Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 98
Ombuti wasn’t as surprised that a skilled fighter had shown up as he was that said fighter had only sustained injuries and escaped. If he had escaped the hands of Wakil, then he had definitely not been human.
“Ombuti, did you find anything?” the captain said, cutting off Jang Shin.
“Captain, we have to leave quickly. If it becomes known that the hitman failed, then they’ll all come rushing over here.”
The captain’s heart felt heavy. Ombuti thought that these men were the FROLINAT special forces, but he was sure that they weren’t. He secretly hoped that it was the FROLINAT special forces instead of what he suspected.
“I don’t think the FROLINAT army would come after us. Either way, let’s get out of here.”
The mercenaries jumped out consecutively from room 318’s balcony window. For the special task team, jumping out of a third-story window was no obstacle. Black Mamba jumped out last, carrying Burimer who was wrapped up in a sheet.
None of them worried that they hadn’t checked out of the hotel properly. When they had been trekking through Sahel, the Legion Etranger team hadn’t been invisible but instead were the prey of an evil predator. There was no one who would know whether they checked out or not anyway.
The manager, who was the sleeper agent, and the receptionist had their necks removed by Ocelot. The other two lobby workers were also killed by Ocelot. The Le Merien Hotel, which was the only hotel in Paya, had become a ghost house within a day.
The Legion Etranger team exited the city without a sound.
Black Mamba and Ocelot’s battle had completely obliterated the whole hotel. The surroundings looked like the warzone of a battle that had used heavy weaponry.
Due to civil war, the civilians didn’t think much about the happenings outside, but the amount of noise that had continuously echoed couldn’t be easily ignored. Paya was FROLINAT’s home ground. The Legion Etranger team had been cut to half, plus Black Mamba was heavily injured. If FROLINAT decided to target them, they would easily be taken over.
Two hours later, their team had escaped Paya and found a place to hide upon arriving at Erg Maldan. The mercenaries were preparing to leave by pulling out the pickups that had been buried in the sand. Once again, they were sweating buckets.
While Jang Shin was getting ready to cremate Burimer, Ombuti slowly disappeared. Ombuti, who had disappeared for a few moments, returned with a humongous bone propped on top of his shoulder. It was seven feet long and extremely large. Flabbergasted, they all stared at Ombuti with surprised eyes.
“These mysterious bones sometimes appear here. They’re either the bones of a dinosaur or some large animal. I brought it because we don’t have a headstone for Burimer.”
Jang Shin and Emil, who were sweating as they collected firewood for the cremation, looked at him while frowning.
“What are you talking about. A headstone?”
“We can’t cremate him. Sergeant Burimer was a Muslim. If you cremate a Muslim, then they cannot find their way back to their body and will forever have to wander through purgatory.”
Since Ombuti had never been one to express his opinion, it was an unexpected turn of events. The surprised looks all turned to Black Mamba. They all seemed to say, “he’s your servant, so you deal with him.”
“Ombuti, Burimer requested that we cremate him as his last wish. I would like to fulfill his last dying wish.”
“We can’t. Wakil!”
The mercenaries’ eyes all grew large.
“What in the world?! Ombuti actually told Black Mamba he couldn’t do something!” Jang Shin exclaimed in surprise.
“Wakil, I’m not going against your wishes. Burimer was a servant of Allah. If we cremate him, then he won’t have a body to return to and will forever be unable to escape hell.”
Black Mamba was a Buddhist, but he knew of other religions that spoke of heaven and hell and how deeply ingrained it was to their culture and identity. Heaven and hell were within one’s heart. With a body and soul, what world was impossible for humans to make up?!
“It was Burimer’s last wish.”
“He probably didn’t want to put his comrades in a difficult situation, so he said that. We can’t cremate him. We can bury him like the other comrades, then come back later to bring him home.”
Black Mamba stared at the captain.
“Burimer left his last wish to Black Mamba. The choice is up to you.”
Regarding religion, simple things could become complicated and difficult. The captain’s voice was ringing loudly in his head already. He didn’t want anything else intruding into his thoughts on top of this.
Black Mamba saw Ombuti’s desperate look and nodded his head.
“What you say is right. I’m not a Muslim, but your desperation has made me change my mind. Let’s bury Burimer for now.”
Black Mamba accepted Ombuti into his heart. He saw the humanity in him as he desperately hoped to preserve Burimer’s afterlife, although Ombuti had no real connection with Burimer. Their interactions had been those of a mercenary and an usher for the last month. It was hard to find any human that would care so much for a mere acquaintance.
Burimer was buried in an unknown place on the north side of Djourab Erg. It was a place that had neither rocks nor trees to use as a headstone. The large unidentified bone was placed in front of his grave as a headstone, more like a marker to come back to later.
The bone that Ombuti brought was no different than the bone of any animal. He had secretly hoped it was from some ancient animal but was disappointed to find it wasn’t.
The captain didn’t say a word until the entire burial ceremony was complete, his face as rigid as stone. On account of his stubbornness and stupidity, Burimer was dead and Black Mamba was badly hurt. His guilt was killing him from inside.
As a soldier and an officer of Legion Etranger, his pride was shaken. A cowardly and incompetent leader had caused them to bury many more precious lives. He was embarrassed to face his men after dragging them to Paya even after Black Mamba had beaten him to a pulp to persuade him otherwise.
‘Damn, maybe it really is time for me to retire.’ Black Mamba thought he had only said this for laughs, but the captain was seriously contemplating retirement at that moment.
“Captain, what happened to the communication with headquarters?” asked Bell Man.
“Negative,” Emil answered instead.
The shoulders of all the mercenaries drooped. Their last hope at being rescued by helicopter had disappeared, and they had lost Burimer without reaping any benefits. In their hearts, they were starting to favor Black Mamba as their leader instead of the captain.
Ombuti grabbed the wheel and hesitated before spitting out what was on his mind. “Captain, don’t misunderstand. Hear me out.”
“Ombuti, you’re one of our team members. As a team member, you’re allowed to say whatever you think.”
“Thanks. As you know, Captain, because of Wakil, we were able to resist being wiped out by the enemy. I’m sure you also thought that this operation was strange, Captain.”
“Through my Ummah friends, I was able to gather some information. They say that Makumbo was already rescued by another team and has arrived at N’Djamena.”
“Hm!” The captain sighed deeply.
“To put it simply, we were a throwaway card meant to cause havoc. I told Wakil about it, but all he did was recite some strange philosophical phrases and smile. Our team is being used to stall for time. The operation has already ended, and we were thrown away.”
The captain asked in a straightforward manner, “Do you have any evidence?”
“My friend is the driver for Chairman Tombye. Tombye’s cook is also part of Ummah. I even have a friend who’s a DGSE sleeper. FROLINAT’s situation isn’t great right now, either. Makumbo fooled them with fake intel and decided to work with Habre instead. FROLINAT had planned to stall for time by using Makumbo, but because of us, their plans were messed up. The harder we hit them with the hammer, the worse a nail protruding outward hurts our own fingers. DGSE and the government army are probably ecstatic right now. An ordinary straight received an ace of spades and turned their hand into a royal straight flush. Of course, the ace of spades is Wakil.”
“Hm, so that’s what has been happening!”
The captain let out a deep sigh. He had already suspected this. If FROLINAT was already aware of the situation, then operation Raccoon was over, and the Legion Etranger team had been abandoned. He knew why they sent over a hitman. If one wanted to quiet a rooster, its head would have to be cut off. He knew why they had sent over Ocelot, a monster of an assassin—they were afraid of Black Mamba.
He wouldn’t put it past the DGSE to pull a stunt like this. They said that the world’s most formidable intelligence agency was the CIA, the toughest was the KGB, the most resilient was Mosad, and the shadiest was the DGSE.
“There has been no word from our staff, right?”
The captain was saddened by the fact that he had to ask their resident sleeper about his own regiment’s staff. “None. The DGSE might have already alerted them to their attempts to destroy our team entirely.”
“That may be true… The operation has already succeeded, but we’ve been used as bait!” muttered the captain self-consciously.
Ombuti confidently said, “I’m not a hundred percent, but a thousand percent sure of this. Thanks to our team, France was able to involve Goukouni. Tombye and Habib believe that Goukouni has betrayed them.”
“Goukouni is the head of the northern troops. Why would he betray them?”
“Because of us, they’re claiming that the trap laid out for Makumbo has been torn apart. Makumbo came over to France’s side, so Goukouni decided to follow the tide and join them.”
“Haha, I would expect something like that from them. My men have died, but it had made them all the happier? This is some messed up comradeship. It really is picture-perfect. That’s great, just wonderful. Hahaha!” retorted the captain sarcastically.
‘Has he gone into shock? Has he gone insane?’
Ombuti turned and glanced over at Black Mamba. As always, his eyes were half-closed and he was locked in meditation. Wakil was as deep as the ocean, so it was difficult to ever know what he was thinking.
“Because we had been wreaking havoc, FROLINAT is now on the verge of collapsing. As a result, we have earned the wrath of our own headquarters. There’s a clause that the FROLINAT members came to an agreement with. To decimate the mercenary special forces.”
“Huh, FROLINAT has been pushing them to kill a team with only ten members?”
“They say he even promised it to Allah.”
Ombuti’s information was plenty trustworthy. The most important information was usually acquired by paying someone a bribe. Even if the information was secured in the best way it possibly could be, someone needed the money in order to eat, sleep, and shop.
“Is this something I have to apologize for, or is this bigger trouble? Black Mamba, what do you think?”
“If we get hit once and hit back twice, the opponents will get scared. If we get hit once and hit back ten times, then the opponents will bow down to us. If we get hit once and don’t do anything, then we will get hit twice, ten times, every day.” Black Mamba had his eyes half-closed as he answered without even turning his head.
“Hahaha! That’s an answer typical of Black Mamba. If we get hit, then we have to hit them back. Ombuti, you’ve done well.”
“If I was of any help, then I’m happy. Salam Allecum.
“I’m also happy to be alive thanks to Black Mamba. Salam Allecum.”
Ombuti’s words were neither unexpected nor worthy of inspiring anger. An individual always had to sacrifice things for the good of the group. It might not have seemed fair, but it was something they’d come to accept. That was why they had all come crawling to Paya in the first place.
The problem was whether it was sacrifice or devotion, which was the difference between sacrificing oneself or being sacrificed. Although the result was the same, the side that was being taken advantage of would feel cheated and wronged.
“Hm!” A sigh escaped the captain’s mouth naturally.
How could they break through their front lines?
Even this filthy feeling could only be felt if they stayed alive. However dirty it felt, it meant that they had to stay alive for now. The captain had no intention to continue being their puppet. If he was to lose his military mind one more time, he was sure Black Mamba would beat him to death.
Three thousand anvils were standing guard, and a thousand hammers were coming at them. The Legion Etranger team members were like beans in a food processor. No, they were a rock that was stuck within the complex gears between FROLINAT, Chad’s troops, Libya, the DGSE, and the French army.
In a situation where the enemy was swarming toward them like an army of ants, their team had been slashed in half. No, taking into consideration their ability to harness weapons, they were of no use. They didn’t have enough members to coordinate attacks between the snipers and the backup. The surviving members were all reaching the limits of their physical and mental stamina.
Bell Man interrupted his contemplation. “Captain, let’s stop attempting to communicate with headquarters.”
“Because of the hitman?” The captain understood Bell Man’s intent immediately.