Mulan sighed as she looked over the recruits she was supposed to help train. They weren't as bad as they could have been (she deeply pitied Shang now for having been stuck with her lot), but they weren't up to the standard she had been hoping for.

The recruits in her platoon, the soldiers now under her direct command, were either old enough to be her father, or the youngest sons of her generation. About a third of her troops were actually younger than her, which was impressive considering she was only sixteen, and the rest were at least twenty years her senior. Neither group had seemed particularly inclined to listen to her, rank aside.

She had to admit though, she was making progress. After a week of intense training, she had gained a fair amount of respect from her younger recruits, and the older ones were steadily coming to acknowledge her as a leader, and as their superior officer.

Mulan wanted to roll her eyes when she thought of her first day with these men. Upon their arrival, they had been thoroughly shocked to see her, a woman, among their camp. Apparently, they had believed it to be an all boy's club.

Which, if Mulan thought about it, was perfectly understandable.

Wu Zhong was being used as a meeting place, of sorts. All nine generals of the Chinese army had gathered here in an attempt to form a suitable plan to fend off and destroy the Huns.

The numbers were staggering. Ninety thousand men had been enlisted to serve in the Chinese military.

And a quarter of them were younger than fifteen.

Many brave men had been lost in Shan-Yu's attacks on China. Many of the boys were the younger brothers of those men, and had therefore taken it upon themselves to go in the place of their fathers.

Of course there were many older men as well. The men that either didn't have sons to take their places, or didn't want their sons to lose their lives, choosing to sacrifice their own instead. On the bright side to this, they had most likely served before, and were accustomed to military life.

And then there were the veterans. These were the soldiers that had been summoned three months ago to fight against Shan-Yu and his army, and had made it through unscathed. Mulan had been hoping for a few of those. Less training was required.

Then again, it wasn't surprising that she hadn't gotten any. They were much easier to train. The others were just giving her a hard time, and setting her up for failure. Not that she would fail. They had more than enough time. Shang had managed to whip the last sorry lot into shape in six weeks. She got a better group of men, and more time. She was lucky.

Mulan herself had one thousand soldiers under her direct command. She reported directly to Shang, who had nine other captains reporting.

The woman winced internally when she thought of her co-captains. They had been…less than appreciative of Mulan's presence as an equal ranking officer, and they had made their displeasure known. She would have to work on those relations a bit. If not, she could end up tearing Shang's division apart, and that would definitely be a bad thing, both for Shang's career and the lives of every single person on the battlefield. Civil War was not pretty, and Mulan refused to be the cause of it.

She watched as this squad of trainees pushed their way through the obstacle course she had set up. Earlier, she had timed herself and then proceeded to tell them that if they didn't beat her, they would have to run ten miles.

Not a single one did.

Mulan returned to her musings. Her first day with the recruits had been…eventful, to say the least, and a bit disappointing if she was honest. Thinking back, she wondered at how it had all turned out…

Flashback

Shang had called her to his tent this morning. She was neither surprised nor disappointed to see it filled with nine other people once she got there. It would have been nice to talk to Shang alone, but if he had wanted to speak to her about personal matters, he would have come to her, not send a messenger with a summons.

The others in the tent were to be her new co-captains. A few had looked at her with interest, one or two with respect, and the other half just sneered. Mulan had shrugged it off. It had actually been a better reaction than she was expecting.

"Sir, do you mean to tell me that she will be a captain as well?" One man asked. He looked ridiculously flabbergasted, and Mulan fought to hide her amusement.

Shang had just rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, and mind you, she has a very neat left hook. Don't say anything stupid."

Mulan was surprised at his response, and then caught the hint of exasperation that shone through his mask. He had obviously been fending off these types of questions all day. She sighed. There would be much to work through over the next few weeks.

End Flashback

The other captains had grumbled a bit, but they had accepted that there would be no changing their general's mind. The fact that Mulan was good at being in the army didn't do her any harm either.

She frowned as she remembered what had happened when she had first met the troops. Mulan had received a similar reaction, although their responses had been a bit more violent.

Flashback

"Boys, meet your new captain." Shang said. The troops looked right past her, and then when it finally dawned on them that they would be taking orders from a woman, there was nearly mutiny.

"I refuse. This is an insult to my honor!" One man shouted. Similar cries arose from around them.

Shang only sighed, but before he could speak again, Mulan stepped forward.

"What will it take for you to accept this?" She asked the men. If she could just gain enough respect to get them over following orders…

That shut the men up. They looked at each other until one man got brave and stepped forward.

"Show us that you've earned this title." And he assumed a fighting stance. There was a general noise of assent from the soldiers.

Mulan nodded and stepped forward. His stance was flawed, and before she could stop herself, she found that she was already deciding on the best move to take the man down.

She looked at Shang. He seemed rather amused at the prospect of watching one of the new recruits get pummeled by Mulan on the first day. "Begin." He said.

Mulan did not take up her stance, and instead stood with her hands clasped in front of her, feet shoulder-width apart, and chin up, staring the man directly in the eye. He made the first move, a long kick that she had seen coming a mile away sailing towards her. She stepped inside his range and knocked his supporting leg out from under him with her knee. He fell, and stared up at her with a look of numb shock on his face.

She stood over him, hands still clasped in front of her, and looked at her troops.

Most of them were open-mouthed with awe. Some had a look of general curiosity and still others looked accepting. She figured that this was a good sign.

She offered a hand to the fallen man. He looked at it for a moment before nodding slowly to himself and allowing her to pull him up.

"You place your left leg too far behind you. Your intention became obvious when you moved to attack." She advised. The man's eyes widened for a moment, and Mulan could see him wondering whether or not getting beaten by a woman was indeed an insult to his honor if that woman was his captain, and if so, whether taking advice from her would make it worse. Eventually, he nodded with acceptance and returned to line. Mulan walked back to Shang, taking her place by his right hand.

End Flashback

Now, a week later, the men were still rather hesitant to follow her orders. They always, without fail, weighed their options before either following through or refusing. Under normal circumstances, this would not be tolerated and the men would be dismissed from the army without honor. As it was, Mulan would have significantly less soldiers if she implemented that punishment. Instead, she gave them a sound beating to kick them back into line.

However, a little progress was better than none, and the troops under her direct control were slowly coming around. Others, not so much, but they were learning.

Her soldiers ran through the obstacle course in heats of ten. The whole course had taken less than five minutes to do (and yet not one man had beaten her yet. She hadn't even gone at half speed!), and Mulan had told the ones who were waiting to start sparing. She had taken to correcting each man with a word or two. Men responded best to directness. They knew nothing of subtly. She had learned this her first time through the army.

As she watched the men run their heats, she noticed an exceptionally young boy sparing with a man three times his size. He looked to be around ten and the man sparing with him seemed understandably hesitant to lay a hand on him.

Mulan sighed. Her maternal instincts were doing battle with the warrior in her. On the one hand, the boy was too young for war. All she really wanted to do was send him home. Then again, this would result in disgrace to his family, and no young boy deserved that burden. Besides, she wouldn't really have any good reason to send him home, other than his age, and that didn't count in this army.

No, the best thing for this boy would be to train him, and give him a fighting chance for survival.

Which wouldn't happen if people kept going easy on him.

Mulan put a hand on the older man's shoulder. He tensed and turned around, looking ready to punch whoever had disturbed him, until he saw that it was his commanding officer. She watched the fight leave him, and was pleased when meekness was left in its place. The men were learning.

"I'll take over. Find another partner."

The man looked surprised, then suspicious, and then relieved. He would not have the burden of sparing with a child.

The boy, on the other hand, had other ideas.

"No! I can take him!" He said defiantly.

Mulan sighed, not really wanting to deal with yet another defiant young lad who had never once listened to a woman. She had enough of those already.

Which was why she was really very surprised when the man she had been sparring with spun around and got in the boy's face.

"Show respect to your commanding officer, boy!"

The boy looked extremely surprised and slightly fearful of the man in front of him. Mulan almost stepped in but the boy spoke first.

"But…she is a woman! She should not even be in the army!"

At this, Mulan gave a bit of a disproving glare while keeping herself aloof from the scene in front of her. She had to admit, she was a little curious as to how the older man would respond to the boy's accusations.

Some people around them had stopped sparring and were looking towards them with an expression of curiosity and incredulity. Some of them were eager. They all wanted to see Mulan get trash talked. They did not like being bossed around by a woman, and they wanted to see her taken down a few pegs.

The man glanced at her briefly before speaking again.

"This is true, but our captain has proven herself worthy of her position, and the emperor himself hand-picked her. Surly you do not know better than the emperor?"

The boy flushed and gasped. Mulan had to admit, she was a little surprised that the man had known this. The events pertaining to Mulan's captainship had not been made public knowledge. Not a secret, exactly, but not something shouted from rooftops either. Mulan hadn't wanted to look like she was flaunting the emperor's undeniable favoritism toward her.

The boy looked down at the ground in an act of submission, and Mulan thought the confrontation would be over. Instead, the boy's eyes snapped up defiantly, looking first to the older man and then to Mulan.

He spoke slowly, assuredly. There was a presence to his words that did not belong to someone of his age. "Maybe the emperor was wrong."

Mulan was pretty sure every man in the vicinity had a small heart attack at those words.

The Emperor of China was like a god to his people (1). Indisputable. Unquestionable. His word was Law and his actions guided by divine Justice. For someone to even question that was considered treason.

The older man's face seemed to swell and grow very red. "Listen, boy-"

"Enough." Mulan said simply. Every person in the area's attention turned to her. She sighed inwardly. It had been a very long week and she was getting sick of having her every action evaluated for her worthiness. Confrontations like this one were too common.

Although, she thought wryly to herself, no one else has had the audacity to question the emperor. This kid has guts.

She turned her attention to the boy. "If you think you know better than the emperor, then you shall have to prove it."

He paled a little, but kept the defiant gleam in his eyes. "I'm not afraid."

She sighed inwardly again, resigned to what she was about to do. "No?" She paused for a moment, "You will be." (2)

The boy looked slightly stricken. So did a few others.

She turned to a bow and full quiver that lay forgotten on the ground and picked it up.

"Follow me." She said to the boy and the older man. "The rest of you, keep sparing. Pash is in charge until I return."

Pash was an older man who had shown a surprising affection for Mulan and had proven to be far and wide the best martial artist in the company of new recruits. He was kind and fair and had long ago established himself as Mulan's second. He nodded in assent, curiosity burning in his eyes. He wanted to know what she planned on doing, and Mulan realized she would be questioned later.

Their little party tromped back to camp. Mulan had her bow and quiver slung over her shoulder. The bow was designed for a beginner, and therefore didn't have as much raw power, but it would suffice for her intended purpose.

She walked over to the post that stood tall in the center of camp. It brought back memories of her first trip to Wu Zhong.

"What are we doing here? How are you going to prove yourself? What-"

Mulan cut off the boy's rambling with a sharp glance.

"First of all," She began, thoroughly annoyed by the boy, "You should understand that I have no need to prove myself to you. You are a child, and a soldier in my army. Your opinion does not matter." She paused, letting that sink in for the child. It was true that his opinion of her was of no concern to Mulan, but she did care for his respect. She needed it to keep her platoon together. However, the boy needed to learn his place, and to know that he was not an all-important being in this world. He had obviously led something of a sheltered life. "As for what we are doing here, you will find out soon enough."

She took up the bow and buried an arrow in the top of the pole. There was another pole about two hundred yards away. She shot another arrow to the top of that one.

She turned to the other man present. He looked rather confused as to why he was there.

"If you will look into that chest over there, I think you will find that there are two boxes in there. Retrieve them."

Mulan almost added please before remembering that she was captain and probably shouldn't do that when giving orders.

The man returned a few moments later, grunting with the effort of carrying the two heavy boxes. She nodded to him and opened the first box. Two heavy weights sat inside, and she took them easily before tying them to the boy's wrists. He nearly fell over before looking to her in confusion, but she said and revealed nothing.

Next she took the other box and tied the weights inside to her own wrists. She noted with pride that they felt much lighter since the first time she had donned them.

"These weights represent discipline and strength." She nearly smiled with nostalgia when she remembered the next words to the phrase. "You need both to reach the arrow."

The boy looked at her as if she had just spouted English. She found she didn't much care. The boy had to learn how to hold his tongue.

"You will climb this pole, and I the other. If I reach the top first, you will drop this ridiculous argument and apologize to all those you disturbed with your allegations against the emperor."

The boy stuck his chin up defiantly. "And if I win?"

Mulan sighed, "If that happens, I am not fit for captainship."

The boy looked surprised by her answer, but seemed satisfied. Mulan turned to the other man. "You will be the judge."

He nodded in understanding. She turned and walked toward her pole.

"Start when ready." She called over her shoulder.

The boy yelled back. "How many chances do I get?"

She didn't even look back. "As many as you want."

She heard the unmistakable grunting sound of someone falling a few feet to the ground straight to their rear ends a few moments later. She smiled to herself.

Mulan walked casually to her own pole, confident that the boy would not be figuring it out anytime soon. He was a straightforward thinker, and used the first moves that came to mind. He would not give up until he made it all the way to the top with those weights dragging him down. He would not think to use them to his advantage.

When she reached the pole, she swung the bow and quiver over her shoulder before starting her climb. She hadn't had much time to train herself since the recruits came in. She planned on savoring the experience.

In far too short a time, she had reached the top. But apparently it was long enough to gather a crowd, for that's what was happening at the moment. Twenty or so men had gathered at the bottom of her pole, and from her perch, she could see a similar number at the bottom of the other one. She sighed. She hadn't really wanted this to be public. Oh well.

She swung the weights over her shoulder and pulled the bow off of her back. It had been a bit of a hindrance to climb with, but she had had far worse. It was much easier than trying to do it in a dress.

Plucking the arrow out of the wood, she knocked it in her bow and took aim.

The arrow landed at the older man's feet. He jumped and looked up to Mulan. She held a finger to her lips, asking him to wait before calling the little contest she was taking part in. He looked at her in confusion before nodding. She smiled and took a deep breath, before enacting the last part of her plan.

With deadly aim and accuracy that would have had even Shang impressed, Mulan started firing her arrows, one at a time. The first one hit the arrow already embedded in the opposite pole, the one her soldier was so desperately trying to reach. The arrow she fired after that spliced her previous and so on. Her quiver held twenty arrows. She emptied it. On top of the pole opposite of her, there was a nest of arrows, each one splicing the one before it. She smiled and descended the pole.


Bao-Zhi was a simple man.

Or, at least he tried to be.

He didn't start up fights, he didn't cause trouble. He just minded his own business, did his military duty, brought honor to his family and hoped to make it home to dinner, and he really, really, did not wish for any trouble.

So why he was currently judging a contest between an officer and a ten year old boy was completely beyond him. He had no doubt as to who would win and he thought the boy stupid for even trying. Hell, he thought the boy stupid anyways. Mouthing off to a commanding officer was one thing, disgracing the emperor was a completely different situation. He was glad that Captain Fa was taking the matter seriously.

Captain Fa. Now there was an interesting person. At sixteen, she had singlehandedly saved China twice, and was now a commanding officer in the Chinese army. His uncle was a courtier, and he had heard the whole story from him. He had to admire her courage. She rode off to almost certain death in order to protect her father, took out a hun army with a single cannon, and then disarmed Shan-Yu with only a fan. Soon after, she was being honored by the emperor and then courted by a general. She truly was remarkable.

Bao-Zhi wondered why no one else seemed to be able to see it.

In fact, they all seemed utterly unable to get over the fact that she was a woman. Perhaps he was a bit more immune to this than some. He had been raised by his mother and sister, who had given everything for him. His sister even went so far as to marry an abusive man just so he could have a roof over his head. As soon as he was old enough to support the family, he had practically ordered his sister to divorce her husband and come home (3). She had done as asked. He had two other wives anyway.

So, in his humble opinion, women really weren't all that bad.

He supposed that it didn't help anything that Captain Fa was exquisitely beautiful as well. No one likes taking orders from a flower.

Although, he thought to himself, you would think they would have realized that this rose has thorns by now.

General Li was a lucky man. Bao-Zhi hoped he knew this. The soldier assumed he did, seeing as the woman had agreed to their courtship. She would not be pressured into anything, of that he was sure.

The boy fell to the ground for the fifteenth time. Frustrated, the child let out a groan and then started on his way up again. He didn't get more than four feet before falling again.

The onlookers watched him with sympathy. They had no clue as to what was going on, but seemed to recognize that the boy was in a bit of a bind.

He sighed. He was sure that Captain Fa had not wanted people to watch this demonstration. Then again, this whole thing was just a way to make sure this kid didn't backtalk her again, or disgrace the emperor. With witnesses, the embarrassment would be more complete and the kid would be unlikely to do it again.

Distracted as he was with his thoughts, Bao-Zhi did not notice the arrow until it was embedded in the ground in front of his feet.

He was ashamed to say he jumped. Luckily, no one else noticed.

Recognizing the arrow as the one that Captain Fa had shot a few minutes earlier, he looked up to the pole that stood proudly two hundred yards away.

Sure enough, he could pick out Captain Fa's lithe body from here, sitting easily on top of the pole with the weights slung over her shoulder, a bow in hand. He was about to call the match when she put her finger to her full lips in the unmistakable demand for silence.

Confused, but understanding the order, he nodded and looked back to the other soldier. He got ten feet up the pole this time. Bao-Zhi had to wonder at how the woman had gotten to the top of the pole so fast. It had only been ten minutes since she had planted the arrows in the poles. Considering the time she had taken to explain things to the boy, and the time she had taken walking over there, it had only taken her about three minutes to scale the pole.

Bao-Zhi grinned. This boy had another thing coming if he thought he was going to beat Captain Fa.

Suddenly, he became aware of a soft sound. It was nothing more than a tickle on his ear, apart from the murmurings of the growing crowd.

Thwap. Thwap. Thwap.

It was steady, like a heartbeat. It was coming from above him.

When he looked up, his jaw dropped.

Even as he watched, the arrow on top of the pole was being driven in by arrow after arrow, perfectly shot and perfectly on target, and each splitting the one before right down the middle.

He turned towards where Captain Fa was perched. She was a blur of motion, even while maintaining perfect balance on that blasted pole. It must have been even more difficult considering the heavy weights slung over her shoulder, but the young woman made it all look easy. Her right arm continued on its path, drawing back, releasing, plucking the next arrow out and knocking it, drawing, and releasing before the arrow she had previously shot had even hit its target.

And she was two hundred yard away.

With a training bow!

How could she even see the arrow on top of the other pole?

At this point, many others had noticed the splitting arrows on top of the pole. All were staring in stunned silence at the woman perched on top of the other pole, easily doing the impossible.

In fact, at this point, the only person who hadn't noticed was the boy still trying to make his way up the pole, completely unaware that his target was now unattainable.

Finally, the barrage of arrows stopped.

Captain Fa smiled, a brilliant thing that could be seen even from where he stood. Bao-Zhi thought she was enjoying this far too much. She practically dove off the pole, repelling down so quickly it looked like she was falling. Cheers erupted from that general direction. She must have gathered her own crowd.

Silence ensued from their pole. Each man looked to each other for confirmation on what they had seen. Very few liked the implications.

Bao-Zhi smirked. They would surly give her a little more respect now.

The boy fell again. So single minded and determined was he that Bao-Zhi doubted whether or not he knew there were others present.

In no time, Captain Fa had arrived at their pole. She looked no worse for wear. The only difference was the emptied quiver.

The Captain stood with an aura about her. One of confidence, pride, and a certain righteousness that made it very difficult to imagine anyone getting in her way. The admiring stares she got now were as much for her skills as it was for her very presence.

This time, her beauty only enhanced that aura.

Oh yes, General Li was a lucky man indeed.

Captain Fa looked at the still struggling boy for a moment more before turning to Bao-Zhi, eyebrows raised expectantly.

For a moment, he wondered why. Then, he remembered that he was supposed to be calling this whole contest of theirs. If one could call it that. The boy had been so thoroughly trounced that he wasn't sure he could.

"Captain Fa wins." The 'by a landslide' part was left to be assumed.

The boy whipped around, sweat pouring down his face, "What?" He then looked to the arrow at Bao-Zhi's feet and then up to the top of the other pole, conspicuously missing an arrow. "That's impossible!"

"Is it?" Captain Fa asked. The boy's eyes settled on her, and then on the weights still slung over her shoulder.

"Yes!" The boy exclaimed, "You must have cheated!"

The captain's eyes narrowed dangerously. "How so?"

The boy rolled his eyes. "I don't know. Maybe you didn't have the weights with you, or maybe you had someone else go get it. How am I to know the mind of a cheater and a liar?"

Captain Fa said nothing. She only fixed the boy with a hard stare, which he returned. For several minutes, no one spoke, no one even breathed. Finally, the boy lowered his gaze, submitting at last.

Captain Fa started speaking quietly, but somehow her words carried acroos the campground. "Hear me now, soldier. If you think attacking others' integrity will make up for your own shortcomings, then you are sorely mistaken. I climbed the pole, with the weights, and did it before you had even made it twenty feet. Look to your arrow." She ordered. The boy complied, glowering, before he saw the spectacular display of archery that was sitting on top of the pole. He gaped.

Silence ensued. Finally, the shaken boy turned to his officer, and promptly flung himself to the ground at Captain Fa's feet.

"Forgive me, Captain," he said quietly, "I see now that I greatly disrespected you, and have brought dishonor to my family. I have no excuse."

For her part, the captain looked genuinely surprised, though she concealed it well. After a moment, she spoke.

"Rise, soldier. Your misdeeds are forgiven. Honor has been restored."

The boy stood, but refused to even look at his captain.

"You went wrong when you narrowed your thinking," the captain started. "You thought of the weights as handicaps, and worked against them. Do you remember what they represent?"

The boy looked up, surprised. "You-You're teaching me how to climb the pole?"

She gave him a look of mock surprise and disappointment. "You weren't going to leave all those arrows up there were you? They're still good for fire wood. How wasteful!" The woman admonished, a bit of a mischievous glint in her eye. The boy looked surprised, then eager.

"Strength and discipline." He recited.

Captain Fa nodded, "And there is a third trait needed to reach the top."

The boy looked confused. "But you didn't say anything about a third trait!"

The captain looked at him for a moment before the boy realized he had spoken out of turn again and he blushed. Captain Fa's gaze softened a bit.

"Meekness is a trait that you seem especially lacking in. It just means you must work harder for it. Sometimes, the greater person is the one who restrains themselves, and submits."

Bao-Zhi could tell that the boy was confused by this. Truth be told, Bao-Zhi was somewhat confused as well. And then he thought he understood. The man who sacrificed his pride for the smart thing, the one who walked away from a dare, or a stupid fight, was braver, and far more honorable than the man who was afraid of being called a coward. Meekness was not a bad thing when exercised carefully.

He looked to his captain in wonder. The woman was very wise, especially for one of such a young age. She may have only been six years older than the boy in front of her, but she was at such a high maturity level that they seemed decades apart.

The boy still looked confused.

"I don't understand." He said. The captain gave him a small smile.

"You will."

She walked over to the base of the pole, all eyes on her.

"You said that the weights represented strength and discipline?" She asked.

The boy nodded hesitantly, "Yes."

She turned and looked at him. "So why were you working against them?"

The boy's mouth dropped open in shock. "But I thought-"

The captain shook her head, "You did not think. You did not look for options, you did not use your head. Instead, you took the straightforward approach, the one everyone would expect. You forgot the third trait, which is unspoken and a necessary part of every soldier."

The boy looked at her in wonder. "What is that?"

The corners of her mouth quirked into a bit of a smile. "Ingenuity."

And with that, she strapped the weights to her wrists and flung them around the pole, where they locked. She proceeded to climb up the pole, so quickly it was almost like she was walking straight up. In no time she had reached the top. Climbing onto her perch, she slung the weights over her shoulder again and then bent down to the large nest of arrows currently embedded in the top of the pole. She wriggled it carefully, and after several minutes the arrows were pulled out. She promptly dropped it, and watched as it plummeted to the ground, where it imploded on impact. Arrowheads and slivers of shafts littered the grass nearly thirty feet around ground zero. Again, the captain repelled down so fast that Bao-Zhi thought she was falling. Apparently others did too, because a few men started towards her before correcting themselves. Captain Fa landed gracefully on her feet.

She looked at the boy, who was staring at her in awe and admiration. Her gaze softened a bit.

"Clean up this mess, and then you're free to go for the rest of the day." She said, and then turned on her heel to head back to the rest of her platoon. She stopped suddenly, and whirled around.

"What is your name, soldier?" She asked the boy. He looked up.

"Shao Ping." He answered dutifully.

The captain froze, mirth gathering in her eyes. "Ping? Your name is Ping?"

He nodded, obviously confused as to why this was so important. "Yes."

Bao-Zhi noticed that his captain looked as if she was desperately trying to conceal a fit of giggles. She was succeeding. There were well over a hundred people now gathered around the pole. Each and every one of them had seen Captain Fa's little demonstration. As he remembered her body language during the whole affair, Bao-Zhi realized that she had been very aware of the growing crowd, and even as she gave a one on one lesson, she had also been instructing every other person there. Bao-Zhi was again awed at the woman's brilliance. The emperor could not have picked a better captain.

As she walked past him, back to the training grounds where her soldiers awaited her, she suddenly stopped and trained her sharp eyes on him.

"You, soldier, are not quite done for the day. You have quite a lot of training left. Follow me."

Bao-Zhi smiled. "Gladly."

She looked surprised by this answer, but said nothing and continued on to her destination. Bao-Zhi walked dutifully behind.


a/n

Well, this time I at least have a good reason for not posting for so long. My computer decided to crap out on me, finished chapter with it. And we all know that nothing is ever as good the second time you write it. So I had to wait for my computer to be fixed. Urg.

Anywho, how did you guys like Bao-Zhi? He was actually unplanned, but about halfway through the chapter, I thought it would be more interesting if I gave an outside prerspective on the whole situation.

Keep an eye out for our new Ping. He's going to be more important later.

So how did you guy's like the reinvented arrow-pole thing? I thought it fit pretty well into this scene, but I really want to know what you guys thought!

1) I don't know if this is an accurate description of the emperor to the Ancient Chinese, but based on the reactions of the people in the movie, and what I know from history, I'm pretty okay with this. If anyone has any issues with it or a more accurate description, please tell me and I will fix it. See number three for more details on the matter.

2) Yes, this is an allusion to Star Wars! You caught it! Good for you! Bonus points if you know who said it and what movie it came from!

3) I'm not actually sure if women were allowed to get a divorce from their husbands. They probably had to have their families agree upon it, but for the sake of the story, and because its such an insignificant part of the story, I'm going to leave it be unless someone has a real problem with it. I promise I wasn't doing it to slight Chinese culture. It was just a matter of ignorance and convienience to the story.

To all those who have reviewed and favorited and followed, I can't say thank you enough. A few of you nearly made me cry, but in a good way. Thank you all for the reviews, and please leave another!

~peace out (because I have been dying to use that one ever since I started the story!)