as powerful as "yes's." Sergeant Huang is willing to work with me and blow the whistle on those three. [Sees Mulan is giving him a funny look] What's the matter with you?

Mulan: What did Zhou Dafu and his men do to you? Why are you trying to frame them whichever way you can?

Colonel Yu: What did you say?

Mulan: It's because they are all Li Liang's good friends, isn't it?

Colonel Yu [starts to storm out the door]: Preposterous!

Mulan [calls after him]: Brother Yu!

Colonel Yu [turning around]: Li Liang must have said something to you. He must have told you I'm making up accusations to undermine his authority. He must have said I'm doing this to win favor with the Marshal for rooting out gambling from the army, even if it's a twisted compliment.

Mulan [looking him right in the eye]: General Li didn't tell me anything. Brother Yu, you're making yourself look really bad. A blind man can see you are using all sorts of hooks and crooks to increase your power here to settle your grudge with General Li. But based on your skills and talents, you don't have to resort to such underhanded tactics to compete with Li Liang. Brother Yu, you've been too stupid in all this.

Colonel Yu: A simple person doesn't see things the same way a gentleman does. [He leaves the tent]

Mulan: You…[looks after him in frustration]

[Cut to barracks. Mulan is sitting on a bench with her soldiers standing around her. She is deep in thought with a frown creasing her forehead]

Pudgy: Boss, Jili deserves any punishment he gets. He didn't listen to you, so why should you waste any time worrying about him?

Monkey: That's right, Boss. He broke one of the army's rules.

Mulan [impatiently]: True. But you shouldn't be acting so happy about it. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Is there even one among you that hasn't done a bit of gambling here in camp?

Pudgy [wheedling tone]: Well…but Boss, we only gamble for pocket change, it's no big deal. We never got into gambling like Su Jili, where we're thoroughly addicted. I hear that he and Sergeant Huang have lost their entire month's stipend.

Mulan: Then do you know what type of punishment he's facing for breaking this rule?

Pudgy [nonchalant]: Oh, it can't be worse than, say, sitting in the brig for thirty to fifty days, right? It won't kill him; it'll just make life uncomfortable for a short time.

Mulan [frowning]: If it were only that simple then I wouldn't be so worried…

[Cut to Mulan walking through camp. She runs into Colonel Yu. He starts to head in a different direction but Mulan calls after him]

Mulan: Brother Yu!

Colonel Yu [turns around and has a dangerous gleam in his eyes]: What did you call me, Lieutenant Hua?

Mulan [looks down]: Um…I'm sorry. Colonel Yu, sir.

Colonel Yu: What did you need to speak to me about?

Mulan: I need to talk to you…

Colonel Yu: Su Jili has been proven guilty of gambling in the army; what else is their to discuss?

Mulan: Will you really chop off his hands? Will you really act so draconian?

Colonel Yu [looks away]: Are you asking me to do you a favor and overlook his transgressions?

Mulan [steps in front of him]: I'm not asking you for a favor. I'm merely reminding you that if everyone who is guilty of gambling in the army were to have their hands chopped off, there wouldn't be too many whole men left.

Colonel Yu [getting animated]: That's why I have to stamp out this cancer before it gets worse! It's hindering our ability to function as an army. As for you, you need to learn how to pick your friends wisely. You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. A friend like Su Jili is worthless and will only drag you down. Yet you insist on treating him like a brother. You're not a child anymore. Why are you still so poor in judging people? With your intellect and drive, you can eventually command an army of thousands and lead them to victory. [Puts hand on Mulan's shoulder and his voice softens] We've known each other since we were children. I will always be your friend; I will only try to help you and never hurt you. Do you understand?

[Mulan nods her head, then turns and walks away from Colonel Yu]

[Cut to field outside camp. Li Liang is mopping some sweat from his brow as he sits on the grass and enjoys the scenery around him (it looks like he's having a picnic). Mulan approaches and goes on one knee before him]

Mulan: General Li, sir, camp is in an uproar. The men have naively believed your earlier words about gambling and now Colonel Yu has twisted things around. He's made a mess of everything. How can you sit here without a care in the world?

General Li: The sky hasn't fallen yet; why should I have a care in the world?

Mulan: Sir, can you do me a favor?

General Li: Go ahead and ask, but I can't promise that I'll be able to help.

Mulan: Have you heard that Su Jili and Sergeant Huang have been arrested for gambling in the army?

General Li: Yes, I've heard.

Mulan: The punishment for gambling is to have both hands chopped off. Could you go to your uncle and ask him to grant mercy on your behalf?

General Li [standing]: Isn't Colonel Yu a good friend of yours? You serve under him. Why don't you talk to him to grant mercy?

Mulan: I already tried that. If I had succeeded I wouldn't be troubling you then, would I?

General Li: Then you're asking me to play the heavy, eh?

Mulan [gets to her feet]: Don't you think this punishment is too barbaric, considering the infraction? Such actions debase soldiers and do not treat them as humans.

General Li: My uncle has already assigned Yu Chenen to take care of military discipline in camp. It's not my concern anymore. Besides, Chenen has always had a grudge against with me; if I overstep my authority here and meddle in his affairs, I'm afraid it will only make a bigger mess.

Mulan: General Li, aside from your uncle, there is no one in the army with greater authority. If you want to help I'm sure you can help.

General Li: You overestimate my abilities.

Mulan: But General Li. I'm sure you can help. If you'll help, I'll…I'll genuflect before you. [Gets on her knees and starts to bow several times]

General Li [doesn't even look in her direction]: Is that all you can do? [Sneers slightly] That's so old hat…

[Colonel Yu appears and drags Mulan to her feet, then hauls her away. General Li doesn't say anything, but he looks a little concerned. Colonel Yu finally drags Mulan into one of the tents to talk to her]

Colonel Yu: Why must you never listen to what I tell you? For the sake of saving someone like Su Jili, you tried to ask a favor of someone like that. Is it worth it?

Mulan [shakes off his hand]: Yes, it is, because he's my friend. He didn't commit a capitol crime. Don't you think chopping off his hands and making him a cripple for life is too harsh of a punishment? If you must punish him can't you find another method?

Colonel Yu [sighs]: Did I ever say I was going to chop off his hands? Don't worry. I won't harm a hair on his head.

Mulan [smiles]: Thank you, Brother Yu.

Colonel Yu [gets serious]: You are my underling. Don't get so close to Li Liang.

Mulan: Would you please stop antagonizing him at every turn?

Colonel Yu: What's the matter with you?

Mulan: I ought to ask you that question. You've always looked down on him, yet you spend all your time envying him. I don't like you when you act that way.

Colonel Yu: What is there for me to envy? He is only a instrument of warfare.

Mulan: There are too many things for you to envy. His martial arts ability. His military ability. His knowledge. His influence in the army. His blood relationship with the Marshal. Every one of those things is something you can't match.

Colonel Yu [getting upset]: You think too highly of Li Liang! In your eyes, you don't think he is a mere man but a god!

Mulan: Brother Yu, I'm not telling these things to hurt you. I just want to warn you not to let envy and jealousy eat you up inside. We've known each other since we were young. We'll always be friends and look out for each other. Stop comparing yourself to Li Liang. He has his abilities. You have yours, too.

Colonel Yu [sighs]: Even though Su Jili has avoided punishment by having his hands chopped off, I have to still punish him for breaking the ban on gambling. I ask that you don't come to me again to ask for a pardon, because it will make my job too hard to bear. [Walks away. Mulan looks like she has just lost her best friend]

[Cut to Marshal's quarters. General Li is ushering in several small pigs in the front door, much to the Marshal's surprise]

General Li: Get in, all of you.

Marshal: Li Liang, what is this?

General Li: Sir, I've been training these pigs and decided to bring them over for your inspection. [Turns to piglets and orders them] Come on, everyone, line up and get in formation. Oh…so you dare disobey my orders? [Squats down next to a pig] Do you know the punishment for disobeying an order? [Picks up squealing pig by the hind leg and carries it in one hand. He reaches for a sword on a nearby stand] Well, I will have to cut off your foreleg to make an example of you. [He draws the sword and is about to chop off a foreleg when the Marshal intervenes]

Marshal: Stop this foolishness at once!

General Li: Sir, don't stop me. This is but a worthless creature. What importance is it if it dies? [Tries to cut it again but the Marshal takes the pig from General Li]

Marshal [scolding]: Li Liang, can't you find something else to entertain yourself? Do you really have to kill a beast to get your kicks? Don't you think that's a little cruel? [Puts the pig down]

General Li [sighs]: Oh, you beasts, you beasts, you are so lucky! My uncle doesn't treat humans with the same consideration. He won't let me harm a hair on your head. [Sighs again] Seems it's better to be a pig than to be a human.

Marshal: Li Liang, if you have something to say, you can spit it out. You don't need to keep beating around the bush.

General Li: You won't let me chop off a pig's foreleg, but you condone Yu Chenen chopping off the hands of those soldiers who have broken the army's ban on gambling? Is human life really worth that much less than a pig's life?

Marshal: Strict and harsh discipline is good for soldiers. If I didn’t do that, how would I maintain order?

General Li: Uncle, how about calling all the troops together and announcing that anyone who breaks the ban on gambling will be executed. Make sure everyone understands the consequences of their actions. That would be better than what we have now, where we have suddenly decided to crack down on gambling. Yu Chenen is overzealously enforcing the rules now and will surely
end up killing someone at this rate. Uncle, since you displayed such humanity when you refused to let me harm the pig, I hope you will also decide to treat your soldiers with the same consideration. Sir, I ask for your consideration. [Salutes]

[The Marshal gives his nephew a funny look, but doesn't say anything]

[Cut to mess hall. Mulan and her soldiers are standing in line to get their rice for the day. General Li walks in and starts looking for

Pudgy: Oh, General Li! Today they're serving your favorite: braised pork.

Monkey: Sir, General, sir, let me get you a bowl.

General Li [waves him away]: That won't be necessary. [Walks to the center of the mess] Everyone, please gather round. I have some good news for you. The Marshal has decided to pardon everyone guilty of gambling in the army. From this day forth, all punishments levied for gambling are excused. There will be no more chopping off of hands and limbs. [Mulan nods her head and the rest of the soldiers loudly cheer. General Li calls their attention back] But that doesn't mean you can go gamble up a storm. Aside from holidays, the ban on gambling will be enforced. Not only will you forfeit three months of pay, you will also be whipped. [A loud chorus of groans comes from the men] Anyone who raises a fuss will also be punished.

[The soldiers all immediately fall silent and go back to their meals. Mulan takes a seat at a table and starts to eat her meal. General Li sits down next to her and she eyes him gingerly, but she doesn't say anything and focuses on her rice bowl]

General Li: Hua Mulan, shouldn't you have a smile on your face now? After all, the Marshal has agreed to abolish the old ban on gambling and your friend Su Jili won't have to worry about losing his hands.

Mulan [pouting]: You're just pulling my chain. You knew ahead of time what would happen.

General Li: Hey, I'm not pulling your chain. The Marshal decided to do this; I have no control over what he does.

Mulan: I wouldn't thank you even if you were responsible for the Marshal's sudden change of heart. Yu Chenen has already agreed to pardon Su Jili. You went through all this trouble for nothing. [Resumes her eating]

General Li [serious]: Hua Mulan, even if Su Jili hadn't gotten in trouble, it was high time this outdated rule was reformed. The punishment is way too cruel and barbaric.

Mulan [looks ashamed]: I'm someone who is terribly self-centered and shortsighted.

General Li: You said it, I didn't.

Mulan: I joined the army in my father's place only to prove my abilities. I wanted to have something to brag about to my mother. And this incident with Su Jili; I only got involved because he's my friend. Compared to you, sir, I'm oceans apart…[sighs]

General Li: Don't worry so much. You want some muscle?  [Thumps her chest and Mulan flinches] I'll show you how.

Mulan [covers her chest with her arm]: General Li, sir? If you're going to talk, then talk. Don't flail about like that.

General Li [chuckles]: No problem. Tomorrow, I'll start teaching you weightlifting. That's the best way to develop your chest muscles.

[Meanwhile, Monkey and Pudgy are watching General Li and Mulan chat with each other]

Monkey [whispers to Pudgy]: Take a look at Boss and General Li. [We see General Li forking food into Mulan's bowl while they happily chat about stuff] All those quiet conversations and sideways glances. Don't they look like two people courting? [Monkey breaks out into a broad grin at the sight]

Pudgy [shoves Monkey]: Damn Monkey! Are you disrespecting Boss again? Go back to your meal!

[Cut to jail. Jili is sitting on the straw on the floor and drinking something out of a bowl]

Jili: I can't get full just drinking water day in and day out. I'm so hungry. [Sips some more water] Hey, someone out there? Could you bring me something to eat? I'm really hungry. [Whimpers some more] What are they trying to do to me? Starve me? [Shoves bowl away] No more! I don’t want any more water! [He turns when he hears something scurrying in the straw. He sees a cockroach on the ground] Oh, my precious…

[He gets into a crouch position and starts pawing the ground like a dog. He tries to catch the roach but is initially unsuccessful. After a couple more tries, he manages to grab it in his hands. He picks it up and starts to address the roach]

Jili: My precious, you're nice and plump. I'm sorry I have to…if I don't eat you I'm afraid I'll starve to death. I'm really sorry. I apologize to your mother, too. [Mulan enters the cell and watches in amazement, and some disgust, when she sees Jili talking to a roach. Jili doesn't notice her presence and continues to talk to the roach] I also apologize to your father and all your ancestors. [He starts to pop the roach in his mouth when Mulan jumps in and tries to wrestle the roach out of Jili's hands]

Mulan: What are you doing? You can't eat cockroaches!

Jili: I know they are dirty, but I'm so hungry that I have to eat them.

Mulan: No! I won't let you! [They wrestle for a while until Mulan finally grabs Jili's fist and tries to pry it open to release the cockroach. After much effort, she opens his fist only to see it is empty] Hey, where'd it go? [Sees Jili pop the roach in his mouth from his other hand and start to chew. She starts to whack his back to make him spit it back out, but Jili swallows and wipes his
mouth] What? You ate it already? [Jili nods] Why did you do that? You're not supposed to have anything but water for three days and nights. How can you flout your punishment?

Jili: Eating a cockroach counts?

Mulan [sternly]: Of course it counts. A real man has to act in a way that respects the universe around him (chivalrous, I think). You couldn't handle being hungry for such a short time. Your punishment is almost up, too.

Jili [whines]: But I've never gone that long without food before. I asked you to smuggle some bread rolls for me but you wouldn't do it. Now that I resorted to eating a cockroach you still scold me. I don't know you. You're not my friend anymore and I'm not your friend anymore. From now on, I'm breaking all ties with you. [Starts to fidget and clutch his belly]

Mulan: What's the matter?

Jili [continuing to fidget]: None of your business!

Mulan [scolds]: See? Who told you to eat a cockroach? You're bound to get a stomachache from eating something that filthy.

Jili [grimacing in discomfort]: It's not that. I've had nothing but water all day. I need to go tinkle.

Mulan [puzzled]: Tinkle? Oh, you mean you need to go pee.

Jili [looking very uncomfortable]: Just leave me alone. Go outside. [Starts to shove her out of the cell]

Mulan [suddenly comprehending]: Oh. Sure. [Starts to blush and scampers out. Jili goes to a corner of the cell and makes exaggerated movements to indicate he is unbuttoning his fly]

[Cut to rooms where Li Liang's mother is staying. She enters the sitting room and stretches gingerly. Yiren is already inside, where she is doting on a small baby in her arms]

Li Liang's mother [groaning]: That's the problem with getting older. As soon as you get up you feel stiff everywhere. [Sees the baby and Yiren] Whose baby is that?

Yiren: Aunt, it's our neighbor Mrs. Zhao's grandnephew. [Jostles the baby as it gurgles in happiness. She hands him to her aunt. She starts to coo towards it] Aunt, babies are truly adorable , aren't they? If this were Cousin's son he would be even more so. [Li Liang's mother gives Yiren an odd look. Yiren hurries to tease the baby to divert her aunt's attention] Aunt, you seem to really like children. You'll never catch anything if you don't set the nets ahead of time. Cousin is old enough to think about starting a family. Why haven't you gotten him a wife yet?

Li Liang's mother [distractedly]: What? [Continues to bounce the baby]

Yiren: You know, so he can have some children…like this little boy.

Li Liang's mother [continues to coo]: Silly wench…you can stop beating around the bush and talk to me directly. You needn't go through the trouble of borrowing a baby to help with your charade.

Yiren [looks guilty but protests anyway]: Aunt…you're mistaken. I didn't plan on telling you anything…

Li Liang's mother [as the baby starts to wail]: Here, you brought this baby here, so you can take care of him now. [Hands back baby to Yiren]

Yiren [tries to calm it down]: Shhh. shhh, take it easy. Don't cry, please? [Li Liang's mother looks significantly at Yiren, while Yiren blushes slightly and looks away. It is obvious her aunt understands the point of the whole charade]

[Cut to Marshal's quarters. The Marshal is in the room, as are General Li and Li Liang's mother]

Marshal [to Li Liang's mother]: So you wish to hold your birthday party here?

Li Liang's mother: Yes. Will that be a problem?

General Li [protesting]: Mother…most of our relatives are back home in our home village. The only relatives here in Youzhou are Uncle (paternal) and Yiren's family. Since it will only be six people, we may as well just go to a local restaurant and have a nice meal to celebrate. We shouldn't drag Uncle into this.

Li Liang's mother: Stop fussing. Your uncle hasn't said no. It's not for you to raise a stink. I spent all that time bringing you up, and you can't take the time to help me throw a big birthday party?

General Li: I just don't think we should bother Uncle with this.

Marshal: That's quite all right. As long as your mother is happy…She has done a fine job of raising an upstanding member of the Li family. I couldn't begin to thank her for her efforts. As for the expenses for this party, don't worry about them, because I'll take care of all of it.

Li Liang's mother: Oh, thank you, thank you, Brother!

Marshal: You don't need to thank me. Consider it my birthday present to you.

Li Liang's mother [whips out a list]: This is a list of the people I'd like to invite. Brother, could you help me make sure everyone on the list gets an invitation?

General Li [takes list from his mother]: Mother, Uncle is busy with many affairs of state. I can take care of this simple chore for you.

[Cut to mess hall. Mulan strides in with a basket in one hand and a huge smile on her face]

Mulan: Hey, everyone! It's your lucky day!

Pudgy: Why is it our lucky day?

Mulan: General Li has invited all of us to his mother's birthday banquet tonight. [Loud cheers from the troops. Mulan raises a hand to silence them] But, we mustn't show up empty-handed just to mooch off some free food. So, I have a suggestion. Let's have everyone chip in some silver so we can buy a suitable present. [Presents the basket to the soldiers but everyone shies away]

Pudgy: Boss, why do we have to chip in money?

Monkey: We don't get much of a stipend from the army. It's the thought that counts, not how much money you spend.

Pudgy: Exactly.

Monkey: Besides, I'm sure General Li will not raise a fuss with us over something like this.

Mulan [frowning]: So you're saying we should go freeload? That would look pretty bad.

Monkey: Boss, we'll definitely send a present, but that doesn't mean we need to spend any money on it.

Mulan [puzzled]: A free present? How do you do that?

Monkey: Don't worry, Boss. Let me handle it. I guarantee you will all be satisfied. [Smiles mysteriously]

Mulan [mutters]: Is that for real?

[Cut to the house where Li Liang's mother is having her birthday banquet. There are numerous decorations on the wall, calling for blessings and good luck (I'm not going to translate all of them because I can't!). General Li and Yiren's father are greeting all the guests as they enter. Li Liang's mother and Yiren are also greeting guests]

Yiren: Aunt, you are the star tonight! Look at all the people coming to pay their respects!

Li Liang's mother: No, it's not due to anything on my part. It's because your cousin's influence is great and his name is well known. Did you know that even the Crown Prince has taken him as a teacher? That's why everyone's been so nice to me.

[Yiren's father pulls General Li aside]

Yiren's father: Li Liang, when is the Crown Prince coming?

General Li: The Crown Prince? I didn't invite him.

Yiren's father: What?

Li Liang's mother [rushing over]: What? You didn't invite the Crown Prince? But I put his name on that list I gave you? Why didn't you invite him?

General Li: Mother, it would have been a big hassle. We're better off not inviting him.

Li Liang's mother: But it's my birthday, and I wanted to invite him.

General Li [takes his mother aside]: Mother, I did it for you. [Sees his mother is skeptical] If I had invited the Crown Prince, he'd take the limelight away from you, and today's your day, not his.

Yiren: Exactly, aunt. If the Crown Prince were here, everyone would be in a tizzy to make sure everything was just right to suit him. Your birthday party would be a lot more subdued.

General Li: Mother, your party is already a huge success. Look, all the important people of Youzhou are here to celebrate your birthday. Isn't that enough glory for you? [Li Liang's mother smiles shyly. The Marshal walks in and Yiren's father hurries over to greet him and presumably curry some favor]

Li Liang's mother: Brother, thank you for everything!

Marshal [to General Li]: Er… Chenen wasn't feeling well, so he declined to attend your mother's birthday party. [Presents a wrapped present to General Li] This is a present he asked me to deliver in his place. [Li Liang's mother tries to take the present but General Li takes it instead]

General Li [eyes it briefly]: Uncle, this present that Chenen gave…I'm sure it cost you a pretty penny, right? [The Marshal looks sheepish and everyone is waiting for him to say something but he doesn't] Come in, Uncle. [Ushers the Marshal inside and no more is mentioned about Chenen]