Lessons Begin

"Huff. Huff."

"You're almost there..." Jackal was holding a stopwatch to keep a record of how long Ryker can keep his astral skin on.

"This is annoying!" Ryker was getting tired and angry. Keeping the black astral skin on took a lot of mental focus which placed a strain on him.

"I'm afraid you're going to have to deal with it, snow-white."

The first lesson for Ryker was to learn how to properly use his astral skin.

"You wouldn't want a repeat of what happened the other time now would you?"

Ryker clicked his tongue. As much as he'd hate to admit it, Jackal was right. There was no point in being stubborn.

The black astral skin is one of the rarest colors that a person could harness. It provides an incredible buff in strength and speed as shown by Ryker when he easily took care of over a dozen B-Grade bounty hunters. He would have beaten the A-Grade Mysty too had he not exhausted his astral.

"I appreciate you going through the trouble to help me but... Do I have to do it in this position?" 

Ryker was squatting with his hands stretched forward.

Ming laughed earning her a murderous glare from the former hunter.

"What's so funny?"

She ignored him and looked elsewhere.

"Don't turn around like you didn't hear me!" He snapped.

"There!" Jackal exclaimed pressing the switch of the stopwatch.

"You've lasted 4 hours channeling your astral."

Ryker sighed in relief as his astral skin vanished. His muscles felt like they would fall off at any point.

He stretched his limbs to loosen the strain on them. 

"So," Jackal handed him a bottle of water which he gulps down almost instantly. "How do you feel?"

Ryker took a deep breath. "I feel good actually... I feel stronger!"

"Great!" Jackal grinned.

"On to the next lesson. Now that you've gotten a feel on how to generate your astral skin, I'll teach you how to conceal it."

"Eh?" Ryker tilted his head.

"Why would I want to do that?"

"Are you really that dumb?" Ming retorted.

"Tck, I don't recall asking you, stupid robot."

Ryker turned his attention back to his benefactor. "Explain." He uttered.

"To conceal your astral skin is to make it transparent. That is, to make it look as if you didn't have a skin on during combat."

"Like I said, why would I want to do that?"

Ming coughed which Ryker simply ignored to avoid any further distractions.

"I can think of several reasons. But the main one is to hide your astral types."

"Astral types?"

"Yep, the colors of your astral skin are a reflection of the type of astral you can use. White astral is considered the most basic as it doesn't have any unique traits. Red astral is mostly tied with Hexes and Magic. Blue astral is tied to Aura. And so forth. Black astral, being the rarest is mostly tied to the physical capabilities of the user."

Ryker absorbed Jackal's words like a sponge absorbs water.

"Although, all astral colors can allow a user to use the abilities of the other color. But it would not be as efficient as that of its color. And in most cases would appear to be a dud. 

An example would be a Blue astral user using a hex. That hex would be relatively weaker than that of a Red astral user's hex. Of course, color schemes have ties as well. Purple astral users would have a better chance at using hexes than blue astral users."

"I'm starting to get what you're saying. But how does that have anything to do with me concealing my skin?"

"Your skin depicts the type of astral you possess and thus makes it easier for your opponent to determine a way to counteract your abilities. Of course, it's not as important as it sounds as it'd only be effective for the first time. Afterward, the same opponent would know of your abilities. Also, people that are skilled in astral control or possess the mind eye could see through the concealment. "

"Ohh." Ryker was amazed by how much Jackal knew. He had always questioned whether such a goofy and carefree man was truly the Universe's most wanted man.

'His title isn't for show... This man is strong beyond anything I can comprehend at the moment. I made the right choice taking him up on his offer.'

Ryker wanted to ask Jackal what he knew about the astral plane and the Etherian race but decided that it'd be best to hold on to that for a while longer.

'I still can't fully trust them.'

It was understandable that he would be skeptical to blindly trust anyone ever again after what the association did to him. Even if these people had saved his life twice now, it'll take time before they can earn his trust.

'It's not like they fully trust me as well. Heck, that stupid robot has it out for me since I got here.' He takes a glance at Ming.

"Shall we proceed with the training then?"

Jackal placed his hand on the former hunter's shoulder.

"Sure, teach me as much as you can. I want to be strong enough to stand against my enemies."

Ryker became even more determined to gain power.

The lessons continued for a few more hours before they decided to call it a day. 

This became their routine for days as the Black Stallion transverses the Red Wine galaxy.

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