Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 114
Black Mamba emerged 300 meters away from the Oasis on top of an escarpment of small rocks. He could see the group of soldiers milling around while setting up camp.
“That’s odd. Why are those b*stards setting up camp outside the Oasis?”
One of FROLINAT’s main tactics was to extort the local population in the form of tax. They shared their military rations in exchange for provisions. If it didn’t go well, they erased the village. There were two wells in Boruku. For FROLINAT to have set up camp on the outskirts of an oasis, instead of using the well, made them appear as though they weren’t all bad.
It was the chant of the guerrillas preparing for the sunset salat. The Imam, who was wearing a blue gandourah, was leading the service. With five tents roofed with felt, the vehicles and camels lined up in rows, and the guerrillas at prayer, it was clear the unit was well-organized.
“Why are there so many!”
Black Mamba frowned. There were over two hundred at prayer.
“…. Allahu Akbar!”
The prayers had a ring of desperation and caused strange emotions to rise up inside anyone who heard them.
‘What are they asking for so desperately? Are they so certain in their God’s existence, and believe their God would respond?’
His insensitive remark was something unsuited to a battlefield.
‘You brat, where’s a Buddha? A Buddha is something you make.’
That was what his teacher always used to say.
“Ah, that’s a Sovamag!”
His eyes, which had been half-closed while he was lost in thought, suddenly widened. There were smaller vehicles in between the rows of trucks, a Sovamag and a P4 Jeep.
He blinked. He wondered whether his eyes were deceiving him. But no matter how many times he looked, the small truck was unmistakably a Sovamag. He was confused. Sovamags and P4s were vehicles that were distributed to military units, not two years previously. There was nothing in stock to be sent overseas, and unless they’d gone mad, the French government wouldn’t supply them to FROLINAT.
The only reason he could think of was they belonged to the four units of mission teams that were sent out as support. It was a team that was ordered to create more diversion before retreating, but as anything could happen on the battlefield, he wouldn’t be surprised.
“A hundred words won’t compare to a trip, I should move my hands and feet.”
Black Mamba moved into the camp like a thread that was being unraveled by the wind. The resonance which had been course and strong had turned soft like the breeze.
A gust of wind wrapped around the five tents.
The tents were empty. As Black Mamba thought of escaping the guerrilla camp, he suddenly flinched. He could make out a human shoved into the corner of the Sovamag’s loading box. It was a soldier with his hands and feet shackled with an iron chain.
‘Ha! Is that a man?’
Black Mamba’s eyes widened. The square face and Kaizel beard filled his vision. It was Lieutenant General Pieff.
“Why is the commander here? Did that guy have his backstabbed too?”
Surprised, he took another look at the man’s face. Pieff looked trashed, but he still had the remains of greasy aura left in him. He also thought he recognized the others, although their faces were hidden behind the bullet cases.
He couldn’t work out what was happening.
If he couldn’t understand, he could simply ask. As he slipped into the loading box, Pieff flinched and gave a nervous smile. This was the reaction of someone in trauma. Black Mamba could sense the other’s shaken mentality.
Black Mamba loosened his litam and revealed his face.
“Vuhhhh vuhhh vm!”
Pieff’s eyes widened as though he had seen a ghost. He could only make ‘v’ sounds. He had met an unexpected person in an unexpected place, in unexpected circumstances. With a loss of his wits, he had lost his words.
Black Mamba securely wrapped the litam around his face once more.
Pieff stared at him in disbelief.
‘Is that the bumbling duckling of the Pyrenees?’
When one surprise was over, another one appeared. The man had not changed, he had transformed. Pieff felt as though he was facing a large cliff. He wasn’t a duckling anymore, but an eagle, a pterosaur.
“Commander, I need an explanation.”
Even his voice had changed to a lower register. In reality, it was probably inflammation from breathing in too much sand dust.
“We came to rescue your isolated team.”
Pieff threw out the words and lowered his head. His face as a commander had withered.
“Ha! Rescue us?”
Black Mamba breathed out in ridicule. This was a difficult fight, even with the entire Deuxieme Rep in action. What could a few mercenaries do! He could imagine the obvious scene. He wanted to ask what they had expected when they set foot in the Sahel. He felt as though it would be a long conversation.
“Allah, Allah! Allahu-akbar!”
The large ringing saved Pieff from his uncomfortable position.
“Black, the sunset salat is almost over. You should run first.” Pieff urged.
The mummy combo, who he’d renamed the two jerks, would come at any moment. Black Mamba was relaxed.
“There’s nothing to worry about. Can you walk?”
“My leg is broken, but I can walk with a stick.”
Black Mamba looked at the left leg which was wrapped in a piece of wood as a splint.
“Pity, and that man?”
“Woah! Even the vice commander!”
Black Mamba was constantly being surprised.
“He lost consciousness, but there’s no injury.”
Of course, that was in Black Mamba’s standards. A broken arm and cracked skull were expressed as a scratch.
“We were beaten up by those b *stards.”
Pieff swallowed his anger at being beaten after they found out he wasn’t the real Kanma.
“Is there anyone else?”
“Ten were captured. There’s Sergeant Centienne, Staff Sergeant Bronin, Senior Airman Maxim, and five injured.”
“Ha! What to do?”
Black Mamba was conflicted. If it was just him, he could escape the place at any time, but he now had other burdens.
“Massa-u alkair, Kanma.” 
There was no sincerity in their sudden greeting. Bang! In a single movement, Black Mamba grasped the necks of the mummies who were climbing the loading box with a single grasp.
The mummies were pulled into the loading box-like carrots pulled out of the ground. They felt their souls wandering the boundary between life and death. Their faces turned purple from the firm grasp to the neck. Black Mamba allowed them to breathe by loosening his grip a fraction.
Their faces turned red trying to get oxygen. The neck was where the sensory veins passed to the brain. The two mummies were sorely affected and became like snails on salt.
“But how did these b*stards know about Kanma’s existence?”
Black Mamba tilted his head. How was it possible these guerrillas could know his movements?
Pieff smiled bitterly. The demeaning treatment that had occurred during his mistaken identity as Kanma passed through his mind. Several emotions, humiliation, rage, and embarrassment surged, causing him to tear up.
Black Mamba took out his Kukri.
When he concentrated, the resonance rumbled and swept into his knife. The blade vibrated with a whine. A light flashed. Clang! The iron chain, as thick as a little finger, was sliced off.
“Hah!” Pieff suddenly doubted the quality of the iron chains.
Setting aside his surprise, Pieff turned to ask.
“What are you planning to do?”
“They captured my head, so I’ll capture their head.”
Pieff was horrified at the casual reply. It wasn’t a joke that you would make in the camp of an enemy. Even if he possessed astonishing skills, he was still human. Didn’t he see the guerrillas that were swarming the ground like tadpoles?
Black Mamba slapped Sergeant Valboir’s cheeks. He didn’t know if he’d wake up. There was blood matted to the back of his head. It was the wound from being bashed in with the butt of a gun.
“Jeeze! What am I going to do with him?”
Pieff stumbled up, and took off his uniform before putting on the mummies’ gandourah and sirwal. After wrapping the litam around his head, he became mummy number three. He dressed mummy two in his uniform and left him in a corner.
“Let’s go and greet the commander.”
Pieff, who was now mummy three, looked at Black Mamba blankly. It was a gaze aimed at a crazy person.
Where did that unlikely confidence come from?
Pieff wondered if Black Mamba had caught a high fever. It wasn’t likely, as he had been wandering around the Sahel for over a month. Black Mamba didn’t care what Pieff was thinking. He picked him up and dropped him outside the loading box.
Black Mamba sauntered towards the central tent. Pieff leaned on the AK as a crutch and followed with a limp, resigning himself to the situation. In their appearance, the two were no different from guerrillas. No-one stopped them.
Saoud, who was looking at the map with Kikali, suddenly looked up.
“What is this?”
“Whoever’s not the leader, be quiet.”
At the unexpected French, Saoud raised his gun like lightning.
With a dart in his wrist, Saoud dropped his gun and moved back, clutching his wrist.
“You’re not my subordinate. Who are you?” Kikali asked in fluent French.
“It’s the Kanma you wanted to meet,” Pieff said with a confident voice.
With a flash, the khanjar flew.
Kikali and Saoud breathed out as one. The khanjar had flown out like an arrow but was calmly grasped in Black Mamba’s hand, right before his face. It was as though it had been handed to him.
Once more, the khanjar flashed and flew, embedding itself in the table. Whether it was deliberate or a coincidence wasn’t known, but it had landed right on Berdalle’s Bata province which Kikali was looking at.
“I’m here as a guest. I want at least to be served a cup of tea.”
It was a calm voice.
“Those damn b*stards! Are they standing guard or not? Hey!”
“Stop, everyone step away.”
Kikali stopped his subordinate and made the guards move back.
“Saoud, he’s a guest. Hand him a chair.”
Kikali was moved.
The Kanma had appeared like a miracle. He didn’t know how he had got here. He didn’t want to blame his subordinates. The two invaders had demonstrated that he was the Kanma by their actions. No, it was enough with the pressure which pressed on him like a rock.
“Good to meet you. I’m Lieutenant Colonel Kikali of the 3rd army, the 3rd battalion. No, now I’m the Tuareg warrior Kikali.”
Black Mamba read the mood. Kikali was trying to treat him as the representative of the Tuareg tribe.
“Black Mamba. You guys call me Kanma.”
“Mmm, as expected!”
Kikali poured out the tea.
“Thank you. It’s an honor to share the tea of a Tuareg warrior. Allahu Akbar!”
Black Mamba lowered the litam which covered his mouth and drank a sip of tea. Then he raised the cup above his head and lowered it.
Curiosity rose in Kikali’s eyes.
It was the perfect example of the Tuareg tribe’s Imohag etiquette. The two tasted the tea without a word.
Suddenly, Black Mamba saw his transformation. He had a calmness he hadn’t had before. If it hadn’t been for his realization during the sand storm, he would have turned the oasis into a sea of blood to save his comrades. Killing wasn’t the only solution. The best approach was to avoid conflict. There was a similar phrase recorded in the Tao Te Ching.
Respect could only be earned by first respecting the other. He had learned the manners of the Tuareg tribe while staying with Ombuti.
“You have prepared a camp on the outskirts of the oasis, unlike other FAPs. You are a Tuareg Imohag who knows honor. If you had disturbed the locals I would have attacked immediately. You deserve my respect.”
Kikali’s mouth dropped open.
“It’s my family’s honor to gain the respect of Azrael. I also respect you, warrior of all warriors.”
Kikali and Black Mamba’s mood turned bright as though they had been friends for ten years.
Pieff, who had turned into a tied-off sack, spat fire from his eyes, or rather, he was lost for words. Kikali had killed his subordinates in droves. He could picture his men who had their heads sliced off like fish on a chopping board. Respect for someone who deserved no more than being ripped apart made his insides crumble.
“Black Mamba. What are you saying? Kill that bastard now!” Pieff exclaimed with a red face.
“We are soldiers who kill and die under orders. There is no revenge between soldiers, only missions.”
Pieff felt cold as though someone had thrown water over his head.
This was the second time he received such a criticism, and Saoud’s words dug deep into his chest. How humiliating was this, as Duexieme Rep’s officer!
“Kikali. Are you FROLINAT? Or a Tuareg warrior?”
“I am the Imohag of the Tuareg,” Kikali said with pride.
He didn’t plan on going against FROLINAT, but he had long decided to become independent.
“Then our conversation will be easier. I want my comrades returned.”
“Then what can you give me?”
“I will return you, Habib.”
Exclamations of astonishment escaped from each individual.
“I see, Habib has been captured! It was you, just as I thought.”
 Hello, Kanma