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The Soda Factory

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The cards on the table all flew up in the air at once after the ruckus began. There was absolutely no way Sprite should have gotten a Full-House. Zero stood from their chair and made bold claims about Sprite cheating. After a long argument that went nowhere, everyone paused their current actions as they noticed a familiar figure loom into the room. "Shhhh, It's the boss!" One voice echoed. That field of respect could only have been bestowed onto one specific Pop. Yes, that Sobody was Lady Cola. She always worse a dark, bright trench coat. It clashed with her red leggings and undershirt which was so bright it was rumored the last person that tried to peek at her chest got blinded by the light it could create. Most importantly, she wore a dark, leather general's cap that capitulated her status as leader of the small, but growing culture of Soda. In public, She always had an intimidating presence whenever she was around the other sodas, even though she had a soul of gold. When she entered the room, everysoda reacted with a firm, serious look; some even expecting orders.

"Good evening, Everysoda." She gently hissed. "Good eeeeevening Lady Coooolaaaa" everyone else replied. Her conscious grinned as she made her way around the room. "Don't worry about me. Keep gambling your hearts away." The room itself was a cubical, dense room in which it's silver painting reflected off every corner. This room was wildly known for being the area of the fountain to express relief and just overall be a carefree environment. Around the room were several tables of all varying shapes and sizes. They all only had one thing in common; they hosted card games. Each table's shape represented the type of game they'd play. The round table, which was at the corner, was a mid-stakes Pai Gow Poker table. The table itself was enormous; big enough to where everyone in the room could be dealt a hand in the same game. Around the table were areas that played more obscure games, along with people that try to create their own games to one day compete with the overwhelming influx of Pai Gow players. Recently, one of the Soda's, Crush, invented some form of game where the goal is to try and made a deck of cards that's worth more than everything else.

When Lady Cola patrolled each table, she stopped at the sight of Crush and his new game. There were only two other people playing: The Doc (Who people that are close to her call her "Pepper"), and one of Lady Cola's siblings: Cherry Cola. Unlike her older sister, Cherry wore overalls and kept her hair at a ear's length. She always wore bright pink and red which matched her bright, cheery attitude. To help distinguish herself even more than the boss, she was given the abbreviation: "C.C". When Lady Cola took inches closer to what was being played, her younger sister exclaimed her appearance. "Sister! We were just about to get started! Want us to deal you in?" Lady Cola tipped her hat down so her eyes were hidden among the public. "Cherry, you know I have no time for games." She reluctantly turns the other way, while C.C jumps out of her seat and leaps in front of her. "Come on, Lady! You always have time for one!" At this point, if Lady Cola could top her head any lower, it'd be down to her waist. She walks around the piqued manikin. "Not tonight, okay?" C.C disappointingly goes back to her seat and watches her sister stretch further from her. Lady Cola's boots echoed more profoundly as she took steps closer to the last Soda she wanted to be around: Sprite. The two's relationship was very different from how Cola treats all the others. Instead of Lady Cola being menacingly friendly, she grows spite and contentment the more she is around him. Rumors have been spread saying she does this whenever she finds Somesoda attractive.

Sprite, often described as the "Flamboyant Low-Sugar Daddy", finishes playing his hand and turns towards the Lady in question. "Ah, if it isn't 'General Gorgeous'. You're looking fine as usual." He reaches behind his head and pulls out a tulip from beneath his luscious set of hair. "This one was organically grown in Pepsi's garden." Cola shoves the flower back toward him as he offers it to her- continuing to follow her motto for the evening: "Don't play any games with anyone." She places her arm on the table and leans until she is directly above him as he playfully inches into his chair. She asks him the politest way she could: "Where's the suspect?" Sprite laughs and re-positions himself on the chair. "Oh Cola, he's still in his chamber. Being the poor, defenseless culprit he is!" He grins until she notices her expression of disgust didn't change. He gulped. "At least- From what I last saw he was in ther-" She grabs his arm tightly and drags him outside of the room. Everysoda glares in curiosity and worry as she sprints out of the room with Sprite painfully leading along.

In the main hallway, she waits for him to catch his breath, before yanking on his hair to push himself closer to her. "I'll ask you again. Where is Diet?'

This time, Sprite delivers a mute response. This wasn't what he was usually used to, and had no idea what length she would go to get what she wanted. After minutes of stuttering, gagging, or weird noises, Cola finally loosens her grasp on Sprite, only after she twists his hair in a way she knew it'd hurt. Without warning, she lets go of him, and darts off in the opposite direction, taking very delicate and sharp turns. Before Sprite could be impressed by how Somesoda could run that fast with how much they wear, he limpidly followed along, trying to track down the directions she took.

The cell was ugly. It was one that wasn't fit for any kind of soda to live in it. Not even one that did the most heinous crime. The door busted open as Lady Cola kicked the lock off. She could hear the door behind her crack and combust itself as she was disgusted by the sight of the cell. Or rather, what wasn't in the cell. Empty. Nosoda was in it. Just a bench, some hay, and a giant hole behind the cell. Cola, disgruntled, puts her hand over her face and groans. She does this just long enough where the flamboyant shade of green could catch up to her. He observes the situation, and keeps his mouth shut. Noticing he was in the room, Cola sighs and turns toward him. "You told me you were going to make sure he couldn't break out!" Sprite frantically tries to defend his side of the argument, but nothing goes through Lady Cola's mind when she's seething in rage. She puts her finger over his, somehow becoming even more calm and collected than he, and whispers to him "Just get the others". He nods and the two dart in opposite directions.

The moment Sprite gets back into the Tavern room, C.C immediately noticed and stand from her chair without even noticing, and she didn't want to sit back down after noticing Cola wasn't with him anymore. He notices the young gal standing tall, and rushes toward her. The two were never close, but they knew they could rely on eachother when the situation is dire. "Sprite, what's going on?" He answers with a loss of breath: "It's Diet. He broke free." Some gasps were created by other Sodas that overheard their conversation, and a chain of gasps spread around the room until it was completely silent. In a tragic reaction, she shoves him back and yells: "How did he break out? You were supposed to-"

Sprite couldn't fathom a proper response to her, and ignored her questioning,

Once she saw him climb onto one of the unused tables, she quieted herself to give him the time and energy to try and get the tavern's attention. "Listen, everysoda. We've got an emergency situation. A criminal is on the lose around the area. Everyone needs to get either into their defensive positions, or stay sheltered, now."

A group of buff, giant 'sodjers' helped evacuate everysoda that didn't have any occupation for fighting or the law. All their homes were very close by, and Sprite was worried that the tavern might have been an easy target for Diet. The rest of the Sodas went upstairs, which lead to a shortcut for all security officials to watch over every corner. The Doc, of all groups, chose to stick with Sprite and C.C on the off chance that they come across anybody that might be in trouble. Their job was to catch up with Cola, along with their own tactic of catching Diet. "Do you have the syringe ready, Doc?" Without words, she lifted her hand and opened it to unveil a syringe that contained a very distinct, clear liquid in it. "Okay, good." Sprite replied. With C.C's eyes in anger and determination, and the other two packing a little heat, they make the exit from the tavern room and race down the hall- in the same pattern Lady Cola did.

In no time at all, the three make it to the cell and jump through the imploded hole that now rested in the back of the room. Behind it: one long, empty hallway. This hallway was different than all of the other hallways they've seen before. It was painted gray as opposed to the usual tan, the wallpaper was something of a confusing mishmash of all sorts of figurines and plants, and the further they went down, the grittier and older the hallway around them became. C.C asked if either of them have heard of been down this hallway before, as they both reply that they had no idea this part of the fountain even existed.

The fountain was what they called their home. To them, it was like a giant mesh of tunnels and catacombs that seemingly had no end. Not one soda knows what the "outside" is like, or how they leave the fountain. Everytime Sodas think they've figured out the mapping of the fountain, there's always a brand new area that hasn't been recorded yet. The three of them have never discovered a part of the fountain on their own, which made them worried if they wanted to continue on the off-chance they could get lost. The Doc had a solution. She always carries around a notebook and pen wherever she went to take notes, jot down quotes, or even doodle if she had nothing better to do. She flipped to an empty section of the notebook and drew a tiny parallel line at the bottom. The two looked along with her as she pointed to it and explained. "Okay, we are here. Right below us is where the cell is. Got it?" The two shook their heads and they all simultaneously walked down the dreaded hallway together.

...

After the longest time passed, Lady Cola finally slowed down to catch her breath. While she did, she observed her surroundings. Nothing looked familiar to her. The hallways she was once running down was now a haunting, dark, and depressing version of the hallways she was so used to walking down at this point. Nothing about this hallway screamed "lively". There were no lights, no furniture hugging the walls, and all the doors were locked. She was tempted to break another door open to see if she could infer or get a possibility of where she was, but the doors would not budge at all. Lady Cola; strong as ice, firm as an admiral, couldn't strike down these doors. It was like they were made of concrete. The only thing more scary than a twisted, scary version of a familiar sight to her, was branching baths. Not only that, but paths that all looked the same. They looked darker than the hallway she would be in, but the paths would be equally as darker than the last. It got so dark to the point that marks and scribbles on the wall became mystifying chalks of art. She could even make out words on the wall. "T... turn..." Her eyes widened when she finally comprehend the first message on the wall: "Turn back." This was the first time, ever, that she would stop herself. "Uh... I... This isn't safe. I need to turn back." she thought to herself. She reluctantly turns her head to the direction she came from and tries to make it back. This time, running faster than she was when trying to chase down the criminal. In her mind, the criminal didn't matter anymore. She now knew she was lost. Even a little scared. She was well aware about there being areas of the fountain she wouldn't know about, but this was taking it way too far. Not even counting the wandering lawbreaker, she didn't feel safe. This would have been something better discovered if she was with the researchers, or even Pepper. "Sprite, Cherry, Pepper..." she sings herself those three names to herself as she wanders among the chambers of the unknown.

...

In a random act of spite, C.C collapses onto the ground before picking herself up almost instantly. "Are you alright, C?" Sprite frantically asks. She brushes off her overall and responds with a dim nod; a "Yes, I'm fine." As they continue walking, Sprite asks The Doc what her map was looking like. It wasn't looking good. Because the area was so big, The Doc had to input the map through several different pieces of paper. She tried her hardest to connect each one with notes and legends, but now they're entered a part that seems ominous, too ominous. Most of not all hope was facing within the poor doctor. Her wilt was taking, and her brain was hurting as much as her crippled leg was. Feeling defeated, she fluttefs herself onto the floor, landing on her good leg, with her shoe flying off and almost hitting C.C.

The surge of energy needed to evade the shoe stimulated something inside of Cherry and gave her a small idea. She took off one of her boots and set it aside one of the many doors they had come across. "Now, let's keep walking. I mean, I guess..." In the middle of her sentence, she lowers her own hype and returns to her mute, gloomy stage she was in since they began searching. The other two, admist all that just happened within a few seconds, shrugged at what she was thinking, but probably thought she was just done with footwear. C.C was infamous for loving to walk about barefoot.

Minutes passed. The Doc, while back on her feet, was starting to get frustrated with her own map. Nothing was making sense anymore. She had multiple paths and exits that sometimes showed up correctly and sometimes didn't. She throws her notepad down in frustration. "This is a load of crap! Have I just gotten really terrible at mapping?! It's like we're just going in circles." C.C gasps, and rushes a few feet ahead of her. The other two look behind them and question what she was gasping about. She bends down, picks something up, and turns around.

"It's my boot."

Sprite shrieks and The Doc was punching herself in the forehead. "We've been going straight this whole time, haven't we?!" C.C shakes her head in deniable disgust. "Oh no. Oooooh nooo. Does this mean w-we're... doomed?" The Doc gave a disappointing grin ableit trying her hardest to put anything into words, but she couldn't. She wipes her glasses on her fingers as Sprite starts to laugh. His laughing echoed across the infinite hallway. His laugh was so hearty, the other two were worried he was going to snap. The Doc was even willing to slap some sense into him. He raises his arm swiftly, and poses to himself. "No, you two! Don't you see?!" He points his finger directly at the Doc, who was growing all the more impatient at this point. "Doc, what was that last thing you just said?"

"Get a hold of yourself?"

"No, before that."

"It's like we're going around in circles?"

Sprite nodded profusely, grinning in a way he'd only do had he legitimately thought he was in the right. "What if... we actually are going around in circles?" The doc slapped her palm into her face, claiming "That doesn't make any sense if we take the map into account."

"Forget about the map! Listen! Do you know how many doors we've come across since C.C put her boot down?" Before the two could even answer his question, he sprints away. Galloping and shouting "Waaaait theeeeere" as he faded within their vision. Not even a minute later, C.C topples and falls back down again. With a very cheery man before him simply saying: "None." In a blaring performance, the once timid, bashful man cartwheeled into the door C.C left her boot on. Without much care or notice, one poke at the door tipped it entirely over. It fell flat into the room that was previously hidden, which visioned wallpaper and colors similar to where their home was. The light that emitted from the door sparkled in each of their eyes in a different way. The moment they saw it, they felt a feeling that felt... normal. It was one that made them feel comfort, and one they were desperately missing every since they ventured into this part of the Fountain.

"Come on you two! Let's go find my sister!" C.C replied.

Sprite, in an drastic change, hesitantly followed behind, but still trying to act on his limited bravery. The Doc nodded and followed slowly behind without saying a word. She wouldn't say anything else for the rest of the search. The only thing that stayed consistent with her was, well, nothing was consistent. If only she could remember what she was just so angry about a moment ago...

...

...

...

"Sprite... Cherry... Pepper... Sprite... Cherry... Pepper..." It was her only lullaby. The only words she could muster, speak, even think. She couldn't even remember why or what purpose she has for saying them. Just that they have to have some purpose, why else would it be all that she could remember? After what seemed like an eternity of walking, she could feel her chest ache, and her vision getting blurry. She gave one last reprise, slowly repeating the words, in one final decrescendo.

"Sprite..."

She fell to her knees.

"Cherry..."

Her body gravitated to the floor.

"Pepper..."

 

...

 

 

Lady Cola closed her eyes.

...