Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 112
He was sucking the ugali off his fingers when three men with their heads and necks wrapped in cloth appeared. Two had guns slung over their backs, while the other pointed his weapon at Pieff and Valboir.
“Come with me!” The soldier said in fluent French.
Pieff was prepared to die. He had surrendered despite his position as Deuxieme Rep’s commander. He had done it to save his subordinates. Pieff prayed silently for a quick death, instead of being burned alive.
The mummies dragged Pieff and Valboir to the central tent.
A proud looking middle-aged Arab greeted the prisoners while sitting. Valboir observed his surroundings with uncertainty and fear. Pieff, who was prepared for the end, was calm.
Kikali’s gaze rested on Pieff’s face.
“Kanma, take a seat.”
A sharp-witted mummy immediately gave up his sheepskin seat for Pieff.
“These b*stards have manners despite being barbarians. That’s not the electric chair, is it?”
Pieff sat on the chair with composure.
“It is good to meet you, Kanma. I am Lieutenant Colonel Aham Kikali of FAP’s 3rd army.”
“I am Lieutenant General Pieff of Deuxieme Rep’s 4th regiment.”
“Why do these b*stards keep calling me Kanma? Is it some derogatory term for the French? It’s offensive.”
Pieff glared at Kikali, narrowing his eyes.
Kikali looked at the middle-aged man before him as though he was about to tear into him.
“What a strong gaze! I sense a powerful aura.”
Kikali’s heart raced. He had finally caught the great warrior, called the Angel of Death, with his own hands. His efforts, made day and night, had finally paid off.
His features were befitting a great warrior.
His gaze was as fierce as the lightning that streaked across the desert sky, a Keisel beard which enhanced the man’s dignity, eyes that sat deep, and a rectangular forehead which was revealed by his swept-back hair. Thick brows, layered lids, long limbs, and his calm demeanor, despite being a prisoner, this was truly the Kanma that shook the Sahel.
Lieutenant Colonel Kikali rose to his feet and made a silent bow.
“I’m glad we have met, in spite of the circumstances. Would you like some tea?”
Pieff could only blink at the unexpected pleasantries.
Kikali brewed a red-colored tea and poured it into a cup. It would be unusual for a warrior to pour tea, and it was only for those who he respected. It was in the Tuareg tribe’s tradition to offer the finest treatment to the best warrior.
“This is a tea called rooibos, from southern Africa. I enjoy it, as it is good for health. I’m not sure if it will suit your taste.”
Pieff was in a daze as he took the teacup.
The teapot was an antique affair decorated with angular cuts. Somehow, he found it difficult to believe that a minor FROLINAT member would enjoy tea. And what could he make of this almost ceremonial etiquette?
“Don’t mock me. Kill me now.”
Kikali glared at Pieff through his cloudy eyes.
“What are you saying? I am a warrior of the Tuareg tribe. You may have killed plenty of FROLINAT warriors, but that is not my concern. Killing is something we do as enemies. It is not a sin.”
“Kill many warriors, me?”
Pieff was confused. He had been hounded ever since he stepped foot in the Sahel. He had been beaten around like a village drum. He may have killed several during the battle, but that was hardly the same as ‘plenty’. When had he killed those countless FROLINAT soldiers?
Valboir, who was standing behind him, had to hold back his laughter. Lieutenant Colonel Kikali was mistaking Captain Pieff for Black Mamba.
Considering Pieff’s physicality, the misunderstanding was feasible. With his strong angled jaw, his piercing gaze, and sculptured muscles from working out, he had an imposing presence.
“Hahaha, you could say I’ve profited from your actions. I’ve managed to take control of the third army thanks to you getting rid of Colonel Ahmud and Lieutenant Colonel Musta.”
Pieff was now even more confused.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying. I’ve only heard the names Ahmud and Musta. I’ve never met them.”
Kikali’s face hardened.
“I’m disappointed that a great warrior, the reincarnation of Azrael, would lie. Are you afraid of death?”
“There’s no reason for me to lie. I entered the Sahel but five days ago. I’ve suffered your relentless attacks ever since. I’ve also lost most of my men.”
“You entered the Sahel five days ago? Not a month?” Surprised, Kakli jumped up from his seat.
“If you’re not the Kanma who shook the Sahel this past month, then who are you?”
“I’ve already stated my identity twice, but I’ll do it again. I am Captain Pieff of the 4th regiment of Deuxieme Rep, under the Legion Etrangere. I hope you’ll treat me according to the Geneva Convention, as your captive.”
“Then what about the Kanma?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“How, how is it possible? Saoud, what is this?”
Even as Kikali’s direct subordinate, Saoud had no way of knowing what Black Mamba looked like. Black Mamba’s fame had spread right across the Sahel, but no one had seen his face. He had either killed them or had been wrapped under litam cloth and goggles when seen from afar.
“I… I don’t know. It’s true that we don’t know Kanma’s face. Thinking about it, they were captured too easily.”
Saoud broke out in cold sweat. Although he had congratulated himself on his strategy, attacking and retreating repeatedly, he now saw that something was odd. He had heard the Kanma had once shot a motorcycle soldier 1000 meters away. But the captive Kanma wasn’t that good.
“Then that guy wouldn’t be the Kanma either, eh?”
Kikali’s finger, which was pointing at Valboir, was visibly shaking.
“That’s right. He is my subordinate who was sent in with me.”
“No, you are the Kanma! If you are not the Kanma I will tear you to pieces for trying to deceive me!” Kikali worked himself up into hysteria.
“Deceive you? Exactly when did I deceive you?”
Pieff was astounded.
“That d*mned b*stard had misunderstood all on his own and was now insisting that he had been deceived. That was why they were called barbarians.”
“Then, who exactly is the Kanma?”
“Why are you asking me? I don’t even know what a Kanma is.”
“Nicmok!” Kikali suddenly shouted in Arabic.
“Nicmoki? Valboir, what does that mean?”
“It has the same meaning as Nigimi Ddugural in Korean.”
Those who had heard about the Nigimi Ddugural story between Black Mamba and Pieff knew it well.
Pieff’s face turned red. As he was just about to retort with the same Korean swear word, Kikali threw him a dagger. It was his M9 bayonet, which had been confiscated upon captivity.
“Take off his handcuffs.”
Pieff was confused the moment his leather cuffs were released. What was happening now?
Kikali pulled out his dagger.
It was a khanjar with an unusual blade that curved backward. It was easy to change trajectory during use, but, at the same time, was limited by the fact that it was not straight.
“Now take up your sword and attack me.”
“You want me to show you what I can do? No problem.”
He was confident in dagger play. After all, he had once been a close-combat instructor for the Deuxieme Rep.
Pieff took his bayonet and wielded it around in the air. It was to engrave its weight in his hands. The dense weight calmed his trembling mind.
Pieff took a series of small steps towards his opponent and lunged at his chest, before dragging the blade upwards. Fast footwork, like fencing steps, tapped onto the ground. It was the basic form of Krav Maga.
His first attack was easily blocked.
“You will die if you do not give it your all.”
Provoked by his opponent’s words, Pieff dragged up all of his skills.
Clang- Clang- Clang-
The khanjar and M9 bayonet began to pour out ear-piercing sounds.
The primary skills of swordplay were strength and speed.
But after an exchange, Pieff became grave after he realized he was lacking in both.
He tried to jab into his opponent by dubbing and hooking the other’s blade, but it had no effect. His opponent easily blocked his flourishing movements with his short swings and exchanges. The strength he put into the blade was immense, causing his palm to crack under each impact.
Pieff let down his guard and attacked. Taking injuries into consideration during close combat only ended in defeat. The fear of injury made the body rigid and forced uneven movement.
The large bayonet, which was piercing his enemy’s left shoulder in a straight line, abruptly changed directions and aimed for the neck. The most vulnerable part of the human body was the neck. He was bound to protect it instinctively.
The dagger, which was behind his back, had already turned to deflect his bayonet outwards. It was as though his opponent’s blade had appeared out of nowhere. The dagger, which deflected his blade away, twirled and aimed straight for his forehead. It was too late to pull in the bayonet which was already outstretched. Pieff felt cold sweat break out all over. By the time he stretched his head back to the point of breaking, a kick flew into his chest. It was too late, even in the moment of recognition…
In a daze, Pieff hurriedly stepped backward.
Pieff, who was surprised by Kikali’s sudden move and the following crosscut, fell to the ground and rolled over. A handful of hair was scattered into the air. Pieff looked up at Kikali with a blank gaze, unable to stand.
The forbidden move during a duel between two professional swordsmen was the crosscut. Crosscuts had a huge delay in their movement, and it was hard to inflict damage. This meant that one was vulnerable to the point a crosscut was capable of reaching the opponent’s eyes. The pride of being Deuxieme Rep’s best close-combater was shattered.
Lieutenant Colonel Kikali was going through an even greater mental shock.
“No, no way!”
He had been reluctant to believe it, but it really was the wrong person. He had heard that the Kanma had once sliced off his opponent’s head in one blow. He was so fast that the head remained in position momentarily, and he didn’t have to swing it twice. His opponent knew how to play around, but that was it. He really was a fake.
Kikali fell into his chair.
He let out a deep sigh. A man that threw grenades like a machine gun, whose close-combat skills sliced off heads like plucking out roots and whose movements skirted around RPG shots like water? According to people who witnessed it, Kanma was, in fact, the reincarnation of Azrael.
He had devised a plan to catch the Kanma to the point his hair fell out. He used wave attacks in reverse, as they were commonly used against an enemy in a much greater number.
He had attacked during the night with an agile unit to avoid the fearful snipers and escaped in a flash. He had increased the loss of blood little by little while abandoning his greed. His strategy to draw them into the marsh Doline was formidable.
But what was this? He had endured so much suffering, only to catch some weakling who couldn’t even reach the ankle of Kanma’s abilities. The happiness of a lifetime he felt in catching the Kanma turned into rage.
“Aaah! He was but a Kanma in appearance. Drag that swine out of here!” His hysterical shout rang across the tent.
The mummy slid into view and immediately chained Pieff’s hands and feet in irons.
“What are you doing? Don’t you know the Geneva Agreement forbids prisoner abuse?”
His protest was answered with a kick.
“Drag him out now!” Kikali shouted.
His treatment had suddenly changed.
The civilized guerrillas were now barbarians. When Pieff protested, his head was beaten relentlessly with the butt of a gun. Thanks to him, even Valboir, who remained still, was attacked.
The two were thrown into the corner of a shed with their hands and feet shackled in chains. They were punched without provocation, and their rears were kicked.
Pieff was speechless.
He cursed himself for thinking these rebels were civilized. The b*stards had only mistaken him for Black Mamba. It appeared that talented people were treated differently, even amongst their enemies.
“Valboir. Why am I being treated like this?”
“Because you have a hard-to-restrain subordinate.”
“That d*mned b*stard! He’s the one who misunderstood the situation. So why’s he taking it out on me?”
“Because your appearance is too good.”
Valboir replied sarcastically, as he was beaten up alongside Pieff.
“This f****** world, where the strong always get better treatment!” Pieff complained in a whisper.
This was why other people’s lives looked better from afar but were desperate up close.
Kikali stormed into Paya before the morning dew could dry. He was overjoyed at the prospect of becoming the 3rd army’s commander after making his entrance in such grandeur.
But the FROLINAT was in over its head. The small number of French special forces had swept across its front yard, and yet they had been defeated. Habib’s 3rd army and his special forces had been broken and made immobile.
Kikali had destroyed the French special forces and captured its commander. It was an achievement that would recover the dented pride of the 3rd army. He could almost picture chairman Habib’s smile from ear to ear.
At Manni Oasis, 50 kilometers from Paya, Kikali received some shocking news.
“Yaallahyihi! The mansion in ruin and Chairman Habib missing?”
Kikali’s burnt face turned as white as a ghost. It was quite unbelievable, like the Sahara desert turning into a lake.
“What b*stard did that? Was it Chairman Tombye? No, that old man doesn’t have the guts. Was it Chairman Ahbduhl?”
The informant visibly shrank at the scary aura.