|Alien Biology with CaT|
Study 6: Big Chill
Heatblast is an alien with a lot to go over as far as explaining different powers go, so I'll try to be succinct. This study will focus exclusively on the Classic continuity version of Heatblast for simplicity's sake.
First thing's first: Heatblast is made out of rocks just like Chromastone, so does that make him coral too?
Let's get into it.
At first glance, Heatblast's body seems to be made out of rock, but with further inspection, it's pretty obvious that the rock is just covering a fiery internal organism seemingly made of lava. When Heatblast is "put out" by water, we see this layer extinguished to reveal an slightly pinkish organism wearing rock armor. Normally I would suggest that this pink layer is just the hardened magma, but Heatblast's ability to move around unimpeded and not turn into a rock statue while in this state makes that scenario unlikely. So, what's actually going on here?
It seems as if the glowing "lava" comprising Heatblast's "skin" is actually a layer of fire under a controlled burn. It's most likely that Heatblast has some equivalent to pores that secrete flammable gas instead of sweat, creating a constant low-burning flame that only goes out when hit with a flame retardant. This is likely the cause of the gaseous "fwoom" sound heard when Heatblast reignites his body after being submerged underwater.
Lots of organisms produce gas (whether they want to or not), so this isn't particularly far-fetched, but Heatblast's body would need to be made of cells that developed from some sort of extremophile microorganism in order for them to not immediately die under their own heat; of course, since Pyronites live on a star, I think it's fairly safe to say that life on Pyros definitely evolved from extremophiles.
Alright, so Heatblast "sweats" gas, but that doesn't explain how he can create massive fireballs and flame blasts. Well, remember how I said I figured out Big Chill's powers while thinking about Heatblast's? Yep, here's where that comes into play.
Pyronites likely have a compression organ similar to those found in Necrofriggians; however, while Necrofriggians probably incorporate metal into their organ structure, it's likely that Pyronites incorporate minerals into theirs for structural support, much like how humans incorporate minerals into our teeth and bones.
The Pyronite compression organ, like Necrofriggian's, should be located near the lungs, but with a complex system of "veins" leading away from it that feed into the "pores". When Heatblast contracts the compression organ, it sends pressurized gas shooting out of his pores, with the vein system directing the majority of the gas towards a specific part of his body (usually the hands), allowing him to release massive amounts of gas at once. Once the gas emerges from Heatblast's body, it catches fire, turning into whatever kind of attack Heatblast is throwing out.
So, how does Heatblast ignite the gas once it's outside his body? We don't see him using any kind of friction to generate the heat or sparks necessary to ignite the gas, so it has to be done through pure temperature. We've seen some indications that Heatblast can control how hot he gets, but how is this accomplished?
In most creatures on Earth, heat in warm-blooded, or 'endothermic', organisms is primarily generated by their metabolism; the more their bodies process, the hotter they get. This is thanks to the mitochondria, which you might recognize from school as the powerhouse of the cell. Endotherms have a lot more mitochondria than ectotherms (cold-blooded organisms), which gives them the energy needed to generate their own heat.
Heatblast's skin cells must be absolutely jam-packed with mitochondria or some sort of equivalent, and likely rely on some rapid muscle contractions to generate some extra heat on top of that. Depending on how much is being fed into the cells at a given point, their temperature will rise or fall to correspond with how much fuel they're getting. Extra nutrients should be pumped into them when Heatblast raises his temperature, making them more active and thus able to generate more heat.
This one's simple, so I'll just get it out of the way here. The rock on Heatblast's body is likely made up of mineral deposits his body creates, not any colonies of living or formerly living coral.
This one isn't actually terrakinesis, it's just Heatblast carving a chunk out of the ground and shooting flames off of it to act like jet propulsion. Crude and unrealistic, but effective.
Now this one's interesting since it's connected both to how Big Chill's powers work and how our own immune system deals with threats.
Firstly, remember that in the Big Chill study, I talked about how compressing gas and then releasing it reduces its temperature to below freezing, giving Big Chill his ice breath. The same principle applies here, but since the gas usually ignites when it exits Heatblast's body, the temperature goes up too fast for the flames to be cold. So, why does the ignition process suddenly stop when Heatblast gets a cold?
To explain that, we need to understand something about colds and how they affect our bodies. The unpleasant symptoms of a cold aren't caused by the viruses themselves in most situations; rather, they're caused by our body attempting to get rid of the virus through any means necessary. Low energy levels are caused by the body rerouting power to the immune systems, extra mucus and runny noses are an attempt to trap the virus and expel it from the body, and fevers are the body trying to literally roast the little buggers to death. It's the fever symptom we especially need to focus on here, and I'll explain why.
The reason a fever works in getting rid of viruses and bacteria is due to the fact that most microorganisms are not as heat resistant as our own cells. We can withstand more heat than the average virus, so our brain jacks up the thermostat in order to smoke them out. Thing is, on Pyros, everything would be a heat-resistant extremophile, including their viruses, so trying to roast them likely wouldn't work.
That's where the freezing comes in.
When infected, Heatblast's immune response will order his heat production cells to slow their functions, serving a dual purpose of saving more energy for the immune system and reducing the temperature so much that the gas will not ignite upon exiting the body, creating a blanket of ice-cold gas in place of the usual fire. Heatblast would logically be able to withstand much lower temperatures than any native viruses, and since this mechanism basically turns him into a living icebox, it would effectively have the same results as a fever would in humans, eliminating large portions of the infecting virus.
Of course, you may be asking "if the gas isn't being ignited, then why is it still glowing?", and the answer to that is that the animators just swapped out the lava's color scheme instead of drawing up a new model for a one-off power swap come on now
Heatblast is a warm-blooded fire man who will break into your house and consume your minerals to armor up his hyperactive skin.
If there's something in this theory that confused you or you want me to expand on, just ask me about it either on Discord or in the comments section below and I'll answer it here.