Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 42
“However hard we try, our team can’t even make a full unit. We’ve already lost Mark. The enemy is charging at us like a swarm of flies. The more battles we fight, the weaker our morale will be. I am not afraid of death, but, truthfully, I do not want to die in vain like a dog on the street.”
Burimer spoke, glancing over at Black Mamba. It was the first time that he had spoken against Captain’s commands. It meant that the situation warranted that much suspicion.
“I agree. There is a Korean proverb that says that there is no hero who can beat a gang. With Black Mamba’s surveillance skills, we can reduce the number of encounters with the enemy. We are mercenaries. It is better for us to die than to get blamed for disobeying orders.”
Emil lowered his mosquito-bitten swollen eyelids.
“Captain, let’s hurry and hit them head-on. Whether it’s a raccoon or a weasel, let’s quickly grab its neck and drag it over there. Fresh young women are waiting for us at Meridien Shari with their underwear off.”
“Sure, it would be much better getting sucked by women than by these mosquitoes. Hahaha.”
Laughter filled the faces of the mercenaries. N’Djamena control center, which was surrounded by Lake Shari, had trees around it and air conditioning circulating through it. They could shower with hot water and tumble around with women beside them. All of them were excited just thinking about it.
“Is Emil going to be paying for the Meridien call girl?”
At Belman’s words, Emil pointed at Black Mamba.
“Black Mamba will earn enough for us.”
“Of course. Thanks to Black Mamba, we earned enough to pay a Saint-Gerze’s call girl ten times and then some. We must celebrate FROLINAT increasing our pay so drastically. Bang bang!”
Belman laughed as he pretended to shoot with his finger like a gun.
“With the money to call a Saint-Gerze call girl once, you can call one in Meridien a hundred times.”
Jang Shin interrupted.
“This guy has such a small package but he sure has a thing for the ladies.”
Mouris said laughing as he hit Jang Shin on the back of the head.
“Is FROLINAT the cash cow? Or is it Black Mamba?”
“What does it matter? All we have to do is pick up the pieces that Black Mamba slices off.”
Emil laughed as he answered Mike’s question. The comrades were glad of the change in Mike. Once the team’s unstable character disappeared, the atmosphere lightened.
“Black, you have anything to say?”
“No. The flies are tiresome, but they don’t bother me.”
“They don’t bother you?”
The captain cocked his head in surprise. He assumed that he had misspoken due to a poor choice of words but looked at him with grateful eyes.
The lovey-dovey eyes Black Mamba received from the middle-aged man made him flinch.
It didn’t really bother him. It was not as great as the cool Shari riverside but the Sahel was not that bad.
They had enough to eat, and he could hunt as a hobby. They had a car to travel in, and he had many comrades by his side. If he thought back to the time that he had to spend alone in the caves, this was quite pleasurable.
Once the atmosphere softened, the captain gave out his instructions.
“As we are doing now, the pickup trucks will be called Alpha, Beta, Charlie, Delta. We will only change the passengers. Alpha will be Ombuti, Captain, and Black Mamba; Bravo is Mike, Bellman, and Jang Shin; Charlie is Emil and Morris; Delta is Burimer and Chartres. Damn, a bunch of smelly guys as partners. What am I supposed to do with these people that don’t even have holes? Let’s hurry and go to Meridien.”
All the team members laughed.
“Jang Shin, what are the protocols while we are on the move?”
The sudden question thrown out by the captain caught Jang Shin by surprise and brought him back to his senses from his smiling laughter.
“Yes, sir. First, be on the lookout from the front and back, second, do let children under ten, women, and elders come into close contact, and third, if they ignore warnings to stay away, shoot them immediately.”
“Good, everyone got that? Starting now, everyone put silencers on your guns. Tango intel or the reconnaissance team will be taken care of by Black Mamba. If you find The Raccoon, immediately radio in and use the bike as needed. Let’s smoke this Raccoon out. Let’s go!”
The mercenaries ran to the pickup and got into it like boars being chased by a puma. It was almost sad how desperately they wanted to get away from the swarming flies.
Operation Raccoon, day 9
If everything had gone according to plan, they would have already captured The Raccoon and returned home by this time. Team Ratel had predominantly given up on this task and instead continued forward on the wadi. They were trying to avoid the enemy troops.
The four pickup trucks were trekking along eastbound. If they had traveled south toward Bodélé last time, this time, they were heading toward the center of Bodélé. The long drought had dried up the wadi. They increased their speed riding along this route compared to the southwest roads that had been severely messed up.
While they were waiting for the engines to cool down, the captain called Ombuti and Belman.
“Bellman, it’s already been over a week. I’m worried about the state of the team.”
“There’s no illness other than a cold among them but because of the severe temperature changes, their stamina is decreasing steadily. Black Mamba’s condition seems to be getting better though.”
The captain smiled.
“That friend of ours was different from any of us from the beginning. He cannot be understood by human standards. His genes were different from ours from the get-go.”
“That’s true. I heard that there are mysterious powers among the Korean and Chinese but even with that assumption, he cannot be understood by normal standards.”
“You don’t need to worry about Black Mamba. Worry about the badgers. Their morale is falling.”
“Badgers know their territories. A wandering badger is not normal. There’s something that you know, isn’t there, Captain?”
The captain flinched at Bellman’s words.
He couldn’t say his assumption out loud, but he was willing to bet all his pay that this would go on for at least another month.
“We should end it soon. You take good care of Black Mamba. The team’s tactics and survival are in his hands.”
He casually avoided the question.
“Of course sir.”
Bellman nodded his head. The captain’s words were not an exaggeration. The god-like sniper Black Mamba was an assassin and master of hand-to-hand combat. Although difficult to believe, he was a master of battle whether it was up close or from far away. If something happened to Black Mamba, then the entire team would be in grave danger.
“Ombuti, what is our current location?”
Ombuti pointed at a point on the map.
“We are in the vicinity of Torun Oasis. We have come exactly halfway. This area had become a desert as sand started to fly over here. There are six oasis towns before we get to Ekiya.”
“Looks like we’ll arrive there before noon tomorrow. I hope we can see The Raccoon there this time.”
The captain sincerely hoped that his assumptions would not become a reality. If his assumption came true, the results would be catastrophic.
After a short break, the pickup continued to Cortaro. As always, Black Mamba was meditating with his eyes closed as he sat in the back of the pickup. His biorhythm had reached its peak. His senses had become heightened, and his muscles had strengthened greatly.
As they traveled, he could pick up on the movements of living creatures from time to time. His body seemed to have evolved to the next level. He was sure he would not end up dying in this rough area.
“Ombuti, didn’t you say it was a marsh.”
Captain muttered as dust rose hazily around them.
“Ten years ago, it was a marsh. Once Lake Chad dried up, it ended up like this. However, this place tends to have a lot of water.”
Ombuti gazed at Black Mamba as he answered half-heartedly.
Black Mamba was, as always, not a bit disheveled. He looked like he had suspension attached to his bottom that was a hundred times better than that on the truck. They couldn’t help but be fascinated by it.
“Wakil, are you uncomfortable?”
“Not whatsoever. The nickname “Wakil” is uncomfortable though.”
His calm demeanor made Ombuti feel a bit awkward.
Ombuti is a warrior of Tuareg. A warrior respects other great warriors. Black Mamba was the king of warriors, Wakil.
“Even if you don’t accept it, I will continue to serve you as my master.”
Ombuti determined firmly to himself.
“Black, please survey the perimeter.”
Black Mamba didn’t like it, but he agreed to be their radar. He didn’t want to feel the pain of losing his comrades.
The captain’s inner thoughts were complicated.
It had been seven days since the battle of Uldi Hamarl. Over 200 FROLINAT soldiers had died. It was enough time for the FROLINAT forces to figure out the situation.
Like tadpoles gathering in a puddle of drying up water, the FROLINAT forces were sweeping in their way. Black Mamba had retrieved this info from the captured Kiro.
If Black Mamba was attacked, it would be catastrophic, but they had no choice but to place him in the front. They needed his heightened senses to figure out the enemy’s movements.
Black Mamba could see the complicated emotions on Captain’s face.
A human’s emotions are a combination of brain firings. By picking up on the resonating waves, he could read the change in emotions.
“We should be careful!”
Having become a human radar, Black Mamba felt a heavy burden. To save his comrades, he had used all his fighting skills at Uldi Harmarl. Ever since the battle, the way his comrades looked at him had changed. He felt like a monkey at a zoo.
Black Mamba knew that his body was different than other people’s bodies. He casually tried to think that it was just due to his Asian facade. If they found out the wild darkness within him, they would treat him like a monster.
There were M60s in Delta’s trunk. Burimer was holding onto an M60 and had binoculars over his eyes. The guerrilla forces were familiar with the area. However diligently Burimer looked through his binoculars, it was difficult for him to find the hiding enemies. He had to be on full alert.
When they passed Toco Dome, the scenery changed.
The dry wadi and hard ground disappeared and small shrubbery and dunes started to appear. The biomes seemed to be changing drastically. Hilly dunes of pebbles-mixed-with-sand seemed to pop up at one moment, then a forest would appear, then a rocky mountain.
When it hit noon, the sun glared down on them, and it felt like it would melt off their skin. Black Mamba took off the sweat-soaked goggles. Glistening eyes lay behind the dark face. In the mirror, he saw a man glaring at him with just the surrounding area of his eyes white like a panda.
The Sahel sun was extremely different from the sun from his hometown. Within a week, his skin had turned dark. Only the skin inside the goggles retained their natural color.
He had eaten enough protein so that his face did not look sunken, but he couldn’t help getting his face burned by the UV rays, and his eyes burned. The goggles couldn’t completely block out the strong rays of the sun. Tuareg people were not masked warriors but warriors who had no choice but to wear masks. The Straw Bridge Park Mu Ssang had become Sahel’s Black Mamba.
Colonel Ahmud smiled baring his yellow teeth.
Through the binoculars, he caught sight of the vehicle emitting dust clouds behind it. He looked around at his men positioned on top of the boulder. He felt secure.
“It’s the first of the frog reconnaissance group. I’ll hand them their tickets to hell. And for free.”
The bitter smile hung loosely from his thick lips.
Ahmud had received information, three days ago, from Habib, that the French special forces were moving toward Bilmar. No one knew how the boss attained this information. Immediately, he had arranged surveillance at Bodélé.
Boruku and Bassa were Ahmud’s designated areas. Three months ago, his territory had been widened thanks to receiving bikes from the Soviets. With a hundred bikes, he was able to make ten groups for surveillance. To catch the tail of the French special forces, he had released his surveillance group into Bodélé. Thanks to them, he was able to succeed.
He had gotten word of Musta’s tragedy five days prior.
He was flabbergasted that a major group was annihilated as such. Musta’s troops were an independence battalion with 22 mountain warriors among them. They were formed as a way to counter Black Mamba’s skills.
A majority of the mountain warriors were assassins. They had received in-depth training from the Soviets and were taught to use contemporary weapons. Receiving information that they too had been obliterated was unbelievable.
Ahmud cursed Musta not knowing of Black Mamba’s existence. Musta was like a rhinoceros who only knew how to charge forward. Swept up by ambition, he had made a big mistake.