Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 100
Bell Man could clearly see through the captain’s emotional state.
Bell Man had compared the French army to a rooster, which was their symbol, and criticized them. In Latin, the rooster that symbolized France was pronounced “Gaul,” which was also the original name of the country in French. Starting from the 16th century, the royal families of France engraved the rooster into their family crests. Even though the evidence pointed to this being absolute truth, he was still trying to deny it. Black Mamba, feeling a bit awkward, started to refill his empty magazine.
Black Mamba was good at reading a situation, but he wasn’t great at reading humans’ complicated emotions.
For instance, an old married couple would have more and more things they suddenly forgot about, like when a husband forgot to flush the toilet after taking a dump and the wife who went in afterward screamed. The husband felt disappointed in the wife for making such a fuss about it, because the wife had done the same thing before, and he had kept his mouth shut and flushed it for her. If the wife even cared a little bit about him, then she wouldn’t have felt the need to embarrass him like this. Logic and emotion clashed. Everyone thought through situations with both their heads and their hearts. The captain’s position right then was the same as the husband.
Black Mamba, who had been meditating, quietly called for them to stop. “Ombuti!”
Ombuti immediately turned the wheel and stopped, showing the side of the pickup.
Pop, pop, pop—
A hundred sixty feet ahead, five bullets pelted the exact place they would have been if they had kept driving. The captain quickly readied his Pamus gun, while Black Mamba touched the muzzle of his own gun.
“Tui tus! (All dead!)”
From under the sand, a hand holding a gun popped out of the ground. Throwing off its cover, an Arab wearing a gandoura crawled out of the ground.
The Arab who had been shot in the stomach yelled, “Kanma, you will be cursed. The fires of hell will burn you.”
“Sure, sure. We’ve already been in and out of hell plenty of times already.”
Black Mamba shot the Arab right in the forehead. The middle-aged man collapsed with his head buried in the sand.
Ombuti and the captain stared at each other’s faces.
It was surprising enough that they had dug a hole as cover, but Black Mamba’s actions were even more surprising. He had registered that there was someone in the ground from 160 feet away while they had been driving and shot them accurately to boot.
Sight and hearing alone weren’t enough for this to make sense. With the sounds from the car and the wind, it would be hard to hear any small noises. His skills seemed to become more and more surprising.
After Black Mamba had battled for his life with Ocelot, his spatial awareness skills had been upgraded to the next level. Even without a specific target to search for, he was able to pick up on small details. If Ocelot found out about this, he would pound the ground in regret.
Before, he let out resonance to pick up on the enemy’s location, but there was a downfall to using resonance. If it hit a rock or other obstacle, it couldn’t penetrate it. There would have been no way he could register those who were hiding underground, and there were also other restrictions to it.
“Let’s go check it out.”
The captain jumped out of the passenger seat. When they removed the camouflaged cover, they found two corpses covered in blood and sand. One was a child smaller than the length of a rife.
“Those punks deserve to die!”
The captain ground his teeth together.
Bell Man, who was checking the corpse, reflexively asked, “How did you know?” Although he had accepted this impossible feat, he couldn’t help but ask.
During a battle, it was easy to bypass such a phenomenon, but in a situation where they were out in the open, it was hard for Black Mamba to keep his skills hidden. He couldn’t just stand by with the enemy lying in wait for them.
“There are three of me: the me I know, the me others know, and the me that neither I nor others know.”
No one understood what this answer meant, but the mercenaries didn’t bother asking any further. Maybe he had caught this habit from Chartres, but Black Mamba would sometimes say things that no one could understand. They just accepted it and got lost in their own thoughts.
Black Mamba was trying to figure out his identity, too. ‘The me I know is Mu Ssang. The me others know is Black Mamba.’ The me neither him nor others knew was that he wasn’t a human, but an entity he wasn’t aware of.
During his battle for survival, his spatial awareness skill had become much more pronounced. He was able to decipher where the obstacles were disturbing a signal. He couldn’t tell if it was from their brain waves or their veins, but he could differentiate between humans, animals, and bugs.
His range had also widened. Within three hundred feet, he could sense those who were hiding underground. If he was given adequate time and he really concentrated, then it was possible.
But the downfall of his spatial awareness skill was the length of time he could use it for. Thirty minutes was the limit. If he used the skill for thirty minutes, then he would have to rest for at least ten minutes to not burn out. If he overextended himself, then he would get a nosebleed or be hit with a headache. The Legion Etranger team decided to move for thirty minutes, then rest for ten minutes.
He wasn’t sure if the spatial awareness skill he gained at Chinto Mountain was due to his training there or if it was a special skill found at that specific location. If it was a skill that he was gifted, then he had to resist flaunting it, like his teacher had warned, so that he didn’t cause damage like Ocelot.
“Captain, I found them and killed them coincidentally.”
“Of course. It’s a coincidence now, and the coincidences will continue.”
At the captain’s response, Ombuti and Bell Man nodded their heads and chuckled. The stern captain had changed a lot, too. If one didn’t change after almost dying multiple times, then he was a lunatic.
Skills surpassing logic had a limit. Even if they were to tell someone, no one would believe them, and if they did, there was a chance it would boomerang back and harm them instead. If they could use it, then it would most definitely be used. The captain and Ombuti knew the evils of human greed well.
Their team hid the supplies and did their best to reach Trident Rock. Black Mamba rode in the backseat of the leading vehicle and was doing his duty as a human radar with his eyes half-closed.
He laid out their travel path like it was a chessboard. With his spatial awareness, his radar was searching through every crevice. It was a strategy that was no different than actual radars.
Two hours passed. Black Mamba again stopped Alpha and shot at a point 100 feet away. Thirty seconds later, he fired again.
The captain nodded his head and raised his hand from the passenger’s seat, then snapped his wrist back and forth. Beta and Gamma stopped so that Jang Shin and Emil could jump out.
They dug up the two people with a shovel. There wasn’t actually much to dig out, since the cover was made out of thin twigs and felt.
“This is unbelievable.” Jang Shin gasped. The hole was muddy with the blood of the two corpses.
Black Mamba had caught five separate guerrilla troops who had been hiding in the ground for days.
“Black Mamba, this might complicate things.”
The captain clicked his tongue as he stared down at the corpses.
“Damned punks. It was a coarse but effective tactic.”
Black Mamba wore an awkward expression, too.
He could easily decipher FROLINAT’s plans.
The enemy had laid out troops to ambush them on the trail that the Legion Etranger team had decided to take. They were human booby traps. There was no way to know how many more were lying in wait to attack them.
It was a harsh action, but if they had enough men, it was actually a productive plan. It would definitely cause them stress as well as decrease the speed of their travel.
There was a different reason for Black Mamba clicking his tongue.
The enemy had used child soldiers to pad their troops’ numbers. There were usually two child soldiers with each adult one. It was cowardly, but this was Sahel. Black Mamba was determined to obliterate the one called Habib.
FROLINAT hadn’t added Black Mamba into their calculations, so they hadn’t been able to direct their troops properly. There was no point anyway. There was no strategy left for them to use.
The captain gave up on confirming each situation. If Black Mamba declared it clear, then there was no point in wasting time to check it.
Black Mamba and Ombuti led the way.
“Ombuti, four miles out, there’s a small army approaching.”
Ombuti thought for a second, then turned the steering wheel to the right. Ombuti, who knew the roads well, was able to meet the opposition as he turned right, and Black Mamba took out 24 men in a heartbeat.
Suddenly, grenades started to fly at them. It was FROLINAT’s rear army. They had used their comrades as bait to catch the mercenaries. From that point on, their team started to be chased again.
On the 29th day of Operation Raccoon, the Legion Etranger team finally arrived at Mousso. Mousso was a village located 40 miles east of Paya. They went up and down several times and ended up on the northeastern side. Unable to head south due to the oncoming pressure of enemy forces, they were forced to change direction toward Mnedie.
During that time, the pickup that had been working well up to that point stopped. White smoke curled up from the radiator. It was the same pickup that had been showered by bullets earlier.
They raised the hood and watched Jang Shin’s expression, which wasn’t good.
There was a crack in the radiator, and the coolant was leaking. The coolant couldn’t circulate, so the engine couldn’t cool down. It was unfixable.
“Captain, it’s not repairable.”
“Putain.” Mike kicked the broken pickup.
At the captain’s command, Mike, Bell Man, Emil, and Jang Shin worked like lowly army troops. The ground was mixed with sand, but there was a lot to shovel, as the hole had to be big enough to bury the truck. Even if it was hard work, they had no choice but to do it to cover their tracks.
“Ombuti, find a place for us to build a camp.” The captain’s voice cracked. Due to physical stress, his voice box was damaged. Even the captain, who was used to war, had reached the limit of his stamina.
“Captain, there’s no water here.”
To the east, there was a desolate land called the Mnedie Plateau. Since it was exposed to the sandstorms of Sahel, it was a land of endless sand dunes. There were large rock formations and caves from time to time, but there was no water or plants anywhere.
“Jang Shin, how much water do we have left?”
“We weren’t able to refill for the last five days. We only have ten and a half gallons left.”
It would be hard to survive more than a couple of days with a little more than ten gallons.
“Ombuti, can you find water?”
“I’m not familiar with this area, so it will be difficult.”
Ombuti’s expertise was the Sahel area from Niger Bilmar to Djourab Erg. He wasn’t familiar with the Mnedie Plateau on the east side.
“Damn. First, let’s look for a place to build our defenses and rest. I feel like my spine is about to collapse.”
Difficult situations kept arising.
Jang Shin, who was holding a wrench and hammer, crawled out from under the vehicle.
“Sir, put it down.”
Black Mamba, who was functioning as a human jack, placed down the pickup with a thud.
“Will it be difficult to use?”
“It doesn’t look good. It’s a complete mess. The suspension is already broken, and the engine gasket has been knocked out of balance. The acceleration joint is also shot. The belt has hardened and is in need of changing.”
“You sure have a complicated way of saying that it’s done for. Will it be hard to fix?”
Jang Shin slammed his palms on the hood of the vehicle.
“We have no spare parts. No engine gasket. Nothing. We’re even out of gasoline.”
“It’s only been a month since we picked up a new car…”
“It’s because we pushed it too hard in this harsh environment. We should be grateful it even lasted this long. Or we should thank the men that made this three-year-old junk car.”
“Good work.” Black Mamba pounded the car’s body.
It was a miracle that the pickup had even lasted this long. Even though it was customized, the pickup was a commercial vehicle. It wasn’t a military vehicle or an armed truck. For the last month, it had traveled through grasslands, wastelands, swamps, and deserts with its engine running until it was on the brink of exploding. They were happy it had lasted a month for them.
“Oh, damn. What more can we expect from a product made from monkeys on an island? Only the outside is nice. Those damned monkeys,” said the captain, annoyed. Black Mamba and Jang Shin’s mouths dropped open. Only two days earlier, Captain had praised Japanese-made cars. His mind must have left him.
They took turns staring at their other five comrades with their lively eyes. Other than the one person they were unable to properly categorize as human, they all looked battered.
With white cracked lips, bloodshot eyes, and sharply protruding cheekbones, they were like zombies. The only thing that differentiated them from zombies was their glittering pupils. Their bodies had reached their ends a long time ago. They were resisting death merely with the mentality and hope to return home alive.