“Oh Vai, come out and claim your fabulous prize, otherwise we’ll have to send out the heavily armed store employees to find you and give it to you. And in case you haven’t figured it out, the prize is a front-row seat to the execution of my favourite traitor, the previous director of my solar energy department!”
As the Great Mechanist continued his drivel over the loudspeaker, Maphira turned to Vai, who she could now only just see through the dark, given her eyes had adjusted. “You know,” she said, “I’m of half a mind to hand you straight over to him and walk out of here a free woman.”
Vai scoffed. “You think he’s just going to let you walk out of here? Doesn’t matter if you hand me over; your head’s on the chopping block here too. We’re in this one together. So how about we put aside our differences and plan our escape from this hardware shop. Cheltenham is the suburb, right? Not the easiest one to get away from.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow, but Maphira knew Vai was right. There was no way out of this except together.
“Follow me,” she said, creeping toward the edge of the nearest aisle. “We’ll head for the building supplies. Close to Cheltenham, I think the suburb is, but not exactly, by the way. We might be in Bentleigh or something.”
Through the darkness they snuck, making the most out of the Great Mechanist’s long speech. If they could get to the building supplies and arm themselves, maybe they’d have a chance of getting out of here.
“All right, Vai,” said the Great Mechanist. “You’ve given us no choice but to come looking for you. Store employees, fan out and find her. Bring the traitor to me. You can hide, Vai, but you can’t run. We have every exit blocked. So, let the hunt begin.”