Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 5
He didn’t know their names, so he gave them nicknames. The person with the red nose was “Red-Nose,” the person whose ear had been torn in a wrestling match was “Odd-Ear,” and the one with a huge scar on his forehead was “Scar.”
Whenever people gathered, there were always those who created trouble. Legion Etranger was a gathering of all sorts of people, not only of various races, religions, and sexual orientations, but there was bound to be those who were rough and dirty among them.
Three large, Slavic, white men swaggered across the lawn. The sign prohibited walking across the lawn but seemed only to apply to those who were right in their heads. On the trio’s path was Jang Shin.
“They’re going to start something,” Mu Ssang thought.
These three were always together and already had a reputation for being troublemakers. Considering this, he felt as if they might do something to Jang Shin. Mu Ssang watched these three men who were talking loudly.
As expected, they stopped then pointed at the dozing Jang Shin and chuckled.
“сколько лет сколько зим, пекинская утка!” (Long time no see, Peking Duck!) Scar said in a high-pitched voice.
“Coolie, Вы о чем-то беспокоитесь? набраться смелости!” (Coolie, are you worried? Have some courage!) Red-Nose smacked the back of Jang Shin’s head.
“Эй, не трогай его, вы будете заражены вши обезьяны.” (Hey, don’t touch him, you might get infected with monkey lice.) Odd-Ear pretended to stop Red-Nose as he twisted Jang Shin’s ear.
Mu Ssang didn’t know a word of Russian, but he understood the derogatory words for Chinese people, like “Peking Duck” (a Chinese food), “coolie” (laborer), and “ching-chong.”
In Legion Etranger, the Chinese had a bad reputation. It was because several of them avoided battles and wanted to become caterers. Legion Etranger was a combat unit, so those who joined it intending to become a caterer deserved to be hated. It kind of made sense, then, that the term “Peking Duck” was a nickname used for the Chinese.
Koreans used the derogatory word “Chankola” for the Chinese. That term was not used in the Legion, however. Chinese and Koreans were assembled in a place where there were foreigners around them, so in that position, there was an atmosphere of goodwill to help one another.
“Chankola” was a word that had crossed over to Korea from Japan. During the Qing dynasty, a Korean diplomat submitted himself to the emperor as a slave. The Japanese heard of this incident and started calling Koreans “Qing-guk-no” (slaves of Qing).
“Qing-guk-no” in China translated to “zhanggu,” which turned into “Chan qo ro” in Japanese, and once that crossed back over to Korea, it had morphed into “Chankola.” One historical incident that undermined national pride created a label for future generations.
Japan had turned Korea into a colony by chasing out the Chinese and Russians; they developed a sense of superiority. The Japanese called their people “first-class citizens,” the Koreans “second-class citizens,” and the Chinese “pigs.”
The derogatory word that the Chinese used for Koreans was “Bangzi,” also from the Japanese. After conquering the southeast, the Japanese had the Koreans attack the Chinese. It was their way of forming a division between the two races.
The Chinese also called Koreans “Gao Li Bang Zi,” which meant “Goryeo’s leftovers.” Either way, Korea had troublesome neighbors on both sides. Past and present, Koreans were riddled with emotional baggage created by the neighboring countries.
At Castelnau Bridge, there were two Japanese soldiers. Neither Mu Ssang nor Jang Shin interacted with them. Because of history, Japan was viewed as the attacker and Korea and China as victims.
The problems between the three countries wasn’t something time could fix. The terms that Koreans used for the Japanese weren’t simply profanity; they were full of resentment, hatred, and revenge. The hatred between Korea, Japan, and China had its origins deep in their history. It wasn’t something that could be resolved politically.
“Ahh!” Jang Shin shouted from the pain.
“Oh, honey, how sexy. Say it louder.”
Jang Shin’s narrow eyes raged with hatred. Asians’ eyes were narrower and longer than Europeans, and his eyes were a bit more exaggerated in that aspect. The others felt as if they were being glared at. It was a feature that unintentionally started fights.
When Jang Shin glared at Pomsky, he was insulted. Pomsky was a wrestler, born in Ukraine and was bulky: over 2 meters tall and 120 kilograms heavy.
Pomsky considered himself a predator. When an opponent looked weak, he immediately began a fight. He liked displaying his strength by watching the other cave in and beg.
“Hey, Peking duck, quack.” Odd-ear Pomsky slapped the back of Jang Shin’s head with his big palm. Jang Shin’s head bobbed back and forth.
“Tsk, like rats, there are bullies everywhere,” Mu Ssang said under his breath.
The members of the Odd-Ear group were acting no different from the bullies he knew back in Korea. Mu Ssang couldn’t stand by any longer.
In anger, Jang Shin’s elbow dug into Pomsky’s chest while he pulled his sleeve forward. Then he flipped Pomsky up into the air and watched him crash into the ground. Pomsky, who had been a wrestler, had a strongly built body, so he shook away the dizziness with a few shakes of his head.
“Сука, Ты покойник.” Odd-ear’s face turned red.
“Wang ba dan, Заткни пасть!” (*ssh*le, shut the F*ck up!)
Since the people here had been gathered from all over the world, swear words also varied in languages. But even Mu Ssang could understand “Wang ba dan.”
Pomsky bent the upper half of his body and ran at Jang Shin like a boar. Red-Nose and Scar attacked from behind and the front. Jang Shin also ran forward into Pomsky’s chest. He turned on his heels and elbowed Pomsky’s ribs. It was a Wing Chun move.
Pomsky felt the hit and, instead of leaning backward, advanced further. Wing Chun’s movements had high impact but minimal range. Pomsky’s knees gave out when he received a blow to his ribs, but he grabbed Jang Shin’s waist as he fell. Red-Nose and Odd-Ear gathered, and the Chinese man was buried by their big frames.
The fight continued. Jang Shin resisted, but there was a great difference in strength. After all, he was fighting three-to-one. Even a master of Wing Chun had no way out of this fight. He had been tackled by Pomsky after letting his guard down.
“Ugh, that idiot!” Mu Ssang clicked his tongue. Wing Chun was a martial art based on short, direct, and powerful attacks. Even his master admitted that the Wing Chun had some of the strongest combat movements. It involved a series of skills and stances. Because the attacks were short and powerful, a confrontation could end quickly.
If Jang Shin wanted to have the biggest impact, he should have run farther into his opponent’s range and then attacked. He should have shown a determination to break even his own bones.
It was his mistake to put distance between himself and the trio, a lack of experience. If he had ignored the other two and brought down Pomsky, the situation could have been reversed.
Pomsky got on top of Jang Shin. The 120-kilogram giant crushed Shin’s 60-kilogram body underneath him. All that remained was a beating.
The sight of a small Chinese man being crushed under a huge body was beyond pitiful as well as absurd. Jang Shin used his flexible body to attack Pomsky with his elbows and wrists, but Pomsky just grinned a mocking smile. There were no grounding moves in Wing Chun, so there was no impact from the attacks where the lower body was unsupported.
Mu Ssang grew annoyed by the trio’s actions, but he didn’t want to cause a ruckus within the Legion. He had been alone since 9, had fought off a huge snake, a leopard, and had even killed people. But he did not want to get involved with those bullies.
“Men grow closer through fists. Oh, sh*t!”
He didn’t want to interfere, but the situation was getting worse. Odd-Ear started to hit relentlessly, and blood spurt from Jang Shin’s face.
This was beyond a simple fistfight. Blood was gushing from Odd-Ear’s nose, and he was frustrated by being hit by a small Asian. Red-Nose and Scar held down Jang Shin’s hands and feet so that he couldn’t move.
They made a lot of sound, but the training officers couldn’t be seen anywhere. No one was around to stop them. The trainees weren’t going to step in. It was boring being stationed, so no one was going to stop such an exciting event. The trainees chose sides and cheered on the fight. Some even took out money and started making bets.
Jang Shin’s face turned into something unrecognizable. His nose was crooked and his lips were cut. He was Chinese, but Mu Ssang had become close friends with him, and he did not want to see him being hurt any longer.
Mu Ssang’s body leaped forward. He covered 10 meters in an instant.
“You bastard, you’re dead,” Pomsky said as he pulled back Mu Ssang’s arm as far as it could go. He figured that with one good pounding, the monkey was as good as dead.
He launched his fist with all his might, but he missed. Pomsky’s confusion didn’t last, and a grieving shout erupted.
Mu Ssang’s palm slapped Odd-Ear’s cheeks as if he was cleaving down with an ax. Odd-Ear, whose face had whipped to the side, attacked with a back-blow. He knew how to fight.
Odd-Ear’s eyes turned white. With one hit, his 120-kilogram body lost consciousness, and he fell back, powerless.
“What the hell is this guy?”
Red-Nose and Scar sat up, surprised.
A diagonal attack hit Red-Nose’s stomach, and he fell back like a squash ball. Mu Ssang attacked Scar with his rear foot on his carotid, after sensing Scar behind him. It was, quite literally, hitting two birds with one stone.
Screams exploded on both sides. Red-Nose fell forward, and Scar fell like a log before they knew what was happening.
Only a few seconds had passed since Mu Ssang leaped out of his seat, but this exchange had literally ended in the blink of an eye. A silence passed for a moment across the field.
“WOW!” erupted out of the watchers’ mouths.
The attack was strong and fast with moves from one of the highest forms of martial arts. The onlookers were enjoying this interesting event that they were privy to simply because they had signed up to be in a foreign legion. Although they each had their own special martial arts or hand-to-hand combat skills, they had never seen such movements.
“Tsk! Weakling,” Mu Ssang clicked his tongue again and grabbed Jang Shin. Jang Shin’s face was covered with blood. His head, as small as a child’s head, had been pounded for a long time. There was no way his face could look normal.
Mu Ssang grabbed the half-unconscious Jang Shin and rushed him to the infirmary.
After the fight, a debate started up between the trainees about the Asian’s moves: Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Savate, Krav Maga. No one took care of the three men lying on the floor.
“Hehe, you’re mine now,” Commander Pief, who had been sitting on the third floor of the headquarters, let out an eerie laugh. He had watched the ruckus that the EVs had started. An amazing prize had come to him. He had never seen a man move so quickly from a sitting position to cross 10 meters. And the result, which had occurred like flowing water, was amazing. Mu Ssang knew the Asian fighting skills that Pief had only heard about. The Collector’s eyes followed Mu Ssang.
Jang Shin’s injuries weren’t mild. His ribs and nose were broken, and his cheekbones caved in because three teeth had shattered. Jang Shin’s training was about to be pushed back for two months because of these level-8 injuries.
“That’s not so bad. If it had been me, I wouldn’t have gone to the infirmary,” Mu Ssang thought.
It would have made Jang Shin cough up blood, indignantly. That was Mu Ssang’s standard. To him, level-8 injuries were when a limb was ripped apart, a skull bashed in, or insides eviscerated. However, no one would have agreed with him.
The Ecole was a place where strong people from all corners of the globe gathered. Since they were being stationed together without much guidance, all sorts of things happened. Fistfights were an everyday thing, and there were even cases of rape. Mu Ssang wondered if there were a hierarchy amongst men of which he was not aware. However, inside the training grounds, if it wasn’t a huge incident, most things were glossed over.
The Pomsky gang’s punishment included being required to make an open apology, attending one week of training academy, and having a hold put on their pay. All Mu Ssang received was two days of cleaning toilets. If he had been in Korea, he would have been called to court or a military conference.
Mu Ssang became famous and earned the nickname “Flying Viper.” He was also subjected to another consequence of his actions—he came an outcast. The Pomsky gang and everyone else started to avoid him. He was a tough guy who had knocked out three people at once. Even the stronger men feared the Flying Viper.
Basic training began at the Ecole and lasted for four weeks. The first stage was basic education and included the study of Legion Etranger’s system, shooting, military formations, marches, combat training, bayonet training, and SALW creating. Mu Ssang could yawn about the whole thing. Compared to the training for Combined Repetitive Expelling Theory and Resonance, it was easy.
With the end of their 50-kilometer march from the training grounds to their main camp, the 1st-level training ended. The EVs received a hat called the “chapeau blanc” making them official Legion Etranger members.
Commander Pief placed the hats on their heads. “Merci de vous être donné la peine.” (Thank you for your troubles.)
Mu Ssang was moved. He had earned a mercenary position three years after being chased out of school and society. Koreans were exceptionally picky about blood relationships, school, and personal connections. This created belonging and reasons to get together. And Mu Ssang, being Korean, felt the loneliness of not belonging anywhere.
Second-level training included real-life shooting scenarios, weapon creation, rock climbing, and rappel training. The rappel training and rock climbing were held in Legion Etranger’s fourth mountain camp in the Pyrénées, the perfect place for such training.
The Legion’s main gun was Famas, a bullpup assault rifle. The Famas had been the gun of choice for the French army and Legion Etranger since 1987.
The bullpup rifle differed from the M16 rifle in that the magazine was behind the trigger and grip, in the reverse order compared to the M16.
The bullpup had two positive aspects. The first one was that the barrel’s length could be maintained while decreasing the gun’s overall length. A longer gun is harder to carry around, so it was a major feature for mercenaries or those in the special forces. The second advantage was that the recoil pushed against the shooter’s shoulder, so it was easier to stay focused on the target and keep the firing rate steady.
There were also disadvantages. Range was limited, and the cartridge was near the shooter’s face, so there was a high risk of getting burned. The shooter had to compensate for the drastic higher sight offset when shooting in close-quarters, and the recoil could make the upper body shake violently.
Mu Ssang didn’t let go of the Famas. Even during meals, it remained in his left hand.
A scholar shouldn’t let a book leave his hand; a woodsman shouldn’t let an ax leave his hand; a monk shouldn’t let the wooden fish and scriptures leave his hands. To become someone talented in a field, a person must keep the relevant object close to their body and treat it like their own limb.
At his master’s words Mu Ssang laughed, “Hey, you’re tricking me. You’re saying that the Buddharupa should be used as firewood and the scriptures as pillows. I don’t believe you.”
“You little sh*t, that’s exactly why I’m a fake monk. You should take the meaning from my teachings not take it word for word. Hahaha!” his master’s benevolent laughter rang in his ears.
Mu Ssang had become a soldier, and a soldier was a futuristic warrior. A gun was this warrior’s sword, and he didn’t let his sword leave his body even once. It was like the monk’s wooden fish and a Christian’s cross. He didn’t let go of the gun; he wanted to continually feel the cold metal against his skin.
Shooting practice took place every three days, but there was no limit to the number of bullets they could use. This was an unexpected opportunity for a Korean. With such concentrated training, many of the soldiers claimed that their skin bled, muscles cramped, and teeth cracked. The training was harsh. There were times when they had to shoot 200 times a day, which expended a lot of energy and concentration.
They checked their target after three rounds of zeroing, after three rounds of point three, and then after ten continuous rounds of each, followed by PRI training. This process was repeated ten times, so even the strongest men became fatigued.
The Korean army practiced shooting scenarios once every several months, and the most they did was three rounds of zeroing. Then, they usually searched the grounds looking for the spent cartridges. If they saw how the Ecole worked, their jaws would have dropped at the gratuitous use of bullets.
The shooting range provided targets at 25 meters, 100 meters, and 250 meters. These distances were determined by ballistics. Aside from the special forces, they didn’t provide long-range training.
A human’s eyes are different from an animal’s eyes in that they see more clearly than an animal, including the distance and shape of objects. But that clarity decreases exponentially with an increase in distance.
A machine approximated a bullet’s trajectory and the best distance to kill an enemy. Of course, that didn’t mean that one would be killed if shot within that range. It was just that the chances of dying became more certain within that range. The maximum distance was around 100 meters. A shot beyond 100 meters was known as a warning shot rather than a kill shot.
The Castelnau Bridge training program was professional and well-planned. Mu Ssang didn’t feel the intensity of the training because of his superior physical condition, but it wasn’t easy. Several men dropped out in the middle of training. The two Japanese men who claimed to be from the Self-Defense Forces dropped out in the first round. Apparently, Legion training was very rigorous compared to Defense Forces training. Those who dropped out had to go home.
The last team stepped down from the shooting range. The loud echoes that had been like popping corn ended abruptly. The silence that encased the training grounds created tension.
After the team stepped down, one person went back up on the range: the Flying Viper. The assistant placed five targets, with 3 meters between them, in the 300-meter range because the 250-meter target used for training was no longer relevant.
Mu Ssang, who had gone up on the platform, lay down and assumed his position. The Famas aimed at the target had no sight attached to it.
This test had been arranged by Commander Pief.
“Park, prove the validity of the rumors about you.”
His eyes were fixated on Mu Ssang.
Pief had received a call from his friend, Collogne, two months ago. It had been three years since a soldier in the Legion stood out like this. This Asian intrigued the Collector who at once moved him into his 1st training company.
The training consisted of 4 levels and lasted 17 weeks: level 1 was basic training; level 2 was situational training; level 3 was technique training; level 4 was evaluation and testing in which they assessed an individual’s skills and assigned them elite duties.
Pief did not have the patience to wait. He had watched dozens of officers’ tests. They all had heard of Mu Ssang’s abilities.
At the shooting range, he could verify the rumor that Park could catch ghosts in flight. The 120 trainees in the field watched with bated breath.
Mu Ssang relaxed his body and placed his eye closer to the sight. His master had taught him how to see things with his mind.
Adrenaline pumped throughout his body, enhancing every part. Dopamine and Noradrenaline sharpened his concentration.