Taylor smelt sugar.
He fought against the urge to keep his eyes closed, to stay in the cocoon of warmth and lust and sensation as Magnolia did things to his body. He opened his eyes a little, seeing Magnolia on top of him, her tongue moving against his chest.
‘Do you smell that?’
She smiled for a split second before registering his tone – it wasn’t a rhetorical question asked in bed, it was a question that needed an answer. The Agency had particular smells, the domineering smell of recycled air, that same air cut with blood and sweat during training, the occasional tech department “mishap” where it smelt like treats. This smell wasn’t out of that range – the sickeningly sweet smell of a candy store. The thing that marked against it being a tech department “mishap” was that it wasn’t permeating the air as through it was coming through the air circulation system, it smelt as though it was coming from his gym.
Magnolia’s clothes appeared before his, and she retrieved her knife from where she had slammed it into the wall, while he required a gun. Probably an overreaction, but it was better to be armed than dead.
They moved silently from the bed towards his gym, the carpet eating the sounds of their steps.
He saw a flash of pink, and he slammed himself against the wall, out of the door, out of the their line of site.
The bright pink was a familiar colour, and for one mad moment, he looked towards his desk drawer and the supply of intimate toys Magnolia kept. He pulled himself back from the Madchester-esque thoughts and scanned his gym. Nothing. There was nothing.
[Fade,] he said to Magnolia, [tell me what you see.]
It only took a few seconds for her to disappear.
He stared into his HUD and contacted Jones. [I warn you, scholar, if any of your recruits are-]
Jones appeared in the video chat window. [Are the alarms going off on your floor?]
He took a moment to listen, but heard nothing but his own breathing. [What alarms?]
[Why did you call me?]
[Things aren’t right. No further details.]
A small icon appeared in his HUD, and he begrudgingly clicked it. Jones’ face disappeared, leaving an audio-only connection. [I can’t spare the time to stay on channel with you, but if there’s a running feed, we’ll at least know if something eats your face. Keep me informed.]
He growled, and checked his weapon.
‘That’s not a good sound,’ a voice said.
He spun towards the sound, but the thing was on him before he had a chance to react, pushing pink appendages against his face. ‘And that’s not a good face, either, why are you so grumpy?’
‘Magnolia!’
‘No, I’m Pinkie, silly, but you wouldn’t know that yet!’
His mind reeled as he tried to reconcile the creature in front of him. He shifted free of its grip, but it was on him in a second. ‘And what’s with the grumpy face?’
It brought its pink head close to him, and bared its teeth. It was a vision from some saccharine-coloured nightmare. ‘And just where the heck am I?’ it asked after a moment.
He shifted again, and raised his gun, firing three times, but only managing to put three holes in the wall. The pink thing simple shook its head and the blood-encrusted curls of hair on its head and-
‘Sir?’
He spun towards the sound of Magnolia’s voice, and saw her beset by another creature – this one white as the uniform shirt, a mass of hair, coloured like nightshade springing from its head.
‘Rarity, what took you so long?’ the pink thing said, bouncing from his side, over to the white-and-nightshade nightmare.
‘Magnolia?’
‘I’m- Fine sir,’ she said after a moment. ‘But I think we need the scholars.’
Two thoughts had his office locked down and them shifted to the relative safety of the tech department.
Every tech, including Jones sat, slack jawed and silent, phones and various messaging beeps playing like an electronic cacophony. His own visual stream ran in a loop, as well as live footage from the security cameras in the walls of his office.
‘Jones,’ he said, growling the word.
Jones shook himself, and turned away from the wall of monitors.
‘We’ve been breached,’ he informed the whiter-than-usual scholar. ‘Unknown-‘
‘Oh,’ Jones said in a faraway voice, ‘they’re not unknown.’
‘You know what these things are?’ he demanded.
‘Ponies,’ Jones said, before doubling over with manic laughter. ‘They’re ponies.’
He grabbed the scholar and shook him. ‘Explain!’
Jones looked at him, sobering quickly. ‘I’m not sure I can.’