Khan and Lieutenant Dyester reviewed the first lessons of the Lightning-demon style together. Both wanted to gain a general idea of the martial art before starting the actual training, and a feature eventually stood out.
The Lightning-demon style heavily focused on footwork. The initial moves featured different techniques that only involved legs, ankles, and waist. They weren't even attacks. Khan had to learn all the different types of sprints and sudden accelerations before moving to the actual abilities.
'They are all so different from the shadow step,' Khan thought after that inspection. 'No wonder Luke and Bruce didn't want to learn it. Some of these moves go against that basic technique.'
The Lightning-demon style's footwork wasn't only entirely different from the theory behind the shadow step. It also featured far more complicated moves that involved specific flows of mana.
One of the first sprints wanted Khan to reinforce his knees and ankles with mana while part of his remaining energy had to flow in opposite directions depending on the dominant leg.
The palm force had required a straightforward flow of mana, and executing a weaker version of the technique had taken Khan an entire day. Instead, the Lightning-demon style wanted him to make the mana do three different things at the same time.
"How long did it take you to go past novice with your first martial art" Khan asked as helplessness filled his mind.
"One year of constant training," Lieutenant Dyester revealed. "I started with a medium-level martial art. I guess you wanted to know that."
Khan nodded while his dreams of deploying a few techniques in the next weeks shattered.
'I have been too arrogant,' Khan sighed in his mind. 'The path is harsh for everyone, and my advantage only consists of a few weeks over my peers. Yet, they will most likely rely on synthetic mana and surpass me in no time.'
Khan felt slightly disheartened when he thought about the long journey and the environment around him, but Lieutenant Dyester soon placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Talent is useless without training," Lieutenant Dyester announced. "You won't be able to use training rooms like the other kids, so you need to work harder than them."
"Don't forget about the specific Masters," Khan reminded the Lieutenant. "They will also have experts suitable for their elements. Can I even keep up with them"
"That depends on you," Lieutenant Dyester explained while going to his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I won't blame you if you decide to give up now. I have already cleared my debt in the end."
Lieutenant Dyester gave voice to a loud laugh while stretching his legs on the table.
"Trust me when I say that remaining on Earth is the best," Lieutenant Dyester continued. "You can bully everyone even if you have little to no power."
"And remain trapped in an eternal nightmare," Khan sighed, but Lieutenant Dyester ignored the real meaning behind his words.
The soldier believed that Khan didn't want to remain on Earth due to the bad memories connected to the Second Impact, and he was partially correct. Yet, he couldn't even begin to imagine the real drive behind Khan's action.
"I'm quite strict as a Master," Lieutenant Dyester eventually added. "I will never allow you to slack if you decide to step on this path. You will wake up in pain for the next months, and you won't have the time nor the energy to take care of your girlfriend."
Khan didn't react to that joke. He continued to inspect the instructions behind the footstep of the Lightning-demon style. Those difficult teachings made him desire to give up, but the images of his nightmare appeared in his vision whenever his determination started to flicker.
'Why do I even pretend to have a choice' Khan sighed in his mind. 'Giving up because the path is hard is lame. Also, how much can those wealthy kids even endure'
Khan had seen how Luke and the others trained during Professor Norwell's lessons. They had no interest in those weak techniques, but that alone didn't manage to hide their laziness.
Instead, Khan could continue to perform the same exercise until his palm bled. His determination wasn't something that the simple desire to learn better techniques could generate.
The life in the Slums, the Second Impact, and his nightmares had imprinted that determination inside him. His desperation had given birth to an ability that his peers couldn't imitate.
"You said one year," Khan eventually broke his silence. "Can I succeed sooner"
"The Lightning-demon style is definitely complicated," Lieutenant Dyester explained. "It's more difficult than my initial martial art. Yet, you succeeded in performing a decent execution of the palm force in one day. Who knows You might surprise me."
Lieutenant Dyester didn't fully believe in his words. He valued Khan a lot, but there was a limit to how quickly a body could adapt to those moves. His lines only wanted to create a challenge for his disciple.
"Fine then," Khan announced while weakly slapping his cheeks to disperse his hesitation. "Let's begin right away. Teach me the mental training that you mentioned yesterday too. I want to learn it now that my body still holds."
Lieutenant Dyester couldn't help but smile at that sight. It was normal to hesitate in front of a painful process that could take more than a year to give its first rewards, but Khan had made up his mind in a matter of minutes.
'His mindset is his best quality,' Lieutenant Dyester thought before pointing at the writing on the hologram that marked the first lesson.
It was time to start the actual training, and they had to hurry since the curfew would give them only a few hours together.
Returning to the dormitory ended up being extremely hard. Khan's ankles felt sore, but his expression showed only determination.
Lieutenant Dyester had managed to teach the mental training to Khan before the latter had to begin his exercises with the Lightning-demon style.
Khan had initially struggled. He didn't try to use mana on that night, but he still had to spend some time to forget the habits obtained after training into the shadow step for an entire week.
'I need to notify Professor Norwell tomorrow,' Khan thought as he limped inside his flat. 'I can't keep training in those techniques. One week has almost rendered a whole night of exercises useless.'
Luke and Bruce had been right since the beginning, but Khan couldn't blame himself. He couldn't predict that he would have found a Master so quickly.
Samuel was already sleeping, and Khan decided to eat a food can before throwing himself in bed. Still, he didn't immediately try to rest. Lieutenant Dyester had taught him something that he had to test before returning to his nightmare.
'All the spells require control over the mana stored in my head,' Khan repeated Lieutenant Dyester's words in his mind. 'This training should theoretically improve my ability to cast spells.'
Khan entered his meditative state, but he didn't focus on his nape at that time. His attention went on the small azure lights in his head before he tried to execute Lieutenant Dyester's teachings.
'Up and down,' Khan thought as his concentration intensified, 'Left and right, and circles in the end. I need to do it without losing control over the mana before moving to a harsher exercise.'
Khan chose one of the small azure lumps and tried to move it upward. He wasn't trying to raise his attunement, so the process didn't hurt. Yet, he still failed to retain control over that small amount of energy.
Khan didn't give up and tried multiple times to move that lump of mana in a specific direction. Controlling the energy inside his brain felt different compared to when he executed his techniques. That ability seemed to depend on other factors that he had yet to understand fully.
'My thoughts should influence the process,' Khan exclaimed in his mind. 'Go up! I want you to go up!'
Lieutenant Dyester had tried to explain to Khan how to handle that training, but everything had sounded too vague. The former had even stated that every mind reacted differently, so part of the teaching might not work for him.
Only one detail was universal when it came to the mana inside the brain. The first time was the hardest. Khan would be able to memorize the sensation generated by the movement of that energy and try to replicate it until he mastered the procedure.
'Come on,' Khan continued to shout in his mind. 'Do it at least once. I only need you to move up a single time.'
The mana didn't listen to him. His thoughts ended up affecting the energy released by his nape instead.
Khan had set the alarm before beginning that training. Disappointment inevitably filled his mind when his phone rang, but he had yet to succeed in the exercise.
'I'll try again tomorrow,' Khan sighed before setting another alarm and going back to the meditative state.
Khan couldn't ignore part of his training to focus on his martial arts and mental exercises. Doctor Parket had already destroyed his hopes toward the synthetic mana, so he had to work hard on his attunement too.
'I waste twelve hours between sleep and morning lessons,' Khan thought after stopping the second alarm and checking the hour. 'I need to divide the other twelve among the Lightning-demon style, the mental exercises, and the meditations. I can't leave Martha completely alone either.'