(I figure a little is better than nothing)
Traiblazer ran the obstacle course we had set up ground level to show her stuff. Before I joined the team, when I was still new to the hero-ing gig, I would have been amazed to see a woman working the angles of the temporary maze at the speed of a downhill pickup truck hugging the mountainside, all the while her body was wrapped in a wreath of flames. As a rule, 'while on fire' is a phrase that makes anything sound more impressive.
Seriously, try it sometime.
I am hungry, I think I will have a sandwich ... while on fire.
I need to do my tax returns ... while on fire.
I won a round of golf today... while on fire.
That's right, the phrase even makes golf sound more exciting.
But getting back to the point, years ago, I would have been impressed, maybe even in awe of the display of blazing speed. Now? I wasn't. Fair or not, I could not help but compare her motions to Torando's. Now, Tornado flies, but if anything one would think that gave him a disadvantage against the sharp turns available to a runner. However, compared to Tornado's sharp quick cutting motions, poor Trailblazer's veerings were slow and clumsy. She bumped against the barriers now and then, though her fiery field protected her from the impacts easily enough. Heck, the obstacles got seared for their trouble.
One edge over Tornado she did have was if a group of punks tried to lay hand on her, they'd be reaching for Aloe Vera soon after. Of course, that was countered by the fact she might bounce against an innocent and give them a nasty burn. Overall, it was painfully apparent that she was no Tornado.
Then again, when he first started, Tornado was no Tornado, or so I suspect.
If you asked most superheroes what was more important, raw power or skill, I imagine most would say the latter. And yet, Trailblazer wouldn't be here if not for the power boost that brought her up to the level of 'standard' supers. Somewhere under her costume's threads was that thin harness that gave her the power that made learning the skills necessary in the first place.
Ariana whispered to me, her own thoughts not far off, "She's lacking precision, and that's dangerous with fire, particularly in some parts of California."
No denying that, and I grunted a wordless affirmative. There are whole sections of the state where any source of open flame is a bad idea in the dry season. We'd helped where we could in those situations, though I was a heck of a lot less effective than the others when it came to fire fighting. Now we had a young trainee who could cause a whole series of wildfires.
The public might be right to be jumpy.
"I wonder if she can extend that barrier to provide a sort of thrust?" I finally said to my co-Captain.
"Some way to ride the back draft for a boost in speed too?" Valerosa pondered, "It's possible."
"Fire to the side will you?" I yelled out "Keep running, but fire to the side!"
Trailblazer heard me and extending her fingers to the side let loose a gush of energy. I suppose to the side was too casual a term, by the time the fire was roiling out, she was already ahead of it's launch point. This made gauging any push-back tricky.
Still, the gout of flame itself was impressive, not unlike a flame thrower sending out a brief but highly effective spurt. I noticed it didn't have that high blue tinge of extreme temperatures, but then we hadn't asked her for that.
"Point down and fire just in front of your feet" Valerosa said "As you're running!"
"Well, that's one way to..." Before I could finish my sentence I got to watch the results of compliance, and a confirmation of some physics.
With only a brief hesitation, Trailblazer shot about five feet in front of her onto the floor, and by the time she was done, she was running over the blowback! She didn't burn a bit, but the heated floor and air were not so shielded against and she flipped end over end, and since she still had velocity, the effect was rather like one of those firework spinners skittering down a drive way with a slight incline.
"We have recoil," I observed to my girlfriend and co-Leader.
"Gee," She arched a brow, "How can you tell?"
"It's an engineering thing," I said faux loftily as the flaming heroine skidded to a stop leaving burn marks behind her.
Some of the others were snickering.
Valerosa whirled on them and gave them a look that promised death, or perhaps that whoever snickered loudest was volunteering to go next.
They quieted down.
"You okay?" I asked Trailblazer. The last time she'd been on her ass in front of me she had indicated otherwise.
"Not really," She said, "But I'm getting used to it. Why did I just blow myself up?"
"We have some ideas for you that might, with practice, increase your maneuverability and the like," I said.
"So the goal is not my humiliation in front of my peers?" She observed.
"A perk at best," I assured, not bothering to point out that my co-captain was already silently threatening Trailblazer's peers if they did try to laugh too loud, "And you, okay with taking a few more lumps if it'll help you be a better hero?"
"Living the dream" She stared at the ceiling.
"Atta, Heroine," I said "Get up, and let's talk about thrust, recoil and..well, hot air."
"Eel's an expert at that last one," Valerosa nodded.
"Thanks I-" I gave her a look, "Cute."
My girlfriend, mask not with standing, dimpled.