They put down outside any city in a field beside a small farmhouse. The paint on the house was faded and peeling, and the windows glowed with light from inside. Vincent left the plane quickly and Richard moved to follow but the door closed before he could exit. The jet beeped and something in the door clicked.
“Did he just lock us in the car?” Xander asked, coming up into the cockpit. Richard turned to him slowly, one eyebrow raised.
“This is a plane.”
“I know, but did he just lock us in the car?”
Richard sighed and didn’t answer, sitting back in the copilot’s seat and watching Vincent cross the meadow to the house. The door was answered a few moments after he knocked. Richard could just make out the person who answered it: a young woman with flaming hair the color of the sunset. They spoke for a moment, but after no more than a few sentences Richard could see the woman getting angry. Vincent looked like he was trying to pacify her, his hands up in defense, stepping back.
An explosion blasted outward from the door, shattering the frame and throwing Vincent back into the field. Richard jumped to the window, automatically trying the door, only to find it still locked. Vincent didn’t get up, his front blackened and singed, skin red and blistered. At the house, the young woman stepped over the wreckage of her front porch and down onto the lawn, pacing towards Vincent who was only now starting to move again.
Richard yanked on the door handle and swore, smacking his hands against the window. “Shit–– Why did he lock us in?”
“I can get us out––” Xander started.
“Do it,” Richard interrupted. Xander wasted no time in opening a portal and motioning him through it, following quickly behind. One gut twisting second later, they were standing in the grass beside Vincent.
Xander moved to help him up but the older man jerked away from his touch before he could make contact with him.
“Don’t touch me––” He snapped, standing on his own, “It’s for your safety.”
His skin was still red but the blisters were already fading. Richard didn’t ask questions. Not yet. The young woman was his priority at the moment, curiosity could wait.
“I’ll take care of this,” Richard said, his eyes not leaving the woman standing a few yards from him. “Xander, get him out of here.”
“Don’t kill her,” Vincent said, moving gingerly towards the portal Xander had opened. “Richard––” He was cut off as Xander’s portal closed.
“He can fucking try!” the flame haired woman snapped, fire crackling in loops around her arms. She whipped out one of the loops of flame like a whip, searing it through the air where Richard had been standing a moment before. He had launched himself back, landing several yards away. He could feel the heat from her flames against his skin.
“You shouldn’t have come here––I’m not going with you.” She whipped her fire forward again, getting it close enough to Richard that he felt his skin start to singe. He could smell the fabric of his t-shirt burning.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Richard said, again putting distance between himself and the ill tempered girl. “Could we just talk for a minute?”
She responded only with more fire. He dodged the attack, darting in close before she could move again, and slamming a kick into her side. She hit the ground with a thud and rolled back up ignoring what pain Richard had inflicted. Flinging her arm back with a new twist of flame she just barely missed Richards legs, he having jumped straight up to now come down on her shoulders, slamming her into the ground. He twisted her arms behind her back, ignoring the oaths and foul names she spat at him. Her skin was almost too hot to touch.
“Can we talk now?” He asked through gritted teeth.
“Screw you!” the girl seethed. Her muscles tightened under him and heat flared against his hands. The image of the explosion in her doorway popped up in his mind and he let go of her, throwing himself back just as a wave of heat and flame exploded outward from her body. Richard was blasted back into the ruins of her porch, crashing into the faded siding and falling in a heap of charred clothes and burned wood. He groaned, dragging himself up against the wall. His whole left side burned, bright red from where her conflagration had seared his skin.
He moved gingerly, half expecting another attack, but down in the grass the girl hadn’t moved from where he had left her.
She was breathing. Tan sides rising and falling steadily, eyes shuttered. All trace of fire was gone save for the blackened circle of grass spread out around her. Richard limped over to her, kneeling in the smoldering grass by her side. A moment later one of Xander’s portals opened next to them.
“Are you ok?” Xander asked, leaning through and offering a hand.
“Fine,” Richard replied shortly, his burns really starting to ache. He accepted Xander’s offered hand, standing stiffly and hissing with the pain of the movement. “Bloody Hell, she hits hard,” He grimaced. “Can you get her into the jet?”
“You want me to get her in there…?” Xander glanced at the girl, prone in the grass at their feet.
“I can’t carry her on these burns,” Richard stated.
“But she set you on fire… and she’s naked,” Xander pointed out, looking uncomfortable.
“And? You can deal with it.” Richard left him to deal with his immaturity, returning to the jet and pulling himself inside.
“What the in Christ’s name was that?”
“That was a disaster,” Vincent replied. The burns that had been covering his face were already mostly healed, the only mark they left being a slight tan across his cheeks and his singed clothes.
“Who is she?” Richard asked, jerking his head back at where Xander was now bringing the girl through the portal. She was wrapped in a blanket and he set her carefully in one of the empty seats.
“Her name is Mari Mota,” Vincent said, “She’s the fourth paranatural on the Guard’s list.”
“We can’t just kidnap her,” Richard responded.
“Or can we?” asked Xander.
“Well, we shouldn’t.” Richard cast him a shut up look.
“We have a warrant from the DPA and the Guard that says we can,” Vincent countered, preparing the jet for takeoff.
“Do her parents even know what’s going on?” Richard asked, “Does she have parents?”
“She lives with them.”
“What the hell? You have to tell them what’s going on!” His burns were throbbing and it was making him irritable.
Vincent looked ready to snap at him. Then he sighed, “Fine. Have it your way. I’ll take you four to our new headquarters then come back.”
“Brilliant,” Richard muttered, grimacing and he settled into his seat.
“We need to treat your burns,” Vincent said, as he brought the jet up, “Get one of them to help you once we arrive, there should be medical supplies available.”
Richard didn’t reply, teeth clenched against the pain from his burns, setting in now that his adrenaline was fading. He watched the setting sun fall behind the clouds as they gained altitude, turning them bright orange.