Lydia had Benson disconnecting and reconnecting pipes and hoses from the refrigeration bay at the rear of the maintenance room.
She continued to watch her colleagues in the gymnasium via the laptop.
Benson trundled back to where she was resting. He was wheeling a trolley that had a large white bottle with the word “Freon” stamped on it. A trail of hoses hung over his shoulder, peeling off behind him as he walked towards the section eighty-eight recirculation system.
“Okay, tell me what it is that we’re doing,” Benson said, as he let the trolley rock forward until it stood upright.
Lydia began connecting the hoses.
“Freon is used as a refrigerant in the air-conditioning and cooling systems. It’s also good for putting people to sleep.”
Benson’s brow furrowed.
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Oh yeah, sure, if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Lydia smiled.
Benson closed his eyes and shook his head in dismay.
Lydia laughed. “It’s okay… I’m just going to hook this up to the vent in the gym for as long as it takes to make everyone drowsy enough to knock them out. That will give us time to hook the oxygen back up, get to the gym and disarm the bad guys.”
“Won’t they smell it?’
“No, it’s odorless,” Lydia assured the nervous agent.
“Sounds like you’ve got it all worked out,” Benson said laconically.
“Hand me that wrench,” Lydia said. “When I say go, turn on that tap,” she added, pointing to the white bottle.
The noxious gas started working its magic.
Lydia and Benson watched through the camera system on her computer as everyone in the gym began dozing off one by one as the Freon wafted in through the ducts.
It worked a charm as the Chinese soldiers, thinking their hostages were simply tired and falling asleep, didn’t have time to work out they were actually being gassed.
The Chinese troops fell to the floor in quick succession, unable to respond or radio for help.
“That should just about do it,” Lydia said. “Quickly, unhook the hose and put the oxygen one back in.”
Benson did as he was told. In fact, he already had the wrench in position, ready to undo the pipes to the poisonous gas as soon as he saw the first body fall.
“Okay, let’s go rescue my people,” Lydia said, in a tone that reminded Benson of a cartoon superhero about to save the world.
Benson grabbed the assault rifle and followed her back up to the third sub-level.
They reached the gym in record time.
Benson was still huffing and puffing as they got to the west entrance—a pair of doors with small glass peepholes.
Lydia had a quick look in through one of the holes, and saw people asleep all over the floor near one long wall.
“Okay, it looks good Olly… are you ready?”
The door opened with a creak that echoed throughout the huge room. They tiptoed quickly across the timber floor, past the long line of bodies. They reached the centre of the gym and stopped.
Something was wrong. Very wrong.
Lydia spun her head around. She looked in all directions.
Benson stared in disbelief.
The Chinese soldiers were all gone.