Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 13
Year 1982, August.
The situation in Chad turned around suddenly. FROLINAT (the Arab military union of Chad’s central northern regions) released the lockdown on N’Djamena and retreated to Kanem. Unable to withstand the Western oil import and trade bans, Gaddafi ordered Chad’s troops back to his country.
Gaddafi refrained from direct military movements but did not give up his ambitions for the central northern regions of Chad. The rebels and Libyan troops who retreated from N’Djamena occupied the northern Kanem and Tibesti Boruku cities and waited for an opportunity.
With Libya’s errant attitude, France hesitated with its military actions. With the wrong reasons for engagement, they could be criticized by the international community for intervening. Mitterrand ran his presidential campaign on a good and kind persona and feared criticism.
In the end, the deployment order was suspended. The French army stopped its military actions and decided to see what happened. The Deuxieme Rep stopped its deployment training and returned to its normal regimen.
Rumors were rampant within Deuxieme Rep. They were mercenaries committed to improving their battle potential, but instead of being angered by the delay, they let out sighs of relief. Chad’s civil war was intense, and the risk of dying was great.
Chad is a country in northern Africa, along the southern borders of the Sahara Desert. The population of Africa was 128 thousand per square kilometer, 12 million times that of Korea, but most of the continent was a wasteland with Sahel, desert, and mountainous areas. Chad’s population was concentrated in the southern agricultural region of the Chari and Logone rivers. There was no distinct industry, and cotton was the main product. The population was around 10 million: 50 percent Muslim, 35 percent Christian, and the rest believed in their native religion.
Chad became independent from France in 1960. Independence became the starting point for their new suffering. The day brightened with the civil war, and the day ended with the civil war.
The main cause of the war was a conflict between northern Arab Muslims and southern non-Muslims. The situation was not simple. An enormous mix of political groups and warlords lead each faction, so it became hard to distinguish between friend and foe, and the confusing state persisted. The cycle of yesterday’s government-deployed troops becoming today’s rebel repeated.
The war was further complicated by the interests of neighboring countries such as the Soviet Union, the United States, Libya, and Sudan. This was a common phenomenon during the Cold War.
France had been extremely cautious in its offshore deployment since the Indochina War. It was busy eyeing other country’s opinions before ordering a large-scale deployment. It was like being frightened by a snapping turtle then frightened by the lid of a pot right afterward.
Mu Ssang lost steam. Returning to his daily life, he focused on his Five Combined Movements training and sniper training. Their dispatch orders had been suspended, but if the order came tomorrow, Deuxieme Rep had to move immediately.
Pief ordered Mu Ssang to undergo free training sessions. Because of the physical differences between him and the other soldiers, platoon and company training no longer worked on him.
Mu Ssang spent half of his free training time on sniping. The Dragunov’s gunshots continued on Mt. Cinto’s ranges. He refused the high-performance sniper guns and insisted on the Dragunov.
Since the late 1970s, high-performance sniper rifles with a bolt action of 1MOA and lower have flooded the market. Steyr’s SSG69, Remington’s M40, Walther’s WA2000, and many more were developed, one after another, with excellent range and accuracy. The French-developed FR-F1, called the Epal sniper rifle, made a name for itself because of its design and unique 7.5-millimeter bullet.
The Dragunov’s precision was 2MOA. By looking at the precision alone, it was difficult to rank it among the other sniping rifles. Strictly speaking, it was not a sophisticated sniper rifle. It was the middle ground between an assault rifle and a sniper rifle and had experienced brief popularity 20 years prior.
Mercenaries spared no expense when buying weapons because a weapon that was the slightest bit better than another helped them survive. Mu Ssang was frugal but, similarly, didn’t spare any expense on weapons.
He insisted on the Dragunov because of three important aspects: durability, portability, and battering. It was ironic that all three characteristics were not related to sniping. Rather, they were required for an assault rifle. But, Mu Ssang wanted these features.
Sniper rifles, because they focus on precision, sacrifice their durability. The Dragunov’s durability is well known to be on par with the Acabo. Firearms had to perform on-demand, without any minuscule failures. No matter how good a gun was, it was just a stick when broken. For Mu Ssang who liked to fire rounds continuously, durability was an important factor.
It was also very portable. While other sniper rifles weighed 7 to 12 kilograms, the Dragunov was only 4.3 kilograms, an assault rifle’s average weight.
Its battering was the best. Dragunov magazines were available in 10 to 20 rounds. The Soviet military developed the Dragunov as a platoon support weapon, developing a 20-round magazine. It was the aspect Mu Ssang fell in love with. He used a sniping rifle like a machine gun. Durability, portability, and battering aspects were advantages that he would not do without.
There were two main drawbacks to the Dragunov. The first was its rather low 2 MOA precision. That degree could be sufficiently compensated by his own spatial perception. The second was its 4x fixed scope. It offered night scope functionally, but it was much worse than the western scope.
Mu Ssang did not consider the scope as a handicap. His eyesight was eight times sharper than an eagle’s sight. Besides, he had near-cheating eye enhancement passed down by his master, so he didn’t dwell on the scope’s performance.
He willingly gave up the 62,500-franc’s worth PSG1 and chose the 4200 franc Dragunov. From ancient times, a superior warrior believed he could communicate with his sword, and, of course, Mu Ssang believed it, too. Since his contact with the skeleton at Wol Song San, he could see the spirit of heaven and earth. Humans sometimes engraved their presence onto certain objects.
Human desires sometimes lead to surprising phenomena and consequences. Certain regrets could be born into a sword that had taken the lives of several people. The worn Dragunov that he had received in training, was also aggrieved.
When the soul enters the reincarnation stage, the body, the shell of the soul, melts into nature. A contaminated soul that is not separate from the body was called an aggrieved soul. In the end, it was the demolition of a soul when it had attached itself to the body.
The aggrieved soul becomes jealous of living beings. It creates a strong will to kill living creatures. The representative examples of such souls were the Ji bak ghost and the water ghost.
Mu Ssang unconsciously suppressed the strength and control of his senses with the strength he had gained. His desire to see blood sprang up when he came into contact with a soul-ridden object.
He was tired, and it was hard enough to live amongst the living. A spirit without a solid figure was beyond his concern. Having recognized this skill in his disciple, his master helped him control this ability with the mind-organizing laws.
When an impulse was controlled, the suppressed hyper-perceptual ability evolved to spatial perception ability. A powerful pulse wave, like a radar, sensed the movement, vitality, and signs of surrounding objects, but he did not know the origin of this ability.
Mu Ssang heard the numerous shouts of grudges that clung to his Dragunov during the training taking place as he awaited dispatch orders. It was time to climb Mt. Cinto and hunt Corsica’s special wild rabbit.
Pief called for Mu Ssang.
“Comment allez vous? (How are you?)”
Mu Ssang’s attitude towards Pief was strained. Ordinarily, he was supposed to say, “I’m good, and you?” But the part of the greeting where he was supposed to ask about Pief’s well being was left out intentionally. It made the conversation awkward.
His feelings about Pief weren’t good because of the petit canard incident, and he wanted to give a blow in return for the greeting, but their ranks were too different. Pief had noticed his displeasure and no longer called him “petit canard.”
“Felicitacions (congratulations), your call name has been assigned by headquarters. It’s Black Mamba.”
He had never applied for a call name. And what was a call name anyways?
Mu Ssang was confused. Legion Etranger allowed the use of fake names. Mercenaries who didn’t want their identity to be revealed were assigned call names.
“Three months ago the regiment commander applied for your call name. Park, you will be called ‘Black Mamba’ from now on.”
Mu Ssang replied uninterested. Three months ago he had demonstrated his sniping ability to his commander, high ranking officers, and aged commanders. He had been dragged there by his squadron commander and had to suffer for five hours at Mt. Cinto.
The test involved sniping ten live mice at 800 meters, sniping 30 inanimate objects at 600 meters under a minute, imaginary moving target training, and much more. Some strange tests also required him to search for one bullet hidden somewhere on Mt. Cinto’s training ranges.
The final test was a simulated battle to clear out an army of 30 commando teams that were from the 11th Brigade. After five hours of tedious testing, the result was the call name “Black Mamba.” He completed the test perfectly because there was a reward of 500 francs for each test. Thirsty for money, he could not lose the challenge.
The day after the test, the regiment captain, whose mouth was permanently hanging open after witnessing Mu Ssang’s performance, took him across the Ligurian Sea to his hometown of Toulon and bought him a meal.
Mu Ssang accepted the call name with an indescribable emotion. Whether it was a call name or nickname, this was just another way for them to exploit his abilities, just like a company giving an employee a promotion.
However, he didn’t like the name Black Mamba. It was a large poisonous African snake with a big, ugly mouth and on the brink of extinction. It was an aggressive viper that bit the same target 10 times in a row and had 20 times the lethal toxicity of that of a cobra. It moved faster than a human, at 20 kilometers per hour, and those attacked by a Black Mamba were considered dead.
It was the most poisonous snake in existence because of its aggressiveness, toxicity, speed, and persistence of attacking the target. It was large, growing up to five meters in length, and if it had a greater population like the cobra, it would have been considered the world’s deadliest creature.
The call names of the French military worked differently from the English MI6’s 007 system. If 007 was a name for an agent of that foreign division, then a call name referred to a secret mercenary associated with the French military.
Call names were assigned to soldiers who were deployed into situations that couldn’t be resolved by regular soldiers, and it was an extremely confidential matter. Only those who ranked higher than a regiment commander could apply for one. The legion commander had to approve the individual making the request, and the secretary of defense and had to be involved in the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) verification procedure.
After receiving a call name, the participant became subject to special management. All personal information was a secret. The military and intelligence departments kept an eye on Black Mamba without his knowledge.
Pief felt good enough to die. There was no treasure like the one in front of him. With deadly shooting skills, rapid movements that those with average vision couldn’t follow, the ability to empty a magazine in five seconds, and a persistence in hitting targets, Park was a creature deadlier than his namesake “Black Mamba.”
“What is a call name used for?”
“A call name is a code name given to the best soldiers with special operational capabilities. Currently, Park, you’re the only member of the Legion Etranger who has received a call name. The regiment commander will explain more, but all records for Park will be erased, leaving only the name “Black Mamba.” From now on, your status will be managed by DGSE, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure.”
Mu Ssang was slightly baffled. No matter how rule-abiding the army was, the military bastards had erased the name his father had given him and left him with the name of a disgusting snake with an ugly mouth. He wasn’t happy.
At the age of ten, endless hardships had followed him after he had sold a golden rat snake that he had caught at his uncle’s house. Meeting the sneaky, attacking, monster rat snake was the beginning of bad fortune that led to meeting Chui Do Shik at Bangtaesan.
Recalling the features of Sai Dojiku, a cult leader and ninja sorcerer, shook his body. He had a thin body, a steep face with sunken flesh, protruding cheekbones, a narrowed edge around his shining eyes, thin lips, and some madness that exploded when the tip of the left lip twisted gently. Mu Ssang was still not free from a fear of Chui Do Shik.
And now he was connected to a snake, again. Perhaps he had been enemies with a snake in his past life and making him destined him to receive its name. Was it the curse of that golden rat snake? And out of all those nicknames out there, why was it Black Mamba?
“What’s different?” he asked in a sulky tone.
“You get paid an allowance as much as your salary.”
Pief mentioned the allowance first because he knew Park was a stupid person who had applied to the Deuxieme Rep for money.
“Oh, incredible!” Park, who seemed to willingly accept becoming Black Mamba burst into exclamation.
The corner of Pief’s mouth went up and his nostrils fluttered. He thought of Park as a simple guy, someone who wouldn’t complain as long as he was given enough money.
He has been trained to read other people’s minds since he was young and read the commander’s mind. Pief regarded him as a countryside boy, simple and stupid. It would be good for him to let him continue thinking that. Hamilton had suggested that if one lets himself be treated as a little dumb, he’d be comfortable in an organization.
“With a call name, you won’t be covered by existing military law. For example, the second-class Black Mamba is not punished for beating an Azudang (boss). ”
“That’s even better. Can I beat you?”
He gazed at Pief with a bloodthirsty gaze, revenge for mocking him.
“Hum hum, if you beat an officer above the rank of a company-grade officer, you’re both tried in court. Although the system of assigning orders does not change, special operational orders are often delivered directly from the DGSE and the Department of Defense. That’s all I know about that. I don’t know the details regarding call names. The regiment commander will tell you about your rights and obligations.”
Mu Ssang nodded.
“I will be sent into dangerous operations, but it pays more. Even if I create trouble, it will be glossed over. The secret must be kept thoroughly. I should not reveal my identity, and Black Mamba will only move under his call name. I understand it enough.”
“You have a good head. Huhuhu!” Pief drew back his lips and laughed.
“Thank you for your hard work, I’ll be in your care.”
Pief’s face brightened. He saw Black Mamba as stupid but also someone who held a long-lasting grudge. The procedure for assigning his call name had been carried out regardless of his intention. If he refused or started to fight against it, there wasn’t much they couldn’t refute. A sigh of relief came out.
“You will be removed from all training today.”
“I was already exempted from it all.”
“That was an informal exemption. Those with call names train themselves. Whether you’re participating in a group training or not, it is all up to you.”
“That’s very nice.”
“Go up Mount Cinto today.”
“You want me to catch a red deer?”
“Hunt? The animal rights protection services would put me in the oven and switch it on,” Black Mamba refused.
The French people were very picky about animal protection. Interestingly enough, France was also an absurd country where tens of thousands of pets starved to death during the holiday seasons.
It was a strange country in which people would criticize a child pissing in a fountain while not blaming the dogs that sh*t around them. No one even picked up after their dogs. The officials cleaned it up without making pet owners responsible for it.
“A dispatch order will come soon. Don’t worry about it, and keep your senses up to par.”
The man who became Black Mamba, after erasing his name Park Mu Ssang, turned to real-life training using live animals as his targets.
There were a lot of red deer, and many weighed over 100 kilograms on Mt. Cinto. Deer was the number one game animal from ancient times to the modern-day. With its magnificent body, hot blood, and beautiful horns, it made the hunters go crazy, and its skin made excellent suede.
Human greed did not know it’s end. Since the 19th century, Mt. Cinto’s red deer have been hunted ruthlessly. The Mt. Cinto red deer were removed from the game category during the mid-20th century.
Authorities mobilized strong public support to prevent illegal hunting. Animal protection groups lit up their eyes, monitored, accused, and reported poachers. The red deer took advantage of human whims and dominated Mount Cinto.
Large animals were a hunter’s dream. The hunter’s instincts were triggered when a red deer with a grand physique ran through the forest with its horns raised like thick branches. Black Mamba also felt the near-triggering sensation at the sight of those red deer.
Unfortunately, now it was the 20th century, not the 19th century. Large game was as difficult to get rid of as it was to hunt. If caught by the animal protection groups, the situation could get complicated for Mu Ssang. Pief had told him there would be no problem, but that was because outsiders were extremely excluded in Corsica. Nothing good would come from causing trouble. The goal was to train, anyways. Small, fast animals such as rabbits and squirrels were the best targets for sensory training.
An unlucky rabbit, 450 meters ahead, was caught by the scope of his Dragunov. The rabbit was busy eating underneath an oyster oak. Sunlight penetrated through the branches of trees, and the bushes and shrubs created stripes with it. The brown rabbit was in perfect camouflage in the environment. It could hide itself so completely that it was nearly undiscoverable by the average human.
The target was the rabbit’s head with a diameter of 100 millimeters. The moment he pulled the trigger, the scope fogged up like a windshield on a rainy day. He quickly released his position and checked the scope lens. Nothing was wrong. As soon as he turned back into his position and looked into the scope, he was surprised.
An elderly man suddenly appeared near the rabbit as if he had risen from the ground. Mu Ssang nearly screamed. If the lens had not fogged up, it was more likely that he would have shot the elderly man instead of the rabbit.
The man had an old, bamboo, woven sack on his back that was filled about a third of the way with mushrooms. He was a resident who had climbed the mountain to collect mushrooms.
This area was a portion of national forest designated as training ground for Deuxieme Rep, and public access was controlled. He did not know how the old man had crossed the boundary, and he waited for him to disappear.
He didn’t have the confidence to chase the man out saying that this was a military practice region. He could be accused of being a poacher. The Corsicans had been dominated by foreign powers many times since the Middle Ages, so they were naturally headstrong in their personalities. They even treated people from mainland France as foreigners. If he got noticed, the old man would immediately report him to the authorities. It wasn’t going to be a problem for him, but he disliked thinking about the potential hassle.
The wandering old man disappeared into the forest as did the rabbit. He suddenly turned his sight 15 meters to the right from where the rabbit had been. It was just a feeling.
It was a feeling as if someone was tempting him to look there, and he found his original target, the wild rabbit.
He finished aiming his sight on the poor rabbit. It appeared on scope’s crosshairs right in front of him. Black Mamba was startled and looked into the scope again. The rabbit was still munching on the spot.
He could use his unique sight to increase the size of objects. There was no word to describe what happened, so he just said that he could see well, but in truth, it wasn’t simply seeing. It was feeling the object. It was looking at an object not through the eyes but by using his mind.
He placed the head of the rabbit in the crosshairs once more and proceeded to get into position to fire.
The rabbit appeared before his eyes as if it had been pulled forward with a telescope. It was the same feeling when one removed the dirt on one’s glasses.
The PSO-1M2 optical scope had a 4x fixed sight. There were several 16x-variable-type products on the market, so the quadruple view was considered low on the sniper rifle’s scope range.
It was just over 450 meters away. He could clearly see the rabbit’s hair blowing in the wind. It was a ridiculous phenomenon at a 4x magnification. Even at a 12x magnification, it was hard to see such fine detail.
Mu Ssang with his eagle’s eyes didn’t even need a scope to see a target 300-400 meters away. What he saw was not related to his own vision or his scope’s performance.
He confirmed the target: the distance to the rabbit was 465 meters, and he was aiming for the rabbit’s right hind toe.
The moment the rabbit jumped, he shot. The rabbit’s toe exploded and blood splattered on its surroundings.
He confirmed the hit and his expression turned queer. The poor rabbit’s hind toe had been blown right off. No matter how much he called himself a god sniper, this seemed impossible
He had hit a moving animal, particularly its toe that was as small as a nail from 465 meters away! It was a tough story to believe even with all the exaggerating done at Calvi’s cafe.