Benson and Lydia stood in the centre of the gymnasium in shock.
General Whitmore along with dozens of other faces Lydia recognized were still sleeping peacefully from the effects of the Freon. The only thing was, the target of their attack, the Chinese soldiers who had invaded Echelon, were nowhere to be seen.
“What the hell’s going on?” Benson said softly, looking around the gym.
“I don’t know Olly, but I think we should quickly and quietly make our way back to the door.”
Benson nodded. “Yeah… I think you’re right.”
Just then, there was a click. The sound of a gun cocking.
They both spun on their heels. And came face to face with a tall, armed soldier —a Ranger!
And he was accompanied by many more, all walking into the gymnasium from the door opposite where Benson and Lydia had entered.
“What the? —” Lydia began.
The Special Forces soldier approached them and saluted.
“Ma’am… sir… my name is Captain Deveson Greig, of the 75th Ranger Regiment of the United States of America, and I’m pleased to inform you that the Chinese soldiers who invaded this facility have been neutralized and captured. It’s over ma’am.”
Medics were tending to the dazed Pine Gap staff as they woke from their forced sleep.
Benson watched as the Rangers led the remaining Chinese forces away from the facility.
Their attack had been swift and precise, quickly taking out the soldiers who had been airborne outside the facility, then making an incursion on the occupying force inside the compound.
Within seconds of Benson and Lydia seeing the invaders on Lydia’s laptop screen, the Rangers had burst into the gym and rapidly ushered the Chinese soldiers out before any of the unconscious staff members could be hurt.
The coup was decisive and death-free.
Benson realized he was still holding the rifle he had picked up earlier. He passed it to a soldier who was ferrying medical equipment outside. Then he turned to look for Lydia.
She was in conversation with an angry General Whitmore, who was protesting at being carried out on a stretcher.
Benson walked over to give her moral support.
“And you! You come into my operation and go gallivanting around the desert, getting into God knows what kind of— “
His voice was cut short by a medic injecting a sedative into his arm. The medic winked at Lydia as Whitmore was carried out of the building.
“So… the General’s going to be really pissed when he comes to again, huh?” Benson said, curling his lip.
“What, old Whitty? Nah… he’ll be fine,” Lydia said with her usual warm smile. It was even bigger now, her face seemed to glow. “So, I guess you’ll be heading back west,” she added, trying to force the same smile.
Benson could see she was straining to look happy. “Well, you know, I was thinking of maybe applying for a transfer to Echelon. They could always do with an extra signals analysis person out here. Besides, I’d love to see the look on the general’s face when he comes back and finds me here.”
Lydia beamed again.
She reached across and grabbed Benson around the neck.
“Come here you.” And she planted the biggest, wettest kiss she could manage right on his lips.