Here’s another cut scene from book 1. This isn’t a separate POV, but Mia’s day (and chapter) is already quite long. This material contained little to do with the story at large.
That other house, was over there moving smoothly, in columns of two.
“Dune House,” Mother said to their craned necks. “They are Second First today. Though they don’t have the honor of having had it two days running. Now, line up as they have.
“Until now you’ve followed around like baby ducks with their mother. Time for some organization. No longer will we move in a single file, but form two columns. One to Nine, and Ten to Eighteen. First leading, and Second to the rear.”
“Last,” Amber groaned.
Mother laughed along with everyone else, while explaining, “There are times for drill, and moving as a riding, and other times in singles or small groups. The tests are almost finished. Afterwords, you’ll get yourself to your training on your own. No more getting lost, because I and Second have our own training to see to. We’ll be with you in the mornings and evenings. Otherwise you’ll be with masters.”
“So, tonight what I want to accomplish is basic military formations. You’re familiar with the nines but not the smaller tres. We’ll go over those. Some of you, I know, have been waiting for that. It’ll make more sense on our few overnights. Especially with skirmishes with other houses.”
Mia thought none of it made sense. All they’d done is go from barracks to mess, to classes and back – single file as their whole riding. But she kept quiet.
Soon Mother had them marching around, by tres and by nines. Together and separate again. “You all are like a bunch of bobbing sticks. Stop bouncing! Imagine you have a drek pinched in your behind! Your job is to not let it fall.” Mia had quite the image. They all had active imaginations, and it helped loads.
“You’ve walked enough today, we’ll now work on precision,” Mother said. She sorted them into four tres, side-by-side. She raised a fist, then chopped it back behind them. “Now turn around and march with the rear girls leading.” It was a mess with girls turning every which way. Second, with her white hair, joined them, and both she and Mother laughing hysterically at the girls’ bumbling.
“The maneuver is called an about-face, and is performed like so,” Mother said, she put Second before her and they began marching. They made marching look precise. “About-face,” she said, and suddenly they were moving in the opposite direction. Mia was amazed. So adroit. They hadn’t skipped a beat, and kept moving but in the opposite direction. Mother called another “About-face!” and they returned to where they’d started when she said, “Halt.” Together they stopped as one.
“How do you do that?” Three said, voicing what they all wanted to know. Nobody wanted to look like the idiots they’d appeared after their first round.
“Like so,” and Mother and Second did the maneuver in slow motion, exaggerating them getting up on their toes as they spun in the other direction, both feet down, one ahead of the other, so that they could step out together with the same foot.
“You’ve all picked up on stepping together, but now let’s always start with the right foot. That way from step one we’re all together.”
It was all so simple once explained, and they figured it out quickly, though not without some disasters. Everyone concentrated on their feet, waiting for their about-face command, and were sometimes slow to perform the maneuver at the right moment. Girls collided. Marching beside the others, Mia didn’t bump, but she was late a time or two.
“It will help if you call it Mia,” Mother instructed. “You’re too busy making sure they get it, that you miss your que. Call ‘about’ as you set down your left foot, and ‘face’ when you put down your right, and pivot together.”
When Mia called it the first time, everyone did it, and when Mia looked over her shoulder at her house, everyone had a grin. The second attempt wasn’t so successful, they all thought they’d mastered it. After a few more mostly successful attempts, Mother called it a night.
“That’s a good first go,” Mother said. “You’ll find it comes quickly. While you sleep your brains will figure it out faster than if we drilled all night. The same with everything we do, though practice keeps us improving. Now let’s get to the showers. If we’re quick, we can be ahead of the others.”
Mia thought as soon as they got back to the barracks she’d go around introducing herself, but everyone fell onto their beds like sacks of grain and didn’t move until morning. She was just as glad to find hers, and thought she’d drift to sleep as soon as her head lay down, but instead she thought of Rathe. Of the times they’d reenacted battles they’d read about. Mia smiled at the remembrance. They, son and daughter of merchants, had never raised a weapon in their life, except in those mock battles with one another.
It was too bad she and Rathe had not kept at their childhood battles and learned to master their weapons, because she could use that knowledge, fitness and readiness now.